Julia Ramos spoke at the DC Miracles Gala in October. Her speech was a heartfelt tribute to the power of parents.
Today I would like to thank my loving parents, Raul and Ana for everything they have done for my sisters Katya, Diana and me.
Katya and I were adopted from Russia in 2001. Our mother chose not to care for us and left my sister and me with my grandparents. So we were raised by our grandparents and lived with them until I was about 4 and Katya was 2.
Our grandfather was a loving and hard-working man. He was our biggest supporter. Our grandmother was blind and an alcoholic therefore she was unable to care for us. Katya and I were very young when our grandfather killed himself. It was especially hard for me because I was the one who found him, and have not been able to get the image out of my head since.
My grandmother was blind and an alcoholic. After my grandfather’s passing life got tougher, the food was scarce and at times there was none at all. I felt cheated out of my childhood because I was forced to mature and take on the mother role for my little sister. She was all I had.
After some time Katya and I were taken from our home and the cold, crowded orphanage became our norm. Life at the orphanage often was unbearable. We lacked education, food, and other essential necessities. But most of all we lacked love, comfort, and a family. Meal portions at the orphanage were small, I remember always being hungry. That is one if the feelings I will never forget.
When Katya and I were adopted 12 years ago, we were both very underweight, and malnourished. I was 11-years-old and weighed only 46 pounds. When I found out about going to America with Kidsave. I was very reluctant at first because I was so convinced that our biological mother would come back for us. I also did not know what to expect and was very nervous about meeting our new family. I remember feeling scared and thinking, “what if they won’t like us”. I was afraid of being rejected, a feeling that was very familiar to me.
But the transition from the orphanage to our new home and family felt very natural for Katya and I. We fit right in. I remember the very first night, Katya did not hesitate when she called our host family “mama” and “papa”.
Looking back I never realized how much I longed for someone to comfort me when I was sad or sick, and I never knew what it was like for someone to be there for me, encourage me to succeed, but most of all I never knew how wonderful it was for someone to just care for me. 12 years ago I had nothing and now I have everything. I have a family.
Mom, Dad, thank you so much for everything you have done for me, Katya and Diana. You have given us all a family, college education, and futures and I am forever grateful to you. Melissa, you have been a wonderful big sister and a great role model. I love you all very much. I would also love to thank Kidsave for giving us the opportunity to have such a wonderful family.