Yes, we are still alive and well in Missouri!! Sorry about my shameful lack of posting! We have an OFFICIAL ADOPTION!!!! On November 18th, 2010, his real name was proclaimed by the judge and he was declared legally and forever ours...sort of. Our hired attorney did not know that the judge HAD to see the original Hague certificate (not a copy) in order to do the adoption. Therefore, after seeing the mortified looks of horror on the faces of parents and grandparents present, he agreed to go ahead and proceed, but pended it until we brought the original to him. We did our thing, took the pictures, celebrated, and then mommy and daddy beebopped it back to the courthouse with the original that afternoon.My dad wore a USA flag tie that he said he is going to put in a box and save until Joseph turns 18! How thoughtful is that??
Word to you other mommies... BRING ALL OF YOUR ORIGINAL DOCUMENTATION!! We trusted this attorney too much, I guess. We were also able to get a Social Security Number even though we were told we would have to wait until the birth certificate. The SS office said we didn't need that, so he already has a number. That means we can claim him on the taxes for this year! Hooray! Great news since EVERYTHING gets put on hold during an adoption.
All in all, this Christmas finds our family healthy, happy, official, and thankful. We are thankful for the adoption of our precious gift in Joseph. We are even more thankful for the gift of the Christ-child. Without Him, we couldn't be adopted ourselves. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
I was properly chastised today by a friend reminding me of the neglectful lack of blogging I have been engaged in!!! Life with 3 boys is nothing short of "warp speed". We do have MUCH news to report and new pictures, of course!! First of all, JOSEPH IS WALKING!!! It was a few lunging controlled falls in August. Now, it has evolved into sure-footed, all-terrain, running (unless he stops to explore an item of interest). So, in case some of you ISRC mommies are counting... he was just shy of 16 months when he started taking steps.
Clothes are now a big issue-- or should I say a "small" issue?! Summer was great because shorts can be...well...short on him. I could buy 9 month size and they would fit. BUT, the weather is cooling off and that will no longer fly. We have every make and model of overall for my "no hynie, no waist" baby (seriously, 5 pair at last count). We are also fans of Carters' one piece diddies. My mother in law purchased some knit outfits and sewed snaps to make our own adjustable waist. Did everyone know that they don't make the really cool adjustable waist clothing until 24 months? Yep, it's true. If you have a skinny baby in America, you are just going to have to get creative. I have sewn unsightly "tucks" in the waists of all of his other pants hoping that the shirts will cover. Oh well. He's so cute, noone is looking at his clothes!!
I have had questions about homeschooling with a busy Joseph. It has really been pretty fabulous, actually. We are tackling second grade, kindergarten, and emerging language skills during our days. Baby gates are saving my life. I block all of us into the kitchen/morning room area and we get to work. It takes a little more time to get through, but it is developing patience in all of my children. They sometimes have to wait for me to get something or do something for a brother before I can get to their need. I really feel like we spend more time interacting with Joseph now that we are "doing school" because we all stay in one room together. This summer, we were always up to something! Like any honest homeschool mother, I will admit that I have my moments of dreaming of the big yellow bus, but we don't feel ready for that just yet!
Last, but certainly not least... WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!! November 18th is the day that Pallab, FNU (final name unknown?) will become our Joseph Pallab F.... officially!! Are we ready to be DONE??? YESSSSS!!!!!! This process has be the longest thing I think I have done in my life. It hasn't been the longest chronologically speaking, but mentally and emotionally it takes the prize. Would we do it again??? Just look at these pictures that a dear friend took yesterday and see if you can find the answer in the eyes of our miracle?? (We weren't dressed for pictures, BTW... I know Thomas J is wearing a Superman tee shirt... gasp! I am adequately mortified:) Our boys are God's gift to us. They are all so "fearfully and wonderfully made"... one of them just happened to be made in India!
I remember reading a post from another "adoptive mom" before we got Joseph. She had an incident where she "forgot" that her child was adopted and gave family medical history information for him. It was hard for me to understand how she could have not remembered that he was adopted. Well... I get it now!! My 7 year old was asking why he was small for his age and his brother is tall (they are 2 years apart and very close in size). I explained "heredity" to him and how he was taking on characteristics of my side of the family while his brother seemed to be favoring Daddy's side of the family. I almost said that it looked like his brother, Joseph was going to be taking after the smaller side of the family, too!! OOPS! I caught myself and smiled in my heart. Then, I explained that Joseph has different heredity, but that he would likely be closer to his size than to my taller guy.
The other thing that I have been pleasantly surprised about is how friendly and accepting our town has been! Whenever we go out, I have had so many sweet, beautiful comments. I have been braced for rudeness, but haven't really had any incidents to report. The only "annoying" thing is that we do get stopped A LOT. One day, I was having a difficult grocery trip and came home wishing I had a sign that read, "There's nothing to see here. Yes, he is very cute but I am just a mom trying to get my groceries and go home!" Of course, I want to reflect positively on adoption. I try to be friendly and vaguely answer questions when appropriate.
Lastly, just wanted to post some summer pics. Yes... we have been swimming A LOT!!
Now, we are going to try to enjoy our last few weeks before we re-start our homeschool year. Sniffle, sniffle that the summer is winding down. Enjoy, everyone!
Okay-- so it isn't the post on citizenship that I had promised, but I just had to share my birthday surprises with everyone! Bill and my Mother In Law went in together and purchased a NEW CAMERA for yours truly! Get this... it is waterproof up to 10 feet and "SHOCK PROOF" up to 5 feet meaning I can drop it!!! Here is a picture I took of the boys in the pool. I know Joseph looks a little bit dazed. I promise that he had fun that day!!
THEN... my mother and grandmother purchased the shoes I have been salivating over since I first saw them! I have very high arches and these shoes feel WONDERFUL on my feet. AND I think they are so cute with the sparkles on them. They make me feel like a little girl! The shoes are supposed to shape up your tooshee and legs. I'm not calling Sports Illustrated just yet.
They also gave me a big bag of clothes. I AM NOT A SHOPPER, but these ladies purchase almost all of my clothing making them my very own personal shoppers. I always love what they pick out and the best part is that I don't have to shop for it.They are a huge blessing to this busy mom.
My family and hubbie went out of their way to make this Birthday so very special. I love them all so much!
On the adoption front, we have officially retained an attorney to help us with the finalization. You know, I didn't give all of this much thought on the front end. It was ALL about getting Joseph home. Now, I wish we had taken the time to educate ourselves on how to go about the business of legalizing stateside. Each state is different, but we feel an urgency to make this bond official.
This stage of the adoption reminds me of our (Christian's) spiritual adoption as joint heirs with Christ. The Bible reminds us of our TRUE identity and that our old selves are buried IN CHRIST. We are ready for Joseph's true identity to be declared and want him to have all legal rights as a son because we love him. Just as we can do nothing to "earn" our salvation, he doesn't have to to anything-- it is all being done for him. So many beautiful parallels of God's grace in adoption. That is one of the millions of reasons we think adoption is a remarkable thing.
I owe an apology to all of my sweet bloggy friends. My blog time has been replaced with collapsing at night. I don't think I realized how much "nervous energy" I was fueled with during the waiting time for Joseph OR... I am five years older than I was the last time I was chasing a VERY BUSY baby around all day. It has not been unusual for my husband and me to go to bed before it is fully dark outside this summer!!! I was going through the trip to India chronologically, but I think I will now just "hit the highlights" because so much has happened since then that I want to post and who knows when I will be able to blog again (at this rate!)
Our flight to Delhi was uneventful and Joseph was a complete dream on the flight. The Dr's appointment was traumatic. They required 6 shots and examined our Rupees much longer than they examined him. The only decent, caring thing the Doctor said was that he needed, "fresh air and a lot of love" and that he should grow and do fine. Then, they proceeded to jab him 6 times while we had to hold him down screaming and holding his breath. We were all crying by the end. BARBARIC is the word for that. INHUMANE also comes to mind... but we survived.
Embassy day was actually pleasant except for the fact that we brought electronics that had to be checked. DON'T BRING ELECTRONICS that you have to check. You will have to wait in a long line in the heat to check them and to pick them up when you are done. It was also funny that we brought a little "star teether" that runs with batteries. This both entertained and confused the security officers. They asked me to take out the battery. YOU CAN'T TAKE OUT THE BATTERY, so we offered to let them keep it. They declined, but wanted to see how it worked, so I had to gnaw the teether in front of them! So funny! We had to pick up his Visa the next day after 3:00. Here is a great picture of Bill with our documents. He was totally our legals man on the trip.
The trip home was LONG, but thanks to an amazing baby and these super cool bassinets, our little guy missed most of it:
We finally arrived home to the United States feeling a new patriotism and contemplating the idea of "citizenship" in a new way. I plan to write a post about that-- hoping this week in honor of July 4th. We just wanted to be on American soil. We sat on the runway in Paris praying that our plane could just leave and land ANYWHERE in the US. We did get to leave that evening 3 hours late to land in Atlanta. We missed our connection and stayed in a hotel, but there were no complaints from these thankful passengers!! Here is a picture of us holding our last tickets that would bring us home:
NOW-- here are some newer pictures. Joseph has absolutely flourished since he came home!! Finding fresh air in Missouri is not difficult to do at all. Here are a few pictures I would love to show that Doctor in New Delhi! How are we doing on the "fresh air and love" thing? I am pleased to show everyone "fresh air"
And lest we forget "Love":
Finally, I want to add that we have had some rather unpleasant "firsts". Upon arriving home, Joseph was terrified of all things wet. Baths were particularly traumatic. What do you do as a mom? I tried everything. Finally, I decided to use the sink instead of the tub. The first attempt produced back-arching screams mixed with new curiosity. By the 9th or 10th attempt, we had success:
Another "first" was the haircut! Very emotional for all involved. We went from this picture taken that morning before getting dressed for the "Cookie Cutter's Kid's Salon":
He was not impressed with the DVD's or Bubbles as distractions. I guess those are for kids who aren't as smart as my boy. He wasn't buying it and had his eye on that lady with the scissors! We have no photos of the actual process. We will just say that it was not a fun "first". The finished product was darling and we no longer have to answer the question, "How old is she?"
We are all doing great and enjoying our summer. God is good and our family is blessed. We now have 3 beautiful children. There is nothing like a house full of rowdy boys..."Sons are a heritage from the Lord...Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them"... Psalm 127
Okay, so I am so slowly unfolding this... sorry! It is finally time to share GOTCHA DAY! Ms. Roy told us to call her at 10:00 am (yes, this makes the third time we have called her- per her requests) to figure out a time when she would bring him to the hotel. I was still praying that she would change her mind and let us come to the orphanage. She did not and said that she was going to bring him to our hotel "around" 12:30 or 1:00. You have to understand India to know that made me nervous. Time seems to be worn loosely there... it is really more of a time vortex, but I was hoping for promptness. That already felt like too long to wait to me:)
When we came back from breakfast, the housekeeper had set up the room SOO sweetly. She folded Joseph's little blanket, decorated with toys, and put some music on! I couldn't believe that he was on his way FINALLY!!
Here we are on GOTCHA DAY.. milling around after breakfast.
We thought we would go ahead and try to get massages while we waited, so we went to the spa. Well, they didn't have any openings that morning, but we got to meet the gal in the spa (Ms. Roy-- isn't that funny?) She immediately asked us if we were Christians and then told us her story... very cool. She had an extra area in her home where she would house volunteers from Mother Theresa's Home for the Destitute and Dying. One day, she even had Mother Theresa stay with her. She wanted to make her a special meal so she asked Mother T. what she liked best. Mother T. responded that she loved "mutton", but would not allow her to make it for her unless she could make it for everyone volunteering that day. This woman proceeded to buy and make mutton for LOTs of people because she so wanted to prepare a meal for Mother Theresa. She said she had to hire a caterer and it was quite expensive, but was such a blessing to her. She wanted to meet Joseph when he arrived and hugged us and prayed a blessing on us. It was precious... no massage, but that was why we went there, I think!!
Needless to say, we went downstairs at 12:15 and fixed our eyes on the door.
Here is a picture of the lobby of the hotel.
At 12:45, here was the sight!!! (sorry it is sideways... does anyone know how to rotate this?)
We were completely thrilled to see our angel for the first time. We also have some great video of me crying like a baby, but I don't know how to get it from camera to blog! Sorry!
Ms. Roy wanted to go straight up to our room, so we went up to our room with ME HOLDING JOSEPH, of course. Here is the blessing in having to meet at the hotel... we had uninterrupted time with Ms. Roy and one-on-one time with our oh-so-shy little guy. It was calm, controlled, quiet, and ALL ABOUT Joseph. I didn't have any other responsibilities or emotions to process. It was PURE DELIGHT meeting our son. Now that I know more of his personality, it was exactly what he needed as well. We met him and snuggled him a few minutes when he began to fuss. Ms. Roy took him and put him down for a nap. I will post the video of that in the next few days, I hope. She patted him and sang a lullaby to him (I guess) in Bengali. The little traumatized angel went right to sleep!
Then, we sat down with Ms. Roy and took care of all of the paperwork. We were able to calmly and quietly ask all of our questions. We were also able to give her the generous donations from our church of diapers, nipples, and over $300 for milk money. We think we heard a sigh of relief when she saw all of the donations! It was truly a blessing to have that time with this remarkable, sweet-spirited woman. She is so gentle and kind.
It was hard to see her go, but she was the conduit to bring us the most amazing gift...our son.
He slept for what felt like an eternity! Bill and I would just stare at him, then look at each other and laugh out loud. It was like, "can you believe what just happened and that he is right here?" The whole thing was this gentle, loving transaction. She stepped out of his life representing the care he received at the orphanage and then we were there when he woke up. He did wake up and was SO SAD. He had no idea what had happened and there was nothing familiar. I felt sorry for him and wanted to tell him it would be okay, but he had to have time to feel it. After a few hours of sadness.. not crying constantly, but off and on tears, he was smiling and laughing. I guess he figured we weren't so bad after all. By evening, we were seeing lots of this...
So-- that was our Gotcha Day in a nutshell. Was it anything like I imagined it would be? NO! Was it orchestrated by Joseph's Creator to be exactly what he needed? Absolutely! I will always regret that I never got to see his "first home". I wanted to see, smell, touch, feel what it was like. BUT- this is his story, not mine and this is how God ordained it to be.
I am finally writing "India"- part two. Bear with me as things are one baby crazier than they used to be:)
Let's see... I left off with our arrival in India at the Kenilworth Hotel the day after Joseph's first birthday (we landed in Delhi on his birthday--poetic, yes?) We woke up and went downstairs for breakfast with plans to call Ms. Roy at 11:00 that morning for "plans". At this point, we were still thinking she would be bringing him that day to us. After finishing breakfast (I took pictures, but I don't want to bore you with food pics again), we planned to walk a few blocks to the Victoria Memorial Park before coming back to make our call to Ms. Roy. We got directions from the hotel and started off. All was well (uncomfortable, but not unsafe) as we started off. We stopped to look at the statue of Indira Ghandi and we were taking in the sights when we were apparently "sighted". Turning away from the statue, we were met with a woman and two children begging from us. Why we had failed to discuss this prior to walking out of the hotel, I will never know, but we did not know what to do. She was an older lady with VERY small children (obviously not her own). One was on her hip while the other one trailed behind her on foot. We wanted to give her money, but didn't think that was what we were supposed to do. She was ALL OVER Bill... in his face, pulling at him... it was disorienting! Bill told her "no" and we tried to just keep walking. She followed us. She continued to follow even when we had to cross the busy street. We just knew that baby was going to get run over, but she was not concerned AT ALL about that baby's safety across the street. She continued to follow us even after we turned around to get back to the hotel- never making it to the park. We could SEE it across one more street, but didn't want that child to get plowed and we wanted to get away from this lady. When we got back to the hotel, they said that we SHOULD NOT HAVE given her any money. If we would have, we would have been swarmed with "50 more" (per the gentleman at the hotel). OH BOY, were we thankful that "something" kept us from giving her money. It was a horrible feeling turning away from her and not offering assistance, but at the same time we had a backpack full of documents. If our pack would have been swiped, there would have been no baby out of India! After talking to more people since we have been back, I know we should have had a "thicker skin" about the whole scene. We were heartbroken and Bill actually came back to the hotel nauseated. It was probably the combination of "nerves" that we would be getting Joseph and the sadness over the poverty, but he was NOT WELL.
So, we called Ms. Roy and she said that she couldn't bring Joseph on Sunday because her car was being used to pick up a baby! I wonder if that baby may be matched with a family waiting right now:) Anyway, she went on to tell us that she would come on Monday and that "It would be best" for us NOT to come to the orphanage. I WAS DEVASTATED. Not only were our hopes dashed that she would bring him a day early, but we weren't going to get to visit the orphanage. SO CRUSHED! I had been dreaming of "gotcha day" at the orphanage for MONTHS. Everything was turning out differently than I had planned. Then again, they were MY plans. God had a very different idea of what our family and Joseph needed "gotcha day" to look like. Our driver called and asked if we wanted him to take us sightseeing. In my mind, that is what we were going to do on Sunday. In reality, I had a sick husband and a sad heart. We declined as it was midday by now and BLAZING HOT on top of the aforementioned ailments.
I will close this entry with a thought about the difference between MY plans and my husband's plans. This may not apply to every family, but it sure would have made a difference if someone had said this to me before travel. Bill was on a mission. He assumed the responsibility of me and my safety along with the organization and safety of those precious documents. This was not a sightseeing pleasure trip for him in any way. He had never been out of the country and probably would have never left USA if our son wasn't born halfway around the world. He said that if we would have been there during a more "tourist" time, maybe he would have felt differently. He did not want to "traipse around Kolkata alone". It seemed like a ludicrous idea to him. I thought if I nagged enough, he would want to shop, see memorials, etc. NOT SO. After I adjusted my thought process and listened to my husband, it was so much easier to relax in the hotel and wait for the arrival of our son. It was very important for me to make this trip all about Joseph and NOT ABOUT ME. Sunday afternoon ended with us actually relaxing and enjoying the day together with no children (something we rarely do at home). The next day was about to hold MANY unexpected blessings!
We will label this one "Part One". I debated on how to write and what to include in my retelling of the trip as I want it to be both interesting and informative for those travelling behind us. Bill and I agreed that chronological would be the way to go. Those of you adopting from India will likely read a bit closer than friends just interested in our trip and experience, but here we go...
We left Springfield around noon on Thursday, April 29. This was the teeny airplane we flew to Atlanta in:
Our baggage included one big suitcase and one duffle bag full of donations for the orphanage. Those were both checked. On international flights, you can check one bag each for "free" and have one carry-on each as well as a "personal item". We had one carry-on (between us) as well as the backpack and diaper bag (backpack-style) that we kept with us. My best advice is to pack as lightly as possible. Remember: whatever you take, you will be lugging around. I felt like we packed appropriately, really. With the baby things, it is hard to pack too light.
Here we are "all smiles" leaving our hometown. Notice my sweater... very good choice for the plane. You can't see my shoes (little slip on's) BAD choice for the plane. BRING SOCKS!
Anyway, we left Springfield for Atlanta and boarded this AirFrance plane:
This was such a nice plane. They "accidentally" thought we had an infant with us the ENTIRE trip there. It seemed impossible to the French people that we would NOT have an infant going to India, but would have one coming back, SOOO... we always got a "bulkhead" seat meaning we had extra legroom the entire trip:) NICE! AirFrance was very wonderful. I did discover that my 4 straight semesters of French in college were LONG FORGOTTEN! Couldn't understand a word... seriously... not a word.
We finally arrived in Delhi via Paris where many rude people reside, apparently. Bill pretty much got "frisked" in Paris. The men were much more abrupt and flat than the women. I won't mention the air fresheners that the flight attendants would go up and down the aisles with before each flight, either. WOW. I thought the French were known for their perfumes. That must be the people who stay in France because the ones venturing abroad on our airplane... woof! That is neither here nor there... moving on...
We arrived in Delhi and took the shuttle over from the international terminal to the domestic one. We were told to get a taxi to go over there, but the guy at the taxi counter told us to take the shuttle because it was free. I thought that was very honest of him. We rode a nice air-conditioned bus over to the domestic terminal in the middle of the night with 6 other people. It was 1:30 am when we got to the Delhi Domestic terminal. It wasn't open yet, but many people were waiting in the ticketing area with us. We thought we would have to wait until at least 3:00 am. We called home and talked to the boys and I journaled a few minutes. Then, at 2:30 they let everyone in! We went inside and looked like this:
The domestic terminal is quite nice. It is clean with lots of places to walk around. We should know... we were there from 2:30 am until our plane left LATE at 11:00 am! Yes, we could have gone to a hotel room, but why miss all the fun??!! Looking back, it was a good opportunity to begin to acclimate to the situation a bit. We were the minority there and it was a clean, safe place to experience that before landing in Kolkata. We weren't THE only "westerners" there like we were about to be in Kolkata. We were shuttled onto the plane in this little bus. It struck me that I was THE ONLY woman on the bus jammed with people and we were the only Americans. It was uncomfortable, but we never felt unsafe.
Our plane finally left Delhi. When we arrived in Kolkata (late), there were several drivers at baggage claim with signs waiting for people. We looked and looked for our sign and it wasn't there. Bill went to the line to prepay a taxi to take us to the hotel. We were SOOO jet-lagged and all we wanted was to have a ride to the hotel. As I was waiting with our bags for Bill to get a taxi for us, I happened to look outside the terminal and there was our name!!! The driver was waiting for us OUTSIDE the terminal. We were thrown by all the signs inside at baggage claim! We have never been so thankful to see our name!! (Hey, Dillon families:THE DRIVER WILL BE WAITING OUTSIDE THE TERMINAL!!)
Our car ride to the hotel in Kolkata was surreal. We were overwhelmed instantly by the sheer number of people and the poverty. Jet-lagged and emotional anyway, the images were almost more than our hearts could bear. You can see pictures, hear stories, watch movies, but nothing can prepare you for looking out your car window at the everyday life we witnessed. It felt wrong to take pictures, to be in an air-conditioned car, to be so privileged. I will say that it will take a while for us to process what we saw and felt in Kolkata. To comment further at this point would be in error. What I will say is that the people there are beautiful and gracious. In the midst of what we would consider a desperate situation, the people were demonstrating fortitude and resourcefulness. It seemed to me that there were just too many people in the area and that they have simply devoured the land and exhausted their resources. I did manage to take a few photos (being careful not to show faces):
I like the top photo because the women were ALWAYS dressed up! They could be walking through mire or riding on the back of a scooter, but they were dignified and gorgeous. The bottom photo is indicative of a storefront in Kolkata. The other thing that struck us was the fact that there were no obvious traffic laws and the horns were CONSTANT. Somehow, people got where they were going. Again... uncomfortable, but not unsafe with our driver.
We finallly arrived at our hotel and felt incoherent. We checked in and I know those people were wondering about us. They would have to ask us the same question three times before one of us would register and react. So thankful for the Kenilworth in Kolkata. It was a lifesaver that day and the entire stay in Kolkata. I can't imagine a better place to stay while there. Now, it is Saturday late afternoon Kolkata time for travel time in the 30's (hours). Guess what we did Saturday?! ZZZZZZ... and ...
ROOM SERVICE!! The Chicken Korma was "out of this world" delicious. I'm not exactly sure where Bill was going with the whole "Indian pizza" thing, but he liked it. We were pretty much all about the food there... yummy!
We did call Ms. Roy on Saturday and she gave us hope that she would bring Joseph to us on Sunday and asked us to call back on Sunday to make plans. We were delighted to get him a day early, but it was the first hint that she would be bringing him to us instead of us going to the orphanage. More to come on "Gotcha Day". I want to close with a list of things you don't want to forget when going to India:
1) Socks for the plane 2) Spoons for your baby (we were always hoarding plastic teaspoons the entire trip) 3) Oatmeal and nutrition bars 4) washcloths (the hotel in Kolkata didn't have them) 5) Your own shower gel (you'll want to smell like yourself-- I thought theirs was stinky on me) 6) Water (they give you 2 free and then you can order more, but I liked having our own. We used 24 bottles in 4 days... that is a lot of water) 7) A variety of nipples for your bottles. I will explain more later, but slow, medium, and fast flow to be on the safe side. 8) A little notebook to journal everything into. You think you won't ever forget, but I've been home one week and the details are already fuzzy without the journal. 9) YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR! 10) Your "spiritual eyes". We saw God's fingerprints in every situation and bump we encountered in India. KNOW that He is God and REST in that the entire trip. Couple that with #9 and you'll be in business.
I will close for now.... more to come... stay tuned:)