Monday, December 31, 2012

Part 2: Getting to Know Her...Day 1

During the long flight to Ind*a, I was struck with a thought, "What are we going to do with each other for 3 days?"  I admit I had some trepidation about how that would go.  We don't speak the same language and how much can you really do on the hotel grounds?  I was imagining after an hour or so, just staring at each other in boredom.  Wow, was I wrong!  Looking back it feels like the time we had together was only about 10 minutes long!  Not once did I ever feel like I didn't know what to do with her or wonder if she was bored.  I was never bored!!!  I have never been so mesmerized by a person in my life!  One thing about adopting an older child is that since they are pretty self- sufficient (compared to a baby) watching them do things and how they do them, is incredibly fascinating.  With that, I will start with how things went after we left the orphanage....

M. told me to bring a towel because many of the children get car sick since most of them have never ridden in a car.  Munni climbed right in, sat on my lap (don't judge me, this is India!), held onto the door handle and LOVED looking out the window at life.  We went to a hole in the wall restaurant for a traditional AP lunch.  One thing you should know about me is that I've traveled a bunch and my idea of traveling is never to find the "little America" inside whichever country I'm visiting.  My travel motto for sure is, "When in Rome, do as the Romans," so I was excited about this authentic meal!  M. ordered everything so I have no idea what it was I ate, but man was it amazing!!!  This was Munni's first time in a restaurant.  She just left the place she's known as home for the last 3 years with a white stranger and someone she has seen on occasion.  I thought to myself, "This could have potential for a real meltdown."  Something else you should know about me is that I worked in the restaurant business for 20+ years and have ALL kinds of "terrible kids in restaurant" stories.  Yes, your waiter/ess is talking about your child's behavior.  We all do.  With that said, I was very curious to see how she would act and wondering if I would be forever banished from the camaraderie of my fellow servers.  Well, Munni passed the test!  She was perfectly behaved!  I'm sure that a lot of that came from the shock, wonderment, or whatever you want to call the new experience.  She might be saving it all up for one grade A meltdown later.  Like on the plane....
Anyway, it was interesting to watch her eat.  Sometimes she would use her fork, other times she would eat like a Mexican, tearing the Indian version of a tortilla off into pieces and dipping it into the different chutneys.  The Spanish teacher in me was proud :)  She LOVES spicy food!  She also knows what she doesn't like, which she displayed over the 3 days I had her.  I was happy to see this, that she just didn't eat everything handed to her or gorge herself as many children in orphanages do.  It was a sign to me that she is being well taken care of in her orphanage.  Then she did something really interesting.  She picked up the water bottle, held it about 6 inches above her head and I got a little nervous but M. told me to just watch.  Munni poured the water directly into her mouth and didn't spill one drop.  I don't think I could do that!  It was incredible to see her fine motor skills and hand eye coordination!  In the orphanage, they are not allowed to put their mouth on any shared item.  There are 300+ kiddos where she is so you can see they do everything they can to keep illnesses at bay.

She looks so unsure in this picture...
We left the restaurant and went back to the hotel.  As soon as we arrived, it was as if we were royalty.  Everyone came to us and were saying hi to Munni.  It did make me feel good that they were so nice to her.  She had her little pink sunglasses on as if she was used to the paparazzi :)  Then the hotel manager asked if she could have Munni for 5 minutes to show her around the pool.  I thought this was crazy!  I told her that I just got Munni and we were going to the room.  She was pretty insistent and said she would just have her for a little bit.  I told her we were just going to go to our room.  I told M. I couldn't believe she wouldn't take no for an answer!  M. agreed and thought she was too pushy.  We got to the room and I got some games out for her.  I showed her the Magnadoodle and she LOVED it!!  It was a huge hit!  We played for about 10-15 minutes.  I felt like she was comfortable with me, so I decided to give her the lice treatment.  I just started putting it on her when the doorbell rang.  I thought it was M. so I ran to the door and opened it.  It wasn't M.  It was the hotel manager.... and a rolling table with rose petals scattered all around a cake that said, "Dear Munni- welcome to the family!"  Ah!  The manager was stalling for time! No wonder she was being so pushy about showing Munni around the hotel!  They wheeled the table in and got a picture of Munni cutting the cake.  It was such a nice gesture and Munni loved it!!

I had the lice treatment sitting on part of her head so I hurried them out so I could finish it.  One thing that really caught me off guard was a significant scar on her scalp.  Every picture I've seen of her was obviously from the front.  On the crown of her scalp is a burn scar the size of a grapefruit.  No hair grows there and since they keep her hair so short, it's really noticeable.  Again, I wasn't prepared for that and it brought up all kinds of rage inside me.  I really, really have to constantly pray and surrender this to the Lord and trust that somehow, justice will prevail.  Because when I see the scars on her that tell a very tragic and unjust story, I feel a lot like David when he prayed the imprecatory prayers against his enemies.  I'm just being honest.

We took a shower to clean her up and get the treatment out of her hair.  WOW did she LOVE the shower!!  I've heard that some kids are afraid but she loved it!  I brought one of net loofahs in bright pink.  We put some great smelling shower gel on it and I sudsed her up!  She was giggling and laughing the whole time.  She kept stomping her feet the way kids do in rain puddles and it was cracking my up:)  After the shower, I let her choose her jammies.  She loved the elephant ones and squealed when I put them on her.  It was adorable!  I let her have a piece of her cake and she was really happy. 
After that we skyped with my family.  Skype is seriously the BEST INVENTION EVER!!!  It was so great for them to be able to see her and for her to be able to see them!  Many tears of joy were shed :)))  After the skype calls, I brought out the puzzle my friends gave me.  She loved it! It was so fun for me to watch her figure it out, analyzing each piece.
Finally, we went to bed :)  I can't even tell you how great it felt to be snuggling with my little girl!  I kept pinching myself because I couldn't believe it was real.  We said our prayers, giggled a bunch, and eventually nodded off into a very sweet dream land!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Part 1: The Day We Met

The day I had been waiting for almost 3 years had arrived, it was Monday morning December 17, 2012.   It seemed so surreal that I was finally going to meet my Sweet Munni!  I woke up feeling great- I think all the sightseeing I did the day before helped me sleep really well because I felt energized and refreshed.  I had breakfast with M., my in-country coordinator and social worker, and we discussed the upcoming events of the day.  I was really starting to get excited and a little bit anxious as I wanted it to get going!
    After breakfast I went up to my room to finish getting ready and to make sure I had everything I wanted to take to the orphanage.  My good friend J tracked me down in my hotel room!  When the phone rang, I thought it was M.  Imagine my surprise when it was J calling me from the USA!!!!  It was so great to talk to her right before I left.  She prayed for me and calmed my nerves :)
     I recorded a video for Munni because as she gets older, I want her to know just HOW MUCH I love her, how long I'd waited for her, and how many people had been praying for us and encouraging me along the way.

     I met M. in the lobby of the hotel.  The hotel manager came up to me and asked me something about Munni; I don't even remember what it was but it was enough to start to the tears flowing!  I think she thought I was going to pass out because she asked me if I wanted water and if I needed to sit down.  I assured her they were happy tears, that I was just completely overwhelmed because I couldn't believe that I was about to finally meet Munni!
     The car arrived and off we went.  The orphanage was about 15 minutes from the hotel.  We pulled in to what looked like a compound.  The offices are up front and then you take a long dirt road back to where the children live.  All along the road there were TONS of dogs just lying in the sun.  We pulled up to the orphanage and got out of the car.  You have to take your shoes off to go inside so there was a big pile of sandals and flip flops.  We walked in and M. started talking to the head lady in Hindi.  I kept looking around wondering where Munni was.  Turned out, she had an exam that day so they sent her to school lol!  They sent someone to go get her so while we waited, M. was able to get the list of questions I had about Munni answered.  My questions surrounded how she came to the orphanage.  It was very difficult to hear the details but I am thankful that my questions were answered as going in, it was a slim to none chance that they would be.  I also wanted to know as much as possible because I feel it will be very important to Munni as she gets older and starts discovering her identity.  I'm glad she was at school because it took me awhile to get myself together after hearing that information.
    Back at the hotel, I gave M. a mini-lesson on how to video on the iPad.  I wanted the moment to be captured forever!  One of the caretakers makes saris so she was showing M. the new fabric she had just bought.  It was beautiful!  Everyone was absorbed in looking at the new fabric when I heard someone say, "Munni."  I turned around and that little peanut was standing there with her HUGE backpack, holding the hand of her caretaker, smiling.  I couldn't believe it!!!  She looked so small!  I quickly handed my ipad to M and ran around the table to Munni.  It all seems like a blur- I was so overcome with joy!!!!!  I was on my knees in front of her and told her how much I loved her and how beautiful she is.  She just smiled at me :)
Somehow, the video didn't get turned on and these are the only two pictures I have of our moment.  Even though they are blurry, I love that you can still see the emotion!!  What's even better is that if you remember when I talked about the due date I had prayed for almost 3 years earlier and December 12 came into my head immediately.  Look at the clock.  It was exactly 12 when we met!!!  I didn't notice this until about 2 days later!  God is so funny :)
I took both of her hands and kissed them.  She giggled :)  Then, I asked if I could hug her and motioned as if I would.  She just smiled so I went for it!  She is so small!!  I stood up and sat on the chair and she sat on my lap.  I pulled out the pink sunglasses I had been saving for her.  She LOVED them!!  She started reciting her numbers in English for me.  She counted all the way to 100.  It was so cute because she was looking at me the whole time and I could tell she was really proud to be able to do that :)  Then I busted out the Gummy Bears.  Huge hit.  Orange is her favorite color.  We sat there for about 10 minutes until the photographer came to take her picture for court and her passport.  For the court picture, I was allowed to hold her.  I can't even put into words how AWESOME it felt to hold her!!!

     After the pictures were taken, her caretaker took her in the back to give her lunch and change her.  M. left to go to the office to see about Munni's file because they couldn't find it.  I was left with non-English speaking people.  I waited about 2 hours until M. returned with bad news.  She said they couldn't get the person to sign off on her file and we would have to wait until about 5 or so.  I was disappointed.  All I wanted to do was get Munni and get out of there to start our time together!  M. and I got in the car and decided we would get lunch and run a few errands to pass the time.  As we were almost to the front of the compound, a beautiful lady on a cell phone waived the driver down.  M. said it was the head lady and she told M. that they got the signature!!!  WOOHOOOO!!!!!  So we went into the office and I wrote a letter stating that I was taking Munni and would return her after the court hearing.  We jumped in the car and headed back to the orphanage.  It took about 5 minutes for the caretaker to bring Munni out.  I couldn't believe it - we were leaving TOGETHER!!!!  She took my hand and we headed to the car.  She sat on my lap and enjoyed looking out the window :)  She didn't get car sick once!  We went to get lunch and start our time together.  I was more in love with her than ever!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

She's Mine!!!!!!!!!

I have so much to process about this trip and will definitely be blogging about it in sections but for now the most important thing is that we passed court and Munni is officially MY DAUGHTER!!!!!!!!
On the way home from court!!! Mother/Daughter or as Munni says, "Mommy Munni!!!

Before court, wearing her traditional Indian dress :)  She was so excited about it!!
I love her so much!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Almost Famous

Today I had nothing to do. I didn't want to sit around the hotel because that's not my traveling style.  Plus, I would have driven myself crazy knowing that Munni was only 10 minutes away!  I dont get to meet her until tomorrow morning so the best thing was for me was to stay busy.  After the most amazing breakfast ( I had orange juice that really tasted like fresh squeezed clementines!) I went to the front desk and asked them to get me a driver for the day.  They gave ideas of places to go and set it all up.

25 minutes later I came down to lobby and it was as if a transformation had happened. I felt like I was famous. Everyone was calling me by name, opening doors, a bunch of "yes ma'am's" it made me feel like royalty!

Raja was my driver and adventure buddy for the day and he knew how to get it done!  First stop was the Birla Mandir temple. This is absolutely breathtaking!  It's made out of all marble like the Taj.  I had to take my shoes off and go through it barefoot. I wasn't allowed to bring my camera in which was a huge bummer because the detail of the carvings are incredible.  My blue eyes continued the famous tend I was feeling because whenever anyone looked at me they did a double take and giggled. Then some people started following me around. We went to where they were giving the blessings with incense but I got denied. I guess blue eyes can only get you so far;). After the blessing, which Raja received, we walked out and he told me to take this stuff that looked like rock candy. He said it was sweet blessings and you are supposed to eat it.  I wasn't sure if I was allowed but he said I could so I did.  It was sweet!  When we got back outside, I started taking pictures with my real camera. That's when even more people started paying attention to me. Then they asked if they could get there picture with me- see why I was feeling famous?

After that we went to old Hyderabad to see Charminar. This section has a large Muslim population so the prayer calls were sounding while we were there. Between those calls and the crazy, crowded streets, I felt like I was in a Jason Bourne movie-I kept waiting for an awesome car chase to bust out of nowhere! We climbed the monument and the staring continued. I had my camera and was taking pictures the whole time. People kept following me and watching what I was photographing. It was a little weird. And then more people asked to have their picture taken with me. Every now and then someone would get the courage up to say something random in English to see if I understood. When I replied, they would giggle and run away!

After we left there, we went to Chowmahalla Palace. This place is so cool! It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and the official residence of the Nazim. First, the architecture is amazing. The grounds are huge and there are a lot of places to check out. They also have tons of artifacts from the royal family which I though was very interesting. One of the main entertaining rooms was so stunning. It was made of all marble and then had about 20 of the biggest, most elaborate glass chandeliers. The way the light came into the room made the chandeliers reflect the sun rays in an amazing way.

From there we headed to the Golkonda Fort. This was a serious workout!! The steps were so narrow, steep, and SO MANY of them I had to keep stopping on the "landings." People were still laughing at me but for some reason at this point I think it had more to do with my heavy breathing than my blue eyes :). We finally got to the top and I was doing the rocky balboa and gave Raja a high five, this made people want to know what was up so again, I had more followers! Then, four 20 something guys got the courage to ask me for a picture. It was hilarious because they were giggling the whole time and switching out who was getting their picture taken. Raja was acting like my bodyguard, which added to the Almost Famous element. After the photo op, they shook my hand and thanked me. I wonder what kind of story will be told about those pics!

Our last stop of the day was the Qutub Shahi Tombs that had the bodies of 7 of the last 8 sultans from that dynasty. The architecture is very cool as it is a mix of Persian and Hindu styles. It is a very peaceful place and the perfect way to end the day. I took so many pictures as today was a photographer's dream!! I was a little frustrated when we were driving because there were so many shots I missed. If we would have walked through the streets, I would have been in heaven! I am thrilled with the pictures ingot but wild have lived some more photojournalistic shots of the day.
To all you Hyderabad mamas out there, I really encourage you to take the time to see the city. It brought up a whole range of emotions for me from sadness, to thankfulness, to joy. I also found myself thinking about MG's birth mom a lot and the circumstances surrounding her, there were so many babies and little children I saw today with their families. I wonder a lot of things about her birth mom and today, it took it to a whole new level. I am very glad that I had the time to see what I saw as I think this will be important to MG as she gets older and has questions about India.
Tomorrow morning I finally get to meet her. I don't know if its because I'm so tired or if this whole thing just seems surreal, but I can't even imagine what it's going to be like! I'm hoping that be ause I'm so tired that I will sleep really well. And you know what's better? This is the last night I will be sleeping alone because tomorrow tha sweet pea will be right next to me!!!!!!!!!!
the time to see the city

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I'm here!!!!!!

I made it!!! And I know your prayers worked because through the whole flight I had an amazing sense of peace even though it was a recipe for major anxiety!
I got to Chicago fine and the layover wasn't bad. The airline lady hooked it up and made sure I had a window seat with an empty seat next to me:)

That made up for the little girl behind me who kicked my seat the whole time she wasn't sleeping. But before that, they taxied out onto the runway and then sat there for about 20 minutes. Then they turned around because they said there was a loose panel and they had to fix it. Say what ??? I really should have gotten those anti-anxiety meds!
An hour and a half later we finally took off. About 20 minutes in I pulled out Big Blue and started inflating him. My seat mate didn't even flinch but the flight attendant did a double take! I was definitely pleased with this purchase because i was able to manipulate it to whatever position i needed. I was able to sleep about 2 hours before they served dinner. My dad definitely could not eat the food on this flight because it was spicy!! I'm glad I like spicy food! I got the veggie option and it was good. However I worked in the restaurant biz long enough to know to stay away from produce so I didn't eat any of that. So far, so good.

I ate and went back to sleep. Then we hit turbulence. I kept praying and that's when the little girl behind me yelled out, "it's scary!" Her mom said something to her in Hindi and the little girl said, "BUT IT'S SCARY!" I was thinking the exact same thing. I was also very happy in that moment that back in CHI town they decided to fix that loose panel:)

We arrived in Delhi for the layover only those of us who were traveling on to H*derabad had to stay on the plane. So they cleaned and restocked while we sat there. I was able to catch up on the Jason Bourne series.

I was starting to get worried because I knew my last flight was about 2 hours and it was already the time the hotel was expecting me at the H*derabad airport. The repair in chicago really out us back. I kept wondering if they would wait 2 hours for me?

A new couple boarded the plane and sat next to me. They had an adorable 8 month little girl named Minu. She was such a happy baby and I has so much fun with her! I had to seriously hold back asking if I could hold her. Instead we just played peek-a-boo and things like that. It made the flight go by so quickly.

We finally got to H*derabad! The airport is very clean and going through immigration was pretty quick. Getting my luggage wasn't. I was stressing at this point because I arrived almost 3 hours later than anticipated and wouldn't you know my luggage was the last to come off that plane? Anyway, I had to go through another immigration check point and then out to where they were supposed to be waiting for me. Only no one was there with my name on a card. The a very official looking man walked up to me and asked if I was Kristen? Turned out he had been waiting for me that whole time. I guess he ditched the name card when I was the last one out!

The ride to the hotel was great. It took about 35 minutes. Traffic is different for the US but still none of my travels have topped the craziness of the traffic in Mexico City! It was dark so I didn't get to see much of the city. The hotel is very nice and everyone has been awesome. The guy who took me to my room noticed my necklace, it's Munni's name. I told him I was adopting and we had a great conversation. He said he could tell that I loved her very much by the way my face lit up when I talked about her. I may or may not have doubled his tip for saying that :). He said
When I bring her back to the hotel we will celebrate with a high five lol!

I finally got to take a shower and man was that the best shower I've had in a long time! One thing that I wish I would have brought with me was the ocean nasal saline spray. My sinus were so dry from the flight.

So tomorrow I have a day to myself. I may sightsee or I might just relax depending on how I feel. I'm starting to crash so hopefully I will sleep really well tonight!
One final thing, I should have listened to my neighbor and brought compression socks. I look like an old nun. I have no ankle bones, just tree trunks. I've been elevating them so I hope it goes away soon or else I won't be wearing any of those cool bangles they have here!!!
Tomorrow I will be waiting for the social worker to arrive to find out when I can go and meet my princess. Please pray that it would be ASAP!!!!
Thanks again for all your prayers so far-THEY WORKED!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Due Date :)

Exactly a year ago today on December 14, 2011, Sarah found my blog and contacted me.  She didn't even know me but told me she had a back up plan for me to be able to go through with Munni's adoption.  This was exactly one month after Agency A told me that they couldn't complete MG's adoption.  

A year later, December 14th 2012,  I will be boarding a plane to meet my daughter.

The time between when I received that email from Agency A and when Sarah contacted me, I was holding on to faith.  It was all I had.  Every time I would start to get discouraged or started thinking negative thoughts, I reminded myself of how I felt the very first time I saw Munni's face, the electrical current that ran through my body, and the confirmation in prayer when I heard the Lord speak, "yes- she is the one I have intended for you."  
I wasn't always good at staying in faith though.  One specific night when I was decorating my Christmas tree, before Sarah had contacted me, I was really fighting against discouragement.  I kept praying and praying.  I always play Christmas music when I put up my tree, you know, to help with the Christmas Spirit and all.  Well, at this particular time, I wasn't feelin' the Christmas Spirit.  I was feeling more like Scrooge.  And then a song from Handel's Messiah came on.  I must have heard this song hundreds of times growing up, but in that moment it spoke to me like no other.  It's from Isaiah 40:4

"Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."

I started to cry because I felt like Jesus was telling me that HE was clearing the path for me to bring Munni home.

And look where I am today.  I get overcome with emotion thinking about it, thinking about all that he did - all the mountains he flattened, the low points where he raised me up, all the twisting and winding around that led me straight to Munni.  It absolutely blows me away.

To top things off, when I first applied for the Nepal program way back in January of 2010, I prayed that the Lord would give me a due date.  There were so many unknowns and I asked if he was willing, could he please just give me a date, something to hold out for hope?
December 12 immediately flashed into my mind.  I emailed my friend who had been praying for me since the beginning of my adoption journey and told her the "due date."  Well, August 6th, 2010 Nepal was closed for international adoption.  I remember that December was very dark and bitter for me.  I scoffed at God and thought, "Thanks a lot for giving me hope for nothing."
I was so short-sighted.
You see, He had intended all along for my due date to be December 12.  It just took Him time to soften my heart, and time for me to surrender completely to him- to be open to the child HE had for me instead of my ideas. 
If you would have asked me when I very first started out on this journey if I would consider an older child, I would have told you that you were crazy.  I'm being honest.  I was so myopic and selfish and  misinformed that I would have missed out on the most beautiful little girl.  In the last couple of weeks, I've had a complete emotional release because I still can't believe that God has blessed me so much that I get to be her mama.  
And God made good on his promise.  My due date is December 2012.  A December that I will never forget!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hot Diggety Dog!

The last two days have been the best two days and the worst two days.
It started on Tuesday when my caseworker called me to tell me that they were confirming my court date Wednesday morning, that it would probably be XX of December but I need to wait for her confirmation before I buy the plane tickets.  One last thing, it could be very last minute, "Could I be prepared to leave on Thursday?"
I can't even begin to put into words the emotional watershed that came after that call.
I couldn't stop crying.  I wasn't sad by any means, just completely overwhelmed by emotions and the fact that YES, I was finally going to meet my daughter!  It was like exhaling after holding my breathe for close to 3 years.  
Then, I started to panic.  How in the world would I get everything accomplished before Thursday???
I called my friend Mer and asked her to send me a packing list.  I texted my friend Rudisell to help me with school.  I called my mom and asked her to come help me.  I called the travel agent to get prices.  It was a flurry of activity and my mind was on a sit-n-spin going 100 miles a minute.   I broke down and cried 4 times in Target while my mom hugged me.  It was the ugly, loud, sobbing kind of cry.  A gazillion thoughts were racing through my mind and no matter how hard I prayed or tried to focus, I just couldn't.  
It was a complete emotional release.
I woke up Wednesday to a raging migraine that lasted two days.  The kind that my prescription medicine didn't even make a dent in the pain.   I know my triggers well, and stress is one of them.  Even though this is such an amazing thing, my body reacted by knocking my butt out for 2 days.  I couldn't have prepared if I tried.  And the worst part is that I didn't want to be like this flying or meeting MG.  I am a sensitive person by nature, so I already know I'm going to have to pray extra hard that I don't lose it when I meet M.  I want the staff to know she's coming to a good home, to mama who loves her beyond words, but not to an emotional wreck.  
Wednesday came and went and still no confirmation.  I started to worry and panic- was this a false alarm? Again?  I was also stressing out because all of tickets I had been able to get were for Saturday morning in order to be there before the court date and to have some time to bond with MG. 
Today while I was lying in pain, praying that I would get confirmation so that I could leave on Saturday morning, my caseworker called.
She had my confirmed court date.
She had my confirmed court date.
She had my confirmed court date.
I couldn't believe it.  I think I'm still in shock!  But the most amazing thing happened; I felt completely bathed in peace.  All the panic, stress, uncertainty just left my body.  And about 45 minutes after that call, so did my migraine.
I was able to accomplish the major tasks today:
I BOUGHT MY PLANE TICKETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I will be able to spend 3-4 days with her, all by myself.  
I cannot wait!
When I put the tree up this year, it was bittersweet.  I remember last year I thought it would be the last year I did it alone.
And then this year, she still isn't here.  
But next year?  well, it's going to ROCK!!!

In the meantime, I'm concentrating on my daily lists I made. 
I'm a list person for sure.  I need the satisfaction of crossing things off.
I'm organizing all the stuff I'm bringing for her, and my mom and I found these awesome slippers the night I cried my way through Target.  They are so obnoxious I just had to have them.
I can't wait to see her sweet, little feet in them!

To top it all off, my kindred spirit Mer sent me the BEST news.  The visa re-entry policy that required me to wait 60 days before returning has been lifted!!!!!
What that means is that I could very possibly be returning to bring her home within those 60 days.
At court, I will receive verbal guardianship.  That paperwork has to be processed through the courts.  Once that is finished, the written guardianship is sent to my agency and her orphanage.  The orphanage will use that paperwork to apply for her passport.
Once her passport comes in, I get to take custody of her!!!!!
I'm praying that I will return for her by the end of January.  
If you think about it, would you please pray this same prayer?

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Dangling Carrot Continues.....

When I found out my caseworker was making a trip to MG's country, I was VERY excited.  She was going to the city where MG is and was going to see her.  I was so hungry for information about her personality and to know that someone I could ask an obsessive amount of questions was going to be the one to see her, well it was just what I needed!

The first few days she was in country she was staying in the capital.  The main reason for her trip was because there were several cases going before the high court and she wanted to be there with the families.  She emailed me several days into her trip and told me that the Orphanage Director expected my court date to be 12/5 or 12/6.  WHAT?????  Super, crazy, excited!!!!  I started making a list of everything I would have to get accomplished, starting making my packing list, started researching airfare, and finally allowed myself to get REAL excited about it!    Every morning I was obsessively checking my email looking for that long awaited travel confirmation.

It never came.

Instead, in a horrible string of events, one of the cases was dismissed by the court.
That family had been battling for their daughter for over four years.
How do you tell a precious girl who is beyond old enough to understand, a sweet girl who had spent time with her hopefully soon-to-be family, that the court said no?
My heart hurt so bad when I found out.  I felt sick and all I could do was pray for them.  I can not even begin to imagine the vacuum she must feel she was pulled into.

Because of these events, my coordinator stayed in the capital with the family.  I felt like a horrible person because I was so disappointed that she wouldn't make the trip to MG's city after all.   I was so looking forward to new pictures but most of all, I was already preparing my interrogation about MG's personality, does she still know I'm coming? Is she excited about me?  Is she scared?  Does she still have hope in her little heart?

And then I thought of the mom who will never be able to bring her daughter home.
I go back and forth between crying for her and praying for her because that's all I can do.

It took my caseworker 2 days to email me back about her trip to MG's city and the fact that they still don't have a court date for me.   I know she didn't want to send that email.  In her mind, I think the trip was going to turn out quite differently for everyone involved.  I know she pours her heart into each case and she has prayer warriors who pray for each family.  She is invested in her cases emotionally, spiritually and physically!  Even though I am disappointed that she didn't go to MG's orphanage, I LOVE that she stayed with the family and loved on them and tried to provide comfort for them.

The day I received her email, I had been sick and was feeling emotionally lousy.  Being so close and yet so far at the same time is really starting to take a toll on me.  I get real excited just to get let down.  But I'm fearful of guarding my heart so much that I become apathetic (not towards MG, just the process).  I know that's not a healthy way to deal with the wait.

So while I was wallowing in self-pity, my dogs informed me that the mailman had arrived.  A few days earlier, a friend of mine asked me for my address because she said she had a Christmas gift for M.  I opened the box and inside was this beautiful, handmade purse from India.

I sat down and cried.
It is so beautiful and that kind gesture was exactly what I needed to renew my hope.  One day SOON, my sweet baby girl will be carrying this purse around!
And you can bet that I will post a picture of that!

In the end, I have resigned myself yet again to surrender all of this to the Lord and to hope, wait, and trust in Him.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Crazy old news and maybe new news tomorrow??!!

After talking to several adoptive mamas, I realized that I never saw a copy of my NOC.  I emailed my director who is in-country now and asked if I was supposed to have a copy- I just thought it was at the embassy :)  Well, she sent me a copy and guess what?  My NOC was issued in ONE day!!!!!  I already was completely overjoyed that I got word in 15 days but to have the actual document in front of me and to see that the issue date was the NEXT day from the date of my Article 5 letter??!!!!  CRAZY!!!!!

I'm still in shock I think!  She also told me that she hopes to hear word of my court date tomorrow (they are a crazy amount of hours ahead of us so it's like Monday for them tomorrow).  PLEASE pray that I will hear word!!!  I'm not sure if finding out about the rapidness of my NOC if that is supposed to be an encouragement about tomorrow, but I'm definitely praying!!!!!  I will have to SCRAMBLE to get everything together but I know that Lord will line everything up that I need :)  It's been almost 2 months since I submitted my court petition so I'm really praying that I will get a final word so that I can make travel arrangements.

I hope you are enjoying that last moments of the Thanksgiving break!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankfulness and Hope

On November 4th 2011, I went to see Joel Osteen.  Just the other day, a good friend of mine was making fun of me for it, asking somewhat jokingly, how could I buy into it?  I told him to shut up and then started to cry.  You see, when I was at Joel Osteen, a lady was speaking.  She spoke about a woman whose only desire was to be a mother.  All of the odds were against her but she knew that the Lord had planted that seed in her heart.  After 20 years of praying and failed infertility treatments, she was on the verge of losing hope.  She had a random encounter with a stranger that renewed her hope and a week later, she received a phone call about adopting twins- would she take them?  The story was much longer and more detailed than what I am writing but when this story was being told, I had this overwhelming feeling that God was whispering to me that indeed, Munni would be my daughter.

Ten days later on November 14, 2011 I received an email.  It was from the agency where I found MG on the waiting children's list.  It simply stated, "Kristen, I am sorry to tell you that we won't be able to complete Munni's adoption.  In addition, we are putting our waiting children program on hold.  I wish I had better news."  The End.  No phone call, no comforting, nada.  Crushed, devastated, bewildered, confused....all of those emotions were running around in my head.  Hours earlier I had just won a fundraising grant with Ordinary Hero.  Talk about a buzz kill.  I prayed and prayed for clarity.  Did I imagine what the Lord whispered to me at Joel Osteen?  Am I crazy?  No.  Again, I heard the Lord tell me, "wait."  And so I did.  And I prayed every day and chose to trust that somehow, someway, He would bring about this adoption.  I didn't tell anyone about the email because I felt that by spreading the bad news, would be giving life to it.

EXACTLY one month later on December 14, 2011 a lady I didn't know contacted me through my blog.  I can't tell you how amazing Sarah's heart is for the orphan.  She asked me several questions about my adoption process and we exchanged emails.  This was the first time that I shared what agency A had told me about not completing Munni's adoption.  Then Sarah wrote me back and told me, "I have a back up plan for you."  I don't doubt for a minute that God brought Sarah into my life!  Talking with her renewed my hope to fight even harder for Munni.  Sarah was in contact with another agency and had called them and advocated for Munni and me.  Think about that!  She didn't even know me but took the time to make phone calls and investigate options for me.  To this day, I can't thank her enough.  I don't think I will ever be able to put into words just how grateful I am for meeting her!  Two days before Christmas, the situation was getting dire due to the change in adoption process in MG's country.  Sarah called me and told me to call agency B and talk with the program director.  She said that she was confident that they could help me.  I made the call and that's when the Christmas Miracle occurred!

I look back over this story and it makes me cry every time.  I see how much the Lord loves sweet Munni and how much he loves me.  The people he's weaved into our lives who brought encouragement and love, I wouldn't trade for anything.

Back to the other day when I told my friend to shut up (we are very good friends so it wasn't mean like that) and I started to cry.  I told him the night that I went to Joel Osteen gave me the hope I needed to keep battling for Munni.  When people told me it wasn't going to happen, I held onto the truth that woman said that night:  If God gives you a dream, he will honor that dream and bring it to fruition- EVEN when in our human minds, it doesn't seem possible.  And so now, a year later, I am a couple weeks from boarding a plane to meet my daughter for the very first time.

Hope got me through it.  Thankfulness is what I think every time I see her beautiful face.  It reminds me once again of the verse God has brought me to time and time again:

"Is anything too hard for the Lord?" - Genesis 18:14

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday- Photography

Another week and no news on the adoption front.  What better to do than keep myself occupied than with the Scavenger Hunt Sunday?  Here are my interpretations for this week!
Button:  I spend a lot of time with these buttons.  Probably too much time...

Favorite Fruit:  I live in the Midwest and I get so excited for this time of year because that means Honey Crisp and Granny Smith Apples!

 Map:  When I was 20 years old, I promised myself every year I would go somewhere I've never been whether it be domestic or international.  I've kept that promise to myself so far and one of the ways I keep track is by highlighting where I've gone in the book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die.  Oh, and that's a bookend I picked up in Nairobi :)

Strong:  I trolled Craigslist for months to find this 1906 beauty!!  However it took 5 really big guys, a lot of sweat and even more determination to get it into my house.  Times like these I'm glad I'm a woman :)

Vision:  I grew up playing the piano.  I'm SO THANKFUL my mom made me learn.  My vision is that my sweet Munni will learn to play!

 Happy Sunday!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hopeful for some news...

I found out that one of my caseworkers is traveling to MG's country this week.  First, would you please pray for protection over her as she navigates several different cities and orphanages?  Also, please pray that she will be able to advocate for the many families who are waiting for news about their children.  Hopefully, she will be able to accomplish much being there in person.  Her timing for arrival is pretty good since it will be the end of their major holiday and no foreseen delays in the near future (there are always delays, but I'm talking about the kind you can plan:)  In regards to my situation, she is thinking that she will find out info about my court case and *hopefully* will email me with a court date!  I also asked her to please love on sweet MG for me.  I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be SO close to the end and at the same time, not be able to do anything about it.  All I have is prayer and really, that is more than enough!  If I really believe that the Lord says he will do what  he says, then I know that he will bring it to fruition in his timing.  I've been reading the book of Luke, and in particular, have been reflecting on the story of how Zacarias and Elizabeth became pregnant with John the Baptist.  They had prayed and prayed and prayed for a baby.  It was at the point when they did not have any control over the situation that the Lord answered their prayer.  I'm at that point :)

I came across this poem recently and it really touched my heart.  The author is unknown.

Two Mothers of Love
Once there were two women
Who didn't know each other
One you do not remember
The other you call mother
Two different lives shaped
to make your one
One becoming your guiding star
The other became your sun
The first gave you life
And the second taught you to live in it
The first gave you a need for love
And the second was there to give it
One gave you nationality
The other gave you a name
One gave you the seed of talent
The other gave you an aim
One gave you emotions
The other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile
The other dried your tears
The age old questions through the years;
Heredity or environment-
Which are you the product of?
Both my darling-both
And two different kinds of love!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Prayer for Baby T

I just found out yesterday that my very good friends found out on Thursday that their 6 week old baby boy has been diagnosed with a very serious skin condition.  It is an extremely rare condition, so the diagnoses is not yet set in stone.  At best, it will be a life-long condition with very serious side effects.

He is getting a biopsy Monday at 12:50.  On Thursday at 5:30, he will be seen by all the dermatologists in the town where they live.

Please join me in prayer for Sweet Baby T and his family.  So far, this is what the medical profession has said but we also know the power of prayer.

Please pray with me as we pray to destroy, crush, tear down, crumble and shatter the strongholds of disease, illness, and sickness from Baby T.  We bind his sweet, precious body to the healing and protection of the Holy Spirit.  We pray for wisdom for all of the specialists who will see Baby T.  We pray that the Lord would envelop my friends in his love, comfort and peace as they process all that is happening to their sweet baby.  We pray that the Lord would strengthen them for the journey ahead of them.  We pray for Baby T's sisters who are old enough to understand but not quite old enough to grasp the depth of seriousness of this diagnosis.  We pray that my friends would have an amazing support group in their town to pray with them, support them, and be there for them.

Ultimately, we know and trust that the Lord has Baby T in the palm of his hand.

I asked my friends if they were comfortable with me posting this on my blog and asking for prayer for them.  They gave me a resounding "YES, WE NEED IT."

Please, please keep their family in your prayers.   I know prayer works.  I've seen it happen and so we lift all our prayers to the Lord who promises to do exceedingly above and beyond all that we could even think or imagine.

I can't thank you enough- mutual love and concern for those in need is a beautiful thing.

Scavenger Hunt Sunday - Photography

This was the longest week ever!  I had an in-service day which honestly, I'd rather have my students!  And also, we had our first conferences as well so that made for a late night.  I was so excited about these prompts but because of the busyness of the week, I didn't think I'd have time to get them all.  So I came up with an additional challenge for myself (like I don't have enough going on right now!) and decided to put my big girl camera away for this assignment and instead, use my iphone with my lens attachments I have for it.  I had SO MUCH FUN doing this!  I used three lenses:  Macro, fish eye and wide angle.

Here are my interpretations:

Nature- My neighbor's tree is in all it's glory right now!  I love the funkiness of the fisheye for this:

Cooking:  I went to my sister's to hang out and to see Barkley Boy....only Barkley and his new humans weren't home :(  I was sad, but we are trying for round 2 today.  It's a tradition in our household to eat cheese popcorn while watching movies.  As you can tell, the popper has many years under its belt!

Whimsical:  This house was built by one of the Design Professors at UC's DAAP program.  It's been around since I was little.  It's right up the street from me and it makes me giggle every time I see it.

Vintage/retro:  This theatre has been around a very long time.  They've repaired the sign and now they have a ball that starts at the top of the 20th century and drops at the New Year's Eve party.  It's an amazing staple in this community!!

Week's Best:  Originally I thought I'd use my sister's bird house, but then when I was driving for my ritual morning coffee, I drove by the mushroom house and used that instead.  I love the sun flare and how the bird house is nestled in the trees.

I didn't hear anything about my court date for MG, and being that next week is Diwali, that puts me at the week of Thanksgiving for the next possible time for me to maybe hear something.  I keep praying and trusting.  That's all you can do, right?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday - Photography

It was a busy, busy week and I wasn't sure if I would be able to get all of the prompts but since I missed last week's hunt, I definitely made it my goal!  Here are my interpretations:

Wild:  I have been wanting an ipad for awhile now with the approaching trips to India.  My good friend  Mer tipped me off about buying the refurbs.  I saved a pretty penny AND I'm super happy with my new toy!  I also wanted a cover that would be obnoxious so I could find it anywhere :)

Welcome:  I was doing a photo shoot and happened upon this fat fellow lying on his doorstep.  I couldn't resist and had to take few shots. 

Adventure- Here's a fun fact, I used to take belly dancing lessons.  I loved it!!  This was a scarf I wore (all the medallions added a nice sound effect :) ) Anyway, I love the sanskrit writing on the medallions. It reminds me of the adventures I'm about to experience picking up my daughter!

Classic-  Every Saturday I treat myself to a Venti stirred white chocolate mocha.  And one of my pups takes the ride with me and gets a pupaccino.  It wouldn't be a Saturday without this tradition!

Vibrant- This is a shot of part of an oil painting I painted.  It's one of my favorite paintings.  I just love how vibrant the colors are.  

 Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

News Maybe?

Today started off just hard.  Not that anything happened, just the weight of waiting and hoping.  In desperation, I emailed my caseworker, just asking for prayer because today was especially trying.  She emailed me back and said that the Director had been on vacation but is back now.  She is the one who can make my case move.....So, will you please join me in prayer in that she can get my case on the docket and finally get that much anticipated court date?  My caseworker is hopeful that we should hear something this week.  I know that sounds like a broken record but maybe this time it will be like there's a nickel or penny weighing the needle down so we can get through the skips :)

For some REALLY GREAT news, my sweet friend J left yesterday to fly to Ind*a to bring her baby girl HOME!!!  Her adoption is in another state, actually the most efficient state, so it's been fun to see things actually moving!  I'm soooooo excited for J and her daughter!  Please pray for safe travels for them!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Farewell Barkley :(

Today Barkley is going to his new family.  And I'm going to miss that blockhead.  It's amazing how dogs can worm their way into your heart in such a short period of time.
I am very happy though for Barkley.  He hit the jackpot.  I was very, very picky about who would be his forever family.  He had issues from being chained his whole life so I wanted to make sure that he went to someone who would be patient and understanding.  

Selfishly, I also wanted to be able to see him again.  With the help of my sister, we were able to find the perfect home for him!  There is an older couple, empty nesters, who live in my sister's neighborhood.  He is a part-time doctor and his wife is full time retired:)  They are "dog" people and just recently lost their Golden of 15 years.  They walk every day 2-3 miles and recently decided they were ready to have another dog.  Barkley was at my sister's house for about a month and that's when they saw Barkley.  And fell in love.  I mean, who can resist that face?  

He's pretty adorable and his personality is sweet as sweet can be.  I will definitely miss seeing his face in my window when I come home....even though I can just see his face, I can tell his whole body is wiggling the boxer wiggle and it cracks me up every time!  
I think Simon will miss him but I also think Simon will be happy to be the baby again :) 

I'm also very happy for this couple.  They are going to be so smitten with Barkley and I'm happy that he will be bringing so much joy to them.

Farewell sweet Barkley Boy!  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

SHS photography

I really enjoyed this week's scavenger hunt as it was a nice distraction from waiting for a court date :)

Here are my interpretations:


Faceless portrait (selfie)- I cheated a bit on this since I actually took it at the end of summer but this is a defining, faceless, portrait of the essence of me.  When I was little, I used to lie on the hot cement because I loved the feeling of the warmth from the ground and the sun above:)

View from the top- my inner child took over for this shot!

Cozy- see that spot, right between his eyes?  I LOVE to kiss that spot and when I do, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside because everything is right with the world.  I'm obsessed with him if you couldn't tell:)


I really had fun with this and I'm looking forward to next week's hunt!