“Just like in Biblical stories, the bread is served with red wine, which is being produced with much love and mastery from grapes, grown next to the family home.
Even at the first glance, one can notice something very different about these people.
Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery associate Rosemary Stoebner looks straight into your heart when she talks about her life. Dancing Fox is one of the most famous places to go when visiting Lodi, California. The homemade breads, pastries and pizzas are amazing. The wood-baked oven adds to the amazing ambiance.
“We bake Russian bread here because we love Russia – this is where our daughter was born” she says with a warm smile and this is how a story of unparalleled compassion, adventure and perseverance begins.
Like the most exquisite bread recipe, this story is a mixture of most amazing and seemingly very different ingredients – big politics, parent’s love, following the calling of the heart and seeking spiritual fulfillment.
“I rarely give interviews about this story, because most media companies have little regard for Spirit. However, on every step of our adoption and parenting we felt inspired and guided by a Higher power. I’m excited to give an interview to the Russian American Media, because I feel that you can comprehend and express this”.
Rosemary – an American Mother of a Russian girl, gave an interview to the Russian American Media’s Editor-in-chief Denis Oleshko.
Dear Rosemary, why did you decide to adopt a Russian child?
I met my husband when I was 36 and he was 37. Our attempts to have a child were not successful and the doctors offered a complex procedure of artificial conception, which had no appeal to us. Our family had a history of adoption and we opened our heart to this possibility. That was happening 16 years ago, Russia has just shaken off the Soviet regime. We saw a program on TV about how much children suffered in the State-funded foster homes. The decision to go there and adopt a child came to us instantly. We had a lot of confidence in it right away. In fact we started looking for a child who was featured in that documentary, but could not find his whereabouts. After that, we decided to contact the adoption agent, who worked in Nijni Novgorod.
That Agent, an American woman, had made a lot of empty promises. When we arrived to Russia we had to stay there for three months instead of 10 days and had to conduct the entire adoption process ourselves.
This sounds incredible, considering the state of Russian bureaucracy and corruption. How did you manage to succeed?
Yes, it is hard to fully explain the degree of difficulties we had to face. I often tell my American friends – what takes an hour in America, takes a day in Russia, what takes a day in America, takes a week in Russia and so on.
In order to complete the adoption process we had to appeal to the most influential people in Russia. The Mayor Nijny Novgorod, Mr. Nemtsov wrote a personal letter to the Ministry of Health, asking to allow us to take the child.
When that didn’t produce enough effect, we went as far as an assistant to President Yeltsin. A lady, who’s name was Irina helped us tremendously to get the case through the Ministry of Education. She communicated with us over the phone during the breaks of Governmental sessions with the President.
It is hard to believe today what kind of people and connections God instantly sent to us, so that the adoption could happen. We witnessed miracles every day. You have to understand that when we came to Russia, we didn’t know anyone there and didn’t have much money to spend.
It sounds very impressive how determined you were about adopting a child in a foreign country. What helped you to get through all these challenges?
It didn’t feel like we had any other choice. The moment I saw Katerina in the hospital, I realized that she was my daughter, sent to my by God. The thought that I could leave her there didn’t even cross my mind. I decided right there, that if I’m not allowed to take her to America, I would stay in Russia and start a life there. I would not be able to separate with her.
Why she was in the hospital?
Katerina was born prematurely, looked very tiny. The hospital could give her away to the foster home in such condition. However, we got extremely lucky with the hospital. The Director fully supported us, wrote many letter to the Foster home, so that the baby could stay in the hospital for as long as adoption process took place. He did it because the Foster home would never agree to give a child away, it would mean a whole new bureaucratic procedure. We succeeded adopting from the Hospital after three months of fighting with the system.
What was the most difficulty in adoption?
I don’t know how the adoption process works in Russia today, but back in then there simply were no laws, no procedure. Two organizations where pointing fingers at each other – The Ministry of Health and The Ministry of Education. The bureaucrats in both organizations where refusing to accept responsibility and sign papers. Plus, there were endless delays, technical and administrative lapses. Either the fax machine wasn’t working or the secretary was at the lunch break. We were going back and forth from Novgorod to Moscow, almost every night on a train.
Yet, despite all of it the help did arrive?
Yes, we were getting help from all kinds of people. If I only had words to express a profound gratitude to common Russian people. They opened their doors for us everywhere. In every home we were received with hospitality, support and excitement. Our interpreter, only 22 years old, literally guided us by hand and helped us in every detail.
Those three months had become a priceless lesson of Russian souls, culture, values. During that time I opened my heart to Russia. This is very important to our daughter, because I want her to grow up in connection with her tradition and awareness of her cultural heritage.
I was buying a lot of books, music and art. I’m planning to take Katerina to Russia soon, so that she could get a real experience.
Does she herself feel Russian?
She always says that she was born in Russia. Besides that, our friends adopted another Russian girl, Whitney, who now lives in Tahoe. Whitney grew up to be a real star; she is very active and athletic. She is a horse rider, who wins many Rodeo competitions. Katerina and Whitney are close friends, they were born together in one Hospital and moved to America together.
Rosemay, how would you describe your special connection with Katerina? Do you feel it would be different if she was your blood child?
I felt that she was my Daughter given to me by God from the very first moment I saw her. She also immediately reacted to me and my husband as parents, expressing a lot of love and affection to us. I feel that our connection is even stronger and deeper than many blood parents have. We really feel Divine calling in this parenting. Raising her has been a path to self-growth and learning. So for me, the connection that we have with Katerina is sacred.
However, even on a physical level we feel our unity. Many people told us that we look alike and refused to believe that she was an adopted child.
Also, while being in Russia I saw how children instantly connect with their new parent, and how their hearts and souls become one. There is no difference between adopted and blood children. In every case of adoption that I witnessed there was same deep connection on a soul level.
You must have heard about a lot of negativity in Russian media about American adoptions. US parents are often portrayed as negligent and sometimes violent. Why do you think this is happening? Who is influencing public opinion?
Please, allow me to be very straighforward in this regard. We only have one enemy in this world, who name is Satan. He does everything to poising human lives with evil, to prevent acts of kindness and compassion.
It is absolutely clear that when parents are adopting a kid who is unhealthy and neglected, they are saving her life. However the evil gets on way and starts create obstacles. They can take many forms, but the result is the same – a children’s happiness is not allowed to happen. This is the best answer I can give to this question.
How is Katerina doing these days?
She is a happy, healthy child. There is so much beauty and love that she brings to this world. She is very talented, enterpurnural. I beleive that Russian yong people are extremely enterpenural and active. That I noticed when I was in Russia, where young people are mature, responsible and have a grip on life. They strive to succeed in everything. Katerina is like that too. I can see now that she will become a wonderful human being. We are so happy and grateful to be her parents.
Rosemary, I’d like to invite you to special events, that we, Russian American Media organize every year for children in our community – International Kids Festival “The Green Future”, Charity action “Christams Lights”. You daughter may really enjoy meeting her peers and learn more about Russian culture.
Thank you, we will definitely take part in these events. We are farmers, who grow grapes and bake bread. The idea of a Kids Festival which supports ecology, health and sustainability is very appealing to us. We would love to participate in this mission. I’m really excited to meet the team of Russian American Media again.
Thank you Rosemary! I hope that your story will inspire many parents to adopt children from Russia