Teacher waits to claim adopted son in Russia


The bedroom, the teddy bear, the family dog and even social studies students at Old Mill Middle School South are ready and waiting. And Mom's been practicing her Russian.

How else would you prepare to claim your new son from a St. Petersburg orphanage?

"Ya tebya lyublyu," said Dee Dove, the social studies teacher who will become a parent between Oct. 10 and 20. "It's Russian for 'I love you,' but it sounds just like you're saying 'I love blue teddy bears.' "

Mrs. Dove, who speaks with a slight Virginia drawl, again has turned her life's story into a lesson for her students.

"I'm an open book. I share with my students," said Mrs. Dove, who has taught at Old Mill South for six years. "When we did a unit in class on cultural weddings, I shared my wedding video. My husband's been through cancer, and the kids have been through that with me. And I showed them a video of Alexander after a geography lesson on Russia."

Alexander is 3 years old. His best friend, Charlie, was adopted by an Arlington, Va., couple, who report that Alexander cried when he realized he was being left behind.

The students were so excited at the prospect of their teacher and her husband having a child, that they began collecting school supplies, toys and other gifts for the children at Alexander's orphanage.

The Doves said they had always wanted to adopt children in addition to having children of their own, but put their plans on hold after Mrs. Dove had a miscarriage and her husband, Kenneth Dove, fought two bouts with liver cancer.

"But there are so many kids who don't have homes, and we realized after going through all this that you just don't know how long you're going to be here," Mrs. Dove said. "So we decided to go ahead with it."

They contacted Cradle of Hope, a Washington adoption organization that helps with foreign adoptions. The Doves said they decided to ask to adopt a toddler, not a newborn, because they still can have children on their own.

Mrs. Dove said she "moved mountains and agencies" to push through the adoption in six months. The latest 12-week delay, however, had its benefits -- her husband had time to recover from surgery to remove another cancerous tumor from his liver before a toddler takes over the house.

"I'm sorry Alexander wasn't with us sooner, but we had to take care of Kenny first," Mrs. Dove said.

The waiting period also gave them time to make friends with the Arlington couple who adopted Charlie. Their new friends took the video of Alexander, and took Alexander pictures of his new parents.

"I'm hoping the pictures will prepare him, so he'll recognize us and we won't be complete strangers," Mrs. Dove said.

The adoption, Mrs. Dove said, brings her life full circle.

"I think God had a lot to do with it," she said. "It just struck me that if we had delivered our child, it would have been born in October the same year Alexander was born. This child lost his parents when I lost my own child. The cosmos has put us together again. It's an earth-stopping feeling."

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