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Russia is now closed to the UK but adopting our amazing daughter from Russia back in 2010 was the hardest and best thing we have ever done. As a young, then unmarried couple, who wanted to adopt a child with disabilities we weren’t even sure we would be allowed to. We just knew it was what we wanted and needed to do so we held our breath and went to the local social services office. After a not so enthusiastic initial response thankfully we were redirected to the IAC and from that day we believed it could happen. Attending each meeting, filling in each form and completing each course took us a step closer to becoming a family. We knew it would take a long time before we were all together so we decided to make the most of this time and not let the pain of waiting take over. We enjoyed weekends away, late nights out and lazy mornings reading the paper, knowing (hoping) these wouldn’t be happening so often soon.
But after all the waiting and hard work getting everything and more required we had done it. Picking up our daughter from the orphanage on a freezing December day was everything and more we hoped it would be. We were welcomed with open arms by all the carers, given gifts to take home for her and treated like royalty. The taxi ride back to the flat we would be staying in for the few days it took to sort out all the travel documents was so surreal it felt like I was looking in on it happening to someone else. Our daughter on my knee smiling and watching out the window all wrapped up and my husband and I looking at each other finally realising it had happened, we had done it, she was ours!
Getting to know her has been a wonderful journey full of love, laughter and learning. Learning to be parents, learning to be adoptive parents, learning about boundaries and everything else that comes with bringing up a fiercely independent little girl. It has been, and continues to be amazing. There have of course been a few curved balls along the way, one that sticks in my mind was during the first few days together when it quickly became apparent that our 2½ year old didn’t know how to chew her food. Weaning a child wasn’t something I had looked up! But we quickly figured it out and were very glad of the extra Russian porridge we had been given to take home as something familiar for our daughter.
We feel privileged every day, and even though day-to-day life often takes over and adoption and Russia aren’t always at the forefront, which we think is a healthy way to be, I look at our daughter regularly and feel immensely proud that we made her ours. When she proudly tells anyone who will listen that she’s Russian and that she slept on mummy’s lap all the way home on the aeroplane and she’s been out in the snow when it was -17c I know we are the luckiest people ever.