Choices

Our decisions are what make us unique, but sometimes we don’t get to make those choices ourselves. Instead, they’re made for us by other people.

This is true for me and so many other adoptees. Let me tell you my story, and you will see that sometimes we have to take what is given to us and make the choice to grow from those challenges and experiences.

My birth name was Vera Sergeevna Perminova. I was born in Ivanovo, Russia to two parents and an older sister named Nadya. When I was seven years old, police came to our house to take my sister and I out of the custody of our parents and into two different orphanages. We were taken away from them due to alcoholism and neglect.

For the next two years, I was moved through three different orphanages with their own unique challenges, trying to survive the bullying and waves of instability. I was adopted into an amazing family in 2004 by incredible parents and an older sister named Jenny.

Just reading that might make the rest of my life sound so simple—easy, even—but let me tell you: It wasn’t.

I was rebellious with my adoptive parents. I challenged them on every authoritative decision and fought with my adoptive sister almost every day.

I learned that I suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome because my birth mother decided to drink alcohol when she was pregnant with me. In school, I discovered that I suffer from forgetful memory in small daily tasks, short focus, as well as other symptoms that often affect my life in a small way.

It was a challenge to accept that I have to suffer the consequences of choices my birth mother made when I wasn’t even born.

As an adoptee who had just suffered the loss of her native language, family, culture, and certainty of her future, adjusting to a new language and culture was not an easy thing.

Walking into a new family who had already created close bonds with each other was difficult.

Without the background of being birthed into that family, it was hard to feel loved, wanted, appreciated and—most importantly—understood. It took my family eight years before they finally realized that my anger of being adopted was getting in the way of me moving forward and accepting the situation I was in. I sought counseling, and it was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. I released all that built up anger, embraced my family with a new love and appreciation and looked to the future with a new hope.          

With this new view on life, my family relationships improved. My adoptive sister and I are best friends. I can approach my mom with any question and know that she will always want the best for me as well as offer her extensive wisdom, and my dad and I like to spend quality time together as he passes down his wisdom to me. My vision of the future became clear in what I wanted to do.

Currently, I am studying to be a Social Worker at Northern Arizona University. I have the goal to help adopted children like I was know that they can be loved, cared for and that they can have a bright future. I want adopted children to feel that their past doesn’t define who they are, but rather gives them a strength that no one else in the world has but them. I want to use my experience to empower children to know that they themselves can be just as successful as anyone else in the world. If dealt with properly, their past doesn’t affect their future.

In May 2016, I found my birth family on a Russian media site and reconnected with my older sister. I had the amazing opportunity to Skype with my parents even though we could hardly talk to each other due to my limited Russian. With a translator, I finally had the thing I most wanted in the world, and that is to get some of questions I have always wondered answered by the very people I thought didn’t want me. While this journey has been incredibly challenging and rewarding at the same time, I realize that I am beyond lucky to get that chance.

I want to encourage other adoptees that it will be okay.

You are strong enough to get through anything when given the right tools and the right attitude of wanting to heal.

Those of us adoptees who are empowered should empower others.

Let our voices be heard!