Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Barenaked Ladies Made Me Cry

It was gloomy and rainy last Sunday when we were headed to Papa's house for dinner.  I put on my Pandora Christmas station because something about the weather was just feeling wintery.  Simon and Munni were in the backseat and I was explaining to Munni that these were Christmas songs.  She has been asking a ton of questions about Christmas.  When I told her it was Jesus birthday party, she got sooooo excited!
And then it happened.
The Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" started playing on the airwaves.  I lost it.  I couldn't stop crying.  I was so overcome with joy.  Pure, beautiful, and overwhelming joy because in the backseat sat my beautiful daughter for whom I had prayed, hoped, begged, pleaded, yearned, dreamed, imagined, and loved for years - and THIS year, this year we will celebrate Christmas together.  I was undone.  I could barely see through my tears.  Then I hear her say at the end of the song, "Mommy! Hallelujah is Telugu!"
 I said, "It is?  What does it mean?"
She said, "It is songing to Jee-jus.  We sing that in Hyderabad.  You know that?"
I told her, "I do now Munni Bird :)"
The things she tells me never cease to amaze me; man, I love her soooooooooo much!!!!!  I am thrilled for this Christmas.  I can't wait to experience it with her!

In other good news,  I finally got my child abuse clearance back from the state capital, which took f-o-r-e-v-e-r, so now I can move forward with my immigration paperwork and send my updated home study to India.  They didn't want to send Baby R's CSR until they had my updated home study, so I'm happy, happy, happy!  I still have to get the apostille step and 8,000 copies so I'm looking at about 2 weeks before it's probably in the mail but at least now I have a time frame!!!

Finally, if you could please, please pray that Munni's surgery/MRI would still happen on 12/4 I would greatly appreciate it.  She's been fighting a cold.  I've been trying to get this scheduled since JUNE so I think I will cry if it has to be rescheduled.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support!!!!!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Urgent Prayer Request Please!!!

On Orphan Sunday, I wrote a post and specifically wrote about a little girl with albinism who had captured my heart when I went to meet Munni for the first time.  I cast my stone across the waters in hopes that God would use that post to find a forever family for her.  Later that night, a family contacted me and asked for more information.

That first email led to daily conversations and prayers and tears and encouragement.  Several days ago they notified me with great joy and love that….THEY ARE MOVING FORWARD WITH HER!!!!!!!  I am THRILLED for them and THRILLED for "E" but it is far from being over.  They are in the midst of a huge spiritual battle and they need your prayers.  I am DYING to tell you the back story on this because already, it is such a beautiful one!  My hope is that one day "E"'s mom and I will be able to blogshare her story :)  It's incredible how God was already weaving our lives together and placing people in our paths so that they would find their way to "E."

During the two weeks when we were praying for them about adopting "E," I kept coming back to the same couple of verses Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139:14 - I kept thinking about how when she was being formed in the womb, God knew she would have albinism.  Our human minds label that a special need.  God labels that a special deed!  He knew the plans he had in store for sweet, beautiful "E" from the beginning and let me tell you, I have no doubts that this little one is going to be changing the world!  I also kept thinking about how she was fearfully and wonderfully made.  Yes, her albinism is what captures your attention, but it's her sweet personality and beautiful smile that keeps it!

 Their agency is 100% on board and willing to do whatever they can.  This is where we need your prayers please:

*Theirs is an unusual case to begin with and is already being handled by CARA due to some extenuating circumstances.  Please pray that CARA will contact the RIPA where "E" is and request the CSR so that CARA can match them on the CARINGS website.  It is CRUCIAL that CARA be involved so that they can be matched with "E" on the CARINGS website.   The RIPA is known for being hard to communicate with so please, please pray that the directive would come from CARA.
*Since there has been no interest in "E" and she has been there for several years, it's very possible that her CSR is outdated or possibly "misplaced."  Please pray this is not the case- that her CSR can be forwarded as quickly as possible to CARA and to the family.
*She is not listed on the special needs database but because of her special need being so unique, it should not be difficult for CARA to request the info from the RIPA.

I have been giddy with joy every day since they have contacted me.  The thought that one day she and Munni would meet again - two "sisters" with their two forever families - fills my heart full of so much happiness and love it brings tears to my eyes.

Last night "E"s dad said, "She is becoming the most beautiful girl in the world every time I look at her picture."
That's a father's heart right there.  Let's pray this precious one home!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Little Update

Munni had her EEG yesterday and for the most part, she took it in great stride
The strobe light portion of the test did not bother her at all but when it came to the blowing on the pinwheel, the wheels fell off the wagon :(  I felt so sad for her. Since her lungs are already somewhat compromised, I figured this would be the portion of the test that would cause anxiety and it did.  They try to force hyperventilation.  She was labored in breathing when she had her seizure so I'm not surprised that this caused trepidation for her.  She started to cry and stopped blowing the pinwheel and freaked out a bit.  The nurse tried to get her to respond to some of her questions but Munni wasn't having any of it.  She was upset, scared, clinging to my hand and it took a while to calm her down.
 Afterwards, I took her to buy new socks (that's what she wanted!) and candy.  She picked out her favorite - Tootsie Rolls.  On the way home from the store with Tootsie Rolls in hand, she told me, "Mommy, I can't stop eating this candy!  I don't know what it is!"  She cracks me up :)

We also finally got her surgery/MRI scheduled for December 4th.  The scheduling people were awesome and able to get it scheduled for early in the morning so I won't have to deprive her of any food.  This is a huge bonus for adoptive kiddos and a major answered prayer.  In regards to the EEG, I won't get the results for 7-10 days.   I don't know how long after for the MRI but then we will have a follow up and hopefully it will all be good news.  I would appreciate any prayers for Munni!

On another note, my furnace went out and I had to replace it to the tune of close to $6k.  This all happened right around the time my final installment was due for the first half of my payment to my agency.  Let me pause for a moment and tell you that if you ever want to be tested and tried and have the most unexpected costs and repairs happen to you, start an adoption :)  Throughout this journey there have been times when I've felt God tell me to cry out for help and times when I've felt him tell me to pray in secret.  This was one of those times when I felt like he was telling me to just pull into his presence and trust in him and pray in secret.  The deadline for the payment to my agency came and went and I didn't have the money.  With everything else going on in regards to Munni, I didn't have enough energy to stress over it.  I just kept praying.  
 Last October I had major issues with my transmission and it turned out that Nissan was involved in a class action lawsuit because they installed the faulty radiator that leaked into the transmission of the Xterras and never issued a recall even though they knew.  Those dirty dogs.  The problem didn't kick in until around the 90k mark so I think they thought they would get away with it…. I guess they weren't banking on the fact that a lot of Nissan buyers (like me) bought with the intention of keeping the car for a lonnnnnnnnng time.  Let me tell you, I LOVED my Xterra.  It was my favorite car I ever had.  So when all those problems arose I was highly ticked and even more so when the dealership wouldn't do anything.  Well, I was contacted about the lawsuit, filled out the paperwork, and forgot about it.  
When we got home from the EEG, I grabbed the mail and we walked into the house.  In the mail was a check from Nissan.  Yep.  I couldn't believe it.  It was enough to cover my final payment for the agency fees and my immigration fees!  God is so very good :)  Of all days, that was the day I needed a miracle the most.  Time and time again, God has provided.  He has shown his favor and providence and proven to me over and over what is etched on my arm, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"  That verse was a cornerstone for me for Munni's adoption and continues to be one for R's as well.

I am now waiting on my finalized home study so I can send it to be apostilled and then my dossier will be shipped to India.  I should have it by the end of next week, maybe even the beginning.  My caseworker thought I would have to wait because of Munni's birth certificate (they estimated that it wouldn't come in until the end of December!) so now that I have everything, it's all good to go!  I learned that R's orphanage is thrilled to know that she will have an Indian sister :) They know that I had to update some paperwork since I was only issued guardianship in India instead of full and final adoption.  They are working on her CSR so that it's ready to go once my dossier arrives in India.  Here comes the next miracle making moment…. That is when her referral fee will be due which is $7, 925.  That also includes the humanitarian fee that goes to India.  After that, the *only* thing I have to pay is travel.  I know travel is expensive but I will have some time to save up for that.  I'm planning on spending some time over Thanksgiving break filling out the 3 possible grants for singles and brainstorming :)

So that's where we are.  I look at her and think about all that she's faced and accomplished since she came home and I am amazed by her.  Oh, and did I mention that she got straight As on her first report card with no accommodations?  I was really proud of her because she tries hard and wants to learn.  I purposely did not put her in an ESL class.  My thesis for my Masters degree was in second language acquisition so I have very strong thoughts on the topic :)  She is doing great and learning in leaps and bounds.  I thought she would be learning Spanish as her third language but instead she's learning sign!  She had a hearing impaired friend in Hyderabad who was like a little sister to her and now in her class is a boy who is hearing impaired.  She has learned so much sign I am in awe!  One day after school I was picking her up from the center and the two of them were on the playground.  She was holding his hand and they were signing something.  I wanted to cry -  It was the sweetest thing.

Thank you for all your prayers for Sweet Munni, I appreciate them so much!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

Before I started on my adoption journey, I had no idea there was such a thing as "Orphan Sunday."  I knew about adoption, I knew about foster care, I knew about international adoption, but I did not know the magnitude of the orphan crisis in the world today.  The statistics are heartbreaking.  In India alone, there are an estimated 20 million orphans according TO INDIA, which if you know anything about India, that admittance is staggering.

 There is something about the innocent and helpless that  tug at my heartstrings.  These children don't have anyone fighting for them.  I saw with my own eyes and it haunts me.  There is one particular little girl at Munni's orphanage who I pray for constantly, hoping that she will find her forever family.  So far, no one is interested in her simply because of her appearance.  Her crime?  She has albinism.  And she is the most beautiful little girl :)  I spent a lot of time with her when I picked up Munni to bring her home.  She has the sweetest laugh you've ever heard and the most beautiful smile.  She is a little younger than Munni and she and Munni were friends.  She has now seen 5 and soon to be 6 girls in her "room" go home to their forever families while she waits for someone to want her, to cherish her, to call her beloved daughter.  She is stuck in a system of the worst kind of bureaucracy but I will advocate and fight for this little one to find a family because SHE IS WORTHY.

There was a time when Munni was passed over.  Family after family passed on Munni's file.  She was too risky.  Flagged for a future of emotional turmoil that no one was willing to pursue.  Their loss is my incredible gain.

They couldn't see past this:

But God showed me this and burned her face into my heart:
And that started a fire that raged inside me.  That fire burned brighter and brighter which led to biggest battle of my life.  But I didn't do it alone.  Friends, family, strangers... came along beside me and prayed for me, encouraged me, gave me money, cried with me, raged with me, sent me encouraging letters, emails, texts, prayed for Munni, helped distract me when I was overloaded and helped me focus when I need to the most.  They helped me make a gazillion copies and assemble the craziest amount of paperwork you've ever seen in your life!  They wrote letters on my behalf, they allowed me to photograph their families, they bought t-shirts, they bought gear from Ordinary Hero to help me win a grant, they drove to Columbus to help me get my papers apostilled, they made phone calls to the US Embassy in New Delhi, they donated their time and services, they bought me meals to treat me to a night out, they listened to me cry, they hugged me, and most of all, they loved me.  I could have never done this without the community that rose up and surrounded me and supported me.  Adoption is not just about a parent or parents who decide to adopt a child.   It really does take a community to bring a child home.  I think there's a reason for that.  These children have lost so much before they come to their forever families... a loss that many of us could not fathom.  I know that the people who have come along side me are vested in Munni.  I know they love her.  I see it in their eyes when they meet her.  She may not understand this right now, but one day she will and it will be a powerful moment for her- to know that it wasn't just me that fought to bring her home.  She was loved BY MANY.  That is an undeniable and certain truth for the many orphans who do find their forever families.
But what about the ones who don't?  That's what makes me sick to my stomach and why I can't stop thinking and praying about that little girl who is still "stuck."  I know that Munni and now Sweet Baby R. have changed me forever.  I will advocate for the orphan until the day I die.
I know that not everyone is called to adopt but there are many ways you can help.  Here are some suggestions:
If you are feeling a tugging at your heart to adopt, take that next step- it is so worth it :)
Support a family financially.  Adoption is expensive!
Cook them a meal
Donate some of your stuff to their garage sale.  Many families do fundraisers and donations like those help tremendously!
Help assemble paperwork!!!
If they have children, offer to babysit / offer a date night if they are married or selfie if single :)
Send them an encouraging note.  I can't tell you the amount of letters/texts/emails I received at a time when I needed them most.  It is emotionally draining- you need all the encouragement you can get!
Support a child through World Vision
Help spread the word :)
Donate your children's clothes to an orphanage.  I brought two suitcases full of the most beautiful dresses to Munni's orphanages.  If you could have seen the look on the girls' faces... priceless :)
Get creative!  I promise that whatever you do, you will feel fulfilled.  You will be making a difference in a child's life.

I look back over the past 8 months and I am in awe at the change I've seen in Munni.  She has really blossomed into a beautiful person:
I want that for Munni's little friend too.  I want it for all the orphans.  It breaks my heart when I think about the world we live in and that we even have to have "Orphan Sunday," but I also think about 2 things Mother Teresa said:

"If you can't feed 100 people, feed just one."


"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

So, I'm advocating for one little girl... if you are interested or God pricks your heart about her, please contact me.  I am also casting my stone across the waters and hopefully I am creating many ripples.  My prayer is that there will be a revolution of change.  A true revolt.  That people will stand up and really start fighting for these children- fighting against the system that keeps them stuck.  That wrong ideas and beliefs about adoption will be broken and a new thought foundation put into place.  I hope that in some way I have encouraged you to get involved in the orphan crisis and to "feed the one."  I also hope that you cast your stone and make some ripples :)

And in case you missed it the first time, here is Munni's homecoming video.  She was so worth the battle and so worth the wait.   Every. Single. Minute. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

8 months Home and Deep Thoughts From Munni

Last year if you would have asked me what 8 months home looked like, I wouldn't have expected to be  dealing with so many medical issues.  Quite frankly, all of Munni's medical issues took me by surprise because according to her paperwork, she was healthy.  All of the red flags on her case were considered emotional, not medical in nature.  One positive step forward is that we did celebrate the end of her TB medicine mid-October!!!  That was HUGE!  I would tease her a couple of days afterwards and randomly say, "Hey Munni, did you take your medicine? oh wait- you don't have to take your medicine anymore!!!! WOOO HOOOO!!!!" and she would giggle and laugh every time :)

But, now being home and in a safe environment has led to some other issues.  The neurologist isn't sure what is going on with her and gave me quite a list of all the possibilities.  Sweet.  She has an EEG scheduled for this Tuesday.  I would appreciate any prayers if you happen to think about it.  Also, they are going to do an MRI on her as well.  She has already been under 3 times this year and has another surgery scheduled for early December.  They are trying to coordinate so that they can do the surgery and the MRI on the same day so that she won't have to be put under for a 5th time.  Please pray that the scheduling people can work this out.  Her original date was Friday, December the 6th.  This is Munni's first Christmas celebration and obviously, I want it to be a special one.  I was hoping that we could have the surgery far enough away from Christmas so that she would be healed and not in pain during the Christmas break.

When we went to the consultation with the neurologist, Munni's behavior during the visit was an F-.  I told the doctor that she is one smart cookie and is aware of what is going on.  Thankfully, he is a compassionate and kind doctor and also very tolerant of recently-adopted-scared-out-of-her-mind-so-I'm-going-to-act-as-crazy-as-possible- children.

That night she started to ask me all kinds of questions about dying.  She asked me if Simon was going to die.  I told her yes, one day he will die.  She asked me what day.  I told her I didn't know. Nobody knows.  She told me that when Simon dies he won't be in the bed with us anymore and that will be really sad.  I told her it will be very sad.  Then she hits me with this doozy:

"Mommy, who will die first, you or me?"

I wasn't really prepared for this conversation with her, but I've always been honest so I told her, "Since mommy is a lot older than you, I will probably die first but not for a really long time; not until you are older."
She started to cry and what she said next, made me cry.
She told me, "How will I get to heaven if you aren't here to take me?  I will get lost on the way because I don't know how to get there."
I'm thinking to myself that I cannot believe the depth of this child's heart.  I hugged her and told her that Jesus would take her and when she got there I would be waiting there for her and so would Simon with his wiggling butt, all excited, jumping around so happy to see her!  She wasn't quite convinced.  So I told her, "Remember how when we first got back from India and you had never been to Papa's house?  I took you there in our car.  You didn't know the way, you just sat in the back and got to watch the trees and everything go by as I drove you to her house.  Now you know the way because we've been there so many times and you tell me to turn right and to turn left, but in the beginning, you didn't.  You just trusted me that when I told you we were going to Papa's house, that when we got in the car we would indeed arrive at Papa's house.  You have to trust me on this Munni.  Jesus will come and meet you and take you to heaven.  You will not get lost."  Then we talked about some encounters that she remembers about Jesus from Hyderabad.  It was a very philosophical evening for a seven year old :)  

The next evening, the questions continued.  This time, they were focused on our "new bodies" we would receive in heaven.  She told me, "Mommy, me thinking all day.  When I get new body, no more marks? (that's what she calls her scars) oh man she knows how to pull my heart strings.  
I started crying and I told her, "Yes baby, no more marks." And then again she pulls out a doozy, 

"And I will be white like you?"  

I told her no and she got upset and said she wanted to be white like me and I said that I wanted to be brown like her :)  And then I told her that all of us will be the most beautiful versions of ourselves and color won't matter.  I have to admit though, that it was a positive sign for me that she has attached so much that she wants to assimilate to me.  When she first came home she told me, "Mommy skin no pretty."  I thought is was hilarious at the time (and still do!)  Obviously I don't want Munni to want to be white, I'm just thankful for the attachment aspect of that statement.

Today when I picked her up from school, she got in the car and I told her I loved her.  I asked her if she knew what that meant.  She put her hands over her heart and shook her head yes and smiled.  Then I asked her, "How much do you think mommy loves you?"  She started laughing and stretched both her arms out wide and said, "THIS MUCH!" and I told her, "Nope, you're wrong."  She looked confused for minute and then I smiled at her and told her, "More. SO. MUCH. MORE!"

I made this dress!

 And this is what the end of a photo shoot looks like....
a tired, hungry, little girl with a mommy who won't stop photographing her :)

The blog makeover and the dress were my two creative outlets with all the stress and chaos going on this fall.  I was stoked that I figured out that blog thing since I don't have the money to pay someone to do it!  Plus, I'm not technologically *gifted* I always figure out some weird way that is probably the longest way possible but whatever, I love the new look!  My mom was also a big help with the dress because I forgot a lot from my 8th grade home-ec class.  Sewing takes some serious math skills!  I only had to rip out once so that's cool.  My next project is an advent calendar.  My mom and dad did an amazing job of establishing some cherished Christmas traditions in our family.  I can't wait to start those  with Munni Bird!
Hopefully the surgery/MRI/EEG results will be nothing to worry about and we can move forward and start the new year fresh.
Thank you for all your support and prayers- they mean more than I will ever be able to express in words!