Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy 8th Doodle and Meesta!!

I would never have believed anyone who told me just how in love I would be when I held our children for the first time. It is an experience and emotion that is beyond words. We met and bonded for 3 weeks with our Doodle and Meesta during this time 7 years ago. This note is my reminiscing about that time...7 years ago right now.

Our story had begun to unfold a year before this when we had had enough of negative pregnancy tests (should have bought stock) and decided to proceed with our intentions to adopt internationally whether we had a bio child or not. We sent off an application, filled out immense and intruding volumes of paperwork and sent more money than we had off to various agencies and offices, and prayed that God would give us the child meant for our family. Fast forward several months and on October 20, 2001, we were given the referral of the most amazing and awesome baby girl living in an orphanage in Cambodia. We accepted her sight unseen and could not have been happier. Eleven days later, I received a phone call on October 31, 2001 from our adoption agency and she asked if I was sitting down. I immediately panicked and was worried something was wrong half way around the world. I was reassured that Doodle was fine, but they had news to share...the paperwork had been mixed up (and from everything we learned later, this is no surprise) and our daughter had a twin brother. She wanted to know whether we would want to accept his referral as well because if not, then they wanted to try to find a family that would take them both so they could stay together. Well, fortunately, we had applied to adopt 2 children anyway (God is in control...), and without any consultation with my darling husband, I start crying and tell her OF COURSE!!!! She said she would send over Meesta's picture and information...the torture was waiting to contact D and for him to get to a computer so we could both open the picture at the same time. We did and fell instantly in love with a rather unhappy and somewhat unhealthy looking baby boy who became our Meesta.

Two short months later, our dream of becoming their parents was slowed by the US government and their issuance of a moratorium on all adoptions from Cambodia due to the very greedy, sneaky and unethical actions by several. They essentially told all parents waiting to adopt from there to try another country...bu bye... Well, we did not go away quite so easily and I think they were shocked by the outrage and persistance of this group of amazing and unique families as we used the internet as a tool to bond, lobby, and eventually secure the finalization of most of our adoptions through simple persistance, annoyance, hard work, and I know prayer. We even marched in Washington D.C.!

During this waiting time, we were seeing movement and were even told that we were in "Group 2" so our adoption was going to be investigated (serious allegations of child trafficking in what was the Wild West of Adoptions in Cambodia so we were to understand). We made the decision to take leaves of absences from our jobs if needed, paid our bills for 3 months, and to take off to spend our children's first birthday with them, March 18, 2002. It was to change our lives forever. Seeing the poverty of Cambodia was humbling and in many ways made me ashamed of my life back in the States, we had so much and these people had so very little, at least materially and often times basic needs-wise as well. So unfair when the only difference happened to be where we were born. I am happy to report though that after traveling back to Cambodia now for almost 7 years now, things are improving! But, I digress...Our 3 weeks in Cambodia with our children were overwhelming as we tried to acclimate to becoming parents to these almost year-old babies who did not understand us, know our smell, and we did not know their ways - what they liked, didn't like, how to comfort them, make them laugh... All of this while in an unknown culture halfway from our comfort zone. To say it was a growing experience is an understatement. It was also a strengthening time for D and I as we tacked situations over this entire process that could have left "us" in ruins if we didn't have such a good friendship in addition to the love. In just 3 short weeks, we moved a couple of times, from the nice nice Micasa - to a guest house where we were staying next door to a mercinary (not kidding) who was tracking down Khmer Rouge fighters in the jungles and laying on a mattress on the floor with an AC unit that literally was blowing ants on us if we turned it on. The kitchen in this guest house...let's just say we never ate anything coming out of there...and the cats outside that called lustfully all was more than I could handle. We moved then into the Golden Gate and all was well.

We celebrated the twins' birthday back at the Micasa in the room of another adoptive family and the room was full of other adoptive parents we had met online with their kiddos. It was one of those moments I will never in my entire life forget. Our family couldn't be with us to celebrate this, but this new group had become a family and were there to help us celebrate. What fun and sadness all at the same time. As by this point, we knew our case was not going to be reviewed within the next 3 months and therefore we knew we were going to have to go back home to Indiana, without our children. I will never regret going and bonding with our kids during this time. It was hell taking them back to the orphanage to leave them (we had returned a few times to keep the kids acclamated just in case this happened). I can't recall another situation in my life where my heart literally hurt like this and hope I never do again. The pond that was about 20 feet from where our children were in the open-air orphanage with stairs down to it was a constant nightmare for me over the next 6 months while we waited for the call to come back. When we left they were getting pretty mobile and I had horrible images of them being curious and crawling away and drowning. We left on an airplane with a few other families whose adoptions had been completed and they were going home WITH their children, not easy for us. The hug I received from Rachel, one of the moms flying home that I had come to know over the internet was truly one of the best and most sincere hugs I had ever felt, I will remember it always.

But after being there with them, there was no government in the world that could have kept us from our children. We would have moved to Cambodia if that is what it required, but fortunately it did not come to that. I definitely left my heart in Cambodia in April 2002...came home and proceeded to gain about 50 pounds...but was able to return to finally bring home Meesta and Doodle forever. They were indeed worth the fight and I adore them and who they are and who they are becoming. It is an honor to be their mom and as we mark their 8th birthday, I stand in awe of how far we have come as a family. It has been an honor and 97% joy with 3% challenges raising them over the last almost 7 years (or more like 80/s0...). I am grateful for the gift God has given us in these amazing little people. They are beautiful little people and we love love LOVE being their forever mom and dad. Happy 8th Birthday Babes!!!

Love, Mom


Dedicated said...

Happy Birthday Kids!

Thanks for sharing CC. You know so many talk about the hardship without detail, I think it is a service to all when you share how difficult the process is.

Makes me wonder - Why? Why do they need to make it so hard, when people can help each other.

Anonymous said...

Oh WOW. How can it be?! You know I can remember those days in Cambodia like they were just last week, but then in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago...
I count myself blessed to have been present at their first birthday party - hope their 8th is/was a blast!! Happy Birthday Doodle and Meesta!!

Anonymous said...

Just surfed onto your blog. What a beautiful story, with a beautiful ending. Ok, so I did have to laugh out loud at the ant-blowing AC unit! Happy birthday kids and God bless.