Saturday, September 20, 2014

June 30 - July 2: waiting, waiting...

June 30
A long day today -- exhausting, but we are still moving forward.

We went to the orphanage at 10 this morning. No one there knew of our instructions from the administration to take Mari back to the hotel and await the administrator's call to fill out foster-care forms. The best English-speakers at the orphanage drift in between 10 and 11:00, so we waited and got the chance to see some more of the workings of the orphanage. 

When we arrived, Mari's group was at the playground. Some kids were sitting on a little round bench, some were on swings, a few were on a teeter-totter (all this completely dilapidated). Ayahs were hanging wet laundry on the many lines that crisscross the playground and a back covered area. Then I noticed that children were being taken one by one for lice treatment. No, not the medical shampoo we would use. A few kids (Mari in particular) got a very detailed going-over with a wooden stick-type tool with many fine teeth carved in. This would basically scrape out as many lice and nits as possible. Other children had their hair cropped completely off, down to the scalp, with big shears. The clipped kiddos looked pretty awful.

After Mari had been cleaned up, she was sent back out to play with us. Today we brought pipe cleaners and pony beads to string on. She caught on right away and made herself three beaded bracelets (I looped and tied them, of course). Jenya made many also. The ayahs were fascinated. What are these materials called? Where do you get them? Are you a teacher?

Mari's ears are still goopy. We spoke with a woman from the NGO there today, and she will check on the meds again. We will probably take Mari to an ENT again and administer the meds ourselves when we have custody.

There was much hustle and bustle at the orphanage because some other party had agreed to buy/remove all the beat-up and worn large toys, cribs, etc. Many old walkers, beat-up bikes, large push-toys, cribs, fans, plastic chairs, and whatnot were removed and thrown into a too-small truck. So much commotion. Mari LOVED watching all this. She seems to be very interested in vehicles. She keeps trying to get me to take her in a car or walk out onto the street. 

At about noon, we got the call from the orphanage rep that we should accompany her to court. We brought Mari with us at her direction.

Before we left, I brought her to the ayahs to be prepared for our outing. I'd seen that she wasn't wearing a diaper. I learned that she and all her little roommates (all of whom are about18 months old, except Mari) don't wear diapers - they are taken to the bathroom every two hours, where they "go" on command. So I got to watch this little scene before our trip to court. All the kids, 15 or 20 of them, had their pants removed. Bare-bottomed, they knew to lift their dresses or shirts and hold them under their chins. They gingerly stepped over the threshold to the adjoining bathroom and then there was a great group pee session on the tile floor! Then an ayah took a large bucket of water and sloshed it across the floor and all the kids tiptoed back into the main room, where the ayahs put on their triangle-cloth underwear wrap and pants. Wow. Quite a scene.

So we dragged ourselves to court, which was about an hour drive. Tons of traffic, perhaps having to do with this first day of Ramadan. Only the orphanage rep went in to the court area, first to a Xerox booth and then to the courtroom to file some paperwork, which turned out to be only a sample Court Order from 2001. Why did she need us? I have no idea, except that our taxi is pre-paid by us for the day.

Back to the neighborhood of the orphanage. Another long drive. Luckily, Mari LOVES the car. She loves to look out the window. Today she found a new favorite posture in the car, which is standing on my lap and monkeying as high as she can over my shoulder to look out the back window. That's right - no seat belts.

Once back from court, we started work on our foster care papers. These are the documents that will allow us to take custody of Mari before her passport is ready. Roger must sign, even though he will not be here for the duration. So he went off with a notary to patch together a document that stated our understanding of the foster-care rules. By this time it was after 3pm and no one had had lunch. We took a break for a little Chinese food. Mari loves the high chair. She loves being in charge of eating her own little bites. For whatever reason, the thing she liked most at the table was the garlic sauce from the shrimp dish. She ate it by the spoonful. Hmm.

Back to the administration office. We wrote up documents BY HAND asking for permission to take custody of Mari before the passport was ready, and stating our understanding that we cannot leave the city (and certainly not the country) during the time of foster care. Signed that before 3 witnesses and we were finally on our way back to the orphanage, where we dropped Mari off quickly and turned around to head back to the hotel. Arrived at about 5:45. Jenya had a vigorous swim while Roger and I both collapsed into deck chairs. 

So we do not have Mari with us tonight - the foster care papers will be filed tomorrow morning, and perhaps we will get her tomorrow. 

The judge plans to sign the court order "sometime after July 2." We thought we were waiting for a short document and then the complete court order from him, but it turns out there is no short document. It is the full court order that will be ready sometime after the 2nd. WOW that is amazingly fast. This first part has been soooo draaaagggged ooooooutt but if we can get the court order that quickly (say, within a week from now), then the next thing is the passport! Then Delhi and then home! 

I am thinking that even if we get delayed somewhat, I could very easily be home by the end of July. Since I was braced for the end of August, that sounds great!

We are packing up for Roger and Jenya's trip home in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Somehow I need to merge my belongings and Mari's into one suitcase.

July 1
Not a very big day today…spent a few hours with Mari and didn't hear anything from the orphanage rep, so at Mari's nap time we left her with her ayahs and headed out to lunch and errands. We went to a very fancy mall and looked around, but everything was too expensive for us. Interesting slice of Indian life, though. Most of the stores carried western brands (athletic shoes, designer handbags, etc) or sold high-end Indian clothes (I looked at a little Indian dress outfit for Mari, but it cost over $100). 

Made a stop at the tailor shop for a few sewing alterations, including getting Mari's swim suit bottom taken in by 2 inches (hope that's enough), then back to the hotel for a swim and packing. 

Roger and Jenya will leave in the middle of the night. I'm sure it's hard for them to fly home when we don't have foster care or custody of Mari yet. C'mon, paperwork! Hurry up!! 

July 2

Back to the court this morning! Good thing Mari likes the car.

Roger and Jenya left at 4am. I got up with them to help pack and get downstairs. Now I'm on my own. It is super-weird to be in a very quiet hotel room with no one to talk to and no one to NEED me for anything!

I went to the orphanage at 9:30 and waited around. The orphanage representative showed up at about 10:45. We made the long drive to court. Again, Mari stood on my lap and watched all the traffic with great concentration. At court, we waited inside in the hallway. It was hot (100 degrees) and humid, but fine. Mari was great except when she needed a bathroom and she didn't know what do to (neither did I). She was not a happy girl. I looked for the restroom and found one on the 2nd floor, but it was super-gross. We gave up, and eventually she just fell asleep in my arms. 

I didn't go in to the court room at all. But after a couple of hours, the rep came out looking very happy. The judge said he would sign the full court order on the 4th. The rep thought maybe he meant AUGUST 4th, but no, he said *July 4*. She couldn't believe it was going to be so soon.

So we finally left the court around 1:30. Dropped the rep at her office. Dropped Mari at the orphanage for her afternoon nap. I went to lunch at a nearby mall (not high-end like yesterday's) and also bought 15 pretty scarves (thin, solid colors, beads on the ends) as small gifts for the ayahs. Happy.

Then I went back to the orphanage because the rep said she would call me there. But she didn't. I called her twice and finally at 5pm I told her I was leaving. She said to call her back after 11 tomorrow morning. She is working on the foster papers, but they seem to have been processed under Andhra Pradesh state instead of Telengana state, or something like that. Much confusion all related to the state splitting, which is a really major event and is causing all kinds of difficulties in the courts. Luckily I had my Kindle with me today, because I did a LOT of reading!

One fun thing that happened this afternoon is a large family from the outside world came to the orphanage. Turns out it was their young son's birthday - I'd say he was 9 or 10 - and his wish was to do something kind for the children of the orphanage. So the family brought a TON of donations of food, diapers, and sweets, and they brought two enormous sheet cakes covered with fluffy white icing. The orphans from about age 4 to age 10 came in and sat on mats. Everyone sang happy birthday to the boy and everyone got a slice of cake! It was so nice!

After a stop at the tailor's to pick up my things, I am back at the hotel. I just made reservations for a few more nights. If we get the court order Friday, the rep said she would submit the passport Monday and hope it comes to us Tuesday. She is in a big rush because she is going out of town soon. So she REALLY wants to finish this up.

Now here is the MOST IMPORTANT THING! While Mari and I were waiting at the court, I showed her photos from my phone from the last few days. She can point to Daddy and Mommy when I ask. When I started scrolling through lots of photos from back home, she spotted one she liked and said DENNY. Yes, that's right, the first new word she spoke is the name of her big sister Jenya: DENNY. She said it twice and then clammed up. I didn't hear any other words today, but she did giggle twice this morning! She was in a good mood.

In other random news, which I keep forgetting to report, 
1) While waiting for our cab at the hotel, we saw an animal we could not identify. It was long like a weasel, but with a bushy tail like a squirrel (but longer and more straight). Grey in color, with pointy face. Any guesses? We asked the folks who work at the hotel taxi stand, but they did not know the English word for this animal. Our cab driver didn't know the name, but he could describe the animal: it eats snakes. Aha! Mongoose. That is it!
2) Did you know my husband is a movie star? The servers at the hotel restaurant think so. Yesterday they asked him about his life in Hollywood. They didn't name which star they thought he was, but the cab driver did: the father in "Stuart Little." "Yes, Sir looks very very much like that actor. This is a great compliment." Um, that's Hugh Laurie. Oh-kay!
3) Mari really, really likes Pat the Bunny. The funny thing is that she will put only her pinky through "mummy's ring" in the book, because only MY pinky will go through the small hole and that is how I showed her how to do that page. So now she puts her pinky through the ring every time. She will not sniff the flowers, but she likes Daddy's scratchy face and the soft bunny and the peek-a-boo pages.

I'm super-tired and I hope to get a good night of rest. Since I am not Jenya, I do not need to rush down to breakfast before all the sugar donuts are gone. 

Jenya and Roger should land in Boston this evening. Sounds like everyone is doing a-ok.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

June 29: a visit

June 29
We had an unusual day today, with a quick visit with Mari and then a long visit with some new friends.

Mari was subdued this morning, as she often is at first. Tired? Hungry? Groggy? Not sure. 
She was wearing a funny shirt with garbled English sports talk (see pic below). We read books, she drank some formula, she indicated that she wanted to go in the car (I had to say no), and we left a little after 11:00.

We drove to the home of our lovely new friends. I'll call them Mr. and Mrs. S here. They have two wonderful daughters, ages 5 and 2. We met them at the court last Monday when they were waiting for their adoption finalization. Both their girls are from the orphanage where Mari lives. We really got along very well on Monday, and they arranged for us to visit today, Mr. S's day off of work.

They live in a neighborhood about 45 minutes from our hotel. Their charming, newly-built house is one story (with a rooftop patio) with a small kitchen, a common/living room, a bedroom, an extra room for sewing machine and storage, a shower room, and a toilet room. The ceilings are high, with ceiling fans. Mrs. S was a teacher of Hindi before they adopted their girls. Now she is home full-time. Mr. S has an MBA and is director of sales for a company that makes an aluminum product. 

Mrs. S prepared a lovely and delicious meal for us, and I enjoyed watching her cook. It is impossible to describe the many many steps involved in their meal preparation. Some of the items were made last summer and dried (in the way that pasta can be dried and prepared later), and were fried up today -- crisp breads of several varieties. The labor is almost unbelievable. Where we place value on rushing through meal preparation -- "10-Minute Meals," etc -- they put care and pride into the many hours of food preparation. We ate in a circle on the floor. Each person sat on a mat and had a plate. Serving dishes were common. Mrs. S had carefully prepared mild foods for us. No silverware -- hands, of course, Indian-style. The food was, to use a favorite word from my nephew, DA-LISH-USS!! So, so good. Yum.

We were graciously urged to eat more, more, more. We did not want to insult them by filling up! Finally we had to give up. We were not allowed to help clear a single dish. Mrs. S informed us that they would lose their blessing from God if we helped to clean. 

We chatted quite a lot about cultural differences - clothing, posture, education, religion, multi-generational living, and so on. Then Mrs. S took Jenya and me to her closet, where she began showering us with gifts of jewelry. All the while I protested, but in vain. Just when I thought we were escaping with sort of a minimum of gifts, it turned out they had a gift ceremony for us as and had some wrapped presents as well. I was given jasmine flowers for my hair, we were all given the powdered marks on our foreheads, I was presented with a mango and a gorgeous orange silk sari with purple and gold-thread trim. And Roger was given a shirt and Jenya a dress. Oh mercy. Evidently in Hinduism, the guest is like God, and so to feed a guest is to make an offering to God, and to give a gift to a guest is also a gift to the gods. Well. We are no deities, but we were certainly honored to spend the day with the S. family. What a privilege.

Their family changed clothes for the drive back to the city -- out of the stay-home clothing and into the fancy going-out clothing. Different sari, makeup, and jewelry for Mrs. S, and fresh hairstyles and face powder for the girls. After many group photos we all piled in to their car (yes, all 7 of us) and they drove us back to the city to our hotel. 

Visiting with the S family was such a wonderful experience for us. I can't express how dear these people are. They are curious, frank, kind, and demonstrative, as well as excellent conversationalists. We are truly blessed to have met such warm and generous people. We hope to someday return the hospitality and host them here in the US!

 A few of the delicious foods prepared by Mrs. S. 
Dal and rice followed!

 Jenya tried on some fancy jewelry

Rangoli at the gate

What a day! We are pooped! We skipped dinner and are just heading to bed. Jenya is again having trouble settling down, but Roger is already snoring. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

June 27-28: more court.

June 27
2nd court appointment today.

We really didn't know what to expect from the day, and now that it's over, we're not quite sure what actually happened. The court process is very confusing, as we are outsiders. We haven't been given any kind of an overview. We just step in when and where we are told!

We went to the orphanage and waited for the orphanage rep, who joined us at about 10:30. While we waited on a bench outside, we saw the daily parade of nannies carrying large bundles of laundry held in gathered-up sheets. Also many women with empty plastic bottles and other containers for water. Curious, I followed them to the back of the building. It seems there is one spigot in an outbuilding for the whole facility. Each morning the large bottles and buckets are filled and brought in (for drinking and cooking, I assume). The heaps and heaps of laundry - 400 children's worth - land in the back of the building also, where there are well-like stations for washing clothes by hand (by foot, actually). Then the clean laundry is hung to dry on wires strung across a covered patio and the playground. The workers grinned and laughed when I wanted to take photos. Imagine these mundane tasks being interesting to a foreigner!

Finally, we drove to court with Mari. Waited in the car while the rep went in to the court. Oh, it was hot in that car. Sweat poured down Mari's face. After about an hour we decided to wait in the hallway inside. Eventually we were called in to the courtroom, but only for a minute and we didn't have to do anything there. Suddenly we were out in the hallway again, and both the rep and the attorney said the judge would visit our case again after July 2. We were not at all clear about what had happened…did he want more information? Was he stalling? I think now that his verbal approval was given today, and he will sign the case next week. Someone must have to type up a summary form for him to sign after he declares that he will approve the case. So I think he is signing next week, and THEN the court orders will be written up (couple of weeks?) and then the passport, which the orphanage representative swears will be done in 1 day.

Due to the language and culture barriers, we are a little unsure about all this. We're doing the best we can.

We had to wait in the court hallway for a long time while the orphanage rep worked on another case. Mari wanted something. She pointed down the hallway with great purpose and urgency. I followed her point, carrying her down the hall. She directed us outside to the courtyard and parking lot. There she signed "drink" and pointed to men drinking coffee! Before I could respond, our cab driver approached me to ask what had happened in the court room. Mari saw I was distracted and she put her hand under my chin and tapped, saying "Akka, akka!" This is the first word she's spoken directly to me. It means "big sister," but in the orphanage it means "big person who could help me," since of course there are no sisters or mothers. So, Akka, I want some coffee. Ha! I gave her a small water bottle. She was able to drink it all without spilling, and then put the lid back on and screw the cap herself. Wow.

The other case ran long, so the rep said we could just take Mari to the hotel for now and return her later in the afternoon. So we drove to the hotel, dressed Mari a little more warmly for the a/c building (the 12-month leggings I'd bought are way too big on the waist - I have to bunch up the waistband and pin it), and brought her down for lunch. It was a day of firsts. First fancy lunch, first restaurant, first high chair. Maybe first spoon? She mostly ate gulab jamun (basically a donut hole swimming in syrup) dipped in soft butter. But she also ate watermelon, mango, hard-boiled egg, caramel flan, ice cream, and naan bread. She rejected the tandoori chicken (probably has never had meat before) and the lentils. We are just trying to get calories into her. Butter and ice cream? Oh yeah. Mari liked learning to use the spoon and having control over her own dish of ice cream. She does not like to be helped. She likes to do it herSELF! 

Back in the room, Mari and Jenya played with sunglasses and matching snap-shut cases. ADORABLE. So fun to see them playing together. Jenya demonstrated how to open the case, unfold the glasses, put them on, take them off, fold them up, put them in the case, close the case. Mari imitated with great focus and determination. They did it over and over, giggling and grinning.

After a while, Mari indicated that she was tired and uncomfortable. I lay her on my lap and she passed out. She slept through my phone call to the orphanage rep, our rush for the taxi, the ride back to the orphanage, and the complete change of clothing in the car. She only woke when I delivered her back to the nannies. We waved goodbye and she seemed fine. Then we zipped to the administration office and discussed the paperwork necessary for foster care (keeping Mari with us before final paperwork is complete and we can leave the country).  We could have filled out foster paperwork today, but we all decided not to do that until the judge signs our case. If there is any complication or delay of any kind, and we have taken foster care, there is no going back. We would be stuck in India until the case was completed. So the new plan is that we will "borrow" Mari tomorrow for 4 hours, taking her to our hotel but returning her for nap time. We will visit her at the orphanage briefly on Sunday. Monday we will keep her with us all day while the rep goes to court, seeking the judge's signature. If that is successful, then Monday afternoon we will apply for foster care. We could receive her on Tuesday. Jenya and Roger leave on Wednesday.

We are all doing well, and we are all tired. Roger and I continue to hit the wall around 8 or 9pm each day. It is a very good but intense time.

We made it through "Madagascar 2" this evening and now Jenya is trying to sleep. Swimming pool was closed tonight due to cleaning, so we had to improvise an evening activity. 

Just a few piles of laundry...

Washing the clothes by foot

 Hanging clothes out to dry

 Filling some of the many water vessels for the day

 Taken from our car in the court parking lot. See the Notary sign? See the guy to the left at his manual typewriter? This is where all the court documents are typed up for signing.

 Back at the hotel...

June 28
Nice day today. Not as hot!

After another indulgent breakfast buffet included with our room, we went to the orphanage at 10 to pick up Mari. We didn't succeed in finding her for at least half an hour, because there are planned power outages throughout the city and the orphanage (and neighborhood) was scheduled for 10:00-2:00 today, so none of the English-speaking administrator-types were there. It was hard to communicate that we'd been given permission to take Mari from 10:00-2:00.

We managed to scoot out with Mari, although her nanny was concerned that we were taking her for good. Nope, not for a couple more days, at least. Our driver helped with translation.

Back at the hotel, we changed both girls into swim suits. The 9-month tankini-style suit I'd gotten for Mari was far, far too big. She must wear 3-mo bottoms. (The size 2 diapers are also too big. I will have to switch to size 1, which I think our boys wore at birth.) The 9-mo top is okay for size, maybe a little small.

So I pinned the bottoms and we headed for the tub. Today was De-lousing Day. We ran about an inch of water in the tub and Jenya demonstrated how to climb in and sit in the water. She was also a sport and let me pretend to put the lice killer in her hair and a shower cap on top. Then I put the goop in Mari's hair and a shower cap also. Fine. When we tried to put her in the tub, though, she screamed like a wild banshee. She has clearly never had a bath. We let her stand (while I held her hand) and watch Jenya scoop and pour with little nesting cups. Mari was interested enough to try a little of that, but she would NOT sit down. Finally it was time to rinse the shampoo. Ohhhhhh Noooooooo, she did not like that. I thought the police might come, she screamed so much while I rinsed her head. Then I had to apply Vaseline and let that sit for a while, and then try to get the nits out with the nit comb. Not a favorite activity for either of us. Thank goodness she has really short hair. It's about 1" long all over. I combed and combed, but could not get all the lice and nits out. Gross. We will have to endure Round 2 on another day. Well, I hope I made some progress. The kid was absolutely covered. 

Once we had her in some cozy clothes, we played a little ball and showed her the wooden puzzle I'd brought (the kind with a little knob for each piece). She was very interested in the puzzle and she caught on right away. She did the whole thing independently on the second try.

We gave her a little lunch in the room. Banana with peanut butter? No. Banana with peanut butter and BUTTER? Yes, a little. Butter plain? Yes. Bread and butter? Also yes. Formula? Yes, but she prefers water. 

We went out to the pool to watch Jenya swim a bit. We stayed until a sudden rain shower came, and then we changed and went back to the orphanage for our 2pm drop off time. I took Mari directly to her room (still no one at the front desk) and saw all the children sleeping on cloths on the floor. There was a space for Mari next to her little friend. The nannies signaled their question: had she eaten lunch? When I said yes, they gently told her to go lie down for her nap. She walked over to her spot, but just stood there looking a little disoriented. I think the children must go directly from eating to nap time, so she wasn't sure what to do when she had skipped a step. Her nanny gave her a little bit of potatoes in a bowl so she could have a bite and then nap.

The rest of us headed to our favorite place for lunch, picked up a few gifts for friends, and got some bread for our sandwiches for dinner. Although we rarely use up our paid 8-hour block with our taxi driver, we are too tired to stay out. We came back to the hotel for some rest. Jenya is playing "Stack the Countries" on the Kindle, and she intends to write down her elaborate plans for her future business of owning a dog kennel/grooming salon/vet clinic/doggie exercise clinic. She has thoughts about how the holidays will be celebrated for the dogs, how many dogs will be allowed to sleep on her bed, how they will be disciplined and rewarded, and so on. Roger and I have heard all this in a blue streak all afternoon.

Tomorrow we will visit the home of the family we met on Monday at court. Then on Monday we'll have Mari for the whole day. Yay! We looked over Jenya's old adoption papers, court order, etc, and we think we can use them as a model for what is happening here. We feel certain that the judge gave his verbal approval yesterday. But before he can sign anything, a 1-page summary document will be typed up (manual typewriter) and he will sign and seal that (Monday, we hope. Maybe Tues or Weds). Once his signature is on that summary letter, someone will type up our entire case history and court order. So we think we're on track and making good progress. It's been tricky that each stage does not have a name, or not the name we were giving it, so no one could really tell us where we were in the process. So don't worry - we feel it's going well. Certainly the orphanage rep and the attorney are advocating for us.

 First bath

First puzzle. She did it independently on the second try!

Desperate for an evening activity at the hotel for Jenya, I abandoned my usual rules and allowed her to have her nails painted. Looks quite smashing with the mehendi!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

June 24-26, the days between court appointments

Tuesday June 24, 1 day after court:

Another hot, sunny day, about 105 degrees.
We visited at the orphanage. Mari was very subdued this morning.

There was a group outing to see an ENT doc. I rode in one cab with 2 nannies and two tiny babies, plus Mari. Roger and Jenya followed in our cab. This visit was coordinated by a volunteer from an NGO that has been working at the orphanage. 

The doctor had a walk-in clinic about the size of a port-a-potty. Well, okay, maybe the size of my closet. Mari whimpered when we walked in, the first sounds I've heard from her in 5 days. The doc took a culture of the green goo in her ear and prescribed an antibiotic and ear drops for both ears, as well as a probiotic to help her stomach while on the antibiotic.

Roger and Jenya had the real adventure in getting the prescriptions filled. Our taxi driver, who is just terrific and is super-enthusiastic about our adoption, drove them to 6 or 7 pharmacies to try to get the meds. We are not sure whether the meds were not in stock or were simply too inexpensive for the pharmacist to want to fill. Finally the cab driver took the prescription sheet in and got the things filled. The total cost for the three meds was about $1.50.

I met Roger and Jenya back at the orphanage. Mari had been swooped up by her nanny to prepare for lunch time, and it was my job to take the prescription and medications to the doctor's room at the orphanage. In a room about 8x12 there was a doctor at a desk, a sick bed, and a table covered with medicine bottles. At the table sat a woman filling little medicine cups with various meds. Apparently each child has a smallish paperback notebook with complete health history, including all doses of all meds over their years there. As the woman filled a medicine cup, she would place it on that child's book and rest both on a tea cart. When the cart was full of books and cups, someone would deliver the meds. Anyway, the doctor at the desk took my prescription and found Mari's book, so the medicine lady would know to give the antibiotics and drops. 

We went on our way, found some good lunch and did a little shopping, then decided to call it quits for the day. 

We were asked to provide Jenya's 1st-grade report card at the court on Friday. We are also submitting a personal letter of recommendation from Jenya's teacher. I realize now that the court thinks we may give preference to our biological children over our adopted children. We now must prove that we will not ignore the needs of our adopted children. Of course, we are not allowed to just speak up in court. Anything we want to communicate must be in an official document. The orphanage rep and the attorney seem nervous about our case. We are doing everything we can to prepare and organize every document we can think of.

We are not discussing our case on social media. It's just too…well, global. Many people who live in India or who are adopting from India are connected to us through Facebook. I just don't want to take any chance that anything we say about our case (positive or negative) would be copied, shared, misunderstood, and then would hurt our chances of adopting Mari. We are hunkering down and trusting that our family and friends back home will understand. 

We will continue to visit Mari in the mornings and make little minor plans for the afternoons. It is too hot and sunny to do any major touristy things. Going to a fort or to the zoo does not really appeal! The heat and the intensity of our visit are sort of exhausting. We are crashing early each night. 

Wednesday June 25:

Today we learned that Mari can talk!

We were visiting with her this morning for a couple of hours. After some time, her little group of peers walked by, choo-choo style with each child's arms on the shoulders of the one in front. They were headed outdoors for some fresh air. As they walked past us, Mari waved and whispered, "Bye! Bye! Bye!" in a tiny, high-pitched voice. I was so surprised! She really wanted to join her friends outdoors (reaching and leaning in my arms), so we walked out. She was carrying a little book we'd brought. She was super-excited to sit down in her group with her special book. She plopped next to a friend, who also leaned in to look at the pictures. I asked the ayah (nanny) if this girl was Mari's friend, and she began asking Mari to name all the children in the group. In a teensy little high voice, just barely discernible, Mari named all the children. Shock of shocks! I don't think she's speaking in sentences or anything, but after 5 days of hearing not a single word, babble, or coo from her, this was a lovely surprise, and very, very encouraging.

The kids got to take a little walk, again choo-choo style, and then they headed over to the old dilapidated playground. There they all climbed on to the old merry-go-round and were spun slowly. Then it was back inside. I think it was 105 degrees again today, so a little sunshine and fresh air went a long way.

Mari is gaining confidence with us, showing us her preferences and insisting on holding tight to the toys we bring to play with her. She is quite strong-willed for a little sprite, and impish too. As we get closer to her, we are also noticing more physical needs. I think she may have broken her wrist at some point (it is a little crooked and has a lump), and there is something wrong with one foot and possibly the leg as well. Her toes curl under her foot, as if she had a mild club foot. One leg seems that it may have broken in the past. Not sure. She is so bony, with almost no muscle or fat to pad her. I am afraid of breaking her every time I pick her up! Anyway, we will take her to an orthopedist somewhere down the line. Nutrition first, then heart, and then bones. 

After our long visit at the orphanage we had yet another too-spicy lunch ("mild" and "no spice" means "almost but not quite burn your tongue off" to these wimpy Americans). Then our taxi driver, who is very helpful, took us to an outdoor stand where Jenya and I had mehendi patterns done on our hands and wrists. The driver bargained hard for a good price for us. He is very protective -- perhaps overprotective? -- and is always trying to get a good deal for us. Sweet. 

We switched to a better hotel. Lovely, clean, and fairly inexpensive by US standards. A nice Skype with folks at home, a family movie, and then Roger and Jenya hit the hay at 8pm. 

 Seen on the street - eggs being delivered to a shop or restaurant


 Mari's little roommates

"Look what I have!" 

the group sits on this mat for sunshine and fresh air


 Getting mehendi done

Letting our fancy mehendi patterns dry. No touching!

Thursday June 26: 

Everyone is a little nervous about tomorrow's court appointment. We now have copies of Jenya's old Indian court order from 2007, Jenya's report card, and a recommendation letter from Jenya's teacher. We are ready for Round #2.

We again visited with Mari this morning for about two hours. She is so darling. She loves being outside, and we played on the little entry patio (shaded). It was about 104 degrees. Mari loved playing with a balloon. She also stacked the nesting cups, drank her customary cup of formula, and grabbed ahold of her favorite books. Roger read with her a little bit. She likes being with each of us, but she also has Certain Ways Things Should Be Done, and she makes that clear. I'd say that yes, she is TWO. We are so glad she is insistent and strong-willed. That's probably what has been keeping her going.

We got an email from the US Embassy today asking about our adoption case. They approved their portion in March 2013 and wonder if we have dropped our case. We had to write them back to say WE'RE STILL WORKING ON IT and please hold on to our approval! With any luck we will be in New Delhi before too long.

In the evening we visited a pearl shop. You can see the lovely finished pieces on display as these men assemble new strands of little pearls. Evidently Hyderabad is famous for pearls. Who knew?