They call me her mommy

It was 30 months ago. I was sitting in the recovery room, recovering a patient when a coworker said from behind me "Kristin, don't you want to adopt... this little girl needs a mommy..." My heart just collapsed in on itself hearing those words, that's how it felt anyways. I turned and there she was. A beautiful little girl with an unrepaired cleft lip and palate. There she was, my girl. I don't even know how to describe that feeling. I could maybe imagine that it is what expecting parents feel when they see their baby on ultrasound for the first time and it all becomes so real. In that moment there you are tied together eternally.

 She was wearing a fancy dress. Her eyes were bright and shining but with a sad uncertainty behind them. I held her so close. I will never forget the first time I held her. Her eyes searched mine for a moment before she wrapped her arms around me and nuzzled into my chest. She had coconut oil in her hair and baby powder on her skin. She was so small but looked to be around 18 months old. She was just beautiful. I met with her caretakers from the orphanage. I heard her story. My heart, it became bound to hers. I loved her before I even knew her, I felt like our lives were meant to be one. I wrote my parents and close friends that day and said I had just met the little girl that was going to be a part of me forever.

Sometimes I worry that my heart is too big, or like I fill it with too many things and it becomes too much to bare. I should feel blessed to just to have been a part of her life, and still I am. But I have had so much heartache in these 30 months. I have watched her grow and change. I have helped her through two surgeries. I have cleaned her wounds, rocked her to sleep when she was in pain. Made late night and early morning visits. Check-ups, house-calls, play time, prayer time, nap-time, bed-time... Countless hours shared between us at the hospital and at the children's home. So entwined that at some point, I don't remember when, they started to refer to me as her mommy.

Despite this, I have been told no. I have been told it won't happen for a long list of reasons. In 2012 India placed a suspension on any new adoption applications in order to clear the backlog of applicants. I was too young. You can not request (aka choose) the child, you have to be matched. I hadn't lived in India long enough. The biggest reason though was that India restricts heavily international adoption and this orphanage in particular was not certified to facilitate international adoptions.

The reality is that they also have extreme difficulty in placing special needs children (which she is special needs due to her cleft). They have extreme difficulty placing older children. On top of all of this, my baby is a little girl in a country that traditionally prefers boys. It makes me want to stand there and scream, open someones eyes and make them see the indescribable love I have for her. The odds are stacked against her as far as being adopted locally. That is an undeniable truth. I have felt lost, confused, depressed. I remember talking to my mom and questioning why she and I would meet. Why would this little girl come into my life? Into my heart which has forever yearned to adopt. I didn't understand why I would feel so strongly that I am hers and she mine but be told no at every turn. What good was it going to do? What was I supposed to be learning from this?

I was going through phases where I could not go and see her because when I would leave she cried. And when she would leave from a check up at work,  I cried. Quietly and privately I cry. Because sometimes I think I can not take it a moment more. I can't keep hurting her, I can't keep hurting myself. I thought our fate had been planned and I thought that plan was for us to be family. How much time has passed since they told me it's not possible to adopt her? Every day that would pass, I thought about how things could have been. I still think about how differently I would have happily lived the last few years for her. I ache, I have actual pain and a deep sadness over this. I still don't know what the future holds. I got the point, to be honest, that I don't like hearing the other kids call to her:
"____ Ma ahi sai!!" ("____ Your mom is here!!!")

 I sink every time one of her caretakers asks her who I am:
"____ Is this your mommy?"
To which a smile creeps across her face and she nods yes before nuzzling her head on my shoulder. I don't like that pure joy on her face when I arrive replaced with tears when I tell her I have to go. The way she stands on the balcony and cries for me as I walk away to my separate life. Because I don't understand how two lives can be brought together in a way that doesn't make sense to me. Then I go into phases where I feel like she deserves to have love even if it is limited by bureaucracy.  I visit frequently though painfully. Even though I have friends and coworkers and the Aunties at the orphanage who refer to her as my daughter, that is a word that has never escaped my lips. She feels like mine, I feel like hers but I am not. And still they were saying I can not be. These have been the phases. Back and forth like an unnerving roller coaster.

I was sitting in a coffee shop on Friday when I wrote the above paragraphs. I have been in a phase of not going to visit her. I had essentially cut myself off and the few people close to me that knew about her, also knew that I had sadly given up hope. I was sitting there in the coffee shop when I got this wave of memories with her out of no where. I was completely blindsided by this overwhelming push to go and see her. To be honest I thought the reason would be because I would go and find out that her adoption was underway and I would get final closure. Something instinctually told me to wait until Saturday and so I did. I went along with two of my friends/co-workers. We were casually sitting and chatting in broken Assamese with one of the office women. She mentioned in passing that one of the other little girls who is 5 is finally in the process of adoption. I squealed with excitement for the other little girl when the woman said "She is being adopted to Italy, she is going to be Italian!!" My eyes almost dropped out of my head. One of the reasons I was told no, I could not adopt, was because they were not yet certified to do international adoptions... but now they can. I also found out this week that the ban on new applicants was lifted and that India is trying to expedite adoptions for children with disabilities and older children. I squeezed my girl tight and said to the woman "You know I want to adopt her!" She said "Yes! We want you to. We would be so happy."


There is always a but, right? At least there is here. But because she is in an orphanage due to a criminal case, she does not yet have her adoption clearance. The woman could not really explain in English what the implications of that are so I will come back Monday and talk to the head of the home. It has been 30 months and I have never shared this publicly because it has been my hearts single biggest hope and I felt like I couldn't even bring myself to speak about it to anyone but my closest family and friends in case I lost her forever. I was told no but now I feel like that no is slowly transforming and my hope is too big not to share. We need prayers, support and well wishes because my house is empty without her and I want to bring her home. Forever. No more good byes, no more uncertainty. No more being told it's not possible. Maybe it will take one year, two years or more. I don't know. Maybe she will get adopted to another home instead. Maybe I am matched with another child. There are more hurdles than I can count and we are only at the starting line. 


  1. Oh wow, I had no idea! I'm pulling for you. International adoption is NOT easy. No matter what happens know that you're a good person and it sounds like she will have a good life either way.

    1. Thank you Nova <3 ! It's going to be a long road and I will update on the progress when possible!

  2. This had me in tears. I think you are a fantastic person for being there for her no matter what and be such a reflecting person. Whether you're her official Mommy or not, it sounds like the two of you share something very special and that is something very magical!
    I wish you so much luck and send you as much positivity as I can, hopefully you two will be family on paper soon.

    1. What kind and encouraging words, thank you Lisa for cheering us on!

  3. Sending prayers and good energy your way, Kristin! I've been a fond reader of your blog for years and I know that you will make this adoption happen in some capacity. Any love you can give her is a beautiful thing and is not wasted as much as it can be so painful through this long and strenuous process. Best of luck with everything! <3

    1. Thank you thank thank you Ashleigh! It really means a lot to me to have support from people all over in this process!