Thursday, December 9, 2010
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,