FOC's story on Maria Bennett

Susan Bennett adopted Sarah at age 11 months from Vladivostok, Russia in Oct. 98, and returned in Dec. 2001 to adopt two-year old Maria, also from the Ussurisk Baby Home.

I always wanted to adopt a sister for Sarah, but as a single mom, I waited until I was sure I could handle it.  This time, I didn't want to start with a baby.

I took Sarah, then 4, back to Vladivostok for the 2 required trips. It surprised me that she seemed to remember Natalya, and at the baby home, she became clingy and acted frightened.  But, it was a positive move to take Sarah ' a good learning experience, which explained a lot of things to her. The orphanage workers were thrilled to see her. 'She's so big!' they kept saying. Though Sarah was very small and delayed when I brought her home, she's at the 50th percentile on the growth charts now, and is a very bright child in excellent health.

I was better prepared for court this time, and had less fear. Because of Sarah, I knew that a child could have a scary sounding medical report, but turn out fine with love and care. I trusted that God had sent the right child to me. Maria was developmentally delayed, very small and had a diagnosis of rickets, a result we later learned of a severe allergy to milk. Home seven months now, she is caught up developmentally, and her weight and height are proportionate, but she's still catching up in growth.

My girls get along well and Sarah loves to help mother Maria, who at first didn't expect a lot of attention, but now insists on getting her fair share. Initially, Maria was quiet and reserved, but now has a more outgoing personality, with a bit of the terrible twos ' so normal!

To others considering adopting a second child, I'd say you'll be grateful you did. The rewards of watching them grow up together will be wonderful. As an only child, Sarah would have been spoiled and missed having a sibling relationship. I would have regretted not adopting again. I appreciate my siblings so much now ' family is always there for you!

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