The girls were officially adopted in August but we were not able to take custody of them until September 10th. So that is the day we officially consider our "Gotcha Day." We sent out adoption announcements about a month and half later when we were home in the US.
Yes, as you can see, I had the girls help mail their own adoption announcements. I am counting it as school since we learned how to address and stamp envelopes. :) How did they feel about this? They love a project so that they enjoyed. The fact that project involved pictures and information about them made them both proud and a teeny-tiny bit self conscious....but not enough to NOT want us to send them! The truth is they were delighted to have us talk about how proud we are of them and how we want everyone to know they are our daughters!
For the record it is easier to send out birth announcements than adoption announcements: a baby doesn't have a preference on what picture you use. And for since we were including a two girls, well if you ever had a sibling (Michael has not so he doesn't "get" this part), you understand that it was almost impossible for them to agree on which picture was best.
Many of you have asked,
"So what exactly are their names?"
Born in Ukraine in July 2002
Born in Ukraine in September 1999
Anastasia is actually pronounced Ana-Stay-See-Ya. Nastya is what many of you know her as, but she has decided to be called Stacey. You can see that name sounds very similar to her given name. Anastasia has been her name since birth. In Ukraine, middle names are uncommon, so we were able to give her a middle name. We chose Grace because we believe that Grace is an undeserved gift from God, which she is!
Michelle is what Nadia would preferred to be called. Nadia has been her name since birth. Michelle is a name she picked because it is the feminine form of Michael, her Dad's name. Yes, she is already a Daddy's girl. Interestingly, my Dad's middle name is Michael and one of Michael's fathers was named Michael. So this newest edition to our family carries on a family name. She is woven into a tradition from her very first official moments in our family.
When the girls were here at Christmas, we sat down with our friend/translator to work on several issues. One of the main one being names. Let's be honest, names are a minefield in the adoption of an older child. We knew the girls by their names. The names are part of their identity as Ukrainian and as part of their birth family. The adoption into our family did not change either of those things. They are still Ukrainian and they still have birth family members who love and care for them very much.
In the excitement of a "new life" completely new names were considered. You know how it is okay to let your kids name your pets but you don't usually let them name new siblings. Somewhere tucked in our paperwork is the scrap of paper that contains the list of names the girls considered. One day we will laugh over those...or use the list to name pets. (How else do you think we came up with a cat named Sparkle Marbles????? That was Nancy helping us name Jo.)
As the parents, Michael and I ultimately got to make the final decision. We decided that first names remained the same but tidied up the spelling a bit. (We have a different alphabet so when the names get translated for documents and such, sometimes they would have uncommon spellings and extra letters. For example one place Stacey's name was spelled as Anastacyiia. Poor Nadia's name was spelled at least 4 different ways!)