Thursday, September 30, 2010

Help from Patty Murray

This is GREAT news!  I wanted to share the letter Senator Patty Murray wrote to Secretary Clinton today on our (families of WA State) behalf, but I can't figure out how to copy it.  Instead I will just share the news with you.  She speaks a few times about how there is already one 'family' stuck in Nepal, waiting to bring their child home.  The message of the letter is essentially that though it is important to work to stop child trafficking, these children in Nepal have been screened and matched with families, and it's important to process our cases as efficiently as possible to allow families, especially those in Nepal, to be able to bring their children home.  Doc Hastings office has also been extremely helpful and in constant contact with me while I am here.   All of this helps me feel I am being supported on this difficult journey.

Today is hopefully the big day.  I told Joy this morning that yesterday was like false labor!  Hope today is goes smoothly.  Thanks for all your support!!!

The Big Day Doesn't Happen

We were all dressed up in our Nepali finest and ready to go to my appointment with the Nepali Ministry and sign my adoption decree, but at the last minute, there was a phone call that the Minister was sick.  The Minister is the only one apparently who can sign the documents.  Just another good reason to get the paperwork done and get it done asap.  I feel like at any minute, the whole Ministry could vanish and then I'd be so close and yet so far once again.  It feels unstable here. 

And it's really slow and tedious to get even the smallest thing done.  I remember this from India; don't try to do more than one thing in a day unless you are looking to get frustrated.  For instance I tried to get an extension on my pass to get inside Bhaktapur and I needed photos and photocopies.  So after some time I found the photocopy store ~ not an easy task, "look for the blue doors",  but there are many blue doors and none of them look a photocopy shop.  So I arrive at each set of blue doors;  "photocopy?" And finally,  "Yes, Madam but no power".   "But Madam" he tells me excitedly, "there is another place with a generator not two minutes walk uphill".  Perhaps an hour later, after two people signed and meticulously folded, stapled and cut my paperwork  I had my pass, but when I got home, it had the wrong dates on it.  If you let it get to you, you'll go insane.  So I just smile instead and keep breathing.  Smiles go a long way here.  Everyone smiles, which is one of the things I love about Nepal. 

So tomorrow is now hopefully the big day, and each day I spend with Pukar gets better and better.  He is now so happy to see me, and looks so confused and a little to a lot sad when I leave.  As hard as it is to see that, it's also a good sign that we are bonding.  Well, I bonded a long time ago, but for him, this is so big and probably as scary as it is wonderful.  Just think, a mommy.   A mommy who already loves him so much.  Unreal.

The latest photo journey by Joy: (we are gonna miss these when she's gone, huh!) More Orphan Love

And take a ride on the wild side:  Two videos of riding in a car in Kathmandu  

video
video

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lots of Tears

We cry a lot these days.  It's so emotional being here with everything that is going on.  Just the magnitude of what I am doing here is beyond what I can express in words.  The pictures probably do a better job.

Today we had a translator at the orphanage and I was able to listen to the words spoken to me by Pukar's Didi.  Yesterday I began to figure out that they had a special bond.  Pukar gets away with more than the other children and is given more attention as well.  I just started to realize how much she loves him.  It's because of her that I am adopting such an amazing kid.  She asked me to please stay in touch with them and to please call and write, that she has cared for him since he was one month old, and she will really miss him.  Then we all lost it.  Joy, Didi and me.  Our poor male translator was caught in the middle.  She ran into the bedroom and was sobbing the deep, heart-wrenching kind of sobs that are so bottomless they can't stop.  After I could talk again, I asked our translator Jayendra, what he thinks of adoption.  He said that ultimately it is the best thing for Pukar because he won't have any opportunities in Nepal.  The most he will be able to do is pick up trash like plastic and aluminum to get money.  That's it.  Not much education and put out on the streets young, as the orphanage can't support the children past 14 years old or so, and even that would be a long time.  It just makes me ill inside thinking that all 5 of those children won't get the same opportunity as Pukar.  They are all beautiful as they have been so loved in this orphanage.  I'm really lucky that by some miracle (which is how it feels), I got a kid in such a perfect situation; loved and cared for since he was little, totally attached and bonded, and really healthy, not to mention adorable.

We are also lucky as after having taxied all over the Kathmandu Valley in the last couple days I am really realizing how awesome it is to be staying in Bhaktapur, which is near the orphanage.  Kathmandu has turned into a hellhole.  It is so unbelievably polluted and the streets are something out of a war zone.  Truly, I thought I had seen it all living in India, but this is a whole new level of chaos.  We wear our face masks when we are commuting.  We took a rickshaw tonight and that was a whole other level of terror, with headlights and horns coming at us in all directions on the round-abouts, and us, with no lights or reflectors.  Fun times.  I rinsed my shirts out in the sink this morning and the water was black.  We were out walking the children today and this well dressed women threw a bag of trash over the bridge into the river.  Well, it's more like an open sewage channel, but still, it was jaw dropping.  The stench coming out of the river, along with the trash lining it's banks is incomprehensible to our western minds.  And I could go on and on with stories just like this.


But there's so much to love about Nepal as well, and the biggest thing right now is this bundle of joy that has found it's way right into my heart, named Pukar.   To view the latest slideshow from Joy's amazing photos click here:   Watercolor balloons  And yes, we brought those pink boots, and imagine, this is the first time they have ever painted.
And for a visual of Bhaktapur:  Early Morning Nepal

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bubbles and Love

Today we fell in love.  He laughed for the first time since I met him.  Big, wide, giggly bubbles of pure happiness bursting forth from his little belly.  I rocked him and kissed him, and he called me momma.  He didn't want me to go, and I could barely leave.  Today was only day two.  I don't know how I will be able to leave him here while the US Govt. drags us through the mud.   Right now that idea seems impossible.


We brought them bubbles and it was a tremendous hit.  They must have blown bubbles for over two hours.  This was the first time they had ever seen bubbles and were giddy with excitement. What fun to watch them shouting in glee at the simple pleasure of floating soap!  One little girl never put her bubbles down the whole time we were there.  Precious, perfect.

All the children are so adorable.  Even the little troublemaker Raju melted in my arms and fell asleep.  At one point I had two of them in my lap just soaking up the love.  They are beautiful, pure, little souls that all deserve a family.  Joy and I spent half the day in tears.  The time spent here is precious beyond words.  This experience is more than I could have ever hoped for.  


I have mountains ahead of me, but knowing that my child and I are bonding makes those mountains feel movable.  I have to be one of the luckiest people alive.  To see the whole day click onto Joy's amazing album:  Bubble Love.  Thank you Joy for recording such beautiful moments, and for being here to share this with me.  No one would believe it otherwise!!!  Namaste.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day Two in Kathmandu

It's hard to believe it's only day two.  It's amazing to be back in Kathmandu after all these years.  It's hardly changed.  The sounds, the smells, the filth and beauty, still captivate the senses.  Our little guest house sits across from an ancient temple in the middle of the walled city of Bhaktapur.  The orphanage is about a 20 minute taxi commute from here, which makes it closer than being in Kathmandu, but unfortunately too far to walk.

I met my child!!!   Pukar is a truly sweet little boy.  Actually, he's perfect! He is much smaller than he appears in his photos, but very healthy and extremely well cared for.  There are only 5 children at my orphanage and two Didi's 24/7 who love them, sleep with them, and care for their needs.  They are held when they cry, fed when they are hungry, and taught how to play with one another.  The children are attached to their caregivers and though the orphanage itself is tiny and extremely spartan, it is very clean and full of love. 

He didn't know what to think at first and while the other children played with Joy and I, Pukar accepted his books and toothbrush and kept his distance, but with much awareness and curiosity.  We stayed and played for 2 hours, and he eventually started to warm up to me.  The Didi's had been telling him his momma was coming and he had been pointing at the sky a week before and saying he wanted to ride on an airplane.  It had to be a very scary day for him. 

After spending time at the orphanage and asking a ton of questions, in which all the answers matched perfectly with everything on my paperwork,  I am convinced that he was indeed abandoned.  There are a lot of decisions to make this week, and it is still very confusing here.  Business is conducted in an unfamiliar manner, it is difficult to understand my representative's English at times, but I am being taken care of and escorted to the places I need to be.  We met a couple mothers who are living here with their adopted Nepalese children and waiting out the decisions of the US Government.  It was wonderful to visit with them and meet their beautiful children.

I had nearly forgotten just how intense the chaos is, and the poverty.  It is really unlike anywhere I have been since I left here 12 years ago.  The roads are free for all, and every time we get in a taxi it feels like running the gauntlet, where only through trust, surrender and luck can you arrive safely to your destination.   Yet there is so much beauty and magic here as well, and Joy is capturing the allure of Nepal through her photo lens, as it seems everywhere there is something worthy of being caught between the slice of a shutter.  Check it out: Joy's Slideshow

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day Before Take Off and Gov't Officials are SUPPORTING US!!!

The bottom goodie compartment
Tuesday morning.  Suitcases, (yes plural), are mostly zipped up and even weighed for optimal orphanage gifting efficiency.  Fifty pound max.  Both Joy and I are bringing a huge suitcase stuffed with goodies for the kids and gifts for the Didis; (means:  big sister ~ translates to the women who care for these beautiful kids!).  We both have to work today, and are aiming for around 6pm launch time to move towards Seattle where we will spend the night as our flight takes off at 7am.  Early.

I feel calm and happy.  I keep breathing.  Those long deep, conscious kind of breaths that have an all over soothing effect on my nervous system.  I slept great which is a big help.  Things feel in order.  It's amazing what one can accomplish in such a short period of time.  Massive undertaking to bring all the right paperwork, make sure the business is in order, get a house sitter, buy/collect a mountain of children's goodies both fun and educational, and feel like yeah, all is well.  Magic happens, I'm telling you.

I've had an outpouring of support from my family, friends and clients and the local community.  There's a lot of goodness behind this trip and hopefully that, and the tide of the Universe, will carry us not only safely to our destination, but maybe bring about the unexpected beauty that I love to talk about, and love more to experience.  Without expectation, I welcome any and all support the greatest forces in the Universe have to give.   Bring it!  This trip is for you, Pukar.  See you all in Kathmandu.

For the latest AND MOST AWESOME press read: (I got word of this just after writing my blog ~ a good sign or what???
Kerry, Lynch Urge U.S. State Department To Expedite Nepalese Adoptions Already In Progress

Sunday, September 19, 2010

US Ban Leaves Couple Heartbroken

This is what I am facing in Kathmandu:  Article Kathmandu Post

Also, I am gathering books, games and learning toys for the children at the orphanages, so if you live close, and haven't gotten my request for donations, please drop them off at my house or office or with Joy by Tuesday at 2pm.  Thank you in advance!  And Namaste.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Going to Kathmandu


Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid." ~Basil King
I decided I could wait no longer.  My travel approval expires in about 10 days, and if don't go, I may lose this battle before it's started.  How could I chance leaving this beautiful, little boy without even giving it my wholehearted, very best effort.  I have found it very strange, this day.  It is the most peaceful I have felt in weeks, perhaps months.  I am guessing I will even sleep well tonight.  I spent my day preparing for the journey, figuring out what needs to be done before I go.  I even had time at the end of my day to relax and take a hot tub.  The feeling of the surrender, the free-fall.  Moving into the unknown, with great hope, and great sadness.   Sadness that I will most likely have to leave him for some period of time, as I can only stay for a short time to deal with papers, and deadlines and bureaucratic red tape, but most likely will not be able to wait out the investigation and whatever might follow.  So it's two trips to Kathmandu for me. We will see soon how much water that 'verbal extension' holds.  For me, and for others.

Returning to Kathmandu holds it's own emotions.  It's been 12 years since I was last there, and I had a hard time leaving then.  I stayed in Nepal, as many of you remember, for 3 months after a 6-month journey in India.  Biking and hiking through the Himalayas, meditating, practicing yoga, and sinking completely into the magic that is uniquely Nepal.  It will bring back a lot of sweet memories.  And my most amazing friend Joy is traveling with me.  Spur of the moment, she put on her travel boots and jumped the plane.  Hot dang, how does one get friends like that?  I feel lucky.

I will be expounding on it all here in this blog so stay tuned.  Joy's camera will probably be giving us some beautiful scenery as well.  Namaste, Shanti, Om.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another Family Sent to New Delhi

Today another family was sent to New Delhi.  We are now 0 visas/ 6 New Delhi.  No one knows what this means exactly, or how long the next phase investigating will take.  This is disheartening as we are all cheering for those parents who are already in Nepal, many who have made the choice to adopt their children.  They are truly stuck in the middle of this  bureaucratic nightmare.

I am trying to decide what is the best course of action for me.  To stay here and wait (and trust a system that seems to me to be failing us) or go, and risk also being stuck in the middle, without the ability to be able to stay and wait it out.  I know, what could be more important?  And at the same time, as a single parent, I need a home and a life to bring this child back to.   I am unsure what exactly I am being asked to do at this point, and strive daily to find clarity amidst this chaos.  Hoping today for some answers as I need to make a big decision and fast as my Travel Authorization expires in less than two-weeks.  I try to never make decisions based on fear, and to always trust that no matter what, I will be taken care of.  This has got to be the single biggest leap I've ever been confronted with. 

I am in contact now with two of my Senators and a Congressman, as well as other friends who may be able to help.  The awareness of this injustice needs to be raised as high as possible.

The System is Broken

I was offline for a bit while I regrouped after the news of last week, and a lot of negativity and fear that was coming into my inbox.  With permission, I am posting some news from Mike and Karyn, the couple who, after spending roughly 6 weeks in Nepal, had to return home without their child.  They are still fighting for justice, and this is what we are up against.  Number 18 is particularly disturbing.

Embassy Meeting From Sept. 10th

The following are the questions and responses during the embassy meeting. Included in the meeting were Karyn and Michael Brown, our agency representative (from America), Clay Adler the embassy consular, and April (an embassy adoption worker). The meeting takes place in a small room with a glass partition. The conversation is done through microphone and speakers.

After being told our case was being sent to New Delhi, we asked a number of questions and made a few statements. Below are the questions, statements, and responses. All responses are from Clay Adler. We are still working through our notes so there may be some additions to this post later.

1. Brown's: When will the case be physically sent to New Delhi? Response: It has already been sent.

2. Brown's: How long do expect it will take to receive a decision from New Delhi? Response: I would expect two to three months.

3. Brown's: What is the role of the embassy here in Nepal with New Delhi now that the case has been forwarded to them? Response: We have no further role in the investigation and the decision will be made at New Delhi.

4. Brown's: What if New Delhi wants more information, will you (embassy) provide it? Response: No. The burden of proof is on the petitioner and that is you (the Brown's). If they want more information you will need to do your own investigation.

5. Brown's: Can we have or see a copy of the investigation report? Response: No it could compromise the investigation.

6. Brown's: Did you not just tell us that the investigation is over or at least your role in? If New Delhi wants more information how would we know where to start? Response: (no response given).

7. Browns: Can you tell us what type of fraud you found in our case? Response: We did not uncover any fraud in your case, we just could not prove that there is no fraud.

8. Brown's: So you found no fraud yet you are passing the case to New Delhi. Response: It fits the pattern of not being able to verify the documents.

9. Brown's: How do you attempt to verify the documents? Response: We try and find the people who found the child and ask them questions. Kathmandu is a tight community everyone knows what everyone else is doing.

10. Brown's: What does that mean? Response: The documents say that your child was found in a certain location, we will go there and ask people, shop keepers, families, if they saw anything and what they know about it.

11. Brown's: Do you think that people are scared to talk to American officials about things such as abandoned children? Response: That is probably true, but we need to verify the story, we can't be worried about people being scared.

12. Brown's: So you are going to leave 80 children in their orphanages because you can't find a person who will tell you they saw the abandonment and swear that it is true? Response: We are trying to protect you (the Brown's) wouldn't it be worse if a parent who was looking for their child showed up at your door in America and wanted their child back?

13. Brown's: How many times has that happened? How many times as a Nepali parent came to the U.S. Looking for their child? Response: (no response given).

14. Brown's: Emails said that the pipeline people would be treated with the same process as before but it appears it has changed. Response: Nothing has changed every case was and is investigated.

15. Brown's: How many cases where sent to New Delhi prior to August 6th? Response: (no response given).

16. Brown's Representative: It sounds like you are going to shut down adoptions from Nepal. Response: We shut it down on August 6th.

17. Consular: I know how you feel, when I go to the orphanages I like the kids too. Brown's Response: You don't know how we feel. This is the only chance our child has. He is 3 ½ years old, don't you think if someone was looking for him, they would have found him by now or at least made a big enough stink that people where aware they were looking for him? Response: (no response given).

18. Consular: A lot of Senators called and e-mailed us about your case. This was a great burden on us and interrupted our progress in the investigations.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Between Gravity and Grace


Deepak Chopra
I wanted every parent in Kathmandu to bring their child home.  This is what seemed in my mind to be the only right and fair outcome for everyone involved.   The news out of Kathmandu  was not ok with me.  People are going home, children are being left, how is this right?  Where is the good in this scenario?

I cannot answer that question.  But in my inquiry, and in my effort to reach out, good things happened.  Among them, I was re-reminded of my deep understanding of that place of balance and ease, between effort and letting go, strength and surrender, the 'sweet spot' I call it,  where one is aligned perfectly amidst gravity and grace.  That's where things happen.  The magic that is, the beauty.

There is no way to control the outcome, but when we bond with others and set our intentions together the power becomes exponential.   Less fretting, more love.  Keeping intentions clear and high.  This has only just begun.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bad News Out of Kathmandu

I am merely going to post today's post from The Browns, who have been in Kathmandu for the past 6-weeks.  This is truly heartbreaking news.

Bad News - Coming Home

Nepal gave us the best gift ever and the United States has just taken it away. We had a meeting with the embassy today and learned that our case is being sent to New Delhi. We were told that one of two things will likely happen, New Delhi will request more information, or they will send an intent to deny. When we asked what more information meant we were told that the burden of proof falls on us and therefore we would need to find evidence that he is an orphan. Just how in the HELL would we do that? We met with the embassy today (the 10th) the letter we were given with the decision is dated the 7th - thanks for letting us stick around an extra few days. When we asked about the other 79 people in the pipeline we were told "they will all likely be sent to New Delhi, nothing in any investigations so far would indicate that any case will be approved"

We are devastated with this news and hope we find understanding. We love this child very much and we will continue to fight for him the best way we know. He is 3 1/2 years old and this is his only hope to get out of the orphanage. It costs the orphanages $2,500 U.S. to place children with the Ministry for adoption. Our orphanage is now out at least that and probably more. If they place any more children it will be the younger children. We feel we made the right choice by not adopting him. He can stay in the orphanage where he is taken care of and loved (better off than most Nepali). However, it does not replace what we could have and should have given him. Rumors are that Nepal will now close their adoptions to all international families as they are outraged at the U.S. government (pipeline still OK with Nepal). I have always loved being a U.S. citizen, but we can't always place our requirements or expectations on third world countries and expect them to comply.

We are all leaving Nepal tomorrow, so this will be the last post. Thank you for all of your support, hard work, and prayers - they will never be forgotten!

Michael &; Karyn

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rollercoaster

What would you like first, the good news or the bad news?  Most people say 'the bad news'... but I think I will give you the good news anyway!!!   This is the letter I received this morning, which is very good news:

Ms. Lund,

Your documents and I-600 petition were delivered to the Embassy Kathmandu today. Your case is officially in the queue for investigation.

Since you have received travel authorization from the Government of Nepal, we will then send a request to the Government of Nepal to extend your travel authorization. We will send you a copy of the Embassy’s letter for your records and notify you as soon as we hear from them regarding a decision in your case. Please allow 4-5 business days for this.


The bad news followed.  I read from The Brown's blog, that three cases were referred to The Embassy in New Delhi, which means they were not approved.  This is because the Embassy in Kathmandu can't deny, they can only approve, so this is believed to be as good as a denial.  To further complicate things, all these parents have already signed their adoption decree, which means these children are theirs in the eyes of Nepal.  They can stay in Nepal and wait, go to Delhi and wait, or abandon their child and wait at home.  Wow.


Leavenworth in the Fall
On a personal note, my massive adoption 'Service Plan' is due Sept. 12th, and I have been on a read-a-thon.  My service plan is required and is my personal plan for any number of adoption related issues that can come up when parenting.  Ethnic heritage, Cultural preservation, Attaching and Bonding, Medical and Psychological issues, Transracial Families,  Financial burdens, and more.  Through all this research there has been one thing that stands out:  "I Suffered a  Profound Loss Before I Was Adopted."  These children are all going to need to go through a grieving process.  In reading about all this grief, trauma and loss, it brings up my own stuff (as they say it will).  So on top of the rollercoaster, and waiting, is this deep sadness for all of my own losses.  I see this as good, and I have never been one to run from grief, but it adds a layer of heaviness to the already heavy load.  And the rain comes down, and the leaves turn colors, and fall is settling in.




Friday, September 3, 2010

Days are Creeping, Hearts are Hopeful

Faces of Nepal

Things might be creeping along a bit while I am in the 'waiting for the investigation' phase of this process.  Yesterday morning my forms were in Dubai, and since I didn't hear from anyone today, I can only assume that they will be delivered to the Embassy in Kathmandu on Monday.  I don't think it could have happened much faster so I feel good about that.

I found out my fingerprint appointment is all the way over in Spokane!!!  Apparently the computer assigns a random time, date and location based on your zip code.  I got tossed half-way across the state!  So I have gotten something called an INFOPASS, which will allow me access to the Yakima USCIS Office where I can, in person only, request for a change of location or date.  I am hoping that if I drive all the way to Yakima they will be able to accommodate me and just take my fingerprints, but sometimes things don't work quite that way. 

On an upside I received a beautiful, inspirational letter from a friend who completed her adoption from Nepal a few years ago.   Her boy is thriving and they get together with other families who have also adopted from Nepal once a year for a big 'festival' (camp-out).  Yay for the little things that can make each day a bit sweeter.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Breathe and Trust

Today it felt like I was in the flow.  My paperwork is on it's way to Kathmandu, I got word from the Embassy that my 60-day extension will be submitted for processing, and the Dept of Homeland Security let me know that I have an appointment to update my fingerprints.   These are ALL key components of this fire-hoop-jumping process.   The tides seemed to have shifted a little in my favor. 

I have always loved rocketing myself in a metal tube (aka: airplane) through the air (which still seems ridiculously impossible), into the unknown.  This is usually a foreign place that I have never been, with a small plan and a good travel guide.   Through these experiences I have learned a lot about life.  This teacher is like no other.  Letting go of expectations, being in the moment, and allowing my perception of a particular situation 'marinate', because over time, there's usually a reason why something that seemed 'bad',  actually ended up being 'good' when allowed a little more time and little less of a zoom lens.  I have learned to believe that though it can be hard, Life is essentially good, and the Universe is on our side.

Intention, action, and release.   Today there was a little release.  It feels good.  I can breathe.  Thanks for the goodness you've all been sending my way... and let the wind blow!