The three days we spent at the orphanage were three of the most cherished days of my life (right up there with the birth of Allie). We tried very hard to savor every second we could in regards to the orphanage, the husband and wife who run the orphanage, and southern India in general.

When we arrived in Cochin, India we were immediately struck by the lush and tropical landscape of this region of India. The warmth of the sun was already very strong and it was only a little after 7 in the morning. As we entered the airport, Cory and I quickly began to see what it feels like to be a minority in a country where most people don't speak the language you do and where children (and adults) stare at you because of the color of your skin and hair. We also quickly came to see how kind, helpful, and loving the people in this region are. Dozens of people came up to us and asked if we needed help, offering their cell phones when our driver wasn't there, and refusing to take our money for the phone calls.

Upon arrival to SKB, we were welcomed by the amazing woman (Elizabeth) who along with her husband run the orphanage. Their house is in the front of the many acres of land used for the orphanage with the workers houses behind the house and the orphanage in the very back.

It felt very surreal to finally be at our daughter's orphanage. We had waited so long for another child and had watched other families standing in the very same place we were standing. All of the pictures we saw of SKB couldn't do it justice. No words could adequately describe how faithful, loving and educated Elizabeth is. This woman has made it her life to do more than just take care of hundreds of orphans over the years, she makes sure that every child knows what it feels like to be loved, hugged, and kissed and she searches for families who are going to give each child what they need. She said that she doesn't choose families for these children, God does!

Before long, we were making the short walk to the orphanage. As we walked I tried to take everything in. I knew that this was a moment that I wanted to cherish forever. As we entered the orphanage, the sound of playing children rang through the whole building. As we talked to the head staff woman, all I could think about was Charu and if one of those beautiful voices was her.

We were ushered up the winding, open staircase and as we reached the second floor there were many toddlers sitting and eating snack. My eyes searched the children and they locked on our little peanut...I knew it was her. We went into the toddler room and waited as they slowly brought kids in as they were done with snack. Charu was the forth one to come in and was immediately frightened by us. She knew who we were and that three of her other friends had left in the past few weeks...she may not have fully understood at that point what was happening but she knew enough to be scared.

We spent the next few hours playing with the children, some were eager to play with us while others were very apprehensive...our daughter included. Charu did open up a little to me and even gave me a kiss on my cheek and sat on my lap! It was amazing!

The next day, we spent most of our time at the orphanage. The more time we spent there, the more we wished we could have stayed longer.  It was amazing to watch the pure love that went into raising all of these beautiful little babies.

We wish that we could say that the time we spent at SKB helped Charu's transition from the orphanage to our family easier, but to be honest nothing could have prepared our little pumpkin. She was very attached to her caregivers, which is a good thing...but also made the going away ceremony almost unbareable to watch.

 As we walked into the chapel Tuesday morning, Charu was in the front with one of her favorite caregivers and Elizabeth. All of the other toddlers and caregivers were there. The sound of their singing was breathtaking and although we didn't understand what was being said, we felt the meaning behind every word that was spoken. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. Neither Cory nor I have ever cried as hard as we did that day as Elizabeth handed me our screaming daughter and told her that she was going home. We were quickly ushered to the car where Charu screamed, hitting the window as the caretakers were watching. The looks on the caretakers' faces will forever be in my memory.  The tears poured down my face as I tried to calm our daughter to no avail. As we drove away from the orphanage, Charu stopped crying immediately and relaxed in my arms. She stayed that way for the rest of the 2 1/2 hour drive back down the mountain.  No words were spoken between Cory and me for that whole drive...there simply weren't words for what we were feeling and what we imagined Charu was feeling.

Every day I am amazed at how much Charu is opening up to us, however I know that this is a marathon and not a race. I know that there will be times (and have already been some) where there won't be anything we can do to sooth her. There will be times where she is grieving and it's our jobs as her parents to guide her though those moments as much as possible. I also know that Charu has already brought us and will continue to bring so much joy to our lives and it is that joy will make it all worth it! 


Teresa Haase said...

Love this! Thank you for sharing more about your trip...what a great keepsake, documenting your trip to bring Charu home. After Riley woke us up at 4:30 am, I had to check my phone for any updates...I was in tears as I read. We are all super excited to meet Charu and have you guys home as a family of four! Praying that Charu continues to open up and bond with you both. Really hope that Cory is able to hold Charu soon and she is able to feel the love that he has for her. Excited for Allie to meet her little sister! Allie has such a big heart, great personality, an amazing laugh, loves books and music (it sounds Charu does too) that Charu will warm up to her in no time. Please let us know if Allie ever needs some one on one time in the coming weeks and months...as this will be a transition for her too. We would love to plan a special day or weekend with Allie (and Charu once she's able to) whether it's baking, going to the movies, spending some time at the library, going to the zoo or the park, going swimming...etc. Our hearts are filled with an overwhelming amount of love for our nieces...what blessings they are from God! Love you Nikki, Cory, Allie and Charu!

Anonymous said...

Oh Nikki! You completely brought me to tears. You are always so good with words! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am for all of you! I know how long you have waited to have Charu and am so glad that you are sharing your story with us. I pray for all of you every night that Charu's transition to her new family will go smoothly. I know there will be bumps..maybe even mountains...at times, but I know the love that you and Cory share will pull you up!

Brad and Renae said...

How beautifully written! Charu will treasure having this documented and reading it one day. I pray the remaining part of your trip is blessed in ways you can't even imagine. I know our Lord is with you in this journey caring for all of you each step of the way. Meanwhile, He's home with Allie too - isn't that amazing how our Lord works??!! Cory seems like such a sweet patient soul, Charu will likely be daddy's girl before you know it...Hugs to all of you - hang in there :)

Michelle said...

Oh Nikki---you made me cry. Glad she is doing better now and glad she has such wonderful parents to love her the rest of her life.

Christy. said...

I'm crying... It brings back so many memories of our transition.
I am praying for all of you and am here if you ever need to talk!!!
Congrats again!!

Anonymous said...

As the tears run down my face I can't tell you how happy I am for your family. All your dreams are coming true since the first day you saw your daughter's picture. My prayers are with you for safe travels and transition for your whole family. All my Love, Lori E

Tammy said...

Nicely said!

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing this part of your journey. Charu is an absolute gift! I am so glad that she was so loved and cared-for.