Hello! My name is Heather Bailey and my husband Jim and I just adopted a beautiful little girl from Romania. Isabella is smart, happy and adjusting well to her new life here in America. We are very grateful to Randy and Cynthia Nelson and A CHILD WAITS FOUNDA TION for helping us to bring her home to her forever family. This is our story
My husband and I had a little boy in 1993 named T.J., and a little girl in 1995 named Hanna. Hanna was born with a major heart defect and died when she was 23 days old. Shortly after losing Hanna, Jim and I talked about wanting to adopt a little girl. We were living in Norway at the time and decided to wait until Jim's military tour was over and we were back in the United States. In 1997 we had another little boy named Isaac and thought maybe our family was complete. We moved to Florida and Jim and I both decided to go back to school full time. Jim has two years left in the military and wanted to complete his degree, and I decided to pursue a medical career. When Isaac turned 6 months old we decided we still wanted to adopt a girl, and that we wanted her to be older than Isaac and younger than T.J. We started the paperwork for an International adoption in April of 1998.
I have a close friend that adopted a boy from Bolivia through Children's House International and so we decided to contact them. We were very impressed with the director of Children's House International and decided to adopt from one of her countries. Debbie Price is the director of the agency, as well as the coordinator for the Romania and Russia programs. We decided to adopt from Romania because we would have the option of an escort if we needed it. Jim wasn't sure if he would be able to get off work, and we didn't want to have to leave the boys behind. We completed all of the paperwork and waited to hear from Debbie.
In august of 1998 we decided to start looking at loans for the adoption. We had already paid for some of the expenses, but we needed a loan for the rest. Jim and I are very proud of the fact that we live well within our means, and we felt like that would definitely help us to qualify for a loan. Unfortunately we were wrong. We didn't have any credit card debt, but we also had very little collateral. We live in military housing and own two 1990-model cars. We were so surprised and worried that we might not be able to borrow the money. I called Children's House International and they told us about another client using A CHILD WAITS FOUNDATION. I called Cynthia that same day and she was wonderful. What a relief to know that we would be able to bring home another little girl, this time from Romania.
In September of 1998 we got a phone call from Children's House saying they had a little girl named Isabella that was available. Isabella was in an orphanage in Pucioasa, Romania and was 2 ½ years old. When we saw the pictures of her through e-mail we both cried. We anxiously waited for her medical and video. In November of 1998 after two videos and several medical reports, we decided Isabella was definitely the girl for us. We called Debbie and she started the petition in Romania for us to become Isabella parents. We hoped and prayed through the holidays that all would run smoothly and we would be able to bring her home shortly after the New Year. In January of 1999 we were approved and appointed Isabella's parents in a Romanian courtroom. Debbie called and said Isabella would be ready to come home the second week in February. Jim and I talked about using an escort but it would have delayed her homecoming by a couple of weeks, and Debbie said I could travel alone. We decided Jim would stay home and I would go to Romania.
THE TRIP TO ROMANIA
TRAVELLING - On Feb. 7, I left the Jacksonville International Airport at 7:00 am headed for Memphis TN. My parents live in Memphis and were able to meet me for a quick goodbye. I was very nervous and it was wonderful that they were able to be there for me. I arrived in Amsterdam around noon on Feb. 8 and had a 7-hour layover before my flight to Bucharest. I was tired and tried to get a little sleep and freshen up. Unfortunately my flight to Bucharest was delayed and I didn't arrive in Bucharest until 2:00 am. My adoption agent Dan was waiting for me and on the ride back to the apartment he said I would have 4 hours to sleep before going to get my little girl!! I was too excited to sleep and just lay in bed trying to imagine what it was going to be like to meet Isabella.
ISABELLA- Early the next morning Dan introduced me to the director of the foundation representing Isabella and we started on our 2 ½ hour drive to Tourguviste. Isabella had been moved out of the orphanage and into foster care in October of 1998. We were going to the Child Welfare office and they would return with Isabella and her foster mom. When I first saw Isabella I couldn't believe how beautiful and small she was. I could tell her foster mom deeply cared for her and it was difficult for her to say goodbye. I asked her a few questions about Bella and hugged and thanked her for loving our little girl. Isabella cried when I held her, but I gave her a baby doll and that seemed to help. In the car on the way back to the apartment Isabella fell asleep in my arms.
Isabella eating soup on our 2nd day together.
We spent the next few days getting to know each other and playing in the apartment. Isabella was thrilled with the few toys I had brought her and loved listening and dancing to music. I didn't know any Romanian but it didn't seem to matter. Dan and his girlfriend were there in the apartment at night to help and it was nice.
On Wed. Feb. 11 we went to the Embassy appointment. I couldn't have been happier with the way the paperwork and legalities went, and after one hour we were done and free to leave the country! I had heard horror stories about not having all the paperwork filed correctly, and not being able to leave the country with your child. I would like to say thank you to Debbie Price and Children's House International for doing such a great job.
Isabella and I had 4 full days left to spend together in Romania. (When I bought our plane tickets all the flights through Amsterdam were booked until Mon. Feb. 15) We spent our time going on walks, reading books, playing with toys, buying gifts at the mall, and sightseeing. I enjoyed parts of Romania but I was saddened by the poverty and was ready to get back home to Jim and the boys.
TRAVELLING AGAIN! Isabella and I said goodbye to Dan at 6:00 am on Feb. 15. Isabella was fascinated with the plane and stayed busy looking at everything and everybody. I had brought several small toys and books to keep her busy. We had yet another 7-hour layover in Amsterdam and it went fine. Schiphol Airport has a wonderful play area for children and Isabella had a ball. It was so neat to see my little girl playing with other children and enjoying herself so much. When we boarded the airplane Isabella was tired and hungry. She fell asleep 2 hours into the flight and didn't wake up until we arrived in Memphis. Jim and the boys were waiting in Memphis for us and we spent two days at my parents' house before returning home to Jacksonville.
Isabella at the Amsterdam airport on our way home.
HOME AT LAST! Isabella has been home now for almost 3 months and is adjusting rapidly! She has the usual orphanage delays, but everyone believes she will not have any problems catching up to her peers. It was challenging at first having 3 kids under 6 years (and still is sometimes) but we are all doing well. Isabella is starting to bond with us and is learning new things everyday. She plays well with her brothers and is learning what family and love is about. Isabella is a sweet, beautiful, and bright little girl and we are so lucky to have found her. Thanks so much to Randy and Cynthia Nelson and A CHILD WAITS FOUNDATION for helping us bring home our beautiful daughter.
Isabella at home.
Isabella with her 2 brothers at Christmas.
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