You would not believe our day yesterday! We got to the Embassy and went in for our appointment only to be told they did not have our paperwork. I told the man that we had been told it had been sent the day before. He said he had not received it. I asked him who I should call as we needed to get the visas going – we were leaving soon. He looked over at his computer screen and there was an email with our paperwork! Wow. That was a little too close.
We went back to the Embassy today to pick up their visas. (Yesterday was to apply) Everything went quick and easy. Yeah! That was a big relief.
The goodbye at the orphanage was yesterday morning. The girls did well and just said goodbye to the ladies, gave them a hug and a kiss and smiled and walked out the door without looking back. The aunties were crying and I just about fell apart watching them. I gave them each a hand and a thank you. Vijay said they would probably cry for an hour after we left.
The girls did well yesterday and last night at the hotel. They really came out of their shells and played and bounced all around the room checking everything out. Communication is dicey. 🙂 I do think they understand more than they speak. That doesn’t help us when they rattle something off and we have no idea!
The waiter last night at dinner helped us order for the girls – he asked them what they might like and gave them some choices. That was great. We are about to check out of the hotel. We are going to meet Vijay and Lisa Adams-Reese (formerly of Children’s Hope Adoption Agency in Gresham – she just got here yesterday) and have some dinner and then waste some time before heading to the airport. We have to be there around 11:30 p.m., midnight. Our flight leaves at 3:05 a.m. This is going to be a long trip.
Keep praying! Thank you so much for all your love and support. We can’t wait to see all of you.
To some of you this is anticlimactic as you already know we are home, but to some of you, I haven’t yet contacted you. I will get over at the very start that I – Lori – messed up big time! I told everyone the wrong day for our arrival home. I did not think it was possible to leave a country so far away on a Friday and get home on a Friday. I guess I forgot all about that 13 1/2 hours ahead thing. Whatever. I was wrong. I have been wrong before. I will be wrong again. There.
Okay. There is so much swimming around in my mind that I want to share and I am not sure where to start. Some of you got email updates from us while in India – and I apologize to those of you I did not write. I didn’t have everyone’s address in my Comcast account online and kept meaning to add them, but suddenly the trip was upon us and I ran out of time. So, to those of you that this is a repeat, I apologize.
When we arrived in Delhi after about 23 hours of travel and layover, we were exhausted. Landing in Delhi you realize you are entering a new world. At night I could see fires glowing as people tried to keep warm. (The weather there was in the 70’s during the day – everyone was wearing sweaters! – and got down to 48 or so at night.) Once on the tarmac you could smell the smoke that is Delhi “air”. We sat on the runway for an hour waiting for a gate to be open for us to disembark. That was our first glimpse of what life is like in Delhi. Things don’t run the way we are used to in the U.S. The airport is under construction and was a mess. After seeing Delhi and the drive between Delhi and Agra, I think all of India is in a state of construction, disrepair, and chaos. We landed at 1:15 or so, but didn’t get out of the airport until after 3:30. We got to our hotel at 4:30 – a suite that we had paid $680 a night for, no less! That is a whole other story! Bad travel agent. Very bad.
So, we slept a few hours and got up at 10:00 a.m. (Delhi time) to get a shower and try to find some food. We had missed the free breakfast buffet, but were invited to sit down and see the lunch menu in the “Coffee Shop”. We decided that everything we know in the U.S. that has the same name in India is really just trying to be what we know it to be and it does not succeed – thus the quotations. We read the menu at the “Coffee Shop” and after reading the descriptions of what they served I wanted to throw up. We left and went back to our room and ate Power Bars and drank our bottled water. The hotel stunk – I mean it really had an odor and I had a stomach ache (so did Kelsey) the whole time we were there.
We did get to see the girls that first day – Friday – and it was such a surreal experience! It was perfect timing because just the older girls were down in the common room. The little ones were napping and the older boys were at school. It was a nice quiet time to get to know them. Our first thought when we saw them was how little they looked. Especially Kalindi. I was choked up for a minute, but we got ourselves together and with the help of the social worker there we were able to begin to get to know the girls. They immediately called us Mommy and Papa and Kelsey “Didi” which is a name attached to an older sister. They still call her Kelsey Didi. The social worker was a great help and told us what the girls were saying and we asked her questions. That day she laughed and repeated to us that Kalindi was bragging to the other kids that their new house had flowers in the yard and a dog! She thought that was cute that Kalindi was already claiming our home as her own.
We played Karim with the girls, sat on the floor and worked puzzles, and just hung out as the orphanage (Adoption Center according to Vijay) went through their daily routine. We stayed for several hours. We laughed at ourselves when we got back to the hotel because we had commented on the odd video we had seen that people had taped along the road as they drove to the orphanage. Now we know why they were silent. You are in shock. There is poverty there that you cannot imagine. People living along the sidewalk between the road and walls that are built around apartments, schools, colleges, government buildings, etc. There are tarp tents everywhere. Delhi is a dirty, unkempt looking city. Well, I take that back. The round-abouts were nicely landscaped and the land around national monuments or sites. But, the main city doesn’t look taken care of. There are piles of rubble and dust everywhere. It is a dusty, dry city this time of the year. There are beggars everywhere. They try to do something for you and then hound you for money. They can be scary at times. When you are stopped at a light they swarm your car. We were in extreme culture shock. By the way, it is true that in this big city you will see cows wandering free and in traffic.
On Saturday, we got up in time for the breakfast buffet at the “Coffee Shop” and it wasn’t bad. We spent time with the girls and then Vijay told our driver some places for us to shop. The shop people were very pushy and the minute you start showing an interest in something they start dragging stuff down and giving you the hard sell. It seemed like pretty much every item took two and a half years to make and something about it was very rare. Funny thing, you saw a million of that same item everywhere you went. 🙂
It is hard to do anything in Delhi. Our driver took us to India Gate and there we were swarmed with beggars and people selling things. It just takes the fun out of sight seeing. The other hard part of being out is being stared at. You can take it for awhile, but you eventually get to the breaking point. One day, while driving along in our car, a whole side of a bus of ladies was hanging out their windows staring, smiling, and waving at us. They never stopped. I thought we would never get past them. Even though they seemed friendly, it was just creepy.
On Sunday, we drove to Agra. It is about 150 miles and it took us about four and a half hours. (Do the math!) It is a highway – and pretty good road – but you are constantly being slowed down by “towns” and other modes of “transportation” clogging the road. We saw people herding sheep or goats, camels pulling carts, horses pulling carts, cows pulling carts, bicycles, three wheel taxis, motorcycles, pedestrians, and trucks all sharing the same highway. There are two lanes marked with lines and we were usually four abreast. Lines are meaningless in India. Oh, one useless fact: we saw a family of five on a motorcycle – dad, mom, grandma, and two kids! We also saw about ten or twelve people stuffed into a three wheel taxi. The three of us sat in the backseat of one and it was tight.
We actually really enjoyed our trip to Agra. It was very interesting and the highlight of the trip (except for the girls) for us.
You have just begun to get used to the poverty that you see in Delhi and then you really see it in full force on the way to Agra. I saw people living in broken down piles of bricks taking baths, going to the bathroom, washing their clothes, washing their cow, collecting and making cow manure patties to dry for fuel, cooking, eating – you name it. They were doing it within 20 feet (sometimes less) of this major highway. In Agra, we saw three elephants being ridden by Indians. We also saw monkeys, peacocks, and parrots.
The Taj Mahal was interesting and beautiful. We are glad that we saw it. But, wow, it has such an empty meaning. Our tour guide went on and on about this enduring love that caused this man to build this magnificent tomb for his wife. (One of many wives.) What did this emperor do for his people? Things haven’t changed much in India. There is such a huge discrepancy in wealth and no one seems to care to do anything for the poor, uneducated, and unemployed. Our tour guide said that their unemployment is over 30%. I have trouble believing it is that low with what I saw. However, some of those people who are “employed” make about $1 a day and some of the employed are about eight years old.
Kevin and I talked about this trip and how we really wanted to come away with positive things that we could share with the girls later. We want them to be proud of their heritage. But, it is hard. There is a lot of creativity in India. The people are very intelligent. There are some beautiful buildings from the Mughal empire. We also saw the Agra Fort and then drove to Fatepuhr Sikri on Monday morning.
So, the first skin of our teeth moment came on Monday. Luckily, I caught what the tour guide said and realized that he thought we were traveling to Jaipur to spend the night and was telling the driver to take us there! We were supposed to be heading back to Delhi. If we had gone to Jaipur, it would have taken us over four hours to get to Jaipur and then another four plus on the road to get back to Delhi. Again, rotten travel agent! (He set this all up) So, after seeing Fatepuhr Sikri and finally getting everyone straight on where we were headed, we struck out on the most unlikely road that supposedly leads to a very large city. Much of it was one lane and we dodged many trucks and tractors. I quit looking because I was sure that was the end of us. Our driver stopped and asked directions twice. That did not instill confidence especially when we were driving through some very horrible looking poor areas. And, I had to go to the bathroom – bad. When I started looking longingly at bushes and not caring that there is no place in India where you don’t see some people – I realized that I had to get this guy to find a place to stop. We asked him how long until we would get to the place that was planned for us to stop and rest. One and a half hours. No, that wouldn’t do. We finally got off the bumpy cow trail road (read, painful) and onto a highway of sorts. I told Kevin to tell the driver – who did not speak much English – that I needed to stop SOON. We passed some places that I thought would be suitable (at least in America), but he didn’t slow down. I finally saw a truck stop and said to Kevin that he needed to tell him to stop NOW. I think I made the mistake of saying I needed a “restroom” and not a “toilet”. 🙂
The truck stop “bathroom” was just as disgusting as I assumed it would be. Enough said.
Our last hotel was the Hans Plaza which is in the heart of downtown New Delhi in Connaught Place. Can you say, “horn capital of the world”? Even from 20 stories up you could hear them all day and all night. By the way, Kelsey calls their driving style in India the “honk and weave”. Very good description. Everyone has dents along their cars, but we only saw a few completely smashed cars from accidents. Our driver assured us there were rarely accidents. You don’t wait to make a turn into traffic in Delhi. You just start going and honk your horn and everyone you are in the way of honks their horn and pretty soon everyone is where they want to be. Like magic. After a lot of starting, stopping, and honking. And wincing on our part.
The girls had their medical exam on Tuesday and then we went to see them again. That day was their going away party. It was fun. The ladies spent a lot of time making special treats for the kids and us to eat. We even sipped some hot tea thinking that the boiled water was safe and not wanting to offend them.
On Wednesday, we had our first appointment at the Embassy. This was also the day that we picked up the girls for good. Leaving the Adoption Center was heart wrenching for me as I watched the “aunties” cry. It was sweet to see how much they loved the girls, but it was hard. I about started balling for them, but quickly told myself that I needed to hold it together or what would the girls think. They said goodbye, hugged the aunties and walked out the door without looking back. We arrived at the Embassy on time. And, the one time in India where we didn’t have to wait in a huge line, we went through the American citizen line and right in! Yeah. Except that when we got to the appointment the guy didn’t have our paperwork. The very same paperwork that was supposed to have been sent weeks before. While we sat there the man got an email with our paperwork. Can you believe that? God is so good.
Our first day with the girls in the hotel with us was fun. They had been so quiet and good at the Embassy. When we got to the hotel room they just started bouncing off the walls. They didn’t know what to touch first. They wanted to open everything, turn everything on, look out the window, and on and on. It was tiring! We got them bathed and changed their clothes and then played in the room for awhile. We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant and the waiter helped us order food for the girls that they would like. He spoke to them in Hindi. That day, I confess, I worried that I had bitten off more than I could chew. (I was scared spitless!) It was a good reminder that I am incapable of carrying this out without the Lord’s constant strength and grace.
Thursday, our last day in India, was a day from h – e – double hockey sticks. We had our last Embassy appointment to pick up the visas and that went fine. Our problem came when we had to check out of our hotel at 3:00 p.m. (the latest they would let us stay) and we had to kill time until being at the airport at midnight. Killing time in a city that you don’t fee comfortable in is not easy. There was a plan that had been made with Vijay the day before and she changed it – actually acted like it had never been made – where she was going to help us with all that time so we were left high and dry and on our own. We had the driver take us to the M-Block market that Lisa Adams-Reese suggested was okay to go to. We had really had it with shopping so didn’t want to stay there long. Kevin and I decided that our only course of action was to find a safe place to wait. We had the driver take us to the Sheraton to eat dinner and we told him we were going to stay after dinner for several hours. We got there for dinner at 7:30 and left after 10:30. It wasn’t fun, but it was a clean, safe place to wait.
The drive to the airport took longer than the driver expected so even though we left the hotel earlier than we thought we should, we got there just in time. At Indira Ghandi International Airport you stand in line at the door and don’t get into the airport until you show two unformed men – separately – your tickets. What a joke. That took a half hour at least. Then you stand in line to get your luggage x-rayed and “banded”. This band is supposed to keep you from putting a bomb or whatever in your suitcase. Not. Anyway, then in line to check in with Lufthansa. Not too bad of a line. Then. Mother of all – well you can’t call it a line – it was more like a mob. A huge mass of humanity waiting to enter the “line”. That line took about an hour and a half. Then it was the security line. It took us three hours to get through all the lines. It was hot and we were tired and poor little Kalindi threw up while we were in the security line. (Thank goodness I had stashed some airplane bags in case they would get car sick) People didn’t bother to help or worry about a sick little girl, they just used it as an excuse to push past us and get ahead in line. Nice. Our flight was supposed to leave at 3:05 a.m. and that was about the time that we got on. However, most of the flight was still in line inside so we were delayed more than an hour. We made up some time – the flight attendant told me that the captain could go faster and make up time and when we got to Frankfurt, we had plenty of time to get to our gate which was a bus ride and several escalators away. (Our layover was supposed to be about two hours.) It is amazing what organization, signs, and people actually doing their jobs can change in your airport experience.
It is so good to be home. The trip to India was intense and tiring and I am sure has changed us forever. We could not wait to get back to things that were familiar. Kevin and I talked about the girls and what they were going to experience coming to a new culture. Our culture shock and trouble with food, etc., gave us a good idea of what they would face. They seem to be doing great!
They have eaten pretty good although I have tried to give them some things that they recognize and they have slept each night all the way through. So have the rest of us, except for Kelsey on Saturday night and now, myself, tonight. I think I am coming down with what the girls have (cold) and took Nyquil, but it seems to have worked opposite on me and I can’t sleep.
Yesterday at the pediatrician, the doctor was trying to get Kalindi to say where she was from and she said “America!” The doctor was trying to ask where she was from in India. 🙂 The doctor speaks Hindi, by the way. She asked Kira if she liked it here and Kira said that she “loved it”. Very cute. By the way, she said the girls were basically healthy. They both have sinus infections and she prescribed an antibiotic for them. Kalindi is underweight and under height for her age. We did blood and urine tests and will have those results soon.
The girls are curious about everything. Our downstairs is probably bigger than the entire orphanage. They can’t help touching everything (we are working on that) and want to look behind every door. We laugh at them as they chatter with each other, make hilarious faces when we give them food they don’t want, try to explain a task we want them to complete. Nothing hard, for instance “only eat food at the table”. People say language will come quickly. That is good. We look forward to knowing what they are thinking. We are getting by okay with communication. It is amazing what you can figure out with tone, gestures, and facial expression.
I am so glad that we can rest in the promise that God has equipped us for what He has called us to do and that He will fulfill His plan and purpose in our lives in His strength. It is a little overwhelming looking at the task ahead. Our lives have been radically changed. Since I know this is God’s will for our family, I am sure that it is a change for good. We are excited to see how God will use these two little girls in our lives and the lives around us. But, also how He will use us to have an impact on their lives. What a blessing to be a small part of what God is doing.
This isn’t half of what we experienced on our trip! Feel free to ask questions although I can’t promise to be such a quick responder as I was in the past. My time is not my own anymore! Thank you for all your prayers! We know we wouldn’t have made it without them and without the Lord guiding every footstep on this journey for the last year plus.
Our love to all of you,
Kevin, Lori, Kelsey, Kalindi, and Kira
“Thou hast made us for Thyself O God, and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” Augustine
The new family home:
March 4, 2008
I feel like I have only given snippets of information about the girls and what is going on. I want you to know something about their respective personalities as well as what we are up to.
Kalindi is very sensitive and giving. If I am handing out gum she wants to make sure that everyone has a piece before she takes hers. She keeps an eye on her sister and has been such a good help with Kira by telling Kira in Hindi what I am trying to ask her to do. Kalindi understands a lot of what I say. She wants to help me with whatever it is I am doing – actually both of the girls are very helpful.
They both make their beds each morning. They spend time to do a good job! They are also pretty good about picking up something before they move on to another activity. They have both been eating well. Kalindi is better at trying foods she doesn’t know and that encourages Kira to try them as well.
Kira is slow to wake up. Once she does, she is very happy. She also is very suddenly sleepy and ready for bed. 🙂 The girls have been going to bed at 8:30 and getting up between 7:30 and 8:30. Lately, they have been more interested in my reading them stories, but Kalindi asks me more often.
They are both very curious and want to touch and look at and see how everything works. Kalindi loves to put together puzzles, Kira is a little bit impatient about them. Kira loves to pretend play. Kira is very expressive and you really don’t need to understand her words to know what she is trying to convey.
They have become more used to Spencer and like to help us feed him. I have to keep an eye on their scoops because they are overly generous and Spencer will get fat!
Both the girls loved to go to a neighborhood park and play. Kalindi was braver at trying things, but Kira is warming up to it. I can tell that neither of them have done much physical activity by the way they move and try to climb. Kalindi likes to be outside and asks to play outside with the ball.
Kira is a girly girl and likes to look in a mirror and put on hair things. She also loves to apply (about twenty times a day) her Chapstick that Auntie Lori gave her! She picks things that are pink quite often. Kira is a very happy girl and is often laughing. Kira and Kalindi both enjoy playing with Kevin and are excited when he gets home. He picks them up by their feet and swings them around.
They are also very interested in all of Kelsey’s comings and goings.
The girls have the typical sibling issues. They fight over who gets to play with something, they taunt each other with something they are given, they sometimes speak to each other in a tone of voice I do not like. Like Kevin says, “If we knew what they were saying, they would undoubtedly be in trouble more often.” 🙂 So, you know they are normal!
The girls and I went shopping today and we got some learning things at Learning Palace and I bought them a watch there. We will work on telling time. We also went to Wal Mart and the girls picked out sunglasses – pink Dora the Explorer ones for Kira and purple Dora the Explorer ones for Kalindi.
They are starting to call each other the names we have given them. They usually use their given names as middle names when they say them. (Kalindi Sarsa, Kira Vanila) We are considering what names to use when we legalize the adoption. We had chosen middle names, but we wonder if we shouldn’t use their given names as middle ones. They have also started to say “Kalindi” and “Kira” when people ask them what their names are.
I bought some word cards with pictures on them today and also a box of sight words. I had some workbooks for preschool/kindergarten to start learning the basics with them. We worked on letters today. Kalindi knows the alphabet and can write them although I need to work on her forming the letters correctly. Kira did very well looking at the letters and copying them with my instructions. We also worked in a number book a little bit today. I have a really good phonics program that I will start soon. I think they are ready and need to have the intellectual stimulation and their time more structured. It will be challenging to work with them together. I will see how it works and if it doesn’t, I will make their learning time separate.
I plan on taking them to AWANA tomorrow night. I think they will enjoy it as they have liked getting together with other kids. We met some kids this weekend at the AWANA competition that Kelsey was in. There are some other kids adopted from India that attend this AWANA program. I plan to stay and make sure they feel confident.
I just got a call from the doctor’s office. The girls’ stool samples came back fine. That surprised me! Their blood tests were also all normal. The chest x-rays the girls’ had on Friday were clear and the doctor is waiting to hear from the county as to what the next step needs to be regarding the TB reaction. That is all good news!
We are enjoying the fact that they will say “yes, please” and “no, thank you”. They are also trying to say other words or phrases. I have found that I must say, “Come on, guys” a lot because Kira was saying that to Spencer.
That is all for now. I will try to keep you posted as to our progress. Please write or call with any questions. Thank you for your continuing prayers.
Love, Lori for Kevin, Kelsey, Kalindi and Kira
Psalm 62:5,6 “My soul wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved.”
March 14, 2008
Today marks three weeks since we arrived home from India with Kalindi and Kira. I think we have made great strides in that time. You quickly forget how hard it was just to explain the bath process or how awkward they felt having me help them with that the first time it was attempted. Now, it has become a routine that they understand and also enjoy. You can apply this same equation with a hundred daily activities.
The girls continue to eat well and try new things. This is one instance where the sibling factor is working FOR me! They both want to please us and get a “good job” or “good girl” from us so one will try something and then ask me to acknowledge it. When I do, the other one doesn’t want to be left out so they will eat it as well and then ask for praise. Whatever works.
Kalindi and Kira have attended AWANA twice now. They have enjoyed the games and interaction with other kids and were so proud that they had learned the Sparks Motto – “My friend for Christ” that I have heard it recited about a thousand times a piece! They got AWANA dollars to spend in the store and were so pleased with their little purchases they made. I am looking forward to teaching them John 3:16 and the pledge of allegiance to the American flag. That will not be a small feat!
I have attempted to work with them on school type activities. It has been good because I now know where I am starting from. That would be the very beginning! I see a lot of immature behavior on a daily basis. I have to remember that these girls have lived in a very limited atmosphere. They were not being exposed to new things or able to learn about and explore their world through play or educational experiences. The girls love to watch me in the kitchen (or whatever I am doing around the house) and immediately began to copy my actions in their play with some old kitchen toys that belonged to Kelsey. I feel like they are finally getting a chance to be a kid the way they are supposed to. So, I have to remember that this will take time and there are phases that we have to go through.
They are starting to parrot a lot of what we say. Remember those days when your two or three year olds did that? You have to be careful what you say! 🙂 Last night as Kevin and I were putting them to bed I laughed at Kira copying my “Calm down now.” in her little accent and with her drama and facial expression. So cute.
I had a fun time Wednesday night talking with two moms who have adopted kids from India. In listening to some of their experiences I was feeling like we were getting off easy – for the time being anyway! One of them talked about how long it took her to teach the girl her colors. Both Kalindi and Kira know their colors by name (English). We were all laughing about the kids learning to tell time. I think it is a cultural thing – I am not sure Indians are that worried about what time it is or how long something takes – not like us Americans anyway. I have not really started to try to teach telling time, however, I can tell they haven’t got a clue. I bought them each a fun colorful watch that they love to wear (like jewelry) and I constantly catch them spinning the hands instead of keeping the watch on the time I set it for.
One hard thing for me as the mom, who is with them ALL the time, is just to get a little space for myself every now and then. Because they are in the follow mom around wherever she goes mode, I am locking my bedroom door so that I can have the time I shower and get ready to myself. I felt bad about excluding them at first, but I realized that they need to learn some boundaries and they can certainly see that I give them my time and attention for most of the day. That was the other thing us moms laughed at as we commiserated last night. I said something about actually looking forward to your annual gynecological appointment just to have an hour or so of quiet by yourself! 🙂
We had a great moment yesterday. The girls had finished their lunch and usually I have to direct them to an activity or else they aren’t sure what to do next. I can’t remember if it was Kalindi or Kira who suggested that they “go play”, but I was so happy!
Which reminds me that they really are learning new words every day. They were calling Kevin, “Papa honey” because they hear me call him “honey” all the time. The girls had a whole discussion about it at dinner last night and from what I could tell, the consensus was that they would not call him “Papa honey” anymore. Kira said “Papa honey, no!” The word “no” is one of the earliest words they seemed to learn. Imagine that?!
The girls have both become rather affectionate with both Kevin and I. Kira was quicker to seek affection and then I think Kalindi joined in so as not to miss out on the spreading of the love. 🙂 Kalindi wants to be so grown up – probably because that was the position she was put in at an early age. I want her to feel free to be a kid and not feel responsible for much of anything but herself. Hopefully she will feel free to do that.
Yes, there are some challenges. Learning English and communicating is still a challenge. The girls learning to make our sounds for letters and words will be a challenge. ( already know they cannot make the “v” or “z” sounds) Being creative with discipline is a challenge. Kevin and I need to be a united front in our parenting and always working toward that goal. This is a huge change for our family and we are still adjusting. But, I think this is the best thing we could have done! We know this is the plan God had for our family and it will be fun to see all that He will accomplish through it.
At this Easter time may I give you something to contemplate. Here is part of Psalm 22. Charles Spurgeon referred to it as “The Psalm of the Cross” and said this about it:
“It may have actually been repeated by our Lord when hanging on the tree; it would be too bold to say so, but even a casual reader may see that it might have been. This chapter begins with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and ends with “It is finished.’ ”
You find references to Psalm 22 in Matthew 27, March 15, Luke 23, and alluded to in John 19.
Psalm 22 – A Psalm of David
1 MY GOD, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?
22 I will declare Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise You.23 You who fear (revere and worship) the Lord, praise Him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify Him. Fear Him, all you offspring of Israel.
Keep in touch! We love you all.
Lori, Kevin, Kelsey, Kalindi and Kira
Their first shopping trip - they built a bunny (not a bear)
March 27, 2008
The girls know our bedtime routine and have started to “remind” me to pray after I tuck them in. 🙂
Tonight when I was putting the girls to bed Kalindi asked me if she could pray too. Of course Kira wanted to as well. So, I am not sure of all that they said, but I did hear all our names and I heard the word family and then a hearty “Amen!”
Kira stopped to ask me in the middle of her prayer, “Spencer family?” So cute.
It was very sweet and I am hoping that the girls are starting to get the family concept and that this is different from their lives up to this point. It is also neat that they are so into the prayer routine that we have – although I know they have had exposure to spiritual things and don’t really know who the God is that I pray to. They will know that pretty soon!
We had another discipline issue before dinner. Kalindi and Kira were fighting about something and I was trying to get them both to stop and do what they needed to do to rectify it and Kalindi did her usual snotty attitude rush out of the room thing like she is being victimized or something. Very irritating. Anyway, I marched her up to her room and told her that she was making the whole thing bigger than it really was. I explained that just because Kira takes something of hers without asking does not make it right for her to take something of Kira’s to make it even. It took some time to talk with them, but I eventually got both girls to say they were sorry and Kira was repentant right away, but it took Kalindi some time. I told her to stay in her room until she could have the right attitude and she was nasty to me so she got in further trouble. It didn’t take her long to come down, apologize to me and she did change her attitude. Those two wear me out! But, the good news is that it was not the ordeal that discipline was at the beginning and I think they are starting to get that they can’t get away with things – even just a rotten attitude or a mean face, or harsh words (even if I don’t know what the words actually are!).
I just wanted to share this little victory with some of you I thought would be interested! Thank you for your prayers – I know they are going up for us because we feel them. 🙂 I love you all, Lori
But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation
My God will hear me. Micah 7:7
We took the train to Seattle to go to the Aquarium
April 6, 2008
It is so amazing to me how fast things can change around here. The last time I wrote I told you that Kalindi and Kira were beginning to repeat things that we said. Now, we can hardly utter a word that they do not try to copy. It is great that they are eager to learn, but a little embarrassing when I am buying something at a store and they say “Thank you so much!” about ten times after I have said it to the clerk. 🙂
The girls have eaten hamburger in a casserole (their first beef! – don’t tell them – ha) and Mexican food and the other night we went to a Thai restaurant and they really loved that. They have gained weight – we found out when they were at the pediatrician getting some shots. They basically are starting over with their shots because their blood tests did not show them having the immunity they should have. They are doing well with their antibiotic and we were told that they are on a maintenance dose and not on a dose that would be treating an active disease so they should not experience any of the serious side effects. I was very relieved to hear that! The girls go back to the doctor this week for two more shots. They are going to be thrilled about that! They got three shots the last time!
Our attorney is filing our adoption finalization papers this week and we should have our court date in late May or early June. Then, they will officially have the names Kalindi Sarsa Hope Schneider and Kira Vanila Grace Schneider. Their birth dates will change too – so long as the judge okays that.
The girls attended their first friend birthday party on Saturday. It was for a girl from AWANA – actually a girl who was adopted from India as well. This is the family who has three girls from India and were instrumental in us knowing about our girls. It is neat for all the girls to have this connection with each other. Kalindi and Kira had so much fun at the party. It was funny to hear them try to explain all that they did at the party without the proper words. There was swinging action and falling and the mention of candy so we knew there had been a piñata. They had made necklaces and bracelets for themselves. It was a “Princess” party so everyone dressed up.
We went to the zoo with Kelsey, Faith, Josh, Joy, James & Isaac over Spring break and the girls loved that. On Thursday, Kevin, Kalindi, Kira, and I went up to Seattle on an Amtrak train and went to the Seattle Aquarium and walked around town a bit and then headed back on the train. It was a fun day and the girls really enjoyed the animals and spending some time with their friends Shivani and Eli. Shivani and Eli were adopted two years ago from their orphanage. They knew each other. Thank goodness Thursday was that one beautiful day we had last week. Kelsey was unable to come because her classes started up last week and she didn’t feel like she could miss them – Thursday is one of her long days.
Which brings me to the other “K”; Kelsey. Kelsey is starting her Spring term with Algebra II, First Aid, Volleyball, and U.S. History. She is also doing a Career Development class with me that she needs to finish before graduation. It will be a busy term and she has piano on top of that. I cannot believe that she will graduate from high school in two months! That is crazy. Where did the time go? Kelsey leaves on April 23 and comes back April 29 for Jacksonville, Florida and the national AWANA Summit competition. There are a lot of seniors in her group and they are all excited to have this one last “hurrah” with each other. I know they will have a fun time. In addition to being on the games and quizzing teams, Kelsey will compete in Fine Arts singing a solo, “Beauty From Pain” by Superchicks. Kelsey is also attending the “Viennese Ball” next weekend with a bunch of her friends. It is a neat night where the kids dress up in formals and Waltz, Polka, Tango, etc. to an orchestra. She has done it before and had a great time.
When people ask me how things are going with the girls I am almost afraid to say how well things are going – like it is going to jinx us! I mean, life around here is very busy and full of activity and tasks, but I feel like we are moving in a very positive direction with the girls. I am amazed at how comfortable we all feel with each other and how natural it seems for them to be here. I know that this is the Lord’s doing. There is no way in our humanness that we could have the love for these girls that we do without the ability being supernaturally given to us by God. This is not to say that there aren’t challenges. It is still frustrating when we cannot communicate as we would like to. There are still discipline and boundary testing issues. The girls like to be where I am which is nice, but you just want to go to the bathroom sometimes without having to tell the two cuties trailing you that your intended destination is the bathroom and you want to be alone. 🙂 They are learning to spend time on their own playing and do not need as much direction from me in coming up with activities to engage in. They are starting to ask to go to the “park”, but that hasn’t been possible with all the rain we have had. It will be nice once the weather clears up and our backyard dries out and we can all go out and move dirt around getting ready to put our yard in. I think they will enjoy that as they love to help with projects.
One of the issues we were concerned about – how the girls were dealing with Kevin is getting better. I made it clear that their actions or attitudes were not acceptable to me that helped. They don’t really understand the family unit and what the Dad represents. I explained that the house, clothes they wear, the food they eat, the cars we drive, are all provided to us by Daddy. I said he was owed our respect and they were going to treat him that way or be disciplined. We also made a conscious effort for them to have some fun times with their dad (without mom) and that was helpful as well. Kevin makes sure he spends time with them in the evenings and weekends.
Kevin and Kelsey are waiting for me to come watch a movie with them. I am sure as soon as I hit the “send” button I will remember something else I wanted to share. There is always something funny happening around here. Please write or call and ask questions if you want. Also, if you are in town, call me if you would like to come over and meet the girls. I would love to have you. This week is pretty free.
We love you all and thank you so much for your prayers.
Lori and the “K” people
Psalm 25:4,5 Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You only do I wait expectantly all the day long.
May 19, 2008
Wow. It has been busy here. I am reliving long ago days when Kelsey and Grant were little and I was busy from the time I got up until I dropped into bed. Except, this time I am a little bit older! ha The longer the girls are here the more I see they need to learn. We take for granted all the things we gradually teach our kids from the time they are born. I am starting from scratch and find that I need to pray for extra patience dealing with the girls who do not understand the simple things that I naturally expect of them due to their ages. Little things like we do not laugh at our little sister’s drawing to make fun of it. 🙂 Adopting an older child is a unique experience.
I am sending this note to tell you how we are doing, but also to specifically mention certain things that you can pray about for us. I am sure that there were defense mechanisms that the girls have learned through the years in order to protect themselves emotionally. There are also social behaviors that they have learned from the orphanage environment that are not desirable and they need to be retrained. Kalindi has some anger that is probably rooted in her life being turned upside down and having to learn to accept that she is under the authority of someone new, but I am sure there is sadness that comes out as anger because it feels safer to express it that way. She has talked about missing Surekha – the main caregiver, she misses school, and she misses her friends at the orphanage. She has also recently spoken about her family. She told me she had an older sister and remembers her Daddy and Mommy and where they lived.
I do not want this letter to sound negative. It is just reality. There are a lot of things to tackle each day, but there are also a lot of hugs and laughs and fun. If you stop to think about the changes they have had in their life it is amazing how well they are doing. They are making amazing progress and are adjusting so well. Someone asked me tonight what surprising things the girls liked to eat. Kalindi loves Lasagna. It is funny. She will eat more of it than I do. Kira loves peanut butter and jelly and asks for it for breakfast and lunch. I do not give it to her for breakfast! They both love Mexican food – and add Tabasco! Tonight they both ate and like asparagus. It was their first time to try it. They were not too enthusiastic when they saw it, but both of them gamely gave it a try and ended up liking it. They are still trying to like broccoli. 🙂
I am still in wonder at how God weaves lives together and brings kids from across the world and makes them part of a family. I have to spend time in this letter on the amazing beauty of adoption because I hope that our family’s story can encourage just one other family to listen to their heart and begin the adoption journey themselves. If you are a parent, I assume you were like I was before I had my first baby. Would I love this little person? Would I know how to take care of him/her? Am I ready for this huge commitment? These are all things you wonder before your adopted child arrives as well. And, just as I found out with my biological children, who, I must stress, I didn’t have control over what sex they were or what their personality was or what they would look like, God gives you the ability to love and nurture and guide and teach these miracles of life that he entrusts you with. It is a privilege to be part of Kalindi and Kira’s life stories.
One funny story. The other night I was getting after Kira for the way she put her clothes away – MESSY! There were shirts in the pant drawer and pants in the shirt drawer and things were not folded, but stuffed. I said something like, “You know how to fold and put away your things.” She says, “Mom, Kira no speak English!” We all just burst out laughing. It was hilarious. She is our little comedian. You had to see her disgruntled little face to completely appreciate her comment.
There is a lot going on right now. We got through Kira’s sixth birthday on May 1 and will have Kalindi’s tenth birthday coming up June 25. Kelsey graduates on June 5 and we will have a party on June 7. We will be traveling to Medford on Memorial weekend to see family and friends. Kelsey has her Spring term classes to finish up the second week of June and is looking for a job. We should have a court date the end of June for our adoption finalization. Kevin and I (mostly Kevin) will be working on getting our yard put in. And, quite honestly, just getting my everyday duties taken care of is time consuming and sometimes exhausting.
You may notice my quote at the end of my letter. Something the Lord is working on in me lately is contentment. Being content to still be on this earth. Being content with whatever task – however trivial – that the Lord may ask of me in a day. I don’t want to look any further into the future than today because it can be overwhelming – AND – there is nothing I can do about it anyway! 🙂 I was thinking about how I pray and what I ask God for. I wasn’t asking for His will with contentment, I was asking for His will with a wince and a sigh assuming that I wouldn’t like His answer. I am asking God to help me to pray for His will KNOWING that His will is best and what is right for me and being content with whatever His answers may be.
I better say goodbye. I am sending along a recent photo of the girls. I love to hear from people so be sure and email or call. Love, Lori
The Great Master Gardener, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in a wonderful providence, with his own hand, planted me here, where by his grace, in this part of the vineyard, I grow; and here I will abide till the great Master of the vineyard think fit to transplant me.
Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), from “The Loveliness of Christ”
July 19, 2008
Can you believe it has been almost five months since the girls came home with us? I can’t. It seems like it has flown by and yet it also seems like they have been part of our family for much longer. I know I am smitten when we go out to dinner Friday night with our friends and I go in to kiss them goodnight and I am so thrilled to see Kalindi is still up “waiting for you” she says. Their smiles and their energy make me happy. I miss them when I am gone. I am happy to be home again. Kind of sappy, huh? Well, I guess I am just in love with my children.
I have a lot to catch you up on. We just recently acquired some bikes for the girls and after getting the training wheels attached and helmets strapped on, we gave it a whirl. Let’s just say that I had completely forgotten that knowing how to pedal is not an innate instinct. After our first try, I thought it might take a month for them to ride up the road without my pushing or steering them. Kalindi, however, improved greatly after being out again today. Kira made great strides as well. I told her that they were “getting the hang of it”. She looked at me and asked what that meant. 🙂 You should hear the kinds of things I have to explain!
Speaking of English, they are doing so well. I just noticed that in the last couple of weeks they quit speaking Hindi – even to each other. Today, I asked Kalindi if she remembered Hindi and could she say something for me. She said, “Kalindi learn English!” – very emphatically. I guess that is why every parent I have ever talked to has said that their kids “forget” their language in less than a year. I think they want to learn the language that they are living around and they want to fit in. Even when I encourage the use of their native language they do not want to use it. Interesting.
I bought Rosetta Stone English – US and they both started it last week. It will be great for language, grammar and reading. It is also teaching them computer skills. That mouse can sure get away from you sometimes!
Oh, another milestone for the summer was the girls taking swimming lessons. They absolutely LOVED the water and it was so fun to watch them. That is something about the girls that I so appreciate. They are so happy and so thoroughly enjoy things. For instance, as Kalindi pedaled her first few feet on her bike she had such a look of innocent joy on her face I could have cried. It was beautiful. They help me see the wonder in life and enjoy the things that I might take for granted.
I was looking back to see when I last updated you. It has been a while! A lot has happened. Kira had her sixth birthday on May 1. We had a big party and she loved it except she didn’t love being the center of attention as much as I thought she would. She got all shy when opening presents and everyone was looking at her. Her favorite part was the cake. She is a cake girl.
Kevin went to the ER on May 29 with severe pain. It turned out to be a kidney stone. He got better and then the time bomb went off June 11 and he ended up needing some minor surgery. The kidney stone got stuck. That whole thing really set him back, but he is doing great now. Kelsey graduated in between those things on June 5. We had a big open house on the Saturday after that. Kalindi had her tenth birthday on June 25. She was very appreciative of everything she received and thanked everyone as she opened.
Our ongoing project is our yard and Kevin, with a little help from me, got our extended patio installed. We had only a small concrete pad and so added a 15 x 15 foot square of pavers next to it. It will be so nice for eating out and relaxing. We have way more to do in our yard than we have time or money, but we will do what we can this year and work on it some more next year. The girls love to be outside and help whenever they can. They are actually a lot of help believe it or not. I am amazed at how hard they will work and how long they will keep at it. They are also very helpful in the house and ask me to do things all the time. Kalindi watches me do chores and then tells me that she can do it herself. She doesn’t miss much, that girl.
If I were asked to describe the girls I would say that Kalindi is very sensitive, she notices everything, she learns quickly, is very motivated, a hard worker, and stubborn. Kalindi is very transparent most of the time. She has not learned to hide her feelings. She is also very watchful of my emotions and is always asking me if I am mad when I am concentrating on something or asks me if I am sad if she sees me blowing my nose. She is very quiet and mature looking and then she breaks out in a smile that is so pure and real that it makes her look like she is five. It takes Kalindi awhile to wake up in the morning and it takes her awhile to get to sleep.
Kira is giving – she never wants someone to be without something and will give up what she has to them, she is a peacemaker, she is uncomplicated – she knows she wants to be loved and she asks for it and is happy to receive it. Kira does not leave you wondering what she is thinking or feeling. She is a joker and a drama queen. Kira wants to do everything her big sister does – she really looks up to her. Kira likes the eat the same thing day after day for breakfast and lunch and then suddenly does not want that anymore – EVER. Grant was just like that! Kira wakes up happy – unless you wake her up. She goes to sleep very quickly and is a wild sleeper.
The girls have grown – Kalindi almost three inches and gained ten pounds! She needed it, poor thing. Kira has grown an inch and a half and gained about five pounds. She didn’t need to gain like Kalindi did. Kira also lost her first tooth a few weeks ago.
We are still waiting to hear about a court date for our adoption. It got held up waiting for paperwork from our adoption agency. We are looking forward to making that a fun, special event for the girls and are glad that they will be able to really understand what it means.
Kevin and I have taken over the teaching of the youth Bible study that we have been involved with for a year and a half. It has been fun, but keeps me busy trying to do the lessons. I haven’t helped with music much as it is hard to get us all ready and out the door on Sunday mornings. However, I will fill in for our pastor when he is on his vacation this summer.
Kelsey plans to attend the community college again next year and will finish her Associates of Transfer degree. She is thinking of attending Oregon State after that. She may change her mind, at this point she is keeping her options open. Her interest seems to be in art, possibly graphic art – using computers.
Our two year anniversary of Grant’s death is coming up. There is not a day that goes by that feels normal. It doesn’t feel right without Grant. I suppose it never will. We would sure appreciate your prayers.
That is about all I can squeeze out of my brain tonight! Please email when you get the chance. I love to see an email from someone I know in my inbox. 🙂
By Grace Through Faith
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Our yard project helpers!
September 28, 2008
There have been some interesting things going on around our house and I wanted to share them with all of you.
Kalindi has always seemed very interested in learning about God, but really grabbed a hold of the topic of Jesus when we read a storybook that goes through the whole Bible and tells stories about Jesus that are foretold or foreshadowed up through the New Testament and actual events in Jesus’ life.
She is always asking questions about Jesus and when we are going to go somewhere in the car she will ask if we can “talk about Jesus” on our way. It is very sweet. She has had some trouble with bad dreams and we pray every night that she won’t have any. One night she had a bad dream and asked me if Jesus didn’t hear her prayer. I told her that Jesus always listens to our prayers, but that sometimes He doesn’t answer as we would like. On another night when we were discussing praying about not having bad dreams, I was able to say to her that sometimes we put things in our minds that we shouldn’t or we experience bad things and those come out later – maybe in a dream. I told her that we have choices about what we put in our hearts and minds and that the more we put good things in – like learning Bible verses and good thoughts about God and what we know about Him – the less likely it is that we will have bad dreams.
I have also been able to share with her that she can pray to God anytime she wants or needs to and He will always listen. The other night we read a story about admitting we did something and saying we are sorry and I was able to talk with the girls about confession being included in our prayers. Kalindi has taken that very seriously and asked to pray and ask God to forgive her when she disobeyed. Part of the story talked about how God can see everything that you do so you can’t hide from Him that you have disobeyed. A funny thing happened today when someone had done something, but I got the usual answer that no one had done it. Kalindi said, “Mom, Jesus can see who did it, right?” I told her yes. Kira immediately confessed that she had done it, said she was sorry and then prayed and told Jesus she was sorry. Yahoo! I just love it when it all WORKS. 🙂
Because Kalindi has spoken to me about being worried about “bad men” coming to our house I have had discussions with her about God’s protection. She asks me often to repeat what I have told her – that God can see everything and is everywhere. He is always with us and always watching over us. I told her that God has been watching over her since before she was even born. I told her that God specially made her and placed her in a family in India. I also told her that God had planned that she and Kira would come and be in our family. I have told her that God may have wanted them to come be in our family so that they could hear about Jesus. I have also told them that God has used them as a blessing to our family.
It is all pretty exciting. Kira is interested and receptive, but not nearly as tenacious as Kalindi is. Tonight Kalindi sat down next to me and said, “Just start talking about Jesus. You know lots of things that I don’t know. Just tell me.” What an opening! There are always lots of questions about heaven and where Grant is and what he is doing. I was able to share with her that we are able to pray and ask God to forgive us because Jesus had lived a perfect life and died to pay the price for our sins. She asked about why there is sickness and bad things in the world. I told her that sin came into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed what God told them and because of that our world will not be without problems. She asked about heaven and I told her that heaven is a place where there is no sin, no sorrow, no crying, no death, and that we will be with Jesus forever. She threw up her hands and said, “Yeah!”
I want you all to know about this so you can be praising God with us and also praying for all of us. You can pray that Kevin and I will be sensitive to the Lord’s leading and give answers that the girls need to hear and that the Holy Spirit will be working in their hearts and minds to be able to understand and believe.
He is Worthy of all praise,
The girls first birthday party