Mary Griffin and her husband, Ben, struggled with infertility for seven years before meeting Noelle Zoya.
"When we adopted her, not only did we provide her with a family that she wouldn't have had, but she made us into a family with a child," said Griffin.
They met Noelle in Russia seven years ago. One of Mary Griffin's fellow teachers had adopted a child from a Russian orphanage and the family decided to dive into the paperwork.
"Our first experience was great. In fact, our agency talked about how it couldn't have gone smoother," said Griffin.
Seven years later, the process of adopting a child from Russia is in turmoil. Chanting crowds in Moscow recently protested a ban on Americans adopting Russian orphans. Back home, people shake their heads.
"It's sad for those children who really desire to be with a loving family. It's sad for those families who want to care for children," said Laura Farmer, Southwest Region director of Lutheran Family and Children's Services.
"It's hard for us to not know," said Griffin.
Griffin and her husband are one of the fewer than 500 families who still have a chance to adopt a Russian orphan. They were just a step away from getting matched with a child when the issue blew up like a spat from the Cold War.
"We care so much for the children in the orphanages. They do a wonderful job of caring. The caregivers love the children, do their best for the children, but it's not a home. It's not parents, it's not a family," she said.
In the years since the adoption, the Griffins had two surprises. Mary got pregnant. They had two more children. Now, they want one more child under their roof.
"We'd like our daughter to have a shared heritage with a sibling. Our hearts are definitely there because we spent time there and we've seen the children who need homes. It is a place we care a lot about," she said.
Nobody seems to know if getting another dream-come-true moment will happen or get caught in a web of international tension.
The Russian ban is in retaliation for a U.S. law calling for sanctions on Russians identified as human rights violators. Meantime, the Russian government says 105,000 children are waiting in orphanages for a family to adopt them.