Saturday, May 10, 2014

The other mothers

We don't have any photos of our girls' first mothers.  We will likely never have the chance to communicate with them either.  But we are so indebted to them for the gift of our daughters.  In the complex swirl of factors that cause a woman to make an agonizing, heart-rending choice, somehow we have ended up as the beneficiaries of their difficult or painful circumstances.
In a perfect world, adoption would not exist.  In a perfect world, women (and men) would have the resources, support, and ability to keep their children. But this world is far from perfect . . .
In our broken world, however, God is still at work.  In the darkest circumstances, God can weave something glorious and redemptive. The word "weave" is apt -- our lives are forever woven into a fabric that includes our daughters, their first parents, and the women who cared for them in orphanages. 
I grieve for the factors that led our daughter's first mothers to say goodbye to their babies.  I wonder how often they think of these sparkling black eyes and silky raven hair.  I wonder if there is a hole in their hearts that can never be filled.  I know that our delight in our girls came at a high cost to them.
I think of Pinki, the young ayah who cried as we prepared to take Anya Rashi away from the orphanage.  And of Sumi, the woman who asked us if we were going to change Kavya's name, whose eyes filled with tears as she said goodbye to the girl she'd held for 2 1/2 years.
Kavya and Sumi
And I think of the Sisters who shone the love of Christ on our daughter with such tenderness. And of Doctor Sister Gladys, who nursed our daughter through meningitis as an infant, and through surgery as a 6-month-old baby.

Sister Cynthia and Kavya
Sister Lucy and Kavya
These other mothers should be celebrated this weekend too.  I think of them so often, and I pray that somehow they could know the depth of gratitude I feel for all of them.  Happy Mother's Day to all of the women who carried my daughters, whether in their own bodies, or in their arms.  All of us carry them in our hearts.

Kavya's prayer and goodbye service.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Our days together

It feels as though we are arriving at a new "normal" as a family of six.  Our days with Kavya have a pattern, and things are humming along with Aaron, Nathan, and Anya as the school year and activities go on.  Certain times of the day feel a little crazy -- especially the after-school hours until Kavya's and Anya's bedtime, when there is homework, practices, dinner prep, and a two-year-old who is crazy about being outside.

Highlights of this month:

We've had a cold spring, but have managed to take many stroller walks, draw with chalk, swing and slide in the backyard, and go to the park near our house. 

Two weeks ago, we celebrated Nathan's birthday.  I can't believe he's 12 -- that suddenly seems so old.  And he is just a hair shorter than me at this point!  I didn't think that would happen in 6th grade . . . I thought I'd have until high school before my sons passed me up.  We celebrated with grandparents, and with our two local uncles.  This kid loves a party, and enjoyed choosing our dinner and asking for his favorite homemade ice cream cake for dessert.

Aaron and Nathan had their spring Boychoir concert last week, and will be singing Rutter's Mass of the Children this weekend.  Both of their voices are changing (Aaron's is already done changing), but they can still sing in falsetto -- and they love to sing, like their Dad.

Anya is blooming in first grade, and has grown about 4 inches during this school year!  She seems so big, and so grown-up to me.  My heart does a little squeeze each time I can see a glimpse of the lovely young woman she is going to be.

We are seeing a bit of a language explosion with Kavya.  She says some sentences: "Close the door," "One second, Daddy," and "Bella Anya's friend?"  I am amazed that she is using concepts like "friend" in a question already!  She also loves to sing the "Happy Birthday" song, and the alphabet song -- up until Q R S . . . then she gets a little lost, but is ready with the final words "Now I know my ABCs," which sounds like "No no no my ABCs."  So funny!

This is how she asks for a kiss. Who can resist?!

Kavya now has a favorite blankie (the flowered one from Autie Trina), and two favorite stuffed animals: the little puppy we got her in India, and a tiger from the boys' collection.  She is the happiest morning person of all our children -- she wakes up with a smile every single day, and after every nap.  She is still a bit of a picky eater, but has expanded her food preferences a little bit. Amazingly, she doesn't seem to like rice at all, even though it was a staple food at the orphanage.  She did eat a little bit with some homemade chicken makhani sauce (not a fan of the chicken, though).

We've been to the doctor a few more times with her, once for a weight check, and once to see an ENT for a preliminary check of her repaired cleft palate.  We will have to drive two hours to meet with a cleft palate team in another month or two.  They wanted to wait until she had a better grasp of English to assess her speech, and so that she could better follow instructions for other parts of the visit. 

And in one of the more hilarious parts of our lives, India requires some follow-up tests that require a urine sample.  So I've been attempting to get a urine sample in a sterile container from a non-potty-trained 2-year-old.  It's been going as well as you're probably picturing right now.  :o)  And we still do not have a sample.  Maybe it's time for some chocolate bribery.

* * * * *

Mother's Day means that I've been thinking often about our girls' first parents.  I'm certain we will have some conversations this weekend with Anya about her birth mother. Sometimes, I am the one to bring up the subject, and sometimes it's Anya.  Each year, she processes her life story a little bit differently, and I'm curious to see what this year will bring.

As for me, I feel a sense of obligation to parent our daughters well.  These girls are a gift we share with four people we've never met, and I pray that if we ever meet their first families, they will be pleased that Kavya and Anya are healthy, thriving, joyful, and utterly themselves.  I pray that somehow, we will be able to communicate with them someday . . . and I just pray for them in general, especially for the hole in the heart of any mother who has to say goodbye to the baby they carried.