Tuesday, December 28, 2010

GRATITUDE

Getting my "sea legs" back after this most incredible journey has been a mere feat. It has been nearly 2 weeks and I still don't feel quite myself. I'm not sure what "myself" really feels like anymore as I have been invariably altered...I am hoping for the better. The above photo was taken my first day back to work. Junu and I became poster girls :) Let me explain:

As a pediatric speech language pathologist, I have had the opportunity to work in many local daycare settings. Out of all the daycares I have spent time in, there is nothing like IC3 "Ithaca Community Childcare Center" http://www.icthree.org/ ! IC3 sets itself apart from the others through their solid commitment to children and families, investment in amazing staff, sharing with the Ithaca community and believing in issues that make a better world. IC3 has become a place I look forward to going to everyday, sort of a sense of home. The people have become family to me and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to share the journey to Junu with all of them. It is my hope that Junu will spend time here. I couldn't think of a place I would feel more at peace with my daughter spending time than at IC3. I feel like all the staff are already her new "didis" (aunties). Junu has spent so much time with children and young woman, that I believe IC3 would give her a sense of comfort. In fact, I know it would. Of course getting her home is my number one priority, but after that, we shall entertain the idea of IC3 becoming her "school".

So my dear friend Robin, or Binnie as I call her, worked together with Sherri at IC3 to put up this HUGE poster of Junu and I in hopes to assist me in gathering funds to put towards the unexpected and exhorbant legal fees I now had to pursue. Robin's older daughter Seneca attended IC3 as a young child and now her 2 year old daughter, Fiona, is enrolled there.

Let me tell you about Robin. Robin was my first friend here in Ithaca, nearly 18 years ago...yikes that long....how old are we??? We became fast friends. She is brilliantly silly. She has an amazing mind full of ideas, concepts, questions, solution, so much. I appreciate her "researcher" mind as I do not have that kind of thinking capacity. We could enjoy deep, complex talks about "cranial flora" and at the same time make up words that to this day her children repeat. "Can I get a ZOWIE?" Zowie has become our signature call to one another. It needs to be produced with increased vocal intensity and a slight "drawl" on the "ow" part. Given the antics of two twenty somethings before marriage, kids and serious jobs, you can imagine how such a word might manifest (hint: happy hour). But that was when we were young and immature ;) So moving onward, our friendship has stayed strong through all these years, through all our own personal changes and challenges. We are the kind of friends that never seem to miss a beat and always pick up where we left off. We haven't always seen a lot of one another because life is busy or we lived in different states , but we found ways to make time for one another. Robin was in my wedding, years back, and yes I was once married. She was there for me during many joyful and not so joyful moments. She has stimulated my mind, at times challenged me, but moreover has always loved me and this is the best part.

Robin is a "get it done" person. She gets on a mission and she is a fire cracker. She has more energy than one could imagine, I need to find out about her secret elixir . She is the mother of 2 beautiful girls, a wife, a full time researcher at Cornell University and on and on. In short, she is AMAZING. So the day I came back to work and walked into IC3, this is the poster I saw in the main lobby. I was so moved. It still brings tears to my eyes because at a time in my life when I was feeling most vulnerable and really scared, I had people pulling so much together for me and assisting in ways I couldn't do alone or maybe even at all. In fact, Robin has been my point person for the legal firm I am using and she was able to review all the contracts prior to my even returning from Nepal. She had it set up so all I really had to do was review the contract, sign and send out the money.

So I'd like to give a special thank you to all the families, teachers, old friends, new friends and future friends for your support, donations and heart felt prayers have made a difference in my life and the life of my little girl Junu. In some ways she may represent all of the children of the earth whose lives begin without the simple treasures many of us take for granted. A parent's love. If somehow Junu's situation can bring awareness to the 143 million orphaned children through the world, then perhaps this challenge will serve an even Higher Purpose.

And Robin...the words "thank you" never seem enough. I suppose the gratitude will be felt when little Junu wraps her arms around you. It is with this most difficult time that I find our friendship has been strengthened even further. That we have stepped into another phase of growing together and trusting. I suppose this is the hidden blessing in difficult circumstances; as you ride the current and bobble with the waves, underneath there can be peace, knowing and true treasures. Your love is this treasure.

So now it is onto more planning and fund raising. I have made the decision to return to Nepal at the end of January 2011. I can't bear to be away from Junu any longer than this....which is already way too long. I am doing what I can here to organize, simplify, re-negotiate financial commitments, sell that which is not essential, store my belongings and move my life to the other side of the world. While I love the home I have been in and was hoping to make it my permanent home, I am forced to let it go. I really don't know how long I will be in Nepal, given all the unknown factors regarding my investigation, but I trust all will work out for the greatest of good. As I have often referred to my faith to see me through these times, I draw upon this knowing in my Soul. It's like there is this inner GPS (God's Perfect Solution) that despite the messed up appearances and what seems like a wrong turn, re-calibrates itself, sets the course and guides me to my destination. I am trusting, even on the days I find it difficult and still listening to that small voice inside that urges me forward and tells me to keep looking up. Just keep looking up.
Peace and blessings
Sharlyn

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Carlos Bandito

Here he is.....the one, the only "CARLOS BANDITO". Famous for his "incognito" style, his over pouring generosity and of course his good looks. Last sited in Kathmandu, Nepal. Why you ask???? Helping his daughter bring her daughter home. It is rumored he has super hero powers.

Truth be told, my father is my rock, my inspiration and my support. He has ALWAYS been there for me throughout all the phases of my life....which there have been many. So, when he asked me if I was sure I wanted to go through with this adoption based on so many unforeseen challenges and the likelihood I would not be able to bring Junu home, my response was strong and resolute. I said "Dad, I can't not go (I love using double negatives), she became my daughter as soon as I received her picture way back in June. I have to go get her despite the obstacles along the way. I can't leave her there alone." He understood.

So fast forward to me making plans to go to Nepal in November 2010. My father had offered to go, but I had some concerns regarding his health. His physician had detected several aneurysms in his abdomen, in addition to some other medical issues he has had over the years. I felt very concerned and I expressed this concern to my father and even suggested he not join me in Nepal because of his health. He clearly understood my position and concern but proceeded to share the following. He said, "Sharlyn, you know how you feel about Junu? You know how you love her and can't leave her in Nepal? Well, that my dear is how I feel about you. I will not let you go alone. Barring a strong recommendation from my physician to not go, I am going with you. I am going with you to get my granddaughter." There are those times in life when the love and passion of another strikes you so deeply and you feel it to the degree that everything around you almost seizes to exist. It's as if this love and protection my father was showing me became contained in a sacred vessel where time, circumstances, factors and fears disappeared. Only love was felt. It was a most sacred moment for me, to recognize, now being a parent, the love one feels for their child, no matter what their age. What a blessing I have received, to simultaneously love another human being (my daughter) and be loved the same way (by my father). I am being ushered into parenthood in the most perfect of ways. So that was it. His physician gave the okay for him to travel and the reservations were made.

Obviously we knew this trip would invariably change our lives. We knew we would see and experience parts of ourselves as well as this new land we were in. We probably, to some degree, expected a deepening of our love and respect for one another, but had no idea how much. It is through this experience that we recognized even more, how very precious life is and how blessed we are to have the people we do in our lives. As I sit here in Ithaca, reflecting back, I have so much to share and be thankful for regarding my family, specifically my father. So much was learned and if it is true we choose our parents before we come to this world, then I give myself an A+++

My father, Carl, has always been a strong influence in my life. He has had many spiritual, physical, emotional, financial and relational challenges throughout his life, as many of us do. However, what I have appreciated so very much about him is his tenacity and ability to be strong no matter what the challenge might be, and there were many. When you spend so much time together as we did on this trip, you ask more questions and find out more answers. I found myself being in "awe" of my father. Knowing his past and his up bringing makes me even more appreciative of the father he is, it could have turned out very differently.

Nearly every evening in Nepal we would make our way up to the Chinese restaurant in our hotel. We would take this time, as you could imagine, to reflect upon the days events and plan for the following day. Inevitably our conversations would expand and I found myself asking more questions about my father's life. I guess, I felt I always knew much of my father's history, but in truth, I didn't. What a gift it is to practice "reverential listening". The kind of listening where you fully receive without rebuttal. To take in the words, the cadence, the sound of the voice, the emotions that lie underneath. It is a rich and beautiful practice.

My father has always been a kind of "magic" human being. As long as I can remember, people were always interested in him. He had the kind of personality that most liked, but also he is a "no bullshit" kinda guy, so I know there are those who didn't have the "warm fuzzy" towards him. I appreciate his ability to always be authentic, a quality many lack in today's world with image and money being the driving force. He is and has always been extraordinarily handsome. In fact, both of my parents are the kind of beautiful that causes a bit of stir. While I know I'm an attractive woman, I no where near possess the kind of physical beauty both my parents embody, but that is really insignificant. When I was young, all my 9 year old girlfriends had a crush on my father...he was my hero. As I grew to be a teenager, I found solace and safety in expressing the many factors that surrounded my teenage experience. Once I became an adult woman we came to a place of sharing on many levels of consciousness, life, spirit, God. Most of my friends found my father interesting to talk with because he has always had an expansive mind. Spiritually, he has been a great model for me because he was always seeking to know God more. I remember when I was younger and we lived in the country in Pine City, New York, he went up into the woods for 1 week to fast and pray. Now, his immediate family had absolutely no spiritual interest. He was the odd one of this bunch and as you will see, it is quite amazing that he evolved to be the kind of person he is now. You see, my father's parents were of a volatile nature. My grandmother had a temper that was poisonous, my grandfather, a WWII veteran, damaged from the brutality he experienced. Their marriage didn't last and my grandfather moved away to Iowa and I, nor my father, had much of a relationship with him. So now with a mother who was quite angry and selfish, he and his younger brother became susceptible. I had no idea how much. I just kept asking questions and this is what he shared.

He never remembered much affection from his mother, or perhaps any. She worked hard and played hard. She was a single parent in the 50's which cast a shadow upon them all. Not socially acceptable. They didn't have much, food being included here. At the age of 7 or 8, he and his brother were sent to 2 different foster homes, my grandmother didn't want to care for them any longer. Mama Jerzach's and Mrs. Bowman's. My father expressed fond memories at Mama Jerzach's as she lived on a farm. After some time he and my uncle were sent to a home in Rochester for wayward boys. I think he said they were there for 2 years. My father was in the "bad boy" cabin and my uncle was in the "smart boy" cabin. My father struggled here. He told me many stories which made my eyes well up. He was just a little boy, being tough, in a place where he had no choice, much like my Junu. Tears. So you see now why this has effected my father so greatly and why his heart is bigger than life for Junu and all the little children within the orphanage...he gets it because he was there in his own childhood.

As my father would have it, he would run away from the home in Rochester, with his little brother, and hitch hike back towards Elmira. They were caught along the way, but they didn't go back to the home, but rather back in the home of my grandmother and her new husband. My father stayed there until he could enlist in the service at age 17 and stationed himself in Alaska. Could he get a further away?

The beauty of this sharing is my greater understanding of my father's life and that there were many choice points along the road for him to stay bitter, but he rose up and chose love. He chose LOVE. He has showered my life and those around him with magic and I am forever endeared and grateful. He is the BEST father a girl could ask for and Junu already knows this truth. Thanks for reading. And Dad...thanks for being you. I love you.

P.S. Oh and for all of you who were concerned about the no washing machine at the orphanage...well Dad purchased one for them, as well as a small space heater. He couldn't not.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Home





I am home, back in Ithaca. I was welcomed by the cold and the beautiful snow. I don't think I have ever been as thankful for cold fresh air. I could breathe full breathes. It has been quite some time given the level of air pollution in Kathmandu. I am now sitting in my living room, 2 sleeping dogs to the right and one playful black cat to the left. Hot cup of water and a warm fire. The snow is falling softly outside and my neighbors Christmas lights are sparkling through my windows. I am thankful.

Leaving Kathmandu was difficulty, but because I know I will be going back soon, I felt less sadness. In fact, I feel a strength like never before and anticipate the day I can hold my daughter again and keep her with me everyday and every night.

Upon leaving our Nepali home, the Everst Hotel, many staff came out to wish us a safe journey. We made such good friends. Pandey had his cab ready to go and helped load our luggage. A small gathering of people appeared around Pandey's car. Hotel personal, shop owners, other cabbys and the door man, who is a tall Nepali man who had on a traditional looking jacket and boots. Each day he always gave a beautiful bright smile and a "Namaste"... every day. Namaste literally means I see the God in you that is the God in me. So this hub of people, who now are like family, are hovering. Pandey pulled a little something from his car and began to open it. The other men are watching and knowing what he is doing. Then Pandey places a traditional Nepali hat upon father's head and says "you are Nepali now". All the men were smiling and laughing in joy and acknowledgement of Dad's new nationality. Then Pandey pulled another something from his car, opened it and wrapped a beautiful scarf around my neck, calling me his sister. The smiles we received and the eye contact and acknowledgment of family was moving. I felt my eyes fill with tears of gratitude and thanksgiving. I know my return to the Everest will be welcoming and heartfelt.

We said more goodbyes and then we were off to the orphanage. I have been telling myself to be strong and feel the joy not the despair in my situation. I promised myself I would be strong for Junu. So this morning the children greet us as they usually do, with toothy grins and heartfelt hugs. A few, blew past me to get to Buwa. I went inside and found my girl. It's funny, every time I go to get her at the orphanage, I don't see her right away, I have to search for her and most of the time, she is right there in front of me. She has this disappearing quality to her and she gets me every time. Perhaps she does this so she can take me in first. She and I were so happy to see each other. She gives a hint of a smile and accepts my open arms. I pull her close to me and she wraps her arms around my neck in her own particular way. I love her so. We go downstairs into the office so I can give Sanu the directions for Junu's medication as well as the script to keep in her health file. Junu sat upon my lap, calmly, but I know she sensed something was changing. I asked Sanu if she had talked with Junu about my leaving yet, and she said, "no". I said, "I think it's time to talk about this." So Sanu knelt down in front of me as Junu sat upon my lap, arm around my neck. Sanu spoke about how mama was going on a big plane and that I would be back soon to see her. Junu just sat there, almost stoic. She just seemed to be accepting this. As it followed, Sanu asked me if I wanted to feed Junu and of course I said yes. Now remember, Junu has been refusing the food at the orphanage because she knows she is going with me, but today, she willingly accepted all the food I offered her. She knew I was leaving.

It was becoming that time and I needed to say good-bye. I kissed her a million times and hugged her deeply. I told her how much I loved her and that I would be back soon. I let Sanu hold her as I made my way into Pandey's car. Sanu and Junu stood outside the cab and Junu gave me the deepest look. No emotion, but a deep knowing look. I blew kisses and "held it together" until the metal gates of the orphanage entrance clanged shut. I felt the pressure build up in my chest and I just buried my head in my hands. The sobs came, the irregular breathing and then, the calm and peace that passes all understanding. Pandey looked lovingly in his rear view mirror and said "No, no, tears, be happy, she is healthy, she is yours, you are coming back. I will look in on her, she is cared for." So once again, I did what I was told, because I knew if I allowed my mind to go into the despair, it would be too much to overcome and I NEED to be strong. So that was really it. I haven't shed anymore tears about the distance between Junu and I because I know there is a greater plan at hand and I am in total trust.

We made our way to the airport and prepared for the long flight ahead. Total flight time 28 hours, yes that's it 28 hours in the plane and this doesn't include the rig-a-ma-roll within the airports. The first part of our journey was easy. God placed an angel next to me from Kathmandu to Singapore. Jax is her name and she truly was an angel. She was probably in her late twenties/early thirties, but she had a youthfulness that made her seem much younger, yet at the same time she had a wisdom that seemed ancient. She had pale fresh skin, rose colored lips, clear sea blue eyes and brownish/reddish short hair. She was a cherub. She had been traveling around Nepal and India for 6 months. She spent time in an orphanage in India where the children there are infected with HIV. She spoke about the profound qualities of these children. We spoke about how changed we both felt after being in the presence of children with so much seemingly against them, but truly knowing their strength is more than one could comprehend. She ended her time in Nepal with a 1 month Buddhist meditation retreat, so she was really clear and filled with peace. I needed this. She and I immediately found our sisterhood together. We laughed hysterically much of the flight. We had that kind of humor with one another. She reminded me of my friend Jaekah in many ways, because Jaekah is the one friend I can laugh with for no good reason...we just laugh. Jax made the first leg of my trip back home light and filled with good feelings. Dad and she had much to share as well. We all felt the blessing...again. So many blessings. So many. Our trip with Jax ended in Singapore as she was onward to Australia, home for her. I took her email and said my good-byes. I hope to see her again one day.

The rest of our flight back went without difficulty except the challenge of sitting up for all of these hours. Dad nor I couldn't really sleep on the plane. We might have a 15 minute slumber, but no true sleep. We watched movies, ate plane food, fidgeted about, and then finally I put on my ipod and listened to some music. Music always helps me cope. I tried to read, but I just couldn't do it, too agitated or something. So Claudia, those two books you bought me are still fresh, but I am thankful I had them...just in case.

We made it all the way to JFK in New York City. Now, we were almost home, so happy....BUT Delta airlines had a different plan. NEVER fly DELTA. Each time I fly with them, there is always a BIG problem. Avoid DELTA! So what happened next was the most physically difficult part of the journey. Our plane started out being delayed which then turned into being canceled. We were suppose to be back in Syracuse at 2:30 p.m., but with the re-route through Detroit and a later plane we wouldn't arrive in Syracuse until 11:30 p.m. and that is if there where no further delays. I couldn't bear the idea of getting on another plane. Dad was really fading. I was getting increasingly worried about him, his blood pressure was already high, he was sick and he was beyond exhausted. I myself was in pretty rough shape, but I didn't have a choice, so I kept trying to problem solve. We decided we would do the crazy thing and rent a car to drive home. Now we are both going on 2 days without sleep, so this seemed a crazy solution, but I wasn't thinking properly and well, that's what we did. It took 2 HOURS for the airlines to find my bag. I think Dad was about to throw the towel in, he couldn't cope any longer and nor could I...but I kept trying. Just when I was about to say "screw the luggage" and leave, it appeared. We quickly and in a fog found our way to the rental car area. We needed to take the air train. Everything seemed difficult, processing was slow. I began to remember a program on television where they studied the effects of sleep deprivation on people and then gave them a battery of tests, I knew I would be failing right now. I still can't believe I made the decision to drive.

The cost of a one way rental to Ithaca was truly outrageous. I couldn't believe it, but it was the only choice we had at the moment, or at least the only one I could think of, so off we went. Dad was becoming impatient, I was becoming defensive. We had been excellent travel partners the entire trip, but now we were beginning to crumble to the sleep deprivation and the pressure. There would be moments of sadness beginning to overtake me as I thought about Junu. Being so tired, I was having difficulty keeping my mind in the right place. So I punched Dad's address into the GPS, he was impatient about this as well, but I didn't know where the hell I was going and no way could I even try to look at a map. Thank god for the GPS. We were off. Guess what time we left NYC???? Yep, 5 p.m. rush hour. I couldn't believe this was happening. I was now sucked into a see of red tail lights. My glasses were casting a reflection and I have no idea how I coped. My eyes were jumping, shifting and all over the place. My mind completely fuzzy. My motor skills slow. I was literally slapping my face, window down, up, down, slap, pray. I prayed God would guide us home, I need to see my daughter again. This was beyond difficult. Dad was already out of it. His head would just drop like a stone and he would be out. No head bob, just gone. I knew there was no other choice, so I just kept going and praying the whole while. Never have I felt such a physical challenge in all my life, never. After nearly 2 hours, we got out of the traffic and onto the highway. I really had to stop at this point. It was now beyond dangerous and I needed to rest. We stopped at a rest area, fueled up with pizza and a big ASS coffee. Dad said he was now ready to drive. Truth, neither of us were ready, but away we went. Dad drove for almost an hour and then he fell asleep, yep, out he was and I had to yell to wake him up before we went off the road. HOLY SHIT! I was awake now. I made him pull right over and I took the wheel and drove until we were just outside of Owego, then Dad ushered us the rest of the way home. God, music and an open window kept me awake. AMEN. We made it. I was never so happy to see Kim, my step mother. My father was over joyed to be home and I was happy he and I were safe. We told stories and I ate fresh oranges. Strangely I was now more awake than ever. I decided to make my way to home, despite my father's desire for me to stay. I truly was awake awake awake. So I drove home, no difficulty. Pulled into my home and took a great sigh. My dogs and cat were over joyed to see me and I them. HOME is so good.

Oddly, I couldn't sleep and proceeded to stay up the entire night until 6:30 a.m. Kimberly came down shortly after I arrived home, she couldn't wait, and we stayed up all night. I told her more stories, we shared details of the lifetime that occurred in just 2 weeks and then she left to take her kids to school. I finally showered and tucked myself into bed. Nighty night.

I am giving myself this weekend to get re calibrated and then it is full on busy organization to reconfigure my entire life. I am going back to Nepal, somehow, someway. I don't know yet how this will happen or how I will afford the additional costs with lawyers, current expenses and new expenses in Nepal, but I trust there is a way. I have already been blessed by the generosity and caring of many people. I have been given financial support to get a lawyer, which is most important right now. I will take each day at a time and I will do my best to honor and trust. Thank you everyone who has shared this journey with me and to those of you who will continue to be part of this next phase. I am learning to put pride aside and accept help. Perhaps this is part of my lesson. I tend to wear a marter badge that says "I can do it on my own". I have always been fiercely independent, but I am learning this doesn't always serve me or my highest self. I am learning and am thankful for all of your love and support. You are teaching me so much. Many blessings. I will continue to share the beautiful stories that continue to unfold, because this story is only at the beginning. I LOVE LOVE LOVE you all. Sharlyn

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Love Day





It is my last night in Nepal. We depart tomorrow at 1 p.m. I thought I would have written so much more by now, but truth is, I've been so busy and the time to write just hasn't opened up, until now. I am hopeful to express more of this incredible journey down the road, because it has been just that, incredible.

So for this trip, I will return home without my daughter Junu. The U.S. has decided to give my case an RFE which basically means I have to further prove my daughter is an orphan. Until this is accomplished, they will not issue a visa. So I am, of course, very sad I cannot relish in her love and the love we have for one another. Today, however, was perfect and I am so grateful. We had a beautiful day. I picked her up at the orphanage early. I left quickly because I just wanted to get her back to the hotel with me. She has been refusing to eat at the orphanage, because she knows she is coming with me that day and she will have the good food. So when we arrived back home, which is now the Everest Hotel, we went directly into the cafe to get some food to take to our room. She really looked like an orphan with all her orphan clothes, but she is still beautiful. Junu is very particular about who she will go to, but Gitta, our sweet server for breakfast, was granted the special Junu acceptance. You have no idea, her acceptance is like a great boon. Gitta knew her weak point....Chocolate. Yes indeed she is my daughter. So with Junu on Gitta's hip, I meandered through the buffet and choose a plenitude of food. We brought the food upstairs and by now she has gotten the routine. I sat her upon my lap and fed her. Now she is 2 1/2 and I know she can feed herself, but something special is happening here. It's like all that she needed and secretly wanted since she was an infant is now here for her. She is accepting. She has two personalities, the survivor strong girl who is tougher than those even older than she and the most innocent precious open little being who wants her mama. I love both parts of her and I'll tell you, the strong girl is oddly comforting since she has to stay in the orphanage. We have been coined "The Keegan Girls" and we both know somewhere in our Souls that it is just a matter of time before we are together again.

I have wanted to give Junu a bath for DAYS!!!! The orphanage smell comes with her and because we have either had no time or the water is cold (because that's typical here) there has been no bath. Today, however, the water was luke warm and Dad had a great idea to heat up water in the tea pot and well, warm up the water. So we did. The bath was quick, but it was soooo good. She actually loved it. I can't wait to see her in a big bath with warm water splashing around with Lilly. Can't wait.

So dressing time has been interesting. You see, I love everything to look beautiful and of course I brought so many sweet clothes with me, but wouldn't you know, Junu has her own ideas on style. Pink is NOT it. She likes yellow and I think purple is okay. But really, I have to keep giving her choices. I've waited forever to dress a little girl up and I may have to let that one go. It's okay, I can do it. Eventually, Junu settled on a yellow shirt and cargo style pants. I had to coerce her into wearing a purple long sleeve over her yellow shirt as it's all about layering here and today it was a bit on the cool side. Trying to get a jacket or hat has been a bit of a feat.

Today was the greatest opening of all. Junu is showing more trust, more smiles, more hugs and more love. It is bittersweet given we will be separated after tomorrow. I can't think about that now.... We played all day. After jumping around, rearranging my wallet, sticker book time and just plain fun, she turned her body towards mine wrapped her arms around my neck, tight, laid her head on my shoulder and went asleep. Just that quickly. I've been holding her during most of her sleeps because she lets me, I can and I want to feel her close to me. Okay, now I'm feeling not so strong, I'm feeling the sadness wash over me. To know I can't feel her close for more than a month is almost more than I can bear right now, but somehow I will find a way.

The rest of the day, we just were with one another. We went to lunch across the street, which despite having a baby in my arms the drivers still had no mercy in slowing down or stopping, but we managed somehow. We had lunch with Dad and Pandey (our friend). I love being a mother. Today, Junu began to play with my hair, in a particular way. She would wipe my hair out of my eyes and just look at me with love. She only wants me right now and we are knowing each other in that non verbal way. She is, however, looking more at Dad and even said "Buwa" several times. She is smiling at him and let him give her some mango juice. They are connecting in their own way and of course on her terms.

Dad has had a bad cold, all brought on by the incredible pollution and exhaust. Junu has had a deep cough for the entire time of my stay, so today we went to the hospital. It was a small clinic like hospital with a pharmacy right next door. The pharmacy was like a boardwalk shop with no doors and boxes upon boxes of medicine behind the counter. Very different than the U.S., no surprise. We have been blessed again by Pandey's friendship. He had a friend who works in the hospital and was able to move up through the long wait list of people. I mean right through, just like that. Dad to the general practitioner and Junu to the pediatrician. Both were given medicine and I feel much better knowing Junu will have medicine to fight this awful cough and that Dad will have medicine to keep a deep infection from manifesting in his chest, especially given we are traveling today.

Back at the hotel, I gave Junu her meds, which she took easily. I soaked up more love and gave more love. This is it for today. It was time to take her back to the orphanage. I always dread this part. I just want to put on her jammies, cuddle up and watch her sleep, but in contrast we had to go back into the nightmare traffic and I had to let her go back to a building without heat and put old worn out clothes on her. I can't watch her sleep for a long time, today was the last day for that. My heart is getting heavier as I write this post. My eyes fill with tears. To finally hold and love my daughter has been so beautiful, but today the pain a mother feels is real. I am feeling a pain which consumes me, it goes right to my heart and I feel a taring is occurring. If I could see my heart right now it would be weeping. It would be so full of love and at the same time full of pain. The love would try to comfort the pain, but the pain would push love away, because today the pain is in charge. The mother pain. It makes me filled with even more sadness as my cousin Linnea was laid to rest today and I can't imagine the loss and pain my Aunt Rink must be feeling. Sometimes life is so difficult to understand, but what I believe to be true, is that God's center is everywhere and God's circumference is nowhere. So with this knowing, I will find peace, I will have hope and I will hold my daughter again. Peace and blessings to all. See you soon.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Adoption Day





She was waiting on the balcony like Rapunzel, without the hair. The sky was blue, the air unexpectedly clear and sun shining upon us. I entered the orphanage, went up the spiral concrete steps to the balcony. She was ready and so was I.

Sanu had dressed Junu for this special day. I had brought a back up outfit just in case, but she look so adorable, there was no need to change her. This is the outfit from head to toe....are you ready?
Upon her freshly cut hair she wore a pink hat that had a fleece brim, it framed her round face, deep dark eyes and plump lips perfectly. She was layered in white and pink. A white sweater underneath a pink overall style dress. The dress was definitely for a younger child because it was so short. In fact, during the 70's it would have been considered a "gogo" skirt, but I thought it was perfect. She wore white cotton tights and rockin' boots. The boots were pretty groovy and Sanu made a point to tell me how much Junu liked the boats. She is a groovy girl already.

Junu completely accepted my open arms today, as if she knew, which I believe she did. I scooped her up and we made our way downstairs to the official car. All her peers where exuberantly waving bye bye while simultaneously showing a banner of smiles. Their smiles are like a prayer flag to me, strung together, colorful and hopeful. Dad, Junu and I all sat in the back of car. Junu just let her body go and sink into mine. She is doing this more and more and I love it. She still is quite somber and quiet, but I can feel her opening daily.

The drive across town is always an adventure. The traffic here is nuts. Honestly, there doesn't seem to be any rules, even though I am told there are. The exhaust is suffocating and at times both Dad and I get quite light-headed; lack of oxygen. There are no regulations on pollution and you can only imagine our horror when we are stuck behind a large bus blowing black poison. I will hopefully talk more about that, but for today, our ride across town was relatively easy (Kathmandu standards). We drove to the Family and Children's Ministry. It was a gated compound with armed guards out front. Once we were allowed access in, we drove to the entrance of the Family and Children's Ministry building(see photo). We entered the building. Inside it seemed almost abandoned. We followed Kamal (our representative) up steep make shift wooden steps. I kept checking on Dad as those steps were crazy steep. Up on the third floor we walked upon an outside balcony which went the circumference around a courtyard. The rail was only 2 1/2 feet high, I never let Junu out of my arms.

As we walked down towards the Ministry room, there was an interview which was being conducted. Turns out it was Time Magazine...interesting. We walked around "the interview" and into a small room where the adoption would take place. The room felt dingy and drab. There were two long couches for us to sit upon and across from us there were two desks with officials sitting behind them. It felt tense to me and very quiet, except for the comforting coo of a pigeon here and there. All the while, Junu sat quietly upon my lap. She shifted to Sanu's lap when I needed to sign the plethora of documents, but otherwise she was happy to sit with me. She has this way she hooks her little arm around my neck, I love it. While we were there, another American family arrived to also finalize their adoption. I find it beautiful that we American families keep coming to Nepal to adopt our children despite the situation the U.S. government has put us in. Of course the U.S. government will say they "warned us", but what do you do when you get a picture of your child, the child you have been waiting to love for years? It is emotionally the same as giving birth. That child is yours in an instant and no matter what our country says or does, this truth will never change. We will go whatever the distance is for our children. And that is what today symbolized. I am a mother and my daughter is full of beauty and potential. I am joyous. I will do whatever it takes to bring her home.

The rest of the day was simply precious. We went back to the orphanage to have a traditional Nepali meal, which included eating with my hands. I did this quite well given since the last time I was a pro at this was when I was 1 year old. It was a truly delicious meal prepared by Sanu and some of the other didis. The meal included rice, dal, cabbage salad, chicken and mixed vegetables. It was all good!

After the sharing of a traditional meal, we went upstairs to the matted floor where we took pictures of all the didis. I appreciate all they do everyday to make the children's lives a little bit better. I took this opportunity to offer a simple gift of thanks. Before leaving the U.S. I purchased 5 small necklaces with a sterling silver heart on each. I bought a beautiful bracelette for Sanu for all she has done to make Junu's life better. As the didis sat before me, I realized I was short one gift. Thank goodness my brain shifts into solution mode quickly in pressured situations. I handed each didi a little red box with the heart necklace inside in just a way so as the 6th didi would be the one in the middle, she is the youngest, only 14. I her gave the beads I have been wearing the entire time I have been in Kathmandu. They are special beads I bought when I was at the Grand Canyon. They mean a lot to me. I pulled them out of my bag and handed them to her, she was over joyed. You see, her family is so very poor and she has been sponsored by the Sahayogi Samaj Nepal orphanage. When asked if she wanted to return home, she said "no". She wants to stay at the orphanage. She is amazing with the kids and shows the most love of all, well as least much as Sanu does. So to me it seemed appropriate that she have my beads. The didis kept saying thank you. I hugged them and I held my own heart necklace and said "We are sisters, we are love". We all smiled and hug once again. A beautiful moment. Dad and I have been forever changed. We have a feeling, they have been also :)

After this joyous celebration, we brought Junu back to our hotel room. She was fascinated by everything. Very quiet, no words, but enjoyed eating banana chips. She let me feed her some snacks and we enjoyed sitting on the bed together. After about 2 hours she started to get weepy and was pointing to the door. I knew it was her signal that she wanted to go back to the orphanage. Big tears came. Dad and I gathered what we needed and called our trusty friend Pandey to take us back to the orphanage. This 10 minute ride took us 1 hour round-trip. Terrible traffic. Once back at the orphanage all of Junu's friends where happy to see her and she happy to see them. This has been her home and it is her comfort. Until I can keep her with me forever, I will keep taking her back to the orphanage. As a mother, this is so hard. I want her with me, I want her to feel safest with me. Letting her go each day is so difficult, but I know, for now I am doing it for Junu. I can't bring her home, the U.S. won't let me. So until I can prove even further she has been abandoned, she must remain in Nepal.

Today, I also received an RFE from the USCIS Embassy in New Delhi. This means I now need to hire an investigator and an attorney to gather even more evidence to prove Junu was abandoned. This is taxing everything; emotionally, physically and financially. I still know and believe that God is at the center of everything, no matter what it looks like on the surface. This journey has brought me to have an even closer walk with God and in that lies another blessing. I trust there is a plan. I just need to keep walking, keep steppin', keep working towards that which means most...love, love of my daughter. It is during these times I have had the greatest blessings. I am blessed for the love of all my friends and family at home and for the love and support of my father, who has physically been on this journey with me. Kimberly, Robin and Claudia special thanks for all you are doing to help me. I love you all.

I'd also like to take a moment to honor the life of my beautiful cousin Linnea who left her body to be with God the same day Junu came to join our family. Linnea is with us, I feel and hear her laughter. She is on the other side now, but I feel her closer than ever. I love you Linnea.
Peace and blessings,
Sharlyn

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Barking Dogs, Roof Top Napping and My Tough Girl


Seulub, I think he could be my son. Really.


Some of the clothes I bought for Junu or Junibug

Dad woke me up at 3 a.m. It has been 7 days we have spent here at the Everest Hotel and for 6 nights, Dad has been woken up by a neighborhood dog. This dog literally will bark for 3 hours without stopping. No kidding. The neighborhood must be use to it, because I can't imagine he would hang around if it bothered everyone. Now any of you who know my father, understand his tenderness towards animals, especially dogs. So you can imagine our surprise, his and mine, when he called him a few choice words, more than once. We laughed, because he's kidding, but this dog was really testing his and my patience. You see, if Dad is awake chances are I am also. So guess what we did???? "Yelp" I mean yep you guessed it, Dad went down to the front desk and changed rooms. So here we are, shlepping our stuff down the hall to the other side of the hotel at 3 in the morning. I just about busted a gut when we were all set in our new room and the dogs on the other side of the building started barking and howling. True story. I'm laughing as I write. So darn hiliarous. Fortunately, these dogs don't have quite the endurance and tenacity of their neighbor on the other side.

Fast forward to later that morning. Pandey took us to a shopping center where I could purchase some clothes for Junu. After Thursday she can come out of the orphanage with me. I have difficultly maintaining control around little girl clothes. I started putting all kinds of cute outfits in my basket, so much so that when I cashed out I had a YIKES response. I decided I didn't need the sassy skirts yet, but rather the more comfortable shirts and pants. Make no mistake, they are still cute as ever.


Given Dad's lack of sleep, he decided to stay back at the hotel today and rest. So it was only me to the orphanage today. When I arrived, the kids were on the roof top, lounging. Junu was laying on her stomach still very sleeply. Sanu was there today and she and I talked a lot about what their needs are at the orphanage. She spoke about a washing machine being a huge priority. She, of course, was gracious and certainly didn't expect we could purchase this item, but I kept asking her to be honest as to what their true needs are right now. For one month they have had to hand wash all the clothes in the orphanage. I should take a picture of the piles of clothing, blankets, towels, etc. It is more than you can imagine. Just think, 18 kids all under the age of 4. Yes I said 18. In the past week 4 more babies were brought to the orphanage. Sad truth.

Junu continues to be her "slumpy" self when I arrive, however I know that she is truly happy to see me. She started to reach her little brown toes towards my leg today and began to position her body so we were touching. I approached today the same as yesterday, hanging back. The other kids gave their hellos with kisses and hugs. Seulub, who I really believe is my son (I know that sounds crazy, but truly, I believe he is) wanted to sit on my lap. Of course I loved this. He swept my hair out of my eyes and gave me his charming smile. Oh I wish I could bring him home with Junu. Perhaps another time...I pray.

So I have been informed and have seen for my own eyes my little tough girl in action. Sanu said the other kids call her "goondi" Junu which means "a don". We laughed, but really my heart was a bit sad to think she has had to be so tough. She is so delicate in many ways, yet by contrast tough and at times too tough. She has empathy, I've witnessed it, but she has no problem pushing the edges. I am curious to see how she responds to being out of the orphanage. I think she will soften and it's okay by me to maintain some of that brassy sassy self. I will share soon.

Well, I'm off to rest now. Big day tomorrow. Thanks again for all of your words of encouragement. It lifts my heart, you all lift my heart.
Peace and blessings
Sharlyn

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tumble Bumble

































Yesterday Dad and I called upon on our trusted new friend, cab driver and guide Pandey. I'll have to get a picture of him. He is a wonderful person. Every morning at 4 a.m. he goes to the Hindu temple to pray, therefore he always has a smudge of red/yellow colored ashes called a "tika" upon his forehead. In addition, thus far, he always wears the same sweatshirt, black with a yellow puma on it. He drives a red Toyota which is immaculately clean. His kindness and help have been invaluable. We told him we wanted to purchase items for the orphanage. While Junu's orphanage is small and relatively clean, it is very cold, with concrete floors and single pane windows. When asked, Sanu, the main didi and secretary, mentioned they needed blankets and a floor mat. It is winter here in Nepal. The evenings get down into the thirties, thank goodness the days get a bit warmer, but there is no heat in the orphanage. Soon she said the sun will not be out as much during the day and it will be even colder. BRRRRR. The older children, including Junu, sleep on the floor. They have a small mat, you remember the sausages in a bun one, but that is it. The concrete floor is covered with a thin dark blue indoor/outdoor wore carpet. So you get the picture, right? Cold and hard.

Pandey knew exactly where to take us. We went to a Nepali market called Ason. It seems not many foreigners visit this area. It was beautiful to me. Vendors everywhere with fresh fruits and vegetable spilling over the straw/bamboo baskets, colorful handicrafts, blankets and clothing. The contrast of bright colors to the dirt streets and brick buildings was quite pronounced. Today the market was very full...many Nepali people everywhere. There are also more motorcycles and bicycles than you can imagine and all are roaming about these narrow walkways. One's peripheral vision needs to be on high alert here or you might just get mowed down.

As Nepal is quite spiritual, you can't go many places without noticing the plethora of temples. This market was no different. Pandey stopped to bow his head in respect. As we meandered and weaved in and out of people, motorcycles, temples, flowers, fruits, etc., we found our destination; a vendor who sold trekking gear. Of course, this is Nepal with the world's highest mountain, if we are going to find warm gear, this is where we would find it. Pandey was amazing. He negotiated Nepali prices for the two 4X8 meter radiant heat floor pads and 4 mats. You should have seen us carrying these bulky items back through the already too full market. Even more comical was trying to stuff them all into Pandey's car, like trying to fit a 2 lb. sausage in a 1 lb. bag. Seriously, people were gathering around his car watching, a few making suggestions, others just shaking their head in humor. It took some time, but mission accomplished. Dad was being helpful and stepped squarely in a pile of dog poo, which is everywhere. We all worked up a sweat, but that was just the beginning. We now had to go back into the market and find blankets, wool blankets.

After 4 unsuccessful stops for blankets (I am kinda picky and I wanted good wool blankets) we found the Nepal military vendors. These blankets are seriously warm. They were perfect and so we bought 4 large and 2 small blankets. Pandey carried them on this head all the way back to the car. We stopped for a quick cup of chai tea and then back to the hotel.

Now, we really had to do some maneuvering to fit 3 adults into the already overstuffed car. Nothing short of a miracle, but we did it. I couldn't move, nor could Dad. Pandey had just enough room to drive, it was quite a sight.

Once back at the hotel, we caused another stir because of the obvious. Cab drivers, door man and hotel managers were watching us unload and then stack the items in the hotel lobby. I guess this isn't everyday happenings at the ole' Everest Hotel. But they were kind in helping us and allowed us to keep the items in the lobby so we didn't have to trek them up to our room, whew.

Everyday at 1:30ish, Kamal shows up to take us to the orphanage. Kamal is my Nepali lawyer's assistant. He is a sweet young man that I have great endearment towards. I found out he is getting his masters in literature, he's a writer. Anyone have suggestions for a good book for him???? Claudia, Quique? He likes fiction and poetry. Please let me know as I'd like to get him a gift. There was another "rig-a-ma-roll" with the items being placed into Kamal's driver's cab, but fortunately it was a larger vehicle, so we managed. Off to see Juneybug.

The children were up and greeting us upon our arrival. Waves and smiles! We brought the items right in and Dad and Kamal began setting everything up. Junu was over in the corner with a rocking horse as the barrier between she and I. When I first arrive, she tends to be somber and "slumpy" for lack of a better word. Today I decided I would certainly give her love and attention, but I would hang back more, let her come to me. So this is what I did. She did come to sit with me as we watched Buwa and Kamal set up the room. All the other kids were in a state of ecstatic energy. They were beginning to jump on the foam pads as soon as they were laid down and Dad and Kamal had a heck of a time trying to set up the mats because the kids kept jumping on them as if it was a carnival ride. Too much fun. Junu and I watched together. Her friends where so joyful. Tumble bumble it was. As you can see from the excitement and antics in the pictures above. I just kept thinking that these kids haven't been able to move and tumble in this way, perhaps ever. Everything is new and fresh to them and I noticed that the energy became calmer after the kids had time to move in this way. All my therapist friends out there know why :) I even noticed a few future athletes in the bunch as well.

The day unfolded and Junu kept her reservation, however I noticed she was making more eye contact and was watching me when I was engaging with the other children. I kept giving her a simple touch and look here and there, but as I said, I really kept some distance today. After snack, we all went back upstairs to play. The floor was soooo nice now. Junu was getting a bit rough with the other kids at times and I just tried to redirect. She was wanting to get my attention. She also started to push into my back and even bonked me on the head with a ball. She would look for my reaction and then smile while moving away. I acknowledge her, but I really didn't want to set a precedence of hitting me to get my attention. I just rolled with it, because I thought, "well you can work on that stuff later, she is making contact and that is a big step". So this kind of "play" continued for a bit. Then she took a bag of toys and without being provoked she clocked a child in the head with it, kinda hard. Okay, now mother moves in. I took the bag away, put it up, said no, tried to get her to look at me, but she was like a slithery snake trying to get out of my arms. This time, not so much. I picked her up, she was kind of pushing me away and I said, no, I'm going to hold you now, nothing you can do is going to make me not love you and I just held her. I wanted to try and get her attention away from the kids and the orphanage, so I went to the window and looked out with her. She started to calm a bit and I could feel her energy shift to acceptance. I rocked her while standing and just held her. She let me hold her fully and then she put her little cinnamon colored arm around my neck and her head on my shoulder. She released her tough girl self to her mother. Ah, yes we are beginning understanding each other. I love her little brown "hinney" and when she was in my arms she relaxed enough to let a little gas go. Funny how you don't mind these things with your own child. All you parents understand and now I am part of that club, AMEN. Junu and I continued to hold one another for about 15 minutes and then, unfortunately I had to leave.

Today was marked by another peeling of the onion layer, more uncovering our fears and courage to step closer to one another. She does understand I am her mother and I guess, as I tell all of the parents whose children I work with, our kids will always test us the most. So interesting to be on this side of the fence.

Well, I am behind a post by one day, so I will do my best to catch up because the next day held even more break throughs, but for now, I must be off with Dad to get a few items and to start pricing washing machines. The orphanage doesn't have a working washer, can you imagine??? All laundry has been done by hand for over 1 month. We will see what we can do.

Much love from here in Nepal.
Peace and blessings,
Sharlyn

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Emotional Dam Burst Open Today

Junu, Seulub and Supria are ready to for a joy ride on Sanu's scooter. They were having so much fun, lots of laughs. Junu and Seulub are especially close and if ever I could adopt again, he would be my son. I adore him...and so does Junu.

Today has been the hardest yet. Junu is still very reserved, even though she has moments of acceptance. To not be able to care for her the way I desire, because she is not ready, is beyond difficult. It is excruciating. Today my prayer was to remember that God is at the center of everything and even though I am saddened, I continue to trust that God is right where we are now. I prayed for more strength and patience. My prayers have been many. All the other children are overjoyed with my presence, seeking me out, wanting to be hugged, picked up, swung, etc. Junu still hasn't come to me on her own. I am crying as I write this because today the flood gates of my emotions burst, they just couldn't be contained any longer. I've held it together and been so strong through this process, but today was time to feel all the feelings. Most of all it is the feeling of sadness. Sadness that she is where she is and I can't yet express my mother self.

It has been 4 days and well, I guess each day I see and feel more. The first few days I was so focused upon Junu and just the shear joy of meeting, I think I blocked out where she really is living. Today, however, I saw so much that made my heart ache beyond belief. The way they sleep, how the didis set them all up on the little potties, how they are fed, how they are dressed and how they don't get a parent's love. Now as I have said, I am so grateful for the woman who care for my daughter, they are really wonderful, but it is still an institution and that is what I saw today, an institution that lacks many of the comforts we take for granted. It's cold, stark and small. Most of the time, the clothes are too big or too small. They don't have enough socks and their little feet seem so cold to me. Today Junu was watching one of the didis getting herself ready to go out for an errand. Junu watched intently as the didi combed her hair put on a pretty jacket and then got 4 of the children ready. I guess they were going to the hospital for check ups. The children were dressed in "better" clothes than usual. Junu became upset and one of the didis said she wanted to change her clothes (which she has had the same shirt on for 3 days). The language barrier is also not making this any easier. So I asked if they could get some fresh clothes for her and they did, but when I went to put them on she resisted. I thought she was resisting me, but what she wanted was pretty clothes. The clothes they gave me were as you would expect, older, worn and boyish in style. I just wanted to weep right there on the floor, with everyone standing there. She just wanted something pretty. I tried to communicate my understanding. I don't know if she got it.

Dad and I are making a list of what the orphanage needs and we will be doing what we can to provide those items. In the meantime, I keep remaining hopeful the U.S. will grant Junu a visa sooner rather than later. All the other countries who had pipeline families with child matches, processed those adoptions and granted visas without difficulty. The U. S. is the ONLY country who has denied visas to these kids and has stranded many of its citizens here in Kathmandu. There are approximately 10 or more families who have chosen to stay here until visas are issued, some have been here since August, how is this right in any way??? Many others have had to leave their children in the orphanage or make other arrangements for the child's care because the U.S. won't issue a visa. And in all of these cases, not one has shown to be fraudulent, but because we can't prove fraud didn't happen, the big ole "not clearly approveable" has been stamped on Junu's file as well as many other families. It is terrible and I can't get into this right now, but I will be posting more information about this after I sign the adoption decree which is Thursday.

There is so much more, but I am emotionally wiped out. I left today with a heavy heart. Tomorrow is a new day and I will continue to pray for God to move mountains. While in the midst of this emotional state, I can still see the blessings and I still have great hope. The people of Nepal are beautiful.
Peace and blessings,
Sharlyn

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Sacred Temples of Pashupatinath and Boudhanath



This morning (Monday) was filled with visiting sacred sites here in Kathmandu. Dad and I have been having difficulty sleeping and waking up around 4 a.m. Yes, I said 4 a.m. I sometimes fall back asleep, but today we just stayed up. We were ready for the continental breakfast by 7 and out the door by 8. We choose a driver today whose name is Pandey. In the Nepalese culture, negotiating the price of everything is expected and being we are foreigners, the prices is often double for us. So I have been practicing this skill, as it is not a natural quality I possess, but I'm getting better. I intend to negotiate a least once a day while we are here.

Boudhanath is a "jewel point in the center of a natural mandala, a store of sacred energy" and sits at the center of the city. This part of Kathmandu was literally built up around it. Boudhanath is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. Times past, travelers would stop here for the blessing of a safe passages over the mountains. It is the center of Buddhists studies and you can experience much of the traditional craftsmanship within the grounds.

Upon entering you see the great stupa looking at you. I literally was filled with goosebumps from head to toe. The spiritual energy is palpable. There is a calm that exists within the site. How could it not be with the smell of incense, the prayer wheels turning, monks everywhere, people praying and the presence of God. I have always appreciated the non-violent nature of Buddhism. Upon entering the sacred temple I felt a rush of peace. I bowed my head in prayer. I prayed for my daughter, I prayed for the children, I prayed for my cousin Linnea who is battling cancer, I prayed for peace. I will return to Boudhanath again on this trip. I want Junu to see and feel this beautiful place.

Pashupati is the Hindu site we visited. The picture with all the colors was taken there. In Hinduism I have appreciated how they couldn't comprehend God as one Being, therefore they used numorous dieties to represent all aspects of God. Each diety has a story and an animal counterpart. The cow is very sacred and if you happen to kill a cow you go to jail for 20 years. Even if you accidentily kill a cow, you still go to jail. I have seen 1 big ass bull and 1 big big cow, just hanging in the street. I'll try to snap a photo next time.

The truth is, I found it interesting from a cultural/archeological perspective, but I didn't like the way I felt while we were there. There was not a feeling of peace or calm. It was in stark contrast to what I felt at Boudhanath. I have no need to go back.

So this was our tourist jaunt. It was just before we went to the orphanage on the same day as I posted "the emotional dam burst open". I have this post a bit out of order, but that's how I've been lately...a bit out of order.

Peace and blessings,
Sharlyn

Crayons, Bubbles and Balls Oh My!

Today was all about crayons, bubbles and balls. Dad and I took a cab ride to a multi-level department store in a fairly nice part of Kathmandu. (side note: I really need to take some photos and attempt to describe the cab experience at some point, yet not now) We found exactly what we were looking for, fun and interactive toys. We had two bags worth of 6 balls of various sizes, 2 large sketch pads, a ring stacker, a box of bubbles, and 14 small boxes of Crayola crayons. Dad wanted to carry both bags...hmm yeah Dad I've got your number, you want to be the Buwa with all the fun stuff. I asked him to throw me a bone, so he tried to give me the smaller bag, but I assumed the bigger bag. Yes, I am still daddy's girl :)

The kids were all sleeping once again like sausages in a bun. Junu was part of the bun since she was on the end. I had to take a little nibble, which she accepted. She let me pick her up and cuddle her as she woke slowly. Already she was different today. She was much more accepting to all my hugs, nurturing kisses and overall touch. Those of you who know me understand I don't hold back on showing affection, so this is a great step. As all the children began to wake, they began to take interest in the balls. We had so much fun, kicking balls, throwing ball, catching balls, popping bubbles and coloring. I think coloring was my favorite part. They all were huddled around the large sketch pad each trading off different colors. Even those that tend to be more active sat for a long period of time and colored. Of course at some point the tide turns to rougher seas as the "I've got to be possessive about these items" kicks in. It's understandable, they have to be aggressive and get/keep what they want. Truly the strong do survive. I, of course, am always trying to develop positive play skills, so we took turns a bit and traded toys. Eventually, however the items (except the balls) where put up. If I lived here I would love to do a play activity with these sweet peas.

Now, today I really started to see my daughter's personality emerge and lets just say, I think she runs a lot of the show. I have noticed that the other kids don't often pick on or grab items from her. If a child does, she is quite tenacious in getting it back or one of her possi will bring it back for her. Really, it's funny. I think she also has quite an influence over the didis as well. For example, her ball rolled down the steps, she went down to get it and then she started to cry/yell a bit. She was speaking in Nepalese to a peer, so I obviously didn't know what it was about. I assumed it was about her ball...but no. It was about the fact that one of her peers had on the orange sneakers that she likes and apparently has claimed for herself. The didi knew this and told me whilst at the same time she took the shoes off the little boy and put them on Junu. She was happy, he was sad. I was enlightened to her power of persuasion. Kimberly, I think we are in for it between Junu and Lilly. Oh and Robin, I think we need to include Fiona in this pack.

Let me just add one more little funny story. One of Junu's friends dropped their ball and she quickly scooped it up. It took some maneuvering as she was holding her own big ball. Of course her friend cried, but she quick like a sly little fox ran off to the far room. Along the way she gave me a mischievous grin. She disappeared for a moment and then strolled back out in the main room without the other ball. She only had her own ball and she thought this was very funny. She intentionally hid the ball on her peer, but it didn't seem mean, it just seemed a bit naughty. I was laughing so hard because it really was funny and her peer was already in retrieving his ball. All was well. She really has a great sense of humor and I think she is going to make me laugh more than I have in a long time.

I guess the last moment I wanted to share tonight is when I felt her really like my kisses. She meandered out to the balcony with her ball. I followed her. The sky was filled with warm sunshine, there was a soft warm breeze and we were alone. I knelt down and pulled her little body close to mine. Her back was to my chest. I gave a multitude of kisses on her neck, first one side then the other. I could see she was smiling and began to move her head to one side then the other to receive more kisses. We played this game for a bit and then we joined our friends back inside. Pure happiness.

As every visit has it, there is a time for us to leave. Today I left Junu with a picture of Dad and I. I hope it stays intact. She held tight. I also had the opportunity to realize the didis thought my father was my husband...YIKES. Man, I made that clear right away. Dad had a major sigh of relief also. All is well now.

We were ushered out to our cab by shoe helping boy and spit fire boy. Shoe helping boy was blowing the sweetest kisses and spit fire boy's flame was slowly becoming an ember. He looked so sad as Dad and I drove away....I cried.



I am so grateful for this blog and my ability to capture the most profound time of my life thus far. Thank you to all of you for reading.
With gratitude,
Sharlyn




Friday, December 3, 2010

Buwa of the House



Today is the second day with Junu. We arrived around 1:15. It was still naptime. Dad and I went upstairs to find all the kids on a small futon-like cushion snuggled up with one another. They looked like little sausages in a bun. It was the sweetest sight. I wanted to take a picture, but felt I should ask permission first. The picture didn't happen, but this sight is etched in my mind. There were approximately 11 toddlers together, 8 side by side (Junu being one of them) and 3 at the crown of the other children's heads. Beautifully precious.

Dad and I went outside into the small courtyard and sat in the sun while waiting for our girl to wake up. One of the younger didis (pronounced "dee dees" which are the nannies) brought Junu out. She was still waking up, still very sleepy and teary. She came to my lap, but I could tell this is still difficult for her. Difficult to let go, difficult to trust, difficult to be herself, difficult to respond, difficult to look at me. Once again, I am so grateful for the patience God has given me and for the love which permeates all of these appearances. I can handle this process of bonding. Junu broke into tears, she cried and cried. These tears seemed deep. Deep in the sense it had to do with her awareness of what is happening, her own fears perhaps, her sense of vulnerability. One of the other didis came to comfort Junu. She held out her arms for Junu, but Junu didn’t want to go…she wanted to stay with me despite her tears and discomfort. I can’t tell you how this felt, it is beyond words.

Junu continued to cry big crocodile tears; Dad gave me his hankie to wipe them away, which I did lovingly. We joined the other children back in the building and yes, Junu was still crying. Her main didi, Sanu, brought Junu into her arms and she calmed. Sanu has been with Junu since she entered the orphanage at 5 weeks of age. It’s hard at times to walk this road because I know given time, she would calm in my arms, but it seems the didis don’t really want Junu to cry. I’ve never minded tears, I just know a calm quiet presence can change it all. I am not yet able to be myself, but in time, this will change. I keep trusting.
While we were up in the playroom, we played with my pink scarf. Sanu and I wrapped it around Junu’s head, hence the photo. As you can see, she tolerated the experience, but was still distant. Dad hopped in for a quick photo opt, of course with a little one attached to his hip. And speaking of Dad, we have decided he is the Buwa, grandfather, of the house. The kids are nuts over him. He was swinging them from their feet. They couldn’t get enough. Really, they’d lay their little bodies down in front of him and put their feet in the air, ready to go for another ride. He was soooooo tired, but he couldn’t say no, he just kept swinging and playing. A wise teacher once said “Playing and praying are the same vibration”, therefore today Dad is a holy man. Actually, everyday. And so….that’s why he is now buwa, the children’s name for him.

The most precious time of this day was when Junu and I sat together while Buwa was playing with the other kids. She sat and let go. She explored my heart necklace with her tiny fingers (I’ll probably never take if off or at least until she can come home with me), she played with the beads, looking at them intently. She rested with me, it felt so wonderful. The little bear we brought her the other day has now become her favorite. The didi said that after we left the first day, she went to the bear and carried it around the rest of the day. Even the other kids know it’s her booba (bear) and will spontaneously bring it to her. She seems to be very respected and cared for by the other children.

Upon our leaving she was up and playing with the other kids. Here’s the picture. In the playroom there is one traditional rocking horse with two kids on it, a plastic rocking toy that Junu is in and one of those rocking wooden boats filled with at least five kids. They were in a full on rocking frenzy while simultaneously yelling “bye bye” with all their might. It was a hypnotic mantra of shear joy and child energy.

After four hours of play, it was time for us to leave, I never want to leave. She was still in her rocking toy, but stopped to receive a big buwa kiss and a sweet mama kiss. As Dad and I descended the stairs, the children rushed to the stair rail waving and saying “bye bye” “bye bye buwa”. I think these children have stolen Dad’s heart. He woke up in the night with tears streaming down his face. The situation is so sad and I will describe more of what is going on in a later post. For now, however, lets leave this day knowing that we, Dad and I, will NEVER be the same again. We are forever changed by Junu, the other children and the people who are devoted to caring for the children who have been left behind. Junu is the last one to be adopted from her orphanage. With adoptions being shut down in Nepal, it is unlikely they will have a family. Their life may continue to be in this orphanage. Despite the love and nurturing of all the didis, it is not the same as the love of a parent. Dad is really touched and deeply sad. We will do our best to make our time there fun and full of love. We are soaking up each moment, each hug and each laugh.

And so, before I close for the day I want to take a moment of thanks for my father. He has been the most incredible support. He has cried with me, made me laugh, protected me and inspired me. This trip has been physically challenging for him, but he is always there with a smile, a hand to hold and shoulder to cry upon. Sometimes I call him my little Sherpa. He is so comfortable with Junu and already swoops her up in his love. He has been willing to go the distance with me on this adoption and also feels the plight of all orphans on his heart. I pray there is a way to change this world so every child has a loving home. It is my prayer, it is my conviction, it is for all the children and it is for Junu.
Peace and blessings,
Sharlyn