From Foster Care to Forever Family

Katerina Rentzch shares her story of adoption


Most people know where they were born, when they were born, and who gave birth to them. I never grew up with this luxury. I grew up knowing one thing–I am adopted. My case is considered to be a “closed adoption,” which means I am left with an abundant number of questions. My parents raised me to be proud of where I came from, and have always been taught that it’s okay to be curious. They love me as their own and are always willing to answer any questions I have about the past.

I know that I was born in Khabarovsk, Russia on June 15. My biological mother gave birth to me when she was about 16. I have a sister who is older by two years, which means my mother would’ve been 14 when she conceived my sister. My sister and I both share the same father, which is relieving to me in a way. In Russia you’re either rich or you’re poor, and most citizens are on the poor side, my biological mother included.

It was tough for my mom to raise, not only a newborn, but a two- year old and continue school. From what I have been told she tried really hard to keep me, but after a while the government took me away because she seemed unfit to be a parent.

Growing up knowing that I was adopted has been a curse and a blessing. It’s honestly really tough at times to be adopted. I remember getting my permit three months after all my friends did because my birth certificate and all the important papers I needed were in Russian.

During elementary school, when family trees were a thing, it was frustrating to see that everyone knew where they came from and who they were as a person, and I was the one kid who didn’t. I look like my adoptive parents for the most part, but there’s always a handful of people who disagree. They always have to comment, “you guys don’t look alike.” In a way it’s a punch to the gut to be reminded that, technically speaking, you’re not part of the family. And there is always those awkward doctor appointments when the doctor asks about your family history, and all you can do is shake your head and tell him you don’t know. There’s always those moments where your curiosity takes over you. You want to know everything, from the big details to the small. It stinks not knowing who your mother is, or if you were actually a mistake.

Fortunately, I am in a family now that reminds me that I’m not a mistake to them, and that’s all that really matters. Also, it’s amazing to think about how I am in not only in a new family but in a new country. I have been given such an amazing life I might not have had if my mother was able to keep me.

After I was adopted, Russia cut off adoptions with the U.S. It’s definitely amazing to see that I was one of the last kids to be allowed to be adopted.

Everyone always asks me if I want to meet my birth mother or go back to Russia someday. My answer has been pretty consistent in the past couple of years: I would love to see where I’m from and experience the culture.

If I’m being completely honest, I want to meet my mother more than anything. It stinks at times to not know where you came from or whether or not you’re a mistake. However, I do not feel that I am at the maturity or emotional levels that I need to reach in order to meet her. I want to meet her when I am in a place of content with my life. I still have things I need to work out, and I don’t want to meet her just out of curiosity, I want to meet her because I’m ready to embrace her as part of my life. There’s a lot of anger and hurt that comes with being in this situation. She wasn’t in all the Christmas and Easter photos with me. She missed a lot of milestones in my life, and I’m not really sure if I’m ready for her to be re-entered yet. There’s also the fear of hurting the parents I have now. They raised me as their own, and I don’t want them to feel betrayed if I go to someone who wasn’t in my life. I honestly don’t know if I ever will be ready to meet her or if she’ll be open to meeting me.

I’m pretty open for the most part, about the fact that I am adopted, it has made me who I am today. It makes me realizes that mistakes are part of life, and beautiful situations can blossom from those mistakes. It also reminds me never to take things for granted because I have been given such an amazing life I might not have otherwise. You only live once. I want to make sure I live it right.