Most people dread telling their child that they were adopted. Some people never have to …
adoption blogger Aliisa
My adoption journey began eight years ago in a land very unfamiliar to me at the time- Russia. Little did I know there was a seven year old little girl with big brown eyes looking for a forever family. Her name was Maria and she was the life of the party at the orphanage.

Since Maria was seven years old, she had memories of her birth mom and grandmother and was now creating memories of an orphanage. She along with all the other children in the orphanage dreamed of leaving the orphanage and becoming a member of a loving family.

When she came to spend the summer with us in 2004, her past was not a mystery. She was fully aware of the concept of adoption and we had nothing to hide. In many ways this was a relief and sometimes a curse. We never had that revealing talk, but somehow it made it harder.

Three months after her summer visit, we had completed all the paperwork. We arrived in Russia during October, but it felt like the middle of winter. The orphanage was bustling with over 120 children ranging from 4 years old to 14 years old. Maria was right in the middle age range and right in the middle of a big dilemma. She greeted us calmly and then spent a majority of the 2 week visit rather stand-offish.

At the time we were preoccupied with the hundred other children climbing on us and trying to speak to us which usually just ended in a smile. Others were hoping we would take them home and endearing themselves to us in uncountable ways. It was heartbreaking and emotional. Little did we know our newly adopted daughter was having an emotional issue of her own.

At seven years old, she was able to understand most of what was happening. She had opinions and suggestions but nobody was asking. She was being given to a family that lived far away and she was forced to say good-bye to all of her friends. At the time she wondered why she couldn’t stay, why she couldn’t bring her friends and why she couldn’t go back to her birth mother. She wasn’t an infant who innocently knew nothing. Maria really loved our family, her new brother and sister (waiting at home for her), our cats and her beautiful new bedroom, but the whole process left her uneasy. We honestly didn’t recognize her discontent for awhile. Assuming it was a little fear and stubbornness, we persevered.

Her defiance continued at home for awhile and then she became more settled. The true nature of her defiance wasn’t revealed until about a year later, once she perfected her English. We spoke about it in length and she laughed about her stubbornness. It was quite eye-opening for us all. So although revealing to a child that they are adopted can be heart wrenching, not having to reveal it can be just as challenging. The adoption journey is similar to a roller coaster ride, but the exhilaration at the end is immeasurable!

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About the author Aliisa Hayes

Personally, I can identify with the many challenges of life. I am a daughter, mother, wife, teacher, and coach. Experience has shown me that there is always a path to move forward in life.

I studied early childhood with elementary education and earned a Bachelors of Science Degree. I taught in the public school system for a number of years and went on to earn a Masters of Art Degree in Reading as a Reading Specialist. The years I spent teaching were very rewarding and I enjoyed helping the children discover and explore.

Once I had my three children, I decided to spend time at home with them. Being home allowed me the freedom to start several independent businesses, each of which gave me opportunities to explore my passion.

My passion for helping people led to my present career of Life Coaching. Through life coaching, I am able to help many adoptive families. I provide adoption assistance through all stages (initial paperwork, preparing for arrival, traveling and ongoing assistance raising an adopted child).

I became certified through The World Coach Institute. My certifications include: CPC (certified professional coach), CLC (certified life coach) and CRC (certified relationship coach – including bereavement). Currently, I am also a member of the ICF
(International Coach Federation) and the NJPCA (New Jersey
Professional Coaches Association).

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A Land Unfamiliar | International Adoption — 3 Comments

  1. Hi Jill!
    Best of luck with your journey. It will be unforgettable.
    To answer your question – yes, I did experience a lot of guilt. It helped to compare the world you are taking him from and the world you are giving him.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story! My husband and I are adopting a 2 year old boy from Russia and we are leaving tomorrow morning for our court trip! We anticipate bringing him home in November. I spend a lot of time wondering how he will adjust to life with us; just like your daughter I’m sure he will love some parts but deeply grieve everything he has lost. As an adult I know that his life with us is far better than what his life would have been, growing up as an orphan, but I still wish so badly that he did not have to experience the pain of loss. Did you ever struggle with guilt b/c you were the one who took your daughter away from everything she knew? How did you cope with those feelings?

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