Unnoticed

I was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia.

I was adopted when I was two. I grew up for a short while in Michigan and then in Florida. My family was very loving; however, I lost my father when I was six. I guess my family was like any other family in the ‘80s: I played a lot with my siblings and we had a lot of fun going on motorcycle trips around the local church parking lot.

Before that, though, I was in an orphanage, “Neurological Baby House #12,” I believe. It was part of a university in St. Petersburg. I was twelve months old at the time, and I think I was only there for one year.

All I can remember is that the room I was in had a lot of cribs, and there was a fuzzy glowing orange light over mine.

My favorite memory was the faint figures of the nurses talking to me in Russian. The voices were muffled and my vision was blurry, just like a dream.

My relationship with my parents was pretty good. It had its ups and downs, but my mom was trying to care for three small kids when my dad passed. I’m sure it was difficult for her. They did tell me I was adopted from as long as I could remember, but they never really gave me any details.

I was adopted through an agency in Hawaii. They had just opened up international adoptions, especially to the USSR so, from what I was told, I was one of the first from my orphanage to be adopted.

It was pleasant. I knew my mother couldn't have kids (for medical reasons) so, naturally, she was very excited to adopt me. I played a lot with my siblings.

One memory that sticks out is riding the lawn mower with my father in Michigan.

Adoption gave me a better shot at survival. I’m not sure how I would have ended up if I had stayed in Russia.  

I currently live with my wife and my 10-month-old son. My mom is about an hour away. When I moved out of her house, we had a short falling out, but over the years it seemed to mellow out. We get along fine now.

I am proud that despite a lot of setbacks I’ve had in my life, I was always able to overcome. I’m also proud of my biological mother, because I’m sure it wasn't easy for her to give me up.  

My goal for this year is to visit my biological family. I recently found them on Facebook. They were very excited and shocked that I found them, and now we talk almost every day. There is a language barrier, of course, so I’m learning Russian, so I can communicate better. Honestly, I’m very glad that our relationship is so healthy because I’ve struggled with never knowing who my family was for such a long time. It truly is a remarkable achievement.

In ten years I see myself in the same house with a stable job. I also want to stay in contact with my biological family. I would also like for them to visit America; however, my biological mother is not getting any younger, so that would take a lot out of her.

Right now only money is holding me back. That and time. Even if I just had a couple weeks to go visit my family in Russia, it would be the puzzle piece I have been missing for such a long time. One thing my dad did when he first adopted me from Russia was journal his travels day-by- day. A few years ago I wrote a book, called Kommunarov St., combining his journals and my own thoughts about my beginnings.

Sharing my story is important because people need to hear these sides of people. I believe adoptees and their stories often go unnoticed just because not enough attention is given to them. I understand some people may not ever want to know who their biological family is, but I am incredibly lucky to have found where my roots are. I think every adoptee should speak up, tell their story, and be confident in themselves for doing so because, even if the adoption didn't go well or it wasn't to their expectations, it still defines you as a person more than people realize.