Evans clan brings Anabella home | SierraSun.com

Evans clan brings Anabella home

Renée Shadforth

Josh Miller/Sierra Sun Anabella Sasha Evans, foreground, plays near her new siblings - Brittany Miller, left, Elijah Evans and Trey Miller. Anabella was recently adopted from a Russian orphanage by Dawn and John Evans.

At 9 months old, Anabella Sasha already has a thing for men.Just ask her mother, Dawn Evans, whose family adopted Anabella from Vladivostok, Russia, five weeks ago.”She hadn’t seen a man until she met my husband; there aren’t any men in the orphanages, so she’s fixated on men – the deep voices, the goatees,” Evans said, sitting in her Truckee home with Anabella in her lap.Anabella has been in Truckee for five weeks, and she has done it all with her family – hiking, rock climbing, bingo and the rodeo. But it was a long road to bring Anabella from Russia to Truckee – literally and figuratively.In August 2003, Evans and her husband, John, decided it was time to add to their household of three children – ages 13, 12 and 4 – by adopting a baby girl from Russia. It had been a childhood dream for Evans, who in her youth would visit orphanages with her mother.So the couple filed paperwork with Ohio-based European Adoption Consultants and waited for months to hear about their match, an infant girl who was relatively healthy.It took longer than expected to hear about a referral. They were expecting to hear from the adoption agency by March, but news about Anabella didn’t come until May 10.And so began the business of international adoption. Evans and her husband accepted the referral the following Friday. There was a six-day visit in early June, in which they were interviewed about their intentions to adopt by the Russian minister of education, a social worker, the orphanage director and a doctor.

There were three to four inches of paperwork and lots of money changed hands; international adoption can cost six times more than domestic.On that trip, they discovered Anabella’s biological mom was 24 years old and an orphan herself. It is common in Russia for the cycle of unplanned births to continue, Evans said, since orphans are usually placed in the streets in their early teens. According to Human Rights Watch, there are hundreds of thousands of adoptable children in Russia right now.Each day during that first visit the Evanses were able to spend a half day with Anabella, who was pale and malnourished. Yet, they fell in love with their soon-to-be daughter, but they couldn’t take her home just yet.On July 2 Evans and her husband took their second visit to Russia. They appeared in court to adopt Anabella on July 6 and were interviewed by the American consulate.They set foot on American soil on July 10, and Anabella was officially a citizen of the United States.Getting Anabella attached

Although the adoption process was complete, the challenges for the Evans family were only beginning.”When we brought her home she was in OK health but she was pale and sickly and she had diarrhea,” Evans said, adding that despite Anabella’s wavering health, she passed all of her blood tests with no problems.There were also signs of attachment disorder, and Anabella wouldn’t smile. With 25 babies on her floor at the orphanage, Anabella didn’t get much attention from adults. To combat the affliction, Evans carried Anabella around in a front pack for the first three weeks she was home for at least six hours a day.Also, contrary to most child rearing philosophy, the Evans family has made a conscious effort to respond to Anabella when she cries or makes noises. Only immediate family has been allowed to feed her or rock her to sleep.Now, five weeks after she arrived, Anabella smiles often, responds to her name and even cried once when someone took her away from her mother.”Every single day she blossoms,” Evans said. “Every single day something changes with her.”At 9 months old Anabella is a squirmy baby with lots of energy. Her hair has grown a half inch since she came to Truckee and she likes to rough house with her older siblings. Her fine motor skills are developing, something she demonstrates when eating Cheerios with her hands.”She likes to move,” Evans said. “After eight months in a crib, she’s ready for it.”

Evans’ 4-year-old son Elijah has had some trouble adjusting to having someone younger in the house, but he’s coming around, Evans said.”Elijah was the baby for four years,” she said. “But he hasn’t asked to send her back for at least two weeks, so that’s an improvement.”Evans’ older children, 12-year-old Trey and 13-year-old Brittany, have handled Anabella’s homecoming graciously.”It’s really fun because I have lots of brothers,” said Brittany, who also has two older stepbrothers. “Now I can dress her up and things like that.”Now, with Anabella in her arms, Evans said that despite the challenges she encountered adopting her daughter, there has never been a moment of regret. Evans and her husband are even considering returning to Russia in a year to adopt another child, perhaps a boy this time.”We have so much love and attention and time to give, and there are so many babies out there,” Evans said. “It’s the single-best decision we’ve made as a family. We can’t even imagine Anabella not being here.”If anyone has questions about international adoption, contact Dawn Evans at 582-5585.