In a post earlier this week, I introduced you to Olya, a Ukrainian girl from who was adopted by a family here in the U.S. Today, my new friend, Brett Millican will share her complete story—one that will inspire you whether you’re a student or adult.
Olya was born in the mid 90’s to a very affluent Ukrainian family. Her birth father was a wealthy doctor in Ukraine. Because there is still a strong communistic undercurrent in their culture, society views anything that is not perfect or the best as ultimately not worth keeping. So when Olya was born missing half of her right arm her mother and father refused to even touch her. They told the nurse to take her away because they didn’t want her. Olya was then placed in one of the many overcrowded and under-resourced Ukrainian orphanages where she would spend the next 18 years if something miraculous didn’t happen.
Three years later an American couple, Allen and Kayleen, felt God calling them to travel to Ukraine and spend their foreseeable future as missionaries in that country. Allen and Kayleen had been unsuccessful at having children for a number of years. Having accepted their fate they decided to give their lives to reaching the people of Ukraine. Due to work schedules Kayleen was able to travel to Ukraine first while Allen finished out his responsibilities at work and joined her at a later date. While there by herself, Kayleen went to visit the very orphanage where Olya had been living. She spent a few days loving on the children and in the process had taken a few pictures to send back to Allen to show him what she had been doing. Olya was simply one of many children at this orphanage that Kayleen had visited.
When Allen received the pictures his eyes were immediately drawn to the little girl in the background of one of the pictures who was missing half of her right arm. As soon as his eyes saw the picture he knew in his heart that this little girl was meant to be his daughter. Allen soon joined Kayleen overseas and upon visiting the orphanage they began the adoption process for both Olya, and a two-year old boy named Phillip. Shortly after, Olya and Phillip were part of the Haun family.
At the end of that year they came back to the United States. As she grew up Olya would endure funny looks from other kids, but she was determined to live a “normal” life. It would force her to work harder, persevere longer, and be more determined than the average child, but Olya had made up her mind that the lack of one arm was not going to keep her from living life to the fullest.
Fast forward to this year. Olya, a 15 year-old Freshman at Happy Hill Farm High School in Granbury, TX, had to not only face the normal insecurities and obstacles of a teenage girl entering into high school, but also the added pressure of the strange looks and comments that many disabled people experience on a daily basis. This girl who had been rejected by her birth parents and endured the looks and comments from other children growing up would now have to face it all over again in the unpredictable context of teenage culture. And, as she has done her entire life, Olya was up for the challenge.
Being a gifted athlete most of her childhood Olya has continuously demonstrated her grit and determination in proving people wrong. Most of her life she’s been told what she couldn’t do only to prove to her naysayers that she could not only do it, but she could be the best at it. Her freshman year would prove to be no different. When she tried out for the girls’ basketball team she was told not to get her hopes up. Fortunately for the Lady Pioneers, Olya not only got her hopes up but had set her mind to help the team win their very first state championship. Olya not only made the team, but as a point guard on the varsity basketball team she played a role in the Lady Pioneers 26-1 season and 58-43 victory of defending state champions Geneva High School.
However, one state championship was not enough for this amazing 15 year-old from Ukraine as she moved from basketball into track-and-field where she would compete in the 300-meter hurdles, one of the most strenuous events any person can compete in. Improving on her time from one week to the next, Olya soon found herself competing in the State Championships for her event. In this particular race Olya not only set a personal best, and school record time of 52.17, but her time proved good enough to take first place and win her second state championship as a freshman.
Over this summer Olya, back in Austin with her family, is also stepping into a leadership role with the student ministry at Christ Community Church.
Now—what was the problem you said was weighing you down?