Hello! I grew up in a Russian orphanage before being adopted into the United States in the late '90's. I've lived in some strange places, seen some strange people, and I'll answer your questions about them!

One note, though: I will answer questions until they start tapering off, but I do have to go to work eventually, so if I skip out for a few hours, I'll be back.

I've submitted my proof to the mods.



Alright, I have to go to work tomorrow, and I need to sleep. I'll be back on tomorrow to answer more questions--but not until about 6PM EST. I'll try my best to catch up then, so please don't think I'm ignoring you!

Comments: 468 • Responses: 103  • Date: 

ratatatrocks123 karma

We're pretty similar. I grew up in a Ukrainian orphanage and also was adopted when I was 9. I also lost my ability to speak my native language but apparently I sometimes dream-talk in Ukrainian.

cell_frize94 karma

I've actually done that quite often. I dream about being back in Russia, and I can speak Russian in my dreams.

If I can ask--I often have dreams where I am back in that situation and have no way out. Do you have recurring nightmares about being back where you were, but still retain your current memories?

Copterwaffle31 karma

Sounds like you're dealing with some symptoms of PTSD. Have you ever seen a therapist?

May I ask, was your adoptive family religious? A lot of these adoptions seem to be motivated by religious ideals that aren't particularly compatible with raising a traumatized child.

Do you have any memories of your life before the orphanage, or had you been there since you were very young?

cell_frize75 karma

My first memories are from the orphanage. I have no memory of my biological parents.

My adoptive parents were religious, and it did definitely put us on two different pages. They wanted to believe that they were doing a holy thing, but... they weren't.

If it is PTSD, I have never seen a therapist. I have never seen a need for it. Everything that has happened is over. It sucks, but it doesn't drag at me from day to day. It happened, I lived it, I learned from it. But I choose how I shape the world, I don't let the world force me into something I'm not or that I don't want to be.

Copterwaffle16 karma

thanks for answering! This is a really interesting AMA for me. I'm in my fourth year of a Developmental Psych PhD (research, not clinical), and I've been tossing around the idea of fostering or adopting an older child/teen in the future.

How are your relationships with others now, romantic and otherwise? Do you feel like it's difficult to trust people and form attachments?

Regarding PTSD, do your nightmares bother you much? Do you feel like you might behave or feel certain ways because of the abuse you endured?

I'm really concerned that you've never seen a therapist after everything you have endured...sexual abuse, attachment issues, physical/emotional abuse...if you ever feel like maybe you're having trouble functioning in relationships or otherwise, even losing sleep from nightmares, I would encourage you to give it a shot. All of this is so much for one person to handle. That said, you seem very resilient. I hope you are proud of yourself!

cell_frize41 karma

Sleep? What is that?

Yeah, I have sleep problems. As for the nightmares... they're not always about the orphanage. They just focus mostly on being powerless. That being said, they don't affect my life much. I just get grumpy if I have one.

Romantically, I have a hard time with unreserved trust. Most of my friends can go from "who are you" to "marry me" in a year or two--that's just not me. Until I know everything about you, and can feel like I can trust you, I can't commit to a relationship.

Friends-wise, I say the same thing. I'd much rather know who you are, what your interests are, ect, before I start hanging out. It's not like a job interview or anything, but I just don't feel comfortable with people until I feel comfortable with them, if that makes sense.

dnagi67 karma

How old were you when you were adopted and how did they treat you in the orphanage? Also, do you still have contact with people you knew from the orphanage?

cell_frize110 karma

I was 9 when I was adopted into the US. However, I frankly believe I am older than my birth certificate says. When I went to the orphanage, they didn't have any records on where I came from. They didn't assign me a birthday practically until they were filling out the adoption paperwork. I believe I was about 11.

As for how they treated me? Let me link you to another comment, where I have answered this.


I know a few people who still come to the United States--or at least, I knew them when I was a kid--but for the most part, no. I have no contact with anyone from the orphanage.

dakisking39 karma

Strangest experience? What about place lived?

cell_frize94 karma

My strangest experience from that time is probably this: Every so often, everybody that showed potential in a certain field had to go to certain camps. They weren't any better or worse than the orphanage, but... it was nothing short of military training. It wouldn't be anything too severe, but I just find it odd that as kids, we were running through drills. The whole time I lived in Russia was a strange experience, I guess, but everything there is just different than it is here.

The strangest place I lived has got to be Novoshakhtinsk (I think that's how you spell it). Everything there, if I could make a comparison, was almost exactly like Silent Hill. Everyone was old, skinny, withering away. There was constant fog, almost no sunlight, and everyone was constantly worried about survival--they were all on edge, including all the children. The environment was eerie all the time.

ExitNr752 karma

that's how we all imagine Russia, with tons of vodka ofc

cell_frize64 karma

Actually, that's ironic. There's lot of vodka, yeah, but when people say "oh, Russians love their vodka!" they really don't know the half of it.

Americanonymous17 karma

That sounds incredibly strange. Why was everyone always on edge and worried about survival there though? :/

cell_frize27 karma

The main thing was that there was a lot of crime in that area. People stole constantly. There was a massive alcoholic problem, too. People would beat each other up all the time.

I can't say that anyone outside the orphanage felt the same, but everyone inside was struggling to get enough food and avoid being beaten.

im-not-too-j37 karma

My uncle and aunt adopted a child from an Eastern European orphanage when she was 4 or 5. Almost since birth she had been so malnourished and neglected (lying in a crib 24-7 in a room with lots of other children in their cribs and no one to give them attention beyond the bare minimum) that she was developmentally damaged. They adopted her because they were too old to be eligible to adopt a normal child, and they raised her with a lot of love. She learned the new language, but she never caught up with her peers socially, and now that she is in her 20s she lives in a (very nice) facility for adults who function well enough to have their own little apartment and relationships and work a little, but who still require a caretaker overseeing their lives and helping them out with stuff. My aunt and uncle still see her several times a week, but they are secure in the knowledge that she will be well taken care of when they are gone.

The point of telling my cousin's story is: How in the world did you manage to develop as normally as you did? You seem miraculously whole for what you've been through.

cell_frize56 karma

There's a major difference between me and her, though.

Females never had it as good as the males did. Almost all the females, by the time they're adopted, were raped and abused. Possibly--probably--several times.

I went through a huge depression when I started pulling myself together, but the thing that kept me sane is that my whole survival depended on myself, and that I was capable of surviving. I did consider suicide for a while. I couldn't see a way out. But I found one, eventually, and here I am.

im-not-too-j32 karma

This just became more difficult to read...

Did you witness sexual abuse of the girls at the orphanage?

cell_frize59 karma

Yes, I did. One incident in particular still stands out. She was abused so much that she ran off and hid in a closet for four days. She didn't move, didn't eat, didn't drink--just stayed there for 4 days. She had passed out because she was so dehydrated. She was rushed to the hospital when they found her.

They didn't even start to look until the third day.

im-not-too-j24 karma

Oh god...

How old was she, and who did what to her? Was it normal to abuse kids with other kids around?

Did any kids ever help other kids, or was it dog-eat-dog all the way?

cell_frize38 karma

She was about 15ish. The kids raped her. They were about 13 or 14. But you need to understand, there were more than one kid doing it. Generally it happened while the staff was changing shift, when there wasn't anyone around.

As for the kids? If you tried to do something like that, you were guaranteed to get isolated. The kids who did it were reprimanded. I don't know what happened to them, but they left and didn't come back.

I didn't know the girl personally, but she was never the same after that incident.

im-not-too-j18 karma

Do you think you too would have ended up raping girls if you had stayed in the orphanage until puberty?

cell_frize49 karma

That's a good question. No, I don't think I would have. Primarily because there was a major crackdown on that type of thing after that incident.

I would like to think I wouldn't have done that, but frankly, I don't have any clue how I would have turned out if I hadn't gotten out of that place.

neitherclover35 karma

I have sons about your age. You are an articulate and bright young man. You sound like the kind of person that will use the experience of adversity to your advantage. What a strong soul you are! I wish you luck, but I don't think you need it. You are 23, and the world is yours! Have a happy life!

cell_frize15 karma


TheLadyJane30 karma

I am so floored and humbled by your story. I have known a few people who were adopted internationally, and others currently who are desperately trying to adopt, but I've never been close to the issue myself. Thank you for sharing your experience, it's so important to hear.

Without going further than you are comfortable, what would you say is the ideal type of person/couple/family who should adopt? And how can extended family support them and the new adoptee?

cell_frize57 karma

If I could say "ideal," which I know doesn't exist, it would be a couple who has no biological children, who have been married for a few years, who are not living in an area that's even remotely similar to where the adopted child came from (for example, don't live in the city if you adopt a child from the city, because the habits won't change and it will be that much harder for them to integrate into the new area).

The parents would not act like a parent for the first year or two. They'd be friends, allies, or mentors, but not parents. If anyone else is going to be involved in their life daily, make sure that they're introduced relatively soon, because constantly hitting them over the head with change isn't good.

If anything, the parents would give the child space, but not lock the doors. Give them somewhere that they can claim as their own, but make sure you're watching from a distance, or where they can't see you. Don't let the child think that you're monitoring them, because that will cause trust issues--they'll feel like you want something from them, or that you're just waiting for them to snap.

P_Grammicus30 karma

Doing the math, you are a young adult in your early twenties, now? What sort of commonly expected middle class milestones have you reached versus not? School? Relationships? Living independently?

Also, what is your relationship like with your adopted family? I get the impression it's not ideal. Personally I think families with a mix of natural born and adopted kids have the most complicated dynamics.

I have several foreign adopted relatives in my family and in general they are all success stories wrt integrating into a new family, language, and culture, but it wasn't a cakewalk for any of them, I think the greatest factor in their success (other than luck) was an acknowledgement that it was going to be hard, and that just love won't cut it in the long term, there's a lot of work and help needed from everyone involved.

cell_frize61 karma

Yes, I'm 23. Milestones? I have a job, got my GED after dropping out of high school (family issues). I don't have a girlfriend at the moment, and I do live independently. They might not seem like huge milestones, but my milestones are predominantly mental.

I feel like I have a great understanding of how to achieve my goals. I've had to suffer for almost everything I ever got, and so from that I have learned to respect everything. Through school, it was difficult for me to be on the same page as everyone else. Part of me had huge trust issues, and the rest just didn't know what the purpose of living was. At the time, it was surviving, finding food, breathing. But now, I feel as if I have opened my eyes and can see the world. I can see hope for a future. I'm not naive, I'm very practical. I don't believe in a fairly-tale world, but the hardships are a matter of pride now, an obstacle to be overcome, a challenge, instead of a deterrent.

My family? We are... not on the best of terms. At least, I'm not on good terms with them. I've had many, many issues with them. I can explain, but it's a long post and I won't bore you with my problems unless you ask. Long story short, my relationship with them is not the best.

jettnoir40 karma

When you don't have a family, being able to be self sufficient is a huge thing. Congratulations on that, it truly is a milestone that you've worked hard to accomplish. I hope your life gets better every day.

cell_frize28 karma

Thank you.

lucydotg29 karma

were there skills and habits you used while in the orphanage that were difficult to let go after leaving?

cell_frize58 karma

Ha. I'm glad you asked this one, actually.

When I was brought over to the United States, the hardest habits to break were the lying and the hoarding food. Throughout the first few years, I couldn't bring myself to trust anyone. I couldn't bring myself to depend on other people--my instincts, developed in Russia, wouldn't let me.

I tended to steal food and hide it away so that I could hide it for later. I didn't break that habit until I was older.

readzalot138 karma

Foster kids in North America also tend to steal and hoard food. It must be a universal response to stress in kids. Maybe made worse if there is a real need to steal in a previous situation.

cell_frize27 karma

I don't know about stress reaction. For me, it was a learned behavior that became a habit--the stress just brought back the old habits.

megazver28 karma

Man, being in an orphanage in Russia in the nineties. You have my sympathies, bro.

cell_frize26 karma


inagiffy27 karma

Would you ever want to go back to Russia?

A friend of mine recently adopted 5 children from Ukraine (ages 5-14). They said the children left everything at the orphanage behind, no ties. I'm guessing their experience wasn't a very positive one either.

This AMA has been very eye-opening btw. I would consider it one of the best ones I've ever read. Thank you.

cell_frize40 karma

I would love to go to Russia, for many reasons.

I would love to know who my medical history and possibly that of my birth parents. I never got to experience Russia, so my experience is only the bad parts. I'd love to go see if that's true or not.

Thank you for saying that. I'm glad I could help people understand some things about the adoption process.

billmurraysboner24 karma

Did you have any one else to confide in while you were in the orphanage? Was there another child you stuck with? Or were you just alone the entire time.

Is there any particular even that still haunts you?

cell_frize80 karma

Anybody to confide in... See, I'm not trying to go on this tangent, but there was one kid who was my first friend. He was smaller than me and weaker than me, which meant he was prey. In a weird sense, I felt like I was his protector. I got into quite a few fights with other kids because of that. That led me to learn quite a bit about fighting, but whatever.

There are a few things that haunt me over it, but there's no sense for me to continue being a martyr about it. Firstly, about three or four months after I first got to the orphanage, a bunch of kids took me into a bathroom and raped me. They forced me to do things, but... yeah. That's definitely one of those haunting things.

The second thing is that apparently I would sleepwalk. When I was asleep, I was extremely violent. I would just start choking people, hitting things... or so they say. I don't know how true that was.

Now that I think about it, life and death was such a common thing that I never really noticed it. There was so much crime, inside and out of the orphanage, that it became almost postapocalyptic. If you couldn't protect yourself, you would die, or be raped, or have everything stolen from you.

Sylvesterhansen24 karma

Hi there. It is great to hear these kinds of stories on here, if it is kind of heart wrenching. I was wondering, what was the most surreal experience of coming to america?

cell_frize80 karma

I think the most surreal thing was the expectancy that I should automatically believe that these new people were my family and that they were here to help me out. I still have trouble with that thought.

They told me "Oh, you'll have a great American life, these people will help you, and feed you, and..." It felt fictional at the time, and proved to be fictional in the long run, but that's not every kid's situation.

One day, I was in the orphanage, and the next, I had these people that I was expected me to call them "mother" and "father" and that I should immediately be comfortable and not afraid.

The second-most surreal thing was seeing my bedroom. I grew up sleeping on the floor or on a cot. I had literally never seen a bed before, and the idea of a room being 'mine' and nobody else's... I just couldn't understand. I was kind of frightened--it boggled my mind and triggered my paranoid instincts.

WendyMouse20 karma

"and proved to be fictional in the long run, but that's not every kid's situation."

Can you say more about this?

cell_frize41 karma

My family wasn't very nice. I'm not going to go into much more detail than that. My situation wasn't exactly typical of adopted kids, but the whole adopted thing definitely made it worse.

eraof924 karma

Also a bit of a personal question, will/ did you adopt your children or not?

cell_frize59 karma

If I were to have a child, I would adopt instead of having one biologically.

To me, I know what situations the children over there are. I know what that feels like. If I could adopt a child, and if I were to want to, I would. I feel like, because I know what they're going through, I could understand them and help them. My adoptive family had no clue what my mindstate was or how to help me through my issues, and it caused me a lot of grief because of it. I think I wouldn't make that mistake.

eraof926 karma

Even though I do not know much about Orphanage and things, I would too adopt my children. What advice would you give me in raising them up?

cell_frize152 karma

If you are going to adopt a child, the first thing I could possibly say is that if you already have a biological child, you're going to have issues.

The adopted child will always believe that the biological child is the favorite. You must go way out of your way to make things 100% absolutely fair. If you don't go way the heck out of your way to do that, there will be issues.

Secondly, it's not about how comfortable your home is or how much you give them. You need to go out of your way to explain to the things in your house, how to use them, what they're for, and if they can use them or if it's off-limits. You can't expect them to know even simple things--I had never seen a bed before I came to the United States.

You need to be really patient. They're going to have issues, and they're going to be adapting to you just as much as you're adapting to them. Do not force them to acknowledge you as the parent. Be their friend, their mentor, their ally. You need to build trust before you can establish that connection--but if you say "I'm your mother" or "I'm your father" we hear "I'm an authority figure and you will deal with it." The child will have a much harder time trusting you, and feel like you expect things out of them without giving anything in return.

One of my major issues was that there were no rules. My old habits were, for example, that I hid food. When I got there, they never showed me that I was allowed to touch the food, or that I could eat when I get hungry. I didn't know what the fridge was. Even the food was different from Russia, so I had no clue, for example, that the box of cereal actually had food inside of it. You need to explain and lay down rules--even social ones.

Yacalo26 karma

These are good tips for anyone that deals with kids

At least you have a good head on your shoulders

cell_frize17 karma

Thank you.

protestor9 karma

One of my major issues was that there were no rules.

You had issues with the lack of rules of your adopted parents, in relation to your orphanage?

cell_frize24 karma

There was more of a lack of structure than a lack of rules. I was never aware of what I could do or couldn't, what I could touch or play with and what I couldn't, and had no idea what the social rules were. They would verbally abuse me if I broke any of the rules I didn't know about.

thrownormanaway22 karma

A kid I grew up next to in FL was also adopted from a Russian orphanage at a round 6 years old. I remember distinctly that he was so angry about his "former life" that he openly got angry with anyone who mentioned his lineage or asked questions about it, because he was American now, not Russian anymore. He never had qualms about calling his fellow adopted siblings brother and sister, because he was completely gung-ho about his identity in he states. He was content with being completely divorced from his past. Would you say that you too are completely separated from your "former life", or do you feel ok with having your past in the forefront of your mind? Did you settle into your new life easily or did you have trouble assimilating?

cell_frize15 karma

I didn't settle in easily. It took many years--not in the least because my adoptive parents weren't the best people.

I have skills and habits that I brought over from Russia, but for the most part it doesn't affect my life too much. I don't have the same type of "this is my new identity" thing going on as your friend did, though. I'm proud to be from Russia, in the same way as people are proud to be Italian or German or whatever else. I don't hide from it.

Well_thats_Rubbish21 karma

How did your parents decide to adopt from Russia - and did it turn out as they expected?

cell_frize63 karma

They bought me from a catalog. Literally. It was a two-for-one deal. I'm not joking.

They were going to adopt someone else, and when they realized that they could get a massive discount if they got another kid, they did. Did they really want me? Maybe. I don't really know. I wasn't the first choice, though. They didn't pick me up until they were actually already in Russia. They made that decision in a month. I feel like I was on sale, honestly.

im-not-too-j15 karma

Do you recall consciously charming them or doing anything else to make them pick you?

And what was it generally like when adopting parents came to the orphanage - did all the kids want to be chosen and try to win them over?

cell_frize31 karma

The kids have absolutely nothing to do with the adoption process. If you choose to be up for adoption, you have no say whatsoever, no input at all. You can also choose to not be up for adoption, if you wish.

The kissing of ass happens between the children and the staff of the orphanage. It's this sadistic game of trying to suck up to the staff while simultaneously trying to discredit and stab the other children in the back.

As for when the parents come? You don't walk into the orphanage until you're ready to pick up the kid. By the time you're there, it's all over by the signing of paperwork.

im-not-too-j12 karma

Oh, OK. What was it like when you got the news that you were being adopted and what was it like when meeting the adoptive parents for the first time?

cell_frize36 karma

I didn't know how to take the news. They called it 'adoption,' but nobody really knew what that was except that it was good.

For us, all we saw is that the kids who were adopted left and didn't come back. It's kind of strange, that we were scared to leave a place that we hated, but it was all we knew.

Meeting the new people was confusing. They said that these people are my new father, new mother. But I had no idea what they were talking about (plus, the adoptive parents only spoke English). More than that, though, was that in Russia, we viewed the US as a scary place. We viewed them as if they were trying to take over the world, and all they wanted was our food and our safety. Government propaganda, sure, but we were all kids. When I first saw these people who clearly didn't look Russian, they scared the hell out of me.

im-not-too-j10 karma

When I first saw these people who clearly didn't look Russian, they scared the hell out of me.

How was your interaction during that first meeting?

Also, do you know why the orphanage staff chose you to be adopted by this couple?

cell_frize24 karma

My first meeting was strange. They had a translator, but I was conditioned to sit down, shut up, and not as questions. I didn't get to know them until after I was in the US.

Why did the orphanage choose me? I was quiet, I was out of sight, and I had extreme anger issues and they wanted to get rid of me. Plus, the adoptive parents picked me out of a catalog.

killercurvesahead10 karma

How was/is your relationship with the "first-pick" adopted child? Do you still have contact with any of your siblings?

cell_frize9 karma


I posted the answer to this here. I do still talk to my (adoptive) sister sometimes.

FissurePrice5 karma

Do they still have the catalogue? Have you seen it by any chance?

cell_frize8 karma

No, I haven't seen it. They don't have it anymore. However, when I asked them how they found me, they told me there was a catalog of prospective adoptee kids.

Cladams919 karma

So do you have a Russian adopted "sibling" ?

cell_frize16 karma

No, she's not my sibling. She was just another random child that they adopted, but yes, from Russia.

Jeffrey7sisracist19 karma

Why are Russians so upset about American adoptions?

cell_frize44 karma

The reason why Russians have banned American adoptions are:

1) There were many cases where the parents adopted a child, didn't like it, and then threw the kid back on a plane back to Russia.

2) A lot of the problems came from the fact that Russian background checks weren't the greatest thing. A lot of Americans adopted Russian children as sexual objects. Quite a few orphanages were shut down for this reason.

3) It became a problem that American parents didn't treat the children like their own, and it became an embarrassment to Russia.

It's entirely political.

zoef19 karma

Do you still speak any Russian?

And how did life change for you once you arrived in the USA?

cell_frize46 karma

I don't speak much Russian because I didn't have anyone to practice it with. Over the years, I slowly lost it--there's only random words, now. I do catch myself phrasing English sentences in the Russian syntax, though. ("The dog brown" instead of the "the brown dog", for example).

My life changed radically. My biggest issue was dealing with the new family that I was adopted into. I never had a real idea of what a family should be. I was pretty introverted--trust issues--and it was a different type of living. Although I was out of Russia, I still felt like I was inside of a cage. Yeah, my life changed. Yeah, I had nicer things... but in my mind, I was still the caged orphanage kid. It took me years to actually put myself back together.

jorsies18 karma

Was there any medical care provided at all? Any yearly checkups or dentist visits? What happened when a child was sick?

cell_frize35 karma

Sort of. You won't really believe it, but... medical care was almost non-existent. Unless it was " bring him to the doctor or he dies," you wouldn't get any attention. If you ever went to the doctor, you were almost guaranteed not to come back. I don't know whether they died or were just relocated.

As I came over to the united states, I had so many medical issues. It was shocking that I was still alive.

Erinroxsox16 karma

What kind of medical issues?

cell_frize51 karma

I was severely malnourished. I was 30 pound underweight. I didn't have many vaccinations, and as they were doing a physical on me, they found that I had two cockroaches stuck in my ear that were dead. They had to take those out. I had severe back problems. I was never sick sick (my immune system was probably very good, being exposed to all that), but the other things were definitely problems.

Erinroxsox14 karma

Do you remember the cockroaches going in??

cell_frize24 karma

No. I don't remember them, but from what I understand, they had been there for ages.

WendyMouse18 karma

What is your opinion of the people who end up trying to get rid of their adopted children after severe behavior problems? To me, it seems pretty counter to what adoption is supposed to be, but when the actual problems with the kids are spelled out, I don't know if I would be able to deal with that either.

Would you have any suggestions for the adoptive parents to get through to those kids or advice you could give to kids like that coming to the US?

cell_frize31 karma

A huge portion of the problem comes from parents who adopt a child without spending some time with them first--it's not a dog you pick up from the pound.

As for the adopted children? I know that they can be severe, and definitely not something that the adoptive parents were expecting. The only thing I can really say is this: don't try to make them feel like they should automatically know everything, or adjust to their new life immediately. The parents who force parenthood on the kids are wrong. The kid needs a friend, a mentor first--the authority may come later. By trying to assert your authority first and your friendship second, you make the kid feel like the friendship is contingent on obeying the parent's every word, and that breeds resentment.

strengthofstrings18 karma

Do you know anything about your biological parents?

cell_frize33 karma

Absolutely nothing. I'm trying to find out, but it was Russia in the 90's. Good luck.

The only things I have been able to gather is that they were drug addicts and preferred their drugs to their kid.

nightpanda89318 karma

How were/are you treated by your adoptive family?

cell_frize64 karma

They weren't the best parents. I don't have a very good relationship with them.

I was never treated like part of the family. They have other, biological children that they always treated much better. I was always made to feel inferior to the other kids--and this is on top of the issues I had already.

Any time I wanted or needed something, they didn't have the time--but that was never true with the other children. Everything was done on time for them, but never for me. Heck, I had to pay for my own citizenship when my residency expired.

Children are children, and the other children in the family weren't kept in line--by which I mean they could do whatever they want to me without getting yelled at. My possessions were regularly destroyed, my room was not a private place, and my feelings were stepped on without care for how it made me feel.

But if you're curious about specific examples, I have one for you: "Do it or I swear we'll get on a plane back to Russia tomorrow!" Or, "I can't believe you don't do this for me. We went to Russia to adopt you, and you're this ungrateful bastard."

I don't want to go too far into detail. I'm not going to try to get sympathy or be a martyr. But yeah, my relationship isn't the best.

Darwin_Saves17 karma

What was it like to start going to school once you moved to the US?

cell_frize41 karma

This is where my problems first started. I didn't speak a word of English when I came over--but they threw me into school within a few weeks of my coming over here. So... I was the kid who didn't speak English, didn't know how to interact with people.... I didn't have friends. Nobody wants to be friends with the violent, creepy Russian kid.

School was a nightmare all the way through high school. Everyone has their own issues in school, and I had Russia on top of that.

feedmymouth13 karma

You say 'violent' russian kid. Did you act aggressive when you first went to school? Did you get in a fight?

cell_frize57 karma

When I was a child--when I came to America--I had no clue what was going on. One day, the teacher started yelling at me in English, and I couldn't understand him. I hit him across the face with the textbook.

In Russia, when people tried to take my stuff, I hurt them until they stopped trying to do that.

But when I say "violent" I should probably say almost "feral." It wasn't the violence that was the issue so much as the complete lack of understanding of social etiquette and how to act.

Darwin_Saves13 karma

So when did it start getting better?

cell_frize35 karma

When I dropped out of high school. After years, I still hadn't gained the ability to trust people, and I felt like a lot of the kids in school had no clue what I was going through, and they couldn't empathize--which made me the creepy kid.

The thing that really changed things around was the day I asked myself who I was. This opened up my mind--I would live in the moment and try to survive, before, but then I started to set goals and start working toward things.

im-not-too-j10 karma

Will you elaborate on this turning point and everything else that came after and got you to where you are today? Are you able to trust people now?

cell_frize33 karma

I was so used to constantly getting shat on that I just decided that I was tired of it. I compared my life to my friends' lives, and I wondered how it was different--and then I just decided that I was going to have to be the improvement in my own life if it was going to improve at all. So I started improving--and it took me years, but here I am.

As for trust? I'm wary about trusting people. I don't have difficulty trusting people who are trustworthy, but when you're not, I want nothing to do with you.

If you want a better explaination on the trustworthy thing: Say I walk into a store and there's someone in line waiting to grab a coffee. They pay the cashier and then spill some on themselves. To me, I find the person who says "oops, crap" to be more trustworthy than the person who immediately blames the cashier for not putting the lid on right or something.

I trust those who I think are worth trust and who I can see myself being friends with.

the-alchemist17 karma

Wow, it just hit me that we have a lot in common, but I wasn't adopted. Allow me to explain.

I was born in Poland, but my parents left for the United States shortly thereafter. I lived with my grandparents in Poland until age seven, when my parents finally could afford to fly me over to the U.S. to see them.

So, here's what we kind of have in common, based on your responses (or my interpretations of your responses, so I apologize if I'm off-base):

  • I don't remember my parents before age 7. It was basically these strangers that showed up at the airport, picked me up, and took me home. "There's your father", my mom said, and I remember thinking, "Who is that guy?" and feeling scared.

  • I still have trust issues, anxiety, and PTSD. I was treated pretty crappy, too: verbal, psychological, and physical abuse. The beatings were pretty severe, and it was for stupid shit like not getting high enough grades. This one time, the beatings were so bad my parents wouldn't let me go to school for three weeks because of the bruises. Still don't trust people, although sometimes I just crave attention and care and so I end up trusting the wrong people.

  • Food issues. I didn't worry for lack of food but I had problems eating because I couldn't eat the food here; I would just vomit. I couldn't eat cereal with milk, because I would vomit the milk. The doctors said it was kind of typical for immigrant kids, but I'm sure it was stress-related too.

  • Medical issues. I didn't have cockroaches in my ear like you, but my grandparents in Poland didn't take me to a dentist or something, because my teeth were rotting (I had puss coming out from under my gums) and I needed to have three molars pulled out. Let's just say, I still hate going to the dentist. ;)

  • I learned English pretty quickly too. Within a year, I was fluent. Kids learn fast!

The good news is that I'm now happily married, with a kid on the way. I have a successful career, and I've figured out a lot of my mental issues with medication, meditation, exercise, and therapy.

Not that I'm one to give advice, but it gets better, I swear!

I just want to say thanks too, for making me realize that I have a lot in common with adopted kids. I had no idea...

cell_frize6 karma

Yep, sounds like we're in the same boat.

Kezoqu15 karma

Until what age were you in the orphanage, and what was your daily routine there?

cell_frize25 karma

I was officially 9, but I think I was about 11.

The daily routine was hell. Every day was worrying about food, how to hide whatever food you do find, and how to make sure nobody knows about it. It seems kind of normal, on the surface--we had some clothing, we had a pair of shoes, but... If I had to compare it to anything, I would compare it to a prison. There was very little staff and very little funding, so the older children pretty much made the rules, and we all had to follow by them.

Jake17215 karma

I work at a camp with a lot of kids who were orphans in Russia. Idk exactly what they've seen or what's happened to them, but it's amazing that people can come back from those times. So I'm glad you seem to be okay.

cell_frize18 karma

I'm just going off of my perspective. I moved around quite a bit when I was there, and I was always very violent and aggressive. That probably made more issues, and every kid is going to have his own set. Thanks for your sympathy.

recycledmaterial14 karma

I think it's safe to say that most of us can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like for you and the other children in the orphanage. I think you're incredibly lucky and tough to have survived sanity intact.

I was wondering how old you are now and whether you have any plans for the future. And also do you feel that your adoptive family is your own family, now and forever?

I wish you much love and luck in your life going forward, and thank you for surviving and for sharing.

cell_frize29 karma

For my survival, I am incredibly lucky. But a lot of people don't understand that it was like me winning the lottery. Other people in my position don't live past 20. I'm currently 23, so there's that.

As for the future? I want to just get everything situated. I had a lot of setbacks in the years following my adoption, and it took me a lot longer than others in putting my life together. I had my own sets of issues, my own problems, and I'm only now finishing working through them. I want to go to college and make something of myself, but who knows at this point.

As for my family... I'm not too fond of my adopted family. They adopted me--and a baby at the same time--but the entire time I was there, it was nothing short of mental abuse. I never felt like part of their family. The things that they did, the way they treated me... I'm just glad it's over. Now that I've moved out, I can begin talking to them, but as an adult. We'll see where that goes. But do I feel like I'm part of the family? I don't know how to properly answer that except "no."

strengthofstrings9 karma

What about the baby - I guess they would be a teenager now? Does the family treat him/her any differently and do you think he/she is better adjusted? Do you two have a good relationship?

cell_frize28 karma

The child that was adopted with me is very much treated like a part of the family. They treat her a lot better than they treat me.

I don't know whether this is because she was a baby and didn't have a personality of her own, so it was easier for both her and the parents, or whether it was because the parents went over there intending to adopt her and just picked me up as a side thought, that causes the difference in treatment.

As for the adopted child, I have no ill will toward her, but I don't like the adopted parents. She's starting to resemble them, and I'm wary about how she will start to act when she becomes a teenager. I can't tell how she is yet, and I'm not going to influence her by trying to get her to tell me.

Gyrardos14 karma

Have you made any cool inventions like those electric whips from iron man 2?!

cell_frize29 karma

No, but I have lit a fire with sticks before. Close enough!

_Ollie13 karma

What/who were the "Strange people" you met?

cell_frize21 karma

The strange people? The staff at the orphanage. The staff were almost... distant from everything going on. They didn't treat us as children, more as robots. Or pets.

I say it's kind of strange because as long as you obeyed by the rules, you were practically invisible. The second you broke one, they would swoop down and punish you--and the punishments were severe.

Paperluigi98711 karma

Could you give some examples of the punishments?

cell_frize20 karma

The first punishment--strike one, if you will--is separation. It's like solitary confinement in a little room. You'd get up and go to school and be monitored, and it's exactly like solitary confinement in a prison is supposed to be.

Strike two is when everyone else gets fed before you and you get fed on the scraps. Mostly soup.

Strike 3 is pretty much the end. I've posted another comment--linked below--that talks about favoritism. If you piss them off enough, they will put bad words in to the adoptive parents, and you're pretty much guaranteed never to get adopted. You become a problem child, and nobody picks those for adoption.

4th time is relocation. It's like moving up to a higher-security jail.


Yacalo1 karma

They were most likely immune to it all from seeing all of the poor kids..

cell_frize4 karma

Immunity is one thing, maliciousness is another. They were probably dulled to all the suffering, but sometimes they went out of their way to get a reaction out of the kids. That's why I hate them so much.

warrioroftheera13 karma

How old were you when you first drank vodka?

cell_frize26 karma

In Russia, probably about 6. I had a shot on holidays or special occasions.

In the US, I didn't realize that was illegal. I didn't have it again until I was 21. But boy, do those memories flow back.

warrioroftheera7 karma

Do you talk with the bad ass russian accent?

cell_frize30 karma

I can. And sometimes when I'm startled or angry, it comes back. When I get frustrated, my friends tell me the accent comes back a little and it sounds funny to them and a little scary.

lawrnk6 karma


cell_frize11 karma

Slop. There was rarely any solid meals. There was lots of soup and lots of porridge.

ksmith139312 karma

Was it hard to learn English?

cell_frize26 karma

Surprisingly enough, no. I learned from nothing to fluent in 6 months.

Jaksuhn8 karma

How ? Was it schooling or something else ?

cell_frize23 karma

I had a tutor. It was a personal translator that my adoptive parents hired for me to learn English. For the first few months, I was doing hours a day learning English. So, ultimately, yeah, I say 6 months, but when you think about it, it's only to be expected.

davidl911 karma

I do you feel knowing there are countless others still living in those conditions, and if you could say one thing to them what would you say?

cell_frize38 karma

This one is gonna be grim.

People who live in those conditions have no understanding of what it is to live in a nice area. To them, living in that condition is an eternity. You can't say "It will get better" because they have no idea what better is.

What would I say to them? Gather your skills and rely on yourself. Know how to make fire, know how to hunt, and be prepared to defend your territory.

Uprock710 karma

sounds like the hunger games

cell_frize36 karma

Ironically enough, when I first heard the storyline I was like, "damn, I should have tried out for that. I know that story better than anyone else!"

Amazon4210 karma

How long did it take you to make friends and to start to trust people? Has your experience affected your relationships as an adult? Do you tend to have a few close friends or do you enjoy hanging out in larger groups? This is really interesting. Thank you so much for doing this.

cell_frize18 karma

Not a problem, I enjoy telling my story, especially if it helps people understand.

I have a few close friends--I trust them with my everything. But outside of that circle, I don't have an easy time making friends. I judge people pretty harshly in terms of will-this-person-screw-me-over-or-no. So yeah, I have close friends and avoid large groups. The same thing goes for my adult relationships--I can't do anything remotely casual. If I'm going to be friends, I have to trust you.

toula_from_fat_pizza10 karma

In soviet Russia, do orphans adopt their parents?

cell_frize45 karma

No, but in Soviet Russia, horse rides you!

SerbLing9 karma

So you moved to the US when you were 9. Is there something that really stuck with you?

cell_frize19 karma

Stuck with me? I had a lot of bad habits that too me years to break. Hoarding food, lying, paranoia. But, if anything stuck with me it was that when I went over to the United States, I had the complete survival mentality. I was basically an animal. Obviously, people who live here don't do a lot of the things I did. It was difficult for me to adapt to the new life.

whiskeyknitting9 karma

Thank you for opening up about this. I am a knitter and also adopted( back in e 60's when white babies were a dime a dozen and a waiting list was maybe 6 weeks.) I primarily knit for charity and my first is orphans, Russian orphans ( the other are veterans). The situation over there is appalling and disturbing.

What is your first memory of America?

cell_frize53 karma

A lot of people are going to hate me for this, but my first memory of America is staring at a black guy. I had never seen a black person before. I wasn't racist or anything, it was just... strange. I remember thinking that this place was really different.

killercurvesahead9 karma

How do you feel about physical contact? Are you physically affectionate with people you love?

cell_frize20 karma

I am comfortable with the people I am comfortable with. If you're my friend, if I trust you, I don't shy away from being touched--from the front.

If I don't know you or if you surprise me from behind, I flip out and don't like it. I can't help myself.

brenswen9 karma

Have you noticed any benefits in your life which were caused by growing up in an orphanage?

cell_frize38 karma

Yes, as a matter of fact. Through living in the orphanage, I gained a sense of right and wrong. Further, it gave me a sense of how and when to be aggressive and defend myself--body and mind.

All of the years that I spent lying and surviving in the orphanage has given me a world-class bullshit detector. I did it for so long that I can immediately pick it out. Other than that... no, not really. All the benefits that I gained pretty much boil down to this: I was at rock bottom, and so I know how rock bottom feels.

tacomuncher2478 karma

Were the guards bears with the funny hats?

cell_frize55 karma

No, those were only in Moscow. Where I lived, there was a grumpy walrus guarding the door.

GeneReplicator8 karma

Religious views? What does American religion seem like to you? How about the people who adopted you, were they very religious, and did they push it on you one way or the other?

cell_frize40 karma

When I first came to the US, I had no religious views. My adoptive family is very Christian. Boy, oh boy, did they try to force it down my throat. In case anyone is wondering, I am an atheist. But I respect people's beliefs, whatever they may be. I draw the line at people forcing it on other people, though.

TheMotherlandCalls8 karma

Did you ever go on an adventure and find out you were a lost Russian princess?

cell_frize38 karma

I tried singing once, but instead of the birds flying over to me, I saw a bear on a unicycle come out of the woods. Does that count?

gladyoulikeit8 karma

I read the whole thread and I know you kind of covered your relationship with your foster family, but I still want to know more. Don't mean to hurt you in asking, I am still interested more as to how your hard feelings toward them would transpire. I get that they got you for sympathy reasons and all. My questions stems from an idea that wouldn't the fact that they got you out of Russia and out of an orphanage alone make you even somewhat grateful? i.e., let's say you are a kid, and you are mad at them, wouldn't you eventually think that, You could be worse off, You could've been in an orphanage, and maybe not even alive?

P.S. I'm not judging you at all, and in fact I really appreciate this AMA.

cell_frize35 karma

I'll get into that. First things first, I want to clear something up. Am I glad that they adopted me? Yes, absolutely. I'm very much better off now than I would have been.

That being said, here we go: When I first got to the US, my adoptive parents never paid attention to me. I started into school within a few weeks, and there was a good four month gap between when I got here and when they decided it might be a good idea to hire someone to teach me English. That sucked.

When I got here, my adoptive sibling didn't like the fact that they brought home another child. The parents didn't give them any time to process this before they had to deal with it. So, during this time, my sibling and I had to share a room. I was kicked out into the hallway at night because he didn't want to share a room with me. This is where the problems started.

Instead of correcting him, sticking up for me, my adoptive father brought home a little cot and stuck it in the hallway for me. That was my bedroom for about two years. My sibling didn't want me in his room, so... no bedroom for me.

With every passing day, my adoptive mother sought out ways to take her anger out on me. I don't know if it was stress from her job or something, but every time she was angry, she would nitpick at little things, make me feel like shit, tell me they should never have gotten me from Russia.

Often, the threat of deportation hung over my head. I don't know if she did it for a reason, or if it was a parenting method, or if she just got off on making me feel bad, but it was constant.

I never got understood the idea of how to act around children my own age. I and they were from two completely different worlds. I had a very difficult time making friends. As my school years started to happen, my grades started to fall apart. I was almost living in three different worlds: Russia, home, and the idealized life my friends were living and telling me about. As my grades started to fail, the verbal abuse turned to how stupid I was, how inferior I was.

One of my parents was the abuser, for the most part. The other just stayed out of the way and never stuck up for me. My parents--at least as far as I remember--never said "I love you, son," or "I'm glad we got you from Russia." I never had a sense of belonging in that house or that family.

Throughout the years that I stayed there, I tried to help out as much as possible. I was helping out around the house as much as I could. Nobody in the entire house did anything. I was practically the maid. Soon, it became expected of me--I did all the chores around the house, or I got in trouble. This definitely was unfair.

As this went along, my siblings decided to joke that I was the slave of the house. That became a joke, then a nickname, and then the normal way of referring to me. To my face. On a daily basis. This is where I thought my parents would have stepped in, but they allowed it. Until the last day that I stayed there, they allowed to happen. Stupid, inferior slave.

I was almost never allowed to leave the house. I had a bunch of friends who did know about my situation. They sympathized with me. But I was never allowed to go over their house, have fun, hang out. My life was 'wake up, go to school, go home, chores, go to bed, get up, go to school....'

So, this was just the gist of what happened. I'm not going to go into a long rant, but the whole idea boils down to this: They got me, yes, and that put me into better circumstances than I would have had. But they've negated that a thousand times over by their actions.

MrStaak7 karma

What did you have for breakfast in the orphanage?

cell_frize11 karma

Slop. Generally, you wouldn't eat breakfast. The Russian way of doing it is basically snacks for breakfast--bread, or something. Lunch was the big meal of the day.

nicklauschalk6 karma

I was adopted from a Russian orphanage too, but at 8 months! Would you be willing if I messaged you some questions?

cell_frize10 karma

Feel free.

Shark_Bait_Buddy5 karma

Before knowing you were coming to the United States, what did you know or think of it? How did you feel when you were told you were going to the US?

cell_frize19 karma

Honestly, I was scared to death. The kids in Russia used to tell horror stories about Americans, and how their society is. They were not nice stories. Please don't hate me for that.

eraof95 karma

Have you seen the movie "Orphan"? If so what do you think about it ?

if not, is the orphanage in Russia as bad as they show in the horror movies?

cell_frize7 karma

I have not seen that movie. As for the orphanage, I don't have the experience from any except the ones I lived in, but... yeah. It was definitely somewhere between horror and drama.

lawrnk10 karma

What's your take on Putin blocking adoptions to US citizens recently?

cell_frize21 karma

I believe that Putin is very wrong. I understand why everything is the way it is, but he's trying to blame the Americans for how the children are treated--and rightly so--but he's completely ignoring the Russian side of the equation. He's not strengthening the criteria for adopting a child (except to just outright ban it), and he's not doing anything for the children while they're in Russia.

killjoy275 karma

I was in a Orphanage in Lomonosov for 13 months, before being adopted. Do you ever go by your Birth Name? and did you renounce your citizenship to Russia? Also may I ask more questions if I PM them?

cell_frize13 karma

My citizenship to Russia went away during the adoption process.

I don't go by my birth name, but it sounds badass in the Russian accent. If my friends or someone asks, I'll tell them, but I really just go by my american name.

killjoy277 karma

From my Research, It looks like you do retain the citizenship until 18, but you may renounce it at that point.

cell_frize15 karma

That's news to me. Since I'm 23, I don't know whether it has expired or something. I have no clue, but thank you for telling me. I'll look into it.

LittlePete175 karma

I've started learning Russian over the past year, and have been really looking into the culture. What is your badass Russian name, if I may ask?

(PM me if you don't want to post it in the open)

cell_frize14 karma

I'm sorry, I'd rather not say my Russian name. However, it is incredibly long, sounds awesome, and is easily pronounced when drunk.

zeldagamerboy5 karma

Hi! Your story is very interesting to read about, and I commend you for getting to where you are today.

Did your adoptive parents give you a new name or do you still have your Russian name?

Where did you live when you moved to the United States?

cell_frize10 karma

My Russian name translated well, so they just gave me the American version of that name. There was really no reason to change it. I did take their last name, though.

markstrech5 karma

How do you support yourself now (financially)?

Have you had a girlfriend yet?

What are your plans for the future?

Do you ever plan on visiting Russia or just need to forget about it?

cell_frize7 karma

Financially, I have a job. I do live with a friend, so that makes it easier. I have had several girlfriends, but the problem was that I had trust issues back then, so I've never been able to put my all into a relationship. I'm past that, though, I think.

As for my future? I'm hoping I can go to college soon, and I'm going to pursue that. Nothing's set in stone, and I can only work toward that.

I would like to visit Russia sometime. I hope I can. Maybe when I'm a little bit more stable here.

markstrech0 karma

Thanks man. Looks like you're on the right track.

Also, steer clear of women. They all have cooties and they'll take your money.

markvard5 karma

Was their any kind of iniation you had to go through to fit in or make friends ?

cell_frize9 karma

Generally, no. There wasn't an initiation, per se. If someone needed your help and you were unwilling, you were basically excommunicated. It wasn't about getting in, so much as staying in. If you did something wrong, your survival depended on not doing that.

vvvolvvv5 karma

May I ask you where exactly the orphanage you grew up in was? Was it in some rural area? Sleeping on the floor and having 2 cockroaches in your ear seems surreal even to me, although I went to kindergarten around the same time and both kindergartens and orphanages probably used to have about the same funding from the government.

cell_frize15 karma

The orphanage was in Novashakhtinsk. It goes by the name "Ministry of Education: Orphanage # 1" or in some translations, "Baby house number 1." That's literally what's on the paperwork.

The area that I lived in was suburban, but there wasn't much around. Not quite postapocalyptic, but... not nice, either. Imagine if you took an inner-city ghetto and put some more space between the buildings.

Bigdiesel2403 karma

How were the conditions?

cell_frize4 karma

I actually posted something about this a while ago. I'll link the comment.


Dexter_art2 karma

How bad are you at dota?

cell_frize6 karma

What's a dota?

superthinandporous1 karma

not trying to troll but:

from my experience with russians, most of them seem to have mental issues. they tend to be exubberant and rude, in addition to making stupid comments. why? for example, a lady (I think tennessee) sent back a russian adopted orphan with a note.

this isn't a troll question

cell_frize7 karma

Don't worry about it. The thing that I've noticed is that it's not just Russians. A lot of people are very rude.

In Russia in particular, there aren't that many areas that aren't basically 3rd world. The circumstances that people live in over there makes them feel almost entitled. Remember, there's a lot of anti-American sentiment over there.

Not everyone is like that, and most of the people that are have a reason for being like that.

Apiperofhades1 karma

If you had 3 wishes, what would you wish for?

cell_frize3 karma

Can I wish for more wishes? Or is that out-of-bounds?

Apiperofhades1 karma

It's out of bounds.

cell_frize3 karma

1) I wish I could change the world. 2) I wish for a government that allowed unity and prosperity for everyone. 3) I wish I could live life, just for one day, so that all the things I've wanted to do could happen.

pogiface1 karma

What are the issues with adoptive family? You say you guys aren't on good terms, why?

cell_frize2 karma

I answered that in another comment. I'll put a link to it here.


laughingbuildsabs1 karma

Is your name Anastasia

cell_frize2 karma

No, it's cell_frize.

OverweightGuy0 karma

Is it true that you're a sleeping secret agent working for the Russian Inteligence and one day you're going to try to kill the president and destroy the USA?

cell_frize3 karma

Let's find out. "Gosh, that Italian family at the next table sure is quiet!"

Nope. Not a sleeper agent, I guess. That would have been kind of cool.

DoodleBug9361-2 karma

What's your favourite colour m&m?

cell_frize3 karma