Thursday, September 20, 2012

India journal writings - Sept. 4, 2012

Tuesday – September 4, 2012 (Gotcha Day)

We woke up early got our donations and bags in order, had breakfast and waited for Meenal to arrive at the hotel. We were so excited to see our little girl today. We arrived at Bal Asha and found it to be quite amazing. Imagine in the middle of high rise buildings, busy streets, concrete, and commercial business, there is a “compound” – not just any compound, but one with a concrete wall and gate. You enter and you’ve stepped out of the city and into what seems like a small community. We follow the dirt bumpy road through the trees – a lot of trees and small buildings like a doctor’s office, a school for the blind, and other buildings that I couldn’t tell the purpose because of the Indian writing. We pull up to BAT and it’s tucked away in trees and another concrete wall – you protect what is precious.

We were invited into the Director’s office – she’s a strong woman (in the center above), intelligent – outspoken, kind, and direct. She’s candid and clearly in-charge. She seems to be someone who will work hard and advocate for the children and all their needs. She’s a leader and clearly respected. (She enjoyed getting our gifts – bangles and Kentucky carmels – along with a leather portfolio)…she added the bangles to her arm, along with a row of other bangles she already had. What seems to be her right hand person is Sunil (blue dress shirt above). He is amazing. He has a kind, warm, smile and a gentle spirit. He clearly loves these children. He knows about them, their routines, their likes, etc. But he also recognizes that institutional care has its limitations and so he fully supports children being placed into a family where he believes their real personality will blossom. Sunil is a very likable person and someone that Brad seemed to really connect with. We talked at length about Anjali – asking our long list of prepared questions: likes, dislikes, fears, foods, naps, sleep, routines, how she came to BAT, societal issues – single mothers in India society, etc. Soon a worker bought in lunch for us – so we sat on the Director’s couch in her office and ate with them a great Indian meal. Among other things = they had the donut type dessert floating in syrup – we had these one other time at one of Brad’s colleague’s home. They were just as good as I remembered.

They gave us a bunch of paperwork – Sunil clearly up on the details (this will prove KEY in a future post.....keep reading :)  ) and we signed receipt for the papers. Then someone brought in Anjali. She was crying and clinging to her care giver. She is adorable – with the cutest purple, white, and black little outfit – pink shoes, 5 bangles on each arm, and a pearl little necklace. She immediately didn’t like the shoes and we took them off. The Director began saying…”just take her – she’s your daughter”… Anjali doesn’t want to be taken, clearly. I grabbed her despite her wishes as I was told and walked outside – she calmed a bit and continued to reach for a building that I noticed said something like, “Infant care center” – as I saw little children’s faces peeking out the windows – I couldn’t help but wonder what they were thinking. Staff members were lingering among other buildings watching – clearly Anjali is loved in this place. We walked in the courtyard area on the sidewalk because of the rain there was mud mixed in with the grass that led to the play ground area. When she realized that she wasn’t getting what she wanted (to go back to her room), she bit my shoulder – HARD – I pulled her off and she continued to try to bite me. I walked her into the Director’s office and sat her on the back of one of the couches – she didn’t calm and Sunil made his way back into the area. I said, “she bit me” – he had a look of sadness on his face but offered no answer (and did try to assure her it's ok) – there was no answer… this child was in deep fear. The Director kept telling me to smack her mouth when she bit – but I couldn’t find it in myself to do so (I have since "tapped" her mouth when biting or spitting out of defiance - more for the surprise impact and she seems to respond). I took her back outside and walked again - she saw Brad on the sidewalk a bit closer to the area where her room was and she reached out for him to take her! With a look of amazement mixed with fear on his face – he took her. She kept pointing to clearly what was her room – and screamed…. at the top of her lungs. Sunil shared with us – that was her rooming area – so try to avoid that part of the courtyard because she just kept raging. Brad took her outside in the front of the building where there were no other children. As Brad walked her – just as he did almost 7 years ago with Joshua – she finally went to sleep clinging to him with a death grip. Brad is amazing with her and Sunil said, “You are a patient man” – which I knew all along – thank you Lord for giving me my Brad.

Anjali slept all the way to the hotel – even though loud, noisy traffic filled the air with honks and sounds of a busy city. Back at the hotel room when she did awake – she stayed with Brad and cried even more when she looked my direction. She hated me – or at least it felt that way. Brad reminded me that I wasn’t the momma she was used to and looking at me reminded her of her loss. She cried for 4 hours straight with a periodic catnap in between. She was in deep grief. Brad held her while laying on the bed, he just kept patting her back and she began to thump her leg (Brad's back pats were in the identical rhythm of her leg thumps (got to LOVE our Dr. Karyn Purvis training – matching :)) – this is beginning of what we’ve grown to love as one of her soothing mechanisms (she’s our little thumper – although we don’t call her that to her face – Brad and I enjoy it together :) ) I am a mess inside, because I can’t help her. She and Brad sleep, as he continues to hold her – and I go to email prayer partners in the lobby with the ipad – this is the only comfort I can find – knowing so many people are praying. Never underestimate the power of intercessory prayer.
I return to the room after stopping by the restaurant to order room service. Before the food arrived, as Brad was holding her – I remembered that we brought dumb dumb suckers. I gave her a cherry sucker and she looked at me and took it without crying….. Progress. Brad and I caught each other’s eye – we both thought, “yes… we’re getting somewhere”. Just about that time, the food arrived and I got up to get the door and sign the ticket. We brought the food to the ledge by the window and I offered Anjali a bite of bread – and guess what she took it! I continued to hand feed her and she quietly and politely ate as Brad held her. Then we offered rice – she continued to eat. I asked Brad if I could hold her to continue to feed her rice – he stood her on the floor and she walked right to me – I picked her up and she ate more rice….a bunch of it. She also took water from a sippy cup. It was amazing and Brad and I were in shock, amazement, and joy – she quit crying and just ate. She started to look around and when Brad went to the bathroom she turned her head to see where he went – this is good!! After dinner, we talked about how to change her diaper – as Brad said, “that’s taking it up a notch on the intimacy scale – not sure when to try that”. I asked Brad to get the Aveeno Calming Comfort Lotion with lavender and vanilla – (a must have, honest!!). I put a tiny bit on her arm and she clearly liked it. Then I did her feet – she loved it – no real smile or anything like that – you could just tell she liked it and it felt good to her. So I continued to put some on her leg just under her pant leg – we gently moved her to the bed where she allowed me to take off her clothes and change her diaper and put on PJs (all the while moving VERY slowly and gentle). She obediently participated without us even asking lifting her leg to help us take off her pants – she’s smart and she knows what stepping into pants is all about – and taking off her shirt, etc. I find this amazing. She participates in this process – despite her grief.

I brought to her this cloth toddler book – kind of “where’s my belly button” and it makes sounds and crinkles and she seemed to like it. She grabbed it and the most amazing thing happened – she began rocking herself back and forth – it was 9:15 pm and then she rolled over and fell asleep. Sunil said she sleeps at 9 pm – and he was right! They have a very rigid schedule and she is surely programmed just like a clock. This will prove to be a huge blessing :) We survived day 1 with Anjali.
p.s. – as a side note – another self soothing behavior is head banging – I don’t recall anyone in all my training, support group, etc. mentioning head banging – basically she lays flat out on her belly arms over her head, hands folded on top of one another and then she bangs her forehead on her folded hands. FYI – in briefly talking to Lisa yesterday, these self soothing behaviors are just fine and normal – and it’s ok to allow them (ie, not try to break these habits/ behaviors). She said, in public if she ever does them – we may need to explain a bit – or even when she goes to preschool explain them so people won’t attempt to stop her. Between head banging (and I mean it’s not real hard – and it’s on her hands on the mattress, so it’s not like she’s head banging on the coffee table or anything like that), and rocking herself, and thumping her leg – she can regulate and self-soothe quite well at naptime or bedtime.  This is quite amazing to watch for us, we've never seen anything like it, because Joshua never was a good sleeper or nap-taker -- we held him the entire time until he was asleep and I don't think he developed good skills to get into a deep sleep - he's better now, but it's been a long road of challenging bed times. 

Daily Trip must haves:
  1. Aveeno Calming Lotion with lavender
  2. Lollipops
  3. Plain Cheerios (they aren’t used to sweets – she doesn’t like honey nut).
  4. Simple toy – cloth toddler book
Daily Lessons:

God equips humanity in amazing ways: 1.) self soothing, 2.) parental instincts, 3.) protective hearts with compassion

God's creation of humanity is complex - yet fundamental and universal (who needs to speak the same language??) - even Jesus knew that creation is desperate for food - he understood the importance of food and he explained how to connect to him through a food illustration!  Anjali is a great eater - and I think she was well-fed at Bal Asha - on this very day - her evening meal was not on schedule, making her very hungry and giving us a divine opportunity to begin our bonding.    

John 6:35  "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty".


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. It is delightful to read...the good and challenging. I made notes of things you did and brought. Praying for your precious family!

  2. Thanks Renae, I too added your "must-haves" to my travel list. I can't wait to read the next entry. Thanks sharing your experiences. Hope you all 4 are doing well with the adjusting. In prayers.


  3. Totally enjoying reading your story. She is so sweet-- The whole transition things sounds so, so hard. How scary it must be for the children...
    Thanks for all the tips, and for sharing the details of your story.

  4. Thank you so much for being honest about your experience! I have searched and searched for a blog about an Indian adoption that would give us a clear, *realistic* picture of what to expect. We hope to travel to bring home our little boy (who is 15 months old now) in the next few months. Praying that all is still well with your little girl!

  5. amazing to read this. Thank you, thank you, thank you for going into such detail. It is an amazing story and an honor that you would share it all with us!!! :)

    P.S. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the picture of you and her, where she is asleep on you, with the sicker in her hand. That is SUCH an incredible picture.