WENDY'S CHOICE

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

Wendy wondered if the baby was really healthy--she had had some heart condition, never specified. Dr. Nina was going to say she was still sick so that she could be adopted abroad, but she really wasn't--or was she?

"I thought, 'Am I nuts for wanting to go to Russia to pick up this baby?'" Wendy says, the pain coming through in her voice. "She could have a bad heart. I could be opening up a can of worms."
In dribs and drabs, Wendy assembled the myriad adoption documents that she refers to as "14 piles of bullshit, butt rash, and paperwork." She discovered a new one with each phone call: a home study conducted by a social worker to decide if she and Tim were fit parents; a declaration of income; HIV and other medical tests; wedding certificate; passports; state and federal notarizations and certifications. Dr. Nina finally put her in touch with a Russian adoption agent in New York, who could smooth the documents through the Russian system.

@rule:
@body:Dr. Nina intended to turn over three babies. On the plane home from Russia, Wendy had asked Jamie and Melissa Combs, the couple from Alabama, if they wanted one. The Combses had gone through four fruitless years of fertility treatments, so they accepted, though at first they weren't sure it was for real. The conversation was overheard by Jean Brown, the woman from Salt Lake City who already had ten children, four of them adopted from Rumania and four adopted from within the United States. Brown asked for Wendy's name and then approached her at the baggage station in the Columbus airport. She struck Wendy as "the kind of woman who gets what she wants"--a description that later took on negative connotations--and Wendy agreed to let her have the third baby.

Brown called Wendy one afternoon and said, "Guess what?"
Wendy answered, "You're pregnant?" But no. Jean Brown had found an ultrasound machine to complete the transaction. Then in March, Wendy says that Brown called again, but this time she said, "I want two children," and too bad about Jamie and Melissa. It was her ultrasound machine.

"These are children, not objects," Wendy sputtered after the conversation. "She comes up with the ultrasound machine, which is payola to her. She does not give a flying shit about these other people. She uses people like stones across a stream." Wendy was so upset that she broke out in shingles. She decided to cut Jean Brown out of the deal.

Brown denies that she and Wendy had any disagreement over children, but refused to comment otherwise for fear that her remarks--or anyone's--would put Dr. Nina at risk and jeopardize the adoptions.

"I have no hard feelings against Wendy," Brown says. "But she does not realize that what she says can possibly impact the adoption. The adoptions in Rumania stopped in large part due to the journalism in America saying that people were buying babies, and it embarrassed the government. "I'm thinking about the children who could be adopted," Brown continues, "and the people here who are dying to adopt. If you're going to put Dr. Nina's name in print, we don't have a further conversation."
The Combses claim that an agitated Brown has continued to try to call them, and Wendy, and Dr. Nina, still trying to get in on the exchange. But none of them will talk to her.

And so Wendy searched for another ultrasound machine until, early in April, she found a friend of a friend whose gynecologist had one she could take and refurbish. Monday, April 5, Wendy went to pick it up. As she joked with the receptionists at the doctor's front desk, she realized that her period was late. A nurse half-jokingly suggested she take a pregnancy test.

After so many miles and so much work, suddenly a new obstacle, albeit a joyous one, stood between Wendy and Andrina.

Wendy was pregnant!
@rule:
@body:At first Wendy kept the rosy picture before her eyes. She would still go to Russia for Andrina, she thought, until her obstetrician told her she is at high risk of losing the child she now carries--even if she stays home--given her medical history.

Tim has said he would rather have his own child than an adopted one--a normal reaction. Wendy feels strongly that she only wants one child and fears she might not be able to cope with two.

Her mother pooh-poohs that notion and has offered to go to Russia for Wendy to pick up Andrina. "If she were to get this little baby, it would take away the pressures," Margo says. "She'd be so busy taking care of this little girl that she'd have no time to worry. Instead, she's thinking 24 hours a day, 'Am I going to lose this baby?'"

The logical decision was to stay home, to give up the dream of Andrina. But none of this was ever about logic. It's about instincts and emotions far more powerful. So when Tim and Wendy both describe the great financial weight of adopting Andrina lifted from their shoulders, it rings false.

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