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!