Friday, May 21, 2010

The Many Faces of a Sugar Plum

I’m not certain if the blur in these photos is due to their source (snapshots captured from the DVD we just received) or if it caused by the tears that fill my eyes as the joy mounts, seeing Sonalika come to life in moving frames.

Hi Mommy, Daddy and Devi!

The DVD arrived yesterday in the mail, after several diligent days of checking the mailbox. Daddy and Devi were perched on the back of the sofa giving me the heart symbol with their hands through the living room window as I drove into the driveway after my aerobics class. Once inside, Devi. in ballerina footy pjs, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me to the kitchen island where we set the incoming mail, yelling, “come see, come see.”

Two stools were poised, red carpet style, in front of the TV awaiting the premiere viewing of our feature film. Unfortunately, when inserted, the DVD would not read, nor would it read in our computer. Such disappointed faces we all had going to bed last night.

Today, I’ve been able to convert the files and save them on a disk to bring home and as luck would have it, it is Family Movie Night. We will be postponing Bambi to take in our new release “Sugar Plum” starring none other than Sonalika herself!

Lucky for me, I got the first sneak peak of our two shorts, giving me much needed insight to the mystery surrounding the place where God found our daughter. Instantly, the image brings back memories of that thick, aroma filled warm Indian wind, witnessed in the swaying fabric of saris and in the floating wisps of our dear one’s curly hair. Most noticeable are the clean surroundings and absence of traffic. In fact, this place seems quite rural and serene.

The rooms have the typical marble tiled floors, but the walls are covered in brightly painted, nearly life-sized whimsical characters such as the Pink Panther and Mickey Mouse, in true nursery style. Everything appears to be very clean, orderly and calm. The scene ends showing a surgical masked ayah giving a small baby a bottle on the floor.

Focusing on a set of polka dot doors the camera pans wide and there is a view of the babies room. I can barely make out the tippy tops of black haired heads, each with a set of dark eyes straining to peer just over the top of two rows of cribs. Unmistakable! I can spot her beautiful round head. I know it is her, even though I’ve only laid eyes on a few still photos up to this point. Third crib on the left- this momma knows that girl, that face! The camera person zeroes in on Sonalika and walks toward her. She must know this person, as she pulls herself to standing in the chipped white painted crib, and I see with my own eyes a glimpse of her personality and become completely swept away. Unlike Devi’s mouth open wide smile, Treya shows an impish shy grin with Bambi like eyes that make contact and then look down and away, luring you in. A teaser, I see!!

I can’t wait to bring this gift home with me tonight and watch the reaction of an anxious daddy and big sister as they get to meet our sugar plum too. For now, I breathe this huge sign of relief, now knowing where she is, that the conditions are good and she is well cared for. Smiling the video comes to it’s end as I watch our sugar plum happily zoom in and out of the viewfinders scope, seated in a scooter in a courtyard of playing children.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wanna Know What I Know?

And after only twenty-two plane rides, Lisa, our rep has finally made it back to the United States. Due to some scheduling conflicts, our name rose to the top of her phone list and we got to be the first family she spoke with about our waiting sugar plum. With cheeks aching from the smiles brought to my face, do ya wanna know what I know?

Sonalika had surgery on her hand to separate her fingers. They appear to be healing fine, giving her more mobility. Apparently, she was a real stinker trying to take off the bandages herself and even enlisted the help of her little friends when no one was looking. We have no idea if more surgery will be required in the future, but the first one is done. Her doctor had predicted that at about one year old this surgery would be needed, but it was really a wait and see situation, dependent on the growth and development of her digits. We are relieved that it was done, before going to get her. Our fear was that we would have to have it done immediately after returning home and didn’t want that tramatic event to interfere with our attachment and bonding process.

It is reported, contrary to the photos we have :) that she has a sunny, happy and playful disposition. She can pull herself up to a standing position and is just starting to take 3 or 4 steps at 15 months old. We hear she is eager to try again and again...look out Devi she is going to be after you!

Sonalika is saying words and has a pet name for her ayah (caregiver). I have to add here that Lisa had never been to this facility before, but says that they are well organized and it is the “cadillac” of the orphanages she has seen. The caregivers do a great job of caring for the children and are very loving. They even had a little presentation for her while she was there.

Lisa also shared that this organization primarily adopts within India and to adopt a child to a US family is rare. Adding this to the other details of how we came to find each other, is really quite astounding, and is only further proof to me that she is meant to join our crazy family.

The never ending battle in foreign adoption is making it through the court system. I have a large network of adoptive families that I am in contact with, who I’m sure would agree. Naturally, a good portion of my questions were about this process, as we are adopting from a completely different part of the country this time, and so all past experience does not really apply here. The good news is that the Pune court system has been moving along "relatively quickly" and they respect the practices of the orphanage where Sonalika lives. The tough news is that CARA is being more strict on cases that they approve, enforcing the limits in their guidelines, slowing down the process. In the end, what we know for sure is that all of our paperwork is in order and in the right hands, after Lord only knows how many trips back to Texas during the Icelandic volcano uproar. It is anyone’s guess as to when we might travel, but are still optimistically planning it will be before the years’ end.

It is starting to hit me that the process this time is so very different than our journey to India the first time. The 2007 Calcutta trip was paved many a time over by the families who experienced it before us, giving insight to the facility, the caregivers, travel advice AND photos of our children waiting for us to come for them. Through the power of the internet, we tagged along to experience joy as each child found the loving arms of their forever family and through this we developed a connection of friendship with these families and Devi's cribmates. This connection has continued as we have watched each others children grow now home. This time we feel somewhat isolated, or like pioneers headed to Pune. We know no one who has adopted from this facility and have no idea who Sonalika's little friends might be. This makes our job as her parents a bit harder, as traveling will require a bit more research and careful questions of the orphanage director to help us paint as informative of a picture for Sonalika as we can for later in her life. My hope is that they have documented her stay somehow—either in a journal or through photographs for her.

Still to look forward to, are two....YES 2....DVD’s of our little girl that will be in route to us tomorrow. We hear one was taken by the caregivers to deliver to us. Apparently, she is on some sort of scooter and is laughing and zooming around the floor. The other is a more reserved one, taken by Lisa while there. you all know what I know...

The Eery Silence

Unique in size and shape as a snowflake, our fingerprints, yet again had to be recorded with the United States Citizen and Immigration Office. Do they change in appearance? It seems strange that the imprint of the circular pattern on the end of each of my digits has an expiration date, but they do.

I’ve lost count how many times we have had to run this gauntlet, but each time, we are surprised by what we find.

The first time, we were herded like cattle, with a crowd adorned in colorful clothing and languages representing many countries. This time, we arrived to an empty parking lot. Even with ample spaces available, however we had to shell out the 7 bucks to park. The entrance, where there would normally be a line was vacant and the guards made idle chit-chat as we passed through the scanners, as if, after a long silence, they were glad to have someone

to talk with.

The corral of a waiting room was deserted. Two others waited lazily in a sea of empty chairs. That was it! The only service being provided that day was fingerprinting, which perhaps had something to do with the eerily quite atmosphere. The newspaper and books we had brought for entertainment to while away the hours, became useless

cargo. In past visits to this office, we would day dream about our daughters, where they were, what they might be doing and realizing that we were spending our day here, just for them. There wasn’t idle time for daydreaming today.

Spraying a cleaner on my hand and rolling each digit gently across a glass window for scanning, my unique set of finger tip swirls was digitized and saved. We chatted with the examiner, who recognized me because of my hair, as he had taken my fingerprints last year. He commented that I have nice prints, an odd compliment, but I’ll take it! Just that quick, we were done.

The other eery quiet we are experiencing is on the adoption front. We know that our representative is back in the states, most likely wading through a sea of work in her office and suffering from extreme jet lag. Meanwhile we are anxiously awaiting news of our baby girl, whom she held and hopefully photographed. It is times like these that my thoughts and imagination can take over, rendering me useless in rest of my everyday life. I know the information will come in due time and Pat, Devi and I will savor it, like a fine wine or decadent chocolate dessert.

Just as an expectant mother scours an ultrasound, so does an adoptive mom eye every pixel in each new photograph received, looking for a bit of insight into her waiting child’s personality. I recall these times when we were discovering Devi – they have now begun for Treya. We are all learning her.

UPDATE: Before this could be posted, these 2 wonderfully cherished photographs arrived in my inbox. Although we had hoped to see her smile, the email message attached said that she was so tired, caught right before her nap and did not want anything to do with a camera. This expectant momma will read that as....she is on a good routine and is a good sleeper :)

As the three of us felt the full impact of these photos, these are the random comments that were uttered...

Mom: Poor Baby...I just want to hug her

Dad: Look at that receding hairline...such a sweet baby girl

Devi: Why does she look so mad?

Mom: She is not mad, she is sleepy, because it was her nap time. How do you feel before your naps?

Devi: (giggling) I am ALWAYS happy before my nap!

Dad: Wispy eyebrows!

Mom: She looks so grown up...

Devi: No mom, she is a baby and I will take care of her.

In my own eery silence, I am feeling nervous. Just wishing that we could have her home, helping her to feel secure, for me to feel secure and begin this new chapter in all of our lives. Can we manage two children? Are we doing right by Devi and Treya? So many details we would like to know that can not be conveyed in these two photographs.

With luck, more will be revealed to us in a phone progress report that I've scheduled with Lisa on Friday. I am so excited to talk with someone who has met our Pune Princess. Lisa also mentioned a cute video that is on it's way which will bring life to our sweet dumpling.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Seeing Double

So I’ve come to that point in this process where, in the long stretches of no information, one starts letting themselves begin to imagine. What will our family look like once our final member arrives home? As we go through our day to day, I blur my vision enough to factor in one more tiny body. How are we interacting with others? What is our impact on the world around us?

Let me tell you, the vision I conger of our mommy/daughter date to the library last Tuesday night is frightening to say the least. Me, with scarf and dreads a flying in the driving rain, clasping the hands of two small children, one of whom is toddling, unsteady in her stiff new shoes; the other who wears her coat backward with the hood catching wind and covering her face, hampering her ability to make forward motion. A 50 pound African basket of our chosen children’s princess and ballerina library books rides on my arm, and I have a coffee and a snack in tow. We are making our way to a quiet dry spot for coffee time and story time. Keep in mind, that the only imagined part in that scene is the toddling child and I may have exaggerated a bit when stating the basket was 50 pounds.

We fall into the soft cushion of the comfy overstuffed chair and set up camp on the small occasional table perched beside it. The good news is that there is plenty of room on my lap and heart for two to cuddle, and together we forget the rain and jump into the adventures held within the borrowed pages of our first library book.

Pausing at one point to sip our “coffees” (Devi’s is steamed milk, and I imagine so will Treya’s) we take in the weathered world outside through the picture window that faces us. Cars rush through puddles, throwing water up over the curbs. Trees jutting from the sidewalk planters sway, and their delicate new spring leaves twist and turn in the gusty wind. Devi notes that a couple of bike riders are wearing helmets, which is called being responsible. I wonder what Treya will notice?

Glancing at the time on the gigantic clock on the wall, we are shaken back into reality, the time indicating that we need to head for home. A warm bath and our pajamas await us. While packing up, Devi decides which two of the new books she would like to have daddy read for bedtime. Pausing she ponders, if I choose two books and Treya chooses two books, does that mean we get four books at bedtime?

I guess that goes to show that I am not the only one who has begun to imagine.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Learning Patience

Secrets kept at three years of age are measured in nano seconds. Next to bursting, her bright eyes gave her away when I arrived home from aerobics last night just in time for tuck in. Footy pajama clad, perched on daddy’s lap, the two of them were in a heavily whispered discussion when I arrived home to the freshly baked smell of mischief.

Experiencing the best part of my day — lifting her full weight into my arms and breathing in the clean baby smells, reminiscent of her recent bath, she could barely contain herself. Pulling that sleepy thumb plug from her mouth she grabbed my checks with her hands. When we were eye to eye she excitedly chirped out a whisper, “Daddy and I made you a birthday cake” Raising an index finger to her lips she exhaled, “Shhhhhh, it’s a secret! Do you want to see it?”

Daddy chimed in, “ is a secret. That means we don’t tell until tomorrow, sweetie!”

Acknowledging that secret things are always said in a whisper she continued, “It is a princess cake and I scraped the bowl and even got to eat some frosting. It is purple. It was yummy....”

That moment was the best gift this mom could have ever received. With that said, however, I am secretly hoping for one more wish to come true for my birthday or at least soon, although I know the chances of it materializing are slim to none.

With the earth in Iceland settling, our dossier finally was tracked to Pune and Lisa, our representative actually saw Sonalika at SOFOSH on the 26th. Yay. It makes me smile to know that this little girl received extra smooches and loves from an extension of our arms. In return we heard through email that she is progressing well and is beautiful.

With this bit of good news comes so many questions, thoughts and concerns that I wish I could have answered today....maybe receive one little picture for my birthday? But until Lisa returns in the middle of May, recovers from jet lag, and finds her desk, all we have are our three wrinkled photos and that one positive statement to contain us. Somehow at this moment, I feel so much like Devi’s near bursting body. No doubt, patience, is required when keeping secrets and pursuing an adoption and it just doesn’t get any easier the second time around.

Planting our starts for Devi's garden

Our first bare feet in the grass day of the season.
At one point, as Devi was running around the yard
she pretended to grab Treya's hand and
said this is how we will run together.

Resting in the sun with daddy.