Adopting Marina from Russia
Little did Jo know when she went out to work in Russia in 2008 she would meet and fall in love with a beautiful abandoned baby. This is her story:
On Thursday 11th September 2008 I was in Ryazan, a large city 3 hours south east of Moscow, on a routine monitoring trip for the charity I work for. That day turned out to be anything but routine and now, 2 and a half years later I am sitting writing this while my beautiful daughter drifts off to sleep listening to Iggle Piggle and friends.
That day in 2008 was when I was introduced to a little 3 month old girl who had been given to the Ryazan Baby Home the day she was born. Marina was born with multiple limb deficiency, the cause of which is still unknown. I was introduced to her in order to give advice and guidance to the baby home staff on how best to support her development and as a paediatric physiotherapist specifically her movement. Before I could even think about that I looked into her eyes, she smiled, reached her little hand out of the covers popped her dummy back in and I was smitten! Absolutely, 100% in love. I managed to take a couple of photos before moving on to the next child and that was it, the start of our journey to bring Marina home.
My husband was surprised but not shocked when I told him what happened, we talked it over continuously, gathered information from many sources, including RUKA, IAC and a friend with personal experience and by Christmas 2008 were ready to officially start our application. All our family and friends were instantly supportive and excited for us, the most common reaction was “well of course you are, it’s not a surprise, who is the lucky little one?”
What I probably should mention is that in Sept 2008 we were engaged with the wedding planned for Sept 2009, we lived in a small 1 bedroom flat and although knew we wanted a family had not planned on it happening at this time and in this way. So 2009 was a BIG year, move to a bigger house, wedding, honeymoon and home study all within 3months, busy and stressful but great fun! After a number of delays, hiccups and battles with social services our home study was down, we passed panel and in March 2010 we had our certificate of eligibility. Due to the area of Russia we were adopting from and the fact we were adopting a known child we decided to adopt independently and so after much digging, a bit of guess work and countless trips to our notary and Milton Keynes we submitted our application to adopt to the local Ministry of Education in Ryazan in June 2010. Marina turned 2 at the same time and being able to be in Russia with her was amazing, although knowing that the process had already taken so long and every day she was missing out was nearly unbearable. Marina was doing extremely well, despite the lack of stimulation and being kept in a group of younger children due to her disability. She was sitting, crawling and pulling herself up to cruise around the cot, what a star!
After many more submissions of extra paperwork, reapplying for CRB’s, being lead round and round in circles I think the minister, her team and the judge realised we weren’t going away, that we fully intended to bring Marina home whatever it took and we eventually got a court date for December 13th 2010. Arriving in Ryazan in -20c, 6ft of snow with a buggy, a bag of little clothes and our suits neatly packed away we couldn’t quite believe we were finally there. We had already made the judge aware that we would be asking for a waiver of the usual 10day wait between court and the decision taking affect due to Marina having been frequently unwell and our concerns growing that she may need medical treatment relatively urgently. We had been warned that it was very unlikely this would be granted and we should prepare to have to travel home for Christmas and return after the Russian New Year holidays, which would have been mid-Jan, yet another long wait. After an interesting but pretty nerve wracking 30mins in court the judge returned informing us he will be granting the adoption order with immediate effect, we couldn’t believe it and of course the tears started flowing! That was a Monday, on Friday 17th we had all the documents we needed to be able to collect Marina from the Baby Home and by Wednesday 22nd December we had her visa and were on a plane to London, making it home for Christmas despite holiday closures and snow storms in the UK.
We have been home 5 months now and Marina is flourishing, she has put on over 2kgs, has thick blonde hair and a very healthy colour to her cheeks. She is into everything, saying over 120 English words and understanding everything said to and asked of her, although of course at timed has selective hearing. We go to some lovely toddler groups were we have been made to feel very welcome, we have had some excellent support from local services and just recently Marina has started walking in her new prosthetics legs, there really is no stopping her now!