It is truly amazing to see the compassion and commitment that the families waiting to bring their children home from Nepal have for their children. It's an unbelievable emotional, physical and financial stress. Some of these families will find themselves in severe debt.
I will continue to feature the families who show strength as they wait for USCIS to make decisions on their files. Jenni Lund, a single woman from Washington state, moved into the apartment Antara and I shared with DeeDee and Bina in Nepal. She has left her business and family at home and is fighting to bring Pukar home. Here is her story.
My name is Jenni Lund and I adopted a little, 3-year-old boy named Pukar on Oct. 1, 2010. He is an incredibly sweet natured child, who soaks up learning as much as he soaks up love. He was recently diagnosed with rickets, which the clinic somehow missed on my first visit a few months ago, even though I specifically brought him in with concerns about the shape of the bones in his legs. When a specialist came from the States a couple weeks ago, she confirmed my fear. The medical treatment necessary is not fully available in Nepal, though I am doing my best to get him the proper supplements and nutrition. Despite the diagnosis, he is thriving, and it's a beautiful sight to see his eyes growing brighter and his smile wider with each passing day. "Mommy, mommy, good morning" he says cheerfully from across the bed each morning, flashing me the happiest face on earth. All this agonizing is worth that one moment.
I started this journey in 1998 on my second visit to Nepal. I fell in love with the country, the culture and the people, and it was then, that I planted the seed of someday adopting from here. On the brink of making that dream come true, the US suspended adoptions in Nepal until further notice.
I arrived in Nepal on Sept. 24th 2010. Due to my Travel Authorization expiring, and the possibility of losing the referral of my child, I weighed my options and felt that I needed to travel to Nepal. I had no intention staying here, rather I thought I would assess the situation, sign the paperwork if needed, and return home to wait. However, after seeing the incredible poverty and need in this country, and meeting my child, holding him in my arms, and bonding with him, leaving him here to sit in an institution, without proper food, without toys, without a place to play, and with a loving though illiterate caretaker was no longer an option. So I adopted Pukar and began the agonizing wait.
It has been incredibly stressful living in the polluted, overcrowded, filthy, city of Kathmandu, especially as a new mother. I call it a human pigpen. I started a public blog to raise money, as I have no income here and am still paying all my bills at home. I have tried to make a life for myself in this crazy place of limbo while I wait for the US Government to tell me when, and if, I can go home with my child. As of this posting, my file is at USCIS, awaiting my response for a Request for Further Evidence (RFE), which has required hiring both a Nepalese Attorney and an American Attorney. The evidence proving his orphan status is astounding and harrowing. Children are abandoned here, and left in the streets or by rivers to die. Our Western minds have no concept of this kind of society, which is very complex, based on caste and religion, and extremely sexist. Though my family, friends, and clients have been incredibly supportive, I am basically here, alone, on my own, with my son. The other stranded parents are my life- line.
If I would have known that I'd be filling out paperwork for 7 months, waiting a year to be matched with a child, have to leave my entire life completely to live in Nepal for an indefinite amount of time on 5 days notice, give up everything I have worked for in the past 10 years, and still have no guarantee that I would be able to come home with my child, I would have said that was impossible. But yet here I am.
My public blog: http://www.namastesos.blogspot.com/
Jenni in the News: