Posts Tagged ‘ Immigrant ’

AN ADOPTION JOURNEY

I sit here alone in the morning silence and wonder how much more I would have to wait to get my little girl. The silence is killing me. I want to know anything and something that would trigger my hope and keep this journey less paranoid and more exciting. On June 13th, we finally got matched to an orphanage in India and we learned that our little girl is coming from Kerala. It all seemed too perfect and movie like. We were on a trip to the Caribbean’s and right before turning off our cell phones and emails for the next nine days I checked my email on the flight one last time. “RIPA assigned” the email read and as we opened it in our first “first class” seats ever, I jumped with joy in the seat as my husband tried to make sense of the commotion. It all seemed too perfect- we got first class seats without paying for it and just as we were rejoicing the coincidence of our first “first class” ride, we know about the orphanage our daughter is at. And to top it all off, she lives in the same city my mom is originally from. It all seemed like destiny.

The orphanage match followed with the approval of the I-800A. I-800A is the clearance from the US immigration saying we were fit to be parents and to bring a child as our own to the United States. Our next hurdle was the dossier. For everyone who has never heard of a dossier like me, it is a collection of every document imaginable and pictures that are sent to the orphanage. It represents the both of us to the orphanage. After month and half of squandering through documents, and being picky about every word in the documents we were ready to send our dossier off to India.. I have never nagged anyone as much as I did in the month leading to the dossier submission. I refused to accept a delay in paperwork, and I made phone calls every few hours until they said “the docs are ready”. And then I apologized to clear my conscience. Being a non nagger, this journey has introduced a new talent I possess.

After months of commotion over the dossier, the silence is unnerving. The excitement has turned to paranoia as I wonder many things. We wanted a child as young as possible, and our orphanage told us it was unrealistic. Yet, we stuck to it. As I sit here alone with the morning silence I wonder if maybe I should have been more accommodating. We don’t have a child yet, and we want to be part of every diaper change and droll possible. I wonder if that is too much to ask for as parents.

This journey has been nothing short of amazing. I lost my dad to death almost 19 years back, and that episode changed the course of my life. I can picture the 12 year old me sitting in front of his body wondering a million questions and battling loneliness for the first time ever. I had a mother who loved me, yet his loss made my world turn upside down. I stood there clueless and in some ways cheated and orphaned of his love. Years later as a fourteen year old visiting an orphanage, I realized how lucky I had been. I had memories with my dad for a lifetime and could hold a conversation about him for days. There were children who never knew what a parent was. I connected with them in some ways, and yet I was chosen by God to have two parents for twelve long years- a lot more than all those children in that room had in their young lives. That moment followed with years of shutting the yearning to adopt until finally I realized I was meant to do this. My dad loved children, and maybe it was his voice triggering me to adopt a child. Here I am today waiting to see her face yet feeling love beyond anything I have ever felt. I never knew I could be so consumed with love for someone I did not see or know. As I sit here wondering a million what ifs, I just pray that God hears our plea and brings us something affirmative from the orphanage. A waiting list number would be great- somehow that will ease the anxiety I am feeling in my heart. And as you read this blog, I ask for prayers to help reach our plea to God.

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I boarded a roller coaster named America!

I was waiting at Chennai airport to board my first flight ever to come to America. After 23 hours on a flight, I could see the San Francisco skyline from the flight. It was beautiful, all lit up on a cold July evening. Was I prepared for my American life- sure I was. When you are a teenager, you know it all. And I knew America. How could Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and Friends be wrong? Friends had to portray real America- they lived in New York, hung out in a coffee shop for most part and Hollywood movies: Oh yeah, I sure knew America. I knew English real well, I wore jeans and t-shirt, and I love pizza and hamburgers- I was American already.Image

DISCLAIMER: Everything in this article portrays India before 2001.

A day after we landed in America my mom and I decided to go to 7-11 to buy some sandwiches. As we walked there, this African American man looked at us and said “Y’all are pretty!” The complement totally passed by me as I gave him one of my “excuse you” looks. How dare he say I am pretty, the balls on that man! I wanted to fly up to him and punch him for calling me pretty. Anyways I was smart to realize that at 5’5, there was no way I would even dent his 6’5 frame. So there I was angry that this random guy called me pretty! I came from India; we never smiled at strangers on the street, so pretty was not acceptable.

My first day in college was trickier. I was a tomboy, who up until 2001 wore big jeans, bigger shirts and had short boy cut hair.  I went to college dressed exactly like that: big jeans, shirt and short boy cut hair. I used to be a popular girl in my high school, so why would I change my style in America? The girls stared at the fiasco I was. It took me three years to shrink my jeans to proper size, big shirts changed to right size shirts. While hair grew long too- that was partly because of a challenge. I would trade my horse tail mane for my cool spunky cut any day.

I had to mentally prepare myself to be a girl. Even though I was a tomboy in big clothes, I still got asked on dates. Dates did not exist in my vocabulary. I wasn’t sure why these guys I met wanted my phone number. Some were real slick: Do you want to give me your number so we can study? Sounds legit right! Not really. That study session was all about what do you like to eat, do you dance, do you want to go out for dinner-  I had no idea how dance and eating had anything to do with electrical engineering. Well, It took me two years to get past making excuses like,” my mom has cooked for me”, or “I don’t eat outside”, versus just saying blunt no. Dates scared me and I dreaded eating with a fork and knife. It took constant reminders of which hand the fork needed to be and which hand the knife should be.

Starbucks, why were you so impossible. I wasn’t invited to the coffee renaming session when Frappuccino, cappuccino replaced coffee. On one of my unaware dates, this guy took me to Starbucks. The whole time I told myself, “I can do it, Be cool, its coffee, there is no fork and knife”.  I looked at the menu and I was stumped. I thought it was going to be in English. Frappuccino, Cappuccino, espresso- I stood there stumped pondering on this new language. So I did the easiest thing ever- I ordered coffee. I hate black coffee. In India coffee comes with milk, sugar already in the coffee and that’s what I ordered at Starbucks. My Starbucks coffee came with nothing but black water. My “date” showed me the milk area. I did not know milk came as half-half, whole and fat free. It was too hard to decide so I skipped milk. Sugar, well I thought a bag of sugar equated to a teaspoon of sugar, so I put two bags. I walked out of Starbucks accomplished that I had made my first American coffee. Not really!! First sip and it was bitter, but I did not want to throw the coffee the guy bought, so I drank most of it until my bus came to save my soulwoman-freaked

My American journey took almost three years in the making, before I could confidently walk into an unknown territory knowing I can handle this. 12 years since I first landed in San Francisco and I still get culture shocks. Ordering food still brings out the immigrant in me. Even a simple question like wheat or white bread leaves my head in a swirl, perplexed if I really need to choose. But I do, and I have realized all it takes is a breath of air. A gasp of fresh air and I am ready to choose sourdough!