Rachel Radcliff was in the adoption business in the early 1990s in the Washington DC metropolitan area. She worked independently with adoption agencies to help match potential parents to children in need of a family. In a recent conversation, she recalled a particular case from Russia that has stuck with her through all these years.
There was a couple she worked with to adopt a young boy from Russia. Rachel had shepherded them through the home study process and helped them to compile the requisite dossier to finalize the adoption. The couple was excited to start a family and got their affairs in order to prepare for what could potentially be a lengthy trip to Russia.
They flew into Moscow and made their way to Yaroslavsky station to catch the train to the orphanage. Although the ride took several hours, the parents-to-be were full of excitement. When they arrived, they eagerly found their way to the infirmary, where their son was to be waiting for them.
They entered the room and were introduced to the little toddler, but all he did was scream. The nurses tried to console the boy and put him down to walk to his new parents, but he wouldn’t put his feet down. The boy sobbed and couldn’t be consoled. The new parents didn’t know what to do. How could they possibly handle this child on their own?
Everyone in the room desperately tried to think of a solution, but none was to be had. The new parents had been assured that this child was healthy, but under the circumstances, it just didn’t seem right. They didn’t know what to do, but ultimately, they didn’t think they had a choice. They made a decision to leave without the boy, and they were devastated.
Some months passed, and another couple that Rachel had heard about was going to Russia to adopt a child at the very same orphanage. The first couple also heard the news and decided to ask this other couple to bring some gifts to the boy they had left behind–nothing substantial, just some clothes and a few basics. They obliged and were on their way.
When they arrived, the couple met their new child and then went to give the gifts to the little boy. The boy was delightful and happy! He seemed very appreciative of the gifts and was very interactive. The couple immediately fell in love with this little boy, and they decided to see if they could adopt him, as well. It took some extra time to deal with all the paperwork and an extended stay in Russia, but they worked it out and made it happen.
When the first couple heard the news, they were hurt and upset. Ultimately, they found out that the boy had previously had a minor surgical procedure without anesthesia, and he was terrified of the infirmary, which is why he was inconsolable when they went to meet him there. They also learned that the nurses in the infirmary had dressed him nicely and put shoes on his feet to make him look presentable to his new parents. But he had never worn shoes, and when they tried to put him down to walk, he squirmed.
For some reason, when the second couple went, they did not end up meeting the boy in the infirmary, so he was his happy little self. It’s amazing how one simple set of circumstances changes the trajectory of a life. But that’s exactly what happened with that little Russian boy. Who his family ended up being was the result of a few minor things on that fateful day, the simple difference between meeting in the infirmary or some other place.
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