My sweet, beloved Mahima, aka “Indian Mary James”, has been adopted!
Yesterday when we arrived she was sitting outside with the guard, and I didn’t think much of it at the time but I noticed her absence when we were playing with the kids – they all climb all over us, pull hair, hit, generally spin around in a whirlwind of motion, but Mahima marches to her own drummer. It felt like something was “off” that day and I couldn’t put my finger on it, until I realized she wasn’t there.
I adore this child. She’s my kind of kid. At 3, she was the oldest of the group for awhile and I think this shaped her personality. My favorite Mahima story was when she lined up all the stuffed animals in height order, very precisely. One of the younger ones kept trying to grab them and she got so upset. I kept trying to pull him away, engage him in something else, but it was quite an effort. Eventually, Mahima managed to spread her body out so that her arms were covering all the stuffed animals. She sat with her back to them, one arm and one leg covering her stuffed animal arrangement, the other thumb in her mouth, eyes like a little warrior. My friends thought she was OCD but I loved it! She goes around like a little mommy, wiping the little ones’ noses when they run. She’s not in your face, demanding attention, she waits patiently until your arms are free for her.
She was afraid of us when we first arrived. She sat in a corner, sucking her thumb and crying. I’d try to go over and say hello, rub her arm, play with a stuffed animal with her and she would shake her head and cry harder. Eventually she warmed to us and would laugh big belly laughs as we tickled her, danced with her, played peekaboo. Last week when she was sick I picked her up to carry her into the lunch room and she would not let go of me. She wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t let me stand up, and she’s big enough that I literally couldn’t stand up with her clinging to me that fiercely. I remember thinking that I wish she had a family to give her the attention she really deserves. She’s sacrificed a lot of adult attention by living in a group of kids who are younger than her.
So when I was feeding the rest of the group yesterday, one of the caregivers said something about Mahima. The other one made a gesture of her hand flying over her head, which means “she went.” I was puzzled. Then an woman (Indian-looking) and her husband came into the room. Mahima, dressed up in her fanciest clothes, with a bindi and earrings, followed. She looked as scared as when she saw us on the first day. I talked to the mother briefly over the chaos of the lunch room and found out that Mahima will grow up as an American, (our first American adoption!) with 2 brothers, in New Mexico. It’s so strange to me that this girl who is so Indian in my eyes will grow up speaking English, feeling like an American girl. I’ve met internationally adopted kids in the US, but never seen them BEFORE they came. I can see the loss she’ll experience (some of which will be eased by having a mother of Indian origin, I hope) but mostly I’m overjoyed that she’ll know the love of a family. She won’t have to be the little mother, she’ll be mothered herself.
Mahima was the little girl who spontaneously said “I love you” to me in English. As I said goodbye to her, I told her mother about this and the mother said in the sweetest, most gentle, slightly nervous voice, “I love YOU, Mahima.” I was teary the whole way home. Okay, I know it’s cheesy, but it’s been one of the highs of my trip, one of the joys to balance out some of the sorrows of the orphanage. What a happy, happy day.