International Adoptions - Part I

Photographers: Kevin Fichtner, Robbyn Brooks, Jermal Allen
Photographers: Kevin Fichtner, Robbyn Brooks, Jermal Allen

It was only a few days after the anniversary of 9-11 and hostility was building between the U.S. and Russia over a possible strike on Iraq. In the midst of this tension, a Montgomery couple boarded a plane for Moscow - to adopt a baby.   The Pendleton's of Montgomery share the emotional highs and lows of adopting across international lines in part I of this special report by Kim Hendrix.

Bill Pendleton says he was sure the adoption, no matter what the challenges, was going to be a positive move for he and his wife, Rose.  "No matter how much we have to do to make it happen, it's an investment of emotions.  It's going to pay off dividends times over in the long run."

Bill and Rose Pendleton began a journey that would changed their lives.  "All the way up planning for the trip,  it was a roller coaster," says Rose Pendleton.  "(We'd) get excited, nervous wondering 'what are we getting into?'"

The Pendleton's already have what most people would call the perfect family - two healthy children, a boy and a girl.  But after suffering a miscarriage last year, the entire family felt something or someone was missing.  Bill says they decided to go ahead.  He figured they could "fill an emotional need and give back at the same time."

The adoption process began in February, 2002.  It's been seven months of, as they put it, mountains and mountains of paper work.  Passports, visas, criminal background checks, fingerprinting, and applications that had to be typed to the "t" - absolutely no mistakes or corrections.

Bill and Rose flew to Russia once early in the process to meet the baby boy they hoped to bring home.  "You're taken into a little room where you see your child being fed.  They point him out.  They bring him and say 'This is is the little boy we'd like you to consider for adoption.'  It's very emotional.  You're with all of these others, not just your husband (and) they're watching to see your reaction," remembers Rose.

After holding the little boy, the Pendleton's were surprised to be asked if they wanted to look at any others before making up their minds.  But Bill Pendleton didn't feel that would be right.  "If I look at a second child, after I've played (with the first child) I could go the rest of my life wondering what happened to the first child."

Anyway, they both knew this little boy was meant to be theirs.

At the Pendleton home preparations had long been underway for the big moment.  Rose Pendleton says she would look at the new baby bed and room "all the any mom who's pregnant and imagine him laying there with his toys.. It's very exciting."

When the big time came, almost midnight at Montgomery Aviation,  family and friends waited to meet the little boy who'd already found a place in their hearts.  Rose's dad said, "It's inspirational, an uplifting moment for me."  Rose's mom says at first she was skeptical about the Pendleton's adopting a child from Russia.  But she says, "(I)  saw pictures, fell in love with him.  He's beautiful.  Oh yes, he's beautiful."

When the played rolled to a stop on the tarmac, Denton got to meet his new family.  His first smile was for his grandmother and then there was a big hug for his sister and even his new big brother got to hold the new family member.   Bill Pendleton said, "Everything we feared didn't happen.. Looks like things are going to turn out really well."

We'll check back in with the Pendleton's Thursday night at 10 to see how they've settled in and they'll share some of their compelling video of the orphanage where their new little boy, Denton, spent his first nine months and talk with us more about why they chose to adopt.