At age 34, Taylor Dakake is on a mission to help orphans find a better life.
In 2006, Around Woodstock magazine shared the story of Taylor Dakake, a boy born in Russia and adopted by a local couple, Le Ann and Mark Dakake, in 2000. Since that time, he graduated from high school, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kennesaw State University, married Aria Taboada in 2018, and has worked in the automotive industry for the 16-plus years. To bring light to the subject of adoption, the 34-year-old has written a book, “Wait for Me, An Autobiography.” (available at amazon.com)
Last month, Taylor asked if we could publish an update in the hopes that it would encourage couples to adopt. His passion for sharing his story is so strong that, while he said writing doesn’t come easy for him, he didn’t want that to stop him from sharing a very important message, one that can change the life of a child.
Tell us about your adoption.
I was 13, about to turn 14. I finally was able to catch up on all my birthdays all at once. All my classmates were able to join my celebration, and I also was published in a Marietta newspaper.
What were the biggest surprises when you came to the U.S., and what helped you adjust?
There were so many, it’s hard to pinpoint the biggest one. All of the orphans were told Americans were adopting us because they wanted to harvest our organs, so I was surprised by how welcoming and kind Americans were to me. Most of the people walked around with smiles and showing their teeth. If you notice, the Russian smiles are without mouths open. One other thing, the grocery stores were very big and with lots of products to offer even within its own category.
What prompted you to write your autobiography?
Because I was very open to talk about my past, a lot of people were interested to know where I came from and a lot of my past. Talking about it helped me to cope with all the grief and accept everything as a gift. Most of the people encouraged me to write; however, with my writing as a weakness, I continued to hold back from accomplishing it. What I have in the book “Wait for Me” is a 10-year-long script that I have been working on little by little with the hope that one day I could make this a novel. The published story is missing a lot of information that I was not able to put in writing because I had forgotten to write it down, even though I share my experiences verbally throughout my conversations.
Are you hoping it will help others in your situation, or encourage couples to consider adoption?
Both. I want to encourage children to open up and share their past with others as a healing process and, at the same time, I would love to inspire others to think about adopting. Adoptive children will not be the easiest to deal with. They will come with all kinds of problems and challenges of their own before you present home to them. Some of them will be thankful for what you have done and others will not. I want to inspire others to find their strengths and change the future of that one single child for good!
How did adoption change your life?
My whole life has changed! A child in the orphanage does not have much to look forward to after age 16. He or she is out on their own. There isn’t a mother or a father, or relatives who would take them in, because they would have done it by then. A child at that age is without hope. I am thankful for my life, to have a roof over my head, and a future that I can work for. At 14, I still wanted to have someone to care and tell me that they care about me. I wanted to have someone to tuck me in bed. Now as an adult, I have a different appreciation for their sacrifice to raise me and give me a future that I can make on my own.
What would you say now to a couple considering adoption?
Don’t ever forget that you are about to change the world in this child’s life and make sure to never quit being the world in their life no matter how difficult the times get! You have volunteered to do this and they have not! Your love will break all the boundaries and make a difference.
Taylor’s story from the 2006 Around Woodstock article.
“Taylor’s life started normal enough. He was born in 1986 and lived with his parents, an older brother, and a younger sister in Cheboksarui, Russia. At the age of five, Taylor lost his father, and that began the spiral downward of his family. Taylor, his mother and his younger sister became homeless and traveled from place to place and were considered gypsies. ‘We stayed in train stations, under bridges, in haystacks and other places I don’t care to remember,’ recalled Taylor. ‘For food, I had to jump over people’s fences into their gardens and steal vegetables so we could eat. At night, I had to beg people for a place to stay on behalf of my brother and sister,’ he said. Taylor wanted to go to school, have friends and be a normal boy, but being homeless prevented all of his dreams from coming true.
“Eventually Taylor and his family ended up at a farm where the family was offered room and board in exchange for their physical work. As was typical of his mother, she soon grew weary of the work and wanted to move on, but Taylor did not. After initially leaving with his family, Taylor ran away and returned to the farm, and he never saw his mother or sister gain. Life for Taylor was far from ideal on the farm. The work was hard and never ending, but he was able to attend school. However, after living with this family for four years, one of the couple’s mentally unstable grown sons attempted to kill Taylor with a pitchfork, which resulted in Taylor being removed from this family, and he eventually ended up in a home-style orphanage.
Two months later, Taylor’s future parents visited the orphanage. They eventually adopted Taylor’s future brother in 1999, and Taylor and his future sister in 2000. Taylor’s new family are Christians and taught Taylor their beliefs and enrolled him at North Cobb Christian School. Taylor has learned to forgive his biological mom for what she put him through and is grateful to her for giving him life because otherwise, he wouldn’t have the life today that he could only remotely dream of as a child in Russia.”
The article was submitted by Lindsay Kirk, executive director of Genesis Adoptions.