1. What part of the Ukraine are you from? Can you describe it for us? I lived in Odessa for fifteen years. My home is there and so is my orphanage. It’s a seaport near the Black Sea and has cobblestone streets. It reminds me a little bit of old city Philadelphia. Except, the people in Odessa are very sad and angry. The people here (in the Philadelphia area) are nice and smile. I like that so many people seem happy. That is the biggest difference from Odessa.
2. What was the hardest part about being in an orphanage? There were no choices so you feel like a dog. And if you don’t do what they ask, they physically punish you like a dog. I never trusted what the people in the orphanage told me. I think they are very corrupt.
3. Do you have a happy memory from the orphanage? When I heard that my younger sister was being adopted by an American Family, I went to the Principal of my orphanage and said, “I’m going to see my sister Elena in Kilya." They told me I couldn’t go because she was being adopted. I didn’t care what they said. I took the bus money and traveled all by myself halfway across the Ukraine to see her. I was so happy to see her after being away from her for most of my life. The family that was adopting her then adopted me.
4. You must miss things from the Ukraine. Is there someone special you miss? I miss my older sister Krystina. She is a year older than me and has a baby. I don’t know where she is and haven’t talked to her in a few years. The last time I saw her was in March of 2013. I worry about her safety because of the war going on between Russia and the Ukraine.
I also miss my Dad. He tried hard to keep us all together but my mom would leave and prostitute for money. He did not like her doing that. He worked very hard miles from my house in a factory. When my mom left to do her work, he got very sad and angry and started drinking. That’s why the government took us from my parents. They did not take very good care of us.
My American parents are very good and do not drink alcohol and they give us food to eat and I feel safe. It is not good for children when parents drink.
5. Was there a difficult part about moving to the United States? I called my mother and father when I learned I was going to be adopted by Americans. My parents and even my grandmother told me that the only reason why the Americans want me is to sell my organs. They told me they would take my kidneys and other organs. They told me not to leave the Ukraine because America was not safe. They were crying.
I told them they shouldn’t say things like that because they did not take good care of me. I told them all I wanted to do was to talk to them about my problems, my worries, but they never listened to me. I told them they were not good parents and that I wanted to give this American Mom and Dad a try. When I hung up the phone I was worried they may be right about the Americans. But, I decided to give it a try anyway.
It was also very hard leaving my sister Krystina. I wish I knew she was safe.
6. Now that you’re safe here in the United States, what helps you keep a positive attitude? Sometimes I am very sad and ask Jesus, “Why did you do this to me? Why did you give me birth parents that didn’t care for me?” But then I think of my new parents and I see how He helped me. Jesus gave me a second chance with this American family. I still have very bad nightmares but then I wake up and I feel very safe with a Mom and Dad who don’t drink. I am very happy.
7. Do you have a food that you miss the most? I miss borsht (click for authentic recipe). My mom does not like it at all. I miss it and think it’s very good.
8. What’s your favorite American food? Ice cream. Going out for ice cream with my family is my favorite thing to eat. Now, I’ve started eating frozen yogurt because it’s not as fattening as ice cream but still tastes really good.
9. When you think about your future, what dreams do you have for yourself? After college, I want to get married and have children. I want to own a Salon. I want to study cosmetology and show people how to use color to bring out their eyes.
10. If you could change one thing about the United States, what would it be? I would get rid of all the drugs and alcohol because it kills people and destroys families like mine in the Ukraine.
11. What’s the biggest difference between the orphanage and your American family? I feel safe and secure and my parents take us out to dinner, the mall, and the movies. I never got to go out before. My Mom pays attention to me and helps with Cheerleading and homework if I need help. My Dad makes me laugh all the time. He comes home from work with a great sense of humor and tells me funny jokes. He is a very funny man.
In V's Own Words:
(For clarity, interview was rewritten without broken English and then approved by V)