The greatest gift I never asked for


By Lara Schales.

I was born in Irkutsk, Russia and shortly after was put into an orphanage because my mom couldn’t take care of me and my siblings anymore. I was adopted when I was just under 12 months of age. My parents said that we celebrated my first birthday while they were there.

They were there for about three weeks before they got to take me home. Before I was adopted my mom had been pregnant with two twin boys named Brendan and Grant. They were very sick when they were born and didn’t end up surviving. I was adopted a few years later.

After I was adopted, I decided that I wanted a sibling but didn’t know how to make it happen. I told my parents that and they said, “Let’s make it happen.” I told them that I specifically wanted a little sister and they said that they would try to make it happen but couldn’t guarantee it. After a long process my parents ended up going to Guatemala to adopt a little girl from a foster care.

My sister’s name is Ashlynne and she used to be really quiet, but now she never stops talking. Growing up with my sister people would always ask us how we knew each other because we were always together. People start asking a lot of questions like, “What’s it like to be adopted?” “How old were you guys when you were adopted?” and “Do you speak any Russian?” I get these questions all the time still.

Growing up I would say it was hard to understand why I was adopted or where I was adopted from. I didn’t know very much about our adoptions. Now that I know more, the experience is great.

Something that people always say to me when I tell them that I was adopted is that I don’t look like I was adopted, or I don’t sound Russian. With my sister, people always assume that she is something other than Hispanic. It’s difficult to deal with that because people just assume that I am from the United States, but with my sister it’s different.

For her, people are always sort of teasing her and asking her questions about her race. It depends on the people and the questions that they ask. We know that there is always going to be an opposition that we face, but we’ve had a normal and pleasant childhood.

People always ask me if I want to go back to Russia or if I ever want to adopt a child from anywhere when I get older. The answers to both of those questions are absolutely. I would like to go back to Russia one day and see what it’s like. I would like to adopt a child from Russia, but the government shut down all adoptions from Russia.

I think adoption is the best thing anyone could ever do. Just giving that child a second chance at a better life is one of the greatest things that you could give.

Whether you adopt nationally or internationally it doesn’t matter if you are happy. You know that eventually your child will be happy about it too. I think that everyone should adopt if they are given the chance. I am grateful that my parents cared enough to adopt me when they could have picked anywhere else in the world and any other child. They picked me and my sister, being adopted is the greatest gift that I never asked for. If it wasn’t for my family, I wouldn’t be here today.