, , , , , ,

Back on April 9th Writing 101 had us begin a three-part series on loss saying we would be putting the other parts up later. Well, mine ended up being four parts, and it’s been so long since that first one, that I’m getting antsy to put up the next piece. If you missed the first part or have forgotten it, you can read it here. In the meantime, here’s Part 2.

* * * * *

Choosing Adoption

Bran 8During that waiting period from when we first applied to Holt International, his lordship had turned 40 and I was 39. Our son Brandon was now 10, and we were beginning to ask ourselves if he was, perhaps, too old to be bringing a sibling into his life. Especially one so close to his own age. The three of us spent several days talking it over. His wishes were important to us. We realized he’d been an only child for a long time. But in the end we agreed we’d like to try one more time. We called Holt back and asked them which country would allow the quickest adoption. The lady we were working with didn’t even hesitate. India. “Ok, then, India it is,” we said.

Stef orphanageBy October we had a picture of our new daughter. She was an adorable six-year-old with the biggest brown eyes I’d ever seen. In the picture she was sitting on her bed (this is obviously not THAT picture), feet crossed at the ankles swinging her feet, grinning from ear to ear. Her beautiful black-brown hair had been totally cropped to help control the lice situation in the orphanage, but she was the most beautiful little girl. Her name was Kavitha Kum. We fell in love with her right then and there.

There was still, however, one thing that remained to be done. According to Indian adoption practices, Kavitha had to be advertised for adoption in the local paper in Bangalore for 30 days before she was eligible for adoption outside the country. It pert near scared the livin’ hell out of us. As far as we were concerned, she was already ours. The folks at Holt assured us we needn’t worry. In India’s caste system, a child cannot be adopted outside their own caste, and as Kavitha was in the lowest caste, no one would want another mouth to feed — unless a family member stepped up.

Stef and PushpaI can honestly say that is the only thing in my life I’ve ever let go of and given to God, simply because I had no other choice. While we waited and prayed those 30 days we learned about Kavitha’s background. Her father had been killed in a motorbike accident. She had one sibling, a brother, the same age as Brandon. And although they lived with her grandmother, her mother, who was deaf, was just not able to take care for the kids. She had placed the son in an apprenticeship program, and Kavitha in the orphanage. Holt sent us a picture of her mother with her. It nearly broke my heart realizing what a sacrifice she had made for her children.

The 30 days came and went peacefully. I know God was watching over us, and in November the paperwork proceeded. Holt said we might even have Kavitha with us for Christmas. We were overjoyed. We decorated her bedroom, bought her Christmas gifts, and were feeling amazingly blessed. As it turned out, she didn’t make it to our home for Christmas. We piled all her presents on her bed and continued to wait. Finally on April 19, 1989, the three of us flew to Portland, Oregon where an escort was bringing Kavitha and a few other children from the orphanage to the airport.

Joe and Stef

Kavitha at the airport with her escort from Holt, Joe Hindeman. Everything she owned was in that little bag.

What a homecoming that was! The one thing they’d neglected to tell us was that Kavitha spoke only a handful of English words! And her caretakers had been British, so we were floored to hear her speak with a British accent. His lordship and I struggled a little to communicate with her, but she and Brandon apparently didn’t need any words. They communicated just fine. It was so precious to see.

On Kavitha’s first night at home, his lordship and I slept on the sofa bed in the living room upstairs where her bedroom was in case she got frightened in the night. We had no idea if she knew this was a permanent arrangement or not. About 7:00 the next morning I rolled over to find her standing beside the bed. I put my arms out and she came right into bed between us. Kavitha was ours from that moment on. Things couldn’t have been more perfect. That was Friday.

On Monday evening the doorbell rang and Marion, our caseworker, was there. She came in and sat down on the couch opposite us. I remember her words so well. “I want to see your eyes when I tell you this,” she said. “Kavitha’s mother came to the orphanage last Thursday. She wants Kavitha back.”

We were horrified. We didn’t know the details of what had happened yet, and it wasn’t until later we realized Holt had likely asked Marion to gauge our reaction and make the decision of whether or not this was a legal battle worth fighting.

Who would have thought that from halfway around the world our biggest adoption nightmare would come true?

Choosing Adoption Part 3