Welcomed home

Senior recounts experience as a Russian adoptee


Abby Elliott

Photo Illustration. Senior Samuel Hacker poses for a photo. Hacker grew up as an orphan in Russia, focused on fending for himself and his younger sister.

Story by Peyton Sims, culture editor

Samuel Hacker didn’t have a choice. Living in an abandoned house in Russia at 18 months old, he fended for himself. He didn’t have money, parents or food, but he did have his 8-year-old sister.

Samuel was too young to understand he was homeless. The only food he was familiar with was the taste of raw potatoes stolen by his sister, along with falling snowflakes that would land on his tongue.

They were soon taken away from their unkempt home and brought to an orphanage with regular meals and access to a warm fireplace that would defrost them after days of playing in the snow. The only thing he lacked was a set of parents who would vow to give him and his sister love— love he had never had before. 

To Samuel’s surprise, a family was interested in him. A husband and wife on a mission trip knew they wanted to return with two new additions to their family. Before he knew it, he and his sister boarded a plane bound for America. 

For once in Samuel’s life, he has a home to call his. When he lies under his warm covers, he often thinks of those cold nights in Russia and is reminded of how lucky he is now.

For once, he can venture to kitchen for a snack that wasn’t stolen and can eat until his stomach is full. He no longer fears hunger with those Russian nights far in his past.

For once, he can associate faces with “mom and dad.” For so long, those people remained a mystery. He wondered where they could’ve gone. Little did he know, his true mother and father would come and find him. 

Samuel now hears the three words he thought he’d never hear in return, I love you.