Local News

Cary Christmas Starts New Life for Russian Girl

Posted December 26, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— A Cary family will never forget the Christmas of 1997. An international adoption has changed their life forever.

After stacks of paperwork and months of waiting, Theresa and Jan Johannson got the Christmas gift they wanted most of all. It came from Russia, in the person of 8-year-old Katya.

For Katya, this is her first Christmas in America. It's even her first Christmas with a family, because until just about a month ago, Katya was an orphan in Russia.

Jan Johannson says language is understandably still a bit tricky. "This year we can't explain the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Maybe next year we can, when her English will be better."

It took the Johannsons more than six months, but in November Theresa and Jan got the call that they could pick up their new daughter. They spent about 10 days in Russia.

Happy to be taking Katya home, Theresa nonetheless felt a twinge at leaving the other children behind in the orphanage. Jan explained that if the children aren't adopted by the time they reach 7 or 8 years of age, they probably face difficult futures.

The Johannson's wanted to adopt all the children but they know raising just one child is a challenge. Jan is a bluegrass musician. He's giving up his band to devote more time to his new daughter.

Katya seems to have a natural love for music, which transcends all language barriers.

For families thinking of adopting a child, Theresa says just look at the Johannson's Christmas.

The Johannsons used a Raleigh adoption agency to help them get Katya. The Victoria Adoption Center helped locally, and the Frank Foundation in Washington, D.C., assisted with the international arrangements. Katya is enrolled in school and her English is getting better every day.