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Finding Joy of Childhood in Adopted Families

Joy of Meeting Birth Parents

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I was born in 1992 to a Russian family that was unable to meet my needs and thus was placed in a Russian orphanage. At age 4, I was adopted by an American family and began a new life in Florida.

Since the day of my adoption, I had been brought up always knowing the names of my former parents and siblings. The names Andrei and Igor Bayakin were firmly placed into my mind even as a little girl.

In 2006, my parents gave me the opportunity to return to my orphanage, located in a small town in the Yaroslavl region. Together we discovered that I was the first child to make a reappearance at the orphanage.

At the doors of what I used to call my home, we were greeted by staff members, the director and the same nurse who helped me as a young child. It was a moving experience, and it was a comfort to know that the men and women who had helped raised me in my first few years of life could now see me.

After a few years elapsed, I received a letter informing me of the location of my siblings. In the summer of 2010, my parents and I flew to Yaroslavl, where we met my Russian family. Before the arrival, I had been told that both my birth parents were dead. But three days before my flight over, my aunt surprised me with the news that she had found my birth father, Anatoly, alive and well.

During the week in Yaroslavl, I met my two older brothers, who already had families of their own. I was also surprised by the chance to meet and hug my birth father for the first time. Extended family from all over Russia came to meet me for what they thought was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Soon, however, I learned that my older brother Igor had fallen ill with tuberculosis. It was during this time that we became more like brother and sister. Two weeks ago, Igor succumbed to his illness. I had lost a brother whom I had just found. It was heartbreaking.

Whatever the losses or the gains experienced in the journey of discovering who you are and who you were, I recommend to all my fellow adoptees to be brave and search. Don't ever miss the opportunity to love another person.

Alexandra Stokes
Leesburg, Florida

Russia Should Love Its Kids


Orphans have always have been considered trash in Russia. Russia's lawmakers have never lived with 100 children in a cramped, neglected orphanage and have never been beaten up by the people who should have been playing the role of your parents. They have no right to ban foreign adoptions.

While normal children get hugs and kisses in caring families, orphans only dream about this warm, loving life.

I became an orphan at the age of 10. The life of an orphan in Russia is not worth anything. But I have lived both lives. I have been adopted now for 19 years, and this was the best thing that could happen to me. Adoption gave me the same right to be loved and to have a mother.

If Russia doesn't love its children, there are many others would love to have a child to love. Best wishes from an orphan whose life went from bad to great.  

Viktoria Nezhdanova

Spain Is No Soviet Union

In response to "Spain Could Collapse Like the U.S.S.R.," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky on Jan. 31.


The starting point of Kagarlitsky's comment is a raw comparison between the Soviet Union and Spain. After introducing the demands of Catalan secessionists, Kagarlitsky writes "Everything here began exactly the same way." No, it didn't. The Soviet Union was a federation of socialist republics, while Spain is a parliamentary monarchy.

Kagarlitsky writes, "There is no cause for complaining about a lack of democracy or autonomy." There is. The polls say more than 50 percent of Catalans want to vote freely and peacefully in a referendum for the independence of the country. The Spanish state forbids that. This sounds like a lack of democracy to me. Despite wide parliamentary support (more than 80 percent), the Constitutional Court of Spain turned down the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia.

Kagarlitsky writes, "They complain that Madrid redistributes money earned in Barcelona to the poor provinces in southern Spain." They do not. They complain that the money they pay to the Spanish government in taxes is much more than the money the Spanish government sends back to Catalonia. That's why Catalonia is so underfunded.

Finally, Kagarlitsky writes, "The question now is this: Will Catalonians allow themselves to be duped the way residents of the Soviet Union were 20 years ago?" This line of thinking would condemn Ireland's independence from Britain's empire, Algeria's independence from France or even Cuba's independence from Spain. Just ask yourselves: Wouldn't it be better for Ireland to remain part of the British empire or Algeria to remain as part of France and contribute to the general welfare of the Irish and British and the Algerians and French, respectively? Surely not.

Kagarlitsky's position is surprisingly a setback to the position of the orthodox Marxists — nationalism as bourgeois invention to divide and conquer. Moreover, as Kagarlitsky surely knows, the Soviet Union was the first country to include the right of self-determination, including secession, in its Constitution. It was also the first country to recognize Ireland as an independent republic, and it was the top supporter of anti-colonialist movements in Latin America and Asia.

Angel Ferrero

Peter's Great Dutch Love

In response to "No to the Word Police," a column by Michele A. Berdy on Jan. 25.


What is worst with State Duma Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky and any ultraconservative person anywhere in the world is that word police is the first echelon of Gestapo. We had this during the Third Reich as well.

But I have to correct the author concerning "Peter the Great's love affair with all things Germanic." Although buchgalter (accountant) and byustgalter (bra) are indeed German, most of the German words that have seeped into the Russian language can be traced to Katherine the Great. Peter was more Dutch in this respect.

Another curious discrepancy is that a tsentner in Russian is 100 kilograms, although a German zentner is only 50 kilograms.

Fred Frome
Barleben, Germany

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