Anastasia Hale
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Incredibly Grateful
 
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Happy New Years Eve y'all! 

What a year 2017 has been! But I want to talk about the past month specifically. This month marks 12 years since Galyna and I met our parents for the very first time, thanks to Vinny (pictured above). Galyna and I came to visit during Christmas time in 2005 and moved to US in 2007. We came here for a visit and got super lucky that the family decided that they wanted to adopt us. I was truly lucky that they wanted to take me cause I was already 15 years old when we met, and usually no one wants older kids. And so 2017 marks 10 years since we became a family. 

While I was hanging out with Ira, Sveta and Vinny, I realized that I've known Vinny for 20 years now. I met him in 1997 when I was in 1st grade. He's been doing this for over 25 years and he's not stopping anytime soon. Vinny is the director of Frontier Horizon, a Virginia Beach, Va based humanitarian organization which brings kids from Ukraine, Nicaragua, and Kyrgyzstan to America and Canada on what are commonly referred to as "hosting" trips. If you're interested or need more information visit Frontier Horizon website. I've learned a few new things about Vinny while hanging out with him for almost 2 weeks. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York and was actually an actor, but he went on a mission trip to Nicaragua and it changed his life. And even though he's not married and doesn't have his own children, like I told him, he has A LOT of kids all over the place. He helped a lot of kids when no one else would and when I asked him how much longer he thinks he's gonna be able to do this he said, "I'll keep going until I can't." 

So I just want to say thank you Vinny for caring about children of Ukraine, Nicaragua, and Kyrgyzstan. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to give back this Christmas, it meant a lot and made this Christmas extra special. 

Happy New Years Eve everyone and I'll see y'all next year!

 
Saying Goodbye Is Hard
 
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Saying goodbye is always hard no matter how long you've known someone. 

I've known Ira and Sveta only for two weeks and it was hard to see them being escorted to the plane heading to Connecticut yesterday morning. We've grown attached to each other and they even told me that they would put me in their suitcase and take me with them. 

Vinny found a family in Connecticut who wanted to take the girls for the rest of the trip and hopefully be interested in adopting or maybe find someone else who might be interested. But it's going to be tough because Sveta is 14 years old and people usually don't want older kids, so please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. I really hope that something great will come out from this trip for these girls. I know one thing for sure, I will never forget this Christmas.  

 
Merry Christmas!
 

Merry Christmas from Ira, Sveta, Bryssa, Xochilt, and me! 

What a week we've had. We met Santa. Spent a day and a half in Pennsylvania at Kalahari water park and resort. The girls had a blast, swimming and playing games. They loved opening their gifts on Christmas Eve and were very grateful for everything they've got. It was fun for me to watch their faces every time they opened a new gift. 

It's been fun, but also a bit challenging. I never realized what my parents went through with my sister and me when it came to food. These girls can eat, but boy oh boy they're picky. I told my parents about that and my dad laughed at me because he went through this with us, I guess. I just don't remember being this picky :) But all in all it was a great Christmas. 

This is the first Christmas that I'm apart from my family. I miss them a lot, but I think I'm where I'm supposed to be. I'm grateful for this opportunity. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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12 Years!
 
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This year marks 12 years since Galyna and I came to US for the very first time. WOW! 

It's been only four days since I met these girls, but with everyday passing by I get attached to them more and more. And I can't help but reminisce about my first trip here. It's almost like I'm watching my younger self through my older self eyes, if that makes sense. 

Sveta, the older one, reminds me so much of myself. She's very shy and quiet, and she doesn't smile a lot, unless she's playing with a dog. Ira, reminds me a lot of my younger sister Galyna. She has a lot of energy and boy, she can eat. 

Please keep these sweet girls in your thoughts and prayers this Christmas. Yes, they're having a good time, but they do get home sick once in a while. I just want them to have a special Christmas and New Year this year. 

 
"I wasn't even born yet"
 
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On Monday we went to One World Observatory next to the September 11 Memorial. How do you even begin to explain what happened here when neither of the girls were even born yet? But they both asked questions which made me happy that they were curious to know.

It was great to just watch them walking around and looking around at the foreign city and people around them. The girls enjoyed themselves but last night they got a bit home sick, which is understandable. They both are still so young, and even though they like it here, it's not their home, and I hate to say it, probably never will be. 

Frontier Horizon brings kids to US in hopes that someone might fall in love with a child (children) and might be able to adopt. But in the past few years I think the percentage of that happening dropped significantly. Plus people want to adopt younger children. There are a few lucky ones that got adopted at the older age, and I'm so thankful I was one of the lucky ones. 

 
Christmas in Full Circle
 

Hey y’all! 

So this year for Christmas I’m doing something different. Many of you know that I was adopted 10 years ago from Odessa, Ukraine, but 12 years ago during Christmas I came to US for the very first time. My younger sister and I, and a lot of other kids landed in Dulles airport not knowing anyone, we were terrified. So this year I got an opportunity to help out with 2 sweet girls from Ukraine. So lets meet them. 

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Ira (left) and Sveta (right)

Ira and Sveta are sisters from an orphanage #2 in Mariupol, Ukraine. This is their first time in the United States or really anywhere outside of the orphanage. Ira is 10 years old and she’s in 5th grade. She loves to draw, sing, and dance. Sveta is 14 years old and she’s in 9th grade. She loves to play soccer. And their favorite subject in school is PE. Sveta is graduating this year and she doesn’t know what’s gonna happen to her, but she wants to go to a trade school. 

They have 3 older siblings, one brother who’s in the army, and two sisters. They also have a grandmother but they don’t see her or their siblings much. The girls’ mom died, and they don’t really know where their father is. 

I asked them how they felt when they found out that they were coming to US for Christmas and the answer was kind of funny. Sveta said that they were very surprised specially because she wasn’t behaving very well :) Which is hard to believe, because both of them are very well behaved.

As I'm writing this post down, I realize how my and their stories are very similar. And I'm so happy that Vinny (from Frontier Horizon) gave me this opportunity to give back. I'm honored to have this chance to meet these two lovely girls and spend Christmas and the New Years with them.