Six months ago, Nadia Gabler couldn't speak a word of English.
Tuesday, the Fritsch Elementary School fourth-grader brought home a 100 percent on her vocabulary quiz. She bounces about her back yard like any child, playing with one of four family cats, swinging on a tire swing.
She shows a "cootie catcher" to visitors and chooses their fortunes using the origami game. She has a part in the play "Peter Pan" as a Lost Boy.
It's an idyllic American childhood for the 10-year-old whose previous home was an orphanage in Russia.
About a year ago, Carson City resident Stephanie Gabler decided she wanted another child. Her son Hunter, 17, a Carson High School senior, is getting ready to leave and Gabler said she "wanted to continue the lifestyle of having a child."
She feared attempting adoption in the United States because "it's never a done deal." One never knows when adoptive parents will be forced to give up their children, she said.
International adoption, while extremely expensive, is without similar complications, she said. Gabler began her search in Brazil, but said her heart, for some reason, was drawn to Russia.
She started out looking for another boy, but saw Nadia on a video and "saw everything I needed to know.
"I could tell she had a good sense of humor. She respected authority. She started to recite a poem, forgot some and then started again. I could tell she was intelligent."
Nadia was the last of five children born to a family in Zdukovka, a village about eight hours from Moscow. Nadia's mother couldn't care for her any more, Gabler said, and the government took the child to the orphanage in nearby Bryansk. Nadia was in the orphanage for only one year before coming to the United States.
Her English isn't perfect, but she's learning. She proudly demonstrates her ability to count to 100. She talks about her eight pairs of shoes and how she has caught on to the American love of shopping.
Nadia seems very happy, prone to throwing her head back and laughing at nearly anything. And she likes ice cream and candy, as well as chives and shamrocks, which she picks in her back yard to munch on. She learned how to do that in Russia, she said.
Her mother says Nadia is "literally racked with joy."
"I'm so grateful that Nadia is as well adjusted as she is," Gabler said. "She is so smart. She holds onto little details until they become relevant. We're constantly going, 'Wow, where did she get that?'"
Gabler said one of the hardest adjustments has been the language barrier, which Nadia is overcoming.
"We did a lot of charades at first; we still do," Gabler said. "What drives us most crazy is she doesn't get her pronouns right. She says 'me-she' instead of 'I.'
"At first she didn't understand the concept of a house pet. She stomped her foot at the cats because she didn't think they belonged in the house."
Nadia reads in Russian and Gabler said she is encouraging Nadia to maintain her native language. One day, if Nadia wants, Gabler said she would be happy to help Nadia find her Russian family. While Nadia is very affectionate now, Gabler said it is a recent development in the child.
"She's just gotten to where she'll let her guard down," Gabler said. "Someday she'll be able to speak enough to tell me about (her life in Russia)."
While Gabler said she is taking a break from paperwork, she said eventually she'd like to start a foundation to help people finance international adoptions.
"There are a lot of people who would qualify, but just don't have the money to do this," she said
A lot of people want to adopt infants, but Gabler said with Nadia, it's like "seeing everything for the first time."
"Nadia's done well," Gabler said. "She's had maybe two bad days where she was weepy. It's been better than I thought it would be."