Bringing Home Our Little Miracle
In 2011, we adopted our son from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan had closed to adoption while becoming Hague compliant, but as we had been in the process before this happened, we were allowed to complete our adoption under the "old" system. As the doors to adoption have now opened again to families wishing to adopt a child from Kazakhstan, I felt that it was time to come forward and share our experiences.
Even under the "old" program, we were told a great deal about the health of our baby when we arrived at the baby house that first day. With the new, current process, I understand that parents will receive all information about the child in the referral, with 2 weeks to evaluate and make a decision on whether to move forward with the adoption. The new transparency of the Kazakhstan adoption program is definitely an improvement. We felt that we were given an honest appraisal of our future son's health, however, it is definitely a benefit that families will have this information and access to their own doctors before accepting a child's referral.
Our one-and-only son lived in the Semey Baby house. We met him at 20 months old, and brought him home 2 days before his 2 year birthday. Two good things about Kazakhstan adoptions is that the process moves very quickly in adoption time, and they take great pride in the health and well being of their children.
When visiting the baby house, we saw for ourselves that the children received good, basic care. The baby house was an older building, but very clean & organized. The children seemed to always be clean and tidy, and everyone followed a rigid schedule. We saw no neglect of any kind.
What impressed us the most was the love and affection that the caretakers appeared to have for each child. The children follow a very set schedule every day. It would probably be thought to be rigid by our standards, but it was apparent that it existed to keep the children clean (and germ free), fed, and allowed to have activities. The children who are pre-school age have gym, music, and group play time.
We learned through our adoption that there can be setbacks, and these should be expected. We worked with Little Miracles International, and found the communication to be honest and thorough. You had to eat the adoption elephant one bite at a time! Although things came up that had to be addressed, we were lucky to have a strong partnership with our agency. The support that we received was priceless.
On our first trip in Nov 2010 we spent 6 weeks in Kazakhstan, spending time with our precious boy two times a day. It was such a blessing to have that bonding time! We had always thought we wanted to adopt a small baby but God had plans for us to have this beautiful blonde haired, perfectly healthy, brilliant angel called Sergey.
He did not speak any complete words out loud while we were there (no Russian or English), just mouthed a few words. He was then, and still is the bravest boy ever. The first day we met him he cried a bit, but gave us a smile after he got over the shock that we were so foreign to him. The second day he kind of played by himself with a pink train and blocks while we interacted with him. The third day he finally smiled some more and held my finger looking out the window. After the 3rd day he turned a corner. He laughed & smiled & hugged us & wanted to sit in our laps at all times and interacted with us like he had ALWAYS been ours from birth!!
This initial bonding took awhile, but we never got discouraged because our pre-adoption training through our agency had prepared us for these first initial meetings. Our expectations were realistic and we knew that if we were patient, our little boy would learn to accept and love us.
By the time we went to court, Sergey was mouthing the word "mama" when he looked at me. He was very smart, and acted like he understood everything we did and said. He grew so attached to us that he would hug us, smile, and laugh constantly. He would cry so loudly when we had to return him to his room. I fed him lunch every day so I had that bonding experience and time with him.
The very sad, unfortunate thing is that after court you have to leave YOUR child. We had to leave Holden (Sergey) for 8 weeks. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to endure in all my 38 years. I understand that this new process may have you leave your child twice (once after bonding, another after court), but for much shorter times than that 8 weeks.
Most of the adoption books we read before travel stated that within a year of bringing your child home, they will catch up with children of their same age. In our case, we have found this to be true. Our son is 3 years, 3 months old. We have been home from Kazakhstan for 15 months. He understands everything a 4-year-old preschooler knows, he is very social, very kind, still so loving and is sweetest, most well behaved, and well adjusted child around. He can speak 6 word sentences with the best Tennessee accent around!
Adoption was very, very emotional, and at times challenging to our marriage. We had to get on the same page, have faith in the process, and believe that we could get through it. We would do it again a thousand plus times more for this precious child we received! It's worth every stress, every tear, and every dollar. Our God is so good, and we give Him full credit. We are so thankful to LMI for being the hand that God used to help us make him our son, and give us our Little (but so Big) Miracle.
A&J from Tennessee, proud parents of Sergey, Home 2/10/11
Kazakhstan Adoption Requirements & Information