Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Part 5: Getting To Know Her - Saying Goodbye...

We arrived at the hotel and went straight to the dining room to get a late lunch.  After all, we had been sitting and waiting for a long time.   We sat at our usual table and talked to our usual waiter.  M. and I ordered and then M. asked Munni if she wanted a certain dish.  Munni refused to eat or drink anything.  She sat in the chair and had the saddest look on her face.  It reminded me of the very first picture I saw of her, which was absolutely pitiful.  We called the waiter over who speaks Telugu and asked him to ask her what was wrong- did she feel O.K.?  Was she hungry or thirsty?  She refused to talk to him and turned her face away.  At this point, I couldn't take it anymore.  I got up and went around to her, kneeled down in front of her, and tried to get her to look at me.  She started crying and rubbing her eyes.  Ugh, I can't even express how awful that felt; it seriously broke my heart.  I told M. that I was going to take her back up to our room and to please just have my food sent to the room.  She agreed that it was a good idea.  I picked up Munni, she buried her head into my neck, and I carried her all the way to our room.

When we got to the room, I set her on the bed and tried to ask her what was wrong even though we don't speak the same language.  She rubbed her eyes, wiping her tears, and then started giggling.  I gave her a huge hug and told her I loved her.  She lit up like a firefly.  I was so happy to see the Munni with whom I had just spent the last 3 days!  I really think that she just needed that one-on-one time with me.  We had about an hour before I had to take her back to the orphanage so we played some games and hung out.  I changed her into a different dress and she picked out another headband :)  We were having so much fun together!  My sandwich and french fries came and guess what?  Just like any other child, Munni LOVES french fries!    She was dancing around, eating the fries, and laughing.  I kept taking pictures and video of her in a desperate attempt to cement this moment in my mind.  It's a horrible feeling knowing you have to return your child to an orphanage.  Even though I know there is an end point in sight, it still just plain stinks.  I was hoping to get enough video and pictures of her to sustain me through the next phase of this journey.

Oh how I LOVE her smile!!!
Finally it was time for me to pack her bag and the bag of donations I brought for the orphanage.  We met M. in the lobby and then headed out to the car.  I dreaded this car ride.  I prayed and prayed and prayed that I would keep it together in front of Munni.  Especially with how she acted after court, I didn't want to do anything that could possibly upset her again.  What was great about the day that I met her is that the orphanage is only about 5 minutes from the hotel.  But on the way back?  not great at all.  We got to the orphanage and walked into some sort of celebration.  There was a cake and they asked if we wanted any.  Of course, Munni was thrilled :)  I made the director tell Munni 3 different times that I was coming back for her.  I really, really wanted her to know that I wasn't abandoning her.  No words can describe what an awful feeling this is.  Based on her history, it was extremely important to me that she really understood what was happening.  When I first arrived, I was hoping that I could keep her until the day after court; the day I left.  But sitting in that office and hearing what the director told me she told Munni, I know the Lord was looking out for the best for her.  Since we had just gone to court that day, the director was able to explain to Munni that I had to go back home and wait for all the papers to be written up from our court appearance.  Once the papers were written up, I would be back for her.  Munni did that Ind*an head bobble that looks like she's shaking her head but it really means "yes," she understood.

While Munni was eating her cake, M. asked me to take some pictures for some families.   Let me tell you, this was such a joy for me!  I only received two "new" pictures of Munni the entire time I was waiting for her.  New pictures of your child are like water in the middle of a desert.  I had so much fun getting these little ones to smile and trying to capture their personalities!  

Sometime during the photo shoot, Munni slipped by and went back to her room.  I kind of freaked out asked M. if I would be able to say goodbye to her since I didn't realize that I was supposed to when she was eating cake.  Of course in M. fashion, she told the caretakers that we were going back to her room to say our goodbyes and then out of the side of her mouth, she told me to bring my camera.  We walked down the long hallway, past many rooms that were full of smiling children.  We finally arrived at Munni's room.   Although the decorating, clothes, and toys are sparse; it is clean.  But most of all, the children were smiling.  Everyone except Munni was sitting on a rug.  Munni was sitting against the wall.  M. told me that this is where Munni has spent her entire time at the orphanage.  I looked around thinking about this and wondered what she will remember about it once she is at home with me.  I took pictures of all the little girls - they ranged in ages from babies to older than Munni.  I could tell that Munni was withdrawn- even from how she just was in the cake eating room.  That made me really sad.  It was time for us to leave to so I went over to Munni, hugged and kissed her, and told her I loved her.  I said, "Munni mummy?"  and she answered me, "Munni mummy!"  With that, I turned around and walked out of her room and back down the long hallway.  As soon as we stepped out of the door, I freakin' lost it.  I couldn't have held it in if I had tried.  By far, that was the most painful moment I've ever had in my life - to the point that it felt like a physical pain in my chest.  M. was very sweet and hugged me.  I cried the whole way back to the hotel.  I SO wanted to be able to pack my stuff to get the bump out of there, but there was no way we could switch our flights in time.  

Once back at the hotel, M. told me that we should use our free drink tokens and celebrate that today the courts of Ind*a legally recognized Munni as my daughter.  I know she was trying to cheer me up so I agreed.  I washed up and we went down to the lounge.  I don't know if it was because I was dehydrated or because I was so sad, but Ind*a has got some strong wine!  I couldn't even finish one glass!  After a little while, we went back to our rooms.

At this point, I made an emergency call to my sister.  She had been texting me the last hour or so asking  when we could talk and if I was alright.  I wasn't alright.  Thankfully, she has a friend who had adopted 3 precious boys from Guatemala a few years ago.  This friend had to go through a similar process as me.  She called my sister earlier in the day, sobbing, telling my sister that she needed to call me, that what I was going through was horrible, and since I was there alone, I would really need someone.  Boy was she right.  I don't know if any words really ever came out of my mouth the first 20 minutes of our conversation, but my sister just let me cry and cried with me.  Best. Sister. Ever.

The next morning, I woke up with renewed hope.  I know there were many people praying for me and I fully believe that the Lord answered those prayers.  I had such a peace and joy that I couldn't explain. It was as if I had crossed a bridge.  I was on the new side of waiting.  The side of waiting that has an end point.  The side of waiting that is full of confidence.  The side of waiting that will bring my daughter home.

As M. and I drove to the airport, I asked her if she thought Munni would be my valentine.  She told me that she thought it would be before then.  Of course, I got excited and M. had to reign me back in.  I told her that I completely understood that it is Ind*a....  But then, she told me the most amazing thing.  She said that for sure I would have the best birthday ever because Munni would definitely be home by then.  My birthday is the first week of March.  I just looked out the window and smiled the biggest smile.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw M. smiling too.
Last picture of my baby girl


  1. Oh, I pray it is crazy fast until you can go back to India and bring your daughter home!! *PAPERS* cause the biggest *LABOR PAINS*!!

  2. Oh wow...this post brought tears to my eyes..cannot imagine the pain you must have felt leaving her..but remember that she knows you will be back for her! Hang in there...god works in mysterious ways! Mira

  3. What an amazing time you had "learning" your daughter in the short days you spent together. I can't imagine leaving. Thankfully we did not have to do that with either one of our girls. It was hard enough having short visits for the week that we went to get Treya. Of course, she was not thrilled to see us either so each visit took a long warming up period, only to be repeated the next time. I hope that your Valentine wish comes true. Wouldn't that just be the icing on the cake! I love love love that last picture. It says so much in just the millisecond it took to be taken.

    All the best,

  4. Oh, I think this was my favorite one... I think because it is the last step before going back again. :) I cannot wait. So not looking forward to that last goodbye, and isn't it funny how that five minute ride is good at the beginning, bad at the end. Blech. But, soooo good that when you go back you will only be 5 minutes from her!!!!! Yay!!!! Praying you hear news so soon. I know you will.

  5. Look at Munni sitting there with that proud look on her brave face... that look says "Yes, that is my Munni-Mummy!" I bet she had so much to share with her friends too about her time with you...

  6. Oh Kristen, I am crying. What a beautiful, painful day you had. I cannot wait until your next trip and you having Munni home with you forever!

  7. Maybe you should've given a kleenex disclaimer at the beginning of this post . . . How very, very difficult and heartwrenching for both of you to say goodbye. I will be praying like mad for a Valentine delivery, and a time when no more days and weeks separate you.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing! I am praying you go back soon. Munni needs her Mummy.