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!