ABOUT ONE LITTLE GIRL IN BAKU, AZERBAIJAN

BY PATTI ANN BORGREN

JIM AND I THOUGHT THAT AFTER ADOPTING KATERINA FROM RUSSIA IN NOVEMBER 98, THAT WOULD BE IT, NOT TO MENTION NO MORE COINCIDENCES.

RIGHT.. I WAS BARELY OFF THE PLANE FROM MOSCOW WHEN I WANTED TO GO BACK AND ADOPT AGAIN. NO THAT'S A LIE. I TOLD MY COORDINATOR IRINA BACK IN MOSCOW THAT I WAS DESTINED TO RETURN TO RUSSIA TO ADOPT ONE MORE TIME. SWEET ADORABLE IRINA ONLY KNOWING ME IN SUCH A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME AGREED. THE WONDERFUL LOVING PEOPLE I MET IN ROSTOV AND MOSCOW ALL COMMENTED I WAS A WOMAN DRIVEN. THAT I WOULD ACCOMPLISH WHATEVER I WANTED. BECAUSE MY HEART WAS FULL SPEED AHEAD.

WELL JIM AFTER TEN YEARS TOGETHER KNOWS THE WORDS NEVER AND CAN'T ARE NOT IN MY VOCABULARY. I DO NOT ACCEPT THE WORD NO VERY LIGHTLY.

SO WE WERE GOING TO ADOPT AGAIN. THE NAME CHOSEN, KERRIANNE MICHELLE. WELL IN FEBRUARY OF 2000 WE CHANGED THE NAME TO SHANA MARIE. SHANA BEING GAELIC FOR GOD'S PRECIOUS GIFT AND THE NAME JANE. AT THAT TIME WE HAD OUR HEARTS SET ON ADOPTING FROM CHINA SINCE THEY WERE NOW ALLOWING ESTABLISHED FAMILIES TO ADOPT.

BY THE TIME WE FINALLY TOOK OUT A LOAN IN MAY OF 2000 TO ADOPT . OUR HEARTS WERE ONCE AGAIN FOCUSED ON RUSSIA. MOSTLY BECAUSE OF KATERINA BEING FROM RUSSIA AND I LOVED THE PEOPLE THERE. MY AGE OF TURNING 45 THE NEXT FEBRUARY WAS ALSO A FACTOR IN CHANGING TO RUSSIA AS WE WANTED A BABY YOUNGER THAN KATERINA AND CHINA WOULD ONLY ALLOW ME A CHILD AGED 2 AND UP.

WELL THE TWO TRIPS RULING FOR RUSSIA WENT INTO EFFECT AND I REALLY DID NOT THINK I COULD BE APART FROM KATERINA THAT LONG. GUATEMALA BECAME AN OPTION BUT MY HEART WAS STILL SET ON EASTERN EUROPE. THE CHILDREN THERE NEEDED ME MORE.

WHEN I ASKED TO CHANGE BACK MY COUNTRY FROM GUATEMALA TO RUSSIA I INQUIRED IF THE AZERBAIJAN PROGRAM WAS IN EFFECT.

'YES IT IS.'

"OH.' TRYING TO CONCEAL MY EXCITEMENT. NONCHALANTLY I ASKED (AS IF I AM EVER THAT CALM)'SO, ANY REFERRALS IN MY LITTLE GIRL AGE GROUP?" HAVING SEEN THE PRIOR PICTURES OF THE CHILDREN IN AZERBAIJAN I KNEW MY HEART WOULD BE EASILY BROKEN AND TAKEN FOR THEY ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN I HAVE EVER SEEN!

"I HAVE A LITTLE FOUR MONTH OLD GIRL THAT I THINK YOU WOULD LIKE. I'LL SEND YOU HER PICTURE."

THE WORDING ON THE ATTACHMENT E-MAIL STATED: "HERE'S PRETTY LITTLE ONE."

OPENING UP THE ATTACHMENT I FOUND MYSELF STARING IN AWE AT A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE GIRL WHO HAD THE BIGGEST SMILE I HAVE EVER SEEN. NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THIS KID WAS IN AN ORPHANAGE IN ONE OF THE POOREST COUNTRIES AND SHE WAS SMILING!!!

THE BEATLE SONG' 'I'VE JUST SEEN A FACE' FROM THEIR RUBBER SOUL LP CAME TO MIND! WITH SHAKING HANDS, MY HEART BEATING A THOUSAND BEATS A MINUTE I E-MAILED HER PICTURE TO JIM AT THE BASE AND SAID.

"IS THIS OUR SHANA?"

JIM DIDN'T REPLY AND I THOUGHT, OH, OH. THAT NIGHT JIM CAME ALMOST DANCING IN THE DOOR AND HANDED ME AN 8X10 WOODEN FRAME WITH SHANA'S PICTURE PRINTED OUT IN IT. HE WALKED OVER TO THE WALL WHERE OUR OTHER THREE KIDS' PICTURES ARE HANGING AND ADDED OUR BEAUTIFUL ADORABLE SHANA.

CONCERNED THAT I WAS JUMPING FROM COUNTRY TO COUNTRY WANTED JIM AND I TO 'SLEEP ON IT' BEFORE SAYING YEAY OR NAY. SLEEP? WE WERE TOO EXCITED TO SLEEP! THIS BEAUTIFUL LITTLE GIRL WITH THE MOST CONTAGIOUS SMILE WAS MEANT FOR OUR FAMILY! WE GOT FIVE MORE POSES. JIM PRINTED THEM OFF AND PLACED THEM IN FRAMES. ADORNING EVERY POSSIBLE WALL AND BOOKSHELF IN OUR 2500 SQUARE FOOT BI-LEVEL HOME AND HIS OFFICE. NOT TO MENTION THE WALLET SIZED PICS.

WE ACCEPTED SHANA'S REFERRAL BEFORE EVEN LOOKING AT HER MEDICAL HISTORY. WE DIDN'T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT THE FACT WE WANTED THIS LITTLE SMILING GIRL IN OUR FAMILY.

COINCIDENCES AGAIN. SHANA WAS BORN IN FEBRUARY WHEN WE CHANGED HER NAME FROM KERRIANNE TO SHANA. SHANA'S AZERBI NAME? NARGIZ, KERRIMOVA. FORTUNE COOKIE ANYONE?

THUS WE BEGAN THE WAITING GAME. SHANA WAS ONE OF THREE CHILDREN EVER TO BE ADOPTED BY AMERICANS FROM AZERBAIJAN. IT WAS A NEW PROGRAM AND WE WERE THE PIONEERING FAMILIES. ALOT OF HIGHS AND LOWS, CANCELLED POSSIBLE TRAVEL DATES BY THE AZERBI GOVERNMENT, NEW DOCUMENTS NEEDED AND MORE WAITING.

WHEN WE THOUGHT WE COULD TAKE NO MORE DISAPPOINTMENTS A MAJOR EARTHQUAKE HAPPENED OUTSIDE OF BAKU THANKSGIVING WEEKEND. MY GOSH THOSE WERE SOME VERY TENSE MOMENTS. AN ANGEL NAMED INGER TANGBORN, THE VICE CONSUL AT THE US EMBASSY IN BAKU, BECAME OUR SAVIOR. NOW, I COUNT HER AS ONE OF MY DEAREST FRIENDS. INGER WENT TO THE ORPHANAGE TO SEE OUR CHILDREN IN PERSON. SHE PERSONALLY CONTACTED EACH OF THE FAMILIES AND REACHING OUT TO REASSURE THEM THAT ALL WAS WELL.

DECEMBER 19TH SHANA'S ADOPTION WAS APPROVED AND WE WERE FAXED HER COURT DECREE. I WEPT AT READING THE TRANSCRIPT THAT MY LITTLE SMILING GIRL WITH PERSONALITY PLUS WAS FOUND ABANDONED AT THREE DAYS OF AGE ON TOP OF A TRASHCAN. SHANA BECAME A THOUSAND TIMES EVEN MORE PRECIOUS TO US.

THE DAY I HAD PRAYED AND WEPT FOR FINALLY CAME ON JANUARY 26TH. WE, TRAVELED TO BAKU. INGER MET US AT THE BAKU AIRPORT WITH A VIP WELCOME. TALK ABOUT FEELING LIKE A DIGNITARY!

DRIVING THROUGH THE STREETS OF BAKU I SOBERED SEEING THE EXTREME POVERTY AND WAS RELIEVED THAT DESPITE THE RUN DOWN BUILDINGS VERY FEW PEOPLE HAD LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE QUAKE TWO MONTHS PRIOR.

IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL SUNNY DAY AND WE WERE TAKEN TO OUR HOTEL THE CASPIAN. IT IS THE CLEANEST HOTEL AND THE SERVICE IS WONDERFUL!

OUR COORDINATOR, THE SWEETEST MAN I HAVE EVER MET, TOOK US TO THE ORPHANAGE TO MEET SHANA. SHANA WAS TINIER IN PERSON THAN I HAD EXPECTED. AT FIRST SHE FUSSED A BIT BUT QUICKLY BONDEDL; GLADLY ACCEPTING THE KISSES I COVERED HER WITH. WHILE SITTING ON THE FLOOR HOLDING MY MIRACLE. SINGING LULLABIES AND ROCKING SHANNIE I FELT A PAIR OF EYES ON ME. WATCHING, LISTENING TO ME. I TURNED TO MEET THE SWEETEST PAIR OF GRAY EYES ON A LITTLE GIRL IN A BABUSHKA AND SITTING IN A BABY WALKER. SHE REACHED OUT FOR ME AND COOED. I TEASED ALL WATCHING THIS UNEXPECTED EXCHANGE WITH THE ORPHANAGE MEDICAL DIRECTOR.

"CAN'T I ADOPT BOTH OF THESE LITTLE GIRLS?" OH JIM WOULD BE UPSET AS I REMEMBERED HIS PARTING WORDS TO ME AT LAMBERT AIRPORT 48 HOURS BEFORE "ONLY BRING ONE BABY HOME PATRICIA."

I FELT THIS LITTLE ONE HAD A STORY TO HER AS HER FACE HAD A TINGE OF SADNESS TO IT AND THE REST OF THE CHILDREN AT THE ORPHANAGE WERE ALL SMILING. I ASKED THEM TO FIND OUT THE PARTICULARS AND THE TRANSLATION TOLD IT ALL.

"THE LITTLE GIRL IS HERE BECAUSE HER MOTHER WAS MURDERED BY HER FATHER. SHE IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION AT THIS TIME."

I TOLD THEM THAT I WANTED UPDATES ON HER AS SHE HAD WORMED HER WAY INTO MY HEART. I HELD SHANA TIGHTLY KISSING HER SO GRATEFUL THAT SHE FINALLY HAD A MOMMY. VOWING THAT I WOULD SOMEHOW, SOMEDAY COME BACK AND BRING HER FRIEND HOME.

WELL THE CARETAKERS AND THE MEDICAL DIRECTOR WHOM I ADORED ALSO WORKED THEIR WAY INTO MY HEART. NONE OF US SPOKE THE SAME VERBAL LANGUAGE BUT WE SHARED LAUGHS, TEA AND PHOTO ALBUMS. I NOTICED THAT THE LITTLE GIRL WHO I ALSO BONDED WITH WAS STARTING TO BE TAKEN FROM THE ROOM UPON MY VISITS AS THEY FEARED HER CLINGING TO ME WOULD AFFECT THE BONDING WITH SHANA. HER PHYSICAL PRESENCE WASN'T IN THE ROOM BUT SHE WAS ALWAYS IN MY HEART. WHEN I TOLD JIM ABOUT HER HE ASKED WHAT WE HAD TO SELL TO BRING HOME OUR 'FOURTH DAUGHTER'. CONFIRMING WHY I LOVE MY FORMER PEN PAL FROM OPERATION DESERT STORM A THOUSAND TIMES MORE EVERY DAY I AM MARRIED TO HIM.

THE JUDGE WHO GRANTED THE ADOPTION WAS THE SWEETEST MAN, SERVING US ALL HIGH TEA IN HIS CHAMBERS. THE STAFF AT THE HOTEL PICKED UP MY DIET COKE HABIT AND ALWAYS SUPPLIED WITH ME WITH A SODA EVEN AT BREAKFAST.

AFTER A FEW TENSE MOMENTS AT BAKU AIRPORT ON THE WAY TO MOSCOW. ITS CALLED YES INDEED WE ADOPTED THE FIRST ORPHANS OUT OF AZERBAIJAN (BUT SOMEONE FORGOT TO TELL CUSTOMS IN BAKU) WE BOARDED THE PLANE FOR MOSCOW. THE SAME KINDNESS I FOUND IN MOSCOW TRAVELING WITH KAT TWO AND A HALF YEARS BEFORE I FOUND AGAIN WITH A RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN WHO WAS A DEAD RINGER FOR FRENCH ACTOR JEAN -PAUL BELAMONDO WHO HELPED CARRY MY BAG OFF THE PLANE AS I CARRIED SHANA DOWN THE SNOWY STEPS AND ASSISTING SHANA AND I ONTO A WAITING VAN.

THE PRESIDENT HOTEL IN MOSCOW! ONCE AGAIN I FELT LIKE ROYALTY! THE VIEW, THE SERVICE, THE SUITE, EVEN A WATER FOUNTAIN IN THE BATHROOM. OH THAT WASN'T A FOUNTAIN? I ONLY DRANK BOTTLED WATER AND CANNED DIET COKE FOLKES. NO DOG WITH ITS HEAD IN THE TOILET BOWL JOKES....

NATASHA OUR COORDINATOR THIS TRIP INFORMED ME THAT IRINA HAD CALLED HER AND WOULD CALL ME AT THE HOTEL THE NEXT DAY. MY SWEET DEAR FRIEND IRINA WITH THE BIG BLUE EYES!

NATASHA ARRANGED FOR THE EMBASSY PHYSICIAN TO EXAMINE THE BABIES AT THE HOTEL AND HE WAS SUCH A SWEETIE. AN EXPERT ON PREMATURE BABIES WITH CEREBRAL PALSY(KATERINA WAS 3 1/2 MONTHS PREMATURE AND HAS A MILD CASE ON HER RIGHT LEG). GIVING ME SOME EXPERT ADVICE ON KAT'S PHYSICAL THERAPY TREATMENT IN THE STATES AND I AM FOREVER INDEBTED TO HIM FOR ITS WORKING!

NEXT DAY WENT TO THE EMBASSY AND DID SOME SHOPPING AT A VERY SNOWY COLD RED SQUARE. ATE POPEYES CHICKEN IN RUSSIA, ANOTHER FIRST! WHEN NATASHA PICKED US UP AT THE EMBASSY SHE INFORMED ME THAT IRINA WAS COMING TO SEE ME AT THE HOTEL AS WE WERE FLYING HOME THE NEXT DAY!

MY LAST EVENING WAS SPENT REMINISCING WITH IRINA AT HER FIFTH FLOOR FLAT(NO ELEVATORS) EATING A HOME COOKED RUSSIAN MEAL, SHARING PICTURES OF KATERINA NOW AND PLAYING WITH SHANA. THE TIME AND VISIT WENT BY TOO FAST AND SHANA AND I TOOK A RIDE BACK TO THE HOTEL WHERE I COULD DO LAST MINUTE SHOPPING IN THE GIFT SHOP.

NEXT MORNING WE WERE ABLE TO SLEEP IN ABIT(I COULDN'T SLEEP TOO EXCITED ABOUT GOING HOME), ATE BREAKFAST AND WENT TO THE AIRPORT. BEAUTIFUL AND SUNNY, SURE WHEN I AM NOT VISITING RED SQUARE ITS SUNNY!

THE GENTLEMAN WHO SAT NEXT TO ME ON THE FLIGHT FROM MOSCOW TO NEW YORK WAS MARRIED TO A WOMAN FROM BAKU AND DELIGHTED IN HELPING WITH SHANA. AEROFLOT AIRLINES TREATS ITS PASSENGERS WITH WONDERFUL SERVICE!

BIDDING GOOD-BYES AT JFK AIRPORT I WAS SO TIRED. CHANGED SHANNIE, CALLED HOME AND CHECKED IN EVERYTHING BUT MY MONEY BELT. ON THE HALF EMPTY FLIGHT ON A NEW TWA JET SHANNIE AND I SLEPT THE WHOLE 2 1/2 HOUR FLIGHT. WE ARRIVED AT LAMBERT TO FIND A VERY CHOKED UP JIM AS I HANDED HIM HIS NEWEST TREASURE AND I TOOK MY BELOVED KATTIE WHOM I HAD MISSED HUNGRILY INTO MY ARMS. ZACH AND AMANDA WERE ALL EXCITED SEEING THEIR NEW BABY SISTER AND COMMENTING THAT SHE WAS EVEN CUTER THAN HER PICTURES WITH PERSONALITY TO BOOT! WITH CLOTHES ON AT THAT!

SHANA HAS BEEN HOME OVER THREE MONTHS NOW, HAS NO DELAYS AT ALL AND HAS GAINED 3 1/2 POUNDS, DETERMINED TO BE WALKING ON HER OWN ANYDAY NOW. STILL SMILING, LOVES TO DANCE, VERY AFFECTIONATE AND NOTHING INTIMIDATES HER EXCEPT BATHS AND EVEN THOSE DO NOT UPSET HER TOO MUCH. COOKIE MONSTER AND BARNEY ARE HER LOVES AS ARE COOKIES! KATERINA AND SHE ARE INSEPARABLE.

WILL I ADOPT AGAIN? EVEN AT AGE 45 ITS NOT A QUESTION. IF WE CAN ADOPT SHANA'S LITTLE FRIEND WHOM WE PLAN TO NAME ALEXANDRA JAMIE, ALLIE FOR SHORT. OR A LITTLE BOY FROM RUSSIA WHO WE WILL NAME ALEXANDER 'ALEXEI' JAMES. ALL DEPENDS IF WE CAN FIND THE MONEY OR NOT. HAVE THE LOVE, THE ROOM. THE NEED, THE DRIVE. JUST NEED TO PUT IT INTO FIRST.

IN THE MEANTIME WE'RE CHERISHING THE TIME WITH OUR FOUR KIDS, WATCHING THEM GROW, MARVELING AT ALL OF THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS. PATTI LOVES TALKING TO OTHERS ABOUT ADOPTION AND HOW IT WORKS.

THANK YOU ALL

IRINA IN MOSCOW AT ALL WAYS TRAVEL

INGER AT THE US EMBASSY IN BAKU

PATTI ANN

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