This is a photo of my daughter Sara and me taken on April 3, 2005. The photo was taken prior to the start of a celebration of the Kazakh New Year, Nauryz, that the Kazakh Aul of the United States produced and held at the Massachusetts' Audubon Society's Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield, Mass.
Birth Country: Kazakhstan
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later
My husband Norman Remmler and I adopted our beautiful daughter Sara Lauren from the Republic of Kazakhstan in February 2001. Sara is our only child, and adopting her was the single best thing we have ever done. She is the light of our lives and we are forever grateful to the country of Kazakhstan for giving us the more precious gift of our child.
Sara was nine months old when we adopted her, and today, she is a bright, beautiful, athletic, sociable and kind child. We live in Rhode Island but worked with a placement agency in Texas called Little Miracles International. We had a great experience both stateside and in-country, and we fell in love with Kazakhstan.
We spent 20 days in the country, the first two weeks of which were spent doing daily visitations to our soon-to-be daughter in her baby house, that is what they call orphanages over there for children under age five. Kazakhstan has a unique process for international adoption as it is the only country that requires such extensive visitation before the adoption is granted by the courts. Many people do not choose to adopt in Kazkahstan due to the long process, but to us, it was a tremendous gift. A wonderful blessing to have the opportunity to spend two weeks in our daughter's home country, soaking up the culture, and spending time in her orphanage and getting a feel for what her life was like and how the caretakers were.
The resources were scant, not enough food or caretakers, children were thin, but the love the caretakers who were there had for the children was readily apparent. Our daughter was very underweight, but she always greeted us with a smile and very easily attached to us, a wonderful process that we can only attribute to the love she got in her early life in the baby house, and we are forever grateful to those hardworking and loving women.
The only thing that has been missing since we came home has been connections to our daughter's birth country. Since Kazakhstan was behind the iron curtain of the former Soviet Union, not much is known about it here in the United States. We want our daughter to know about her wonderful nomadic heritage, but unfortunately, there is a dearth of Kazakh cultural resource here in the United States. We want her to be proud of who she is, and such knowledge will be especially invaluable as she gets older.
Because there was nothing out there here in the United States, I took part in the founding of a new organization dedicated to helping families like mine. I was fortunate to meet a Kazakh national who lives here in Rhode Island named Zhanat Baidaralin, a ballet master and choreographer who has also produced national festivals in Kazakhstan. He and his family want to help their little compatriots here in the United States learn about Kazakh culture, and together earlier this year we founded a nonprofit organization called the Kazakh Aul of the United States, Association for American & Kazakh Families. We are inspired by the close knit traditional nomadic villages of the Kazakhs, or "auls" and we want to develop a like-minded, supportive community for other adoptive families with children from Kazakhstan. Our aim is to establish a cultural bridge to the republic of Kazakhstan. We are a membership organization, and we already have members in 20 states.