Today is Mother’s Day—my second. Last year, I was visiting Dracula’s Castle with my twins, Ana and Maria, my husband, Mike, and our driver, Alex. I’m in a poignant mood today while reviewing the events of this last year. Please allow me to share some insights and excerpts from our journal.
When my husband and I began our adoption journey, we had been through eight years of intermittent infertility testing. We had both decided to put a halt to this medical merry-go-round and ponder other options. Upon our first visit with Hemlata, we knew we had found the right agency. Bal Jagat is renown for obtaining healthy children in a timely manner.
Romania was closed for adoptions due to recent elections when we submitted our paperwork. Oh, the paperwork. I thought it would never end! Even though it was tough compiling the information, I found it amusing how excited total strangers could be. I needed proof of my student loan debt and when I called for a statement, the customer service representative stated, “Oh sure, we will send it right away. So what sex of child are you requesting?” Other representatives went out of their way to help us obtain the necessary information. Due to good timing and/or divine intervention, we submitted our paperwork in November to Barbara Kappos, Romanian Coordinator. At the Bal Jagat Christmas party, Hemlata told us Romania had opened up again.
We had never thought to ask for twins. Due to our past history with another agency, we were pessimistic and never expected to get one child, let alone two. All that changed on January 4, 1998. At about 8:30 p.m., Barbara called to offer us fraternal twin girls, nine months old, named Ana and Maria.
Barbara and Hemlata had discussed which couple should be offered these sweet girls. The reason we were so lucky? We were young but had been married for a long time. At age 33, it was so nice to be thought young! Barbara called us “babies” at one meeting and my husband and I had been married for twelve years.
During the phone call with Barbara, my husband was standing close by. I requested some time to think about the ramifications. I NEVER expected this occurrence. Before I even hung up the phone, my husband gave me the “thumbs up” sign then disappeared into the “nursery” (formerly the office/junk room) to rearrange the furniture for two children.
I, on the other hand, was a bit overwhelmed but excited. One major concern was the adoption fees. As everyone knows, this is not a cheap process. Barbara reassured us that the twins are considered one adoption—the second child would only be $1,000 more. Within a half an hour, we called Barbara and accepted the twins.
They were in good health, but we would have to rush to submit our affidavits. A few delays with INS occurred but were straightened out. Though we were feeling hopeful, on January 8 the twins’ mother arrived at the orphanage. She did not remove them, but it made the orphanage staff, Vivi, and Barbara very nervous. With the added publicity in Romania encouraging women to retain their children, she must have been worried about them. I now choose to see it in a positive light, but I was very upset at the time. I just prayed she would either take them or allow us to adopt them. If she chose another option, it would be a death sentence for them. It was hard to look at their pictures. Barbara apologized to us but we knew it was not something she, or anyone, could control. She suggested other options. “I really want you two to get a baby,” she said.
As it turned out, the twins’ mother did not put her name on their birth certificates and she never returned. We sailed smoothly through the local committee but a roadblock appeared at the National Committee. The new regulations were changing so quickly. Our problem? We had not applied for twins and our home study did not specify twins. Despite Barbara clearing this previously with the US Embassy, the Committee wanted our home study rewritten and an okay from INS. I wasn’t worried at all about Bal Jagat. It’s a good agency in general, but shines when it comes to these kinds of problems. Everyone worked as quickly and efficiently as possible. Soon, we were approved and had received our departure date.
Can you imagine packing two of everything? Friends gave us enormous suitcases and we had to pay over baggage. In addition, the agency gave us a port-a-bed because they did not have enough beds in Romania. United Airlines promptly lost it! It turned up about three days after we arrived.
Although Ana and Maria were in the same play group, we first noticed that they did not act like
twins or even sisters. They ignored each other for the most part. It was after we returned home and met up with other Bal Jagat twin parents that we realized that they had to be taught how to be sisters. They just considered each other another kid. They did not look very much alike either and we harbored fears that Ana and Maria were not even related. This notion has been dispelled. Ironically, our friends now say they have difficulty telling them apart.
I read an excellent book about twins after we returned home, “The Parents’ Guide to Raising Twins” (Friedrich/Roland, 1990). It gave case studies of twins, triplets and quads and helped me make some sense of the comments I received. Beforehand, I was prepared for the comments if our children appeared physically different from my husband and I. I was not prepared for the added attention because they were twins. The most common comment, “Boy, you have your hands full!” And “Looks like you have double jeopardy there” or “double trouble” or “How do you manage?” Many comments were from total strangers. The book noted that adult twins had some negative feelings towards such comments because people acted like all they had to recommend themselves is their “twinness.” However, it did have its rewards. On our return trip, when we entered Immigration in Boston, we were the very last people off the plane. We were bewildered as to which line to enter and as we were standing there reading signs, an INS official comes up to us saying, “Twins, how cute! Come this way.” We went to an empty line marked “Diplomat” where a very kind, but tired, INS agent processed us in record time.
Twins, as the book pointed out, generally do not disturb each other. If one is crying, the other can sleep peacefully. If you tell Ana not to do something, Maria will do it. The reason? Since you were talking to one twin, the other feels it doesn’t apply to them.
As to their own “twin” language and possessing some telepathy, this does not hold up statistically, though they sometimes sleep in mirror positions. Also, Ana asked Maria to do something one day in total baby talk. Maria picked up the prescribed item and gave it to Ana who appeared satisfied with it. Kind of strange, if I do say so! The hardest part for us—when they both run in separate directions and you have to decide who you can catch first, trying to carry two kids and diaper bag, and when they decide to divide and conquer.
These days, they help each other and, if they are out of each other’s sight for a while, both will ask for “Sister.” And when people say, “Boy, you’ve got your hands full,” I reply, “Yeah, and I’m loving every minute of it!”