Friday, April 29, 2011

May 24, 2010 - Embassy Day

Our morning started out bright and early.  We had our big Embassy appointment at 9:30 a.m. SHARP!  This is one appointment you DON'T want to be late for.  As I was double checking all the paperwork to make sure it was in order I took my first "close" look at our flight schedule.  My husband had done all the travel arrangements (thank you, honey) and I was going along for the ride.  Since we left the states in less than 24 hours from booking our tickets, I was frantically trying to get 4 people ready to board a plane I didn't pay too much attention to the itinerary.  It was at that very moment upon my close inspection that I realized that our flight back to the U.S. was going to be at MIDNIGHT TONIGHT!!!!  YIKES!  For some reason when I looked at the itinerary I saw depart from India Tuesday at 12:00, but in the craziness I was thinking that was 12:00 MIDNIGHT on Tuesday, NOT 12:00 MIDNIGHT (Monday). This needless to say kicked my butt into hyper speed to finish off all those loose ends.  My mind went wild and my heart about stopped when I realized that we MUST have Alesha's visa TODAY before we leave the Embassy or we don't fly out at MIDNIGHT and we have to change plane tickets for 5 people....can we say EXPENSIVE!!!!  All along I was thinking we had until Tuesday at Midnight if we had to go back to the Embassy to pick up the visa.  In my mind we had the perfect plan with plenty of time in case it was needed.  In India I always find it funny that when everything seems to be going wrong, they will always say "no problem, no problem" as they do the famous India head bobble.  Well my friends this could potentially be a MAJOR PROBLEM!!!!!!!

I am frantically fluttering about and my husband is cool as a cucumber.  It is funny how throughout this entire process I would get all worked up over different events and he would just be all calm cool and collected :-)  He assured me that it would be fine.  We gather Alesha's diaper bag stuffed to the hilt, because who knows how long we will be camping out at the Embassy at this point, get all THREE kids ready, pack snacks for the boys, grab all those priceless pieces of paper we have been toting around India, grab the famous "PACKET", and head out the door with our wonderful friend Uma.

As we begin our drive I begin to pray that our Embassy Day will go smoothly and we can walk away with that visa in our hands so we can board that midnight flight back home as a family of 5.  The first part of the drive went quite quickly, but then the traffic pretty much stopped cold!  It was some of the heaviest traffic I had seen to date.  Uma, who is always so calm and nothing seems to faze him says "Oh, this is not good."  To this I am starting to freak out that we may not make it in time for our appointment.  It is relentless stop and go with long periods of going NOWHERE!  I notice that Uma is squirming a bit and this tells me that this is not a good situation.  I am sure Uma was praying the entire way as he knew how important this appointment was.

The traffic began to let up and we were picking up some speed as the minutes ticked by.  I was watching the clock on the dash board click 9:25, 9:26, 9:27 at this point we are all squirming in our seats!  Just then we round the final corner and see the Embassy gate.  Uma, drove up and let us out right in front of the drop off area to check in your cell phones and electronics.  Time on the dash board just flipped to 9:28!!  We decided to leave all our electronics at home including our cell phone so we could save time in the security check.  We  rushed into the main building and were finally in line to go through security.  This step went quickly and we made our way through a door into an outside waiting area that was packed with people.  From here we were told to go into the other building (it was air conditioned) and we grabbed our number, took our seat, and waited for our name to be called.

This area was very crowded with only one seat available to sit in.  I sat down and held Alesha, while the boys sat on the floor next to me and Darin stood.  It wasn't long before our number was called and we headed to our first window and spoke to a very nice lady.  She said hello to Alesha and told us how beautiful she was. She asked us a bunch of questions and requested we hand her a bunch of different documents.  One document she asked for I didn't have and didn't know what she was talking about.  She must have sensed my panic as she said it was okay and that they probably had a copy already there.  WHEW!!  She then told us to take a seat and wait for our name to be called.

At this point Alesha, had pooped her diaper and the smell is beginning to fill the room.  I ask where the restroom is so I can change her and they direct me back outside.  As I leave the building I verify with the guard that he will let me back in and that I just need to use the restroom.  He was very friendly and pointed me in the right direction.  Upon my return the guard asks me some questions about Alesha, says several words to her, smiles, and opens the doors for us.

We found our places in a different area that had emptied out some.  We were able to sit all together in a row of seats.  Before long our name was called.  Although they pronounced it kinda funny so we had to guess that they were calling us.  We made our way to another window were we were greeted by an American.  He asked us a few questions and then had us raise our hands and swear to whatever it was he stated.  Then he asked us when we needed the visa.  To this we told him that our plane flies out of Delhi for the U.S. at midnight tonight.  He then says we should be able to get this done today, but it might take awhile.  We said no problem we will just wait.  He says it might take several hours, to that we said no problem we just need it so we can leave tonight.  We make our way back to our previous seats and settle in.  After about one and a half hours our name is called again.  He hands us Alesha's passport, congratulates us, and we are off to call Uma to come and pick us up.  Praise God for answering our prayers.

As we make our way out of the air conditioned building into the sweltering heat outside we ask to use the phone.  After asking several people we were informed that the U.S. Embassy has NO outgoing phone lines.  This was hard for us to believe, but they were adamant and escorted us outside of the building.  We are now standing in the front of the building trying to figure out what we are supposed to do now.  Apparently, you are NOT allowed to linger on the sidewalk in front of the main doors of the Embassy, because the guard came out and told us that we needed to cross the street and wait on the other side of the road.  By now we are kicking ourselves for not bringing our cell phone.  We are pretty much screwed at this point.  Here we are dripping with sweat and no way to call our friend to come and pick us up! As we are making our way across the street we run into a VERY sweet lady who is holding a cell phone.  Praise GOD!  I promptly asked her if we could borrow her phone to call our friend who is waiting to pick us up.  We explained that the Embassy said they don't have an outgoing line, which she agreed was ridiculous.  She then dialed Uma's number for us and handed us her phone.  At last our ride was on the way.  We thanked her for her kindness and made our way across the street to join a large group of people who were gathered under the ONLY tree on the corner.  As we stood there absolutely soaked with sweat we received many looks and heard a lot of chatter among the locals.  Alesha, at this point feels like she weighs about 100 pounds and she won't let Darin hold her so there I stand exhausted.  I must say our boys did amazingly well under these conditions.  After about 20 minutes a lady stands up from where she was sitting and hands me a crinkled newspaper.  She motions for me to put the paper on the curb and sit on it.  I guess my exhaustion was pretty visible and she wanted me and our baby to rest.  I could not have been more grateful.  About 20 minutes later Uma arrives and be make a beeline for his car.  The airconditioning felt like a cool ocean breeze after standing/sitting in that heat for so long.  The cool hour long car ride home felt amazing!

Now crunch times begins.  I am crazy busy trying to get all of the last things sorted out.  We all have to shower and redress after our day in the heat.  By this time we are approaching the dinner hour.  Our friends had pizza delivered.  It was delicious :-)  After dinner we all gathered to take some photos.  

All the kids together

I love this photo and this family!

Our friends with Alesha

Before we left for Kolkata to meet Alesha, Yaman sat us down and asked us if they could be Alesha's Godparents.  Without hesitation we excepted.  What an honor to have such Godly people be a part of our daughter's life.  Alesha, now has a "family" connection to India for years to come.  

It was now 9:00 p.m. and we had to say our final goodbyes.  It was really difficult to leave knowing that it would several years before we would make it back to India.  We could not thank our friends enough for ALL they did for us during our stay in India.  They blessed us beyond measure!

We gave our final hugs and headed downstairs to load our bags into the car.  It was staggering how hot it was this late at night. Our next stop Delhi Airport.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

May 23, 2010 - A Day of Rest

We had told our friends the night before that we would not be attending church in the morning as we just needed to rest and bond with Alesha.  The day before had really taken its toll on our family.  They totally understood and decided that they would stay home with us and do a few fun things with the boys.  The boys went swimming with their children in the early morning and then Uma took Darin, Martin, Luke, and his two children to go and see Shrek 4 in 3D at the movie theater.  The kids had a blast!  How cool to see a movie in a foreign country, right?  While they were gone it was just Yaman, Alesha and I.  I so enjoyed just spending time with Yaman.  She is such a Godly women and so sweet and comforting.  I remember watching Father of The Bride 2 with her as I held Alesha.  At one point I decided that I would try and feed Alesha a mixture of formula and the cookies that the Children's Home had given us.  Alesha, actually took a few bites and Yaman was so excited to see her eat.  We both celebrated this moment together.  Since Alesha had been with us she refused to eat anything other than Gerber stars or a bottle.  It felt good to see her eating some food.  After a bit, Alesha, fell asleep and Yaman and I tried to get the beautiful anklet and bracelet set that they had given us on Alesha.  The problem was her little legs and wrists were SO tiny that they just slid off.  I was so sad because I wanted her to able to wear them, but I was not going to risk having this precious gift getting lost.

Yaman and I finished our movie and the boys arrived home from their movie.  Since this was really our last full day left with our friends the boys wanted to soak up every last minute.  They promptly went down in the heat of the day to play a few hours of cricket.  I still don't know how they lasted that long in that heat, but they had a blast!  Alesha, Darin and I took a nap and tried to gain some energy and strength for the last push of our trip.

Upon waking up, Yaman asked if I would like to go shopping with her to pick out some outfits for Alesha. She was on her way to visit her dad in the hospital and made time to take me shopping.  While we were in Kolkata, Yaman's father underwent open heart surgery, quadruple bybass if I remember right.  This is another BIG thing that happened during our time in India.  Despite all that Yaman was going through with her dad in the hospital they still welcomed us into their home, cooked for us, transported us to our appointments, and encouraged us with our daughter.  They were truly a blessing to us the entire time we were in India.

Uma, Yaman, Alesha, and I headed off to FabIndia.  The clothes were amazing and high quality.  I picked out several adorable outfits for Alesha and a shirt for Martin, Luke and Darin.  I didn't get anything as I would have to try it on and Alesha would have NO part in me putting her down even for a second.  Next, we dropped Yaman off at the hospital and headed home with Uma.

I then began the overwhelming task of reorganizing and repacking all our luggage and got all the paperwork in order for our Embassy appointment that would take place tomorrow.  This was a difficult assignment when you are holding a baby in your arms.  I could not put her down or let anybody hold her as she would just start crying/screaming.  We called her cry/scream the "air horn".  It was just that LOUD!  I could tell that yesterday had really taken a toll on her and she just needed extra holding, hugs and kisses.

Our dinner was fantastic as usual.  Yaman, is a fantastic cook and we enjoyed every meal she prepared for us.  I felt so spoiled having 3 meals a day served to me.  It was delightful!  I remember how Yaman would comment how she just loved to watch our boys eat what she cooked.  Her children were pretty picky eaters so it brought great joy to her to see our kids gobbling up her delicious meals :-)

We settled in for the night and prepared for the long awaited Embassy Day!

Friday, April 22, 2011

May 22, 2010- Emotional Day

Alesha, did well during the night and only needed one bottle during the night and then slept until morning.  I had filled our thermos with hot water before going to bed so I wouldn't have to disturb the entire house boiling water during the night when she woke up.  That thermos was a lifesaver MANY times on our trip :-)

After we were all awake, we were greeted with another delicious meal prepared by Yaman.  While I was finishing up my breakfast, Darin, got on the computer to check on email and facebook.  During his facebook check, his youngest brother instant messaged him and said that he had some bad news and felt awful in having to tell him over facebook, but didn't know what else to do.  He then proceeded to tell Darin that their oldest sister had died.  He told Darin he didn't want him to come home and find out and wonder why nobody told him.  In the end we were glad he told us while in India so we had a few days to process it before getting off a plane back home and being given this news.  As I entered the room Darin explained to me the news he just received.  This was a devastating blow to say the least.  We went from the elation of bringing our daughter into our family and then we receive news that another family member had died.  The gamut of emotions were all over the board.  Shock, grief, disbelief were all in the forefront of our minds.  Keep in mind this was first thing in the morning, NOT a great way to start the day we ahead of us.

As we were working though our emotions we packed up our things to head BACK to the Embassy doctor.  This car ride seemed to last forever.  So many thoughts were swirling around in my head.  A couple of days after our arrival home we will now be attending a  funeral.  I am thankful that we have Alesha and that she will bring some joy to such a difficult time in our families lives. We just felt helpless being thousands miles away from all our family who were grieving.  It was just a heartbreaking situation.

Upon our arrival at the doctor's office we were escorted to the same room as the day before.  Alesha, began crying the second we entered the room.  Three more shots were on the horizon.  The nurse had me lay her down again on the table to stab one leg (we did the same holding down procedure as before) and than I had to hug her really tight while she was sitting up to keep her still as she stabbed her in each arm.  The tears were flowing from all of us and Alesha pretty much checked out at this point.  It was heartbreaking to see her shut down.  This is what we had feared would happen splitting the shots up into two days.  I gave her another bottle and tried to soothe her as we finished up the paperwork and paid our bill.  It was interesting to me to watch the office staff as they counted our money.  They inspected every bill and put each one under this light before accepting them.  They spent more time and were more concerned with the money we gave them then they were with our baby girl.  This was irritating and disappointing.  Upon exiting the building we were relieved to know that we would NOT be returning to this horrible place again.

When we arrived back at home we were greeted with our daily afternoon Chai that Yaman had made.  After Alesha woke from her nap I went to change her diaper and as I layed her down on the bed she began to scream and cry.  It was then that I realized she thought that I was going to hold her down for another shot.  It broke my heart to see her so upset.  To think that now every time I would change her diaper or lay her down on her back she had this flood of memories coming back that she was going to get hurt.  After a bit she finally calmed down and she decided she wanted to show us that she could crawl. It was so cute to see her come out of her shell a little bit.
One her way to mommy.....or probably Mickey Mouse:-)

She made it!  So proud of her.  

This was a common sight.  If they were not playing cricket or swimming you would find the kids together in the entertainment room playing games, watching TV, or listening to music.  
The time came for all of us to load up and head off for Uma's pediatrician's office.  Uma dropped Yaman, Darin, Alesha and I off at the front of the building and took the rest of kids so they wouldn't have to wait for the appt.  As we entered the pediatrician's office I was struck by how tiny it was.  There was a small desk as you entered the room and chairs were along the 3 other walls.  There was a tiny door leading into the doctor's office.  When our name was called we entered the office where we met the doctor.  She was very sweet.  We looked around the small space and saw her desk, a couple chairs, a scale, and an exam table.  This was such a tiny room for all of these items.  We sat down and she began reading the medical files while asking questions and making lots of notations.  We were able to ask her some specific questions we had and her answers brought relief to both of  us.  One thing that got cleared up was our file had said that Alesha had humming when she would breathe. Our doctor said she had never heard that term and figured it must be like wheezing and that she might have ashema or something of the like.  When I asked this Indian doctor she said that the humming was actually a heart murmur and that it is cleared up now.  CRAZY how one word can mean two completely different things in two different countries.

The next step was to give Alesha an exam.  Alesha, of course freaked out and didn't want anybody to come near her.  We explained that she already had 3 shots this morning and yesterday she had 3 as well.  The doctor was  very understanding, gentle, and sweet with Alesha. Her final thoughts were that Alesha was VERY tiny, but was a very strong and healthy girl considering all that she had been through since birth.  She wrote out a prescription for some iron and vitamins, congratulated us, and wished us luck.  This was more what I had expected from a doctor.  This visit was so meaningful and a wonderful blessing to our family.  To top it off the total office visit was like $13.

Our next stop was to hook up with the kids and head to pharmacy to fill Alesha's perscritions and buy additional boxes of formula and cereal.  We then all headed over to a super fun restaurant for dinner.  This restaurant was all in neon colors and had really cool shaped tables, chairs, light fixtures, etc.  I can't remember the name of it, but they had really good Chinese food.  They had several brain teaser type games for the kids to play and our Martin won a free drink.  The kids had a great time.  Darin and I were still reeling from all the information we had taken in that day and all the emotions that went along with it.  Eating with friends in a fun place was a nice way to end such a difficult day.  As we walked back to the car in the sweltering heat, we piled in and listened to some Toby Mac as the kids danced about belting out the songs.

When we arrived home we settled in for an early night of sleep.  A rest day was on the horizon for tomorrow.  We were physically exhausted (the heat was really taking its toll and Luke and I were still weak from our illness) and we were emotionally spent.  Hopefully a good night sleep would make tomorrow look a bit brighter.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

May 21, 2010 - Back to Delhi

Our day started really early. The boys went down to grab some breakfast at 7 a.m. sharp and to pay the bill with Dad right before our departure to the airport.  I stayed with Alesha to gather the last few things that needed to be packed.  We then all made it downstairs and were greeted by our wonderful driver from the day before.  At last we were headed for the airport.  It was strange to know that we were leaving the city of our daughter's birth place and would probably not return for many years to come.  We finally arrived at the airport and said goodbye to our driver and thanked him for his kindness during our trip. We were so very grateful for him.  There was plenty of time to settle in for a bit before our flight boarded.  As you can see from the photo boredom had set in for the boys.    The boarding of the plane began and we were escorted to the front of the line, what a treat :-)  We found our seats and received the same wonderful service that Kingfisher provides.  Alesha, did amazing on the plane ride.  She played with her toys, ate Gerber stars, giggled, bounced in my lap, and had a bottle.  She never even cried :-) The flight flew by and before we knew it we were unloading into the shuttle bus headed for the Delhi airport terminal.
Upon entering the terminal I had to go to the bathroom really bad.....too much water on the plane. This was going to be a problem, because Alesha, would scream if anybody held her besides me.  It was apparent that I would experience this bathroom trip with a child in tow. As we were entering the bathroom I was thinking through how this was going to work.  I was not going to put Alesha down on the ground so I would have to hold her.  Without going into details it was the most difficult bathroom trip I have had to date. To juggle a little one without dropping her and go to the bathroom was a challenge to say the least!  I got several looks as I exited the stall.  Darin, asked me what took so long and I just laughed.....if he only knew :-)

Next, we made our way outside and was greeted by our wonderful friend, Uma. He took us back to his home where we unloaded all of our things and introduced Alesha to his family.  It was nice to hear their comments like "she looks so comfortable and relaxed", "she is making great eye contact, etc".  These comments were very meaningful as Uma has worked and seen many families during the adoption process, his family included.  Uma and Yaman have a birth son and they adopted their little girl when she was an infant.  We discussed our adoption processes together. The main difference was that they met their daughter one day and the next day they had her at home with them.  ONE day!!!!!  It was hard to not be a bit jealous of that fact since we had to wait 2 1/2  years to have our girl in our arms.  What a treat it was to talk about how their first days and weeks played out and to have friends who could totally relate to the things we were going through and be so supportive.  This was a gift I will forever cherish.

Our next stop was the Embassy doctor.  The boys stayed to play with Uma's children and we were off for the doctor.  I had been dreading this appt. since I had first read about it.  We packed all the paperwork and diaper bag and off we went.  The office was located in a beautiful part of town and we entered down a long driveway to a small office building.  We checked in at the front desk and waited our turn. Alesha, was already a bit nervous and was looking all around.  I think she sensed something was up!  Our name was called and we entered through a door into a very small exam room.  A very tall man with a big beard and turban on his head entered the room, and Alesha began to squirm and cry.  He turned out to be the doctor and examined the medical files we provided.  He asked a couple of questions, shined a light in Alesha's eyes, and said that she would need 6 shots!  YIKES!  I knew she would need several shots, but 6, oh my!  We told the doctor that we wanted Alesha to have all the shots right now so we didn't have to put her through this twice.  He REFUSED and said "that she would get 3 today and we would come back tomorrow for the other 3.  My husband explained again our desires and informed him that we were staying an hour outside of Delhi and we really didn't want to have our friend drive us back the next day if we could avoid it.  To all of this the doctor replied "She will get 3 today and you will come back tomorrow for the other 3".  It was apparent that he was NOT going to budge on this and we were both really upset.  He left the room and that was that.  My husband was furious!  We really didn't have much choice in the matter.  We had to do what they said in order to get that "all important packet" to take to our Embassy appt.

The next thing we know a nurse came in and began filling the needles.  AleshaAlesha was kicking so hard that she pushed off the table and slammed her head into the wall that was a good distance away.  It was an absolute NIGHTMARE!!!!!  To think that we would have to put her through this again tomorrow was more than we could take.  After the third shot was completed Alesha was crying so hard and was so upset she almost threw up.  Darin and I were in tears as well.

We exited into the waiting room and I prepared a bottle for her as we explained the situation to our friend.  He said not to worry about coming back tomorrow and that we just needed to do what they said.  The ride home was miserable for us emotionally knowing that we had to replay this nightmare tomorrow.  I was really disappointed in the sheer standoffishness of the doctor.  He was all business and really didn't care one bit about our daughter.  He didn't really check Alesha over as I would have expected a doctor to do when giving an all clear to leave the country.  To me it felt like an obligation and it was easy money to be made.

When I was getting ready to get into the car with Alesha, I turned her around and saw that she was holding something in her hand.  She was given this small toy to try and calm her down and she clung to that thing the entire time we were there and I didn't even realize she still had it.  At first I thought I should run this back into the office and then I thought NO WAY, after what you put my girl through and making us come back tomorrow this little toy is going home with us!  Probably not the best attitude, but at the time that is what I decided.  As we drove away with the toy in hand, Alesha, fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion.
Here she is, statesideck  with the very toy that she confiscated from the doctor.  (sorry blogger is being weird and I can't turn the pic)

When we returned home, we were greeted by our boys who wanted to know how their sister was and couldn't believe we had to go back again tomorrow. We discussed the appt over dinner and our disappointment over the whole thing.  This is when Yaman and Uma said that they would make an appt with their children's pediatrician for tomorrow.  We could take all of our files along and ask as many questions as needed and she would do a complete exam of Alesha.  I cannot express to you what a blessing this was for our family.  We had several questions and terminology that did not translate well for our doctor in the states.  We were thrilled for this opportunity!

After dinner we decided it was time for our girl to have her first bath.  This girl really likes the water.  She had a great time splashing in the water and there were lots of giggles.
Getting ready for my first bath.  See the one bandaid on her leg.  The other leg had 2 more.

Look at those BIG black eyes and LONG lashes.  

She is so tiny she fits perfect in this little tub.

All done!
 It was so fun to get Alesha dressed and put some hair accessories in her hair.  Having had boys in my house for the past 12 years, this was a treat!  I had to laugh because the first outfit I put on her fell right off when I stood her up.  There were very few outfits that actually fit her.  She was just SOOOO tiny!
Our little princess.
With utter exhaustion from the day we had experienced we decided to call it a night and get some rest for what the following day would hold.  We were so grateful to be in such a loving and understanding environment.  Uma, Yaman, and their children were such a blessing to us.  There are not words to express the many ways they blessed us on our trip.  They all taught us through their actions an entirely different level of hospitality than we had ever experienced.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

We have our baby girl!!!!!!!!!! - May 20, 2010 Posted from Kenilworth Hotel

Just a quick update to let you all know that we have our daughter. It has been quite an emotional day. Alesha is absolutely gorgeous and VERY tiny. The dress we picked her up in is a 0-3 month!! She has bonded well with me, she is laughing, smiling, and such a good baby. She is slowly warming up Darin and the boys. Will have to give more details later. Thank you all for your prayers. We were able to get pictures of all the babies!

May 20, 2010 - Alesha Day!!!!

After a VERY LONG night of little sleep, we all awoke at different times and made an assessment of our health situation.  It appeared as though the medicine did its work, the vomiting stopped,and it looked like we were finally on the mend.  Martin had his appetite back and wanted to go with Darin to the buffet downstairs and get something to eat.  Luke, was still not feeling all that great.  His issues were compounded by his IBS and the meds were not helping the situation. He was past vomiting, but felt very nauseous mostly due to IBS.  I was feeling much better, but VERY weak, as we all were.  Luke and I stayed in the room and asked Darin to bring us back a piece of toast to see if we could eat anything at all.  I am TOTALLY bummed that I missed out on the breakfast buffet.  It sure sounded amazing!  Anyways, a knock was at the door.  Who I thought was Darin, turned out to be an employee standing there with a tray of food.  Later I found out that Darin tried to just bring it up, but they refused and said they would do it for him.  All the while I am looking just awesome after the night I had and have not even started to get ready for the day.  He leaves the tray and Luke and I take a few bites and call it good.  Still not much of an appetite.

We are not scheduled to go to the orphanage until 2:00 p.m.  As we try to pass the time the boys watch their favorite episode of Pink Panther and Darin and I each write a letter to Alesha.  It is amazing that this day is FINALLY here.  I am nervous, excited, antsy all at the same time and am struggling to find energy to get through this big life changing day.  I am thrilled that our prayers were answered and we are well enough to make it to the orphanage as a family.  As we continued to wait, I double checked all of our donations for the orphanage, Alesha's bag, the carrier, and made sure all  the paperwork was in order.  We then took our last family photo as a family of 4.
The time had come for us to grab all our stuff and head to the lobby to meet our driver for the day.  Let me just say that we had the BEST driver!  He was the sweetest man and had been driving the streets of Kolkata since 1969.  He was really excited for us when we told him that we headed to the Children's Home to pick up our daughter.  Once our bags were loaded and we were safely buckled in, our driver began talking with us in perfect English.  We first chatted about the differences in transportation compared to Delhi.  In Delhi you see a lot of green auto rickshaws and in Kolkata you see yellow cabs.  We discussed Hinduism, Jesus Christ, and the difference between the two beliefs, he told us about his family and gave us some history on India.  We arrived at the orphanage without a hitch :-)  Did I mention I LOVE this driver!

We were asked by our caseworker prior to travel if we would be willing to take photos of all the children at the children's home.  My husband who has a photography business on the side was delighted and honored to take the photos.  I was so excited that he could use his gift of photography to bless the waiting families.  Darin and I were very aware of how precious and meaningful each image was of Alesha during our process.  We had only received a handful of photos during our wait so we were determined to get several images of each precious child. Any photo or video clip you get is priceless during the wait.  These are the life line to your child.  What was really exciting for me was that I could meet, hold, and tell some of my friend's babies how much their mommy and daddy loved them and they would be coming soon to bring them home.

The Children's home is split into two building a couple blocks away from each other.  Upon arrival at the 9B building we were joined by an employee who traveled with us to the other building.  This was our first glimpse of where our daughter had been staying.  With the list that Tami emailed me with the specific photos that needed to be taken of specific children, etc and with the famous name signs in hand, we proceeded into the building.   At this point I am half expecting to round a corner and see my precious daughter standing there.  Alesha, had been in this building since her arrival at the Children's Home. So as we moved from room to room I was expecting to see Alesha's sweet face.

An overall picture of the room with the babies

Our boys with some of the Ayahs and babies

The photo below is very meaningful to me.  When we first entered the building we stopped in a room where the newborns were located. This sweet women was feeding this precious little one.  She chatted a bit with us and helped me get the photos of the infants and helped me with names of the babies.  We then walked throughout the other rooms and got additional photos of the children.  When we were about to leave I hadn't seen Alesha anywhere and was told that she was in the other building now.  As we were leaving we passed the first room again and this sweet Ayah was still there.  She asked me who my baby was and I said "My baby is MugdhaMugdha.  The weight of her comment really hit me at the point and when I see this picture of her holding this tiny little baby it gives me a visual of her caring for my precious baby girl.  What a blessing it is to have such beautiful and caring women caring for our children until we are able to bring them home.  They are truly a treasure and my heart breaks for them as each of "their babies" leaves the home to be joined with their forever family.  It takes somebody special to care so deeply for someone and have them taken out of your life over and over again.  Although it is a beautiful thing that the children are going to a forever family, they still grieve that loss.

This photo was taken as we left the building to go back to our car.  I just love all these tiny little clothes hanging out on the line.

We all piled into the car and headed back to the 9B building.  We knew we had arrived as we saw the famous sign that I had seen in so many blogging friend's photos over the years :-)

WOW, this was it! This is where our daughter is and we will finally be united with her.  As we entered the home we walked up a long marble stairwell and into a small lobby area.

We were directed into Ms. Roy's office, the door on the left, where we were greeted by her sweet smile. She had all the paperwork set out and we began our meeting.  I had my list of questions to ask and fumbled through the list as my nerves were shot.  After my list of questions we signed the book saying that we were Alesha's parents.  We saw the most precious little newborn photo of Alesha.  So glad we were able to see another photo of her.  After all the signing was completed I asked Ms. Roy to please write Alesha's name and those of my boys in Bengali.  It is a treat to have that paper as a memory.  We then presented Ms. Roy with our donations.  It was so awesome to present her with an entire duffel bag full of diapers and wipes that were donated by the hospital my husband works at and to also give a milk donation.  These items are so expensive in India and it felt so good to give back to the home that had cared for our daughter for so many months.  Ms.Roy then gave us our box of cereal and formula and then brought out the most precious memory book for us.  It had photos in it of Alesha's friends and some tid bits about our girl.  It brought tears to my eyes.  What a beautiful gift for them to give us on such a special day.

By this point we have already spent 1 1/2 at the other building and have now been here for about an hour.  My sweet, Luke, was feeling sicker by the minute.  His IBS was really acting up and the heat was not helping things a bit!  As we left the office Luke made his way to the bathroom where we thought he was going to throw up.  Thankfully he didn't, but my husband (being the documentary photographer that he is) documented the moment.

My emotions were running really high at this point.  My boy is not feeling well and he felt horrible that he was sick on the day he was going to meet his sister so his emotions were high and lots of tears from pain and sadness, it is hotter than anything, and now I am seconds away for seeing my baby in real life.  We proceed into the first room and took the photos of the children on the list and then entered the larger room where the other children were located.  When we walked into the room my eyes scanned  the room in record time looking for my girl. There she was!  One of her Ayahs was holding her and she looked a bit nervous.  I walked slowly over to her, smiled, and said "Hi, Mugdha"  I knew that she had NO idea who I was and had seen many of her friends leave with people with white skin so I wanted to take it really slow.  She just looked at me and clung to her Ayah.  Notice how curled her feet are in the below photo.  She did this a lot when we first got her. When she was scared or felt uncomfortable those little feet would just curl up really tight.

Our first glimpse of each other.  Our son, Martin, was in charge of the video camera and did a fantastic job!
My first touch of her beautiful skin.

Alesha, with one of her Ayahs

Alesha, with one of her Ayahs

Alesha, with another Ayah
We decided that Alesha would just stay with her Ayahs while we continued taking photos of the rest of the children.  It was so fun interacting with all these precious children and getting them to smile for the camera!  When our photos were complete it was time to hold my precious girl!  Boy, when her Ayah handed her to me I instantly felt how TINY and frail her body was.  She was light as a feather.

There was a bit of hesitation from her, but there were no tears, which surprised everybody.  Ms. Roy was pretty confident that Alesha was going to cry and have a really hard time leaving.  I just talked to her and tried not to hold her so tight.  The top button of her dress was missing and I noticed the tag inside and quickly caught a glance at the size and was shocked when I saw 0-3 months!!!!  YIKES,all the clothes I brought were 6 months.  This could be an issue, I was thinking in the back of my mind.
After some little games with the mirror and more talking, the most incredible thing happened.  Alesha, just layed her head down on my shoulder and totally relaxed.  It is funny, because months before we got the all clear to travel, I felt as though I could literally feel Alesha in my arms in this EXACT position, and now it is actually happening.  My baby girl is in my arms at last.  The other thing that stuck me was that just the day before the little twin of Alesha's at the Mother Teresa home did the exact  same thing.

This is one of my favorite photos my husband took.  It captures so much with the reflection and moment.  The clock and the Ayah in the background just bring this photo full circle.  What I really love is that look at Alesha's feet, they are completely uncurled and relaxed.
Alesha, met daddy and her brothers, but didn't want them to hold her or touch her. That was really hard for all of them, but they understood and didn't press the issue.  The boys kept saying how adorable she was and they were SO happy to finally have her.

After we chatted some more with the Ayahs and asked more questions, it was time to leave and to say our good byes and thank yous to the Ayahs. We took a few pics with Ms, Roy, gathered all of our things from Ms. Roy's office, and we were off to start a new life as a family of 5!

Hugging Ms.Roy goodbye and telling her thank you!

As I turned to walk out of her office, I was overcome with emotion. The reality that I was taking my little girl from everything she has ever known and all of the changes that would be coming her way in the days to come hit me really hard.  I think I was also feeling the grief of the care givers as well.  It was really overwhelming!

I remember walking down those final steps to the entrance of the building and thinking this is it, Alesha is in our care from here on out. It was a mix of excitement, grief, anxiousness of how she would react, etc.  The interesting thing was is that I just walked right out of the home with Alesha in my arms and nobody followed, no guards, nobody, just me and my family.  

The boys so excited to see their sister

One of my favorite photos from the trip.  Thanks to my husband for capturing these first precious moments as mother and daughter.
Our driver was all smiles as he drove us to the passport place to get Alesha's photos taken. He took us right to the location, but there was no parking.  Unlike the crazy driver we had the day before, this driver made sure exactly where the place was and instructed us how far to walk and told us that he would drive around the find another parking spot. We found the place, the photos were taken quickly and without a hitch.  Once our transaction was completed we exited and there was our driver flagging us down from a bit down the street and ran up to us to guide us to our car.  What a blessing this driver was this important day.

One of the rare photos with my husband in it

Love this sweet smile

Walking to our car.
Our next stop was the Kenilworth Hotel.  As we entered the hotel all the staff were full of smiles and congratulated us.  They said how beautiful Alesha was and said a few things to her that I didn't understand.  We made our way to the elevator, which Alesha found fascinating.  At last we were inside our room and could relax for a bit before getting some dinner. It as amazing how well Alesha did.  She cried a couple of times, but overall was all smiles and relaxed.  She did not have an appetite outside of bottles and a couple Gerber stars here and there.
The boys trying to get as close as they could to their sister.

Could her bottom lip come out any further?  This was the warning before the loud cry :-(

Laughs and smiles didn't take long at all.

Daddy feeding Gerber stars to Alesha.  These things were an absolute life saver!

Our little girl with frog legs.  So cute!
Getting paperwork in order for the next day.
We headed downstairs to update our blog and let everybody know we had Alesha.  Next, we decided to take in the dinner buffet.  It was amazing!  Unfortunately, the boys and I didn't have a big appetite, but the food we did have was fantastic.  It was later in the evening so we sat out on the patio area and listened to live music and vocals. It was really a surreal moment. I wish we had photos, but nobody had the energy to go to the room and get the camera.  We will just have those images in our minds.

After dinner we returned to the room where I got everybody settled for the night and frantically packed all of our bags and got the remainder of our paperwork in order.  See we were flying out of Kolkata at 8:30 a.m. the next day for Delhi.  Unfortunately, with all us getting sick the extra day I had scheduled to bond with Alesha before we put her on a plane, was used up with our recovery from illness :-(

I felt horrible putting Alesha on a plane after only being in our care for about 14 hours, but there was nothing I could do at this point.   I just prayed everything would work out and she would do okay on her first plane ride.