From Russia with Love

She was willing to travel as far as Russia to adopt a son. But was this the right choice?

Posted in , Jul 18, 2013

Kristy Miklas with children Zackary, Kelly, and Anthony (l-r) and husband, Carl

I had given up. A third child wasn’t possible. I told myself that my husband, Carl, and I should be grateful for the two we had. We were richly blessed. But still I couldn’t stop feeling that a part of our family was missing, that for some reason we needed to keep trying, to keep searching.

Our daughter, Kelly, was born early in our marriage. Then, after a long struggle with infertility (and at great expense), we adopted a son, Anthony, domestically. At that point we didn’t have enough money to adopt again or try for another child, and yet I yearned for one!

Forgive me, Lord, I prayed, for wanting more than you have already given. My aunt Sandra, my dad’s sister and the family genealogist, thought the urge was familial. “Your great-great-grandfather was one of fifteen siblings back in Lithuania,” she told me. “We Lithuanians love big families!”

Then came a call that my paternal grandfather’s brother, Tony Litvin, had died. I hardly knew Uncle Tony. He lived far away, traveled little. He’d never met our kids, or known about our struggles. But he’d died childless and wanted to leave something for future generations.

“He gave you a small inheritance,” Aunt Sandra told us.

“Maybe it’s a sign that we could find another child,” I said to Carl. A child who, I felt, was waiting for us.

“You should adopt from Russia,” we heard. “You won’t have to wait as long.” I admit I hesitated. Lithuania had suffered terribly under Russian oppression. “The past is past,” I told myself. “We can’t blame the children, only love them.”

In less than a year we were matched up with an eight-month-old boy. Our adoption coordinator sent a video. As soon as Carl came home from work, we sat down and watched. What a beautiful little boy! He took my breath—and my heart—away. But there was something odd about the label on the box.

I called the coordinator. “The name on the box. You made a mistake.”

“No,” she said, “that’s the child’s name. Denis Litvin.”

“Denis, yes,” I clarified. “But I’m Miklas now, not Litvin. Litvin is my maiden name.”

“It’s also the child’s name,” the woman insisted. “Denis Litvin.”

Our son’s birth parents were Litvins? In Russia? How could that be? I didn’t know what to think.

We flew to Russia and sat through a court session, waiting for the stone-faced judge to finalize the adoption. We’d heard horror stories about couples traveling so many miles, falling in love with their child, and being told at the last minute that no, it couldn’t be because of some legal snarl or bureaucratic foul-up.

All at once the judge smiled. Her interpreter translated. “I’ve never seen this before. Your maiden’s the same as the child’s. Of course your adoption is approved.”

We gave our son the name Zackary, and brought him home to meet his new family. Aunt Sandra couldn’t get over how closely he resembled my younger brother, Rob, when he was little. “They are practically identical,” she gasped.

“Well, he is a Litvin,” I joked, and told Aunt Sandra about the coincidence of our name.

Aunt Sandra looked at me, awestruck. “Did you know,” she said slowly, “one of your great-great-grandfather’s brothers emigrated to Russia? No one’s heard from that branch of the family since.” Until now, I thought.

We haven’t done a DNA test yet. Our son’s birth parents remain a mystery. But it matters little. Zackary has a family now, a large, loving one, and a mom and dad and two siblings who are thrilled to have him. We were called to have another child—this child. He was waiting for us, waiting to join his family.


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