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Varanasi from my lens

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Our first stop when we arrived (after a 2.5 hour sleep in a Delhi airport hotel) was Varanasi. This is the city of Mercy’s birth. Oddly enough, this was my third scheduled trip to Varanasi, but only the first time I actually went. The first time I was booked to go was in 1998. My team that was spending the summer in Calcutta/Kolkata was scheduled to travel there by train. One of my fellow leaders got sick, so I stayed behind with a friend who was a P.A. and helped to take care of her.

My second scheduled trip to Varanasi was while Steve and I were living in India in 2003. Some friends/co-workers were planning to go (for a project trip, I think), but I was about 3 months pregnant with my first child, and had been sick pretty consistently since I found out I was pregnant. It was mosquito/malaria season and I decided not to risk going down into the plains (we lived in the mountains)/taking malaria meds while pregnant. So, I stayed behind, and Steve went with the team.

Needless to say, I was so very excited to see this picturesque and historic city. My daughter’s city. And thanks to my husband buying me a fantastic camera a few years back, the pictures turned out amazingly beautiful.


Photos from Sean Tuckey

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We had the joy of meeting with a photographer in Delhi for a few hours while we were in India. He took some really beautiful pictures of us for an afternoon at Lodhi Gardens and Khan Market. Here are some of my favorites from his work. Find Sean Tuckey photography here on Facebook or his blog. He was so fun to be with for the afternoon (and my boys thought he was so cool!). I’m saving some of the really good family shots for a ‘Christmas/New Year/Adoption Announcement’ card- so you’ll have to wait for those. :)

30 days as a member of a family. Our family!

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I want to be sure and chronicle your time with us! I want to make sure I memorialize your first days and weeks with your family! 

Your likes/stuff about you:

  1. Chai, or any drink resembling chai
  2. Bubble baths in your ducky tub
  3. Your brothers playing with you
  4. Loving on your baby doll. Pretending to feed her, putting her to sleep, wrapping her in a blanket. You even cart her around while crawling. You also are already singing a form of ‘Jesus, all for Jesus’ to your baby, just like we sing to you.
  5. Pretending to cook/eat.
  6. Any carbohydrate
  7. Being held, specifically up on mama’s left shoulder. Only and All.the.time.
  8. Sleeping with a light on
  9. You sing, constantly (to the point where your biggest bro is considering using the noise cancelling headphones while riding in the car).
  10. Standing on my bed, balancing as long as you can, then falling back on your bottom, then throwing your head back to fall all the way down. Then repeating it over and over and over.
  11. Not quite walking alone, but cruising along the couch and occasionally crossing over to the coffee table.
  12. You have such a joyful and gentle demeanor. 
  13. At a day shy of 34 months old, you barely fill in your 18 month sized clothes and your tiny feet fit in the size 3.5 shoes we saved from our former foster cutie.

Your dislikes:

  1. Fresh fruit
  2. Plain milk or cold milk 
  3. Juice
  4. Plain water
  5. Bosco, our Shitzu 
  6. Falling asleep in the dark
  7. Baby chest X-ray machines and blood draws 😟😰😁

Your quirks:

  1. You make a lot of nasal sounds instead of speaking, especially when you have just woken up. You gesture with your whole hand and make humming noises.

Words you say in English already:

  1. Mama
  2. Daddy
  3. Brother’s name
  4. Brother’s name
  5. Bosco (dog’s name)
  6. Up
  7. Down
  8. Diaper
  9. Hi
  10. Hello
  11. Bye
  12. Baby
  13. More
  14. Night night 
  15. No
  16. Whoa
  17. uh oh
  18. Hot

Signs you do in baby sign language:

  1. More
  2. Up
  3. Food
  4. Diaper
  5. Help    

Put yourself in her shoes                

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You are 2.5 years old. You have never had a mom/dad and have only known small group settings with other children and multiple caregivers, even switching caregivers and orphanages without explanation. Then one day, two tall people and two short people show up. They are a different color, and speak a different language. They take you with them. They are happy. You are scared. Unsure. Your next days are devoid of your language, your old friends, your old caregivers. Your bed is different. Your food is different. Your cups are different, your clothes are different. Your diapers are different. What is going on?


Our first week at home ended up being just like we had hoped (except for me getting sick). Not many outings, keeping it only immediate family, and low key. 

The next few weeks are not going to be as static, because our boys have school, sports, piano, etc… But it seems to be going well attempting to cocoon with our cutie.

Just a reminder, since I haven’t posted about it in a while, cocooning is essentially simplifying and showing an adopted child who ‘family’ is. So we have asked others outside of our family of 5, not to hold her, feed her, or meet her needs in any way. She has had multiple caregivers in her little life, and so we are doing what we can to show her that we are mama and daddy through our repetitive and consistent presence. :) 

Here is an excellent blog about cocooning:

So, please don’t be hurt if we ask you not to hold her or feed her. She will have a chance to go to you in time, but for now, we are hogging our new cutie all to ourselves. On purpose.

I love too what someone else wrote about moments like taking her to church for the first time… While you have been hearing about her and praying for her to come home for years (and so you feel like you know her), Mercy has never heard of you, never seen you before, and pretty much every experience she is having right now is a new one. So please remember she doesn’t know you, doesn’t speak English yet, and has never been to this place. :) Hopefully you will have many years to celebrate her and get to know her. :) 


Mercy update from home

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We have been home for 6 days. Hardly seems possible! Steve went back to work Monday, so I’m on day three of primary caregiver duty and it’s going well, mostly (aside from a terrible head cold).

  • She has NOT wanted to nap here, until today… Today she went down like she owned the place.
  • Still a ‘one bite wonder’ (will try one bite of a food… But refuses more). Her effort of not actually allowing the item into her mouth deserves to be its own SNL sketch. It’s hard for me not to totally crack up.
  • She gave us each a kiss yesterday. First kisses are lovely.
  • When she hears the crinkle of plastic, she thinks a snack is coming. She is sadly disappointed if the package is tissues or bagged lettuce. 😆
  • She is already saying: up, mama, daddy, Andy, Bosco (our dog), diaper, baby, and her current Hindi words that we can understand are: food, no, yes.
  • Sweet girl had blood drawn yesterday and I think she shed as much fluid in tears as she did blood. I matched her tear production drop by drop. Gut wrenching. 
  • She loves to play/mimic Rock Paper Scissors. Thank goodness the boys argued and played a game to dictate who would have to take out the trash or we would never have known.😛😝
  • Today she kept scratching the walls behind the couch and then sucking her fingernails… I know our walls are lead-free, but it makes me wonder if they tested for lead in the blood draw yesterday, because I don’t know what the standards are for Indian orphanage wall paint. :(
  • She has an awesome sense of humor. She is jokey, and giggly, and super flirty. She played all coy when I wanted her to try a new food tonight… Then I saw a smirk! She was playing me!
  • She is still 50/50 delighted/terrified by our Shitzu. Hopefully in time I’ll be preventing her from riding him, instead of preventing him from making eye contact with her…
  • She fits in 9-12 month clothing, but the 12-18 month stuff I have is working just fine. I still marvel at her size.  Check her out on our king sized bed:   
  • This shot comes thanks to yesterday’s nap, where she only slept after 30 minutes of fussing, falling asleep only when exhausted while I ‘fake slept’ next to her. If I wasn’t fighting jet lag and parenting two other kids, I totally would have ‘slept while the baby was sleeping!’ Heck, if i wasn’t doing those two other things, I probably would have made myself a margarita… 😜
  • And the irony of the week: she has been quite the diaper filler since her gotcha day. Until the lab asked for a stool sample. Now it’s like she heard them ask and has since ceased production. If I had known it was that easy, I would have demanded a stool sample before we took a transatlantic flight. That would have made my trip much more pleasant.😌
  • Finally, while trying to calm her the last few days before naps, I have played this sweet Hindi Lullaby to her:

2 more hours of flight!!!!

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Almost home!!! Merry Christmas!!!

Mercy did so well on the flights! Slept almost the entire first 8 hour flight! Then the second big 8 hour flight she was jolly! 

We determined just now that we have been awake 36 hours, with a few small naps! Nuts! 


Got it! Headed out in a few hours!

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Whew! Skin of our teeth, but we got it!  

We are back at the bed and breakfast, showering and packing up. Will eat dinner and head to the airport at about 10:00. Prayers appreciated for the immigration process, that all would go smoothly!

This is how we spent much of our day today, crammed into the back of an auto rickshaw: 

 We did some sightseeing today. Saw the Red Fort and Jama Masjid Mosque.  

The boys also got to see their first moat. Good battle strategy discussions ensued.

All interesting and photo worthy, but the highlight was being invited to eat in the home of the autorickshaw driver who has been taking us around all week in Delhi!   

 He (Papu), and his wife Naseema, hosted us for lunch and it was wonderful. His daughter did mehndi (henna) on my arm/hand.

Mercy helped pick it off for me after it dried. Her hands are so tiny! 



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