Adoption a triple success for Crownsville pair


October 22, 2002|By Nancy Gallant | Nancy Gallant,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ONE DAY, Jeff and Christine Savich had no children. The next day, they had three.

No, Christine did not have triplets. In 1999, the Crownsville couple adopted three children in one day from three different Russian orphanages.

The Saviches had married in 1985 and always planned to have children. Christine says: "We had wanted a family for a long time. God didn't give us one." While the couple maintained successful careers - he as a sales engineer and she as a speech pathologist - the desire to share their love with children grew stronger as time went on.

They decided to explore adoption, but were confronted with a problem of age. Many agencies would not allow people older than 35 to adopt, and the Saviches were in their 40s. Finally, they discovered the Datz Foundation, which helps arrange adoptions of Russian children.

The Saviches made plans to adopt two children. One day, they asked about the possibility of adopting a third. To their surprise, the foundation was supportive. So they thought about it, prayed and decided to ask to adopt three children.

They were told it could take months to find three children. But, to the couple's amazement, the agency called the next day with the message that three children had been identified as prospective adoptees. Christine remembers receiving photos and videos of the children.

"As soon as you see that picture, you're attached," she said. Watching a video of a little boy bouncing a balloon, Jeff cried with delight, "That's my boy!"

In April 1999, the couple flew to Rostov, Russia, to meet their new children. First, they visited the baby orphanage, where they met Rebekah. At age 7 months, she weighed 9 pounds. Christine's eyes still glow when she remembers the nurse placing Rebekah in her arms, the first time she gave her new daughter a bottle. Jeff recalls his first sight of Rebekah: "She was just beautiful - with those big brown eyes. I fell in love with her immediately."

Next, they went to the children's orphanage to meet 5- year-old Nathan. When Nathan walked into the room, he ran to Jeff, jumped on his lap and cried, "Papa!" Everyone cried.

Finally, they visited the toddlers' orphanage, where 2-year-old Rachel awaited them. As soon as she saw Christine, she called, "Mama!" The caregivers at the orphanage told the Saviches that was the first time Rachel had ever said a word, Christine said.

After completing the legal procedures, the Saviches brought the three children together for the first time. For a few days, the family stayed in a Moscow apartment. Jeff remembers that, from the very start, Nathan took on the role of big brother, watching over his little sisters.

Then it was time to come home to Maryland. Jeff and Christine laugh as they recall the first few hectic months of taking on three children at once. In the early days, Christine says, if she needed to change the baby's diaper, Rachel and Nathan would follow her upstairs. They followed her everywhere, fearful of being left alone.

Language was a problem, too. Neither Jeff nor Christine spoke more than a few words of Russian, so they had difficulty guiding the active 2-year-old and 5-year-old. Christine remembers trying to tell the children to stop doing something when they didn't understand the word "stop." Luckily, her training in speech therapy was useful in helping the children's English language development and, in the meantime, finding ways to communicate without words.

One of the first Russian phrases Jeff learned was "I don't understand," which he used frequently when Nathan talked to him. Laughing, he remembers a time when Nathan was displeased with something his parents had done but couldn't explain what it was. The young boy shook his finger at them, grumbled in Russian and walked upstairs.

Some nights, the two parents would fall into bed, exhausted, wondering what they had gotten themselves into. Jeff recalls, "It was comical, draining - but it drew us closer together." Christine adds: "Having children makes you lose your self-centeredness. You can't build your schedule around yourself. You have to consider the children."

Three years later, the Saviches are a happy, busy family. Nathan and Rachel are students at Annapolis Area Christian School. Rebekah stays home with her mother, drawing pictures, playing, helping and enjoying life as a 4-year-old. The children were born in Russia, but their home and their family are clearly here.

Halloween in Crofton

The Kiwanis Club of Crofton will sponsor its 26th annual Halloween Parade on Saturday. The parade will feature an Army Reserve color guard, Boy Scout Troop 731 color guard, Arundel High School and South River High School marching bands, Shelley's Sparklers Majorettes, Vuong's Tae Kwan Do Center, area businesses and personalities, and the Bowie Baysox mascot.

Representatives of the Arundel Volunteer Fire Department, Waugh Chapel Fire Department, Crofton Police Department and Anne Arundel County Sheriff's Office also will take part.

Parade participants will assemble at Crofton Woods Elementary School at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m., the parade will proceed from Crofton Woods down Crofton Parkway to Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church, where children in Halloween costumes will join the procession. From there, the parade will continue to Crofton Elementary School, where refreshments will be served.

Children can register for the costume contest at Prince of Peace beginning at 10 a.m. Awards will be presented at the conclusion of the parade at Crofton Elementary. Information: 410-721-6124.

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