Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Six Point Story Summary

I have done a few speeches around my community for different clubs/organizations to share with them what I call "my six point story". It typically involves:

 1. I was born in Yaroslavl Russia. I was adopted at the age three from a small orphanage full of children who needed medical care.
2. During my 10 year anniversary with my adopted family I visited Russia for the first time in 2006. While I was in Russia, I visited my orphanage. I did not have any memories of the place but I was told I was the first child to ever return and visit.
3. In 2010 I wanted to find my my brothers (2) so I searched with the help of a man, my parents and my orphanage. I found my brothers and I found my birth father (which was a great surprise because I was first informed he was dead) and I found my birth mothers grave. In 2010, I went to Russia to meet my family for the first time. I t was a great experience that only lasted a week.
4. I revisit Russia again and learn that my brother Igor has TB and it is located in his spine. I watch his struggles but aim to be his greatest supporter through his hard days.
5. In the start of the yearI get the news that my brother Igor has died while at work. He has succumbed to his illness. In May during the winter snow, I fly over to visit his wooden cross at his grave site. It was a heart breaking moment for me to have just found him and then to have to immediately lose him.
6. 2013 visit to Russia- I often took a taxi throughout the city of Yaroslavl and found myself at my brothers grave. I even went to see my birth mothers place of rest. & When I was in the orphanage as a small child, I loved my Teacher Leah. I always thought of her as a mother figure and could not forget her as I got older. In the summer of 2013 I found her in her home and we spent the day together before I walked with her to visit my orphanage again. She was very happy I had not forgotten her.

My story is in the opinion section of the Moscow Times Newspaper where I wrote a letter to the editor.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Family Faces are Magic Mirrors

(Meeting my Birth Father for the first time.)

Is that love or loss I see in your eyes? I finally stand before you and I feel the presence of your guilt. Your eyes are mine. I feel as your body trembles within my hands, should I let go? But this is the day I have been waiting for. I can see your face and how it has aged fast in this world but you are still beautiful to me. You were apart of my dream; the part that came true. And whether Tanya lies beneath or flies above, I know she would be happy for you and I. She loved us and I wish she were here to complete this moment; our moment. But I find comfort in knowing she would smile at my returned existence into both of your lives. 

I am Hoping.

The Letter I wrote that changed my world:

Dear Andrey,
My name is Sasha Stokes. I was born in Russia in 1992 and my name at that time was Alexandra Anatolievna Bayakina. I was placed in an orphanage not long after I was born and I was adopted by an American family in 1996. My birth father is Anatoliy Alexandrovitch Bayakin and my birth mother is Tatiana Berdievna Bayakina. Since we share the same mother, you would be my brother. I also know of another brother named Igor. All I know of him is that he was born in 1980. I am 17 now and hoping to get to know a little about you and Igor. I still live in the US, so I am hoping you can send me an email and tell me about yourself. It would be great to hear from you. Sasha

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anatoliy's Letter

Wednesday July 28, 2010

Sasha hello!
Today I received your letter, thank you. More and more you ask questions that are difficult to answer and I do not want to cause unnecessary pain. I met Tanya, after the motorcycle accident, and she was very beautiful. We met nice of the East Parlor, it is not easy to describe. We were good together. The only thing bad for us was the alcohol. We drank a lot and often. This was our Russian street life. Wine ruined what we understood, but we were strongly dependent on it. We were treated, sometimes helped but then it started again. When you were born, at first everything was fine. But then something happened and there was trouble, you were taken away. We tried to get you back. We got treatment, even would have stolen you from the hospital if it were possible. But we began to receive pressure from the authorities: police and Department of Education... In this situation we began to more and more drink. First Tanya's mother died then she herself died. Three times I laid in intensive care unit between heaven and earth. Then my mother died, she was 94 years old. You must understand how difficult it is for me to tell you but you wanted the truth. Sasha, I always thought of you and it is a miracle that you found me and even from America. I never would have believed it. Thank you for finding me and now everyday I think about it. Sasha, you are happy and that is good. You have good parents, sister, relatives and I am very happy for you. If I live to see you marry, and when you have kids... loneliness will be no more. Apart from you, I have no family left. Live happily ever after. Anatoliy.

Words from Anatoliy

Thursday July 29, 2010

Sasha Hello, I read your letter. Thank You. It was lucky that you found me. Sasha, I do not know what could have been your life in Russia, but I'm glad you live in another country. Of course this is strange and maybe even rude on my part. It is better when children leave when they are adults but for you, this already happened. Sasha, you ask about the hospitals. Blame the wine. Two times I laid there with delirium tremors and once with a lung injury. As concerns the Navy, everything was interesting. First was Sevastopol, then Murmansk and then Egypt. Then things were differently. Sasha take care of your health, and you are a future doctor and know everything. My brother committed suicide a year ago, out of despair. Sasha my favorite color is blue or gray and I love pasta, potatoes and mushrooms with salt. Well goodbye for now. Good Luck. 

I said Yes

They had told me my birth father was long time dead. They even gave me the supposed year he drank too much.  In my heart, I knew better than to believe but it was possible since birth mother was already gone. So accepting his death was lightened. I gave in and accepted that the term orphan suited me.

My Aunt struggled to talk with me about him. When I ever got the courage to ask about him, she would build a wall. I did not learn much from our conversations about him until one day I really began to dig deep.  The first thing I learned was he lived with his mother in the house next door to me when I was a baby. His name was Anatoliy Zakharov and he had drinking problems. He would often visit Tanya's apartment, bring the wine and they would drink together. My Aunt then proceeded to tell me how she had not been in his area since 1997 and had not seen him. But she had learned that there was a mix up about who died in the house, and in fact Anatoliy was possibly alive. I was in shock and in disbelief. I thought he had perished from my life completely. 

I wanted her to find him before I left for my trip to Russia but she did not believe it would be good for me. She thought he was not worthy of my attention and did not care about me. She could only see him as the man who hindered Tanya and failed to keep strong. She believed he caused me to suffer because when Tanya was in a drunken state, she could not care for me. In the end of our conversation she did ask me if I wanted her to go look for him. I said yes. 

Elana Dear

One day after walking home from the local food store, my Aunt and I decided to go sit in the courtyard. It was a perfect evening to be sitting in the wind. My Aunt began to introduce me to some of her neighbors and smoking buddies. Mixed within the group, I found an older lady. Her name was Elana and she was 85 years old. We did not talk much but she was kind enough to share her bread with me. Spending the afternoon together really touched my heart. We had become good friends that day even in the silent moments we shared. After I left Russia, I could not forget her and thought about her for a long time. She had become someone special to me. I remember how she was smaller than me. Her bones were visible but her mind was strong. I noticed how her clothes fit but they were old enough to fall off her. She did not seem to have much left to live for, but she appeared happy and at peace. Elana made me wonder why some live long and others die young. Why had she survived and my own had not?