WENDY'S CHOICE

SHE WAS PROMISED SHE COULD ADOPT A RUSSIAN BABY IN EXCHANGE FOR HUMANITARIAN AID. IT WASN'T THAT EASY.

Still, Wendy decided that the Russian baby will go to the Combs family. Jamie Combs has already taken delivery of the ultrasound machine, and taken over dealings with the adoption agent in New York. Vladimir, the baby boy, will go to another couple in Texas that the Combses chose; the third child will stay in Russia. Jamie Combs hopes that everything will be complete by the first week in June and that he and Melissa will go to Russia a week or two later to bring Andrina home.

"If," he says with a tentative catch to his voice, "if it all goes through." There remains a chain of Russian bureaucrats that the adoption agent must have sign the final papers, and nothing is certain until Andrina is on the plane to her new home.

Wendy, too, sits anxiously waiting for her own baby to arrive without a hitch. Her home garden looks forlornly neglected and overgrown for a florist's. Her mother Margo worries that she's not taking care of herself. She's already wearing maternity clothes as if to hang on by positive force of will. But she has made it through the first three months, the point at which she miscarried on her first pregnancy. It was a major psychological milestone.

God willing, she'll get her baby, and love it with the same passion with which she approaches everything in life, with the optimism that kept her after Andrina. In Moscow, there's a baby that she fell in love with. "If I don't get her, fate will take care of her and of me," she had said before she knew she was pregnant. If Andrina makes it to Alabama, Wendy will still get to hold her in her arms, and the Combses will love her as dearly as Wendy would have.

But still, as her own child grows inside her, there's a nagging hint of heartbreak, and she says, "I feel like I need to go get that baby.

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