Just Imagine

by Debbie Mumm

Just imagine that you decide you’d like to add another child to your family.  You know this is a huge commitment and it will probably change everyone in your family, your friends and ultimately will change your life forever.  You are willing to take on this mission even though you are scared of the unknown and what you are about to undertake.

Imagine,  somewhere in Russia is a child rocking himself to sleep each night wondering what it would be like to have someone who could rock him, to comfort him when he was scared or hurt, someone to wipe his tears and tell him he was going to be ok.  Imagine how it feels to be hungry so often you no longer understand what it means when your tummy growls.  Imagine never leaving the orphanage to see the rest of the world.  No car rides, no trips to the park, no McDonald’s, and no birthday parties.  Worst of all, imagine no hugs and kisses, no trips to Grandma, and no one to answer your cries.  Imagine an orphanage with large silent hallways.  Orphanages filled with children, but no crying?  They have learned that crying gets no response, and soon they no longer know how to cry.

Russian orphanage

Imagine wanting to adopt one of these children, but you must fill out endless forms, sometimes repeatedly.  You must have physicals, finger-printing, police checks, home studies and then fill out more paperwork.  Then this paperwork must be notarized in triplicate, apostilled (proof of notary), and sent to various people on demand.  Imagine doing these papers over several times to the point that Federal Tax forms look more appealing than adoption paperwork.

Imagine getting the call that your paperwork has finally been seen by someone from Russia and you can finally travel to meet your child!  (This happened to me while I was shopping in Wal-Mart and I burst into tears!)  Imagine having one week to make airline arrangements, child care arrangements, etc. to travel across the world to meet your child.   You frantically make arrangements and before you know it you are traveling to Russia.  Imagine traveling and traveling…trains, planes & automobiles of traveling.  Thirty hours of traveling to meet your child.

Alex eating lunch at the orphanage

Now imagine you are finally sent to a small green room in this old, run down Russian orphanage where you wait for someone to bring in your child.  You begin to wonder why you are there.  Why are you doing all this, to the point of exhaustion?  You have done a mountain of paperwork, paid more money than you had ever planned on and traveled to a part of the world that is full of poverty and despair.

Alex working on a puzzle at the orphanage with Debbie

But suddenly, the door opens and a large Russian woman walks in with a small, thin little boy holding her hand. He is smaller than your birth son was at 3.  Is this really the 5-year-old we have been waiting for? He has the little face that has been hanging on your refrigerator for the past six months.  She takes him to you and tells him, “This is your Mama.”  You take him in your arms and hug him tight.  You notice your husband has tears in his eyes as he picks up this very tiny 5-year-old.  At that moment you know this little guy is your son.  You know you are changing his life forever.  He now has hope for a good life, an education, better health and a forever family to love him and care for him.  All the frustrations you have experienced to this point have melted away as this little guy hugs his Papa’s neck and giggles.  You play outside with him and his friends in the orphanage.  They hug you and call you Mama and Papa.  Most of them will never know what a real Mama and Papa are, though.  You know you have to do all this traveling again in a few months, but this time to bring him home to your family and friends.  You will discover that not only have you changed his life for the better but he has changed how you look at life from now on.

Adoption day

The day may come, like it did for me, when your child looks you in the eyes and asks, “Mama, what took you so long to come and get me?  I was waiting and waiting for you.” It broke my heart to think he was waiting for us all that time. If you experience all this then you will be able to imagine what it is like to adopt a child from Russia.

The five Mumm children


Debbie Mumm lives in Grayslake, IL with her husband and 5 children, two of which were adopted from Russia in 2004.  She is an adoption coach with a local adoption support group as well as an online group.  Claim a FREE report at http://www.adoptionhighway.com  to see how you can help orphaned children.


  1. Just a note that wasn’t mentioned in this story….we did adopt his older 10 yr. old sister on our second trip to Russia. She was a surprise gift to us. My adoption/family blog is now over 8 yrs. old and has lots of great stories and articles on adoption–http://www.DeborahMumm.com. Thanks….

  2. Nicole says:

    Hi Debbie,

    My name is Nicole, I was adopted from Russia in 1993. I was in an orphanage until I was 3 years old, then was transferred to another orphanage until my mom came and got me in 93. I grew up in San Diego, CA and I currently reside in Newport Beach, CA.

    The Orphange that is pictures in your article is familiar. I don’t have much recollection of my time in Russia, but I do believe the orphanage was yellow.

    Over the last few years I have started the process of looking for my birth mom and hopefully my birth dad. I came across this article through a random search.

    I’m hoping I can maybe pick your brain about the process of adopting your soon and then his sister, such as how the documentation is done in Russia, do they keep records, are they public records or sealed, etc.

    I hope this comment finds your well.

    Thank you,


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