After our initial introduction, Angel and I spent the rest of our first afternoon together staring at each other. I wanted to drink in every, single detail of this magical day. She seemed very inquisitive about me and Aunt Laura and at the same time, very content to be with us. While she was nervous at first, she really started to relax once we were privately back in the hotel room.
One smile led to another, to another, and to another. Soon, she was all smiles and posing for pictures on command!
Everyone asks me how we were able to communicate at first with the language barrier, but it was unexpectedly easy. Angel is a very expressive little girl and didn’t hesitate to let me know how she was feeling every step of the way. Once she got situated and started to loosen up, she pointed and grabbed at her wrists to let me know she was ready to take her bracelets off. She would instinctively (and rather dramatically) frown or smile in response to everything I presented to her: food, toys, books, etc. She even let me know very clearly which outfits I bought for her that she didn’t approve of!
She didn’t say anything at all for about 24 hours, but seemed to clearly understand what we were saying. She would either nod or shake her head in response to any question we asked. Even though Angel spoke in her native language of Marathi at the orphanage, she never tried to speak Marathi to us. It helped that she was (and still is) incredibly adept at detecting context clues and picking up new words. It’s true what they say… kids really are sponges.
The first night we were together I had my first real taste of parenting when I asked her if she had to go to the bathroom (while pointing at the toilet) and she shook her head. Instead, she wanted to cuddle with me in bed. I was happy to accommodate… until I found out the hard way she DID have to go to the bathroom after all! I know all parents have had similar experiences, but somehow it’s more amusing when it happens to a new parent, as I was still clueless to many rude awakenings ahead. I was definitely in foreign territory…in more ways than one!
And I couldn’t have been happier to feel so befuddled.
The next day we were flying from Mumbai to Delhi, where we would stay for the remainder of our trip to take care of adoption business at the U.S. Embassy. While sitting at the airport waiting for our flight, she said her first word to us.
And, it was in English.
“Airplane,” she mumbled with a big smile on her face, as if she knew just how grand the accomplishment was for her to pick up a foreign word so quickly. Of course, we made a big fuss over it.
“What did you say?!?!” And her smile grew bigger.
Before the plane had landed, I heard her say, “Mama,” or at least, what sounded like, “Mama” to my very hopeful ears. There were new words flowing from her constantly in the days that followed. Her vocabulary blossomed just like that, and never stopped.
It was the first time for me to fly with a child and now I get what everyone complains about. The stress of security, boarding, etc., while keeping track of your belongings AND a child…sigh. Not fun at all. Every minute of the day was a fresh, confusing and fascinating experience.
At first glance, Delhi was just an dizzying as Mumbai… the colors, the atmosphere, the street people, the landmarks… and I was intrigued by all of it. However, while still focused on bonding, we didn’t venture out much. Instead, we spent the rest of that day on the grounds of our new hotel and I tried to soak in the newness of being a mom to this impressive and captivating little girl.
When we did head out to restaurants, or just to walk around, Angel wanted to be carried constantly. I was pleased to oblige. It would get to the point where my arms would start to shake… but I would not put her down for anything. A year later, I still feel like I can’t get enough affection as we try to make up for the four years we missed being together.
As I laid in bed that night, again I couldn’t sleep. Something hit me and I found myself drawn to my laptop, compelled to record this moment in time. This is part of the email I wrote to my family and friends back home who were closely monitoring our journey.
It’s after midnight and Aunt Laura and Angel are fast asleep. I’ve hardly slept at all in days– partly because I’m so excited and honestly, still a little anxious — but mostly because I feel something so powerful going on and I don’t want to miss it. My soul is stirred. It’s hard to put into words how strongly I KNOW this child was divinely matched for me and my family. There’s the obvious…she’s a girlie-girl, loves her stuffed kitty cat, and is very sweet and delicate…but there’s also something much deeper. It’s like the bond between us has been there for a long time. The way she’s already clinging to me makes me hope she senses it too.
The reason why I was drawn to India is also so hard to explain. I know now that it’s because this is where my daughter was born. I developed a fascination with this country shortly before her birth. There’s something very spiritual here and I love that. It’s a mixture of religions, but all of them are universally revered in a way we seldom see in America. There’s a strong belief in God, regardless of the path to Him, and an overwhelming faith in destiny.
That especially hits home for me now, as I bond with my daughter whom I’ve been searching for for two years. Every path I took, even the diversions and disappointments, led me exactly where I’m supposed to be today. I marvel at the fact that India wasn’t even open to foreign adoptions when I started this journey…and that the doors miraculously opened when I thought I had hit a dead end with a domestic adoption. Everything happened according to plan, even though it was sometimes hard to recognize that through every step of the process.
The head of the orphanage told us he sees this miracle every day. For instance, he had an albino child with special needs who seemed unmatchable until his adoptive parents seemed to fall out of the sky and take him to his new home…in Norway. He couldn’t imagine a more perfect place where this unique boy would feel comfortable.
He also told us about a biological father who returned to the orphanage after surrendering his three children because he felt guilty about leaving them there. His wife had died and he was unable to raise them on his own. But when he returned, he was surprised to see his children seemed happy. They assured him, “We’re okay. You can go.” He left.
Two weeks later, the dad was found dead on the street of natural causes. A card with the name of the orphanage was still in his pocket. The three siblings were all adopted by loving parents who wanted to keep them together. Had the children left with their dad that day, they would’ve ended up as orphans on the street, and prey to all the perils that involves.
After meeting my “perfect” daughter, I was stunned that she hadn’t been adopted sooner. The head of the orphanage told me that was simply because, “God wanted her to be with you.”
I know many of you are already well aware of the miracle of adoption and how “your kids find you.” I certainly witnessed this firsthand many years ago with my niece and nephew. What I didn’t know at the time was that it sparked something deep within me that would eventually lead to my own miracle match. I’m feeling this in such a powerful way at this moment, I felt compelled to share it.
I tend to get goosebumps when I hear stories of destinies fulfilled. I hope in some way our miracle coming to fruition brings all of you comfort, hope or peace.
With that email message now on its way, I closed my eyes. The next day we had to appear at a medical facility so Angel could get tested for clearance to come home. I have never felt so fulfilled, intrigued and terrified at the same time.
To see previous blog posts, go to http://www.suddenlysinglemomblog.com