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By The Cradle Staff

On Christmas Day 2007, Heather and Garrett Boehm received a priceless gift – their first day together with a new son. In a hotel room in Moscow, they bonded with their new son Aleksander (“Alek”). A few days later, returning to Chicago after over 24 hours of travel, their families were waiting for them, videotaping the arrival of the new addition and holding a large sign reading “Welcome Home” that displayed Alek’s photo.

After looking into several adoption agencies, Heather and Garrett decided upon The Cradle because of its Russia program, and began the adoption process in March of 2007. Information sessions and classes at the agency provided them with the tools they needed to feel “very prepared to handle anything.”

In October of 2007, the Boehms received a referral for a one-year old boy named Aleksander from the Smolensk region. Heather was afraid to get too attached too quickly, and only looked at the referral photo once before they accepted it. Heather and Garrett traveled to Russia for the first time just after Thanksgiving 2007. There, the couple reports, the regional staff was “awesome ” – even their driver to and from Smolensk was kind enough to buy them lunch, although he could not speak English. The language barrier added another dimension to the adventure, but they were provided with a translator throughout their trip, and The Cradle’s Russia staff helped them navigate their journey.

Meeting Alek for the first time, the Boehms were nervous but excited. There were many people – directors, officials, nurses, the translator – watching, and they were allotted only 45 minutes with him the first day. The next day, after about an hour and half of time to play with their future son, they signed the necessary paperwork to initiate the next steps toward adoption.

Returning to Russia a few weeks later for their court date, everything went very smoothly, and Heather and Garrett took Aleksander home to their hotel that night. “We didn’t know exactly what we were doing,” admitted Heather, but it was “surprisingly easy.” Soon, Alek was bathing, eating, and sleeping without problems. He even slept through most of the trans-Atlantic flight home.

Although the first couple of weeks included some changes and difficulties, Alek adjusted quickly and successfully. He is now very attached to Heather and Garrett, and “knows us as his parents,” says Heather. His fun personality constantly makes his parents and others laugh. “A structured routine is very key to his happiness,” noted his mother, but he is curious about everything.

Heather said that she “braced for the worst, and hoped for the best,” but “The Cradle made sure we were totally prepared” and ensured a fast and smooth process. The entire adoption process took the Boehms less than a year and now Alek is running around his house like it is the only home he has ever known.

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