Sunday, July 13, 2014

her name



Mari: a wished-for child. This is our chosen name for our little girl. We love its meaning, beauty, and simplicity. We also love that it starts and ends as her Indian name Mahathi does, so the transition is easy. 

Elizabeth: God's promise. All our children have family names as their middle names. Elizabeth is found on both sides of our family, and we are particularly honoring Roger's dear great aunt, Leanna Elizabeth (Aunt Nan).

Mahathi: greatness. This is Mari's name in India. It's pronounced "MAH-HAH-dthee." We are grateful for this beautiful name that was given to our girl when she was a newborn. We believe that God does indeed have great plans for her.




Friday, July 11, 2014

Some pics from our first few days


Because we were not free to tell our story as it unfolded, I'm all tangled up and I can't decide where to begin. I think I'll just start with a photo blast and go from there.

A sweet meeting! We'd seen Mari during our travels in February, and we could not wait to squeeze her again. She captured our hearts months ago. When we arrived in Hyderabad in June, we knew we'd stay until she was ours for good.

We spent 2 or 3 hours at the orphanage each morning. Mari and Jenya have a sticker thing going on. Jenya puts stickers on her nose; Mari removes them and adds them to the paper. 

Sisters!

 Mari loves to snuggle up and listen to a book. Daddy's lap is a great place to be.

 In Mommy's arms at last!

 We learned that lifting her up and bringing her back down would make her smile.

Our two girls

You may notice that Mari is…small. She is 2 years and 10 months old and she weighs about 16 pounds. She wears a size 18 month top and a 3 month bottom.

Mari was born with a small hole in her heart. It's a common cardiac defect and is totally repairable. But it hasn't been repaired yet. So without adequate oxygen supply, the body feeds the brain and internal organs and gives last priority to the limbs. Mari's limbs are small and twig-thin. 

She is also suffering from malnourishment and, we are almost certain, rickets (caused by lack of vitamin D). Those are treatable also. 

Despite all this, and a few temporary conditions such as burst ear drums and oozing ears, the child is completely resilient. What a fighter! When we saw her in February we thought she looked like a little wounded bird, all angular bones and big eyes. But each day we spend time with her, we see the wheels in her mind turning. In moments, she figured out how to stack and nest the nesting cups we brought. She watched Jenya string pony beads onto pipe cleaners and immediately started in on her own. During the two weeks we visited with her at the orphanage we saw glimpses into the mind and humor inside that tiny, broken, silent exterior.

We'd been told that she spoke only a couple of words. The only phrase her caregivers had heard her use was the equivalent of "I want..." or "Give me..." But in our few days there, we discovered that she could name every one of her playmates. She was just very, very quiet. 

We loved having the opportunity to visit Mari's orphanage daily for 2 whole weeks! What a privilege. We are grateful that the staff there allowed us to hang around to get to know our girl. 

 The first truly beaming smile we saw. She had just stolen that blue helicopter toy from a friend. Ha!

 Practicing with those nesting cups…

 This is her group heading outside for some fresh air. The kids in her group are her size, not her age.

Another beaming smile. This pic titled, "I have a book, and you don't." Wish I had focused it properly!


More pics tomorrow. 







Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Meet our little Miss M!




Introducing our little firecracker…


Mari
Elizabeth
Mahathi
Welser

After all these many days, weeks, months, and years of waiting, she is finally here! Today we became Mari's legal guardians. What a happy, happy day it is! Our family is complete.

Mari is a darling little sprite who will be 3 years old in early September. Now that the long forced silence of waiting for guardianship is over, we promise to fill this blog with endless details in the days to come. Thank you so, so much for all your love, encouragement, prayers, and support during this long trial. We are grateful!


Together at last!




Thursday, June 5, 2014

Six


We have now passed the six-year mark in this adoption process.

We've had joys and sorrows. Hope and hopelessness. Bursts of energy, and deep fatigue.

For a little while there, in April, we were riding high. We had a court date scheduled for our custody hearing, we had airplane tickets, we had suitcases packed with toddler clothes and toys!

Then our court date was canceled.
It was a very deflating experience.

Cancel the plane tickets, unpack the suitcases, ask my dad not to fly out here to watch the kids while we attend our hearing.
Try to remember all the April/May/June events that I hadn't written on the calendar because I knew I wouldn't be here.

So close.

We waited for a new hearing date. We were so worried, so weary. A dear friend reminded us about Moses holding his arms up so the Lord's army would win the battle. When Moses grew weary, friends propped his arms up for him. I came to the point where I felt I'd prayed every prayer. Again. And again. I was so depleted. But friends held us up. We are so grateful for those who have prayed for us when we really could barely pray for ourselves.

And now for the good news: a new court date has been scheduled! I think I'll be really, really psyched about it when we actually get on the plane. The countdown is on: it won't be long now. We'll have our precious little girl in our arms soon. After all this time, it hardly seems real.

Earlier this week Roger and I headed to the Homeland Security office to have our fingerprints taken for the 5th time in the past 6 years. We don't mind. There are many lovely things about living in this tiny little state, and one of them is the close proximity of…well, everything. When I need the Secretary of State's seal on my dossier documents, his office is just behind my local Stop & Shop. When we need fingerprints, we just scoot a few exits down the highway to the official place. (We know everyone there now.)

There have been some wonderful times here at home these past weeks, times I am glad I did not miss. Evan got his first try at pitching in his Little League game. The kid was grinning from ear to ear. In fact, we've truly enjoyed every baseball game this season. I would have missed them all if I'd flown out in April. I would have missed almost every soccer game, too, and Evan's team has gone undefeated. Now we'll even get to see the championship match. We were here for Jenya's two choir concerts, one with school and one with the RI Children's Chorus. Seeing our daughter singing her little heart out was absolutely priceless. I get to chaperone the first-graders at Field Day next week. And of course we were privileged to participate in Andrew's terrific Eagle Scout project in May! I valued it all the more because I'd thought earlier I would have to miss it.

Definitely lots of silver lining bulging out from the storm clouds that settled over our drawn-out wait for sweet Miss M.

Despite all this, we yearn for the day when we can be together as a family of six. Stay tuned…it could be soon! As Jenya used to say, we're "so 'cited!"



Saturday, April 26, 2014

Last day

After three weeks of adventures, we came to the Very Last Day.

It would have to be an epic day. The cousins had been planning this for months. Years.
It was the day we went to the giant, indoor/outdoor, super-cool WAHOO WATER PARK.

 The Surfer

 Calm, cool, and collected

 The Clown

 Before they hit the wave pool: Wahoooooo!

About to try the surf simulator

 {These park pics are not my own}

We spent many hours at the water park. Up the steps, down the slides; repeat! I had such a great time taking my young niece and nephew each for some one-on-one time on slides that suited their level of adventure. Evan talked Jenya, Aimee, and me into going on some horrible pitch-over-the-cliff type ride with him…oooooh, that was a little beyond my enjoyment level.

I never, ever, EVER find myself to be the least-conservatively dressed person in the room. My swimsuit is skirted and quite modest by American standards. But. It is not modest by middle-eastern standards. Burkinis (Google that) seem to be the suit of choice there. And I did find myself (along with my sis) to be the least-conservatively dressed woman at the water park. No one seemed to mind; it was just a cultural observation.

After hours of steps and slides, some ice cream and a rest, we headed out to a Bahraini feast at a local fish restaurant. We selected several kinds of fish, cuttlefish, and giant prawns that were all lying on ice at the counter. Bam! Enormous dishes of beautifully prepared seafood arrived at our outdoor table. What a great finish to our trip!

It was sad to say goodbye to our dear cousins. The flurry of Lego and artwork had to draw to a close. We are so glad we'll see them all very soon, right here at home! Our flight departed at 2:15 a.m. I do not particularly recommend this as an ideal travel plan when flying with kiddos. Just sayin'. But we made it home without any trouble, Bahrain to London to the USA.







Monday, April 14, 2014

Taking notes

How do three little children ages 3, 5, and 7 enjoy a museum? With their own little notebooks, of course! We checked out the Bahrain National Museum and had a great time. Here are the kids studying up on People and Culture.

 While some of us watched a lengthy film on the art of bookbinding, others of us played under the super-cool patterned lights on the museum carpet.

 Teyo is a MAP GUY. The expansive entry area floor of the museum is a map of Bahrain. Teyo found the embassy and his house!


Jenya had four requests for our big trip: the Taj Mahal, her orphanage, elephants, and camels. And she wanted to ride either an elephant or a camel.

So we checked, checked, checked the boxes on the Taj, orphanage, and elephants (and riding) while in India. Although we saw many camels on the roads while in India, we didn't get too close. But Auntie Aimee lives around the corner from a camel farm! Perfect.

Evidently these are the king's camels. And evidently they do not get too much exercise. I have to say, maybe I'm placing my own ideas on the well-being of a camel, but these guys did not look all that thrilled with being anchored in their stalls at the camel farm all day long.





I neglected to post this photo from yesterday's burger + shake lunch spot:
Oh no! Now how are we going to get our milkshakes???

After a day of museums, camels, and even a tour of the cousins' preschool, we were ready for Pizza and Movie night. We were tired. And when we're tired, what do we do? We jump in the bouncy house! Because my sister has a bouncy house.
In the living room.
Yep.


The pizza was good. The movie, I think, was a little rough, given the age range of the kids. The bouncing was wild and loud. The sleeping was sound.



Friday, April 11, 2014

Bahraaaaaaaiin!

Last stop on our journey: Bahrain. My sister and her family moved there a few years ago.



The country of Bahrain is 1/4 the size of Rhode Island. 

Evan, Jenya, and I flew to Bahrain for a quick visit because, ya know, it's on the way home. Sort of. 

Best moment: when our car pulled up from the airport and we were met by whooping, jumping, shouting-for-joy cousins! What a welcome!

Aimee knows we like to kick it in to gear when we're traveling. She had our Bahrain plans all mapped out. Auntie Leslie (our dear family friend) was visiting too, so we got a double-dose of all things FUN.
 Shake Shack at our layover in the Dubai airport. Just like the good ol' USA.

 Prayer rooms in the airport. Not just like the USA.

We began our tour with breakfast at a Bahraini restaurant. Seated on the floor, we mopped up the various yummy foods with delicious chapati-like bread. This place encourages drawing on the walls…perfect for busy young artists!


After a hearty breakfast, we were off to the Grand Mosque.  We ladies were required to cover up in official Mosque attire. (I do believe we missed that photo op.)


Off to the park for a little playtime. No shade, but great play equipment and a field to fly the kite! I also noted that near the public park restrooms (extremely clean) were the ablution rooms and prayer rooms. I have never been in a Muslim country before, and I found all these facets of public life very different and interesting. Imagine having prayer rooms at our public parks! (Okay, imagine having RESTROOMS at our public parks…)




Next stop: the Qal'at al-Bahrain, otherwise known as the Bahrain Fort. The site is one of those layer-upon-layer testaments to ages of human civilizations. There is evidence of human presence in that spot from 2300 BC until the 16th century AD. Fascinating. And a great place to play a little hide and seek!
Evan, Leslie, and I also explored the Fort Museum.











It sure is great to see family…and it's especially fun when we also get the chance to explore new places. Day 1 in Bahrain was a grand success.