Humans of EHS: Sophana Holdegraver


Micah Wengler

Sophana Holdegraver (9) sits with her adopted sister Vennie Holdegraver (9).

Sophana and Vennie Holdegraver (9) are two non-biological sisters adopted from Haiti. They have lived in America for seven years now. This is Sophana’s story.

The transition was a tough for Sophana; at first she wasn’t even able to speak English.

“When I first got here, my sister and I were home-schooled until 6th grade, and then our mom enrolled us in public school in 7th grade,” Sophana said. “It was a lot different. It was really hard at first and challenging. When we were homeschooled our mom taught us well, but she didn’t challenge us as much as they do in public schools, so we were behind a lot in math. I had an ‘F’ for a while but now I have a ‘B+!'”

Leaning on her sister got her through middle school, and they became even closer.

“We’re more than sisters We’re best friends now,” Sophana said, “We do everything together. If I’m having a hard time, I go to her room and talk to her, and whenever she’s having a hard time she facetimes me, which is really stupid because we live in the same house. We talk about our problems with each other and tell each other everything.”

Flashing back to seven years ago, the two girls, living in the same orphanage, were told that they were finally getting adopted. They were only getting two meals a day and slept in a room with 30 other girls on bunk beds five stories high.

“I was so happy and excited,” Sophana said. “I thought America was heaven, a happy place with no poor people and stuff like that, so it was a dream come true.”

To Sophana, America was a whole new world.

“Coming over was kind of scary. The bathrooms down there [in Haiti] don’t have automatic sinks, so when I got to the bathrooms [in America], my sister and I stayed there for 30 minutes washing our hands and playing with the dryers,” Sophana said. “Everything was so different.”

Sophana also remembers being amazed by the grocery stores when she first arrived.

“The big red sign at Schnuck’s was really cool then, but now I just look at it and am like ‘ehh.’ We went in the store, and it was big, and there were so many different rows of food and stuff. It was amazing,” Sophana said. “In Haiti, they have little corner shops run by people who grow their own food and crops. It was really different.”

Passing the Holdegravers in the hallway, one would have no idea they came from a whole other world.