Patricia Schupple of Ellicott City flew to Russia three months ago to adopt a little boy with a facial deformity. She brought the boy back -- as well as the memory of the boy's closest friend, a little orphan girl left crying in a corner.
The children, Daniel and Anna, were not related, but were like brother and sister. They had the same deformity and speech impairments. They had developed their own way of communicating in the orphanage.
They had become inseparable.
So Ms. Schupple, after bringing Daniel home in August, flew back to Russia in October to adopt Anna.
The children are again inseparable, except that now they're legally brother and sister.
They came to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center yesterday with their parents for a checkup with their plastic surgeon, Dr. Craig Vander Kolk. He is co-director of the Cleft and Craniofacial Center.
Both children were born with a severe cleft lip and palate. That means they had a wide split in their upper lip, from their mouth to their nose, and a wide split in the roof of their mouth.
Ms. Schupple, 41, is the capital budget and program manager for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Scott Schupple, 42, is president of Schupple Enterprises Inc., credit consultants and commercial bill collectors.
With no children of their own, they had tried unsuccessfully to adopt a child for two years. Then they saw the picture of a child in an adoption agency's newsletter. The child was Daniel.
"He just had a look about him: Adopt me," says Ms. Schupple.
She flew to Moscow in August, and then traveled to the orphanage in Borovichi. The first time she saw Daniel, he was riding a tricycle with a little girl. The girl was Anna.
Mr. Schupple says he understands that both children were given up by their mothers at birth. Daniel turns 3 Sunday. Anna turns 4 next month.
In the orphanage, Mr. Schupple says, "they were thick as thieves, you might say."
"When my wife left with Daniel, Anna was just beside herself," he says. "It just didn't seem right leaving that little girl behind."
He pulls out a photograph of the orphans his wife took in August.
"You can see that Anna's not in the picture," he says. "That's because she's off in a corner crying."
After his wife returned home with Daniel, the little boy, although pleased with his new home, wandered around the house and seemed to call for Anna, Mr. Schupple says.
He and his wife discussed adopting the girl. Ms. Schupple says money was a factor, because adopting Daniel had been expensive. But after the adoption agency reduced the price for Anna, she says, they agreed to take her, too.
Ms. Schupple flew back to Russia last month to pick up Anna. The girl's reunion with Daniel took place at 3:30 a.m. one Sunday.
"They were both groggy at first," Mr. Schupple says. "But by 9 o'clock they were running around like crazy people, playing, yelling, doing all kinds of stuff."
The children are learning English. The Schupples, who speak little Russian, are trying to enroll the children into a speech therapy program.
Dr. Vander Kolk has operated on Daniel once, and plans to operate on both children in January. He says they would then need probably two or three more operations and occasional "touch up" procedures.
The outlook for both children is good, he says.
"It's a real tribute to this family," Dr. Vander Kolk says of the Schupples.
"They've done about the nicest thing that could be done for those two children."