Hannah Birnbaum was born in Ukraine and was adopted into a loving Jewish family. She now lives in Forest Hills, NY.

She is a sophomore attending Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School where she enjoys being part of the Visual Art class. In her free time she takes pleasure in being with her friends, spending time with family, listening to music, helping kids in need, working out, and photography. After high school Hannah hopes to focus on medicine and study to become a surgeon.

For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliff of despair
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Life in Ukraine was not as bright as it could have been when I lived there with my biological family. Living with my mom was very hard because she was an alcoholic. Whenever she got drunk she would get aggressive and start to beat my siblings and I. She would beat us with various objects such as electric chords, tables, belts, etc.  I would often run away from home with my older brother Vladimir. We would return at the end of the day, never leaving our younger siblings behind with our abusive mother.

One day when I was five years old, my brother and I were taken to a hospital by our aunt, so that we could be safe. This resulted in my brother and I getting separated and put into two different orphanages. Spending time in the orphanage for four years has allowed me to build friendships and heal emotional wounds. During my recovery, I realized that if I got adopted then I could actually have a family that deeply cares for me and most of all, respects me. Soon enough, an American Jewish family adopted me, and I now have two people in my life that I can call Mom and Dad.

When I arrived in America I was greeted by my new family with lots of hugs, kisses and presents. The traumatic experience with my biological mother sometimes causes me to get upset when I am around yelling or drinking.  I always manage to overcome my discomfort because now I know that I no longer have to deal with my mom’s actions when she drank.

Recently I have reconnected with my older brother Vladimir who is happy in his Ukrainian adoptive family. Now Vladimir and I we text on Viber once in a while, to stay in contact. I wanted to share this story because I want people to be aware that being adopted is not always a sad thing, but in fact it can be an exciting event in a child’s life filled with loving connections, hope and opportunities.

back to projects page | next project