Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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August 16, 2013

Young gymnast longs to be U.S. citizen

BROWNSBURG —

When Deanna French brought a tiny baby home from Chechnya she had no idea the impact she would have on her life. The baby had barely survived her birth and was severely underweight at 11 months.

Now, Madina French, 10, is a thriving young lady with Olympic aspirations and a desperate desire to have her American citizenship.

“She was a premature baby that weighed 1.1 pounds,” Deanna said. “She’s a miracle baby.”

Little Madina fought for her life but needed a lot of medical care. Deanna, a single woman, had wanted to adopt and she was contacted about taking her into her family.

“I was doing some medical mission work at the time and found out she was available,” she said. “I said ‘yes’ and have never regretted my decision. I fell in love with her immediately.”

Madina was born without most of her face. She has had 22 surgeries to construct a face and is still in need of more medical procedures. She will soon have surgery to construct a hard pallet.

Deanna was able to legally adopt Madina but her country will not allow her to become an American citizen.

“And since she is not an American citizen, I cannot get any kind of help,” Deanna said. “She doesn’t have a social security number so I can’t apply for assistance for her medical care. She is considered an alien in the U.S. even though she has been here since she was 11 months old.”

Without a social security number she is also unable to get medical insurance.

“My daughter has totally changed my entire life for good,” she said. “But we’ve had to overcome lots of hurdles.”

Her parents were a source of support before they passed. Now, she says, she relies on her church family at Plainfield Christian Church.

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