Born one day after Valentine's Day in Tomsk, Russia to the parents of Yevgeni and Svetlana Zharkov in the year of the nuclear leakage in Cherynobl, there was not much hope for me. I was born not only at a significantly small weight but also had a diseased right eye and a few other unknown special needs. For some unknown reason my parents left me within twenty-four hours of my birth. I then stayed in the hospital for about six months so that I could have surgery for my diseased eye, but unfortunately the surgery did not work out well. From the hospital I moved to a baby orphanage and then twice more to special needs orphanages for children.
At the age of six, in October of 1994, I was adopted by my mom, Nicole who lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. Unfortunately, during the adoption process when I finally became a Russian - American citizen, the American Embassy threw my papers away and refused to stamp the approval that said I was allowed to come to America. In other words, America was denying the rights of an American. Fortunately, my new adoptive mother drove all the way to Charlotte, North Carolina and refused to leave the American Embassy unless they stamped the papers that allowed me to come to America. Finally, the Embassy granted my mom's wish, and then I found myself flying from Russia to Kennedy Airport in New York, USA with two men from the adoption agency.
From there we met my future mom and all together flew to the Raleigh/Durham Airport. Greeted by my new family, which consisted of my adopted sister, Tania who was from Guatemala and my adopted brother, Chilton who was from South Korea, I began my new life.
Life has not been the most perfect and wonderful story. Even in America, I have been through events that have not been the most pleasant. After arriving in Raleigh I displayed numerous behaviors that showed I had been neglected and abused physically and sexually. I also almost died in my second out of seven eye surgeries because I was given a medication that I was allergic to. I went straight from normal body temperature to 105.0 degrees in seconds and had to be taken to the emergency room immediately. I have had to experience being taunted because of the way I dressed and even the way my prosthetic eye was smaller than my seeing eye. I have even done things I would so love to erase or have a chance to redo. There are so many things I regret doing; but I know I can not.
But let’s get off the negative path. There have been so many amazing things that have happened that I would do anything to do them again. I have had the joy of raising five guide dogs, I have been able to experience watching humpback whales display there amazing ability to breach and I have even been able to experience the joy of driving a sled dog team. Because of my amazing abilities at school, I have been able to know how it feels to be on the A and B honor roll and be recognized for my achievements. I have been able to watch the process of creating a prosthetic eye so many times; after all it’s my eye that’s being made. There is so much to be grateful for!
My teenage and young adult years have been especially difficult. There are so many things constantly going on in my head that sometimes I wish I could just space out and not have to think ever again. I am constantly battling my depression and self-esteem. I have such a difficult time being able to see the good in me. So many times I want to curl up in my bed and just fall asleep and never wake up but I have to remind myself that I must get up and continue with life; cause it ain't going away and there is so much to live for.
I have so much to accomplish in life that it would be silly to just waste it. I have plans to go to college to become a vet tech or even something totally different. I want to get married, experience the joys (and even the pains) of being a parent. I want to travel and see the world that holds so many amazing and interesting cultures.
There are times I feel like giving up. It would be so nice to not have to deal with all that life gives us. So many times I wonder how awesome it would be to live in a Utopia world. Life would be so much easier, safer, and friendly and the words discrimination, hate, jealousy, kill, murder, taunt, tease, harm, abuse, and revenge would be unknown to each citizen. But we have to deal with the way things are: be realistic.
We have to look at the real issue. Utopia can happen but it won't happen for years and years and years. I realize that no matter how strong I wish to die in my sleep, I slowly start to realize I did not survive so many things, be turned down from my own country, come all the way from a country where the government owns every possession you have, make it through seven surgeries, and survive the abuse that happened to me just to throw it all away and die just because I'm feeling crappy. I mean please, just writing it sounds silly. You don't have to go through crap just to feel bad. We are all entitled to have down times. Actually, it would worry people if everything was fine and dandy. But just because you feel like crap right now doesn't mean you will forever. It passes. Of cause it will be back but that doesn't give us permission to wallow in it forever.
Instead of putting all your energy in the negative pile, think positive. It takes more than 120 muscles to frown but to smile it takes less than 80. Imagine how stressful it is on your body to frown. Take your energy and make something useful. Find a talent, create something, do something fun. Live life. You might feel like crap right now but you have the power to change the way you live your life. One step at a time. The way you make your path in life is not up to your parents, teachers, doctors, or even siblings. It’s up to you. If you want to screw up your life there’s nothing stopping you. Go ahead. But you will not have the pleasure of creating the life that makes meaning. You only have one chance to live. Shout out loud and proud. Trust me; it can happen; because it is happening to me.
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Written by Yevgenia G. Z. LaMotte