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A year after adoption, Russian sisters adjusting to new life

October 6, 2006, 0:00 2826 The Associated Press

BELDING, Mich. (AP) - They have had to learn a new culture, a new language and a new way of life, but two Russian sisters are adjusting to their new surroundings a year after being adopted by a Belding couple.

Christiana Muratova and Alyssia Nikitina went to live with Nikitina's father after their mother was killed by her boyfriend in August 2002.

Muratova, 16, never knew her father. The father of Nikitina, 15, soon lost custody of the girls due to alcoholism.

The girls were under state care for several years. A rich Russian family wanted to adopt Nikitina but not Muratova. They decided to stay put.

"I didn't want to be without Christiana," Nikitina said. "We had always been together through our whole life. She is my sister. You can't go without your sister. Your heart won't let you."

The girls waited for almost year before hearing that Dave and Diane Andres of Belding wanted to adopt them.

The Andreses were all set to come to Russia to pick up the girls. But a telephone call in the middle of the night in June 2005 delayed the adoption because the girls were having second thoughts.

"It was a really hard experience," Diane Andres said. "We were devastated."

Relatives had told the sisters that Americans only adopted Russian children to use their organs for transplants. The girls decided to move forward with the process after reassurance from the adoption director.

Now, one year later, the girls still are adjusting to their new life - including new siblings Ashley Andres, 20, and Matt Andres, 17 - along with a new language, new culture and new food, among other things.

"In Russia we had more freedom," Muratova said. "When you don't have a parent, you go outside all the time."

"You don't have to worry that your parents are worrying about you," Nikitina added.

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Information from: The Daily News, http://www.thedailynews.cc/

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