Hi, my name is Galina. I was born in Kazakhstan in 1993. Most of the details of my early life are unclear. I don’t have memories of family vacations or holiday traditions; there are no family photos. My memories are of much tougher times.
When I was three years old, my biological father died of a drug overdose. My abusive mother was an alcoholic and most likely a prostitute. For years I lived in dangerous and unhealthy conditions, often having to steal food in order to eat. I remember sleeping alone under a bus seat after my mother put me out on the street. Ultimately, I was found alone at a market and taken to a children’s shelter. The shelter was abusive and I ran away. When I was found again, I was taken to an orphanage.
The orphanage rules were rigid and unyielding. There was competition for clothes and shoes that fit. If someone did get something special, it was stolen in the night. If someone disobeyed, we would stand in a line and do knee bends for what seemed like hours. Children from other orphanages spoke of much worse punishment.
No child should have to live this way. Not when there are other options. Not when there is hope.
Kidsave was my hope. Through Kidsave’s Summer Miracles program, I visited the US in 2003. I was considered “unadoptable” because I was 9 years old. In fact, all the Summer Miracles kids were thought to be unadoptable, yet, through Kidsave’s efforts, we all found forever families.
My host parents and I quickly developed our own language – a little English, a little Russian. We gestured, we drew, and we acted things out. I call it our language of love.
If I hadn’t been adopted, I would have been on my own at age 16 with a small government stipend. Through my personal experience, I think I have a good understanding of what my life would have been like.
In Kazakhstan, I never knew of love. People always let me down. I felt alone and abandoned. But now I know there are people who won’t abandon me, who will support and love me unconditionally. I’ve had opportunities I would never have had.
Today I am a freshman at Pepperdine University. I’ve learned to dance, swim, cheer and most importantly, to love.