"SHE'S A LUCKY GIRL"
By Lucy L. Valdivia (Mother to Olivia Marie Perez (4) & Natalya Anikina Perez (2)
I could have written this a year and a half ago (10/20/05) when I saw my first black and white grainy pictures. I could have written this December 19 th 2005, the day after our 6 th wedding anniversary, when I held her for the 1 st time. April 8, 2006, The day we picked her up from the orphanage, April 12, 2006, The day she said her 1 st English word, 'Mama' or April 14, 2006, The day we arrived home. I chose today because it is the anniversary of the day we became her parents, because this is not a dream, and because yes.... She's a lucky girl.
Her name is Natalya Anikina Perez and she is 27 months old. We call her Niki for short, from Anikina - her birth mother's last name. When she arrived in the U.S. from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, she was a shy little girl. There were days when we visited the orphanage that she didn't make a single sound. I could never have imagined how much she would flourish, nor can I believe that we ever lived without her.
David and I were married in 1999, and three years later we delivered a beautiful brown eyed baby girl-Olivia Marie Perez (now 4). We always knew we would have children and we always knew we would adopt. With five brothers between us, we wanted Olivia to have a sister, and we wanted more children so adopting a little girl was an easy choice. We never expected to travel to Siberia (twice), or that we would spend three weeks there. We just chose to adopt a little girl, between the ages of 6 to 15 months from Russia. What we got was not what I had expected.
Niki is a spunky little girl whose smile can melt your heart. She is adorable, sweet, loving, courageous, independent, strong willed, opinionated, smart, funny and my little drama queen. She is the happiest child I have ever met. She loves to dress up like a princess, to put barrettes in her hair, to pretend she is a frog, or a cat or a puppy, and she is quite a ham. She approaches everything with excitement and enthusiasm including brushing her teeth and going "night night". She sings our goodnight song to me before I put her to bed, and she still sleeps with the Winnie The Pooh I gave her during our first visit. She is Olivia's little shadow and my heart melts when I'm driving and I look back to see them holding hands.
Our road to Niki held the usual road bumps. It took us almost 2 years from start to finish to bring her home, but just like a pregnancy & delivery, holding her in my arms makes the paperwork, fingerprinting, certification and updating and waiting all disappear.
I've taken over a thousand pictures in the 12 months and can never decide which ones to send with my next post-placement report, so I narrow it down to my favorite twenty-five pictures. I look forward to our visits with the social worker so I can show off my girls. Friends and co-workers tell me often what a lucky girl she is, while they are right, I never expected that the lucky girl would be me. Being her mother has given me much more than I could ever dream of giving her.