Jane’s Story: Because my daughter is my world, adoption means the world to me.

Posted on February 29, 2024

Jane Waldman and her daughter, Elaina Braverman (adopted at age 3)

I am Jane Waldman … an adoptive mom and a supporter of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the wonderful work the organization does on behalf of adoptive parents and children.

I am passionate about advocating for adoption as it is a wonderful way to become a family and change the life of a waiting child. Due to a medical condition that made it difficult for me to have a biological child, I turned to adoption.

My husband, Mark Braverman and I are of Russian descent, which is why we chose to pursue a Russian adoption. Sadly, that is no longer an option today. We traveled to Russia twice to adopt our now 23-year-old daughter Elaina when she was 3 years old.

Mark Braverman, Jane Waldman and Elaina Braverman in our first Christmas photo as a family shortly after our adoption

For us, it was love at first sight. Elaina says that she feels the same way. Although she was young, she remembers first meeting us in a Russian orphanage. Because my daughter is my world, adoption means the world to me. Elaina says that she is grateful to us for adopting her and giving her such a wonderful life.

Our adoption journey was not without its challenges. First, we had to get all of the necessary paperwork, complete background checks, appear before a Russian court and interview with the Minister of Education. It was a grueling process. The biggest hurdles we faced in opening our home to a toddler was that she came us not being able to speak English or much Russian. She suffered from malnutrition and had institutionalized behavioral issues. We sought the support of a behavioral therapist and nurtured and loved our daughter to help her overcome a difficult beginning to her story.

Elaina also worked with a speech therapist when she first arrived in this country and that continued until she reached middle school. It was a slow process, but she was able to learn the language in about two to three years. Elaina also needed the help of an occupational therapist for several years as she struggled to cut her food and use her hands when she was 4 years old. That process also continued for a few years.

As part of our attempts to get Elaina to open up a bit more, we started entering her into pageants. She participated in her first pageant at age 15, and this shy girl lit up the stage. Elaina came to life and loved performing. She soon began working with a modeling coach and taking weekly acting lessons. Over the next few years, Elaina began modeling in fashion shows and starring in films and TV shows, such as “Pretty Little Liars” on MAX.

Adopting, regardless of the path you take, comes with so many twists and turns. For anyone considering growing their family through adoption, just know that patience is a virtue, and it’s critical to the journey.

Remember that love wins, and that you must do all you can to nurture and support your adoptive child and seek help from those who specialize in the areas in which they may be struggling. It’s also a good idea to seek guidance from adoption support groups in your area. We spoke with friends who also had adopted from Russia, and they were able to give us advice about how to handle the challenges we were facing.

Elaina overcame so many challenges and, today, is a thriving, happy and successful young woman. We are so blessed to support her journey.

Thank you, Jane, for sharing your family’s story and for encouraging others to open their hearts as foster or adoptive parents.

Were you adopted or have you adopted from foster care? Share your adoption story by filling out the Foundation’s story form.

Elaina Braverman at 2024 New York Fashion Week
Photo credit: Dana Davis Photography
Designer: Charjean Couture

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