Sunday, July 13, 2008

Small World

Here's an interesting paradoxical-type news item: Our sweet baby is in Kolkata.. and the director of her orphanage is ~2 miles from my house right now. Siiiigh.
As hard as it is to think about that, I'm looking forward to speaking with her and hearing a first-hand account of our baby's development. We've been told that our little Devika is now 13 lbs and 26.4". She can now sit up from supine position, and can stand up when holding her crib rail. She walks while holding the hands of her Ayah, and is saying a few little words such as 'ma-ma', 'ba-ba', and 'da-da'.
So we're missing her first words and her first steps. As difficult as it is to miss these milestones, at least we know that she is doing well - which is a wonderful thing.
Her first birthday is exactly one month from today. Wish we could be planning a party.

In other news, my brother had his jaw surgery (1/2 of his jaw replaced with metal due to a very aggressive benign tumor). Crazy-difficult surgery, but it went very well. After the surgery, however, he was having some heart-racing issues.. major. Spent his hospital time in ICU so they could watch for heart probs. Turned out that he has a slight heart defect. Not life-threatening, but he has to make some lifestyle changes - mainly extremely limited caffeine intake. ACK!! I feel sorry for him, as he and I share a mega love for coffee/espresso. :((( Oh well, could be worse. He's very slowly recovering - still bandaged up and can't open his mouth enough to eat/drink anything more than liquids/pureed food. Yikes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pulling At The Heartstrings

Someone posted a link to this story through our agency's email forum today, and though it is over a year old, it is still very relevant. Actually it is sad that this story was published in April of 2007.. and here we are in July of 2008.. and still waiting on the system to change. India is closer to the change - they have written up the new guidelines, etc.. but these guidelines have not been placed into effect yet. Actually it is somewhat impressive that they are as far along as they are at one year out - maybe one year from today things will be different and adoption timelines much, much shorter.

Anyhow.. here is the story.. it's well worth the read. {Note that the little girl they mention in the article is also named Devika!} Reading these type of stories makes me wonder if we will be able to wait the 3 years we are planning to wait before starting a 3rd adoption journey. I read this and want to take all the children right now!
April 8, 2007

India pleads: adopt our orphan girls

British couples urged to aid ‘lost’ 11 million

INDIA is to urge couples in Britain and other western countries to adopt thousands of unwanted children languishing in orphanages throughout the subcontinent and save them from a life of poverty and emotional destitution.

There are more than 11m abandoned children in India, where a growing number of newborn babies are being dumped anonymously in cots placed outside orphanages in an initiative to deter infanticide.

About 90% of those abandoned are girls whose poor young mothers cannot afford to keep them. They face a bleak future as beggars, prostitutes or menial labourers if families cannot be found for them.

Last year only 4,000 children escaped that grim fate through adoption. Of those, about 1,000 were placed with families overseas and fewer than 100 came to Britain. Now, in a revolutionary change of policy, the Indian government has decided to increase the number of children available for adoption and to place thousands more with families in Britain, Europe and the United States.

Last week it announced plans to speed up bureaucratic procedures and make it easier for foreign families to adopt.

Under current rules the process usually drags on for more than a year. The new proposals call for a maximum waiting time of just 45 days. Ministers say the process must be accelerated so that loving homes can be found for the babies before they become institutionalised.

The change will be welcomed by childless British couples seeking to adopt abroad and finding their prospects restricted in countries from Romania and Russia to Vietnam, where curbs have recently been introduced, fuel-led in part by fears that adoption was being used as a cover for child trafficking. The British government warns prospective “inter-country adopters” that the process can take three years.

UK campaigners said this weekend that the changes in India were good news for its orphans and for western families who want to adopt them, but emphasised that there were still many British-born children in need of loving families.

David Holmes, chief executive of the British Association for Adoption & Fostering, a charity that helps to find families for hundreds of children every year, said: “It’s important to remember that even if India relaxes the rules these couples will still have to go through the same process that couples adopting within England go through.”

But he added: “Foreign adoption in India might be a little girl’s only chance and so we can see why getting a child into an adoptive family quickly is immensely important.”

At the Cradle orphanage in Delhi, five newborn girls are dumped in a “street crib” outside the security gate every week. A bell attached to the crib rings in a doctor’s room as soon as a child is left and the babies are rushed into one of two crisis wards where they are assessed, dressed, fed and treated.

Last week there were 10 girls and one boy in carrycots on the floor of one crisis ward, happily gurgling, sucking their thumbs and sleeping. Half of them will be adopted by families overseas who pay the orphanage £250, but the remaining babies will face sometimes insurmountable problems in being matched with an Indian family.

According to staff at the home, the darker-skinned babies suffer from a common prejudice in favour of fairer skin. Many will want the baby’s complexion to match their own, so that they can deceive relatives and pretend the child is their natural offspring.

An especially pretty two-year-old girl called Devika has been at the home since she was left in the street crib shortly after she was born and no Indian family has come forward to adopt her.

“She has dark skin,” explained one of the orphanage “ayahs”, or nurses. But she has now found a foreign family and will be leaving the orphanage in the next few weeks.

Devika and 130 others at this sprawling, spotless bungalow are among India’s luckiest abandoned children. Almost nine in 10 will find new families, and those placed overseas will live lives of comfort that could never have been envisaged had they been raised by their natural parents.

Many more orphans are living in poorly funded homes with dilapidated dormitories little better than prison cells and have hardly any prospect of escaping to a better life.

J K Mittal, chairman of India’s Central Adoption Resource Agency which oversees all the adoptions, admitted: “Our procedures are too cumbersome. It takes more than a year to adopt an Indian child from overseas. But it should be done within a couple of months.”

To adopt an Indian child, couples must be financially secure and must have been together for more than five years. They must be between 30 and 55, with a combined age of less than 90. Single people are eligible but not same-sex couples.

“Parents should educate the child about its own background and culture because when they’re older they will want to know about India,” Mittal said. “But the basic requirement is love — they must be able to love and care for the child.”

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Brush With Mr. Heebie-Jeebie

Mom Instincts. Don't knock 'em.
Today I took my sweet little 2-yr old to get ice cream at a quaint little old-fashioned ice cream shoppe in our small town. It was late afternoon, and not a busy time for the little shoppe.. we were actually the only patrons in the shoppe other than a single, late 30-ish/early 40-ish man sitting at one of the 3 little wrought-iron interior tables. I placed our order with the nervous-looking ice cream scooper (not sure what the actual job name would be). She looked to be no more than 16 yrs old, and was obviously somewhat new to the role - as I asked what a 'coffee frappe' was, and she had to go look it up on her 'cheat sheet'.
She quickly put together Maya's strawberry ice cream with extra sprinkles, so I sat at a table to allow Maya to begin eating, while the girl worked on my drink and a salad I ordered to go (sounds odd, but they have the BEST salads). It took the girl quite some time to complete my order - I seriously think it must have been 10 minutes. During this time, the single man seated at the far table (not very far, as there were only 3 and I thankfully selected the furthest table from him) sat and stared at the ice cream scooper girl. It was very odd. He did not say anything to her.. simply sat and watched her work. He was not eating anything.. he had an empty coffee cup and an unread newspaper in front of him. He didn't look like he was just 'spacing out'.. he really was watching her.
Eventually he got up and approached the counter - and asked the girl for another coffee. She was busy making my salad, so it took her a couple of minutes to get to it.. and he stood by the counter waiting. I now had complete heebie jeebies from him, and he was standing silently behind me. The shoppe was so small that I could hear him breathing a few short feet from me, and I was completely freaked out. I started wondering if I should move my seat so that I faced him.. as I was worried that he was staring at my daughter in the way that he stared at the girl. Maya kept looking at him, but didn't say anything to him.. so I don't know if he was watching her or not. I swear, instincts were kicking in and I was feeling a bit of that 'fight or flight' mode kicking in. I felt suddenly like we were very alone and that the area was deserted. The shoppe was bizarrely quiet.. other than my chit-chat with Maya.
So FINALLY he rec'd his coffee and sat back down.. again staring at the girl. I was finally able to pay my bill and leave the shoppe. On our way out of the shoppe, Maya was feeling the effects of her ice-cream-sugar-high, and was saying 'dog-dog! dog-dog!' which she does when she is hyper.. usually she is chasing the dog at the time. As we pass the strange man, he says (while staring at Maya and never looking at me), 'You have a beautiful daughter there'. I said 'thank you' and continued toward the door. Maya decided to stop in her tracks, smile, and chant 'dog-dog' at him.
He smiled at her and said 'are you saying you want to be a go-go dancer when you grow up?'.
OK. THAT was inappropriate, wierd, bizarre, and frightening. I grabbed Maya's arm and we bolted out of the shoppe. I sat down with her a few feet from the entrance to finish our ice creams. I was considering going back to make sure the little ice cream scooper was ok.. but after ~5 more minutes, Mr Heebie Jeebie left the shoppe and moseyed past us, down the street.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Can I Eat It?

Happy belated Independence Day to all my fellow American bloggers/lurkers/friends!
We enjoyed a laid-back 4th of July this year. Maya has never seen fireworks, so we bought some little fountains/sparklers/etc and set them off at our house (she absolutely loved them of course!). We were also lucky that we had a pretty decent view of the local fireworks show from our driveway. Unfortunately, the fireworks caused a large brush fire (where they were being set off), and the show ended early. No big finale! We were most disappointed.
Maya had a fab time though! Slap-happy beyond belief from staying up 2 hrs past bedtime! Crazy thing was that this was the first time she really noticed stars in the sky. It was a super-clear night, and the stars were amazing. We live far enough from big cities to not have much light interference. Maya was completely intrigued by them - even more intrigued than by the big fireworks!
Speaking of fireworks, Maya is in a 'Can I Eat It??' mode lately. Everything she sees.. especially if it is something new to her is met with the question 'Can I Eat It?' 'Can I Eat It?'. She was very distraught to find out that no, you cannot eat fireworks. Um.. owch.
And no, you cannot eat your pool noodle. And no, you cannot eat bubble wrap. No, you cannot eat Mommy's new sandals (what, is this girl part puppy??). And no, you cannot eat sand (though she keeps trying this new delicacy and finds it to be rather 'crunchy mom!').
I have nightmares that the girl gets expelled from pre-school for eating the playground equipment.

In other news, we are happy to report that ISRC (the orphanage in Kolkata) has finally received their new certificate! It is in-hand. The judge reportedly has a copy in-hand also and can now put our case on the docket. We aren't holding our breathe, but at least THAT delay is over. Please Mr Judge - hear our case!! We are missing sooo much time with our baby. :(( P L E A S E !!!

Hope you all had a fabulous holiday weekend!