Testimony: “I adopted a 6 year old girl with a tragic past”

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A strong story about adoption

“The urge to adopt dates back to childhood. Adoption was part of my family history. My grandfather whom I adored was an illegitimate child, he was abandoned as soon as he was 3 days old. I grew up in Sarcelles in the 70s, a cosmopolitan city that hosted many planetary diasporas of different religions. As I resided in the synagogue area, my playmates happened to be of Ashkenazi and Sephardic descent. These children inherited exile and the Shoah. When I was 9, I remember seeing children, mostly orphans, arriving in my classroom after the Vietnam War. The teacher asked us to help them integrate. Seeing all these uprooted children, I made a promise to myself: that of adopting a suffering child in my turn when I was an adult.. At 35, the legal age at the time when we could start the process, I decided to go for it, alone. Why Russia? Initially, I applied for Vietnam and Ethiopia, they were the only two countries that offered single adoptions, then, in the meantime, there was the opening to Russia. In the department where I lived, a work that offered Russian children for adoption was approved and I was able to apply.

After many adventures, my request was successful

One morning, I got the long-awaited call, the same day my mother was undergoing surgery for her breast cancer. A 6 and a half year old girl was waiting for me in an orphanage in St. Petersburg. A few months later, confident in this adventure, I landed in Russia to meet my daughter. Nastia was even prettier than I imagined. A little shy, but when she laughed her face lit up. I guessed wounds buried behind his embarrassed smile, his hesitant step and his frail body. To become the mother of this little girl was my dearest wish, I could not fail. During my stay in Russia, we got to know each other gradually, I especially did not want to rush her. The ice began to break, Nastia, gently tamed, came out of her silence and let herself be won over by emotions. My presence seemed to have calmed her, she no longer had nervous breakdowns as in the orphanage.

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I was far from imagining what she had really gone through

I knew that my daughter had had a chaotic start to life: left at the age of 3 months in an orphanage and recovered at 3 by her biological mother. When I read the judgment of parental disqualification the day before we returned, I realized how tragic her story was. My daughter lived with a prostitute mother, alcoholic and violent, between garbage, cockroaches and rats. Men slept in the apartment, drinking parties which sometimes ended in settling of scores, took place among the children. Beaten and hungry, Nastia witnessed these sordid scenes daily. How was she going to rebuild herself? The weeks following our arrival in France, Nastia sank into a deep sadness and walled in silence. Amputated of her native tongue, she felt isolated, but when she came out of her torpor, she had only one obsession, going to school. As for me, frustrated, without the presence of my child, I tried in vain to fill my days of adoption leave.

Back to school made her regress

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Nastia was very curious, she thirsted for knowledge because she had understood very early on that it was the only way for her to get out of her condition. But entering school caused a total regression in her: she began to crawl on all fours, she had to be fed, she no longer spoke. She needed to relive that part of early childhood that she hadn’t lived. A pediatrician told me that to solve this problem I could try a body approach. He advised me to take a bath with my daughter in order to allow her to reintegrate all that was not created because I had not given birth to her. And it worked ! After a few baths, she touched my body and it helped her regain confidence, to find her 7 years.

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My daughter was very attached to me, she was always looking for my contact, even if for her it was a little abstract notion. At the very beginning, the physical connections were nevertheless violent: she did not know how to be tender. There was a whole period when she kept asking me to beat her. His insistent requests that I dreaded made me uncomfortable. It was the only thing that could reassure her because it was the only mode of communication she had known in Russia. Unfortunately, power struggles have been established. I had to be firm when I didn’t want to be. When you adopt a child who has a liability, you have to deal with that past. I was full of good will, I wanted to accompany her in her new life with love, understanding and kindness, but Nastia dragged with her her nightmares, her ghosts and this violence of which she was the child. It took two years for our relationships to calm down and our love for each other to finally be expressed.

I took it upon myself so as not to lose my footing

When my daughter began to put words to her traumas to free herself from this fear that plagued her, what she revealed to me was unimaginable. Her biological mother, a criminal, had defiled her forever by stabbing a man in front of her eyes and making him responsible for this act. She did not feel sorry for herself, on the contrary, without apparent emotion, she wanted to free herself from this horrible past. I was sickened by his revelations. In these moments, you need to have empathy and imagination to find solutions. Without taboos or prejudices, I did my best to cast out his demons. I have put in place a whole educational strategy close to nature and animals so that she finds a little of childhood and innocence. There have been definitive victories and other fleeting ones. But the past never dies. “

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* “Do you want a new mom? – Mother-daughter, story of an adoption ”, Editions La Boîte à Pandore.

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