Angels in Adoption trip to Washington, D.C.: Front row left to right: Sasha, Lada, Merry-Viktoria, Viktoria and Matvei, Middle Row left to right: Zhenya and Vika. Back Row Left to Right: Mike, Dee, Grandma Groft and Congressman Platts
May 13, 2015
On this International Day of Families, CCAI is pleased to feature 2005 Angels in Adoption™ Honoree Deirdre DeVeny and her son Sasha DeVeny.
In December of 2001, my husband, Mike, and I had decided to expand our family by adopting a son. If you will notice, this was a singular reference…son….as in ONE son. In September of 2000, we had adopted three beautiful Russian sisters and, enjoying our new family, decided that we could handle another child….a boy this time we thought. In an adoption portfolio, we found a family of four children that we could not seem to forget. The one little guy had his head tilted to the side and just seemed to pull us into the picture with him. We closed our eyes and couldn’t forget that small face that seemed to call out to us. We talked. We prayed. We looked over our finances. Could we financially afford, it…first, the adoption and, then, to raise…four more children? We believed that this family was meant to be part of our family. We contacted our adoption social worker. “Do you think we’re crazy?” we asked. “Maybe,” she said, “but in a good way.” So began the process of expanding our family…again.
In January of 2008, my husband died. Mike adored his children and he thrived on the challenges of raising children. In the last months of his life, we talked about what life would look like without Papa. How did we move forward? We have found a way to do that. Sasha’s reflective essay holds the key in his final lines.
First picture as a family. In the front row: Merry-Viktoria and Matvei being held my Dee, Lada and Sasha being held by Mike. In the back row from left to right: Vika, Viktoria and Zhenya.
My life was way different before I came to America. Not many people know about my childhood in Kazakhstan. My life was not always easy. When I was in Kazakhstan I used to get abused by my dad. My life there was harsh: I was neglected by my parents. All I knew was how to steal and fight for what I needed. One day, my dad beat me so badly that he almost killed me and I was put in the hospital. When I woke up, I was sent to an orphanage with my brothers and sister to live. It was a horrible place, too, but it was better than home. I thought I would never get out of there. I didn’t know how to get out of there. Then one day my life changed when my brothers and sister and I got adopted. Instead of learning bad things about life, I came out a different person.
I grew up in a small town in Kazakhstan called Tschushincks. My family was poor. My mom and dad had alcohol problems. My dad did not like me for a reason that I could never figure out. He always was mean to me and seemed to like my two brothers and sister better. I figured that out because I was the one that he beat up all of the time. He treated me like I was nothing and, if he was angry, I was the one that ended up with a broken bone. He told me that it was my fault that he had to hurt me, but I never understood. That was when I started acting bad and I stopped coming home. I wasn’t even five yet but I used to go and steal stuff from other people and get into fights with other kids because I didn’t know any other life and I needed stuff, like food, to survive.
Life never made sense to me when I was little. When I was almost five years old, I was playing and smashed a tomato from my dad’s tomato plant that was in our living room. I remember my dad coming home. He was drunk and very angry. When he came into the room, he looked at the plant and got even more angry. He ask me if I destroyed the plant and I was scared so I lied about it. Then mom told my dad I was the one who did it. I remember he grabbed me and threw me on the ground then he started attacking me. He grabbed my leg and picked me up and started shaking me around like a rag doll. I was thrown against the wall. My dad made me drink alcohol- I don’t know why- but I did not feel any pain even when my dad broke my leg and my arm and cracked my skull. I almost died that day. I don’t really remember anything after the beating because I think I was in a coma. I just remember waking up in the hospital all bandaged up and I was in different casts just lying there.
After a couple months my grandma came and picked me up from the hospital. After that I did not live with my parents; I lived with my grandma on a small farm. I live there for a couple months. Then I was put in a orphanage with my brothers and sister because my grandma was not able to take care of me because she had a problem with alcohol. I did not like the orphanage because you had to fight all the time to protect yourself. The orphanage was in an abandoned Russian hospital. It was dark and very creepy inside. Then one day my brothers and sister and I met a couple that we did not know and they talked to us, but we did not understand them and they did not understand us. But I felt comfortable being around them. Then they started visiting us every day and we found out that they were going to adopt us. They wanted to be my new parents. I was very excited because I could have a second chance in life without hate or anger, and I felt safe.
The first picture the Deveny’s ever saw of Sasha and his bothers and sister. From bottom left: Zhenya and Merry-Viktoria. Top left to right: Matvei and Sasha
One day I found out I was being adopted and the next week I was getting on a plane to fly to America. I did not know where I was going at first, but I did not care because I just wanted to leave Kazakhstan and the orphanage. We stopped in different countries before coming to America, like Russia and Germany. I remember I almost got in a fight in Germany with four other boys but my new dad stopped me. When we finally got to the United States, I remember meeting my three new sisters in an airport where they were waiting with my new babushka in the van to take us to our new home. Life was different now.
When your life changes around you, you have to make changes to yourself. What I learned from this experience was that something bad might happen to you, but in the end something good can come out of it. I also came out of it a different person from the bad experience. Most kids that go through this come out very angry and they grow up being hateful and always getting in trouble with the law. I came out a completely different person; I am a nice caring young man. I will always remember what I went through. Only now I know that I can get through anything because the fear is no more. I am stronger as a person now.
About the author: Alexander Clay DeVeny (Sasha) was born in December of 1994 in northern Kazakhstan. He was the third child in a family of what would eventually be four children. His early life was full of abuse and pain and neglect. Eventually Sasha and his siblings found themselves living in an orphanage after being removed from their home. In another turn of fate, he and his siblings found themselves adopted and living in the United States.
Sasha is now proudly looking forward to his graduation from Northeastern High School. He is looking forward to his future. His story that he is sharing was actually part of an assignment in his 12th grade English class that asked students to write a self-reflection. It is a brutal story of what one child survived and how he now sees his future.
Sasha in grade 12. (April, 2015)