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VSU freshman started life in an orphanage, now bound for college

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 7:22 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Students have been moving into their dorms this week at Valdosta State University (VSU).

We’re told dorms are at full capacity, with about 2,700 students living on campus this semester.

For an incoming freshman and her mother, move-in day marks a huge victory after a tough childhood.

It’s been a busy day for Anja Eggleston and her mother, Beth, helping to move to her new home on campus.

“As I tease her, she’s one of the most expensive babies ever because adoption is really expensive. She’s my retirement plan,” said Beth Eggleston.

Anja’s life started in an orphanage, in Minsk, Belarus. In a room with 20 other infants cared for by two women.

Beth, from Ormond Beach, Florida, wanted to be a mother.

She says she wanted to adopt but at that time, due to her age and marital status, she was not allowed to do so.

Her attorney recommended adopting outside of the country.

Beth says at 10 months old, baby Anja was assigned to her.

She recalls the moment she first saw her in a video clip.

“Then her picture came on and my heart dropped, and I knew that minute she was mine,” said Beth.

The process to get Anja was tough, it took another 10 months.

Finally bringing her home at almost 2 years old.

VSU Freshman Anja Eggleston and her mother Beth.
VSU Freshman Anja Eggleston and her mother Beth.(WALB)

Anja weighed 14 pounds, couldn’t crawl, walk, sit up, or talk.

Her ankles were bound together.

When doctors examined Anja, the results weren’t what Beth hoped for.

“They came back and said she was so sick, they weren’t sure she would live past a month. She suffered from liver failure, kidney failure, heart failure, malnourished, everything but here we are,” said Beth.

Beating all the odds, it was a long road to recovery with many obstacles, Beth says.

But Anja is alive and thriving.

“It hurts to even get up from bed some days but I do manage to get up, everyday day to day things,” said Anja.

To this day, Anja has 30 percent range of motion in her ankles and hips. But that hasn’t held her back.

“So what does she do, she goes and joins the school cross country team to prove everyone wrong. Every obstacle that has been placed in front of her, one way or another she’s figured out how to overcome it,” said Beth.

A challenging upbringing for Anja, with physical and learning disabilities.

But that has never stopped her, and she’s ready to take on the next chapter of her life.

“With here being in college, it basically challenges me, number one, to do better and rise up,” said Anja.

Luckily for Beth, this is the second drop-off at VSU.

Anja participated in a summer program to ease the transition.

“I cried the whole way home, knowing that she’ll be gone because it’s just been the two of us for 18 years now,” said Beth.

Tears of pride, Beth says it’s going to be an adjustment but she’s proud, it’s time for Anja to shine and find herself.

“She’s made me a better person every day in my life watching her,” said Beth.

Anja says she’s grateful for her mother and family, if it wasn’t for them, she wouldn’t be here today.

“Give a child a home, give a child who doesn’t stand a chance because this is what you can have. You can have a kid who has nothing turn out to be as great as she is and watch them grow and watch them take over the world and see what they’re going to do because. I’m not sure what she’s going to do yet but whatever it is, it’s going to be great,” said Beth.

As for Anja’s future, she doesn’t know what she wants to study yet but has a passion for helping others.

VSU Freshman Anja Eggleston and her mother Beth.
VSU Freshman Anja Eggleston and her mother Beth.(WALB)

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