Ting Ministries is excited to announce the publication of Sasha’s book chapter, “Lessons I Learned as an Adopted Daughter.” Sasha was one of 28 voices in the adoption community to come together in the newest adoption anthology, “Hope for the Adoption Journey.” Compiled by Katherine Piper, the collection features stories of struggle and joy, a collection of stories meant to comfort and encourage readers from all parts of the adoption community.
Here’s an excerpt of what Sasha had to say about her chapter. You can read more on her blog HERE.
[…]My chapter [in the anthology] focuses on exactly what the title suggests: lessons I’ve learned growing up as an adopted daughter and sister to other special-needs siblings. I believe that my parents have raised me with a different perspective on many issues adopted children face, such as: questions of identity, birth family, dealing with trauma and more. It has given me complete freedom from the struggles commonly faced by adopted kids. This freedom, rooted by an identity in Christ alone, has given allowed me to pursue my God-given passions to be a Voice for the Voiceless.
Started in my junior year, it is incredible to now see the finished book in front of me. A lot of things have happened since then – including the adoption of my two newest sisters and finding my birth family in Russia! As I wrote my chapter, I wanted to provide mothers, families, and other adopted kids a taste of the kinds of things my parents taught me, that have shaped who I am today. These lessons are hard. They take time and effort, patience and prayer. I remind myself of them every day.
But I also know these lessons are the truth – because Christ is in the center […]
You can read reviews and order Hope for the Adoption Journey: 28 Stories to Comfort and Encourage, on Amazon HERE.
Sasha, the Administrative Assistant and Web Designer for Ting Ministries, speaks about a Biblical adoption story we may tend to miss, and her own journey to finding her birth mom.
My Story: Russia & Redemption
Thank you for your encouragement, support, and prayers for Ting Ministries. In this month’s update, I’d like to share a few words the Lord has laid on my heart. Some of you may know that this coming fall, I will be a senior at Bucknell University. Next fall, I plan to pursue a Master of Arts in Religion (Biblical Studies track) at Evangelical Seminary. This spring, i am blessed to share about the open door the Lord has placed in my life. At the end of April, my Russian TA helped me find my birth mother, younger half-sister, and relatives in Russia! After I did an interview in Russian with my friend Maria, she helped me look through my adoption documents. After less than an hour of searching, she found my mom on Russian social media. Since then, it has been an incredible privilege to video call my mom, tell her I forgive her and that Jesus loves her, and learn more about the previously unknown circumstances surrounding my adoption. Just a small excerpt from my story follows and you can read more and watch the interview on my blog here.
My mother was very young when she was pregnant with me and when her dad (my biological grandfather, after whom I am named) took her to get a very late-term abortion. The force of the procedure is what caused my very mild Cerebral Palsy. When I was removed from the womb, doctors thought I’d be dead – but the Lord preserved my life! My mom stayed with me in the hospital until one day, when she came to visit me, I was gone. They had moved me to an orphanage, but didn’t tell my mom what had happened. For 21 years, she thought I was dead. On his deathbed, several years after my birth, my grandfather asked for my mom’s forgiveness for making her give me up. What a beautiful story of redemption the Lord has been writing and is continuing to write, for everyone involved…
Let’s Talk About Moses: What We Miss about this Biblical Adoption
As this new chapter in my life is unfolding, I find myself turning to the story of Moses. One thing I realized we don’t talk about when we talk about Moses is that…Moses was adopted. The Lord chose him to be saved from the life of a slave and to be given a life of privilege, so that one day, he would return to his people, his family, and lead them out of bondage (Exodus 4:18). We know that the Passover in Exodus foreshadows the ultimate sacrifice through Christ’s death on the cross. This new realization of adoption in Moses’ story only serves to add more assurance that adoption is at the center of God’s heart. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5). I’d love to share more about my story and God’s Word with anyone individually, or at Bible studies, prayer meetings, a Sunday service, or other venues! Please don’t hesitate to contact me and Ting Ministries.
The Story Continues: Return 2 China
Not only does my family celebrate my adoption story the Lord is continuing to write and pray for my relatives, that they may come to know Jesus. We are also soon bringing home my two sisters Hope and Brittan! We plan to travel at the end of June and are only $3,000 dollars away from completing the adoption. If you feel led to help us in the final weeks of Hope and Britt’s adoption, you may give online at: www.paypal.me/Tingministries or send a check to our mailing address at the top of this letter. Thank you, dear friends, for your continuing encouragement and support.
After the Interview: I Found My Birth Mom – and Extended Family!
Yes, dear friends, it is true! Only a few hours after I did the interview with Maria on Saturday, she was able to find my birth mom by searching social media. I only found out the news on Sunday afternoon, when Maria told me she had some “updates” and wanted to share them with me. Little did I know, she had been talking to my mom, learning the story of my adoption from the side of my biological family! I was shocked, but it was soon apparent, it was true!
My adoptive parents and I were all so happy to hear this amazing news! My parents, Brian and Stephanie, have always been very open about my adoption. To be able to talk to my birth mom and tell her we have prayed for her all these years: “I love you, I have a good life. Thank you for giving me life. I don’t have questions I need answered. I don’t blame you – I don’t even see anything to forgive,” is an opportunity no words describe. Getting to video call her, and meet my mom, her husband (Papa) and my sister was such a beautiful experience.
Not only have I met my mom and her family, I am meeting aunts, cousins, grandparents, uncles and more! It is an incredible blessing to see and now be a part of such a strong, welcoming family unit. Not every adoption story ends this way and I am overwhelmed with gratefulness, that the Lord has written my story this way. In sharing this news, I know so many friends and families will be excited. I pray this story is also an encouragement to other adoptive families and children. I hope you will join me in giving the glory to God – “Let them know that it is Your hand— that You, Adonai, have done it.” (Psalm 109: 27). That: “A father of orphans, defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God settles the lonely in a home” (Psalm 68:6-7).
And if you are wondering, yes, I will be visiting Russia in the near future to meet the other half of my family
(Interview with Maria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iTnkbegwGM)
Pictured: My mom and dad, my sister, a cousin, an aunt, and my grandparents in Russia
Thanks to some great friends, I got the opportunity to see Priceless, the film that was popular last year. It is the story of a man named James who unintentionally gets involved in the lives of two sisters, Antonia and Maria, who are being trafficked across the country. When he realizes what is happening, part of him wants to ignore his part in the atrocity. But a voice keeps calling him back until he can no longer ignore what he must do. James, along with the help of his newfound partner, Dale, an older man hiding a past of his own, set out on a harrowing mission to free the sisters and shut down the trafficking and prostitution in the area. While some plot points of the movie are dramatized for the sake of film, it is based on true events and stories of human trafficking survivors – and this knowledge adds all the more depth to the characters’ plight.
|Photo Credit: http://www.pricelessthemovie.com
Going Down the Road…of Special-Needs Adoption
There was one part of one conversation that stood out to me in the movie. Dale tells James about what he will encounter if he chooses to rescue the girls.
“If you go do this, it’s all in. You go down this road, the things you’ll see, the things you’ll do – you can’t go back to normal life again. It’ll change you.”
“I didn’t start at normal to begin with.”
This. This is the reality of special-needs adoption.
Any adoption is a compassionate commitment to a child. Yet, I think nothing changes a person as much as special-needs adoption, both when travelling to bring the child home and later, when the trips are done, the rescue mission complete, and you settle into a new everyday routine.
I traveled to Ukraine in 2014 amidst the EuroMaidan protests to bring home two of my sisters from a дом инвалидов (literally translated: Home of the Invalids, ie. special-needs orphanage). Looking back, Dale’s words to James could have easily been said to me, both then and even now.
Sasha, if you go to this orphanage, it’s all in. When you step in those doors, you will always carry part of it with you. You will dream it, write about it, talk about it – until all your friends are sick of it. But you will keep screaming for those who cannot, even when it seems like no one listens and you are so tired. Still, you will carry it with you and keep on.
You go down this road, lined with dying children, lonely souls who have never been touched….the road of advocacy, with hundreds of pictures of children whom you will never meet, but who grab your heart. You will weep over some and wonder what it is that has pricked you heart so deeply for those you never met.
My sister Lina in Bulgaria
Weighing 12 pounds at 5 and a half years old.
the things you’ll see…blind children tied to their beds…teenagers the size of four-year-olds, graying skin stretched over the skull of a boy only a year older than you, with deep, hollow sockets…
the things you’ll do… I remember holding hand of a seventeen year old with a shaven head. I stroked the top of his hand, but even this gentle movement did not bring comfort to him. Instead, his eyes clouded and his face winced in pain. Or, how I was approached by translator when we came into the room. I heard one voice chattering in a room full of forty children and found out what the boy was saying through our translator. “Sasha, he says he wants the pretty girl to come sit next to him.” So I sat and smiled and kept the company of a boy who was my age, with pale skin, a gaunt face, and bristly short hair trapped underneath a mound of comforters. At that time, he could still talk and smile and his laughter brought smiles to everyone else.
The reality is, when you embark on a journey of special-needs adoption – you can’t go back to normal life again. It’ll change you, whether you are prepared or not, whether you think it will or not. And most likely, even if you are prepared, it will change you in ways you never planned.
What is normal life anyway? Do you mean that other families have parents who have weekly date nights? Or have annual vacations? I often find myself forgetting that most other families don’t get a row of children in diapers ready for the day or down for bed every day. Or that I’m the only family I know with six daughters who can’t walk independently, some who will need lifelong care. It’s not normal, I suppose, to have to help almost all your sisters eat all their meals, because their special-needs make it hard or impossible for them to do so themselves. The time spent in doctor’s appointments and wheelchair fittings is more than usual.
No, it’s not normal.
And it most certainly is changing me. Yes – it is a process, every day. I don’t think I will ever reach the point of saying I am done being changed by what I’ve seen or my sisters’ lives. I recall different moments from my trips at different times, some memories more emotional, more stirring than others. I can close my eyes and picture myself back in the дом инвалидов and the weight of the experience still makes me cry, four years later.
And each day, my sisters teach me about selflessness, patience, and compassionate understanding in a deeper way than I could ever learn on a missions trip. I watch more Peppa Pig and Paddington than most of my peers and have learned to do my work amid constant interruptions. I am teaching English to my teenage sister and sign language to another. All while being a honors student at Bucknell University, double majoring and looking into graduate programs. And, after all, isn’t a child’s life worth much more than the cost a fancy vacation which will come to an end?
No, my life as an adopted sister is definitely not normal – it’s so much more exciting than that!
Adopted from a Russian mental institution at 17 months old because of my mild Cerebral palsy, I, like James, have had my own journey.
So, you see, I didn’t start at normal to begin with. It is amazing to see how the Lord is weaving my story together with those of my sisters and how my own adoption and disability has prepared me for their needs.
Some may look down this road and decide, as James could’ve, it’s not for me.
I wouldn’t blame them. As Dale says, you gotta do what you gotta do. Family is important.
But, he also says, if you are hearing a small voice inside of you saying, don’t forget – listen to that Voice.
The road of special-needs adoption is long.
It’s filled with equal measures of joyful blessings and painful lessons.
But any heartache is overshadowed every time you think of the rescue – once seemingly impossible, now complete. A life given a new chance.
This is the priceless reality of leaving normal behind.
Lina this Christmas, home for over 5 years.