Friday, November 29, 2013
I am in catch-up and survival mode, so quick update: We have the children's !ndian passports! Thank you, God! We went to the ashram twice today and had a very informative and peaceful time there. We had some adventures with the kids in a huge mall by the hotel. Because we now have passports, Jeff was able to book a flight at 10:00 tonight for tomorrow morning. We head to the airport at 6 AM to fly to Delhi to begin the U.S. Embassy/Visa process to get the kids into the USA. Our medical appointment at MaxMed is at 3 PM tomorrow. Thanks for all the prayers, friends. This is an overwhelming and exhausting experience, but so full of blessings and answered prayers! We are so thankful.
Posted by Our Family at 11:50 AM
As soon as we got back to the hotel, we skyped with the girls and grandparents! I can't wait for them to meet in person!
Then we had our first meal together. The children had rice, roti, and daal with fruit and juice. Guess what I found out? They eat with their hands instead of a fork. This was not a complete surprise, but they didn't even look at their forks. I loved watching their hands expertly mix their food and put it into their mouths without dropping a morsel! They also dip their bread into their juice. Interesting! And they also belch really loud just like one of their sisters...I will not name names. I was very glad that we had our own in-room dining table to deal with all of the newness. Wish American hotels were like this for such a cheap price!
After food, we did the needful as they say here... or more like the precautionary shampooing treatment...just in case. Ajay and Smita wore special shirts created by their youngest "big" sister for just this occasion just in case they needed something cheerful to help the situation. Fortunately, the kids were pretty clean! During this bathroom session, I also taught them how to use a western toilet. They tried to stand on the seat...but thanks to other adoptive moms going before me, I was also not surprised by this.
Both kids slept in our bed. They went to sleep almost immediately. Ajay is wrestling with a nagging cough, but it was a rough night for him while Smita slept the whole night soundly. Ajay woke up at 1 AM and wanted to play. I got up with him and we played games, looked at photos, and colored. I quizzed him on the crayolas and he knows all of the colors in English! I showed him photos of other children at his orphanage who have been matched with American families. He knew all of them by name! So exciting!
Posted by Our Family at 11:37 AM
At the passport office, we were escorted to the second floor to wait for someone to meet with us. We were game-playing how we would plead and/or demand the passport when Mr. P walked around the corner. We didn't realize that he would even be meeting us there. We immediately recognized each other and I jumped up to greet him. He turned behind him and said, "Come on! Come on!" Then Ajay and Smita came around the corner and ran to us! We hugged and kissed and laughed. It all such a surprise. People say these meetings never happen the way you imagine. You have so much time to dream about it, but never truly know how it will play out. We didn't even have a camera handy to capture our first meeting, but oh well. It was great and I never even had a chance to get nervous about it and I didn't even cry like I thought I would. Haha! It was kind of like we already knew each other. The families who I have gotten to know online also came around the corner at that time! Another great surprise! We were all escorted into the office of the highest ranking person in the passport office where Mr. P passionately pleaded our cases. The official asked us questions like why we wanted to adopt when we already had children. They also discussed something about the ages of the children and why that played into the urgency. The whole time Ajay and Smita hugged and kissed us. He wanted to know a little about each family. At the end, Mr. P requested that Ajay and Smita sing a song for him to show their gratitude. We all thanked him in advance as well. We were told that they should be ready the following day.
After group photos, we parted ways with the other families and rode with Mr. P and his driver back to the ashram. We had great conversation on the way there. He sang a song and we enjoyed his singing voice. He shared a lot of Ahmedabad history as we drove through the city, over the more than 100-year-old bridge, past Raipur Gate in the old city, and to the Ashram. The orphanage is over 100-years-old and one of the very oldest in !ndia. It was amazing to see the buildings in person after staring at them on google maps for two years.
And so we got our first glimpses into the lives of Ajay and Smita. At the orphanage, we completed the paperwork necessary to take custody of the children. We asked our list of questions that we had been formulating for over a year. I got satisfactory answers to most of these questions...not a lot of details, but the children may fill in the gaps in years to come because they are older and will remember. The biggest news was that the ashram was the ONLY orphanage where they had been placed. I had been told that there was an earlier orphanage in their history. No... they had always been at the Ashram. I also received a tiny baby photo of each child! That's treasure!
We really did not take any photos at that time in the orphanage because we would return the next day for passports, photos, and tea. We stayed until 6 PM, then made our way back to the hotel.
On the ride home, the children sang beautiful Indian songs together, chatted excitedly to one another in Gujarati, then much to our delight but not the driver's, counted to 100 in English, then said their ABC's! We are all communicating well with one another. They have clearly been attending English Medium School. They have a strong base vocabulary of English words and were even using small sentences occasionally! What a relief. I also spoke a little Gujarati to them and got big smiles and kisses.Our Gotcha Day was on Thanksgiving! So much to be thankful for!
Posted by Our Family at 11:16 AM
Here are some photos taken on our first trip from the airport to the hotel. Talk about an adventurous drive! We loved every minute of it from the crazy weaving in and out of traffic to the monkeys and cows in the street to the symphony of honking horns to the people that you could reach out and touch.The last part of our drive was saddened when we had our first experience with street children. A beautiful girl draped herself across the windshield while we were stopped in traffic and began to wash the window. She moved in slow motion staring right into all of our eyes. Then she moved around to my window. At that time a younger girl holding a beautiful baby tapped on the window and motioned for food. We've been advised never to give money because it only leads to trouble for these children. We were going to give lollipops, but they were all in the trunk. It was a sad moment. So heartbreaking.
Posted by Our Family at 10:02 AM
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Well, our lives totally exploded on Thanksgiving day! After arriving at the hotel after 36 hours of travel, we showered, took a nap, then called the director of the orphanage to check on passports. He told us to be at the passport office in an hour. We scurried to get ready and to find a driver. He met us over there and we were shocked when the Irish families came around the corner...and then Ajay and Smita!!! They ran straight into our arms with big hugs and kisses. There are so many details and stories to tell, but we have been thrust into survival mode. These kids are so affectionate and full of energy!!! We went to the orphanage after passport office to do paperwork and take custody of the children. We return to the orphanage today to hopefully get the passport. The director said we will have tea, cookies, and a tour! So thankful! My blogging leaves much to be desired right now...hope to have time this evening to share more details!
Posted by Our Family at 7:41 PM
The flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, Gujarat took about an hour. We followed the coast line for half the trip, then cut into the land of Gujarat. I was shocked to see the farmland because I thought Gujarat was all desert! My Paw-Paw would love to see the patchwork of all the different crops that were visible from the plane. The Ahmedabad airport was small compared to Mumbai. It was very clean. We could see parrrots flying around outside of the windows! We had an awesome cab ride from the airport to our hotel. Ahmedabad is so beautiful and amazing...like nothing I've ever experienced!
Posted by Our Family at 7:31 PM
We arrived in Mumbai on the morning of the 28th at 1:30 AM India time. We had a layover until 7:50 AM which took forever! We retrieved luggage, people watched, ate samosa and croissants, then hours later ate some omelettes. It was a long wait! We were able to see a little bit of Mumbai in the daylight as we departed for Ahmedabad. There are slums right up against the fence of the airport. Very sobering to see.
Posted by Our Family at 6:53 PM
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Quick update: We had a smooth flight from Atlanta to London. The flight was not very full, so we were able to spread out on different rows and actually lay down for a few hours of sleep. We had a very loud snorer on the flight that sounded like he was slobbering all over himself! Haha! Jeff managed to kick him a little bit and he stopped. Way to go, Jeff! Now we're hanging out in the London airport for a couple of hours before catching the next flight to Mumbai. This still doesn't feel real! Probably won't feel real until we land in !ndia!!! Can't wait!!!
Posted by Our Family at 12:51 AM
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you!" --John 14:18
It is time to go get our precious children! We can hardly believe that our travel date has arrived!
We will spend Thanksgiving in the Mother Land and unite with our babies the following day!
Please pray for travel mercies and safety, for our family members who will stay behind to hold down the fort, and for the hearts of A and S as they prepare to meet us and experience unimaginable change. Please pray for the children's !ndi*n passports...we were told that they would be ready yesterday, but they were not. Hopefully they will be ready today. If they are not ready by the 29th, our travel itinerary for the duration of the trip will have to be changed.
We are so thankful for all of you...those who have supported us financially, through prayer, and through words of encouragement... those who are close family and friends, and those who we have never even met! We are humbled, amazed, and blessed to have a network lifting us and our children up in prayer all over the country right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Please know that you will forever be a part of our family's story and have a legacy in our children's future!
Posted by Our Family at 8:10 AM
Sunday was awesome at CrossPointe Church. We were humbled and blessed as our church prayed over us and our adoption journey. We are so thankful for our church family and for the support that they have given to us, even before we really knew who they were.
At the close of the service, the praise band played this song: Sovereign Over Us. The lyrics about brought me to tears over a year ago when I first heard it because it spoke to right where we were at--waiting on the Lord to work out all of the complex details of our adoption and assuring us that we had not been forgotten even in the weeks and months of silence. I googled the song lyrics when I got home that day. When they played this song again on Sunday right before our travel date, I could not stop the tears from flowing. The words are just so perfect for what we have experienced. God has been so faithful through it all. He has not forgotten about us. He has not forgotten about Ajay and Smita. He has worked it all out for our good, and we pray that He gets all the glory for it.
Posted by Our Family at 7:55 AM
Saturday, November 16, 2013
November 13, 2013 marked the two year point of our adoption process. We got an update that morning from our agency stating that the children's passports were still not processed and probably wouldn't be ready until November 30th or December 1st. Later, after speaking to the other families who are at the same exact stage as us, we are certain that the passports were not applied for until yesterday! At every stage, the orphanage has held on to other families' paperwork until the others have caught up, then moved all families to the next stage together. While this is convenient for the orphanage, it delays the process and puts families in predicaments when faced with deadlines and expiring paperwork. For instance, our U.S. Immigration paperwork that allows us to adopt and for the children to become U.S. citizens expires on December 10th! To renew this paperwork, we would have to update our Home Study, redo our biometric fingerprints in Atlanta for the FBI, and resubmit our immigration forms to USCIS for an extension or re-approval! Not cool! Our only option is to get these children home before December 10th.
We got more encouraging word that afternoon that the passports will probably be completed by November 23rd, then awesome news on November 15th that we are approved to get the children on November 29th at 11:00 AM! This should allow us adequate time to complete our medical exams and the U.S. visa process in Delhi before the immigration paperwork expires. Nothing like racing against the clock...but as always, God is right on time!
We did not go to bed last night until our flights were booked! We will be arriving in Gujarat on November 28th, the same day as our friends, two families from Ireland! The Irish families have been like a lifeline to us as we have endured each grueling phase together over the last year. We are thrilled to be able to meet these friends in person...and what a BLESSING for all of us to cross this finish line TOGETHER!!! So excited!!!
In addition to booking flights last night, we narrowed down our hotels and have some on-hold, we called the medical center via Skype to schedule the children's medical exams, and we are in the process of changing the date on a previously scheduled visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy. It's all a work in progress, but should be squared away in the next 48 hours or so. Jeff had a great time talking on Skype to several different hotels in Delhi. Quite a few people hung up on him and he thought it was hilarious! Apparently lots of hotels have a problem with two adults and two kids staying together in a room. We have to get special permission from the hotels now so that we don't run into a problem later when we're standing at the front desk with all of our luggage and two exhausted children in tow.
As an aside, my dreams have been CRAZY lately. For the last three nights, I've dreamed about getting passports in a thousand different ways. Last night, I dreamed about airline tickets and meeting the kids. I was shocked in the dream to discover that my tiny 10-year-old of a boy was taller than me. Ha! I've got a lot on my mind!
Posted by Our Family at 11:48 AM