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“Every life has value,” says Sasha Carpenter.
Coming from Sasha, this universal truth takes on poignant, personal meaning. Sasha was born in Russia, premature with mild cerebral palsy, after her mother underwent a failed abortion.
When American parents who love Jesus adopted Sasha, her story took a dramatic and redemptive turn. Today Sasha works as an adoption advocate, serving as a voice for the voiceless—orphans and vulnerable children around the world.
She joined the podcast to share her testimony of God’s power and grace weaving his goodness into her family’s life, even through tragedy.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:13–14, 16
The Bible tells us that God knits us together in our mothers’ wombs and that he ordains our days before we live them. So it’s no coincidence that Joni Eareckson Tada’s story intertwines with Sasha’s.
When she was a child, Stephanie Carpenter (Sasha’s adoptive mother) read Joni’s autobiography. She was struck by the part where Joni was drowning and crying out to the Lord for help. At that moment, Stephanie thought to herself, “Whatever God that is, that’s the God I want to serve!” Stephanie put her faith in Christ that day!
At age nine, Stephanie also looked up to a famous Soviet gymnast. In her fervent faith, she decided that one day she would adopt a little girl from Russia and raise her up to follow the God she had met through Joni
As an adult, Stephanie followed through on her decision to adopt a daughter from Russia. When she and her husband brought Sasha home from the orphanage where she’d spent the first seventeen months of her life, the Carpenters knew very little about her biological family. They also didn’t know that Sasha had mild cerebral palsy.
Raising Sasha, the Carpenters grew a heart for children with disabilities—especially vulnerable orphans.
For ten years Sasha was an only child. Then the Carpenters felt God’s call to serve and support more children with special needs—not just at home but also around the world. They decided to adopt another daughter with disabilities… then another and another…
Today Sasha is the oldest of eleven adopted Carpenter daughters, all with some kind of disability!
Her siblings come from Taiwan, the Philippines, Ukraine, China, and Bulgaria. The Carpenters have also dedicated their lives to caring for special needs orphans, advocating for their care and adoption.
The Carpenters started Ting Ministries—the name comes from the Chinese translation of one Carpenter daughter’s name, which means “listen with your heart.” Sasha, a college graduate, works with Ting Ministries, supporting international adoptions, freeing families from kiln slavery, doing medical and food outreach to impoverished orphans, and sharing the Gospel with unreached people around the world.
In 2018, twenty years after Sasha’s adoption, a college friend helped Sasha find her birth mother, Irina, using Russian social media. They set up a meeting where Sasha discovered more threads of God’s grace weaving his goodness through her story—even its darkest chapters.
Irina told Sasha that she never wanted an abortion.
Irina’s father—a struggling impoverished widower—had insisted that Irina do away with her unborn child. When the abortion failed and Sasha was born premature, Irina decided to keep her. She visited the hospital and pumped milk for her baby, intending to take her home. But one day when she came to visit, Sasha was gone. Instead of telling Irina the truth—that Sasha had been taken to an orphanage—the hospital staff told Irina that her baby was dead.
For years Irina held out hope that her baby hadn’t died. And her father, who had pushed for the abortion, carried a burden of regret. He grieved the loss of the granddaughter he could have had—the joy they could have shared. And on his deathbed, he asked for Irina’s forgiveness for making her give up her baby.
She forgave him, not knowing that she would one day be reunited with Sasha.
Irina has another daughter in Russia; this blood-sister of Sasha’s has autism. Irina said that for years she believed her daughter’s autism was God’s punishment for what had happened to Sasha. What joy Sasha found in sharing the Gospel with her birth mother, offering forgiveness, hope, and the truth that people with special needs are an incredible blessing—not only to their families, but to the body of Christ and the world.
Through Sasha’s love and testimony, Irina came to faith in Jesus.
Today Sasha’s family story rings through with the hope of Christ, and with God’s redemptive designs. Sasha holds the following two passages of Scripture close to her heart:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”