Monday, May 23, 2011

Enjoying our daughters

We sure have been enjoying our daughters. It's so fun to see them togeher and to feel the love within our family. I am often hit with waves of emotion when I look at each of them. Both were made from miracles and the fact that I get to love them feels like such a reward. I think of all the things that had to line up perfectly for each of them to be here and I feel so overwhelmed with joy to be able to kiss their cheeks and wrap my arms around them.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

This Mother’s day feels so different from other Mother’s days that I have experienced throughout my life. It is a day for celebrating and not because of anything I have done but because of what has been done for me and for what I get to do for my daughters.
We are relishing in the new addition to our family. We love her sweet spirit and high pitched giggle. I love the way her hair curls and how her eyes squint when she is really happy. Her big sis is full of life and energy. She loves on her little sis every opportunity that she gets. She is such a bright light in our lives. Both of my girls are blessings from God and I feel lucky to be their mom.

This Mother’s day I am reflecting on how I came to be here at this moment, a mother of two beautiful girls. It all started with my mother, a fearless woman who decided to take a risk and adopt a baby girl from India over thirty years ago. Her love, guidance and direction helped shape my life and who I am today.

I’m also reflecting back on my birth mother who had to make the decision to give me away. Did she struggle with her decision? Was she sad? Or was it a decision that was made for her, made out of social stigma, poverty or family persuasion. I have always hoped it was because she loved me so much that she wanted more for me than she could give. That she knew I would have the chance to be taken care of, provided for and loved very much. I wonder if she has ever thought of me over the years. Have I crossed her mind? Has she wondered about the fate of her daughter that she left in the nursing home hallway? Or, was I just a burden that was released from her when she left me? The answers I will never know. What I do know is that her choice to relinquish me was the best gift she could have given me.

The moment she walked out of my life she led me to a new beginning. As fate would have it I would be given a second chance at life. A very different life from what I was born into. A life filled with opportunity, security, love and hope. I have always wanted to in some way use this opportunity to make a difference. I know now that I can make a difference through my daughters. I can pass on the same gift and legacy that was given to me. They will both have the opportunity to be loved, supported, educated and provided for.

As a mother there is not a better reward than being able to care for your children. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to not be able to do this. Having just visited India and witnessing the poverty and fate of some, I realize that many do not have a choice. There is not a way to provide for a child when they don’t have the opportunity to provide for themselves. Maybe giving a child up for adoption is a selfless act and not a choice or decision that is struggled over. It is one that is necessary and made out of love.

This leads me to think about our daughter’s birthmother. What are her circumstances? What is she feeling and what does her life look like now over a year after her act of relinquishment. I hope she is not disconcerted with her choice but finds peace in the fact that her daughter is loved and cared for. I feel lucky and grateful to be a mother for this child. The love I have for her is pure and abundant.

I’m proud that a conversation and a hope have transpired into a reality. I am so thankful to have our daughter in our lives and that she will have the same opportunities and the second chance at life that I was given.

My feat is to live up to the amazing role model I had growing up in my mother. She was an incredible woman. Her smile lit up an entire room. Her vivacious spirit and strong will guided her life. I will be forever at a loss due to her passing. My heart has been heavy the last nine years but with the love from my daughters it has begun to heal and be full again.

This Mother’s day I am full of emotion. I am humbled and grateful that I had such a wonderful mother. I am thankful for the decisions and actions that have brought me to where I am today. I am blessed because I have two beautiful daughters that I love and cherish. I am hopeful for the future and the legacy of love that I can pass on to my daughters. My mother used to tell me how powerful a mother’s love is and now I understand firsthand the meaning and truth of her words.

Much love and blessings, may you hug the ones dear to you today, Brie

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our trip home....

Our family feels so right! Our little girl is settling right in. She has no lack of attention or entertainment mostly thanks to her big sis! The day we arrived home Big sis kept saying," I can't believe it, I knew she would be this cute, I can't keep my eyes off of her" how sweet is that? She has taught her sister not to be afraid of the bath, attended her doctors appointment, asked to take her sister to school for show and tell and has taught her how to wave and say "hi". At night when I close my eyes I am so thankful and grateful for both of my girls! It's heartwarming to see them develop their relationship as sisters. One thing is for sure they fill my life full.

The day we first arrived home seems like ages ago! It has only been 2 1/2 weeks but it took about eight or nine days to recover from the jet lag and to feel human again. Traveling for over 48 hours straight is not such a pleasant experience especially when you add being sick on top of it. We left Delhi at 1145 pm and flew through the night about six hours to Hong Kong. Everyone slept except for myself. I was halfway terrified to move a muscle for the fear of waking our daughter but couldn't help it during the last part of the flight because I was having fever and chills. I remember feeling hot, cold, hot, cold, nauseated and exhausted. Then I would pleasantly remind myself that this flight was one of the shorter flights that we would endure.

When we arrived in Hong Kong I wanted to collapse. I was weak, dizzy, sweaty- my fever had finally broke and I was nauseated. I was so tired and my stomach was doing flips and cramping up. I could barely walk through the airport and push our luggage cart (Mike had to carry the baby because I physically couldn't). After what had seemed like we had walked for miles we checked in to our flight and then the most amazing miracle happened. I believe 100 percent that this was a true miracle. I had been having anxiety about the trip home for days because as it stood we were supposed to be the two middle seats in the row of four on our 12 hour flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco. Middle seat + 14 month old + 12 hour flight, need I say more. The flight was completely sold out, not a seat to be spared. Someone must have missed their connection because we were switched to an aisle seat, what a sigh of relief. What was even more amazing was that no one in the row of 4 claimed their seat- we had a whole row!!!! The power of prayer is amazing! The rest of the flight people were shoulder to shoulder and knee to knee, not an empty seat to be found! What a blessing it was to have an extra seat for our daughter. It was during this 12 hr flight that my husband realized that we were not returning on a Sunday but on a Saturday. We had told our family and friends Sunday was the day we were arriving. I was still feeling sick so all I wanted to do was to hit a bed and sleep.

Customs in San Francisco was easy and the man that welcomed our daughter to the US was very nice and helpful. Mike had been carrying this huge envelope that had to remain sealed until we arrived at immigration in the US. I was surprised by how efficient and quick this process took. I had gained a little bit of strength but I was still feeling like a zombie. We then learned that our connecting flight had been delayed. The one thing that kept me going was imagining myself hugging my daughter and introducing her to her sister. The last flight (the shortest of the three, only 90 min) seemed like it took an eternity. We were graciously welcomed at the airport by a huge crowd of family and friends. I had thought no one would be there because of my miscalculation but they all rallied and made it. I wished that I had at least put some lipstick on. The best feeling in the world was having my arms wrapped tightly around my daughter. She seemed like a giant to me, what in the world had our family been feeding her? Her bright smile and gleam in her eyes brought me to tears. Our wonderful family and friends were so loving and kind. They shared in our excitement and it was such a blessing to have them there.

 The trip was truly a trip of a life time and even now, 2 1/2 weeks later, I feel as though some of it is still sinking in. The sights, sounds, faces and places are vivid images with poignant meaning as I reflect back on this incredible journey. I can't wait for the day that I can return to India. I can't wait to hear the horns honking, maneuver my steps down the crowded streets and take in more essence of the beauty of life that unfolds in this amazing country. I feel a sense of peace with having returned to India. I feel like I have completed the circle.

When I was younger I had always wanted to volunteer as an escort to help bring babies from India to the US and I had never imagined that I would be bringing back my own daughter. I laugh as I write this because knowing what I know now, who would want to volunteer to sit with an infant for sooo many hours on an airplane! I would do it again in a heartbeat because those hours are nothing compared to the lifetime of love that I will give and receive from our precious daughter!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Well after waiting five days in Delhi for T's article 23 letter to be issued we found out that the Embassy had not even sent her papers over. Our visa interview was on Monday, granted there were 2 holidays this week but still  the papers had not been sent. Luckily our friends who were also trying to get their article 23 encouraged us to go down to the office with them. The office - hard to find but luckily our friend's driver found it! Good thing we went there when we did, it was then that we found out that they hadn't received any paperwork. I burst into tears. The very nice Indian lady started to say " don't cry, don't panic, everything has a solution, don't cry over a piece of paper, take a chill pill--she said more but I was so distraught. I woke up this morning feeling sick, Mike was sick the day before and we miss our other daughter a lot so feeling like we couldn't leave was very overwhelming. Our friends were so kind they stayed with us and helped us through the paperwork issues and brainstorming on what to do and who to call. I am so appreciative of their help throughout this trip and especially today. The Indian lady returned to tell us that the Embassy was sending someone to deliver all the paperwork. We then had a lovely chat about adoption she was very kind and encouraging. An hour went by, still nothing we continued to wait and sit in this small room anxiously waiting to hear of our paperwork arrival. Some time later she came out and said why dont' you go back to your hotel get some lunch and then return--first i can't eat I'm feeling like I'm going to puke, second what if this guy doesn't show up with our paperwork. We took her advice I went back and retrieved our court order from our room safe, texted our caseworker frantically- poor thing it was 1 am for her. Mike returned with all of the needed papers/info but the man from the embassy did show up and our papers were being processed! Mike then had to go to the embassy- which requires securtiy checks etc. and he retrieved our daughter's visa packet!  So we can board the first of many flights home! If all goes as planned we will be touching down in the US Sunday! I've really enjoyed our time in India but I'm so excited to see our family. Thanks for sharing in this amazing journey with us.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Medical exams, visas and such

Going to the hospital in Delhi is quite an experience in and of itself. The clinic was located in a newer part of town and was pleasantly nice. However it was so crowded you could hardly find room to sit, stand or walk without brushing elbows with at least 3 people. I am actually getting used to this close proximity with others as most of the time when you are out and about in India you always have plenty of company. Thank goodness everyone is kind. We have received inquisitive looks but they are out of curiosity and not disdain. Even with the lack of routine and order with driving no one seems to get upset, people have a relaxed disposition here. People are genuinely kind and helpful. The doctor was kind and the he ticked the boxes of the paperwork needed for the medical report and then the bad news: our girl required 5 shots. They won’t allow waivers to be signed so if we want to bring her to the US she has to get these shots. I watched the nurse prepare each shot. The true nurse in me came out, I reviewed each package and vial. After each shot the needle was jabbed into the mattress- who knows how long this mattress has been there and how many holes it already has in it. Hopefully the needles are disposable but I have a gut feeling they aren’t. We waited for our medical packet to be processed. Each time we checked in we were given another timeframe for it to be finished in. We decided to venture out and see some of south Delhi’s sights. We visited the Lotus temple and the Qutb Minar. They were both beautiful. When we returned our packet was ready. We settled in for the night as all of the travel was catching up with us.

The next day we laid low as our daughter was not feeling well after her shots. Later in the day we went to an Indian family’s home with our friends to learn how to cook and have an authentic Indian dinner. They run Delhi bed and breakfast and they also offer cooking lessons. Their home was beautiful, relaxing and inviting. As we sipped our tea we discussed what we would prepare for dinner. We then visited the local market. There were many stalls and vendors. This is where all of the ingredients would be purchased from for our dinner. Everything from wheat, vegetables, spices and even the poultry butcher shop was located here. Our hosts explained that this market was one that you could find most anything at. We saw vendors selling saris, street food, jewelry, medicine as well as many services one would need. This excursion was a lot of fun, it was a glimpse into what everyday life is like for some of the locals. Needless to say we were the only tourists.

We returned to the house and then we were instructed on how to make each dish. We prepared a vegetable curry, aloo ghobi, a chickpea recipe and a spicy dry curry chicken dish. We also were able to make roti, a whole wheat Indian bread. I must say the dinner was flavorful and spicy, perhaps the best food of the trip. The evening was really enjoyable as the hosts were very warm and inviting. She walked us through the preparation of each meal and answered our questions regarding Indian food, the spices and regional cuisines. We really enjoyed the company of our friends and they made this evening such a delightful experience.

Next we will go to the US Embassy and apply for our girl's visa and then we will wait for the article 23 letter to be issued. Then we will head home! Thank you for all of your kind and warm comments they have been so encouraging and we appreciate all of the prayers and support!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First few days....

We tried to lay low and bond with our sweet girl in the days following her union with us. We did go on two touring walks with the company Calcutta walks. Both mornings we went out and learned about the history of the city and saw the daily lives of the residents unfold. Our girl seemed to enjoy the outings and we enjoyed holding her. On Friday we met up with our friends who were also in town adopting their son. They joined us for the confluence of culture walk where we discovered the many other cultures that call Calcutta their home apart from Bengalis. This tour was so much fun! There were so many sights and sounds to take in. Calcutta is a city of 18 million and its population is dense. It is not as spread out as some of the bigger cities in India are. I loved taking it all in.

fresh coconut water

Try walking the Bengali way--so crowded!

We are off to Delhi to finish up our immigration process for our daughter. We have to have a medical appointment and a visa interview. Then we wait for a certificate to be issued which is estimated to take a few business days. After all of that is complete we can head home! Everyday our daughter is growing more comfortable with us. She is very happy and very loud! She is going to fit right in with our older daughter! She loves to babble and squeal. Her infectious laugh and curly hair make her irresistible; it’s hard to put her down. She is tiny, weighing just about 12 pounds. The 6 month clothing I brought for her is soo big. Most of it falls right off. I would have never guessed a 14 month old would be wearing 3 month old clothes. She can stand and take a few steps when holding onto her crib. We have quickly learned what she doesn’t like. She doesn’t like to have her diaper changed or clothes changed but most of all she becomes frenetic if you try and take her bottle away if it’s not completely empty. She is teething and I can see about four teeth waiting to burst through at any moment.

She has already filled our lives full with joy and we are so excited for her to meet her sister. Thank you for all of your encouraging and heartfelt comments. They mean so much to us. This has been an incredible journey and we are thrilled to be a family of four!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Where am I?

Our first full day with our new daughter has been incredible. We are getting to know one another. Yesterday she was quite tense and unsure. I can only imagine what she is feeling. I am sure she is wondering where am I? For 14 months she has lived at the orphanage. She has not been exposed to the outside world, crowds of people, air conditioning and such. She has always been surrounded by other babies and has been on a structured routine. We have created chaos in her world and have changed everything she has known as safe into uncertainty. She has moments of timidness but she has also warmed our hearts with her smile and soothed our souls with her infectious laugh. Its so amazing to watch her with wonder as she plays with her ladybug and teethes on her elephant. New textures, sights, sounds, routines her world has been transformed. I hope the grief of relinquishing her past does not linger but I hope we can fill her life with comfort, love and joy.

On a side note our other daughter is having so much fun spending time with cousins, friends, aunts/uncles and grandparents. She walked in the Pear Blossom 1 mile route with some good friends! We miss her greatly but as you can tell from theese pics, she hasn't skipped a beat.