"When did you find out you were adopted?” as the saying goes. If I had a dollar for every time that question was asked of me; the answer is always the same – even when I was very young, “I never didn’t know.” Being adopted is a part of who I am, it was woven into the thread of my identity; dark brown curly hair, short, green eyes, funny, clumsy, feminist, adopted. My adoption was handled through a private agency.
I was born on April 16, 1996, and left in a hospital in Tblisi, Georgia where I was being “cared for”. The republic of Georgia is an impoverished country suffering from the effects of a civil war after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Thus, these effects made my adoption the opposite of easy. In fact, Georgians were not okay with “foreigners” coming into Georgia to “take” their babies (even though it was obvious they could not take care of them- older children were in orphanages). Which is ironic because the people were struggling for mere survival and many were relinquishing their children because they could not care for them. Because of this, I had to be “kidnapped” out of Georgia to be transported to Moscow Russia to be adopted.
My parents finally received news that they could come and pick me up in Moscow, in early June. However, they found out that the American Embassy was delaying issuing my visa to travel to Moscow because they were busy. At the suggestion of my Grandma and Great Aunt, my mother called our Congressman, Tom Davis. A staffer in his office told my mom to fax the paperwork to his office. My mom was told the visa would be issued immediately. My father and my God Father went to pick me up from Moscow because they both had been vaccinated for Hepatitis C (required) because of their jobs. However, there was another obstacle they faced- their flights were delayed and numerous uncertainties that they would never receive me. My mom had no communication with them whatsoever. After a year of meetings, planning and traveling, I was finally going to my new home. I was going to live with for the rest of my life.
I was a “lucky” baby, left in a hospital instead of the squalid confines of an orphanage. While food and attention were scarce, I was safe, in a basic sense. It is uncertain how long I would have survived, however. I do not know much about my birth family besides that their names were Nugzar Valerianovich Dautashvili and Anna Jurevna Sarkisashvili and stated that they were giving me up for adoption forever. According to my adoption papers, my real name was Nino Nugzarovna Dautashvishvili Since I was only 3months and one day old, both my adoptive mother and father were more aware of my journey then I was. Thus, they are where I have learned about the process of coming to America.
My mother gave birth to me in the middle of National Airport. Not literally, but rather this is where my mom first met me. She, and her entourage of friends and family came to the airport to see me for the first time, after my official adoption from the country of Georgia. After a year of meetings, planning and traveling, I was finally going to my new home. I was going to live with a family who believed in me at three months old, before they even knew me. Often times, stories of adoption are sad, pitiful and tragic. However, I am not a “story of adoption.”
The fact of my adoption was always like a novelty to me and I would love to tell people. Then I’d wait see what reaction I would get.
As I grew up and met more people and had friends with large families I became more and more aware of the connections that they shared, physically, emotionally, in all ways. I remember being a bit jealous that I couldn’t see where olive skin or dark brown curly hair and my green eyes came from.
I didn’t know a lot of other adoptees growing up, so there wasn’t anyone that I could possibly understand how I felt.
I still face daily challenges about being adopted because growing up people always asked me questions like “what race are you? You do not look white,” or “You don’t look like your family where were you born?” However, I was so young and used to those questions I never saw fault in them but it does make me sad that I do not know any of my culture or background history and I have accepted and adapted to a Western lifestyle even though some days it feels wrong. I also have a sister who is seven years older than me but she is not adopted and she is biologically related to my adopted parents. But, I have accepted that and it is what keeps me looking forward, never backward, and focusing on the future and it motivates me to help minority groups and parts of the population that are vulnerable and a need an advocate to be their voice.
However, my life was forever altered the day I was given up and I am eternally grateful for the difficult
I am not a “story of adoption.” I am not the victim. I am who I am today because my parents believed in me. In fact, if it was not for my parents’ belief in me, their perseverance and willingness to keep fighting through all of the hurdles, I would not be on the journey I am today.
My real parents are the parents who raised me -- the ones who did more than just create me. Birth parents in the grand scheme of things are blips in time, only giving birth to you. But it's your parents that give you life. Being adopted as a infant is the ideal option: It allows for the nature versus nurture debate to be discussed. I can attest to the fact that I was more nurture than nature.