We have been home for about 3 months with our Daughter, Catie. It is almost impossible to remember all that we have been through as we look at that beautiful face! From the infertility problems to the delays in Russia, etc, it is all forgotten! While looking into agencies, we spoke with another couple that had used Adopt-A-Child as their agency with great success. After meeting with the staff, there was no question that this was the agency for us.
We were led through the entire process of collecting paperwork and information, no question was left unanswered. Just as everything was completed, there was a delay with all of the agencies accreditation due to some changes in Russia. There were no answers that could be given and as time went on, we, as waiting parents were very frustrated. Adopt-A-Child did all that they could to keep us informed of the situation, they were as frustrated as us, and we felt as if we were all in this together and not left alone in the dark.
Sofiya, Laura, Olga, and Ellen were amazing to work with! Our paperwork was nothing short of perfect. Everything was constantly updated so that when the time came, we were able to leave immediately. Finally, we received the phone call from Sofiya that she had a beautiful little girl for us and she did! (Is it possible to fall in love with a picture?) We were able to have Catie's information evaluated by an amazing pediatrician, Dr. Sara Springer, but we knew in our hearts, no matter what, this was the child for us.
We left for Russia the Saturday after Thanksgiving and on Monday; we met Catie for the first time. She was in Baby Home #22. She came right over to us, and was willing to play; she was quiet (at first) but showed signs of being very loving. She was well taken care of. She was always very clean and it seemed as though the staff tried to "dress her up" to meet her parents. As was suggested by Dr. Springer, we left a crib safe photo album with the care takers and we could tell that they were showing the pictures of us to her between our trips. We hated to leave her but we also knew that short of being home with us, she was in a safe place. What surprises most people when they hear of our experience is that for the most part, the orphanage is actually a nice place. The building was very clean and the staff made us feel welcome and tried to communicate with us even with the language barrier. On the second trip, we went to court for the adoption hearing, though it seemed like it would be a trying experience, it was not. Again, because of the Adopt-A-Child staff, we were totally prepared for the hearing and every "I" was dotted, every "T" crossed! The court officials seem happy to know that a child will be going to a good family and our judge made the proceedings a nice experience. Throughout each of these trips, we were able to see the sights of Moscow. Not only did Olga translate for us during all of the proceedings, she also arranged everything for us with our driver and was always only a phone call away. We must also mention the drivers in Russia. Slava was our driver on our first trip. Though he was not with us on the next 2 trips, we did see him in our travels and he always hugged us and even gave Catie a gift the day before we left Russia with her. He did not speak English and we do not speak Russian but with each of us trying, everything always worked out! The drivers are as caring as the rest of the staff.
On the last trip, we went to the Baby Home and dressed Catie to leave the orphanage, we realized what a special little person we had when she left all that she had known for 19 months and walked out the door of #22 and never looked back. After arriving at our hotel, she walked around laughing and playing! We were able to meet up with other couples from Adopt-a-Child through out that week and see their beautiful children as well. We had our first family picture taken in Red Square and made sure that Catie has plenty of souvenirs so that she can appreciate where she is from. Catie only cried twice on the plane on the way home and was still pleasant after being up around the clock!
The last 3 months have been amazing! Catie is very loving, and extremely smart! Many people have told us that "we" did a wonderful thing by adopting her and we tell them that this amazing little girl did a wonderful thing by becoming our daughter! We are the lucky ones! The sweetest sound you could ever hear is "Mum Mum" and "Da Da"! In 3 short months, she is communicating, playing, and being an all around normal toddler (with the occasional tantrum!). She is very healthy and smart.She is affectionate and sweet as well. After this experience, it became quite clear why we were unable to have a biological child because Catie is the blessing that God meant for us to have.
We could go on and on with a description of this experience but a miracle is difficult to sum up in words. The staff of Adopt-A-Child became part of our family and our family is part of theirs. After the care and attention that we received through this process, we know that Sofiya is truly Catie's Guardian Angel here on earth. We live in the Pittsburgh area and try to take Catie to see the staff at Adopt-A-Child once a month. They are genuinely happy to see her and we are happy to share her with them.
The simple words "thank you" can not touch our heart felt gratitude and appreciation for these wonderful people at Adopt-A-Child.
Dan, Chris, and Catie Simon