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Adoption stories

The moment Daniil was put in my arms, I was overwhelmed with joy; he was just overwhelmed. February 2002, Ussuriisk, Primorski Krai, Russia.

Elizabeth Delmatoff
Portland, OR

Birth Country: Russia
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later

We have just returned from our second meeting with our new son Daniil. He is gorgeous and so smart. When they first brought him in, I didn't recognize him from his photos. Neither did Bill. We were expecting him to be sickly and coughing, and he was smiling and had a tiny bit of color in his cheeks. I walked up to him and called him a "little bunny" in Russian. He smiled and reached out his arms, and it was true love.

At first, the ladies were concerned that he would be afraid of Bill, because these babies almost never see men. He touched Bill's moustache, then his nose and smiled. He is so cute! I really can't believe it. It was the most amazing feeling. It was like giving birth and getting married all rolled into one. That's the only way I can explain it, but I will never forget it. The dreamy look that Bill's been walking around with pretty much says it all.

Daniil is very small and developmentally delayed, which we were expecting. He appears to be a healthy eight-month-old baby instead of a sickly 14-month-old baby. He is little and cuddly and loves to be rocked. He loves prying open my mouth to count my teeth. I think he has a future in dentistry! He crawls and scoots and pulls himself up. He was standing before, but after a bad bout of bronchitis is quite weak, and is not standing or walking right now. It will come. He is very strong. He's recovering from measles and scabies, so he's a little spotty. He has tiny feet, huge ears, and vibrant blue eyes.

Ussuriisk is so different from Moscow. It could be another world. It is truly Tijuana with the color sucked out. Things are quite bleak and grey, and the life here is hard. Many families do not have indoor plumbing. In fact, outhouses are common. Work is relatively scarce, although there are many educated people because there is a college here. Despite the bleak conditions, the people are wonderful and warm.

Before we left western Russia, we went to a beautiful church. I lit a candle for Jenna and one for Teresa, both in the Mothers' Alcove. I said a little prayer for Daniil's birth mother, too, as they are all part of this incredible journey. It felt good, and I think they all approve.


Daniil is a beautiful and brilliant baby. He is exactly the person who could complete our family, and he couldn't be more mine if I had birthed him. He can say a few words: "na" (take), "Okay," "bye-bye," "dai" (give), and "da" (yes). A few Russian and a few Engleski. He does have some special needs, and will require help and physical therapy when we return, but he is strong and smart, and has a beautiful, joy-filled personality. He is loving and sweet, and we have yet to hear him cry. He does have scabies and some other critters, so we probably do as well. We have medicine, so the first day we are in the hotel after he leaves the orphanage we are killing the critters! Yikes. I do not like parasites!

The orphanage is sad, but the ladies who work here are kind and loving to the babies. They hold and hug them when they can, and pay attention to their health. Unfortunately, there is not much food and few supplies, so the children are sickly and small and undernourished. We have been buying lots of formula, yogurt and fresh fruit, and I hear it gets better in the spring and summer. It is hard to see, but I'm glad I know the truth. This trip, more than any other, will change me. I don't know yet how, but it is significant for more than bringing me my son.

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