Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Two good reads

Okay . . . photo explanation required! The boys crammed their littlest stuffed animals into socks for some reason . . . I just can't remember what it was. :o) The second photo is Anya Rashi using two almost-empty Kleenex boxes for shoes. The last two are from a few weekends ago, when my sister Alicia visited. She stayed at a hotel so we could all swim, and Aaron and Nathan slept over at the hotel with her. (A very big deal for them!) She is a blast -- I hope she's able to come along to India for our second trip, even though returning to work at her clinic afterward was a brutal jet-lag experience!

On to the reading material . . . I just finished a book by Mitali Perkins called Monsoon Summer. It's designed for teen readers, but had a lot to offer for me as an outsider to Indian culture. The basic plot is about a family's summer spent at an orphanage in Pune. The mother was adopted by an American couple, and she is returning with her (somewhat reluctant) family to give back to the place that gave her so much.

This book is written from the viewpoint of the daughter, who, although her mother is Indian, looks more like her Caucasian dad, and feels like an outsider in Pune. There are lots of great observations about life in India, and it's the only book I've read by an Indian author that deals with the lingering issues about caste. It was worth reading if only for that, but also contains many good lessons about giving to others.

Mitali Perkins herself was born in Kolkata (which makes me fond of her already, since that's also Anya Rashi's birth city). Her family lived in Ghana, Cameroon, England and Mexico before emigrating to the United States. She now lives in Massachusetts, has two sons and is married to a minister. She has a web site featuring books about young people caught between two cultures: http://www.mitaliperkins.com/.

Another good "read" is something Amanda (another Dillon Intl. mom) shared with me -- it's a web site about having a multi-racial family. You can find it at http://multiracialsky.wordpress.com/. Although it's been a few months since she posted, there are some great posts, including one with a list of children's books that talk about different skin tones and cultural differences. Thanks, Amanda!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

We're expecting . . .

. . . another baby girl from India! Last month, we applied to begin the adoption process again through Dillon International. Now we are knee-deep in references, medical reports, and all the other things necessary before we go on to do our home study with a local social worker.

We shared the news with our families two weeks ago, and the big question has been, "Will the process go more quickly because it's your second adoption?" The answer, unfortunately, is "Not really." We will be able to save a few steps because Dillon already has copies of our marriage license, etc., and we've already written the required autobiographies, so that's helpful.

But the Indian courts and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration all have their own timelines, which we will again wait patiently (!) for. The good news is that we've ridden this roller coaster once before, and are a bit less likely to be blindsided by the many surprises and delays that are part of adoption.

The kids are excited in an abstract way, because a.) the boys vaguely remember how long it seemed to take last time, and b.) Anya Rashi has no concept of time beyond "tomorrow." We should all take our cue from her! It's heartwarming to hear how they already refer to their "new baby sister" in conversation, though.

So, about two years from now, we will be a family of six!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

5-day hunger challenge

Our family just finished a 5-day Hunger Challenge with the rest of our church. For the past five days, we ate the equivalent of UN rations: an alotted amount of oatmeal, rice and beans each day. We are doing this for two reasons -- to walk in the shoes, however briefly, of the world's hungry, and to use the money we didn't spend on our normal groceries for hunger relief.

The donations will go to local food pantries, to the town of Hinche, Haiti (we do medical and other mission trips there), and to the Saharawi people in western Algeria, who have lived as refugees (eating UN rations) for the past 30 years. Our church has developed an amazing relationship with these resilient people over the past 9 years.

I am amazed at how well Aaron and Nathan did with the Hunger Challenge. We talked and prayed about it in advance, and on two of the days they did have a somewhat normal cold lunch at school (minus a treat). But the rest of the time they ate the rations, and were very good sports about it. (They did continue to drink milk, and Anya Rashi's diet was supplemented with a few other things as well.) I think it helped them realize in a concrete way that some kids have next to nothing, and that God cares deeply about those who are hungry, so we should too.

One big revelation for me was about variety. I am so used to having fresh fruit, and lots of food choices. That was apparent by the third day, when our food became "eating to live" rather than living to eat, which is sometimes the case for me.

The other big revelation was about the privilege of being able to feed my children nutritious foods. This was really driven home on Friday, when Nathan came home from school with a cough and a 102.5 fever, which went up to 103.6 today. We chose to supplement his food with some other things to help his body recover, and I have cried thinking about mothers who can't do this, and about mothers who don't have Motrin or Tylenol to help their children feel better.

I'm grateful to be able to return to a normal diet today, especially so since Aaron caught the virus from his brother. But as I plan a good meal for tonight, I can't help but think of all the people who can't do the same thing -- their hunger challenge goes on.