Warm Memories

A friend, Tisra (found at http://lifetrain.blogspot.com), is in process of adopting from the same orphanage we did and it stirred up wonderful warm, fuzzy memories for me.  You know the kind, where you think of them and they fill your soul with goodness.  Like a good cup of hot cocoa, or a favorite pair of slippers, the memories warm you head to toe and are sweet to boot!

Sunita Ruth has been with us for over 2 months now, and I’m so thankful she is in her forever family.  I feel like I have been using that word, thankful, A LOT lately.  And I’m thankful for that too.

I realized I had never posted the pictures we got along the way, before Sunita came home with us.  And I have never shared much of our India journey.  So, if you are interested, grab a cup of hot cocoa cause this might be a long post.

First pictures of our darling.

Our very first pictures of her.  She was about 6 months old in these.

She looks so small.  I am sad to have missed this part of her life, but am so glad that we are together now.

About 7 or 8 months old.  I still can’t believe that is her.  To me, that looks like a different baby, but everyone else sees the resemblance.

About 9 months old and that is definitely our baby girl!

At the orphanage, the day we picked her up.  16 days before her first birthday.  She is sitting in her daddy’s arms.  This picture will always tug at my heart.  That is her in body, but not in spirit.  She seemed so broken, so forlorn.  No smiles, no laughter.  Rajeev, our Indian coordinator summed it up, “She’s been in the orphanage, what does she have to smile about?”

These were the first toys we gave her.  Rajeev asked if we had any (of course we did, silly man) and to pick 2 or 3.  We had minutes to make the decision and it felt so hard!  The light-up toy (and it played music) was a hit (and good to have on the airplane ride), the rabbit was not.  We realized much later she had never really felt soft things and really was kind of afraid of the soft, furry objects at our house (including the cats).

The orphanage where she lived was large with nice grounds and a small playground out back.

The kids stood outside the room where we first met Sunita.  They kept peeking in and occasionally would say “momma” with a question in their voice.  I had to dissociate.  I couldn’t take it all in.  I still haven’t.  Sometimes, I still think of those girls and boys and wonder where they are or if they have joined their forever families.  The playroom was especially hard.

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This is the playroom.  There were several adults in the room, but they didn’t seem to interact much with the children.  They kept motioning for me to put Sunita down so she could “play” but I couldn’t let go of her.  The other kids all need so much.  They come up to you and just want to be touched, to be loved.  They tried to climb on our laps or snuggle up to us.  There were so many.  Some were bright and interactive and some had some serious issues.  Some cried, some played, many slept.

This could have been Sunita’s bed.  I don’t know which crib she slept in, or if they each have their own.  They do have mosquito netting for the cribs, and most had sheets over the tarps but not all.

This is feeding time.  Three were in this circle (Sunita isn’t pictured).  The plate has dal (rice and beans with curry) on it which the caretaker mashed up and stuffed in. Round and round the circle she went.

She fell asleep in my arms that day.  (I wish she fell asleep that easily now =D).  Putting her down was the hardest thing I had to do that day.  I was in love and it felt SO RIGHT!  I knew God had answered my prayers to prepare my heart and was hoping He had prepared hers for us too!  I did have to put her down because we had lunch with Rajeev and the social worker who did the paperwork.  The orphanage prepared a lovely meal for us, and without looking at my journal I remember absolutely none of it.  I kept stealing glances at Sunita who was on the bed a little ways away.  The day we got her, is so big in my mind.  Because I have never birthed a child (yet, at least) I don’t know how it differs, BUT I do know this, I was a mother then.  Not by blood or by genes, but by the guiding hand of God and I loved that girl fiercly and do more so with each day.

She’s finding my eyes behind the spectacles.

Dad and her playing ball.

After being home for a month, we have bonded.  At least I think we have.  She has grown so much, and yet it has only been 2 months.  I know we have a long journey to go, but I’m so glad we get to do it together.

The Results are In

Most of Sunita’s bloodwork and various other tests came back normal.  She is a little low on iron so the doctor recommended a liquid vitamin with iron.  Otherwise, she had Giardia, an intestinal microscopic parasite (a protist for those of you who remember biology) which comes from contaminated water (usually from feces).  This is not unusual for international adoptees.

Although it is a communicable disease, the doctor said it was highly unlikely we would get it and she didn’t think we needed to be tested.  Then Yamhill County Health Department called.  Because this can be pretty nasty if lots of kids share the same space and people caring for them (think daycare) they wanted to be sure she isn’t in daycare.  She isn’t, so they couldn’t care less, but they suggested we be tested.  The treatment was a dropper-full of antibiotic three times a day for five days.  We never forgot or skipped (amazingly!) and she is finished with that.  So all should be well on the health front.

I would have posted this sooner but I was so sick last week. I was the kind of sick where I all I could do is lay on the floor and wish I had the energy to get up so I could go to the bathroom.  Husband was also sick and missed work all last week.  On top of all that, our dear sweet peanut is no longer convinced 2 to 4 am is sleep time.  In fact, she seems pretty sure its PLAY TIME!!  This does not in ANY WAY mean she sleeps the rest of the night peacefully or goes down well.

But all in all, things have smoothed out tremendously of late and we were given much help from many sources (THANK YOU!!).  Her sleep schedule is still completely messed up and we are working on a solution, but for now we are managing.  And as someone once told me – just as soon as we find a solution the rules will change…and we will start over again.

For today I am thankful!  I am THANKFUL for our daughter, and I am thankful she is healthy.  We waited and prayed for her (specifically) for about 6 months and now here she is thriving.  We love her and she loves us.  How great is that?!?  I am THANKFUL for an (almost) healthy husband, a way to get through the night with at least two hours of sleep back to back, for a hugely, tremendously wonderful support system, but most of all I am thankful that there is a God deep enough that I will never run out of Him in my life.

Farts are Ageless and Other Parenting Updates

Sunita has been with us for a little over a month and will be 13 months old on the 6th of January.  During that time my husband said (to describe our daughter), “Voices change, looks change, so many other things change, but farts are ageless”.  The quote has stuck with me and now anytime our dearest little princess rips one, I think – that really COULD be an old man fart.  Good luck getting that out of your head.

Those of you who were so kind as to pray for us while our daughter was not sleeping, we would like to take this very public opportunity to thank you. Though the nightmares continue, Sunita has made it 4 nights in her crib in her own room (rather than being in the playpen in our room).  We are still getting up for her 3-5 times per night but getting her back to sleep is going much smoother.  We are slowly being able to reduce our involvement (from a 2 hour put down to a much more reasonable half hour) with her falling asleep.

Sunita has fully moved into being a mommy’s girl.  She is not content to play on the floor next to me; no she would much prefer to be on me.  Adorable and tiring.  I love it (at least the thought of it, if not the actuality), and it shows a great deal of healthy bonding.

She is really cruising … hello getting into everything before mommy or daddy have realized it.  She is also starting to open doors on cupboards and the TV stand.  Anything with buttons or knobs is like candy.  She can pull herself onto her knees and sit very well now and she is so close to pulling herself all the way up.  She locks her legs now (on occasion) and will stand with a prop.

She points with her finger when you ask, “Where’s mommy?”  How cute is that?

It all seems so NORMAL.  She is right on track for developmental milestones and has a charming personality. She seems to be bonding better then we dared to dream.  Yet, I don’t want to get caught up believing in a story of my making.  How do you really know if the little person really understands that you will never leave her, that we are her forever family?  How can I be sure she feels the same love, and more importantly, trust that I do?  This is a strange conflict my friends.

Signs you might be in India

From Jared’s recordings during our stay in India.

You can’t count to 5 without hearing a horn honk.

Your snot turns black, your eyes burn, and you breathe heavy like you recently started smoking a pack a day.

You get a nice hotel room and the bathroom has four floor drains – all with mothballs on them to keep the creepy-crawlies out.

You get a not-so-nice hotel room and the bathroom has a hole in the wall to the outside large enough for any rodent known to man to pass through.

The hole is in the upper left corner, next to the tiny hot water heater that had to be turned on 20 minutes prior to use.

The hole is in the upper left corner next to the tiny hot water heater which had to be turned on 20 minutes before use.

Driving through town you look across the lanes and see: car-motorcycle-car-bicycle-cow-autorickshaw-dog-motorcycle-motorcycle-motorcycle.

Cows on the right.

Cows on the right.

In this case they are water buffalo.

In this case they are water buffalo.

The traffic is always bumper to bumper and door to door.

The traffic is always bumper to bumper and door to door.

You get a “double” hotel room and that just means they pushed together two single beds…and kept them made separately.

You don’t see any women working in clothing stores, but you do see them hauling bricks and digging on construction crews.

A typical sari "counter"

A typical sari “counter”.

The sari shelves.

The sari shelves.

Men selling saris on the street.

Even on the street, men sell saris.

Women working.

Women working.

The women would carry these huge bundles of sticks.  It was incredible.

The women would carry these huge bundle of sticks. It was incredible.

Street signs, except for ads, are non-existent.

The bigger your vehicle, the more right of way you have.  Good luck crossing the street as a pedestrian.

The more people crossing the street, the safer it is for them.  So crowds move across the roads rather then individuals.

The more people crossing the street the safer it is. So crowds move across the roads rather than individuals.

Pickups are nowhere to be found.  Hauling things is a job for bicycles.

The biker/hauler is on the left. You can see his pipes and his tricycle.

We’re catching up…

…on sleep, on life, on the blog.  I realize as I write this that it has been a week since we have been home. I can hardly believe it.  Sunita is down for a SCHEDULED!!! nap (YAY!) so I have time to do this.

The plane ride home was gruesome, and that was considering that the flights went WELL.

A VERY tired mommy and baby.
A VERY tired mommy and baby.

Sunita had only two major freak outs and that was with an ear infection (confirmed yesterday by the doctor).  We arrived at the Delhi airport at around 8:00 pm and hung out in a lounge (think a food court and airport seating, nothing fancy) because they wouldn’t let us in the airport proper until 3 hours before our flight. We entered the airport at 10:40 pm and boarded around 12:30 am.  We took off at 1:40 am. Throughout all of our connections and security checks everything went smoothly.  Thank you all for your prayers.

There is much to tell and share but I know most of you really just want to see pictures of the munchkin, so here you go (with some stories to go along with the photos):

This is Sunita's primary caretaker at the orphanage.
Sunita’s primary caretaker at the orphanage

This is really Sunita’s first mom, although not her birth mom.  She took care of her from the day after she was born until we picked her up. The hardest part (for me) of getting her was when I had to take her from this wonderful lady.  We went to leave the orphanage and her caretaker had come and got Sunita from me and walked outside. I let her go, knowing she deserved time to say good bye.  When we were done in the office I went to take Sunita back, but her caretaker wasn’t giving her up willingly.  Our adoption coordinator, Rajeev, told me to “Just take her”.  So I pulled Sunita out of her arms and just broke down.  The memory will always remain with me.

Sunita’s forever mommy adoring her.  By the way, the goop they used to give her the very cute ponytail worked great (so great it took 2 or 3 washings to get it out).  But it had the strange effect of making her head smell like a quesadilla (hence why we wanted to wash it out).

Mouth full of lentils with yellow curry sauce and rice, YUM!

We couldn’t believe our good fortune upon meeting our little girl.  She is even prettier in person!  She looks adorable in ears, well actually, in everything.  This was in the airport on the way home.  The hat worked great for long cold flights where the outside temp. was -80 degrees (F) and the inside temp. felt that cold sometimes.

At last one picture to really brighten anyone’s day.  How can you keep from smiling when you see this face?  Daddy was playing with her.  He can really make her laugh!

Leaving on a jet plane!!

We leave just over two weeks!  Our flight plan looks like this…

Off we go – Sun, November 16

Depart: Portland, OR Sun. November 16 8:35 AM
Arrive: Detroit, MI Sun. November 16 3:48 PM
Depart: Detroit, MI Sun. November 16 7:00 PM
Arrive: Amsterdam, Netherlands Mon. November 17 9:05 AM
Depart: Amsterdam, Netherlands Mon. November 17 11:05 AM
Arrive: Delhi, India Mon. November 17 11:30 PM

When we arrive in India, we will get off our plane at 11:30 PM their time (11:00 AM our time), and drive 3.5 hours to Agra.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we will sightsee.  Friday we will travel to Cuttack and to the orphanage, visit Saturday, and head back to Delhi on Sunday.  And finally, we’ll go to the embassy on Monday and Tuesday.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig – Wed, November 26

Depart: Delhi, India Wed. November 26 1:40 AM
Arrive: Amsterdam, Netherlands Wed. November 26 5:55 AM
Depart: Amsterdam, Netherlands Wed. November 26 10:20 AM
Arrive: St. Paul, MN Wed. November 26 12:40 PM
Depart: St. Paul, MN Wed. November 26 5:20 PM
Arrive: Portland, OR Wed. November 26 7:06

Then sleep for days?

I’m Ready for Sunita to Come Home Now

For those of you who can’t or haven’t gotten to see the nursery lately, here are some pics.

The crib is ready.  The rocking horse is ready for “running” through the fields by a dream and a wish.

This is my sad state of organization for now.  The clothes are separated into bags by size. Toys are in one, medicine and bath stuff in another.  It isn’t perfect, but it’ll do – FOR NOW. Eventually, I’m hoping to have a curtain “door”.

I think my mom is a marvelous artist.  I specifically commissioned her to “paint me a world that would be cute for a nursery”.  This is what she did.  I completely love it.  This brings me to the overwhelming, thorough, and almost painful humility I feel after having my baby showers.  The homemade items not only took time, patience, work, and creativity but are beautiful treasures. I certainly feel that we don’t deserve this much. As I write my thank yous, I wish I could convey how very much all of the givers have meant to me and to us.

This is what I have “packed” for Sunita’s trip home. Travel size baby stuff, a few toys, 2 outfits for while we are there, pjs, a warm onesie for the airplane ride, and lots of diapers.  Most of the things we might need we can buy in India. So here it is. I’m trying to pack as little as possible. O, and I’ll throw in two blankets.

THE CALL

It’s overwhelming. We got THE CALL. The one we have been waiting for… our little one, Sunita Ruth, has cleared courts. That means as far as India is concerned she is ours!! So now what? Well…

Step 6 – PREPARE For Our Trip;  IFS (International Family Services, our agency) receives the paperwork around 4 weeks after the case is heard in court (BUT it actually might be on its way now, IFS thought that it might be here sooner than 4 wks…hopefully, oooh so much hoping and wishing and praying!).  Then IFS sends the paperwork to the main office in Dallas, TX.

Step 7 – The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children [ICPC] (read more about them here – http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/policy/inters1.html)

An ICPC officer in TX contacts the ICPC officer here in OR to see if we have completed the state’s pre-adoption requirements. Can take days or WEEKS – ARRRGH! (Again, hope and pray for paperwork and wait!)

Step 8 – Travel to India; we will be there about a week. If you want to see an idea what we will be doing while there see the page on “We’re Going to India”.

A note about hope (and a sincere thank you for all of you who have prayed and hoped with us)

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune
Without the words,
and never stops at all.
Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

Thank you all for hoping along with us! Yours prayers have made a difference, if not in the speed of the process (although I think you have made a difference there too), at least in my sanity (or relatively moderate insanity).

The Lord bless you and keep you, Sunita Ruth Ocker!