Adoption had always been on Shawn and Michelle's mind since they were high school sweethearts, but as they walked to the building in Moscow to finally meet the daughter they eventually adopted, the reality hit: "It was terrifying because we didn't know honestly what were getting into," says Michelle. Read her poignant story below:
"Adoption had always been on our minds since my husband Shawn and I were high school sweethearts. He called me at work one day, and told me he felt we were supposed to adopt from Russia. So began the paperwork and the anticipation.
I remember Shawn, our daughter and I walking apprehensively to the doors of a large building named the Ministry of Education, downtown Moscow. It was a beautiful fall day, but it didn't hide that we were simultaneously excited and afraid. It was terrifying because we didn’t know honestly what we were getting ourselves into. It was the reason we found ourselves at the mercy of a lady “who looks at your paperwork, looks at you, and says, ‘Da!’ and hands you a picture. And that was literally the first time we saw any image of her whatsoever. We just got that one little picture taken right after the infant girl left the neonatal intensive care unit.
We waited, and what seemed an eternity, to meet Anya in a small playroom at the orphanage. My husband Shawn is a physician and was quite concerned about her health. What things could be wrong? Suddenly that little girl came into the room, donned in a pink dress. Everything melted away the moment they brought her in the room and we saw her. It’s was like, ‘This is our girl.’ It was a week before her first birthday.
However, after we signed papers to adopt Anya, we were on a plane back to the United States, without her, until we could get a court date. Needless to say, those were the longest two months of our lives. My parents would call and say, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure this is actually happening? This just doesn’t sound right.' So when we finally got the call that Monday morning that said you’ve got a court date, we’re like, ‘Oh, okay! This is really happening, and it’s next Monday!'
So we called to get the plane tickets, immediately followed by a call to the credit card company saying, ‘No, no, no, no, someone didn’t steal our card. We are having to go to Russia in three days! It was a whirlwind but so worth it. We spent a cold December in Moscow with Anya, falling in love with the newest member of our family as well as her birthplace.
So what's it been like, since the adoption of Anya? I know that we have a lot more laughter in our house, and a lot more noise! We just have this house that’s full of life and we love it. Oh yeah, this is my girl. This is my daughter. The moment she entered my arms, she instantly became my daughter.”
Looking back at the whole adoption process with all of the challenges and uncertainties, if someone would ask me, "would I do it again?" The answer would be, "oh yes, in a heartbeat!"