Friday, April 29, 2011

Springing Back, Sprouting Within

With the coming of Spring I am finding that the 'me' that I know as "Jenni" is coming back.  It has been a long time since I have felt 'normal', and it feels really, really, really good.  I know that I will never be the same as pre-Nepal, but the lightness, the joy, the positive outlook, the deep sense of the Universe as benevolent, and the World as a beautiful place, is all starting to come back.  When a friend recently invited me to a BBQ (no big deal) and inside my being I jumped with excitement, I knew things were beginning to sprout within.  I WANT to be social, I am looking forward to being with other people... these are things that I have somewhat avoided for the past 3 months.  I just wanted to be close to home (if I wasn't working, and thankfully work is a haven of peace), and spend time with only my innermost circle.  Why?

I have been trying to make some sense of the depth of what I, and many other brave women endured in Nepal while fighting for our children amidst such poverty and chaos.   I am finding that my nerves cannot take a lot of stimulation anymore, that it agitates me when things are too chaotic or loud.  I have never loved city noise, which is why I live in the mountains, but I think those 4 months being bombarded day and night with noise, shattered some part of me that I am only now starting to put back together.  And in those long months, I lost some of my light and learnings, and fought with sheer will in order to endure the hardship of living in a place that was completely the opposite of the things I value in a place to live:  tranquility, beauty, community, clean air, nature.  I remember literally bracing myself mentally just to go outside for a walk, because the pollution and street noise were so overwhelming.  I remember not going out at all because I just couldn't face it.  I remember sleepless nights because dogs and horns would not stop to let me rest.  I remember the feeling of waking up to another day in Kathmandu.

With all that behind me, and being safely home with my son, I should be on top of the World, and I am...but with a heaviness that I've been neither able to understand or shake.  But slowly, as the sun's yang rays warm me inward, I feel the tension beginning to melt away, and the 'real me' beginning to reawaken.  As I unravel this, I will share more.

And now for some other kinds of sharing... Look at this little boy ride his 'stryder'... such balance! Unreal!

And a great day for a picnic with Uncle Papa!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From my AMAZING lawyer

This was written by Kelly Ensslin to her colleagues after her last client from Nepal received their visa.  She said not everyone in her office was really aware of what she was doing, and after sending this out, within seconds her inbox was full.  "My colleagues were moved to tears by your struggles and successes, and each offers you their sincere congratulations."

Pardon the interruption... I just want to share some good news -- our firm has just helped create twenty happy families! 

By way of background, Nepal re-opened international adoption in Spring 2009 and dozens of American families made the commitment to adopt a child in need.  Nepal is the fourth poorest country in the world and leads the world in illiteracy, malnutrition and crime.  It is a tough place to live, especially for orphaned children.  Without adoption, these children are at high risk for human trafficking and worse.

By August 2010, the United States was suspicious of the paperwork submitted to support the immigration petitions associated with the orphans being adopted by American families and suspended all adoptions from Nepal.  At that moment, there were 62 families in the process of completing adoptions and the United States committed that those cases could proceed.  However, the Department of State "investigated" the orphan status of those children (62 cases in 82 days) and found that 56 of the cases were not "clearly approvable" meaning that the paperwork was insufficient to establish that the children were in fact orphans.  The families all received a Request for Evidence from USCIS which required them to hire attorneys and submit additional evidence that the children were orphans and gave them 84 days to do so.

Smith Moore Leatherwood represented twenty of those families.  Jeanne Foley, Annette Buss, Bill Forstner and Andrea Carska-Sheppard each made valuable contributions to these cases.  We also hired four teams of investigators in Nepal to conduct investigations.  Our investigators interviewed police officers, orphanage staff, and residents and business owners in the areas where the children were found abandoned.  We ran newspaper, television and radio ads searching for birth families and asking for anyone with information to come forward.  We learned that the Department of State, through speed and cultural insensitivity, was unable to ascertain the truth -- that each of these children were abandoned and in need of permanent homes. Jeanne Foley worked tirelessly to help me prepare our submissions to the USCIS and last Tuesday, we received the last of our approvals. 

All twenty children are now US citizens and belong to wonderful loving families.  Through our efforts, these children have been able to escape hunger, neglect and abuse.  Through our efforts, these children have what every child deserves -- a loving permanent family.

Needless to say, this has been an incredible honor and privilege.  On my office door, we hung a photograph of every child we've helped come home. They are beautiful kids and I'm so proud of what we've accomplished. 

Thank you,

Friday, April 8, 2011

My little Athlete....

I took Pukar skiing this week and we skied for five, YES 5, hours!!!  I thought we'd be done after lunch and cocoa but Ohhh, no... "Pukar want ski more mommy!"  So we did.  It was a great day ... 13 inches of new and storming all day.  Not exactly 3-year old weather, but nonetheless, HE LOVED it!  Not a single complaint, tear, or frustrated moment.  He was ALL smiles.
On the chairlift...Weeee Mommy...Goes Up!
Hot chocolate by the fire...ahhhh!  Sweet Rewards...

Later in the week, we went biking!!!  I got the training wheels for the little hand-me-down bike from my brother and Tristen and we took it for a test run along the river in Wenatchee.  So cute!!  
First video on my new camera! yay, I did it!
Little charger!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Photo Shoot

I recently did a photo shoot with some very talented local photographers, Chris Ohta and his wife Heidi.  They offered their talents while I was still in Nepal and we were finally able to get together on a day when the weather opened up enough to allow us to be outside in some beautiful light.  Light being the key word there!  I love the way the photos captured the essence of US and of HERE, in Leavenworth.  And I love how I have three sets of AMAZING photos of Pukar and I, one from the incredible Vicki Taufer, one from the up and coming Joy Juelson at the orphanage in Nepal, and now these from Chris and Heidi.  It's really special and precious to capture these early moments together with Pukar with such incredible beauty.  Thank you to all my talented photographer/friends.

Here is a link to Chris's blog with some of my favorites and few more photos to make the post pop!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's Been Good to See the Sun!

I swear to the Gods it has rained and rained and snowed and rained almost every day since I've been back.  Steve brought me a Sun Lamp this weekend because I am starting to feel like the darkness is getting to me.  Thankfully as well, the sun decided to shine this weekend and we were able to get outside.  We hiked up along Mountain Home in the snow, and then out the Icicle where the amazing mudslide that closed this and many other roads (from the torrential downpour and warm weather last week) could be viewed up close and personal in all her thick, gooey, and destructive glory.  Wow.

Thank you sunshine for providing some much needed relief.  It felt so great to be outside and exploring with my men.  Walking, talking, breathing, listening, smelling, being.  It was a really, super nice weekend.  

I've been home for 2 months now.  Time has flown.  Pukar is adjusting more and more each day and pushing out his little edges now, so he must be feeling more safe and secure.  Doing everything from getting dressed to brushing his teeth "all self" and just being much more adventurous and independent.  It's good for him, and it's good for me, but at the same time a little hard to admit that he's ALREADY growing up (and away) right before my eyes.  And it's only been 6 months.  Holy Cows!

I love love love being a mom, but just finding my groove again, in a way that feels like I'm balancing work with being the mom I want to be (HARD!), and still sinking into the 'extraordinary' way of living that I believe in with all my heart and soul, has been a little elusive.  I'm not giving up. 

Here's a few shots from the past weekend...