On Saturday, Amy hit double digits. Of the nine children we've adopted from Russia, she was the youngest as she became a family member. When we met her on the required "first trip," Amy was only 2-1/2. Here she is in December 2004:
That day we were allowed to spend 45 minutes with her and then asked whether we were ready to sign a document committing to her adoption. As we'd sat on the sofa in the orphanage director's office, Amy had been as passive as we'd ever seen a toddler. She barely moved, didn't smile and never made a sound. Despite her listlessness, when our short stint with Amy came to a close we were already in love with her button-nose (and the rest of her!) and didn't hesitate to sign the document declaring we were willing to be her parents.
Four months later we were allowed to return. Amy had turned three just days before we picked her up at the baby and toddler orphanage. This time Amy was anything but silent. As she was taken from the familiarity of her care-taker's arms and placed in the arms of two people who were strangers, she began a truly pathetic whimpering, moaning sob that would continue for about two hours through the experience of traveling with us to the orphanage in which her sisters, Tatiana (7) and Natasha (5) resided to pick them up.
Before we'd even left Russia, we discovered that Amy was not at all what we'd expected after our first visit with her. Instead, she was a happy, spunky, exuberant child who quickly captured the hearts of all in her new family.
Amy's love of life made her happy to try out new experiences, like running the small pebbles on Lake Superior's shore through her fingers.
Amy was sickly when she first joined the family, and her weight dropped from 21 pounds to 19. At 3-1/2 years old she was wearing 12 month clothing! A couple of minor surgeries early on following her adoption made Amy more resilient to infection.
In one of the operations, Amy had to have all but eight teeth removed. Our pediatric dentist pieced together that her teeth had rotted as a result of being left with a bottle in her crib during long hours of neglect by her birth mother. We felt grateful to the Lord to be able to provide the health care and nutrition she desperately needed!
As she grew stronger and healthier, Amy's zest for life made her creative...
...and many times her creativity has left her family laughing!
We're certain Amy will always remember her 10th birthday. That very morning Mr. Beaver and I gathered our children in our great room and shared our decision to add a sibling group of four to our gang. True to character, Amy burst into ecstatic tears of joy and flew across the room into the arms of her daddy, tightly hugging his neck. In her special way, she enthusiastically signaled her approval of our decision.
We were in such a celebratory mood, having both an a birthday and an adoption for which to rejoice, that we did something we've never done before for one of our children's birthdays. We went to Chuck E. Cheese for pizza and games.
Amy asked Natasha to help her decide how to "spend" her new-found wealth.
Amy's choose as her largest prize a bag of very pink cotton candy. Lissie read us the list of ingredients. It went something like this: air, sugar, red food coloring, sugar, sugar sugar...