Birth Country: Russia
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later
I was single and turning 40 in 2003 and I thought that if I ever wanted to be a mom, I had better get busy. I turned to international adoption because I wanted to help a child who didn't have a parent, just as I was a parent who didn't have a child. I started in September 2003 with the intention of adopting a female baby from Nepal. Nepal was a fairly new country when it came to adoption. I did a lot of research on Nepalese history and culture and was excited to experience my future daughter's homeland. I completed the required homestudy and INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] clearance (which took five months) then completed the dossier for Nepal. I waited four months and finally got a referral for a four-year-old girl. I fell in love with her picture and couldn't wait to go meet her. I wanted to go meet her right away, but she had to get clearance from the government in order to be officially offered for international adoption. I waited and waited and still received no clearance. I was not a very patient person at this point.
Months passed and because of the unstable political climate of the country, the agency couldn't guarantee that they could ever get her out. I was devastated. I knew I had never met this girl, yet my heart was attached to her. In my mind, she was already my daughter. I had named her, decorated her room, knitted sweaters for her, and told my entire family about her. I considered her loss a miscarriage just as if I had physically carried her in my body.
I agonized for a couple months over what I should do. Should I stick it out with expiring paperwork, not knowing when or if she would come home? A neighbor who had just adopted her third child from Russia heard about my situation and suggested I call her agency. I did, and within two weeks, had the referral of a 20-month-old girl from Ekaterinburg, Russia. I had to scramble to get the paperwork in order, (Russia has much tighter paperwork requirements) and I was on a plane to Russia within a month of calling the agency.
The region my daughter came from is a tough region to get kids from. The paperwork requirements are exhaustive and oftentimes the judge will ask for certain documents to be redone in a different way. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to their requests. However, the children get great medical care and I believe that the staff in my daughter's orphanage loved her and cared very much that she was going to be happy in her new home. The average wait between the first and second trip was supposed to be four to six weeks, but because this region is tough, the holidays, and the reorganization of the Russian department that handles adoption, I waited five months to bring Sophie home. She was so worth the wait!
I tell people that she smiled the whole time I was with her in the orphange, yet it was a very surface smile. Now she just glows. She smiles from the inside. Within 24 hours of leaving the orphange, she was a different child. She was very subdued when I would visit her, but when we got to the hotel in Moscow, she became active and curious and funny!
I brought Sophie home April 19, 2005 and I am in the planning stages for my second adoption. I don't know if I will go back to Russia, the cost is almost prohibitive, or if I will try a different country. The prospects for single parents aren't as great as for couples. All I know is, Sophie is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. People tell me that she is so lucky to have been adopted. How do I make them understand that I am just as lucky as Sophie to have found a child like her?