Sunday, November 18, 2007

Karthik's Blog

We made it back home safe and sound to Coos Bay, and Karthik is doing well. If you're looking for more news about him, check out his blog at Sorry about switching back and forth. I haven't had time to figure out how to post on that one from anywhere but my laptop, so I had to use this one while we were in India. But from now on, you should be able to find everything about Karthik at the other site.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Visa Process Complete

It's 2:45 pm on Thursday the 15th here in Delhi.

We made it safe and sound to New Delhi yesterday. After checking in to the hotel, which by the way is quite fancy, we made our way to lunch and then to the US embassy. Along the way, we caught a few of the tourist sites: the Presidential Palace and the India Gate. At the embassy, we filed the paperwork for the I-600. I didn't take too long, and before long we were back at the hotel. We ordered in room service and made it an early night.

Our driver (we have a driver) picked us up at 9:00 am to go visit the embassy-approved doctor. Karthik behaved very well, even during his immunization (Varicella), and we headed back to the embassy. A few more meetings. Some waiting. $380. By 12:40 pm we had his immigrant visa in hand. All finished with all of the paperwork. Now we are just waiting for our flight to leave India.

We'll spend the rest of the day here at the hotel, maybe order in a pizza tonight. Tomorrow our driver will pick us up at 9:00 am and give us a tour of the city. Then at 9:00 pm tomorrow we will make our way to the airport. Our flight leaves at 12:05 am for Bangkok, and then it's flight after flight, with 2-3 hour layovers, until we arrive in Coos Bay around 5:30 pm, still on Saturday the 17th.

Karthik is doing quite well. He's a bit upset that he can't move around more, since most of our time is in the hotel or the car or offices. But he sleeps quite well, and quite a lot, which is a blessing. And he loves moving vehicles. He does quite well with Melissa most of the time. The 11 hour flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco will probably be really hard, but in all I have high hopes for traveling. I'm really looking forward to getting home with him, where things will be more normal, and where we can eat or fix a bottle or walk around or play with toys anytime that we want to.

I probably won't write again from India, so it will likely be until we get to the states that I post again. Until then... I'm go to go upstairs and watch the India-Pakistan cricket match.

I probably won't write again from here in India, so I'll check in with you again

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Salaam Bangalore

Well, it's our last night in Bangalore. It's about 9:45 pm on Tuesday the 13th here. Tomorrow morning the taxi picks us up at 5:30 to go to the airport and then it's off to Delhi. There should be someone there to pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel. Then, after we get settled, we'll go to the US Embassy to work on Karthik's immigration process. We way have to go back on the 15th, and maybe the 16th to get everything finished. Then begins our epic journey home.

I am so glad that we got to come here to Bangalore to get a sense of where Karthik is from. I know that we've only been here for a few days, and mostly we've only been in the same few places. Still, I feel like I understand this place much better than I did before we came, and I'm glad that I will have to stories to share with Karthik about the place that he was born.

This morning's trip to VCT was a bust. I think it reminded Karthik too much of saying goodbye to his foster mother yesterday. He was just inconsolable. But, we did get a chance to spend a little time with the orphanage staff that took care of Karthik for his first 6 months. And we got some good pictures of Bangalore during the trip there and back. We ended up leaving there earlier than we had initially planned, and came back here to the hotel, where he was much calmer.

Karthik is also worked on a cold at the moment, so that also makes him a little grumpy. And he still has bouts of severe grieving. And sometimes he just throws toddler tantrums. But over all he is adjusting very well, and I think everything is going to be just fine.

I am amazed by how much I already feel like Karthik's dad. We've only known him for about 36 hours, but still I feel very connected to him, even if he still isn't too sure about me. I knew that I would love him, because I did even before we met him. But I guess what I'm saying is that I'm surprised by how quickly I have settled into the role of dad. Somehow it seems very normal, even though it is anything but. I don't know.

We're not sure of the internet situation in Delhi, so I may not be able to write any more while we're there. I'll try to at least tuck into an internet cafe once for a short post, but even if I don't, know that all is well.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A New Day

It's 9:45 am on Tuesday the 13th here in Bangalore. Karthik is really doing remarkably well. Last night he had a whole bottle of milk, plus the beginnings of another one. He ate a little rice, but not much. He was really sleepy after dinner (which is at 9:00 pm here), and he went to bed easily.

He woke up a couple of times in the night. He looked around and saw that we are not "Ama" (Mama - his foster mom). He'd go into a crying spell for a little while and then wear himself out and fall asleep again. So, for the most part, he slept through the night.

This morning we gave him a bath. He didn't like it at all, but we made it through alright. Got him all decked out in new clothes and went down to breakfast. He ate a little bit of a kind of onion pancake, and a little yogurt. Also drank some water.

He obviously still grieving a lot, but he really is doing remarkably well. Melissa is the magic parent right now, the one he goes to, but he's been pretty good with me too. We are incredibly proud of his progress and a bit suprised. One fortunate thing is that he doesn't seem to have the stamina for a sustained fit. He can go on for several minutes, but then he gets tired and stops.

It is indescribably amazing to have him with us, to finally be his parents in fact, and not just in law. He is the most wonderful, most beautiful boy, and we are so incredibly happy, if a bit tired.

At 10:30 am we're going to go back to VCT to spend the day and play around. Tomorrow morning our flight leaves for Delhi, where it's off to do more paperwork.

With Karthik

We met Karthik today. At first he screamed bloody murder and kicked and wanted nothing to do with us. Then after about 20 or 30 minutes he was too tired to put as concerted of a fight. After a little bit, he fell asleep in my arms and took a nap.

After he awoke, it was some calm followed by some short bursts of crying. He wouldn't eat anything at lunch. He's still protesting, I think -- on a hunger strike. But pretty soon he'll get hungry enough that he'll have to give in and eat.

He fell asleep again in the afternoon with Melissa. He slept on the whole car ride back to the apartment. He's awake again now. As time is going by, there is less crying and more calm. He's really starting to attach to Melissa. He reaches out for her whenever she puts him down.

More later.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Waiting for the Meeting

It's 8:40 am on Monday here in Bangalore. At 9:00 or 9:30 we will have a traditional Indian breakfast here at the apartment. At 10:30, the driver from Vaythsalya Charitable Trust (VCT, our adoption agency) will pick us up and take us to VCT. We will meet Karthik for the first time. We'll meet his foster parents. If all goes well, we will bring him back with us to the apartment tonight. Or we might go back tomorrow to pick him up.

It's really exciting, a quite surreal. It's hard to believe that we are meeting him today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not some time in the next 5 to 15 months. Today.

And I don't really know what to expect. We don't know the details of today's schedule or anything. We go there, and they will take care of us.

We have the diaper bag packed. We have a little stuffed elephant for Karhik. We have some small gifts for the foster parents and the agency/orphanage staff.

But how will Karthik greet us? Will he be scared? Will he throw a fit? Will he clam up? Will he just roll with the change? We don't know. It's all a wonderful mystery.

So we are just trusting in God right now. God has carried us through this far. Through all of the paperwork and the processes and the roadblocks and the waiting. And God has brought us here to Bangalore safely and in great shape. Now we just trust God to take us through the next adventure.

Notes on an Indian Church Service

As I mentioned before, yesterday we went to Sunday worship at St. Mark's Cathedral in Bangalore. It's part of the Church of South India, a united church that includes Methodists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, etc.

The worship was a very centering experience. In terms of liturgical formality, it was high-church Methodist or low-church Anglican. Actually very close to what we do in Coos Bay on a communion Sunday. We had been traveling for days, and our first few hours in Bangalore had been rather anxiety ridden and stressful. We came to worship, and were welcomed. The service was in English, so that was very familiar. The basic order or service was fairly familiar as well. A call to worship followed by a processional hymn. The choir and pastors processed in behind the crucifer. Then there were some prayers, confessions, etc. Then the reading of scriptures: a Hebrew Bible lesson, an Epistle lesson, and a Gospel lesson. We stood for the gospel.

Then there was the sermon. It was really quite good. I was impressed by how pointedly political it was. He wasn't afraid to point out the precise real-world situations where we are or are not following the gospel call. He was preaching on the sheep and the goats in the little apocalyps in Matthew. He said, there is one group, the sheep, who are doing the acts of justice and charity in the world, without any expectation of reward. There is another group, the goats, who are waiting God to come in person before they will fulfill the Gospel call for justice. And there is a third group, that we usually forget, and it is the group with which Jesus himself identifies. That group is the poor, the imprisoned, the oppressed, the marginalized. Then, he encouraged us to reach out across lines of difference, whether they be political, racial, ethnic, language group, caste, national, economic, etc. He mentioned the situation in Pakistan, the situation in Bengal. I can't do it justice here, but it was very good.

Then there were more announements and prayers. There was even a push for their new funds campaign. The church is celebrating 200 years in their building, and as part of the celebration, they are raising funds to build a church building for another congregation in another town. They want to raise enough money to cover the complete costs, so that building can be a complete gift the other congregation. They are also working to expand their outreach ministries. The slogan was that a church that has been here for 200 years should be able to have 200 people participating in direct outreach ministry. In addition, they are trying to work on their youth program.

Next, we moved into communion. It was so wonderful to receive the Eucharist with everyone, such a unifying and grace-filled expereince. We came up to the high altar to kneel at the rail and receive. It was a wafer and wine. Actually, the wine tasted like some kind of hard apple cider.

Anyway, it was a wonderful time for us. We really felt connected to God in the service.

In Bangalore

We made it to Bangalore. Due to a couple of miscommunications, there first few hours here did not go according to plan at all. There was a mixup with the driver that was supposed to pick us up at the airport. And there was also a mixup about where we would be staying. So we ended up taking a taxi to the wrong hotel. We were about to get settled in there, though, and we got ahold of VCT, our agency, by phone. Mary, the director of VCT, came over to our hotel and straightened everything out. We did spend the first night there. Then this morning, the VCT driver picked us up, took us to church at St. Mark's Cathedral (Church of South India), and took us to the new hotel.

It's actually more of an apartment. We have a private room above, with a private bathroom. There is a beautiful living room below, with nice seating, TV, newspapers, etc. I'm writing this from the next room, an office, where we have access to a computer. Next to me, there is also a dining room, where we'll be having some of our meals. There is also laundry facility. It's all really very nice. And we're right on Mahatma Gandhi Road, in the hip, touristy part of town. Easy access to ATM, restaurants, and shopping. About a block away from the cathedral. I'm going to see if I can buy a copy of the Book of Common Worship for the CSI.

The church service this morning was wonderful. It was in English, which was helpful. They were observing Remembrance Day, the international version of what we call Veterans Day in the USA. The sermon was on Matthew 21, the sheep and goats. It was a really good sermon about peace and being a self-sacrificing force for justice and peace in the world. Wonderful. I'll try to write more about it later.

In the afternoon we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant just around the corner. Then we walked down MG Road and checked out the shops. I am proud to say I have now visited an iStore, the Indian version of an Apple Store. I didn't buy anything there, though. But we did visit a great little clothing shop. The staff was very helpful, and we ended up getting some great traditional outfits. Two each for Melissa and I and four for Karthik. His outfits are super cute. We got him a nice white one for his baptism.

Will write more later.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Singapore Airport

So, we're hanging out in the Singapore Airport Terminal. We have close to 8 hours here. It's actually quite a nice terminal. Lot's of shops, free internet. There's even a hotel right in the terminal. It's booked up, unfortunately.

It's been a long day of travel. We started in Portland, getting up at 4:15 am to get to the airport. We came into Singapore at 11:30 pm local time, which I think is about 4:30 am Pacific, so more than 24 hours traveling. Got in a couple of naps, but not too much, so I'm a little jumpy. We board for Bangalore at 7:30 am, and will be there in the late morning. Time to shower and crash.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Journey's Beginning

I first started this blog sitting in this same house, the house of my friend Brian over at The Faithful Skeptic. Back then, I was just about to take my first trip out of the country (except Canada) to Guatemala to study Spanish for a couple of weeks. Now, I'm just about to make my first trip to Asia. But this one is a bit different. My wife, Melissa, and I are headed to Bangalore, India, to pick up our new son, Karthik. Most of the waiting is finally over. Tomorrow we head out of the country. By far, the most important trip of my life. I don't really know what to expect. The unexpected, I suppose. But it should be very exciting.