Well I’ve been struggling to write this last India journal post – mainly because how do you describe the stress and challenge of getting a sweet, timid, unsure child home from all the way across the world….and throw in a few security check points – and it’s total and utter chaos. But hey, we got through it – we all get through it… only through God’s grace. We’ve also been pretty busy around here – as you might imagine. Anjali is a joy…a challenge… a bit stubborn at times… very sweet… smart… she’s a normal 3 year old with a few extra added special attributes :) - so it’s been very busy. Mainly we’ve had Joshua’s school activities, soccer, Anjali doctor’s appointments, a PT evaluation, and an OT evaluation…. and now looking at about a year of therapy to get her caught up… throw in the language barrier to communication, a stuck knee in the slats of her crib, sleeping musical chairs for all our family, ….did I say sleep ??? (I mean “sleep” for some of us….not so much for others!!)… and now a new toddler bed delivered just today that needs assembled and transitioned in to…in the weeks and months ahead, and welcome to our life :) -- So here goes my best attempt at being real about our trip home and our final day in India. I will still blog on life with Anjali (Lauren Anjali) ...but maybe not quite so often :) Email me anytime.... you can private message me on facebook.
It's 5 am in India and when everyone wakes this will be our final day here. We leave tonight and get to Lexington at 10:15 am Friday morning (9/14). It's bittersweet to think of leaving - it's like a good book you don't want to put down, yet you know you must move on. It's been amazing and I am absolutely so thankful that we built in to our trip several down / rest days…..folks, my best advice is ….don’t rush this trip!! Little miss is great, funny, and even somewhat predictable :) and on a rigid schedule of eating and sleeping -which is great. So we got up today as usual and went to the restaurant for breakfast like every other morning….we said our goodbyes to the restaurant staff and began our last day here in India. I packed and organized the room a bit – and separated things that we were leaving behind for someone else – like too small clothes and shoes we brought along not knowing for sure what size Anjali would wear. After breakfast, we decided to go to the mall – we shopped a bit, and then went to the inside play ground area. Anjali, after about 20 minutes of watching other children go down the slide, finally worked up the courage and went up ONE STEP towards the slide, then another, and then another, until finally she went down the slide. When she did finally go down, she loved it – and went many times over. This was a good way to spend our last few hours here.
Let me just stand here and watch them for a bit first :)
I can do anything NOW!
The BEST part is moma getting me at the end......
....and "throwing me in the air"..... and cheering me on....:)
And still more..... times.... please :)
We finished play time and returned back to our room and continued to pack and straighten up the room. We organized carry on bags and made sure all paperwork was ready and available for airport security. Finally the time had come when we were to go to the airport. We get to the front desk and there is an issue with our bill, we had about a $100 phone call on our bill. Which I called Joshua one time and only talked a very short time – so I was expecting about $20 on the bill. They had to do research on the call – so we waited. Our bags were loaded in the driver’s car and we continued to wait. We finally got that cleared up, but with traffic and this delay we were very close to the time where panic would set in to catch our airplane. What is it with us…we can’t seem to get to the airport early!!
We get there and we must show all our paperwork to the OUTSIDE check-in guys… we finally convince them we have all our paperwork in order, tickets, adoption papers for Anjali, etc. Then we go to ticketing to check in. Again we must show our paperwork. They seem ok with everything. We go through security and there is yet another security check point in which we are asked, “Do you have a letter authorizing you to leave India with this child”….. I was like, well other than a court order, the immigration packet, her passport and VISA, her medical records, etc, etc. Finally, I recall a letter that Bal Asha wrote that mentioned something about – us being escorts to Anjali and that we are her parents… or something on those lines. We give the letter to the person behind the counter – he must take it to his supervisor…. They stand over talk and talk; make a phone call ….. Brad and I were seriously wondering if they were going to let us leave with her..... it was so stressful!!! Brad kept calm...me, not so much... fear was setting in......and finally he comes back and says we can proceed. So we run to the gate…. Anjali at times wants to be held, sometimes wants to walk – sometimes throws herself on the floor…. I am dripping in sweat and all we really care about is getting to that gate before it’s too late. We get to the gate and I’ll be darn if we don’t have to pull ALL our paperwork out for her AGAIN! It was a total of four times! Finally we were allowed to get on the plane and get settled.
On the plane Anjali never got comfortable…. Our flight was taking off about her bed time so I really thought she’d sleep most of the way home …. Or at least to the Newark connection…. (the 15 hour long part of our trip)…. but not really. She could not get in her “normal” sleeping position – because she sleeps so stretched out and there is only so much room in an airplane seat – so she slept for about 20 minutes and cried for 40 minutes --- and pretty much did that for the entire 15 hours! :) When breakfast came she was starving – and ate the eggs quickly and wanted more – and there was no more – even the flight attendant was looking for more for her – and they didn’t have any more. They gave us a chicken meal and she did not want that… so now I have a hungry, tired, child. If I would have known myself, I wouldn’t have eaten my egg… but it all happened so fast that mine and Brad’s was gone before we realized this serving size would not be enough for her. She got her own plate, since she has her own ticket – it just wasn’t enough for her hunger to subside. It’s a real balancing act eating on those trays with a child, etc. – so we normally ate quickly to get rid of the mess. In hindsight – I wish I would have gone without so she could be content. Because of our late arrival to the airport – we didn’t have time to get a banana or anything past the security checkpoint--- and she was just about sick of Gerber snacks at this point. This little one’s world about ends when she’s hungry – so this wasn’t good at all, but we survive.
An Indian woman in front of us at one point tells us, “she’s bothering me”….and I couldn’t believe it – I wanted to say, “really?? I would have thought you would ENJOY a screaming child in your ear, kicking your seat, and putting the table up and down 500 times”…but instead I said, “I realize that, I’m trying here”. And at one point the stares got so bad around us that I got up and walked her in the aisles and I actually said to anyone looking in my direction at the time, “you all, If I could control this....I WOULD"….. they still showed little empathy. Benedryl doesn’t work for her -- we tried that while still in India one day because she wasn’t feeling well… it didn’t make her drowsy – so we decided not to try it on the plane. Our doctor also said that in about 1% or 2% of kids that Benedryl actually “ramps” kids up instead of makes them tired. We did give her Children’s Advil – that seemed to calm her a bit. There really was very little soothing…..I wish I could say something worked…. It just didn’t.
So we get to Newark – and I’m reminded quickly that I am back in the go ole’ USA. We had to get bags and put them back on a transfer belt – a nice gentleman helped us as Anjali was attempting to roll on her belly down the carpeted ramp on the floor…. It was nuts! Anyway, and we had to go through security AGAIN! Only this time, guess what – her bangles were setting off the alarm at a level that required her to be separated from me….. yes, that’s right…. they took her from me – made me go through the body scan – while Brad held her and she screamed!!! Keep in mind – at this point in our trip – she WILL NOT allow Brad to hold her, or barely touch her. So for her to be on the other side of a full body screen machine – with Brad was quite traumatic for me …and her. I was crying – and they wanted her to walk through this other screening part by herself ….NUTS! They had no sympathy for the screaming of Anjali or my tears. At one point, I yelled, “Just give her to me!!” They finally gave her to me – Brad went through gathered our carry on bags – and Anjali and I waited while the “supervisor” did a pat down of Anjali and tested for some sort of dust on my hands – and tested her BANGLES!! Unbelievable….but a sign of the times we are living in.
We caught our flight from Newark to Chicago by moments only – and we are settled onto the final two short legs of our flight. Connection in Chicago goes fine – again it’s a fairly close one and we are finally on the flight from Chicago to Lexington – and Brad and I look across to each other in our seats with a great big smile – we are about an hour from home! We get to LEX airport and we know folks are waiting for us – so we clean up a bit in the bathrooms, change clothes…and head for the escalator to be greeted by our Joshua, Nana (my mom) – and who ever else decided to come by :)
Are they coming yet?
Reese's pieces and a windmill.... she loves both -- just no so sure right here at the airport -- but later, look out!
Love this look! Another adoption mom - who happens to be a professional photographer came to take pics for us at the airport! Her kiddos are from Ethiopia -- twins!!
p.s. – since we’ve been home a whole bunch of stuff has happened with our bonding with Anjali – Joshua is getting better at having a sibling – and she is absolutely nuts over him and does what ever he does….and is always excited to go pick him up from school. She also calls him bye-ah – which is “brother” in Marathi….and I think secretly he really likes that. Honestly, he is not sure he wants a sibling (but we are told that is all very normal, especially for an only child (that was the center of the family :) )) – we are working hard on ensuring that we don’t lose Joshua’s sweet heart in the process. And even though she annoys him at times, gets into his leggos, etc… he still displays spontaneous affection for her – like in the morning when she wakes up, or when we pick him up from school…. And he loves playing chase with her and Brad around the house. We make sure that he has some alone time with us – and we do all our normal activities like soccer etc. Believe it or not, the night we got home (Friday, Sept. 14) at 6 pm that night Brad, Anjali, and I were on the soccer field watching Joshua’s practice!! Yep that’s right the day of returning from 20+ hours on an airplane we find ourselves on the soccer field. And the next morning – we all got up to attend his game. So we are working hard at balancing the parenting responsibilities of having TWO children. And guess what, my need to please EVERYONE has subsided and I’m resigned to the fact that I will certainly disappoint many people including those I love. Yes, we are growing and I pray it’s in the direction that our Lord and Savior wants us to grow. In the hard times, I hang my hope on Him and I’m reminded of ALL his faithfulness and provision on this trip….. so I am SOLD OUT on the idea that Anjali is ours, meant to be…. And we are solid in HIS will for her joining our family. Plus I’m SOLD OUT on total and utter LOVE for her…. So for now….. soccer mom – becomes….soccer / therapy mom – and we take things one day at a time. Each day there is progress…..and each day there is grace.
p.s.s. – this little one tends to want to bite me on occasion – and it’s weird it is not an aggressive bite – it’s like she will come up and hug my leg – and just take a chop out of my arm before I know it. I talked with JOH’s Lisa a bit on discipline since we got home – I can’t tolerate biting….and it’s getting better – she just needs to know I will not accept biting….and I’d say in the time since we’ve been home she’s done it maybe 3 or 4 times….so it’s not every day, thankfully. Well today, she did bite me….and it was around dinner time – so I think she’s hungry…anyway… I started crying and I sat her down as discipline… which does happen with her periodically….anyway, she got up and got a tissue out of the trash and wiped my arm, she looked up at me and almost had tears in her eyes and she wiped my tears a bit… then she went and got Joshua’s remote control for a ATV little car and man….and tried to “repair” the bite with the antenna of the remote control. I could see in her little heart she had remorse…. and THAT makes all the biting worth it!
p.s.s. – for all the challenges I share, there are many more joys….rest assured it is good.
Daily trip must haves:
Food for the airplane!!!
Organized paperwork – we had our papers in a three ring binder – each page in a clear sleeve cover – it was great to find what we needed quickly. We also had our baggage ticket receipts and all our boarding passes in a zipper pouch inside our three ring binder.
For all that is hard, there are many more good and blessed things for today and times ahead.
Don’t be too optimistic about what folks in India may say about the development of your child – American standards are probably stricter.
Don’t let a child get hungry, and make sure a small snack is available before dinner :)
Throw out conventional wisdom of parenting and follow your heart and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Remember – even these kiddos need discipline, structure, and authority – if you don’t get it early on – prepare yourself for a long road ahead (this little one responds very well to redirection and discipline – she doesn’t like it – but she responds and really does want to please…she’s just testing her boundaries).
Get to the stinking airport EARLY!