I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here, but I have some exciting news that– I am almost certain– will make you forgive me.
Most of these past few weeks, Desi and I were in India on a life-changing mission. We were there to bring home our little boy, Jay.
Jay is a pert, happy six-year-old who likes singing to himself, drawing, and striking up conversations with people, even those who he barely knows or barely understands (he doesn’t speak much English right now). His past two years were spent in an orphanage in Mumbai, India (also my city of birth) and we have known for several months now that he is destined to spend the rest of his life as our son.
We met Jay for the first time on October 23rd– our only interaction with him before this had been fortnightly phone calls to the orphanage when he’d recite poems he’d learned at school for us in his tiny voice and ask us “to put a lock on the house and come here to pick me up.” When we did finally meet him, we felt like we already knew him. And he was happy to embrace us wholeheartedly — although we were not picking him up that day because of more pending paperwork, he informed us that he had his bag all ready and packed to go.
We picked Jay up five days later– after a whirlwind visit with my family and Desi’s — and spent a week getting to know him in Delhi, India’s capital city, while we waited for his immigration-related medical tests and visa. We landed home in Washington on Nov. 6th, and after some jet lag and motion sickness blues Jay has taken swimmingly to his new life. He loves his new room, the kids next door– Wesley and Lydia — and his new school (he started Wednesday this week and can’t wait to go each day). He loves it when I read to him before bed every night, and he has even already mastered the alphabet in a few short days, thanks to Desi’s intrepid tutoring (they don’t speak a common language, by the way. Jay came from Bombay speaking only Marathi– a language I do speak, but Desi doesn’t).
One of the things that Desi and I swore to do when we adopted Jay was to ensure that he would grow up with compassion and love in his heart for all animals, and Jay has embraced this idea wholeheartedly despite initial reservations (one of the first things he told us on phone was he was afraid of dogs). But flexible as children are, he cottoned to the idea of befriending big brother Opie, not least because he realizes just how much his parents love the fluffy, golden creature. Opie– used to being the master of the house for 12 years now–has been just a tiny bit resistant, but we are making progress on that front and the boys are now friendly enough that Opie will eat from Jay’s hand and tolerate a few gentle strokes of his fur. On walks, Jay gets excited about every animal he sees, pointing out squirrels and excited to pet outdoor cats that will walk up to him and rub their heads against his tiny legs. The other night he saw a deer — his first sighting — trotting through the neighborhood after sundown, and was incredibly excited.
The post adoption period has been a bit of a roller coaster as we all settle into our new, vastly changed lives, and that’s one reason it’s taken me more than a week to get this post up. It is not a honeymoon, as one can expect with an older child, and I won’t lie that it is. There are ups and downs and lots of emotional struggles, but there are also moments of fun and great love. In the end, we know we can make this work.
As Jay settles into his new life, one of the things I’ve been trying to do, to smooth his transition, is cook for him the foods he loves and remembers. Shraddhanand Mahilashram, the orphanage that he called home, served a basic, vegetarian meal to the children every day made usually of rice, dal, rotis, sabzi (a vegetable side dish) and buttermilk. Foods like Kande Pohe and idlis were often served for snacks and breakfast. So even as we slowly introduce him to new foods that he’s never had before (and it’s a struggle, I admit), I am trying to keep his main meals focused on the familiar, at least for now.
I’ll leave you now with photos of the beautiful children at Shraddhanand Mahilashram having lunch, a joyful, noisy affair with all the kids speaking at once and three or four caretakers serving or feeding the younger children. And I promise to be back in a jiffy with a new recipe. Hugs!