Our Spanish Editor Ivan Shares with us his Entire Journey
I was born in Moscow, Soviet Union, in a suffocating Russian morning somewhere in the southern districts. Three hours later, my biological mother left me in the House of Children or Dom Rebenka number 12. The orphanage was surrounded by bushy trees which protected our fragile skin from the sun. In that time, in the Lenin Avenue, there were a few cars running around and always someone swung in the colourful wooden seesaw. I cannot remember any place, any people, any word, any smell. People who worked inside certainly loved us.
Some months before of the Soviet Union collapsed, my maternal aunt was elected as international correspondent journalist at various Spanish newspapers at Moscow. My Spanish parents tried to have a national adoptee baby, but the Spanish adoption system was an inefficient system, operating with an opaque administration, with a maddening waiting long list. There were a truly lack of interest to protect adoptee childhood basic rights.
They become in young rebels and decided then to ask my aunt what were the real possibilities to have a baby from Russia. She said briefly, “Nothing. Spain has not international adoption agreements with Soviet Union and I won’t try it”. Some months later, a girl left Russia for ever and landed in Mexico, one more to Norway and two disable twins were adopted by Swish parents. My parents realized it was their turn and fought to for their dream: have a Russian baby.
They prepeared hundreds of documents, certificates, licenses and medical tests to obtain the Spanish suitability to have an adoptee child. Now, the problem was in Russia. No one knew about the procedure. Any single bureaucrat knew how to start the adoption process with Spanish people, and no one wanted to spend time and energy finding out the solution.
Steps in Moscow were indicated. My parents raised an adoption application to the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the October District of Moscow writing about theirs lives and specific “parental” qualifications. He had the power to authorize to take out a kid from the Soviet Union. This authorization was sent to the Regional Executive Committee of Moscow. And the issue of citizenship was resolved in the Russian Supreme Soviet. The Children’s Fund in the Name of Lenin chose me as a potential candidate to be adopted. Perestroika and Glasnost were not exactly how they promised in terms of openness and democracy, but we were feed correctly and healthy. They needed also the Moscow Mayor and the October District Deputy signatures to end the process. Both, were democrats and it helped a lot because they did not agree with Communists. USSR was decomposing and the people who lived inside had no idea about their destiny. Many Russians did what they needed to survive, even leaving children.
My grandparents flew to Moscow to visit me before my parents and one month later my parents arrive to take the last steps. They become the first Spanish couple having a Soviet-Russian child. I was born as Dimitry, they changed my name into Iván. We left Russia together in the incendiary august of 1991. One week later, the Communists conducted a cope d’Etat and Russia formerly banned all the international adoptions. Some Spanish medias echoed in the news and titled us as the “pioneers”. Later than me, hundreds of Russian and former Soviet Republics children were adopted by Spanish parents.
I always knew my Russian human condition and was very confused about my identity Who I am? Where I was born? Why I was abandoned? Why me? To whom I am similar? What happened with my language? These questions grew up with me as the oxygen. In 2008 some orphanages in Russia begun to have web page. I found my orphanage in the Garibaldi Street and send many e-mails asking about my live. For four years I was receiving some simple confirmation from the different institutional directors. “Yes, you were born here”, “yes, this was your name”, “yes, you were adopted in 1991”, “no, we don’t have such kind of info”, “no, they name of the mother and father is not here”, “no, we don’t know”, “all the documents sent to the Ministry of Health of Russia”. Nobody close to me knew about my adoptee condition. I am not typical Slavic man and that’s the reason why I grew up without ethnical distinction in Spain. In some cases, some friends or school mates laughed. It hurt me a lot and decided to keep it in a secret for the rest of my life. I was in slice until I bought the flight tickets to Russia in January 2014.
In September 2013 I received an email from Irina Ikushina, the last director of my orphanage. She gave to me the most effective and valuable information I was waiting for. Because the centre was going to close earlier, she decided to inform me about the last address of my biological mother in Moscow, her single and married surname, patronymic and a telephone number. With all this information I searched in phone number Internet list my biological mother data. I found two women with similar age living in the similar street in the south of Moscow. I wrote a hand-writing letter in Russian and English asking if her was truly my biological mother or not. I had no any hope to be answered.
One month later I received and e-mail from a man who said me “yes, your biological mother is still alive, and she lives here, this is her phone number, call her”. Another woman also replied me and confirmed twice with similar indications. We started to send e-mails each other. She had a picture of me, but I have never had a picture from her until our meeting in Moscow. My aunt preserved her former Russian teacher in Moscow who helped me with translations, she contacted with my bio-mother many times to meet her deeply and prepare our meeting. I had only three tools who helped me: my ex-girlfriend, the Russian teacher and Google (Maps and Translator).
I decided to travel alone to Moscow. I needed to see Russia, touch Russians and read into Moscow on my own, by myself with any “occidental” influence. I wanted to face me against my past which I couldn’t remember. Walked in a fine line between my desires and my imagination. When I met my biological mother, she gave to me many information about her past, her family. She still preserved many pictures of her relatives in Russian Empire and lovely stories about Soviet Union. I have a half biological brother. The first sentence she said: “your hair and eyebrows are from you father who was Armenian”.
Greeks, Jews, Armenians and Russians became part of my current live. Understanding their lives, I could understand reasonably why an Armenian guy and a young Russian lady who got in love with him could not take care of me. They loved each other but the unbearable days that collapsed the USSR in 1990 prevented from having a child who intelligently decided to give him more life separated from them.
My biological mother refused to give me more information about my Armenian side. I moved to Jerusalem -Israel- to live and saw Armenian quarter and realize about my physical similarity with them. Recently, I spent one month working and living in Armenia, but I could not find any single information. It looked like if my biological father was not existed.
At the end on this 2017 I received some news from Moscow and I was informed about his patronymic and some names of his siblings. I restarted the research. Finally, the 14th of January a woman who read a post written by me in Zhdy Menya -Russian TV show- decided to contact me and tell me the story about our common biological paternal line. I am still in shock! Yes, I got a half-biological sister! She sent to me many pictures. Now I can say, after 10 long years of research in Spain, Russia, Israel and Armenia I have almost completed solitary the biological genealogical tree from different corners of the world. This difference, these people gave me life and now I am ready to give my life to my future children. I’ll travel again to Russia to meet two Armenian biological sisters, one Armenian biological brother, another Russian biological brother and who knows, maybe I’ll see my biological father at the end.
I know what children and adults adopted feel very deep inside. I am aware of the potential interest and motivation for us to find. Sometimes we feel super heroes while we are completely alone in the beginning of the path. Some of us are strong while another need a hand in the shoulder to continue. This is my goal: help!
In one hand, to live (Spain) in a taboo society where adopted grow up with social stigma as well as their parents to is problematic. In the other face, during the 90`s and the 2000’s a crazy wave of international adoptions were taken without control and the consequences were not measured regarding the need of these children to come back to their origins. Not a soul was responsible to teach parents and children about the future children feelings. Feeling are bigger than the reason and we need a bridge into. I decided to collaborate with Alex Gilbert and the I’m Adopted project precisely because of the lack of tools, lack of motivation, lack of solidarity among equals. Many specialists (psychologists, pedagogies, educators and advisors) recommend come to them to be ready. Sometimes they are right, but I recommend to you travel alone, do not give your life to anyone who will blame you, or your family and your biological parents. Your life is entirely yours. Take the hand of a special person for you and don’t pay for nothing.
You need to study, to read, to live, to be in contact with members of the place where you were born. You need to be ready to understand the society, the people, the religion, the politics and the history because when you achieve your goal, your feelings will be better, and you will not be a victim anymore. Learn the language of your biological parents is important. Tell your parents and other relatives about your plans, they will help you. In I’m Adopted you’ll find people who will never judge you, we’re here to listen to you and help.
Ivan is our Spanish Editor for the Spanish Version of I’m Adopted which you can see here- Facebook.com/imadoptedOrgES