Mine mine mine. Yes these are the words that our two year old spouts regularly, but today, they are also the words that I am singing with high praises. After a charted course, six years long, I can rejoice in those words, that both of my babies are now legally mine forever. It seems such a formality to enter the courtroom and proclaim what we have known in our hearts to be true for such a very long time - since the moment we first laid eyes on those tiny photographs.
Days before Treya’s court date Devi, Treya and I were discussing the significance of court day. When I told them that the judge would legally change Trey’s name from just Sonalika to Treya Marie Sonalika Ross, Devi asked “does this mean we are not really a family yet?” Let me just say that I am baffled by Devi’s level of awareness sometimes, but I quickly asked her, “What is your heart telling you? Are we a family yet?” The glow of her pearly white teeth, took over her brown skinned face as she broke out with the biggest of smiles stating with supreme confidence, “Yes mommy, we are all ready a family.” To which Treya responded “ME! ME!” a statement that could only conclude that she adamantly agrees too.
Commissioner Foley resided as we entered her courtroom with our entourage of honored guests including Treya’s grandparents, some Aunts, Uncles friends and neighbors. With the commissioner’s welcome she commended us with the tremendous show of support for Treya, knowing that this adoption was surely in the best interest of this child, mentioning too, that the glowing reports of Treya’s progress since entering our home, were the most favorable recommendations she has seen in a long time. This was so important for me to hear, because regardless of how much we love our jelly bean, our start was rocky. We have worked so hard to provide a stable, secure place for Treya to overcome her incomprehensible shyness and begin to build trust. Going from biting me, hiding under the furniture, sleeping or simply closing her eyes when strangers are around to engaging others with smiles, making eye contact, waving with confidence and blowing kisses is HUGE. In addition, she has undergone five surgeries - 2 since being home, skin grafting on her tummy twice, multiple casts on both her leg and arm, and has worn corrective shoes connected with a bar, impeding movement at night for nearly 6 months. She is such a survivor at age 2 and a half.
We were all sworn in and then were asked to answer some questions about how it is that we were joined from half way around the world. That fact is simply amazing, isn’t it? A divine plan is truly playing out here, and the outcome - a perfect fit. I find myself daydreaming about this phenomena all the time, pondering all that had to happen for the miracle of these children we are so fortunate to love.
Specifically, the commissioner asked Devi how she felt about having a new sister to which Devi replied “Great!” followed by intrigue about the adoption ceremony thrown for us in Pune and the support that was bestowed by Treya’s caregivers. Ironically, that is the day that Treya first made eye contact and held her arms up to me, as if knowing her first chapter (her birth to parents unable to care for a baby) and the second chapter of her life (her orphanage life) was closing. Her third and final chapter - joining our family - was about to begin. This is only fitting as her name “Treya” is Hindi for one who walks down three paths.
Dressed in rajastani clothing, I described how the girls were adorned with oil in their hair and powder on their skin. We were seated on stools surrounded by rangoli designs where the entire staff that cared for Treya took part in presenting each girl with a lei of marigolds around their necks. In turn we each were circled in incense and a bindi of life was smeared on our foreheads. Next, our heads were sprinkled with rice to bring prosperity and we swallowed a teaspoon of sugar, that we might always taste life’s sweetness. The eldest of the orphan children kissed Treya’s cheek, saying her good byes and the blessing was complete. From that moment on, Treya would not allow anyone else to hold her and in her emotional state, drifted to sleep in my arms for the first time.
Once the petition was signed, we took photos and headed back to our house for a celebration. Samosas, hummus and Indian sweets from the Punjab sweets store were served along with a cake I baked for Trey with a “loose” replica of the rangoli adoption day design that was delicately sprinkled outside the door of Shreevatsa the day we took custody of her. Because September 18th is Devi’s forever family day, I managed to complete an adoption video for each girl to watch showing their full story. Treya could still name her maurhsis (aunties) as she stood inches from the screen proclaiming “me! me!” as she watched video of herself at various ages for the first time. Devi has watched her video at least a half dozen times all ready, marveling at how small she once was, and announcing the event as each scene changes, “my first bath with daddy...my first feeding with mommy...my first plane ride from Kolkata to Delhi...”
4th Forever Family Day
Waking up on September 18th to cuddles and kisses from my oldest 30 pound bundle, I found myself again saying, “mine, mine, mine!” Can it be that four years have passed since I first laid eyes on my pumpkin pie, standing in a crib sucking that precious thumb? Pure joy is beyond words, but I feel it still in the depths of my soul when I recall that life changing day; peering through the bars of the white crib, chipped from years of use, and spying a tiny child with curly black hair waving in the wisp of swirling air created by the oscillating fan. Her caramel complexion and piercing eyes were calm, but captivating. And, without hesitation, I reached down, and put my hands under her tiny arms for support; lifting and feeling the warm weight of my child for the first time. My life was forever changed in that moment.
Because this was such a monumental weekend of adoption events with a finalization and forever family day to celebrate, we wanted to do something special for the girls. Off to India Bazaar, the local Indian store we went where we purchased a set of gold bracelets for each girl - their first real set of fine bangles. The Sikh man who owns the store was reading the Quran when we approached him, and recognized 3 of us right off from previous visits; acknowledging this time a new family member he had not yet met. We shared Treya’s story and as always, he was overly generous in offering discounts - this time also gifting the girls bottles of mango juice they delightfully accepted through their giggles. He bowed many times to us as we left; giving us his blessings of approval.
Our four year tradition found us once again at Gateway to India for dinner. Warm greetings and the comment, “You have another one!” led us to share Treya’s story with the owner who had not yet met her. We had her snap our same pose-photo, + one this year and were seated to feast. True to form, we all ate heartily, from Mango lassies to Gulab Jamin, with a little Muttar Paneer, Murgh Briyani and Channa Das thrown in for good measure. Pakoras and Garlic Naan go without saying, and, of course Devi’s favorite the spicy Lentil soup! Our once shy Treya screamed in her loudest voice, “Tank Ooo” toward the kitchen every time another dish was placed on our table letting her appreciation for the cooks not go unnoticed.
With a weekend so packed full of reasons to rejoice it seems fitting to close with this quote by Mahatma Ghandi.
Every worthwhile accomplishment,
big or little, has it's stages
of drudgery and triumph: a beginning,
a struggle and a victory!