Never before has an infant abandonment story had such a beautiful and happy ending.
When one mother decided to leave her one-year-old baby girl in an abandoned house to die, no one expected that the baby would survive—let alone thrive.
But despite the little girl’s difficult start, kind strangers who met this little baby came to love and protect her. And eventually, even the entire nation of Russia came to know and accept her as one of the “most beautiful” among them.
Liza Verbitskaya was left in an abandoned house to die by her mother when she was only one year old.
About 10 years ago, residents of Russia’s Yaroslavl region, just outside of Moscow, began to hear strange cries emanating from an abandoned house. At first they tried to ignore them, but as the cries continued over the next several days that became impossible.
But when they finally went to investigate, they discovered something horrifying: a one-year-old baby girl, huddled, scared and alone in the corner of one of the rooms.
The child had been left there for a week without any food or water, and if the residents had not come to find her when they did, she would have most certainly died.
After the baby, Liza Verbitskaya, was found, she was then sent to a local hospital to recover.
The deck was stacked against Liza from the start.
Little Liza had developmental problems stemming from her early trauma during her infancy. She could not chew food, she was extremely afraid of loud noises, and she was very slow to learn how to walk.
Also, with her parents gone, if no one stepped in to adopt her quickly, she would most likely be placed in one of Russia’s orphanages. There she may not have received the help and attention she desperately needed.
There was another issue, too. Liza was dark-skinned, a member of the Romani population of Russia. In the traditionally light-skinned region of Yaroslavl, that meant that she was bound to face severe prejudice for her appearance.
This all made for a grim prognosis for the little infant, but fortune intervened. As Liza was recovering in the hospital, she was found by a woman who bonded to the child quickly and deeply.
Little Liza had a rough start, but her life was about to take a turn for the better.
Inna Nika was at the hospital taking care of her son when she heard a loud cry from another room. When she went to investigate, she found Liza, alone.
She was immediately taken with the adorable, young girl and, from the day they first met, continued to visit her as often as she could and bring her gifts.
But one day, something happened.
When Nika went to Liza’s hospital room for their daily visit, Liza was nowhere to be found — having recovered sufficiently, she was taken to a local orphanage where she was put up for adoption.
But Nika and Liza had become close, and even though Nika had never considered the idea of adopting a child, she could not abandon this beautiful baby.
This was easier said than done, since even those closest to Nika rejected the idea of her adoption.
Unfortunately, it was not at all a smooth process.
When Nika told her mother that she wanted to adopt Liza, her mother objected strongly against it. Liza was a Romani, or a “gypsy” as they are colloquially known, and so she did not want her daughter associating with any of them, even if Liza was a one-year-old infant.
Still, Nika ignored her mother and went ahead with the adoption.
And unsurprisingly, when Liza first met her grandmother, the tune changed drastically.
“When I came home with Lisa, it was terrible to cross the threshold,” Nika said according to AIF.RU, translated from Russian. “My mother opened the door with a frown…but [then] my mother took Liza her in her arms and kissed her…she is now her favorite grandchild.”
That would remain the theme of Liza’s life thereafter — she would suffer prejudice at first, but then her character and inner beauty would win people over instantly.
Nika decided to put Liza in dance school, and the girl began to blossom.
Yet Liza’s story, and her troubles, did not end there. She had severe developmental issues; she did not begin talking until she was 2 years old, and she did not say “mama” until she was 3.
While it is understandable that the trauma would leave a mark on the little girl, Nika was understandably worried for her adopted daughter. Nika searched for ways to motivate Liza’s development, and shortly thereafter, she came up with a unique solution: foster her daughter’s creativity through the arts.
She won a slew of talent and beauty contests, and then became a model.
Liza took the arts like she was born to them — at age 12, she had already won a slew of talent shows and beauty pageants.
This new-found sense of self and worth provided the means with which Liza could develop normally.
“We are thankful for the competitions,” Nika said according to AIF.RU, translated from Russian. “They’ve helped Liza to persevere and work hard toward her goals.”
Her passion for music has also spurred her to consider a career in the arts when she gets older.
Most important of all, she is a happy, normal little girl. And even though her mother abandoned her as a baby, everyone she meets cannot help but fall in love with her.