Happy Birthday Leah

I cannot believe Leah is turning 4 already. It seems only yesterday she was placed in our arms and our lives have been forever changed. Leah is so loving and happy and full of life. We thank God always and again for the miracle of Leah.
I, as Leah's mother am mindful today of another mother who marks this date alone with her thoughts of a daughter she does not know. I pray she feels the love of God in her life, and is comforted by knowing her daughter is loved. Giving Leah the precious gift of life was an unselfish choice. I pray Mariya has the peace of Christ with her today and all the days of her life.

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Halloween 06,07 and 08




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A pumpkin,a bunch of grapes, a cow girl. No matter how we dress you Leah, your smile brightens all of our days, and touches many hearts of people that you meet. We love seeing you embrace life and all that it has to offer you.


A Precious Priceless Picture

I received a wonderful email from our contact in Ust Kamenogorsk which contained a second solid contact with Leah's birthmother. A picture, of her and one of Leah's brothers. Words cannot express the emotions I felt opening that attachment and seeing the photos download before my eyes. A solid link to Leah's beginning of life. An answer to one of the many questions, I am sure Leah will ask one day. This gift is both precious and priceless. Seeing the face of your birthmother, and being spared a lifetime of wondering if that face in the crowd is her.
Leah is still to young to understand her adoption story, so for now I search, collect, preserve and protect the pieces of her life story I am able to uncover. Each snippet of information a gift, and an intricate part of who Leah is, and of the women she will grow up to be.
As her parents, our unconditional love for Leah drives our desire to learn all that we can for her now, so that when her intellectual brain matures and meets her emotional heart we can share with Leah, her truth. We pray that God who created her, and then allowed us to become her parents, will guide us as we continue on this journey in waters that for us, are uncharted.
I am not prepared to share these photos on line, as I feel this part of Leah's story is hers and hers alone to share when and, if she chooses.
I am truly greatful however for the difficult choices Leah's birthmother has made. She has my total respect and admiration. I can only hope fostering this connection somehow brings Leah's birthmother peace.

A Special Bond of Love
by Karen Ledbetter
A poem of thanks to a birth mother.

Once strangers, not knowing of each other,
God brought us together
To share a special bond of love
With a sweet little girl named Leah Natalya.

You may never understand the pain
Or know the tears I cried.
My heart's desire was for a child
To nurture, love, and guide.

I may never understand the pain
Or know the tears you cried.
You said good-bye to this precious child,
Entrusting me to nurture, love, and guide.

I see your face in her pretty smile,
And love in her sparkling eyes.
She's the answer to countless prayers,
A blessing to many lives.

No longer strangers,
We share a special bond of love
With a very precious gift
From our God above.


A DAY AT THE LAKE, a memory created and a new friendship begins

Cyber Moms share the first of, I pray, many memories. Blogging can serve as a vehicle to form friendships for life. One just has to make the effort. Yesterday in response to an email I received from Pam, a Mom I met online because of our blogs, resulted in our meeting and sharing a wonderful day with family. Nicholas and his mother Pam who live in Virginia, were visiting their beautiful extended family at their Lake House in NJ and after months of a cyber friendship we finally met.
Our cyber friendship began well over a year and a half ago because Pam adopted Nicholas from the same baby house that we adopted Leah from in Ust Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan. Leah is 3 months older than Nicholas and when Pam and her Mom were in Ust bonding with him,they saw Leah frequently as she was in the same room as Nicholas. Pam and her Mom met our daughter a few months before we arrived to adopt her, and Leah left an impression on their hearts.
I cannot speak for Pam, but as the Mother of an Internationally Adopted child, providing the opportunity for my child to form friendships with other children who share the same heritage, homeland and history I feel is a gift to our children. As Leah grows up and comes to understands her adoption story, having friends who can totally relate to, and understand some of her inner thoughts and feelings, is a God send.
As one can imagine, our day was to short with so many life experiences to talk about. Conversations were easy, as we felt so warmly welcomed by Pam and Nicholas, Zitsi, Joe, Mary, Farrell and of course Grandma, the matriarch of this close knit loving family. From the moment we arrived, we were greeted by majestic views of a beautiful lake, and made to feel as we were old friends reuniting after a long absense.
Leah and Nicholas were immediately drawn together with the innocent acceptance children inherently are blessed with. After a few short minutes of play Leah announced "Mommy I love him can I keep him". Our spontaneous laughter almost brought the house down as I explained to Leah her request would have to wait a few years and, would require Pam's approval.
The pictures say it all about this wonderful day. Christopher loved his time there also, and had new adventures the likes of which every 14 year old should have the opportunity to experience. A padde boat, a majestic lake, a fishing pole, and freedom to explore.
As we all sat down to a pasta dinner so obviously prepared with love and by the hands of great experience, we felt honored to join this family in a prayer of thanksgiving. This tender moment confirmed for us Gods presence at this spontaneous gathering of new friends and family.
We so look forward to the next time we meet. Below are some of the photos taken from this memorable day at the lake.... 





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Below is a link to Pam's blog post about our day at the lake. Her pictures are fantastic.



Our Hearts Joined


I have exciting new to share.

Many of you, who have followed our journey, know of the meeting that took place in Ust Kamenogorsk between myself, and Leah's biological mother. During our return trip after we took custody of Leah, I felt in the depth of my soul as her mother, I had to do everything in my power to locate, and attempt to meet the mother who gave birth to my daughter. As ours was an International Adoption, I felt driven to search here and now, because of the love I felt for my daughter. After all, I was now, the only mother Leah would ever know.
I knew first hand, because of my husband’s adoption, and a lot of adoption research, that Leah would always wonder about the mother who gave birth to her. I was also sure her mother (who had 3 other children) would never forget about Leah. In the telling of her adoption story I wanted to be able to tell Leah I did all I could to find the pieces of her life that would make her feel whole. And in the planting of the seeds of love and respect for the mother who gave her life, I desperately wanted to be able to fill Leah's ears with words that came directly from her mother’s heart.
I also hoped to look into her mothers eyes, and have her look into mine in an effort to join our hearts. Together the love shared in our hearts would sustain, and nurture our daughter. I prayed she would agree to this meeting, and although difficult, somehow feel it the miracle I believed it would be.

So we hired a private translator and driver to help us find Leah's biological mother before we left Ust Kamenogorsk for good. I already had her address, as it was in the court documents I received from our adoption. So with address in hand we drove to the apartment where Leah’s biological mother lived. After taking a few photos, I instructed the translator to go alone into the building and ask Leah’s mother if she would agree to speak with me.  
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I waited in the car for what seemed like an eternity until the translator returned. She was not home, but the neighbors told our translator where she worked. So we drove to her job. This time I instructed the translator to explain we would return after she was through with work so as to not interfere with her day. Again I waited in the car with an anxiety level higher than I had ever experienced in my life. The translator returned alone, but said she would be out in a few minutes. Tears were difficult to hold back, and I could feel my heart rate and breath quicken. Another miracle was unfolding in my life. I prayed God would guide my words.
As you can imagine this meeting, mother facing mother, was intense. Blue eyes peering into green, emotions running high, nervous voices, shaking hands and open vulnerable hearts. In uncharted waters strangers shared words both needed to hear. Words I will never forget, as they were for all intents and purposes, a mother's final gift, a good bye, to a daughter she would never know. She truly wanted me to understand why she gave Leah up. She told me of her life, of Leah’s brother's and sister, and of her daily struggle just to survive. As I listened to what sounded like a confession, I so wanted her to know I understood, I felt her pain and I didn’t sit in judgment. Through the translator I told her “ I understand ” and so would her daughter when the time came.
All I asked of her was her permission, and her blessing, for me to take Leah as my own. The look in her eyes, and the tone of her voice in reply to my request really didn’t need the translation. She said yes, and at that moment our hearts joined.
When Leah is old enough to understand, I am sure, I will repeat this conversation again and again, as Leah works through, and processes her adoption story.
As we talked about issues one would imagine a birth mother would ask of adoptive mother, our emotions began to settle. She had many questions, and as each question was asked, translated and answered the love we both felt for Leah was palpable.
When our meeting came to an end, my last question took the translator and Leah’s biological mother off guard. I asked if she would consider keeping in touch to remain a part of Leah’s life. Both women were visibly taken back as adoption in Kazakhstan is closed and final.
I had prepared a letter for Leah’s mother which also contained all our contact information and handed it to her. Through the translator she said she wanted, and would keep in touch. She even offered to send photos for Leah.
After returning to the USA, I waited word from her but received none. I knew of her situation, as she had shared that with me so I decided to send another letter and pictures to the address I had for her. Still no response.
I was not ready to give up. When friends of ours, whom we met because of this blog, were going to travel to Ust for their second adoption I asked them to look for Leah’s mother again. I was going to make one last effort to “keep in touch” with Leah’s birth family.
Well today I received an email from a local resident of Ust Kamenogorsk because of the efforts of our wonderful friends.
Below is a copy of the email I received. I have removed Leah’s biological mothers name out of respect.

Dear Chris, Ann and Leah Young!
Yesterday I spoke with XXXXXX XXXXXXXX. Finally I found her at the old apartment. She was there with her children taking care of her mother who is ill now. XXXXXX was a little bit nervous and didn’t want to let me in, so we spoke on the doorstep. She said that she wants to keep contact and she is not turning away. First letter that you sent she wasn’t able to translate, because it was written by hand and was illegible. Last letter she received in spring, this time she was able to read it and she began to write an answer. xxxxxx wants to add pictures of the whole family. I suggested sending her letter and pictures by e-mail, she agreed. When she is ready with the letter, I will take it and translate it to you and also make pictures of her and her children. I have her telephone numbers and she has mine.
By the way, xxxxx said that she hadn’t received any package from you.

Fortunately, she was ready to renew contact with you and I was really happy that she could find strength and love in her heart.


Please pray with us as this latest miracle unfolds that Leah’s biological mother is comforted by this communication. Also if anyone else has experience with “keeping in touch” with your child’s biological mother and family I could use some advise from someone who has traveled this road.
For now this chapter is to be continued…..