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How many of us could survive life on the streets at eight years old? What if those streets were filled with armed adults who thought nothing of rounding you up to kill you? This was real life for Christina Rickardsson in and around SÃ£o Paolo, Brazil, until a local agency took the questionable step of separating Christina (age eight) and her brother (less than two) from their mother and adopting them out to a family in Sweden, half a world away. If stories like those of Cheryl Strayed or Augusten Burroughs grabbed your emotions, youâ??ll likely respond to Christinaâ??s in the same way I did, with empathy and wonder at the strength of her spirit.The story of how she acclimated and grew to love her adoptive family, the Rickardssons, and the totally foreign language and culture is gripping. An extraordinary aspect of Christinaâ??s story is that it doesnâ??t end with her personal searchâ??sheâ??s channeled her energy into her foundation, a nonprofit that aims to address the conditions of poverty and social inequity at the root of her own experience to save other children from similar deprivation.From the moment Christinaâ??s story entered my life, itâ??s been my constant companion, unshakable. Her courage, compassion, and capacity for forgiveness are nothing short of inspirational. Her guilt and resentment over having been taken from her mother and native country battle with the gratitude for the advantages and security her new country and family afforded her. Christina could easily have turned her trauma into hostility toward her new family, toward the world, or toward herself. Instead she tackled the agonizing unearthing of her adoption records and made the brave and painful journey back to her native country in her thirties, in the hope of reuniting with her mother.
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