Freely you have received…

May 8th, 2013


There’s someone I’d like you to meet, and I’d like you to meet her today.

This is Sasha.

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I first met Sasha a couple of years ago in the waiting room at the Clinic for Special Children.  From the moment I met her, I was impressed with Sasha’s quiet dignity, and guessed her to be four or five years older than she actually was.

Sasha was helping take care of her little sister Ellianna during the doctor’s appointment.  Spunky Ellianna has cerebral palsy and significant developmental delays.

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Not long before, Sasha and her mom Stephanie had returned from the Philippines with little Avi, and they had brought her to the Clinic for some much-needed medical attention.  Avi has cerebral palsy, was very malnourished, and has severe developmental delays.

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Two years after coming home, just look how sweet Avi has flourished!

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Many of you will recognize another one of Sasha’s younger sisters–

When we first saw her, Lina was Katie’s roommate on the top floor of Pleven.  Lina has cerebral palsy and was profoundly malnourished and developmentally delayed.



Lina has been home for almost a year now.  Will you look at the change in this child!  Can you detect the mischievous glint in her eye?!

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Now their family is working hard to bring home two more little girls, Olyvia and Rachele.  They are still waiting in their orphanage beds, so all I have to show you now is their “before” pictures.

The way they are living now can scarcely be called living.  They are so precious in the eyes of God, and I can hardly wait to see how He uses the nurturing love of their family to transform them.

Rachele has cerebral palsy and is very malnourished and severely developmentally delayed.

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Olyvia has spina bifida, is very malnourished and has severe developmental delays.




“Wait a minute!” you might protest.  “What does Sasha think of her parents adopting all these very needy children?”

There’s something you need to know about Sasha, and I want you to hear it the way I heard it.

In Sasha’s own words–
 I was adopted from Russia at 17 months old. My birth mom was 16 years old.

I am so grateful for my family that God placed me in, words can’t even begin to describe how I feel. I know He has a plan for my life–one so much greater than I can even imagine right now! My dad always says, “God plucked you out of that orphanage for a reason, Sasha,” and I believe that is true.  I believe He wants me to serve Him and to tell others my story.

Speaking of my dad, I thought I should share one more thing. A few months ago, my dad and I went to see the movie October Baby. It is about a girl who finds out she was adopted and the victim of a failed abortion.  Just recently, we watched it again with my mom at home.  It is a great movie, with a powerful story of forgiveness. However, my favorite scene is at the end.

Hannah is heading off to college, and she and her parents are saying their goodbyes. She turns and starts to walk away with her friend. Then, you see her look back over her shoulder, at her dad.

She runs back to him, and they wrap each other in a hug. She says, with tears and a smile on her face, “Thank you so much, Dad.”

He replies, “For what, sweetheart?” And Hannah says,
“For wanting me.”

Both times I have watched the movie, it moved me to tears. That part reminds me so much of my relationship with my own dad, and my love for him. I love him so much, and am so blessed that my Heavenly Father chose him to be my father here on Earth. And I’m so thankful he saw the potential in my life…

And Wanted Me.

Psalm 68:5-6


Why did I want you to meet Sasha today?

Today holds a significance that most other people of Sasha’s age completely miss.

She turns 16 today.

There will be a celebration!

And she doesn’t take this celebration for granted.

She understands in a way that most of us never will…

…that if she had not been adopted, today would not be a day of celebration.

…that today would have marked the end of her last chance to live as a loved daughter.

…that today would mean that she’d lived through an entire childhood having never known what it is like to have parents and a home of her own.

…and that today, she would be sent out into the world to figure out how to survive without the foundational support of a stable, healthy, loving family underneath her.


Out of this profound and personal understanding, Sasha has a passion for other children who need the transforming love of a family of their own.

The closer she grew to her 16th birthday, the more burdened Sasha became for children who are very close to losing their last opportunity to be adopted.

And she has begun to speak up for them!

I’d love for many of you to visit Sasha’s blog, Hope for Isolde, pray for families for the older orphans she’s advocating for, and help her spread the word of their urgent need!


What does Sasha think about her parents adopting two more children with significant special needs?

She has freely received; she is freely giving.


Sasha, it’s a joyful thing to see your open heart toward God and your tender nurturing of your little sisters.  It’s thrilling to see your passion ignite for the older orphans who are so often overlooked or rejected.

Whatever God has for you in the years ahead, I know this much–

It will be good, because He is good.


Happy 16th birthday!

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16 Responses to “Freely you have received…”

  1. Gina in Spain says:

    What an amazing young lady….I can only hope that my daughters have an inkling of the insight Sasha has at 16!!! Thank you for introducing her to us!

  2. Lorena says:

    Thank you so much for introducing us to Sasha … I clicked on the link to her blog and something is a little off with the link – just thought you might want to know.  But I did get to her blog and am headed back there now to read!

  3. Ginger says:

    What a precious testimony of God’s redeeming power. Love it!
    Glory to God for the change He has brought about in Sasha’s life and in her family.

  4. Susanna says:

    Lorena, thank you; fixed it!

  5. April says:

    Happy Birthday Sasha!!!! What an amazing testimony!

  6. Allen Aswegan says:


  7. Terri says:

    I admire you so much.  We are having a bad homeschool week.  I was wondering if you could do a post about how you handle homeschooling with so many children?  I only have 4, live in a small house and the kids are constantly distracted, and bickering with each other.  We are a louder than normal family with kids with special needs.  How do you run your home so smoothly? 

  8. Rachel says:

    Happy 16th Birthday to a special, one of a kind girl who deserves to be recognized and honored!!

  9. Maureen says:

    Happy Birthday!!!

  10. Louisa says:

    What a beautiful story of orphans taking care of orphans…we have that in our house and they ‘get’ their struggles so much more than my little heart can comprehend!  It is a beautiful, wonderful thing!

  11. Cassandra says:

    A beautiful story indeed but I’d like to point out that, at least in Sasha’s home, there are only siblings taking care of siblings:) Orphans no more, thank God.  And the most capable sibling, Sasha, is turning her past grief into good by advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves.  Though we’ve never met, I’m certain she brings her mom and dad more joy than they ever dreamed possible. This type of story reminds me of how God really is still in the business of redeeming time. 
    The before and after photos just about brought me to tears.  They shout, “Victory!”
    Susanna, thank you for your ministry to this virtual world. Time is probably what you lack most so that you share yourself with us, mostly strangers, speaks volume about who you are.  
    Know that your posts are making a difference. 

  12. Katie says:

    How do you do it?  How do you always have the stories and words that I need to hear?  Today is also my A’s birthday, but she is not here… she is with people who, though they have blood ties to her that I do not, don’t really, truly want her.  They only want control.  It has been a hard, hard day for me with many tears shed… because…
    I want her.  More than that.  I love and miss her more than I can even describe.
    I hope when she gets to be Sasha’s age she’ll have the same clarity and know that even if it wasn’t by certain people, she has always been loved and wanted.  If she takes nothing else from seven years together, I hope she takes that.  And I know… I know we’ll be together again, sooner or later.
    Susanna, Sasha, thank you for speaking to my very heart and soul today.

  13. Julia Alexandrovna says:

    I was adopted from Russia when I was 21 months old (I’m almost 15 now) so seeing stories like this really touches my heart. God is an amazing God and He doesn’t forget the widows and orphans:) Pretty amazing story! Happy Birthday!!!

  14. Hi Susanna!
    I was wondering if there was anyway that you could put me in contact with
    Julia Alexandrovna that commented on this post on May 9th.
    Thanks for writing such a wonderful post!

  15. Susanna says:

    Sasha, it was my privilege, truly!

    I sent an email to Julia asking her permission to put you two in touch with each other. :)

  16. Stacey Martin says:

    I taught for several years at the elementary/middle school dear Sasha attended and I can tell you truly……Sasha is a very special young lady!!  Her bright smile is an encouragement to many, and the love she shows to her sisters…..endless!  

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