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From Russia With Love

My niece, Mikayla was adopted from your Russia program roughly 3 years ago when she was 21 months old. I was so excited for my sister though I was initially nervous about it. I wondered if Mikayla would be speaking Russian and if the transition would be hard; would she like me and accept me as her auntie? Would we bond? What would she be like? Would I feel like she had always been a part of our family? I had seen her pictures when my sister visited her and I had bonded to them but did it mean I was already in love with this child or just the idea of her?

It was hard grappling with these feelings and yet my excitement over Mikayla's impending arrival had me grinning from ear to ear. When she arrived to America, I had graduate school so I couldn't be there to greet her or her parents off the plane and it frustrated me. Still, I went to see her once I got out of class and peeked in her crib. Sleeping peacefully was this tiny, peaceful child who had the most beautiful white blond hair and adorable features. Watching her sleep, I knew I was in love as only a first time aunt can love her first niece. I got to know Mikayla over the next few days and it was as if she had always been here. It didn't matter that she was adopted; she was born out of her parents hearts; out of all of our hearts! I speak to my friends and colleagues positively about adoption – it was amazing to receive all the email updates while Mikayla's parents were in Russia waiting to hear if they would get to take her home; crying tears of joy when they got the news that she was theirs, but most of all, the bond that I have formed with the little girl who calls me “TeeTee” is the most amazing and wonderful feeling in the world.

My sister and I have had some great discussions with Mikayla who now has a cousin, my biological daughter. She questioned her own origins as only a 4 year old could but we've always been honest and forthcoming about her adoption and she has accepted it well, not feeling different because her cousin arrived via c-section instead of by plane. She will have more questions as she grows, but I will always be there for her and be supportive of her. It's the least I can do as her Aunt. I can't remember my life before her, and can't wait to see the young woman she becomes. I love her more than words can say and her adoption has expanded my horizons in ways that I can't fully explain except to say that the experience has been nothing short of miraculous.

Paige Rahn


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