On February 2, 2006, I applied to adopt a baby girl from Russia. I had always considered adopting a baby my whole life and made my first step on this date by applying with Children's Hope International. I selected Russia since the agency encouraged you to select a country where you would raise the baby knowing her culture. I just felt more affinity with the Russian culture since I had always liked Russian history and literature.. and the movie Dr. Zhivago!
At the time when I applied, the process was only 11 months. I was very excited that February in thinking by the end of 2006, I would have the baby.
Unfortunately, in September 2006, the delays and delays and delays began. Mainly all were due to Russian bureacracy and the internal country adoption reform.
So I waited and waited and waited..... every year I had to update reams of adoption documents since everything expired within a year and you had to redo the process to stay current. Originally, I was placed in the Kaliningrad region, but by September 2009, I was moved to the Tver region since it was thought that would help my process move more quickly.
On Tuesday, August 2, 2010 at 4:59PM, I was sitting at my desk at work when an email from my agency popped up with the subject line: Kelly- Referral. I froze for a second telling myself that this couldn't be "it". I thought maybe I would hear rumblings from my agency, like calling to verify information or asking questions or something-- but it had been radio silence for nearly a year, I had not heard anything from them. And every month when I called the agency to check my status, I was always told they didn't have any information.
So I took a breath and opened my email-- and it really was my adoption referral I had been waiting for exactly 4 and a-half years!!! I was amazed and stunned! My hands were shaking as I read the 'extract' (summary) that was sent about my referral. I didn't have a picture yet- just general information and a high-level medical report.
Her name is Nadezhda which translates to Nadya (which means "hope"- I looked it up). She is 11 months old- she was born in September 2009, although my agency reported they did not know her actual birth day. That's something I hope I'll find out since she was born in a hospital in Tver, Russia. She was the fourth birth for her bio-mom, and all the siblings had previously been adopted.
Nadya was premature, born at 31 weeks, which is about two months early. She weighed only 2 pounds 8 ounces and had various health conditions due to the prematurity. She seems to have a pretty healthy report now, with mainly the only issues being her low height/weight (she's in the lower third for child development, and at nine months, still only weighed 13 pounds). She also has an eye condition called "nystagmus" which causes rapid horizontal movement of the pupils. She's still too young to determine if it will affect her vision, but as I learn more about nystagmus, I understand it can be corrected later with glasses or surgery. As for her growth and development, she'll blossom once she's in the U.S. with better care and nutrition.
She stayed in the hospital immediately from birth and entered the orphanage in December 2009. Russian adoption parameters allow six months for the birth family to claim her. After that, only a Russian family is permitted to adopt her for three months. After that three months, she was allowed to be adopted internationally.
I was permitted 20 days to decide if I would accept my referral- but how could I not? Although due to the long list of medical conditions in her medical summary, I wanted to better understand what I could be dealing with. I contacted two local pediatricians that specialized in international adoption conditions and had them reveiw Nadya's medical summary.
It was almost more confusing, since they had complete opposite opinions! One thought her nystagmus was no problem but was very concerned about her physical development. The other thought her physical development was fine but was more concerned about her nystagmus. As soon as I received the second doctor's input, I knew I had to put my faith into knowing that Nadya was just meant to be for me-- that God had a plan for us to be together. I called the adoption agency and accepted my referral on Thursday, August 12.
The next step was waiting for my travel dates for when I would be invited to Russia to meet Nadya! In the meantime, it was back to the paperwork. I had 33 documents that had to be updated!! I set to work updating all the documents (trying to figure out how I can post the list), applying for my VISA and making my flights.
On August 19, I was given my travel dates! I travel to Russia on Saturday, September 4! It's an 11 hour direct flight, so I depart the U.S. at 5PM on 9/4, and arrive in Russia at 4PM on 9/5. Representatives from my agency plus a translator will pick me up from the airport in Moscow and drive me to Tver, Russia, (two hours north of Moscow) where Nadya is in the orphanage.
On Monday, Sept. 6, I visit the Department of Education to complete more paperwork, then get to finally meet my future baby!!
I spend three days at the orphanage (participating in medical and informational updates on the baby, and the orphanage officials observe me with the baby and interview me for their offical report and recommendation). Then I travel back to Moscow where I appear in Russian court to formally accept the baby, before departing back to the U.S. without her.
Luckily, my Dad is accompanying me on the trip for moral support since I know it will be soooooo hard to have to leave the baby at the orphanage.
I receive an invitation to travel back to Russia in about 1-2 months. My second trip will be a whole month in the country. I am awarded the baby in Russian court the first few days, but there is a mandatory 10 day waiting period where I do not yet have the baby and the court can change their mind, for whatever reason.
I may travel back to the U.S. for these 10 days, but I haven't decided yet. On the 11th day, I can finally pick up the baby at the orphanage and she is mine!!! However, I have to apply for her amended birth certificate and passport which takes 14 days. I will have the baby but can not leave Tver, so will stay in Russia at the hotel with the baby. After I receive the birth certificate and passport, we go to Moscow where I spend 2-3 days for more processing at the American Embassy.
Then I can leave Russia with my new daughter!!! I hope to have her in the U.S. by November at the latest. When Nadya touches ground in the States, she offically becomes a U.S. citizen! She maintains dual citizenship with Russia and the U.S. for life.
But I still won't be done. I am required to have post-adoption reviews at 3, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months after the adoption. After that, the adoption process is finally complete!
While I haven't officially decided, I believe I will keep Nadya as the baby's middle name and name her something else for her first name.
So here is my future baby! She looks a little perturbed, and a friend told me she looks like she's ready to take someone out, but hey- she's been in an orphanage since birth- it's a hard knock life! I think she's a beautiful, tiny, feisty little fighter and I can't be more ecstatic to meet her and bring her home!!!