Thursday, March 25, 2010

But...I Didn't Like That Witch, Mama!

Thanks to the generosity of my long time childhood friend, Pat, Devi and I had the opportunity to see Hansel and Gretel, danced by members of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Before the performance, DiAnna, graciously took us back stage to mingle with a couple of dancers and see the colorful sets, including the sweet treats hidden in the witches candy house. Did I say witch? Despite Devi’s obsessive concern for the where abouts of that mean witch, we managed to capture a couple photo opportunities and smiles. Under Devi's watchful and suspicious eye, viewed from behind my leg, we also spent a moment with the narrator of the show, the wizard, who presented Devi with a ceramic gingerbread boy.

Still not weighing enough to hold down the retractable cushioned seats in McCall Hall, Devi took her position in the balcony row F, seat 9. A professional in her own mind, with nearly six months of dance lessons under her own belt, I knew that she would be so much more fascinated by the dancers this year. As the curtain raised in the darkened theater, she immediately went into that fully captivated trance-like stare. Within seconds, purely out of habit and with no conscious thought, her out stretched thumb slowly floated it’s way up into her mouth, and she was gone.

As the stage filled with characters, Devi's curiosity began. Adding an airy and raspy tone to her normal speaking voice (otherwise known as a child’s whisper) she began her knees-up-to-her-chin litany of questions. Moments later, finding that place of comfort in daddy's lap, they "quietly" discussed each and every dancer and prop as they entered and exited the stage, all the while anticipating the arrival of that mean witch.

Switching laps from daddy's to mine, I got to experience the last half of the performance through her non-stop narrative interpretation. Through the fabric of her flowery dress, I could feel her racing heartbeat as Devi realized the presence of the witch on stage, costumed in a bright green and black dress, with red striped leggings and pointy hat.Thankfully the music and choreography remained playful and light, so as to keep her calm enough to remain seated in my lap. Naturally, I had to explain the oven, which in my quick thoughts became "like a jail" and the chicken bone Hansel extended to the witch was "to see if the boy was ready to be made into a gingerbread cookie" rather than to see if he was fat enough to eat! At this point, it dawned on me that children's classics, and especially the Brother's Grimm are...well...grim!

Just as the gingerbread boys and cats began turning themselves back into the lost children, and the father of Hansel and Gretel, once again found his children in the deep forest, Devi breathed a sigh of relief and questioned, "and they lived happily ever after?" which was echoed by our friend the wizard, and narrator of the show.

Twirling our way through the lobby, and making our way to our car, parked in the parking garage, and even on to the Old Spaghetti Factory where we went for dinner, we discussed the wonder of this whimsical live performance. Each of Devi's comments followed by her lasting impression...."but...I didn't like that witch, mama!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Forever Lovely

Three years ago today, we laid eyes on a small one by one and a half inch photo of our Indian princess, Devi Rose. Naturally, we printed many copies of that photo as large as the pixels would allow and displayed them everywhere; some were in our wallets, our cars, at work, at our table and some even found their permanent home in our coat pockets so we would never be without her.

Today, I can't imagine going a day without seeing her beautiful smiling face or experiencing the tiny voice that keeps me in stitches most of the time. That voice. That sweet articulate voice is also the one that tells me we are best friends, I'm the best momma ever and that she loves me. Wow that is powerful stuff coming from a 28 pound 3 and a half year old.

What an unbelievable beginning that day brought. We are blessed beyond measure.

On the eve of this monumental day we also received wonderful news about our doll baby Treya. Our dossier is being reconstructed so that we don't have to wait for the first one to be located in Hyderabad and mailed to Pune. This stroke of genius is the result of choosing a reputable and reliable agency to act as our advocates.

So tonight with one Indian princess asleep in her big girl bed upstairs and photos of our other baby doll in
our wallets, our cars, at work, at our table and some in our coat pockets; we remember the joy of March 23rd, 2007 and sing...

Isn't she lovely;
Truly the angels best.
I am so happy.
Devi is heaven blessed.
I can't believe what God has done;
For two he's given life to one,
Devi is lovely, made to love.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The ABC's of ABS

Butter and a photo book being sent to Sonalika

Devi with the package in route to the post office.

Siblings, sisters, baby’s are all open topics of conversation lately. Aimlessly wandering through our thoughts, all three of us have stumbled upon interesting scenarios to consider. Mom is thinking we need more car seats, has Treya taken her first steps? and secretly hoping to shop for a few new cute things. Dad is thinking about more insurance, yay for two soccer princesses, and how will we split that financial pie four ways. Devi is consumed with questions; can I hold her, can we sleep in the same room, can I teach her to brush her teeth? (As far as we know, she doesn’t have any teeth yet so Dev may have to wait on that last one) Indeed all of us are lost in thought, and spend most of our dinner conversations discussing a wee one who has no idea we exist, but whose picture joins us nightly at her spot at our table.

In all of these dreams of our future is another very real concern. When Treya arrives home, she will be in need of surgery on one hand, one foot, and possibly other limbs to improve their functionality. She has Amniotic Band Syndrome and in her case was born with club feet with shortened digits on her hands and feet, some of which are webbed. ABS occurs when there is a partial rupture of the amniotic sac. Fibrous bands of the ruptured amnion float in the amniotic fluid and can encircle and trap some part of the fetus. Later, as the fetus grows but the bands do not, the bands become constricting. This constriction reduces blood circulation, hence causing congenital abnormalities.

We have considered how to approach these physical differences we have with Treya, to best help bolster a healthy attitude and self esteem regarding her hands and feet. The conclusion is that the physical appearance of her limbs does not define her, but rather is simply part of who she is. Profoundly, it is this rare constricting of cells in the womb that has made our union as a family possible.

No doubt, when Pat, Devi and I are in public now, we attract stares, get comments, and are openly approached by the curious. For the most part, we welcome the opportunity to dispel rumors about adoption, providing the wonderful truth to how rewarding building a family this way can be, while also answering the sometimes ridiculous questions of why we look so different. We observe the puzzled as they try to piece together the past relationships we must have had to produce such a beautiful brown child, when clearly Pat and I are lily white. Comically, the result has lead us to feel positively connected in our community and recognized where ever we go. Therefore we will continue to openly embrace these new differences we face in Treya as just one more remarkable wonder that make our completed family unique.

Devi, through the wisdom and sweet innocence of her three year old mind, was instrumental in helping us to realize all of this. With the concept of a baby sister reaching the level of understanding, we decided it was time to tell her about how ABS had effected Treya. I wanted to make sure I was ready with what to say, and how to say it, and be prepared for the questions. Lordy! the girl can ask questions sometimes!

Through the power of the internet I joined an ABS forum. The members are adults born with ABS as well as parents of children who born with it and it is also a source of support to mother’s who have suffered miscarriages and lost children due to ABS. They were a wealth of information describing their experiences sharing this news with siblings. Casual and factual was the best advice given.

Seizing the opportunity, one day as Devi and I were discussing what about us is the same and what is different, I turned the conversation to include her soon-to-be sister. Devi, who will have dark hair like you? Who will have dark eyes like you? Naturally, she took the bait and answered that Treya, her baby sister would have those likenesses. With Devi on my lap, I splayed her fingers on her open hands into my hands, more than double the size of hers, and told her that Treya does not have hands like you. I went on to describe that she does not have as many fingernails to paint as you and right now, does not have the same amount of fingers that you have. While explaining this I grouped three of Devi's fingers together on her left hand to physically show what Treys'a hand is like. I did the same to describe Treya's feet. Devi was quiet and diligently listened. She even held her own three fingers together as if reviewing what we had talked about. She was quite for a long time and finally said what mattered to her most...."Mommy, are her fingers brown like mine?" And that was that.

Since that day, we have casually brought up Devi and Treya's differences with her a few times and we are at the point where Devi can tell you unprompted about what about them is the same and what is different. It appears that the bonding process that came immediately with Pat and I to both our children, is indeed deep rooting itself in Devi too. Recently, Devi has, with assistance, started sending her own emails. Naturally, her number one request these days is to send an email to her sister!

Sending one of her first emails to Oma.

Lastly, a bit of behind the scenes news. Our dossier was originally sent to Hyberabad, as we thought that was where our child was. After a month of waiting, our dossier has yet to be sent from Hyderabad to Pune. This is of huge concern, as we can not move forward into the court process without it. Our agency is scrambling for us and it is the reason we would never attempt an adoption on our own. They are responsible for our sanity and a few more gray hairs, having faced similar road blocks before. Problems such as this plague would-be adoptive families and are such an intangible problem for most to comprehend, when all we are talking about is taking a folder of papers, putting them into an envelope, adding postage, and mailing it to an office 2 hours away by train. Yet, simple as it sounds, we are helpless to call, write or control the situation in anyway. We trust that this will resolve itself with our agencies expertise.

Learning to ride the trike all by herself.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Treya at 13 months old

Imagine my surprise arriving at work to find this adorable tub-o-love staring back at me from my in-box!

One might wonder what expectant parents and siblings do while anxiously waiting the 6 to 8 months until a trip to India. We tend to fantasize a lot about what things will be like when we are all together and there is alot of discussion to prepare Devi for the change of events in her sweet little life, once the life of another enters in. This is one of those recent conversations.

Perched like hens warming eggs on the front porch, we each sat atop a soccer ball contemplating and clucking about what was inside each and when they may hatch. Devi said that she thought Treya was in her soccer ball egg. I commented that no, Treya was in India, but what else do you think is in India? She replied that Minnie Mouse was in India. This may not seem like that profound of a statement, but the day we picked up Devi, she was indeed holding a Minnie Mouse doll in her hands. How I kick myself now, for taking it out of her hands and leaving it there in her empty crib. As the conversation progressed, the list of things she thought were in India took on an interesting theme which included doggies because she knows there was a dog at the orphanage she came from, mommas to care for babies which I think she was referring to the ayahs who care for the children. The list continued on with diapers, wipes, bottles and sunglasses, because she knows it is hot there. I love that she, in her child like way, is painting a mental picture of where her sister is and how she is being cared for.

For the expectant mom these are the thoughts that come to mind. Treya is 13 months old now. Although we knew that our referral would be for an older child, I never thought I would pine over the lost months before we knew her as much as I am; over the milestones we did not get the chance to experience together. Yes, selfishly, some of these feelings are because I wanted these months for myself, to cuddle, to swaddle, to feel the weight of an infant in my arms, a cherub who would be totally reliant on me; void of any want for independence. Mostly, these feelings are for Treya, who will undoubtedly ask questions about her “firsts” and her story from an earlier time. Without even so much as a pictorial history to document her growth, I feel at a loss as to how to begin to put the pieces together for her. “I don’t know” is such a failing answer when your child wants desperately for you to tell her again about how she took her first wobbly steps, or what, exactly was the first word she said. What a wonderful surprise it would be to touch down in Pune and have a record book thrust into my hands, whose contents were all about her!

I suppose these feelings are weighing so heavily now, because the fear of becoming a busy mother of two has provided me the needed motivation to finally assemble our photo books from when our family was joined with Devi in 2007. Yes, sheepishly, I realize I am behind, which makes this nostalgic time seem all the more shocking and revealing. We were so fortunate to experience so much with Devi in those early months and with each snapshot in time, I am stymied by how much she has grown and changed. In fact, this last week while I was making lunch on the pulled out bread board, Devi came cruising through the kitchen and cold cocked her forehead and after we removed the ice pack and went to measure her, discovered that she had grown nearly 2 inches since her birthday in November!

Discovering Devi now measures 38 and a half inches tall

Some of our time has been spent making sure our paperwork is in order. Several of our documents are in need of updating, including our home study, which we scheduled this week. Barbara, our case worker who became a friend since pre-Devi has moved on so rather than sipping a casual cup of coffee over a conversation about our children, Pat and I actually had to clean and prepare for a true inspection of our home and have formal interviews. When our new rep arrived, Devi very dutifully unclipped the two photos of Treya from the refrigerator and brought them to the social worker explaining that these photos were of her sister. It was a spontaneous moment, as if Devi understood the importance of this woman coming to our house.

True to form, however, we did suffer an uncomfortable moment when together Devi and I spotted the UPS truck coming down the hill toward our house. Before I could distract her Devi yelled, “Here comes the beer truck!” There was an eerily quiet pregnant pause, a tense giggle and then I had to explain to the stunned looking examiner. You see, Pat is a member a microbrew beer of the month club, so every other month the UPS guy delivers a box with beer in it to our doorstep. Devi is unaware that the big brown truck delivers anything else, so whenever she sees it making deliveries on our street, she thinks he is delivering beer.

Next, she all but began digging in the woman’s purse asking if she had brought her a present and ended our meeting by announcing loudly that she had to go potty! Normally a task she can handle on her own, but on this particular day she was in leotard and tights for dance class, which still prove to be a bit tricky to man handle on one’s own. All in all, it was an informative and revealing meeting about our family, I’d say!

So these are the things that keep us busy while we wait for that wonderful day the three of us board a plane to gather the doll baby who will make our family complete. Until then, we hope each and every day to hear that “ping” only to find a new picture of our tub-o-love gracing the presence of our inbox.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Butter And Syrup

Devi thrilled with her crumpled picture of her sister!

Once news hit the blog about our addition, the phones started ringing off the hook with supporters offering their congratulations. I found myself tiptoeing from room to room trying to keep Devi from hearing my conversation and it was getting to be a bit ridiculous. At a glance, Devi’s ears look size and shape appropriate, but I swear they are dumbo-sized when it comes to hearing things we think are definitely out of
earshot. We were trying desperately not to make the same mistake of sharing too much too soon with her as we had carelessly done earlier in our adoption process. It had lead to some confusion for Devi which we were desperately trying to avoid. Finally, Pat and I came to the conclusion that Sonalika belongs with the three of us so why hold back?

Gateway to India was the restaurant of choice. Our happy place. Our spot to share good news, recognize milestones and eat Indian food at it’s best. It is where we went to celebrate the news of Bhargabi (Devi) and learn the proper pronunciation of her given name and so it seemed more than appropriate to celebrate our news of Sonalika (Treya) and share her existence with her soon-to-be big sister.

Soon after being sat and ordering a Mango Lassi for Devi, we explained that we had good news and shared the two small photos of Sonalika with her. She stared and stared and squealed with delight, her voice raising two octaves in excitement. CJ, the restaurant owner, saw us “ching” our glasses and came over to share our announcement. Swooning over Devi, he declared both of our girls to be gorgeous gifts, as Devi busied herself chatting about what sisters do together and how she was going to hold her and take care of this little girl because she was her sissy. This is also where we presented our list of names to Devi and where she made her choice. It was Treya, hands down. At one point in the meal, Devi grew very quiet and when I asked what w
as the matter, she said she was sad. I asked, “Why are you sad, pumpkin pie?” and she replied, “because I want to go get my baby sister right now!” It was so sweet.

In the days since our Indian feast of celebration, Devi has grown concerned about
being a BIG sister. She is quite certain that she is still small, so we have taken to calling them just sisters, with no indication of their size attached.

Showing the attendant she was going to be a sister.

Our agency representative will see Treya in April and will be taking a small package to her on our behalf (and hopefully will take a few new photos). Seizing the moment, we
took Devi to Build-A-Bear to construct a fluffy something for her sister to cuddle until we could come for her ourselves. Naturally, when we arrived, ONE of anything would just not do. Devi’s reasoning...sisters needed sisters, so two soft brown bunnies were born.

With a look of concentration and her size 7 foot firmly planted on the “stuffing” pedal, Devi applied enough pressure to force fiberfill from the the fluff machine and into the bunny skins. Testing them several times, she carefully squished each until the desired amount of cush was added. Next she selected two padded hearts to embed in their lifeless bodies. Jumping up and down 5 times started the hearts beating, followed by a
litany of other gyrations that gave them other lifelike qualities. Finally adding kisses filled with love to each, she plunged her little hand wrapped heart into each chest cavity and brought the furry friends to life.

Sister bunnies in a single box....sharing!

The most ironic thing about the whole trip was the music playing in the store when we arrived. Since the day Devi joined our family, we’ve sung a certain Stevie Wonder song to her as her nightly lullaby, changing the words ever so slightly to make it special for Devi. Naturally, when we learned about Sonalika and were pondering names for her, we tried out Treya’s Stevie Wonder lullaby that we will sing to her when she arrives home. Yep! You guessed it, THAT was the song playing overhead when we arrived at the Build-A-Bear store. It warmed our hearts and brought us smiles.

Lastly, the naming of the bunnies took several days as Devi tried out several combinations. In the end she chose Butter for Treya’s and Syrup for her own. When asked , “Why?” she said, “Because Butter and Syrup go together!”

Thursday, March 04, 2010

What's In A Name?

Pat and I both have strong feelings regarding the naming of our children. We have always felt that it would be impossible to label a child with a name before ever seeing their face or getting a glimpse of their personality. That is not to say that we have not repeated a name spotted in the rolling credits at the end of a movie or poured over many an internet “naming” site narrowing the field. When naming Devi, we found that the names we had become attached to while waiting to find out who she was, did not match the face of the child in question.
The names we grew a fondness for not only fit this child but, they also played a significant role in this adoption. They helped to bring confidence that we were being lead and guided to the right
child to join our family.

Praying for Devi’s baby sister has become a night time ritual from the time our first application was accepted. Early on, Devi gave this unknown child a pet name. No matter how we referred to the child, Devi called her Souli. She could not explain where the name came from or if she had heard it somewhere before, but for whatever reason, it stuck. You can imagine my surprise when I found out the name of the child we were considering, whose name appears to be a lengthened version of Souli....Sonalika.

One of the first steps of the many taken to become paper ready for this adoption was to have physicals done and have our doctor notarize statements about our health. While I was in having my physical, I asked our physician, who happens to have been born and raised in India, to suggest a couple of Hindi names that she liked. Listed on that prescription pad were the names Tara, meaning star and Antara, meaning
brightest star. Pat and I fell in love with Tara and so I tucked that piece of paper into my wallet, where it has remained for nearly the past two years.

Last week while examining the medical reports about Sonalika, I went to the website of the orphanage where she is currently living. I was impressed with the amount of information regarding the facility and their long list of services designed to help young mothers rejoin their families and find employment. Each division has been given a name. Hunting and pecking through the site I came across some information that gave me a goose-bump moment. The special needs area where Sonalika lives is named Tara!

Periodically when I find a bit of inspiration in the form of a quote, I’ll cut it out and tape it to the margin of my computer screen at work. It is silly really, because as time goes by, the words tend to blur and these permanent fixtures to my screen, become small pieces of paper with worn edges, covered with letters that rarely get read anymore. One of those quotes has been taped there since before Devi’s adoption, but while cleaning the other day, I rediscovered it and took a moment to read it again.

It states, “Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph: a beginning, a struggle, and a victory.” — Mahatma Gandhi

I've always thought those words describe an adoption perfectly and had that on my mind while I combed another naming site. That is when I found the name Treya, which is a Hindi name meaning walking three paths. With three great candidates, we presented Devi with the names Souli, Tara and Treya. Devi made her choice and it was unanimous.

Her first name will beTreya. I can not think of a more worthwhile accomplishment, enduring drudgery and triumph, having been turned down by over 100 agencies before finding someone to listen to our story at Journey's of the Heart. Although she is only one year old, she has endured a beginning with her birth parents, a struggle correcting her club feet and adjusting to her new caregivers at the orphanage where she now lives and finally, her victory in finding her forever family. These are the three paths she is walking; simple, beautiful and true.

The first of her middle names is Marie after Pat's mother. Known as Oma to our children, she has a kind, nurturing and creative spirit. Her artistry flows through her hands molding the earth, in the form of clay into beautiful works of art. This natural command of form and space will be an inspiration to Sonalika as she continues to grow and learn to use the special hands God has given her and which enabled us the chance become her forever family.

Although we do not know who gave her the Sanskrit name, Sonalika, it belongs to her and is hers to keep.

So there you have it. Our youngest Indian princess will be known as Treya Marie Sonalika Ross.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Holi Moly!

Learning about gulal and tossing some on you!

Yesterday, March 1st, was the Indian holiday Holi. Grayness seems to overcome us about this time of year, so we rejoice in the opportunity to celebrate the coming of spring with the festival of colors.

After consuming our fill of Indian food, Devi drank her Blueberry Lassi while we discovered the fun of buying and tossing gulal powder through pictures in our huge India book and watching YouTube videos of the same. The news announcer reported the festival of colors celebrates good prevailing over evil through positive energy, life and joy! It seemed most appropriate as currently we continue to wallow in all three of those wonderful feelings with the acceptance of Sonalika’s referral.

Proclaiming “Last one upstairs is a rotten egg!” we clambered up to the jacuzzi tub where we had our gulal party. We began by singing made up Holi jingles to help release our creative juices as the tub began to fill. Bubble bath paints and crayons became our brightly colored powder as we decorated the sides of the tub with visions of an approaching spring. We practiced our penmanship and wrote the names of those we loved on the sides of the tub. The one advantage of our celebration over an authentic one....we came out clean in the end!

Did I say, we practiced names? Oh yes, it has been decided as is coming soon!