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Kazakhstan adoptees continue best friendship
All it took was a few seconds for best-friends Tia*, 17, and Sasha Morgan, 16, to be back in the groove.
The deeply bonded friends haven't seen each other since 2010, but Tia returns to Sequim after making several summer visits from her home in Tallahassee, Fla. She and Sasha, soon-to-be-high school juniors, are adoptees from Shymkent, Kazakhstan, in Eastern Europe, where they spent at least four years together in an orphanage.
“I'm amazed at their relationship,” said Karla Morgan, Sasha's mom. “They have a shared history. It's very significant and important.”
Both teens were adopted more than eight years ago, Tia in September 2003 and Sasha in April 2004.
Despite the trek and perceived hardships, Tia said her adoption and time in Kazakhstan is not something she thinks about.
“I just feel like everybody else,” she said.
Sasha said she feels long-integrated, too.
“People say I look like my mom or my family members,” she said.
The teens call each other sometimes and check in online throughout the year. They also stay in touch with another girl who still lives in the orphanage.
“We were the Three Musketeers,” Tia said.
The girls lived with about 100 other children in the orphanage.
Tia said the concept of adoption didn't really dawn on her until it happened to her.
Sasha said she just prayed to be adopted.
“I was tired of that place,” she said. “It was the same thing every day.”
Sasha has a slight accent that gets comments such as, “Your accent is cute, where's it from?”
Tia guesses it might be how their brains work. She and another boy from Belarus don't have accents and are left-handed, but Sasha and another girl do and are right-handed.
“I don't know if that means anything, but it's something,” she joked.
For years the girls have remained best friends, though they feel they've grown individually.
Sasha said she likes to listen to music and read, whereas Tia enjoys running, seeing friends, painting and spending time with her favorite cat, Baby. Both plan to attend college: Sasha hopes to become either a chef or a physical therapist and Tia a pharmacist.
During Tia's stay, the friends have stayed busy. They took a culinary arts class at the North Olympic Skills Center for three weeks, earning a high school credit.
Both wanted to do it and Tia was genuinely excited. They learned cake decoration, food-handling skills and more.
They've gone shopping, gone to a horse race, seen "Les Miserables" and taken in the Sequim Lavender Weekend experience.
Tia said compared to Florida, Sequim's summer feels like winter weather, and after coming from a big city, it feels a little small.
When thinking of places to go, Tia said sometimes she leaves the Morgan family scratching their heads.
“Sometimes, I ask if they have something, and they say, 'What's that?'” she said.
Tia is an only child and Sasha has three siblings, Gretchen, Anneka and Derek.
*Tia's mother asked that their last name be withheld.