Five years ago, I went to the Rudny courthouse in the morning, was awarded custody of Veeka and by late that evening was back at my hotel in Kostenai with a bewildered looking 22-month-old in a blue snow suit and candy-striped socks looking at me. There were no elevators in the hotel so I staggered up several flights with a purse, bag of clothes and a 20-pound child, got into my room and dropped her onto a brown stuffed chair. Little did she realize I was now her mommy. She did pick up that something was very different that night and instead of sharing a room in a crib with a dozen other kids, she had a huge bed with just ME in there with her.
I have been observing 5-year anniversary dates with Veeka this month. Today – Jan. 25 – was ‘gotcha’ day – as they say in adoption parlance, which is usually when a court awards you custody. I still had 3 weeks to go in the country but she was MINE. The clock started ticking for the final 15 days when the birth parents could – at the last minute – come claim her, which thankfully they did not. On Feb. 10, the final papers were signed and on Feb. 17, we landed at Dulles and Veeka became an American citizen. So tonight we went out to celebrate. First we picked up 2 new pairs of glasses (Veeka lost one of her original pairs and the other is all scratched up) that have cool blue and pink frames. Then we went out to a Mexican food place – Chevys Fresh Mex – which we were told about by her uncle Rob. I was underwhelmed by the place although the service was fine. It made me homesick for the really good Mexican places in Houston, ie the legendary Ninfa’s.
Today was my first day of teaching at the University of Maryland. Haven’t taught a 3-hour class in 10 years and none of the books for the class were ready so….had to wing it! It should be lots of fun and I was able to set up a blog for all the students to share ‘religion encounters and experiences’ to get them used to engaging with various religions around them. Can’t report on something unless you’re aware it exists. Must say the journalism building at UMd is gorgeous and I teach in a lovely classroom with glass walls. The staff could not be nicer and it’s clear this is a pretty classy place. Had to duck into the student union to order some material printed and ran into reams of students there as many classes began today. It has been awhile since I’ve hung out on university campuses.