Greg and Laura Hahn of Havre de Grace always wanted to have a big family. They just didn't expect it to happen so soon.
The couple started looking into foreign adoptions more than a year ago after trying unsuccessfully to have a child. They filled out reams of paperwork, passed lie detector tests, opened their home to child-care inspectors - and waited.
"We didn't really care which country," Laura Hahn said. "We tried to find the quickest route."
They had no idea what a twist their journey would take.
In September 1999, they prepared to adopt two siblings in Lithuania. But adoption proceedings stalled when the country shut down its program in March. Later that month, they learned about a baby boy in Russia.
Delighted, the Hahns, who are both 28, flew to Perm, outside Moscow, in June to start the adoption process. They returned to Russia in mid-July and stayed three weeks until the adoption was final.
Two days after getting settled in Havre de Grace with their new son, they received news that the Lithuanian brother and sister were available. So nine days later, the Hahns were in the air again, this time heading to Vilnius, leaving 15-month-old Jackson home with Laura Hahn's mother, Sally Holmes.
Before any of the children arrived, however, the Hahns had received an unexpected jolt: Laura, who had stopped taking fertility drugs, was pregnant.
"I was shocked," said Laura, who is due in January. "I had had a couple of miscarriages. The doctors were saying they didn't know if I could get pregnant. Then it happened."
There was never any doubt they would proceed with the adoptions, said the couple, Pennsylvania natives who met and fell in love at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa.
"We wanted them all," Laura Hahn said. "We were thrilled."
Now, Laura Hahn, who will continue teaching eighth-grade social studies at Southampton Middle School in Bel Air until December, and her husband, a state trooper assigned to the Golden Ring barracks near White Marsh, have their hands full with an instant family.
Laura Hahn's mother is staying with the couple for a while to help out. She and her husband live in Pittsburgh but are building a house in Havre de Grace to be closer to the family and another daughter, Elizabeth, whom they adopted when she was a newborn.
"It's so exciting to have these children," Holmes said. "I'm very happy to be a new grandmom."
Samuel, 4, Carly, 3, and Jackson - all sandy-haired and full of boundless energy - have turned the Hahns' three-bedroom Victorian-style house into an extended play area.
Toys fill the former living room, which has been relocated to the dining room. Colorful M&Ms cover the kitchen table. Little shoes are tucked behind chairs and tables.
Even the family dog, Jessie, seems overwhelmed by the confusion. Greg Hahn calls it "controlled chaos."
"Before, we could go anywhere, go anytime," he said. "Now we have a schedule. Everything is regimented until we can get used to this."
Foreign adoptions have been taking place since the 1950s, but the number has grown in the past decade. In 1989, there were 8,102 international adoptees brought to the United States, according to the State Department. Last year, the number reached 13,369. For the past three years, most of the children have come from Russia. Other top countries for adoptions are China, South Korea and Guatemala.
While adapting to American food, culture and language, Samuel and Carly, who mostly speak Lithuanian, quickly learned they like Coca-Cola and McDonald's food. The children, who have been here a month, pronounce those words clearly and happily.
In the meantime, Laura and Greg Hahn have had to make financial adjustments. In addition to paying thousands of dollars in adoption fees, they spent $9,000 on plane tickets to get the children.
Friends and colleagues have given them money and gifts.
Greg Hahn's fellow troopers raised $1,300 by selling ice cream and nachos at a Ravens football game. Southampton teacher Katie Rinehart rallied co-workers to contribute $1,400 for the family.
Southampton pupils and teachers also collected toys and clothes for the children.
"So many people have done things for us," Laura Hahn said. "Every time we worried about money, it worked out. We could have had a big house. We could have had a car payment. But instead, we have a nice family."