Amy and Jim Both read with their children, 26-month-old Katie and 17-month-old Alex, in the living room of their home in Holland.
Ask Amy Both about her new children, 26-month-old Katie and 17-month-old Alex, and she'll tell you that destiny led her and her husband, Jim, in their direction.
The Holland couple just didn't know that the path would be almost 6,000 miles long or that it would end in Ivanovo, Russia, a city five miles northeast of Moscow. That's where Katie and Alex lived in a foster home with 10 other children.
For four years, the Boths, in their mid-30s, had tried to conceive a child. After all attempts, including countless fertility treatments, failed, adoption became their main hope. By then, Mrs. Both, an adjunct faculty member in Medical College of Ohio's physical therapy department, and Mr. Both, a computer software engineer for eSync International, had been married for almost six years.
"We couldn't have our own children, so we prayed about which direction to go," said Mrs. Both. "Adopting children internationally was our choice and seemed like the right thing for us - now, we do have children of our own." The couple found a Cleveland international adoption agency to work with them.
After loads of paperwork, temporary setbacks, and, finally, the long flights between Russia and the United States, on Jan. 17 the Boths became first-time parents to children they could finally call their own.
"Where they lived before in the [foster] home in Russia, there were toys there, plenty of games, and the staff seemed to care and love them all, but still, they couldn't get that one-on-one," said Mrs. Both.
"I just think they didn't have the best start in life, but now, they have a family and they've really blossomed."
When Katie and Alex, who are not biological siblings, first arrived in their new home, they were small for their ages. Neither uttered many words, although Katie sometimes would say da, the Russian word for yes.
Today, Mrs. Both proudly cites figures on how many pounds and how many inches Katie and Alex have gained during the first four months in their new family.
Mrs. Both said, "In the end, the details don't matter because we have two beautiful children, a family, and motherhood is very busy and one of the most challenging jobs, but I thank God at the same time."