International adoption: A Journey of Dreams Becoming Reality. Arina Cunningham

International adoption: A Journey of Dreams Becoming Reality. Arina Cunningham

5 min.
Linda Paula

Arina is a young and spirited girl who navigated through challenging life experiences as an orphan until she met her beloved adoptive family in her teenage years. At the age of 22, Arina currently resides with her family in Texas, USA, while pursuing a degree in biology with the goal of entering the field of dentistry. She is living her best life. Here’s the story from Arina Cunningham:

Early Life in Latvia

“I was born in a small town in Latvia, which is a country in Eastern Europe. My mom, battling with alcohol, often left my brother and me alone. It got so bad that the neighbors had to step in, and we were sent to an orphanage. So I only lived with my biological family for the first three months.

I was separated from my brother and we lost any connections. At the age of two, I was placed with my first foster family in a village in Latvia. It seemed like a good match since I was the same age as their biological daughter. The foster father had problems with alcohol and there were times when he became violent towards the foster mother. During those periods, I was sent back to the orphanage temporarily, but I would always return to the same foster family when the situation calmed down there.

Honestly, I never felt like a true member of that family. They would constantly remind me that I wasn’t their biological daughter. They made it clear that they took me in only to provide company for their own child. There were ongoing disagreements for a long period.

When I was about 13 years old, a significant conflict occurred between my foster mother and me in front of my schoolmates. This led to the involvement of school personnel and social services. I made it clear during these proceedings that I didn’t want to return to the foster family. On that same day, I was sent to a crisis center. I no longer had a foster family.

After months I was placed with a new foster family. I felt that this family genuinely cared about me. However, my time with them was short.”

The Unexpected Opportunity

“The new foster family offered an unexpected opportunity: the chance to spend the summer in America with an American host family.

Initially, I hesitated and wasn’t excited about it. However, my foster mother reassured me, and eventually, I agreed to go.”

Forming Bonds and Making Memories

“Meeting the host family felt both strange and exciting. On the first day, I spent a long time in my room, trying to process the fact that I had actually arrived in America. The family consisted of a caring mother, a loving father, and a son who was slightly older than me. The first week was dedicated to getting to know each other.

Since my English language skills were weak, communication posed a challenge. However, we relied on translation apps to bridge the language barrier. In just a few weeks, I was able to communicate well in English. Slowly, we formed a special bond.

We spent countless hours creating precious memories while engaging in various activities together. The experience was filled with joy and happiness. Meanwhile, I was also regularly checked by the chaperone from my home country who guided me and other kids through the trip.

As my time in America was coming to an end, my host parents expressed their desire to adopt me. I didn’t give them an immediate answer.

However, the day before my scheduled flight back home, I made my decision clear to them—I wanted them to adopt me. I wanted us to be a family! We were all in tears of happiness.”

Arina Cunningham, international adoption, family
Arina Cunningham, international adoption, family

The Adoption Process

“When I returned to Latvia, despite the physical separation, I maintained constant communication with my American family.

The adoption process became a race against time, as it had to be completed before I turned 16, which was rapidly approaching, adding extra stress.

Together, we navigated through all the necessary legal processes. The family made frequent trips between Latvia and the United States. Finally, the day arrived when the adoption was approved, and we all boarded a plane bound for Texas, ready to embark on a new chapter of our lives as a complete family.”

Arina Cunningham, international adoption
Arina Cunningham, international adoption

Dreams Come True

“As a child, I used to write about making wishes when a star fell, and my deepest desire was always for a family. With time passing, I grew older, and hope began to fade. When I reached my teenage years, adoption seemed impossible, as people are usually willing to adopt younger children.

Against all odds, miracles happened, and now, reflecting on my journey, I realize my dream of having a loving family has finally come true.

Despite losing my father a few years ago, his love continues to shape my understanding of love and belonging. Alongside my mother and brother, we support each other and give our best. My dream of having a family has truly become a beautiful reality.”

Arina Cunningham, international adoption, family
Arina Cunningham, international adoption, family

Message from Linda

In conclusion, I want to express my deep gratitude for Arina’s beloved father, Steven Cunningham. Steven was not only an incredible person but also a light, leaving a lasting impression on those whose paths crossed with his. I, Linda Paulauska, feel fortunate to have met Steven. His spirit, positive attitude toward life, love for his family and those around him were truly inspiring. The good he did continues to inspire and spread love that will be remembered with warmth and appreciation.

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