67ºF

The Long Journey Home: An adoption story years in the making

CHRISTIANSBURG (WSLS 10) -  A lot can happen in seven months, but one 10-year-old girl has done more since July 2016 than many people do in a lifetime.

Sophia Blaszak has moved thousands of miles to live in another country, learned a new language, seen snow and gone to public school for the first time.

Tom and Whitney Blaszak, of Christiansburg, first met Sophia, whose name at the time was Tigist, in 2012 during a mission trip to Ethiopia. They were not thinking about adoption at the time, but she immediately attached herself to them. She sang with them and followed them everywhere. When it was time for them to return to America, she begged them to come back. It was then they knew that she was meant to be a part of their family.

The Blaszaks started the adoption process, which they thought would be finished in a matter of months; however, it took more than four years to bring Sophia home.

International Adoption Guides, the Blaszaks second adoption agency, stole thousands of dollars from them and was eventually federally prosecuted for fraud and trafficking activity.

But the Blaszaks fought on and finally brought Sophia home through a third adoption agency in July 2016. Although it was a happy ending for one chapter, the family said the real adventure was only beginning.

Sophia did not speak English when she first came to America. She, as well as the Blaszaks' other three daughters, had to learn to integrate into the new family unit.

The family resolved to show each other "relentless love," which was the name of their blog that chronicled the journey to adopt Sophia.

Now, the 10-year-old is enrolled in public school, plays on a basketball team, loves sledding in the snow and eating pizza, and wants to be a worship singer when she grows up.