Wednesday, September 3, 2014

3 years old & 1 month home

BIRTHDAY GIRL! Mari is THREE YEARS OLD today.

And a couple of days ago we celebrated that she has been home one whole month!
So much to celebrate. We are grateful to have these milestones that can finally be celebrated instead of missed.

So here's our quick update on the birthday girl:

The month that has passed since we stepped off the airplane on August 1 has been a whirlwind.
Doctor's appointments, a trip to the lake in Canada, getting the other kids ready to start school, driving to soccer practices and playdates and baseball games and…well, it's going to be a busy year!

Doctors' reports: she is severely underweight at about 18 pounds. She has rickets, which is a Vitamin D deficiency, but other than taking supplemental Vitamin D and calcium, there are no interventions needed at this time. She will likely be an inch or two shorter than she would have been, but … how tall is that? Who knows? Cardiology report is that the small hole in her heart is still there, but may be closing on its own. No surgery needed at this time. AMAZING. With proper nutrition and care, she is looking much healthier.

Mari settled in immediately. She completely clicked with all members of the family. She just fit right in to place. Now we are complete.

What Mari loves:
hugs and kisses
coloring, playing dolls or beads with Jenya
being hugged and carried by Andrew
making silly faces with Evan
slides and swings
stairs
feeding her baby doll
shopping carts
songs with hand motions
yogurt
watermelon
water
saying "Mama" a zillion times
reading with Daddy
baths and swimming
measuring, pouring, stirring
watching traffic go by
airplanes

Please forgive this lengthy list, but for my own record-keeping, here are the words and phrases Mari says in context and independently (not repeating):
Airplane, All done, Amen, Andrew, Apple, Arm, Auntie Aimee, Baby/waah, Bag, Ball, Banana, Bandaid, Bath, Beads, Bear, Bear on a Bike, Belly, Bib, Bike, Bird, Blankie, Boo-boo, Book, Bothering you [bothering me], Bottle, Bubbles, Buckle, Bum, Bunny, Bus, Butterfly, Bye, Car, Car seat, Cheeks, Cheers, Chin, Clap your hands, Coffee, Cookie, Crayon, Crocodile/snap-snap, Daddy, Diamond, Diaper, Dip, Dog/woof, Dora, Down, Dry, Duck/quack, Ears, Egg, Elbow, Elephant, Evan, Eyes, Feet, Finish (“kineesh!”), Fish, Flower, Fork, Glasses, Good, Good job, Grammie, Hair, Hair clip, Hands, Headphones, Hi, High chair, Horse/neigh, Hot, Hug, I all done, I see ____ (I see water; I see car), Ice cream, Jenya, Kiss, Kitty/meow, Ladybug, Lid, Light, Look, Luna car, Mama, Milk, Monkey, More, Motorcycle, Mouth, Night-night, No, No-touchie, Nya, O (Cheerio), Off, On, One, two, three, Open Shut Them, Oval, Paper, PapPap [grandfather], Pig, Pop (yogurt pop), Potty, Potty chair, Red, Rice, Right there, Shake, Shirt, Shoes, Slide, Soap, Spoon, Stroller, Swing, Table/On the table, Teddy, Teeth, Thank you, There it is!, Truck, Up, Up please, Wash, Wash hands, Water, Watermelon, Wonder Pets, Woof-woof, WoWo [grandmother], Yay, Yes, Yogurt.

She also has sentences such as "I see water," "More watermelon, please," "Mama, yogurt pop" and "Mari-Mahathi mine dress."

She is very opinionated about which shoes to wear, what foods to eat, and who ought to be in the room. Sometimes communicating is tough because she can't be reasoned with. She does not fully understand (or believe?) me when I say that Daddy will be right back. She is always happy to see friends and visitors, even if she sometimes tucks her head into my chest and plays shy for a few minutes. She can quietly play with a toy for an hour or so, or she can zip from place to place as I run errands. She has a long attention span, particularly for books, fine motor activities such as beading, and the swing.

She is hilarious and charming and everybody loves her.

 Yep! She fits into a shoebox.

 First brownie batter.

goofballs at the lake 

 family

 celebrating Rakhi, the Indian holiday showing the love between brothers and sisters

 at long last, two sisters and two brothers for this holiday

 Grammie with six of her grandchildren 



first day of school for the older kids

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Providence

We're home! Hallelujah! Mari is settling in with her new siblings and her new home. The whole thing is just amazing.

Our journey home was pretty much unbelievable in a number of different ways.
You can imagine how I got to the airport on Thursday night looking like a pack mule. Small rolling suitcase with tote attached, rolling carry-on, toddler strapped on to me in a baby carrier, cross-body purse with passports and tickets. I took a deep breath and approached the ticket counter. No sooner had I gotten in line than I was asked for Mari's visa. Yep, right here. No, that's not the right visa. To change planes twice within one country, you need a visa for that country. And Indians need such a visa for Europe. 

Twice in one country? But…I looked up at the signs. Vienna and Frankfort. Did something happen in world geography when I wasn't looking? Pretty sure Austria and Germany are two different countries. But no, for this purpose they are not. They are part of the Schengen Area, a union of 26 countries among which one can pass freely without needing a passport. Changing planes twice within this area means a foreigner who would need a visa to travel to Europe (Indian citizens, for example) must have one for this flight. And we do not have one.

Airport guy: "You'll need to go back to your hotel. It only takes a few days or maybe a week to get the visa. Come back again when you have one."
Me: "Ohhhhh no, you do not understand. I am flying home with this child TONIGHT."

Initially I thought that if I was firm enough, they would let us on the flight. I didn't quite understand that this was a matter of international passport control, and they were not going to let even an extremely determined mama-pack-mule onto the flight without the proper documentation.

The seemingly-gruff-but-actually-kind airline guys told us we could wait for the chance to take a 2:30 a.m. flight that would stop only once in the Schengen Area (no visa needed). We could have two seats if they opened up. And it would cost us another $1000 on the spot.

We really had no choice, so we waited. Sure enough, we (minus $1K) were able to get on that flight. By that time we were thrilled for the opportunity. We had to rush to check our luggage and run to the gate so quickly that I didn't glance down at the tickets until we got to the plane. There I discovered that we'd been upgraded to business class for the first leg of our journey. Unbelievable.

I felt pretty embarrassed (though very grateful). Here was my tiny little malnourished child, looking about one year old, sacked out in a giant luxury reclining seat in international business class. We didn't need any of the entertainment I'd brought for the flight - the automatic up-and-down controls for the seat were quite enough! We were even able to lie flat and get some real sleep.



So in the end, we got home safe and sound. Yes, there were a couple of epic diaper blow-outs that involved me scrubbing not only the walls but also the ceiling of the airplane bathroom. But this 4th-time mama had packed not one but two changes of clothes for each of us in the carry-on. I had enough mom-fail moments in Hyderabad that I was not going to let that happen again!

Once safely on US soil, we went through the s-l-o-w-e-s-t line ever at customs (our complex packet of paperwork was examined page by page) and the l-o-n-g-e-s-t wait ever in the crowded immigration office. So here's the true miracle: through untold hours of traveling and waiting, Mari was little Mary Sunshine the whole time. And when we burst through the doors from immigration into the welcome area, this is what we found: 



 The Welser and Freeman families: Eli with Andrew, Evan, (Roger and Geoff in background), Jenya, Tobias, Emily, Ty, and Olivia
  

  
  

The dear Freeman family, with whom we are intentionally raising our children as chosen family, left their vacation home to create this wonderful welcome-home party for Mari. The parents are not pictured because they were so busy taking these wonderful photos for us. We are grateful beyond words for their ministry to us.

Our little girl just stepped in to life with her new family with a smile as big as the sky. We could not believe it. We still can't. I burst in to tears every time I look at these photos.
















 And that is the story of how one mama and one little girl made it home. Providence.






Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 31: VISA!

Thursday July 31
New Delhi

VISA!!!!!
Our consular officer phoned this morning. Mari's visa is ready! We can pick it up any time and fly home!

This fantastic news set off a wild flurry of emails and Skype conversations with Roger. We want to book a ticket home immediately. Flights only leave morning and night, not mid-day. We won't have enough time to make a morning flight, so we will try to catch a plane home tonight.

* * * * *

Oh my goodness. There is nothing more stressful than trying to buy plane tickets on a moment's notice. As Roger and I emailed, we watched on-screen as the ticket prices shot up, and up, and up. In just minutes they jumped up by 14,000 Rupees ($222). 

I couldn't book British Airways tickets online (I think Mari's passport, which has only her first name and no last name, is problematic), so I tried to call. As I explained the situation to the rep, the ticket prices jumped more. Higher and higher. My anxiety level went right up as well. The phone call dragged on and on without a solution. Finally the rep remarked, "You know, these prices are really rising. When you see a good price online, you really should snap it up right away." UM, YES I KNOW THAT! I couldn't take it any more. I hung up.

Moving on! We switched airlines. Roger found us some tickets on Lufthansa. Pricey, but not as nightmarish as the BA tickets had become. Couldn't book online again, so we had to do it over the phone. 

But now we have a PLAN. We will leave tonight on a 1:15 (a.m.) flight, change planes in Vienna and Frankfurt, and arrive home in Boston tomorrow afternoon, August 1. This is all so exciting!

* * * * *
Picking up the visa was easy as pie. No one, NO ONE was at the American Embassy except the folks who work there. All the guards at the front security booth, all the guards by the doors, all the guards to usher us through the roped waiting line and the bag-scanner, all the officers at the windows inside: all were task-less due to the US computer glitch. It was eerie, like walking in to Disney World an hour before opening.

We had our exit interview and got our magic packet for the immigration people in Boston. We got Mari's passport and visa. DONE.

With the whole day ahead of us and our suitcase (and souvenirs) never found, I decided to shop for a moment at a local outdoor market. We couldn't find bangles tiny enough for Mari's wrists, but we got a few small things before riding back to the hotel. 

So, we have a flight, we are packed, we are ready. We'll try to sleep for a couple of hours early this evening. I think we have to leave the hotel around 9:30 pm to get to the airport in time for our international flight. 

Huge thanks to all who have supported us through this journey! We can't wait to come home and thank you in person!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 29-30: Still stuck

Tuesday July 29
New Delhi

Mari really slept in this morning (9:30?) and we almost missed breakfast! We kind of hope this will be our last uneventful day here, but we've said that before


As I mentioned earlier, today is the Muslim holiday Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan. The embassy is closed today. My sister reminded me that embassies in the Middle East are closed for a full week for Eid! We will count ourselves lucky.

We played with toys and read books until we were hungry for a light lunch. Went across the street and decided to brave McDonalds, which I hear is a different experience than in the US. The mall was extremely crowded and busy because of Eid -- it must be a day off work and school. Outside we saw plenty of people in traditional Muslim garb walking down the street (looking as if they were headed to a prayer service, maybe?), but in the mall it was mostly Hindus in very fancy traditional Indian clothing. Many girls with fancy outfits and mehendi and lots of jewelry. I don't know why it is a dress-up day for non-Muslims. I wonder if holidays for other religions are excuses to dress up and head to the mall! 

Anyway we found that the entire Mcdonalds menu is, of course, Indified. Our favorite was the egg sandwich, which was a poached egg with many pretty spices sprinkled on top, pickled onions, American cheese, bun. 

Alas, a couple  of Mari's medications cause stomach upset, and we saw that meal again a few hours later. Poor thing. I am not going to give the iron supplement again until we are home. We don't have enough outfits to handle sick bellies!

Mari has been begging for a little bag to carry. I finally got her a tiny little tote today. She is so funny. She wants to do everything herself, exactly as I do it. We now have an arrangement that I give her the key card when we enter the hotel and she presses all the elevator buttons (and uses the security key card in the elevator) and then unlocks our room and puts the key card in the slot on the wall. She would LIKE to carry the key in her own bag, thankyouverymuch, but of course the answer is No.

She is sleeping and I am pre-packing. I hope the embassy woman calls early tomorrow. If we get the visa, I want to be ready to SCOOT on the next available flight! 

All kinds of fun with selfies. Mickey D's cones! Yum!

Wednesday July 30
New Delhi

The consular officer called this morning at 8:10 as promised. Visas are still unable to be processed in India. The problem lies in Washington, not in Delhi. The officer recommended that I call or write to anyone in positions of power who might be able to urge our case along. Right away I reached my brother-in-law Danny (who works for the State Department) late at night in Boston and he graciously fired off a number of emails on our behalf.


I spent the morning writing to our Congressmen and filling out their paperwork to explain our dilemma. While I was on a roll, I also wrote caustic emails to Spice Jet and offered a cash reward for my suitcase. I also contacted Lost + Found at the Delhi airport (wild shot, but I'll try). Spice Jet is the most unresponsive business I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. I hereby un-recommend this airline!

Mari is doing well, although her tummy has not completely recovered. I gave her rice for lunch and bananas for dinner. All things considered, she is an easy person with whom to be stuck in a hotel. She is certainly used to her funny new lifestyle. Today she said hello and goodbye to her favorite escalators at the mall. We made a quick run there for diapers and a ride in the stroller-car. I also overheard Mari reading "Jamberry" to herself. It's a rhyming book with lots of good rhythm. Her words were basically gibberish (some attempt at getting the right vowel sounds) but her rhythm was spot-on! Impressive and funny. We also worked on some simple jigsaw puzzles (4, 5, 6 piece) and she did lots of coloring with the crayons we got yesterday (ours lost in suitcase). She has pretty good control with the crayon and she is very careful to imitate my grip. 

She is sound asleep now, and I am emailing back and forth with Roger as we try to go through all possible channels to get our visa approved this week. Extra thanks to Danny for networking, and to everyone for researching contacts, emailing, calling, and generally being very supportive. We sure do have a great team behind us.

The frustrating news this evening is that through Facebook, I have reports that adoptive families have come home from Ukraine, Bulgaria, China, and Uganda this week. And those are just the folks that my India-adoption friends know. I am the only person seeking an adoption visa in India this week. (Yes. I am the ONLY person from the USA adopting from India during this whole week-long period! India is HUGE! How can this be??) So although my case is prioritized, the State Dep't may not be hearing our pleas in the way it would hear from the many many families stuck in, say, China for adoption.

The embassy will call at 8am again tomorrow. Here's hoping!

Carefully decorating tiny toes with little hairbands 

The mall is suddenly filled with gorgeous, showy decorations 
for India's Independence Day August 15. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 26-28: more hold-ups

Saturday July 26
New Delhi

Oh my goodness. We are tired!! 

Mari slept in late this morning. We made a pediatrician appointment at the Max Medical hospital for 11:45. The medical centers are curious places. This was a very modern hospital but with regular on-the-spot primary care also. I guess it's like Kaiser in California. We don't have anything like this in Rhode Island...especially with same-day appointments!

Anyway, our doctor was very kind and helpful. We got a new antibiotic for Mari's ears, some heavy-duty cough syrup, and 2 supplements to begin addressing her case of rickets, which this doctor was most concerned about. I figured instead of back-burnering the rickets I would let him address it while we are here with free time and cheap medicine. So we also went for blood work (measuring vitamin D levels and other things) and a wrist x-ray. On Monday we will discuss the results with the same doctor and we will take all the info home with us (including the x-rays) for continued care.

I gather this physician has treated numerous cases of rickets before. It's reassuring to speak with someone who is so familiar with treatment. I think it's very unusual in the US.

The blood draw was not fun. Two vials drawn from the back of her hand. This child is not juicy. But she is LOUD. Oh, she is loud. Poor lamb.

The x-ray was not easy either, because she was expecting something painful and was scared.

But it's done. We had some muffins and juice in the cafe, and the hotel car took us back to the hotel. We are resting up now.

We will stay here in Delhi until Tuesday morning. We got a better hotel price booking multiple days at once. I seriously hope the folks in Washington DC fix the problem over the weekend so we can find a Tuesday flight home. Can I send them a bill for our extended stay?

We are fine! We're about to head across the street to the mall in a bit for a ride in the push-car. My back is getting sore from carrying Mari everywhere. I wish so much that we could sight-see, but it really is not possible with one parent and one needs-to-be-carried child and the hot and humid weather. 

 Selfie turned into a surprise kissie!

 She loves, loves, loves driving those cars.

Here we see Mari's fashion sense on exhibit. 
She chose the white cotton dress and the headband herself.


She always sleeps like this. 
So. Cute.


Monday July 28
New Delhi

There will almost certainly be no visa today. My officer called, which got me all excited, but her message was that the visa is "partially done" but needs more clearances completed. I asked if there was anything at all I should do, anyone to call, etc. She said the case has already been expedited, so there is nothing else to do.

The entire embassy is closed tomorrow for the holiday of Eid. Sigh.

The consular officer will call me on Wednesday. I told her we would be in our room today until 5pm in case there was any movement, by some miracle.

We did make it back to the medical center to see the pediatrician for follow-up this morning, so that was a useful thing today. Mari's iron levels are low and her vitamin D levels are VERY low, so he doubled the calcium/vit D therapy and added an iron supplement. Got the x-rays and lab tests to take back home, as well as all the meds. The doctor says Mari will not need leg braces, but that she will probably always be small and her bones and joints may always be wonky. (Okay, he didn't say "wonky.") I wonder if treatment in the US will be more aggressive?

Other than that, we just hung out in the room and around the hotel. Argh. I feel terrible that I am spending so much extra money by being delayed here. Of course the days themselves are very easy -- no cooking, no cleaning (besides laundry each night), and my charming companion is always by my side, so it's not a hardship in an experiential way. I just feel sorry that we can't join the family at home and relieve them of all their worrying!

 goofing around with the camera at nap time 


 The sweet women at the front desk had chocolate cake sent to our room 
because they felt bad about our delay.



Friday, July 25, 2014

July 23-25: No visa. No flight.

Wednesday July 23
New Delhi

I waited on pins and needles all day for a call from the embassy regarding our visa. It seems we've hit yet another problem on our journey. There is some sort of glitch with the US State Department's computer system. Our case is top priority at the embassy here, and the office said they would call by 4:15 if there was any hope for processing today. But of course, no luck. Maybe tomorrow?  

Roger and I have spent the past few hours canceling my flight home, booking another night in the hotel, and watching alternate flight prices fluctuate before our eyes. Since the visa problem is systemic and not just a matter of them not getting to ours today, we decided not to book a ticket home until we get word that the visa is ready. Cancellation fees are just too steep.


So Mari and I spent the whole day in the room, waiting for Something to Happen. But -- bag still missing, no visa. So at 5:30 we went out. First we hit the Chemist shop, aka the pharmacy. We got a ride from the concierge's personal driver. Stocked up on diapers and de-worming meds. It is a little embarrassing to buy 30 doses of de-worming pills. Dropped all that at the hotel and headed to a little restaurant behind our hotel for some nice (cheap) Indian food and a mango lassi. It is hard for Mari at places where there is no high chair. I've got to pay more attention to that. She is too tiny to sit on the bench/chair, and her legs are too weak to kneel on for long. Or maybe too bony. 

We went across the street to the mall to blow the remainder of today's allowance for emergency replacements. (This is our third and final day for emergency purchases.) We got a small suitcase, socks, toiletries, and an Indian outfit to replace the one I'd bought Mari in Hyderabad. Darn, the careful shopping I did in Hyderabad is all gone. I must have at least one cute Indian outfit for my baby! Also got some toys today to help us through another full day in the hotel room tomorrow. Jenga blocks, mini Connect 4 game (she will like putting the disks in the slots), and some knockoff brand Duplo.

Today I realized Mari is using the same strange speech pattern that my friend Julie's daughter also uses. Any word starting with F gets a D inserted. FISH becomes fffDish. FLOWER is fffDowah.  Julie has mentioned that this habit baffles the speech therapists. Wonder if Mari will keep up this pattern of speech for long. 

Mari was fine in the room today. She really enjoys playing with things for long quiet periods of time. I'd say she spent almost 2 hours with the hair bands today. She also likes to watch out the window. That is good, because I was occupied with contacting the embassy and Spice Jet.

I am disappointed about yet another delay, to be sure. I am deciding to put it in perspective: we have been in process 6 years and 2 months, so another day or two or three is not the end of the world.

Thursday July 24
New Delhi

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/glitch-crashes-global-us-passport-visa-operations

Definitely discouraging news about the visa processing. People all over the world are stuck. Sigh.

Mari is doing well. She enjoyed her new toys. I also took her to the mall for a ride in the stroller car this evening. We had dinner at Dunkin Donuts. Here they have a complete menu of burgers, wraps, etc. It was quick and they had low cushy chairs that were comfy for Mari. Plus they had Death By Chocolate donuts, which are not found at DD back home! 

I may take Mari to a doc on Saturday if we are still here. One ear is still awful and she has a junky cough. She seems to run a fever fairly often. I am giving her Tylenol 1-2 doses/day and antihistamine/decongestant daily also. Amazing that she is so good-natured when she must be feeling sick. 

Her big favorite thing is ESCALATORS. The only time she twists and turns in my arms to lurch out of my grasp is when she spots an escalator. She wants to STAND and not be carried. I hold both her hands. It feels a little tippy and scary to have this toddler standing on the escalator, but scarier for her to buck out of my arms if I hold her. I think she would ride up and down all day if I let her.

Seems doubtful that the visa will be processed this week, but miracles do happen...








Friday July 25
New Delhi

No visa. Stuck for the weekend. Blah.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 20-22: medical and embassy

Sunday July 20
New Delhi

We just hung around the hotel this morning. An extensive breakfast buffet is included with the room. Mari is endearing herself to everyone by blowing kisses at every possible opportunity. Already our main waiter calls her "Angel." 


We walked through the whole hotel and admired the beautiful floral arrangements.  Discovered that Sunday lunch here is $40/person. Uh, yeah. Not going to do that! 

After reading all our books and admiring the traffic and airplanes from our window, we went out into the hot muggy day. Eventually we found lunch around the corner at a fixed-price vegetarian thali restaurant. There is one set menu per day. We shared a platter and watched other diners so we would know what to do. There were many different dishes (the whole thing looked somewhat like an artist's palette, but with little bowls of various foods). Lots to try, and of course we didn't know what any of it was. Really good food -  a great experience. Yum.

We walked through the nearby mall (needing a/c and hoping to find some basic cosmetics to replace mine). We came upon some rental "car" strollers, $2/hour. It was SO NICE not lugging Mari around for an hour. She does not really hold on, and she is squirmy. She LOVED driving the little blue car! And when I showed her the photo I took of her in the car, she referred to herself as Mari Mahathi for the first time. She was very pleased with herself.

Picked up some PB&J supplies for our next few dinners. It is just easier than ordering and waiting in a restaurant with a toddler. 

I am still waiting on that suitcase! I asked about offering a reward, as some family members suggested, but the concierge was baffled by that. He feels confident that we will receive the suitcase by our departure on Thursday. Evidently it often takes a week to locate and deliver lost luggage. Huh.

Mari spent at least an hour this afternoon playing with tiny elastic hairbands I bought at the mall. Good reminder that we do not always need fancy toys. She put the bands into a little cup one by one, stirred them with a straw, transferred them to a small bowl, and then put them all on her fingers and toes. 

I have scheduled for a tuk-tuk driver to pick us up in the morning. This guy drives my friend Kristi whenever she is in Delhi. Our TB check is scheduled for 10:30. I'm considering going to the embassy after that to see if they will take us a day early, as I've heard some people have been able to do in the past. Our official appointment is Tuesday at 9:00. 

Hope all is well with my crew in Canada! 

She'll fit right in in Rhode Island, where there's a Dunkin' on every corner!

Breakfast fruit - dragonfruit in the middle

Evan's favorite, rambutan

Beautiful pool! If only we had our swim suits!




Oh, how she loves her blue stroller car!



Monday July 21
New Delhi

Our medical appointment was easy except for the very long wait while our "magic" packet, the holy grail for international adoption, was prepared. The doctor hardly glanced at Mari's arm. The test was obviously negative.

We went over to the embassy to see if we could bump up our appointment, but no luck. Turned away at the guard station.

Still no suitcase. I went out and bought us each a much-needed shirt. The hotel concierge is losing hope about locating our bag. I called our Visa card company (where I'd charged the plane tickets) and found that they cover up to $3000 per lost bag plus $500 jewelry and electronics. Nice. In addition, they offer $100 per day per person for emergency replacement purchases, for up to three days while the bag is still missing. The three days must be consecutive. So! We have a lot of shopping to do, if our suitcase is not located first! This might actually add a little fun to our days (making lemonade out of lemons, here…). We started our shopping spree with swimsuits, cosmetics, a dress for Mari, and a toy, and we'll add the shirts we bought earlier today to our tab.

It is so horribly hot here. The open-air tuk-tuk today was giant mistake. I was very happy to patronize the driver's business…But. Sweat was POURING down both our faces. I had to break it to the driver that we needed an a/c car for tomorrow.

 pulling our new purchases down the hallway

in-room fine dining, that's what this is!

view from the tuk-tuk

cozy after bath time! 

yogurt for breakfast



Tuesday July 22
New Delhi

We made it to our 9:00 embassy appointment this morning. Long lines of people waiting outside and in, but the adoption immigrant visa is a separate line, so we scooted right through. We had to wait at a number of counter windows for various parts of the process, which felt silly and kind of Wizard-of-Ozish. At window 25, submit documents. Then proceed to window 24 to submit payment. But I am the only customer at the windows and someone has to open up the new window to take money or passport or whatever. Funny.

Anyway, we finished up in about 2 hours. We had our driver for the day, so he took us to a few shops and to lunch. We also drove past the Lotus Temple, which I'd not seen before. I would love to tour it some day…just not with a toddler in my arms in the hot and humid weather.

We shopped until we'd spent today's baggage replacement allowance and came back to the hotel. I had two messages from the Spice Jet (airline) counter in New Delhi (no info, just left the call-back #). I tried and tried to call them back. Called for hours. Despite the claim of 24/7, no one ever answered. I also called Spice Jet headquarters and after a long time spoke with a human. He said they are still searching for my bag and to please give them some time. So I guess that was the message from the Delhi airport??

We had a quick swim - Mari has decided she is terrified of this pool, so she only dipped her fingers and toes. When she was fussing about going out to the pool in the first place, a hotel employee took her out of my arms and would not return her. I think she thought I was being a bad mother by allowing my child to cry. I had to actually yell at the woman to get her to give Mari back to me. I mean, obviously I asked in a nice way first, then firmly, then very firmly. Finally I had to shout, and even then the woman was very reluctant. People here just pick up children or cootchy-coo their cheeks without a second thought. Mari has been swept up by so many people. Just different cultural ideas about boundaries. 

So tomorrow we will hang around the hotel and hope for a call from the embassy. There is a good chance the visa will not be processed tomorrow due to a computer system problem. We will see. If not tomorrow, then I really hope Thursday. The embassy is closed Friday for a holiday, and then the weekend. 

If no suitcase appears tomorrow, we will spend our last reimbursement money on an apple computer cord and a small suitcase to hold the new purchases. Also diapers! And meds! Gotta replace those de-worming pills that are 10 rupees here and $500 at home. 

Mari is sound asleep. She has been doing so well. She is trying to speak more. She can count to 3, but she really likes to say "seven," so usually it's 1-7-2-7-3-7. Or 1237777777...
She likes to sing "Open, Shut Them." She waits for me to sing a phrase and then she tries to repeat it. I love how she adds a syllable at the end of many words, such as "clap-pa." "Give a little clappa!…Put them in your lappa!" 

She can identify car, truck, tuk tuk, motorcycle, and bus. In the shops she loves to find elephant artwork. "El-loppit!" So she seems fine with all our driving around. In restaurants, she is happy to do stickers while we wait for the food. She is eating less than she was when I first got her - breakfast is still her big meal, but she might have a carton of whole milk yogurt, 1/2 class of whole milk, a few bites of fruit, and maybe a bite or two of whipped cream. Mmmm. Not the football-player meal she was eating 2 weeks ago. Lunch and dinner she is not a big eater. She likes the food, but not in great volume. She drinks a ton of water. She also sweats more than any child I've ever seen. Wonder why? Connected to a medical issue, or just a genetic thing?

Okay, I have to go to bed so I can keep up with this little urchin tomorrow! Fingers crossed for visa tomorrow. I don't even care much about the missing suitcase any more, although I'll miss a few of the treasures I shopped for, including some gorgeous Hyderabad pearls. Oh well.