Monday, December 20, 2010

Girl On A Mission

Leaping into my arms at preschool pick up last Thursday, Devi asked “Mommma, can we go see Santa?” There was a hint of panic in her voice so I knew something had to have happened to spur on this sudden need. Up until this time we had planned to go see Santa, but the date had not yet been set. Devi couldn’t decide what she wanted to ask Santa for and kept proclaiming that she wanted to keep it a secret. For the better part of the past two weeks Pat and I had been trying to guide and direct her toward a suitable request of the jolly old elf, realizing that to surprise Santa at the 11th hour would make him considerably less jolly and more heavily white whiskered.

Honestly, there was not one item that she could think of that she really really would love to have. When asked while driving, she said a skateboard, because that is what she saw out the window of the car, or a motorized scooter. At one point she was set on princess ice skates, but we live no where near an ice arena or in a geographical location conducive to ice.

So why the sudden need to have a chat with Santa? Apparently, a girl at preschool told Devi that Santa would not stop at our house and that there would be no present for her. The school yard bully. She has a hold on Devi’s emotions that is unstaggering at times. Naturally, I capitalized on the opportunity to not only ease the mind of my believing child, but also to narrow down her scope of gift possibilities. With her decision made, off we all went that night to seal the deal on the lap of the big man himself.

With the furrowed brow of concentration she studied the procedure of the family in front of us as they had their conference with Santa. She is one of those people who likes to be prepared in tense situations. Then, as they excited with candy cane in hand, she, feeling confident, readied herself. Adjusting her posture to full height with her chin up, she smoothed her dress, brought the heals of her black leather mary janes together and steadied her hands, one with her letter of wishes, the other clutching a baggie of cookies. Pat and I whispering an over the top, "Oh brother", stood back and watched as our little princess politely walked up to Santa and offered him first a hug, then the cookies. Hypnotised by his presence and with eyes big as dinner plates captivated by his, she appropriately nodded yes and no to his various questions. Then she gently turned as he pulled her up into his leg and she, ever so tenderly folded her hands and laid them politely in her lap. I could tell she so nervous, but was trying hard to seem confident and sure.

Together they read her letter requesting a horsey flashlight that neighs when the light comes on and new socks. She also threw in a pop-up book for extra good behavior. Santa stole a glance from me and winked leading me to believe that all her wishes might be coming true this year. Santa told her she had a strong position on the nice list as he, with large white gloved hands, unwrapped her prize peppermint sucker. This sucker, the ultimate symbol of her successful mission -assuring that Santa would in fact, be coming down our chimney this year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thankful in Cancun!

At 4, this girl all ready knows how to vacation!

In light of the recent exciting news, I almost forgot about the wonderful and relaxing eight days we spent in Cancun for Thanksgiving. And, thankful we were...for the warmth of the sun; for the indulgence of fine food and drink; for the evening of pampering massages for the adults; but mostly thankful that our Devi’s noggin was going to be okay.

The day before we left, she slipped on a patch of ice in our driveway, hitting her head and knocking herself out cold. Coming to in daddy’s arms lead to a seizure and a trip to the ER to be checked out. Having just received 6 immunizations two days earlier at her 4 year old check up, doctors were not her favorite people making her behavior at the hospital....well, the word hysterical comes to mind - a first, for our typically jovial girl. We got the green light to travel, with a thick cautionary pamphlet of information about head injuries. I must have asked the doctor eight times, “Would you travel with your child under these circumstances?” before I was convinced it would be okay.

She swims! Devi's first trip swimming unassisted.

Stealing daddy's hat is so funny!

Proof! She really is the best napper.

To give the highlights, this is the first trip we’ve taken that Devi has decided that napping on the pool deck was really a good idea. Typically, we would take her back to our room, but on this trip, around 11am each day, much to the envy of the other nearby parents, Devi would ask to take a nap. She then preceded to leave her newly acquired friends playing, climbed into a shade covered beach lounger, covered herself with towel and would close her eyes and sleep for a good couple of hours. Blowing on my fingernails and buffing them on the shoulder of my shirt (as if I had something to do with this), I do take a teeny bit of credit, but from day one, God saved our sanity by granting us an easy excellent traveler.

Devi soon charmed the bartenders and by weeks end they knew to have a nice supply of maraschino cherries and apple juice at the ready. Daddy and I sipped one or two banana monkeys (wink, wink), adding a drizzle of chocolate on top as our signature. The food was great - nothing compares to fresh guacamole and tomatillo sauce, liberally applied to everything! The highlight was Japanese style wok cooking table side which was a thrill for all of us. Japanese food in Mexico? I know it sounds odd, but this all-inclusive resort had seven great restaurants, serving all types of food, Italian and wood-fire pizzas too! Yum.

Seeing the world through rose colored goggles?

Higher daddy! Throw me higher!

Unknown to us, the UN conference on global warming was occurring at the same time as our visit, making excursions away from the resort near impossible. Due to the heightened security, the smallest of drives took hours. Luckily, we were quite content to stay put at Cancun Palace and just swim, play in the sand and relax, which included a wonderful therapeutic massage for Pat and I. Devi’s special evening was earning the opportunity to stay up until 9pm for the fire show one night. She worked so hard, eating good meals - even taking an extra nap, all in anticipation of watching dancing girls and swirling flames set to drum music. Dev chose seats in the front row chatting nervously with everyone around us in anticipation of the show. As luck would have it, just 3 minutes into the introduction, she was out like a light, before a single flame was lit. Nice try pumpkin pie. She did however experience the circus show and a night of dancing, both events scheduled for earlier in the evening.

Swimming! This is the first trip where Devi really swam all by herself. It was so fun to watch the deliberate movement of her arms and legs, visible signs that the hours of swimming lessons are paying off. This said, lets face the facts. When she stops propelling herself forward, down she goes, buoyancy being what it is in a girl with no extra body fat. She is still sporting an 18 month sized bathing suit!

Night of the fire show that she didn't see.

Coming back...yes. Enough said.

Filled with revitalizing quantities of sun induced vitamin D, we realized just how much we needed to escape from the stresses at home. It was a wonderful excursion taken just in the nick of time. Now home, we can enjoy the upcoming end of the year holidays and prepare for the next adventure. India anyone?

Away for some R&R, someone is still always on our minds.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Smiles Anyone?

Our Pune Princess - November 2010

Five years ago today, my mom left this earth headed heavenward. Relieved that she was finally rid of illness and pain, I was still filled with selfish thoughts of how I would miss seeing her tomorrow or have that kind of mother/daughter relationship we once shared. Over time, this feeling has waned, but she is never far from my thoughts. This year, I guess because it is a milestone year, I found myself especially blue when I woke up this morning. Perhaps due to the previous evening; preparing the wreath for her place of rest, attaching one additional red rose to mark the passing of another year, or writing the annual letter of thanks to accompany the plate of baked goodies for the staff of the Hospice House, once again acknowledging their compassionate care provided to those living out their final days, just as both my mom and Pat's dad did. They passed away nearly two years apart to the day.

Paged to the phone at work, I noticed the time was 8:45 am, the typical time I receive my daily Devi update from Pat after he drops her off at preschool. To my surprise it was not his voice I heard, but rather the slightly high pitched soft familiar woman's voice of Lisa, our adoption representative. This recognition began an explosion of adrenaline through my veins; the kind that evokes that queasy feeling in your stomach, causes an immediate lump in our throat, rendering you incapable of uttering anything but a waver in your voice. We exchanged pleasantries, but honestly, I was unable to comprehend much, certain that I did not care to hear what she had to say. Pat and I had just discussed how we would tell Devi if this adoption did not go through and I was certain that the news she had called to deliver would be this sad reality. With the delays and turmoil surrounding the reorganization of the adoption process in India, we had been preparing ourselves for this very possibility.

My heartbeat pulsing like a bass drum in my ear drums, the pounding soon became a melody in the making. Much to my surprise Lisa said, " I have good news. Your case has just moved through the court in Pune and it was approved. You have guardianship!" I think I had her repeat this a couple of times before I could believe it. Our NOC was approved on November 8th and guardianship was granted on December 8th. This step was expected to take 3-4 months. Two months would have been optimistic, but guardianship in one month is nothing short of astounding. What a way to change this day of difficult memories to pure joyous ones! Thanks mom. There is no doubt, that you had some hand in bringing this happiness.

Pros at waiting, we've grown used to making our way to the front of one line only to step to the back of the next. Imagine my surprise when Lisa then said, "You can apply for your VISA's and should expect to travel around the second week of January!" Trying to swallow this information I swear I went into shock. Tingling form head to toe, my mind became an instant swirl of lists, thoughts and panic. Flat footed to react, we went from endless waiting to drastically behind in preparation in an instant.

Receiver still in hand, I dialed Pat and asked him if we had plans in mid-January? Naturally, he stepped right into my trap and answered, "No, why?" That's when I screamed into the phone, "Because we are going to India!" I could hear Pat begin to cry on the other end of the phone, trying to compose himself enough to respond, but all I could hear were squeaks of acknowledgment. (I secretly love that he is such a softy).

Within the hour, Pat had left his obligations at work and found himself in my office for much needed celebratory hug. With this embrace, faces buried in each others arms, the Hercules sized boulder of stress that we had been shouldering for the past two years immediately left us and simply floated away.

As you can see - she smiles! To add the icing on this decadent cake, we just received this photo from an Internet acquaintance who visited SOFOSH recently. She was taking her adopted 9 year old daughter there to see where she lived as a youngster. After our random connection, she offered to look for our Pune Princess while there and this was her report.

We did visit SOFOSH and got to meet Sonalika. She is a pretty girl, looks healthy, very friendly, and smiled a lot. She did not appear shy. Sonalika is a favorite of the ayahs there and they all like her a lot.

We got to tour the entire orphanage and see children from 2 days old thru toddlers. It is very clean and organized and the ayahs give good care to the children. We saw the toddlers eating lunch, feeding themselves, taking their plates to the sink to be washed and cleaning their hands. They were very happy and self-sufficient. All of the children that we saw looked healthy. We also got to meet the director and she took the time to talk with us and was very pleasant.

They gave my daughter a couple of gifts and a welcome home ceremony.
Tags from our thanksgiving Mexico trip are crumpled and still attached to the handles of our luggage that will NOT be finding their way back into the closet just yet. Look out Treya. Here we come!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1, 8, 50, 6, 21, 22, 18, 73

No, don't go out and buy a lotto ticket. These are not those numbers. I'm just clearing my head before leaving for (hopefully a sunny) Cancun, Mexico vacation over the Thanksgiving holiday.

As a young girl, it seems I was always ill during this time of year, and so rather than the yummy smells of the Thanksgiving tom permeating the house, I have memories of having to stay in my pjs, with a fever and feeling yucky. Everything smelled and looked unappetizing. This is as good of a reason as any to get out of dodge for a few days.

Truth is, that since our India trip appears to not be happening any time soon, we felt we needed a bit of R&R to celebrate our little family before it grows. The number 1 in the title is because we realized in the three years we've been together, we've only ever vacationed with other family and friends...never just us three. This is the first time!

Monday, in nearly blizzard conditions, Devi had her four year old wellness appointment with Dr. Ayer. We learned that she weighs 30 pounds and is 100.5 cm tall. These facts account for the next two numbers in the title. Devi has reached the 8% mark in weight and the 50% mark for height. Essentially, this means she is tall and skinny....our string bean. She is quite thrilled to be ON the chart for the second year in a row. Devi also made sure her ears were working and that her eyes were working and that her heart was pumping. These three tests were new for her this year and made seeing the pediatrician that much more fun. Okay, fun is probably not the right word because before going, I told her that she did not need any shots this time. Boy, was I wrong. In the end, she required 6! (the third number in the title) I felt awful having made this terrible mistake, but it was nothing that a special trip to McDonald's (dinner of her choice) couldn't help. Later, while she was soothing her aching arms in a warm tub, we lost our power in the blizzard and had to fish her out in the complete darkness as she pretended to be a mermaid. Then even with wet hair, in a freezing house, she spiked a temperature of 101. We ended up losing the power 3 more times that night which lead to a lot of reset clocks, but we were not worse for the wear. Is this really 2010...the technological age?

The next two title numbers refer to our dear sweet Treya turning 22 months old on the 21st. Man, what do you do with that fact? It saddens me, but we continue to have faith that the New Year will be loaded with great news about us traveling to her. I did send a photo book to India, at the request of Shreevatsa so that they can start to show pictures of us to her in the hopes that she will not close her eyes when she sees her momma, daddy and big sister. I hope we look familiar to her when we are face to face.

The next number refers to the current temperature here. 18 degrees F! Yep, a record and all the more reason to go to the land of guacamole and margaritas.

And lastly, as we board the plane tomorrow, we will remember my mom, who would have been 73 on Thanksgiving. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her and wonder if she sees the beautiful granddaughter that she only knew about on paper and the one on the way. They would have loved her, no doubt. Mom had a way with kids that was astounding. Gosh, we miss you mom.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All Girls Momma!

Devi, the Birthday girl turns 4

While one small princess drifted off to dreamland the eve before her birthday party, the house became a flurry of activity as Pat and I brought the Ross kingdom to life. At Devi’s request, a Princess party - “All girls mom, no boys” - was planned to celebrate her entering her 4th year.

As usual, these themed events have a way of taking on a life of their own as the creative side of Pat and I are sparked and the party, once geared for a 4 year old, becomes an outlet for the adult exploration. For the past couple of weeks, long after Devi had gone to bed, we have been secretly having a blast creating a castle, puppets, games and treats in our basement. Much to Devi’s surprise, our house was decorated for royalty when she woke up on the morning of the party. I absolutely love that breathy awe and wow that follows when surprising little kids. It makes it so worth every bit of the effort.

The air was magical on party day, as 8 mini princesses entered our home in their glitter and finery. Devi had been practicing her curtsies and twirls wearing her new princess dress in the mirror long before they arrived and was ready to greet her guests. I had to laugh as each of the girls, whom I know from Devi’s school, arrived in character dressed as the beautiful princesses that they all are. It was so cute.

Our party was designed to help these budding girls learn the qualities that a true princess must possess and with each activity they earned a gold nugget candy to put in a wrist bag to mark their accomplishments. We expressed our “friendship” through hugs and posing for a group photo whilst holding hands. They showed “bravery” while tossing apples to a hungry dragon that had wandered into our living room. Music brought out their “grace” while twirling and dancing with scarves. The “kindness” of kisses were given to our troubled frog who magically turned into Prince daddy after much kindness contemplation. He helped them to engage their “brains” while focusing on the reading of “Do Princess Really Kiss frogs”. True princess “manners” were discussed and displayed throughout lunch which consisted of the guest of honors favorites - PB an J in crown shapes, mac-n-cheese, and magic wands made of fruit. “Sharing”was the attribute in play while meeting our puppet friends, Pricilla the princess and her prince Henry, Aneil and Asha, the Indian prince and princess and lastly Oscar, our friendly pet dragon. After showering Princess Devi with gifts, the girls demonstrated their ability to carry the sweetest of tunes while “singing” the birthday song, earning their last gold nugget. Devi required some help blowing out all four candles and invited her guests to give a blow, which was very cute.

The Cinderella carriage that Devi really hoped for.

The cake from Blue Vanilla Bakery - my friends new store!

One of our gifts to Devi was the table cloth castle and puppets I made.

As each guest left, they showed me a glimmer of the gold in the bottom of their wrist bag which entitled them to a “happily ever after” prize of goodies to take home. Soon thereafter, our little princess drifted off to dream land, napping in her princess gown with her hair still up in a royal bun! When she awoke, she threw her arms around my neck and said, “Thank you for the Princess party mom. It was so great!” which naturally melted my heart.

The Old Spaghetti Factory was her choice for dinner on Monday, her actual birthday. She wore her crown and announced to anyone who would listen, “It’s my birthday. I am four. On my next birthday I will be five. I’m gonna be a big sister.” We had to finally squelch her enthusiasm when she started yelling this trivia to people seated at tables outside of earshot. Once home, we opened a few gifts from us and a couple that had come in the mail with our friends DiAnna and Tim. Tim brings a bouquet to Devi every year, a tradition that he started with his own girls now grown. She thinks it is quite grown up and so therefore it is really cool.

Posing with her favorite toy, new nightgown and twirling skirt.

Falling into bed was an understatement with all the celebrating that had been done, but soon after saying our good nights, a huge wind storm blew in and we lost power for the first time in 14 years since living in our home. As soon as the night light went dark, Devi let out a blood curdling scream of terror. I dashed up the stairs and rescued her, having not heard this kind of cry from her ever before. We made camp around our fireplace and got everyone calmed down when “John-boy Walton” arrived. “Good night mommy...I love you....sleep well....have happy dreams." Later I heard, "It is okay, Mother Nature, I forgive you for being so mean. Why did you make Mr. Wind so mad?" Honestly, I had to bite my lip in the darkness as I listened to her continue to lull herself to sleep.

Another favorite gift...a unicorn pillow now named Mckenna.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Windless Sails

Natural tendencies being what they are, immediately after happy dancing in motor oil with the news of our NOC, I fired off the stream of emails to ask about the next steps. Time lines - specifically - trying to determine just when it would be safe to bring the suitcases out of the closet. Relying on experience, I calculated on my fingers how many months we waited between NOC and guardianship for Devi. Doing the math, and applying it to Treya’s situation that would have us India bound around the first of the year. This is all so premature given the huge steps that still lay ahead, but after such a long wait, our longing hearts just want to get on a plane.

The reply to my inquiry from our agency, however, drained the joy from my body, taking with it the last bit of wind from my billowing sails. We were told the average time frame for receiving guardianship in India is now taking 5-6 months, NOT the 1-2 that I had anticipated. Having done this once before, I was prepared for the emotional let down of making it to the exhilarating head of the NOC line, only to step to the back of the guardianship one, but had no idea that that line was so incredibly slow moving and long. At this time of year, it reminds me of the scene in the movie The Christmas Story, when Ralphie steps into line to see Santa, only to be tapped on the shoulder by an impatient adult who directs him to the real back of the line, wrapped two times around the store encased in red velvet ropes.

Amongst other things, the idea of updating a home study report, redoing our fingerprints again, re-submitting our I-800 form handling all the other documents that are slowly ebbing toward their expirations is exhausting just to mention. At the core, the swirl of the numbers, ages, and months once again stirs the analytical traits inside me and it becomes my demise, knowing all too well that what is required is faith, focusing on the task at hand and perseverance.

Wanting to reach for a cookie (actually the whole bag), and thinking better of it, I went jogging in the rain instead. Something about miles of the steady rhythm of my pounding feet can bring clarity, especially in the crispness of the fall air. It is out on one of these jaunts that emotion usually is released for me, but today the depth of my sadness and frustration leaves me even too low to conger a tear. I realize that I just want to be mad at someone, but the reality is there is no one to blame; there is no person to be mad with. Slowly coming around, I humbly recount how quickly I dismissed my joy over our No Objection Certificate, reminding myself that CARA had every reason to say no to us if they wanted to. The fact that a family nearly 5 years over the age limit is still thought of favorably to adopt a child not yet 2 is a miracle, from such a conservative group. This feat is true cause for celebration.

After further conversation with our adoption agency today, I found that guardianship in the specific region of Pune were Treya is living averages around 2-3 months; a much more manageable number and a welcomed reprieve. Once again, I can exhale without getting that unnerving pain in my gut! It does confirm our harsh reality; we will indeed miss another Christmas, New Years and her second birthday together. With luck, February travel, encompassing the hearts and love of Valentine’s day, will be our lucky month. In the meantime, we have been asked to put together a photo book to send to Sonalika so that she might start becoming familiar with her new family. This is yet another reason to celebrate as Sonalika will soon learn she has a family. I hope this brings her joy. Little does she know it, we love her so deeply that at times like this it hurts.

There has been a change in the weather. The wind has once again kicked up and we are hoping for some smooth sailing.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Joy to the World!

Happy Diwali! The Indian festival of lights. Understanding the idea of tradition, Devi was quick to get those Halloween decorations down only to replace them with our map of India, lanterns and candles ready to light on Friday when we once again partake in an Indian feast. I love that she is so in tune with a bit of her heritage, this year asking to wear her salwar kameez to school even though I explained that most the children in her class would not be celebrating this custom. She said she would tell them about it. Inside I am secretly screaming YES! she is grasping a fondness for her roots regardless if it singles her out for being different or not.

Last year we celebrated this festival with fanfare, this year finds us feeling bitter sweet. With this Indian holiday comes closures in all the offices that hold the fate of our Treya in their hands. Diwali, however is a joyous celebration.Through the over 30 lights we ignite we think of the beauty of this world and our family and friends who are supporting us through this second adoption journey.. You all bring light to our lives.

With emphasis on our sweet Sonalika, the "golden" child, we’ve hung a prayer flag - a token gift from our good friend Donna whose ear I bend regularly about the woes of waiting for news.

My boss, normally an unattached kind of guy, consoled my ranting this morning by asking if I had done everything asked of me to the best of my ability regarding this adoption? My answer, of course, was YES! He responded by telling that I have maneuvered myself into perfect position right in front of the door of opportunity. My obligation has been filled and now I must wait for the door to open. No amount of worry will change that. It is so simple but truly illustrates our placement.

Recently I was chatting with a friend who used to work for an adoption agency who told me that she always encouraged families to continue with their lives here, as much as possible, as if there was not necessarily an adoption in process. Reminding me that there are so many many unknowns to what happens on the India side of the process and to “not” do something here in anticipation of the process there could drive a person crazy. It was this advice that lead us to book a last minute, totally unplanned, but much needed vacation to Mexico for Thanksgiving. We had hoped to save this free trip until next spring to bring Treya along, but it seems it could best be used to ensure my sanity now :)

To everyone else we lean on, please know that Friday night we feasted on Indian food and lit a candle to celebrate each of you and invite good things into our home through our front door adorned with lights and bells by way of the rangoli squares that decorate the porch.

While working on this post I checked my email one last time for the evening. In a true answer to the power of the overflowing support and prayer we've received recently, I found this email.

I just wanted to let you know that we received your NOC from CARA in India! You’re one step closer to bringing Sonalika home.


Rejoice! They've said YES! We are not too old. The pounding in my heart has yet to return to a normal level. I am shocked. The closures...the office is supposed to be closed for the holiday. How could this happen? I ran out to the garage where Pat was changing the oil in our cars and loudly whispered (because Devi just went to bed) at the two wiggling legs protruding form under the minivan - We have NOC! He whispered back in disbelief - WHAT? But before I could repeat myself, he had scrambled out from under the car and grabbed me into his arms. With tears streaming from our eyes we jumped up and down in that oily smelling embrace, oblivious to the fact that we now were both covered in motor oil and the bit of grime that goes with it. We jumped, said we can't believe it and jumped some more. Just over a week shy of 5 months of waiting for this you'd think that nothing could surprise me, but tonight as my head hits the pillow I will be singing praises of Joy, Hallelujahs, Namastes, and rejoicing this wonderful news. At last a good nights sleep with a little less worry filling my dreams of Treya Marie.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Determined Tinkerbell

Halloween 2010

Nostalgia has grabbed me by the short hairs, as I realize that my once agreeable girl now has an unstoppable determination that only means she is growing up. No doubt this trait will one day come in handy, at Halloween time, it can make for long debates where it is questionable if this mother’s authoritative words make even a dent in Devi’s opposing view. Gone are the days, when I decided what her costume would be... a bunny or lamb, for instance, knowing that before the words describing it have even left my lips, she was nodding with enthusiasm and approval.

This year my suggestion of a flower in a flower pot fell flat. Her idea of a fairyprincessunicornglittersomething somehow morphed into Tinkerbell. Once this decision was made, there was no changing her mind. Typically, I have a real problem with “characters” on anything. They seem so marketed, lack imagination and are ordinary...basically I try to avoid such items in the house as much as possible. The Disney princess army is a strong force to contend with, however and I feel like I am losing ground a step at a time every day.

Putting the persuasive powers of a mother’s wisdom into play I try throwing out enticements to change her mind, suggesting that everyone will be dressing as Tinkerbell, how about being a purple fairy (siting her favorite color), the glitter fairy (preying on her love of sparkly things) an Indian fairy (tempting her pride in her heritage) but she was not budging, her mind set like concrete.

Re-evaluating, I thought I would simply make her Tinkerbell costume myself, and short of being green, it would be as un-Tink as possible. She thinks she is Tink, I know she is a green is a win win situation. This plan was a great one until I started pricing the materials required to make such a costume. I simply could not justify the cost over ( I shudder to say it) an $11 dollar store bought Tinkerbell costume.

On Halloween night, with her tiny bun pinned tightly atop her head, my Tinkerbell was born. She became the green spirited sprite – of the dark haired brown skinned variety– delighted to flit around no matter how many other Tinks had taken to the trick or treat streets. As we left our porch and headed for the sidewalk to join the stream of parent accompanied children, Devi announced, “Look at me! I’m Tinkerbell! Look at me everyone, I’m Tinkerbell!” case someone couldn’t tell :)

We had a lovely time, with friends joining us for the 10 house journey. We arrived at the end of the evening across the street where our neighbor has started a bon fire pit tradition in her driveway with hot cider, popcorn and smores.

As I leaned down to give Dev her final kisses good night she asked, “Can I wear my hair in a bun forever, mommy?” It was at this point, that I questioned, why I lobbied so hard to change her mind when in the heart of this little girl what happened tonight was magical. It wasn’t about the candy or the gifts from our generous neighbors. For an hour, she really became THE fairy dust wielding Tinkerbell.

Second annual trip to the Double R ranch for Pumpkins!

OH! it's cold mom!

EWWWW...pumpkin guts!

Devi's creation...complete with a bindi

Mom's , Treya's which we grew ourselves, Devi's and Dad's

Tink is determined to get the garden gnome (Harrison) to the door!

If you can't beat em, join em!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I've Got Visions of Sugar Plums Dancing in My Head!

Our sugar plum at 21 months old!

I've been waiting for 4 months to see this little face again. What can I say? It is the most surreal experience that I've had in a long long time. I don't know if I am surprised to see that she is still there; as if hearing about this tiny person half way around the world eight months ago was not real OR relieved that I still recognize that face which is home to the most concerned soulful eyes I've ever seen. She really looks like she could use a serious dose of some momma's love that this momma can't wait to give.

In my hot little hands for about an hour now, these precious snaps have been devoured, swallowing every last detail I can scrape from them – her size, her hair...oh how it longs for a scrunch and a bobble! The double bump of her brow shows such concern and the pout of her lips will surely give her parents a run for their money when discipline is necessary. Irresistible. She walks! A new development since the last video we viewed. And I even see a tiny bit of baby chub still clinging to her toddler cheeks.

Poor baby! I can just see her thinking...make the
woman with the camera go away now please!

This it the message that accompanied this treasure...
Sonalika for the Ross family.
Every time I try to take a photo of Sonalika she would close her eyes and pretend I was not here. It was pretty cute, but not so good for picture taking. I did get a pretty cute video of her playing with a ball and smiling.
So it looks like we have a new video of her coming....I can't wait. And of course, hopefully news of that darned NOC. Today it does not matter that it has not yet come. I am happy dancing and enjoying the moment.

I love that I have this one! What a treasure.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Big Sister In Training

Transformation complete, Devi became a momma the second that baby Harrison entered our home. We were babysitting the 12 month old tike for a few hours last Saturday which was the first time that we have cared for a child younger than Devi. It was fun to watch the two of them together as she introduced him to her toys stored away long ago in anticipation of a sibling, as she herself, rediscovered them like it was for the first time.

Her voice took on a higher pitch and her mannerisms became so intentional. Okay, so she became a bit of a mini me - minus her “here puppy” styled thigh slap when coaxing Harrison to follow her. She IS new at this, so I’m sure she’ll figure that part out. Throughout the morning Devi would announce what was safe and what was a danger, all while tending to every one of Harrison’s whims.

Seizing the opportunity, Pat and I turned the morning into a big sister training session, which delighted Devi beyond belief. With every behavior Harrison displayed, we’d talk about how it might be the same or different with Treya, because she is nearly a year older. My hope and fear is that Devi would understand what having a younger sister might be like, but not expecting a young infant when she arrives. In the end, her non-stop chatter was so cute. “Mom, I think he's hungry. (pause) Mom, I think he's is tired. (pause) Mommy, I think he needs his diaper changed.” Surely, with a baby, there must be something to FIX every second of the day. A good mommy never just lets them be! Thankfully, Harrison is so good natured, he took all of her doting in stride, smiling, giggling, dancing through the day.

Breakfast was a riot as Devi sat on my lap (a chair beside me was simply not close enough) while I faced Harrison’s highchair to feed him. Together we managed to serve him a yummy oatmeal mush meal. Devi asked if she could try. So after careful instruction, I let her take the spoon. Her heart soared when to her surprise, his baby robin-like mouth popped open every time she approached it with the spoon. A couple of mouthfuls later, I retrieved the spoon, but was surprised when Harrison swatted my hand away preferring Devi serving him over me! They had a grand time mimicking each others Mmmmmms. She appears to be a natural.

To Pat and my surprise, the two kids even napped at the same time, awoke at the same time and ate good lunches together using each other for comic relief. Could this happen in real life when Treya arrives? I know better than to get my hopes up. Devi passed her training with flying colors, begging me to have Harrison come again sometime. It was a grand day pretending to be a family of four. Trying it on for size, it felt really really good.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Couple of Dangling Carrots

I’ve always been a chronic email checker, but when awaiting news that another step in the adoption process has been approved, this obsession takes on a new life. At least for awhile, after weeks and months go by, the urge to check one more time sort of fades. Those ads to encourage purchasing life insurance, or refill my ink cartridges for a bargain, or sell me the latest and greatest coffee maker can wait.

Then one day “ping” you see a message sent from your adoption representative and your heart flutters up into your throat. The scene is always the same. Open it and skim it looking for the highlights —good news or bad news. Then starting over and drinking in every word, read it again. Then you read it a third time, this time trying to read between the lines and figure out how the new information fits into the sliding time line you have going on in your head about how this adoption is going to play out. Close the email, wait a few minutes and then go through the same procedure again. This time, you conclude by hitting the forward button and type out all of your unorganized thoughts of euphoria and panic about this email and send it to your husband—your voice of reason—and wait for his reply.

What a Tuesday morning this week. The message was that CARA will not grant our NOC without 7 more documents. On the third reading of the email, I realize that by asking for more, they are considering a YES, and are not giving us an outright NO. Wonderful!

Then it sets in....7 more documents ASAP. Really? It happens they are all ones that have been sent before. This is good news, as I can reprint most of them easily and have them notarized but, there is still a doctor’s note from Devi’s pediatrician required and Pat and I have to be tested, yet again, for HIV. These items require planning, appointments, all taking up valuable minutes, when all I can think of is getting these papers in the mail immediately. Coming to my senses, Pat and I devise a plan to tick each task off the list. These are merely hoops and I am willing to jump as high as they want at this point.

Devi's updated letter to her sister.

It is a picture of Shir Khan Lake (round blue lake surrounded by lions and one monkey), because the Jungle Book took place in India. Her personal sentiment is her name beside two hearts, a smiley face and the word Love. I think that says it all!

Today we will complete their final request - the HIV test. Rather than going through our doctor’s office which requires a copay and takes a week to get results, we are going to a clinic where I plan on bringing my own stash of sanitary wipes to clean any surface I may come in contact with. Guaranteed printed out results in 20 minutes is really all I care about at this point.

Much to my surprise during my email exchange with our representative we received this news about our sugar plum from the representative who is in India now....

She is doing well. She is still very shy—when you talk to her, she closes her eyes and pretends you’re not there.:) She is walking really well and doesn’t cry anymore. She plays ball with her caretaker and smiles while she does that. Her fingers and toes look a lot better than last time since she has had her surgery. She seems to be using them well.

With a full heart and a head in the clouds, we will hopefully hit the post office tomorrow to send off this set of papers. The final set? We hope so. With these latest dangling carrots still hanging fresh in front of our noses, I begin my email obsession....awaiting photos from this latest visit :)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

It Happened One Thrusday in the Meat Department

Although the events of this past Thursday are phenomenal, I find myself at a loss for words. It isn’t that I don’t know what happened, but the magnitude of this series of fortunate events has left me slack jawed. I honestly am shocked by the encounters of a single day and am emotionally moved — once again smoothing the raised goose bumps on my arm and attempting to keep the rising hope in my chest contained to a manageable level.

We accepted Sonalika’s referral seven and a half months ago. During that time, I’ve reached out to the many forums, trying to connect with someone who has adopted from SOFOSH. Each time I toss out a request for information, it has always gone unanswered. I’m not terribly surprised by this, however, because the majority of the children from SOFOSH are adopted domestically, with very few adopted internationally and even fewer still that find their forever home in the USA.

Last Thursday I spotted a post from one of the forums with the word “SOFOSH” in the subject line. I was thrilled to find another family who had just received a referral of a child from the same place as Sonalika. They were seeking information about the orphanage, just as I have many many times. While I have not heard back from that family, I did receive a reply email from someone else who adopted her daughter from SOFOSH eight years ago! Recalling it as a small, neat, tidy and well run orphanage, she went on to thoughtfully tell me about how she and her daughter were joined, about the mound of medical history that had been recorded during her stay and about the gift her birth mother had left for her. A letter and a tracing of her hand prints. Priceless.

This family will be going to India in November to visit the husband's extended family and to take their daughter, now nearly 9 years old, to SOFOSH for the first time, to see where she lived before being adopted. To my astonishment, the mother offered to look up Sonalika and take pictures for us! I had wanted to ask, but did not want to impose, especially considering the importance of their trip. I was flabbergasted and so excited at the thought that someone from our home soil would see and hopefully smooch on our dear one so far away. At last we had made a connection to SOFOSH.

That same afternoon, I had about 15 minutes before I needed to pick up Devi from preschool, so for no particular reason, went into the “expensive” grocery store to wander, looking for menu inspiration for the dinner party I was hosting the following evening. I ended up in the meat section, where I overhead a woman and her young daughter talking to the man behind the meat counter.

Admitting my eavesdropping, I confessed to hearing that the meat counter man as well as the young girl were adopted from India. Naturally, I added my two cents about Devi’s adoption AND that we were waiting for news to travel to our Sonalika. The mother and I shared the details of our first adoption experiences, and found that she and the woman whose email I had received earlier in the day, had worked with the same agency, and most likely had traveled at the same time. In addition, her second adoption attempt was with the same agency that we are working with now for Sonalika, and our representative? Yep, one in the same!

Unfortunately, her second adoption did not happen due to circumstances beyond control. Suffice to say it was during the time of the Mumbai bombings, that occurred while the family was in flight to India to pick up their child. Ironically they had reservations to stay at the hotel where the attack occurred. As her story unfolded, tears began to stream down her face as she recounted the difficult decisions that they were forced to make. The world around us blurred as I consoled and hugged the woman in the meat department, who up until that time I didn't even know her name.

This chance meeting went from comment, to chat, to heart to heart conversation lasting nearly an hour. Occasionally from the corner of my eye I would catch a glimpse of her lovely daughter zipping through the aisles wielding her mini cart about the store dodging and weaving through the other shoppers. We were so engrossed exchanging common ground that we hardly noticed the mayhem going on around us. In spite of her tragic story, I did find out that she and her husband toured SOFOSH when they were in India adopting their first daughter. They too, confirmed what great care the children were getting and what a nice home it was. She offered so much encouragement to me after hearing about our story, full of it's delays and strange circumstances.

I was so overwhelmed after leaving the store, having returned my empty cart with NO shopping done, that I had to sit at the steering wheel and recount the story and information for awhile before thinking it was safe enough to drive. I couldn’t wait to tell Pat about my encounters with two women who had been to SOFOSH. I got home and shot off a quick email to our agency representative telling her that the woman in my chance meeting in the meat department had said hello.

Our representative replied almost immediately, saying amongst other things that CARA had requested one of Sonalika’s documents again. While some may consider this another snag or delay, I was overjoyed. To me it means that our paperwork has found the right desk AND someone is looking at it! Yay!! And if my heart wasn’t yet full of enough news of SOFOSH to savor, our representative said she was leaving for India this week and would be stopping to see our Sonalika! She will be sending new photos and a video as soon as she can.

All this on one Thursday afternoon. I can't explain how strange is was to absently wander into each random situation and find news of our daughter, rejuvenating us in our wait. Now with renewed hope, patience and that tingly feeling in my gut, we begin to watch our mailbox for photos, videos or news of NOC!