Through a cultural exchange program for children ages five to fifteen from Eastern Europe, Bryan Harveston and his family hosted a special little girl who touched their hearts. Below, in her own words, Presley recounts the life she knew as an orphan and the impact her adoption into a loving and supportive family has had on her life.
“I was born in the wild place of Sortovala, Russia. My birth name was Katya and I was born living with a Mom who was an alcoholic. My Dad left when I was only a few days old. It was hard living with my Mom since it was never just the two of us. She always had different men over and it was hard for me to just be a child. When it was just the two of us she was never awake. Soon the alcohol became nonstop. I ran away to my grandmothers all the time. One of the hard things I was asked to do many times was to get alcohol for my mom and her boy friend. She chose to spend her money on that instead of food for us. One cold winter night when I was 5 years old, my mom and her boyfriend wanted some wine from the nearest market. My mom gave me money and told me that they wanted to get some wine. I went off to the market to get the wine just like I did so many times before. This market also sold meat there. I really loved their meat. On my walk there I was thinking how hungry I was. When I got to the market and looked at the wine, I asked the lady working how much the wine was and she told me the price. I was so hungry so I asked how much bologna I could buy with the money I had so she showed me the amount. I decided to buy the meat instead of the wine but was so scared of how much trouble I would be in. I walked out of the store crying and tried to find a place where my mom couldn’t find me. As I was walking, I noticed it was almost morning. I was walking on a white bridge, eating the bologna and crying. I knew how much trouble I was going to be in once I went home. An 18 or 19 year old girl stopped by me and said where are you going and I said I don’t know. She said come on come with me and took me to the orphanage that she lived in. I met the leader that ran the orphanage who was a big man with a lazy eye. I couldn’t say his name so he let me call him the man with the eye. He told me I could stay there for a while so he said that I could go to my room and the first thing I asked was can I keep my bologna and he laughed and said yes. This was where my life began. There was lots of fighting, arguing and many other things that were scary in my Russian life. The things I had to do and experience are things that some adults haven’t and will never experience. The feeling of being unsafe was a normal feeling. I had to raise myself, teach myself all that I have learned. One important thing I learned is that even though my Mom made bad choices, that doesn’t mean that I have to do the things that my mom did and many other people did that have ruined their life with alcohol. Life is a work of art. You get to do whatever you want with it. You can rush through it and make quick choices that may not be part of Gods plan for you or you can take your time and see what God has put in front of you. Gods plan as usual worked on me. If I hadn’t made the decision to get the bologna instead of the wine, that led me to meet the 18 or 19 year old girl, that led me to get adopted by the best family ever.”
Through our strategic partnership with the Gladney Center for Adoption in Ft. Worth, Texas to help fund the OnTheirOwn and SuperKids programs for orphan children who will likely never be adopted, OAIF strives to bring hope to children who have never had a chance for a bright future.
Helen is one of eight special needs children under Gladney’s foster care program in Ethiopia who is enrolled in the Tikuret Lesetoch Ena Lehitsanat Mahiber (TLLM) child care center. OAIF’s gifts, in partnership with Gladney’s On Their Own program, allow this young girl to have the specialized care and treatment she needs to live with dignity, including: dedicated pediatrician and nursing care, therapeutic massages, basic dental care, nutritious meals, and medications for her particular needs. Helen says that she “loves going out in the sun every morning to play with my very own special nanny [nurse]. She tells me I am pretty and helps me eat good food and tells me I am a good girl!” With proper care and developmental training, there is reason to hope for Helen to be adopted one day. In fact, one of her fellow classmates in this special program, Teferri, was recently adopted!
Juan, a young boy from Bogota, Columbia, is a beneficiary of OAIF’s partnership with another of Gladney’s adoption outreach programs, Superkids. Superkids is a humanitarian aid initiative that provides developmental screenings, caregiver training and adoption advocacy on behalf of special needs children such as Juan, who are candidates for inter-country adoption. OAIF’s gift supports a volunteer team of two physical therapists and one child development psychologist, who together screen special needs children at the Fundaternura, the Hogareo Luz y Vida and the Casa de la Madre y el Nino orphanages in Bogota. Little Juan is one of the 27 orphans identified by the team earlier this year who is ready for an inter-country adoption. Our team helps put these kids on the fast track to adoption. Juan says that he “wants a mama and a papa of his own,” and he thanks “the nice lady who helped me learn new words and gave me fun tests and made me laugh!” Happily, two of those 27 children have already been adopted, and it is our hope that Juan will find his very own family soon!
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