When Kristy Gonzalez boarded a plane for Russia last month, she knew she'd return home again with one of two things: a new son or a broken heart.
For a while, the broken heart seemed more likely.
First, Kristy and her husband, Michael, received permission from a Russian judge in December to adopt Jack, the 2-year-old brother of their adopted son Braeden, who is nearly 4. Braeden became a part of the family about 18 months ago.
Later that same month, however, the Russian government banned new adoptions by Americans, threatening to shatter plans to reunite the brothers.
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"We didn't know what to expect when we went to Russia," a jet-lagged Kristy said Thursday.
While she waited with a friend in a Moscow-area hotel room, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that any adoptions approved before Jan. 1 could go forward.
So it was a new son, after all.
The family is now together in Beaufort County. They asked that their address not be published.
"He's doing wonderfully," Kristy said of Jack.
He's already learning some English words but isn't shy about telling his parents "nyet" when the mood strikes him.
"He likes to get his way. If he doesn't get his way, he will pitch a fit," his mother said.
"He likes to sing," she said. "He loves cars and calls them 'beep beeps.'"
Jack also has gotten over his fear of Harry, the family's Scottish terrier.
And Braeden is enjoying being the big brother, a role he was eager to assume long before Jack arrived.
Although Jack and Braeden lived in the same Russian orphanage, they were separated most of the time because of their age difference.
Gonzalez said Braeden knew his brother was coming, and often asked to see photos of him on the family's iPad.
Now that Jack is home, he's helped him with the basics, the important stuff like drinking with a straw and from a sippy cup.
"Everything is so new to him," she said of Jack.
Now the former family of three is a family of four.
"We just feel that it's a miracle," the boys' mother said. "Now, to have him here is just amazing."