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Family Ties: An Adoption Story

My daughter's sisters

I asked the other mothers if we could get to know each other, try to build a bond for our daughters. One was thrilled. Jennifer and Brad Condon, in Indiana, adopted Lily, Anya's youngest sister, from Vladimir in 2004, after traveling there earlier for their son, Cameron. From Jennifer I've received family photos and upbeat e-mails: She shared her view that "this connection is the most unique and awesome situation for Lily. I think about my own sister, Stacy, whom I'm very close to. I really want that for Lily." I want it for Anya, too.

The other mother, who adopted Lily and Anya's middle sister, is much less sure. On a hot afternoon soon after we first connected on the phone, I sat in a Manhattan café across from a woman I'll call Jane. Jane didn't—and doesn't—wish to share personal information; I still don't know her last name or hometown. She was happy, though, to see the photocopies of the letters and the photos from Russia. Her daughter was still young, and she was wary of contacting Alex and Yelena or promising anything further.

But still, we've made a connection with the Condons that I never could have imagined a dozen years ago. I'm immensely grateful that the baby girl I thought I would raise as an only child has turned out to have family across the country and across the ocean. When Anya spoke to Jennifer on the phone that first time, I couldn't miss the light in her big brown eyes. Discovering her sisters made her "happy, surprised, excited," she told me. We both look forward to meeting the Condons when their daughter is a little older. The improbable circumstances that brought us to this point only reinforce for me that family ties, biological and adoptive, are compelling and strong: I'm joyful my daughter has both.

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