Category Archives: Second Adoption

Valentine’s Day

My most memorable Valentine’s Day was 3 years ago. That day, I found myself in the very cold city of Moscow, where I met my youngest love.


I hardly even recognize that kid anymore. A shadow of who he really is. At one year old, smiles were hard to come by.

Quiet, observant, stoic. That’s how he seemed.

We didn’t see any bits of his personality until 3.5 months later, after our court trip, when we finally started to see his goofy and wild spirit come out.


Now, he’s the family wild spirit. He keeps everyone laughing.

A few mornings ago, he woke up sick. Normally, he wakes up smiling, chatty long before the rest of us are ready to hear a sound. On the dark, freezing winter mornings, I joke it’s the Russian in him, better adapted to the dark and the cold than the rest of us. But this morning, I turned the lights on, patted his back and then headed downstairs, knowing he’d get up when he was ready.

And when he did, he just cried and screamed. I picked him up and he started to calm down. A minute later, I tried to put him down again, so I could help Reed and Lena get ready, but the screaming started again quickly. All he wanted was to be held. So, held him I did. In the moments that are usually spent rushing around the house to get his siblings ready for school, we sat on the couch and he pressed his body into mine, positioning my arm around him like a seat belt. He relaxed and quieted.

Those moments of sitting on the couch, holding him, were sacred. I often wonder if I’m doing this parenting gig right. Maybe I’d be a better parent if I had more experience, if I was less busy, if I was just a more patient and gentle person, but you know what? In that moment, Gus would have settled for no one else. In that moment, I knew that I, with all of my flaws and imperfections, was enough for him. He felt loved and secure with me.

My heart keeps jumping to the host kids. The listings for many of the hosting groups are up, or will be soon. I read the little bits of their stories and I wish I could hug each one of them, tell them that someone cares. Parenting a teenager isn’t remotely the same as parenting a preschooler. But, when they’re sick or when they’re hurting, they still crave that love of a mom. They want someone to care and nurture them, too. Not the perfect family, but a flawed and imperfect family who loves them as they are. They all need someone to make them feel secure and cherished.

Maybe you’re that somebody?

Project 143 | New Horizons for Children | Children’s Cultural Connection | Frontier Horizon

A Gotcha Day Letter of Gratitude

Dear Mr. Putin, Mr. Astakov and Russian government,

A year ago today, I picked up my son from a baby house in Moscow.


It was one of the best days of my life– up there with my wedding day, the gotcha day of my 2 children from Ukraine, and a few other truly special days.

Thank you for the privilege of letting my husband and I parent him. Especially, thank you to the orphanage staff, the prosecutor and the judge, who agreed that we were right for him.

Thank you for letting him be a part of our family

He clung to me as we drove away from the orphanage.

Photo on 2012-11-08 at 16.35 #2
He’s rarely stopped clinging to me since.

Before I scooped him up that day, I thought that I knew him. Tiny, quiet, observant.

But, over the last year, we’ve also had the pleasure of seeing his spunk come out.


It’s been like watching the sunrise. Dawn starts slowly, then suddenly, the light starts to shine.

R1-02958-011A2012-07-18 18.01.24

Now, everything is illuminated.

He delights in his siblings.
2012-08-16 08.54.48

And his daddy.


We are so in love with this boy who we first met in your beautiful Moscow. And so thankful for him every day.

molly&gus flat2e

It has been such a pleasure to watch him grow and change over the last year.


Thank you, again, for one of the best gifts we’ve ever received. I hope that you will give other waiting children in Russia the same opportunity.

With love,



Do you ever meet someone who simultaneously amazes you and frightens you with their tenacity and strength? Meet my dear friend Gina.

This woman is fearless. Literally flying across the world, talking to anyone who will listen, to try to bring her daughter, Evie, home. I admire her so. One person who would listen was Sarah McCarthy, filmmaker. Sarah is working on an amazing documentary about Russian-American adoption.

I know sometimes it’s easier to just look away from the hard stuff, but I’m asking you to open your heart up for 5 minutes and 10 seconds, for Gina and her daughter Evie. Today is all about freedom, and let’s do everything we can to know that Evie may know freedom, too.

Check out the campaign here. 

One Year Ago

A year ago today, our voices and our legs shook in a Russian court room as we asked if Gus could join our family.

The memory of that day is a favorite of mine. After our court hearing, we went to the baby house and we met Gus. Yes, we’d visited him several times before– we met the laidback child, sedated by fear if not also sedated by medicine.


That day, we began to see the feisty wild child he really is.



Here are some recent photos which show him most accurately.


Playing in a bucket of water.


Someone stole his tricycle.


And he stole his sister’s sunglasses, with a messy after dinner face.


Learning to climb. Everything.


His usual dirty self.


In a calmer moment with one of his canine friends.

Playing in the rain.

And in a creek.

Happy court day to Gus, a feisty and fab addition to our family.

URGENT request about Russian adoption

Today, Gus delighted in grapes, being out in the hot sunshine and some cuddling when he was feeling tired. The simple joys of being 2, right?

My kids are amazing people and I don’t generally dwell in their pasts and what might have been, but the reality is that, there’s a whole different life out there, one that they used to live and could still be living if laws in their birth countries were different.

Unfortunately, as we all know, in Russia, those laws have changed and those kids, kids who should be in someone’s backyard, eating grapes, cuddling and enjoying the beautiful weather, are waiting in orphanages. Here’s your chance to do something.

Senator Landrieu is currently circulating a letter for signature by members of Congress. The letter will go to President Obama and will urge him to prioritize the matter of the pipeline families trapped by the Russian adoption ban and find a solution when he meets with Putin at the G8 Summit in mid-June.

In short, what you need to do is call your Senators and Congressmen and say “I’m calling to ask Senator (insert name) to please sign the letter for President Obama about Russian adoption. I’m a constituent from (insert location) and Russian adoption matters to me because…”

There are many families who have met their child, and promised their child that they would be back, with no clue that Russian adoption would shut down entirely. Can you imagine meeting your child, saying goodbye thinking you’ll be back in a month or two, and 6 months later, your child still waits with no end in sight?

Here’s a suggestion on what you can say, as well, as the details and content of the letter from a friend of mine who is one of these waiting families…

Senator/Congressman ________,

My friend is currently in the process of adopting a child from Russia with Down syndrome and met their child before the adoption ban went into place. They fell in love with their child when they held them, played with them, laughed with them, and truly became a family while they were in Russia. They very much think of this child as their son/daughter. They cannot just forget about this child and “move on” because their child will grow up in a mental institution for the rest of their life if they are not adopted.

Senator Landrieu is currently leading a sign-on letter for both House and Senate members to sign in support of these families to encourage President Obama to prioritize this issue when he meets with President Putin in June at the G8 Summit. We are calling/emailing because we think it is very important as one of your constituents to support these families and this issue. This week these families are in Washington D.C. visiting you and are delivering you letters requesting your support in this matter. We want you to show your support by signing the letter that will be delivered to President Obama.

To sign on, please contact Whitney Reitz in Senator Landrieu’s office at 202-224-5824 or email her at The deadline for signing this letter is the end of business on Wednesday, May 15th.

The following members have already signed the letter:

Blunt, MO
Brown, OH
Cantwell, WA
Cardin, MD
Gillibrand, NY
Inhofe, OK
Johanns, NE
Kirk, IL
Landrieu, LA
Paul, KY
Portman, OH
Sessions, AL
Toomey, PA
Warner, VA
Wicker, MI
Franks, AZ
Israel, NY
King, IA
Loebsack, IA
Lummis, WY
Rangel, NY

We would like to see your name join along side theirs. The text of the letter is included below:

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to request your assistance with finding a solution for the small number of Russian orphans who have already met and bonded with their American families, yet were not able to have their adoptions completed due to the Russian adoption ban. We understand that you will be meeting with President Putin in June during the G8 Summit. We ask that you prioritize this issue and seek commitment from President Putin to finding a humanitarian solution.

Politics between the United States and Russia have become personal to several hundred Russian orphans and the families in the United States hoping to adopt them. These are children without parents, families, or homes. Many are in need of urgent medical care; all are in need of a future filled with promise. These children have no voice. These children have already been promised homes in America, and they have bonded with these American parents. The Government of Russia’s unwillingness to allow their cases to be completed adds yet another trauma to their young lives.

We have met many of these families and spoken with them frequently. They remain completely dedicated to these children, and they are trying everything in their power to help them. Approximately 230 of these families had traveled to Russia before the adoption ban to spend time with the children with whom they were matched. These devoted families already think of the children they were matched with as their sons and daughters.

Mr. President, we must find a humanitarian solution for these children and these families. We were cautiously optimistic when the Government of Russia sent a delegation to the United States a few weeks ago, but the outcome of that visit was disappointing.

We ask you to raise this issue with President Putin directly in the hopes that two world leaders can step back for a moment and find a way out of the political morass for a few hundred wounded children. Based on the briefings we have received from the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, we know that there are options for bringing these children home, despite the ban. The issue, then, becomes a question of convincing the Russians to put the children’s needs first. We thank you in advance for your efforts on behalf of this group of children and families.


Names of senate members will follow

We truly appreciate your support in this matter. We know that you are compassionate and understand these parents’ love for the children that they see as their sons and daughters.

Thank you,


I think the area code for these numbers is 202