When The Universe Conspires

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A week ago, I posted a passionate appeal for help relating to a domestic violence survivor. When I wrote that post, my heart was hurting. I could not fathom how the power balance in an intimate relationship could be so skewed. The political landscape in the US with a presidential nominee heard on tape bragging about sexual assault was enough to throw me off kilter. I shook my head in dismay wondering how on earth such a person had risen to represent a whole swath of people.

Then the universe conspired to show me the other side. People, nameless, faceless left messages for me. They donated amounts big and small. They spread the word. They pointed me to contacts who could help. One particular person stayed on the phone with Shakthi and me helping us navigate some complicated things with her situation. Yet another reached out from across the country offering her time and expertise.

There were a few who spoke to hiring managers personally, taking time out to support and help a person who was just a moniker on a website for them. A few others sent gift cards and handwritten notes encouraging her and reminding her of the strength her name suggests. A whole bunch of them include her and her family in their prayers.

Amid the ugliness otherwise, there are deep pools of goodness, of oneness, of humanity coming together for someone who needs strength and support. A few months hence, Shakthi will probably be on her way to independence financially and otherwise, the funds would have been sent to her legal defense and all that will remain is a memory of the essential goodness of humans. Of all the good that surrounds us amid the hate.

As the festival season descends on us, I want to thank each of you who touched my life in any way for doing so. I want to say if I have not given as much as I have taken from you, I hope I can do better in the coming year.

Stay blessed. Stay happy.

Sibling Relationships


I sweep up the crumbs from breakfast, noting an oily patch on the island. I run a rag through it, squint and figure that will have to do until Saathi decides it is not. Tiny lego pieces are littered at my feet. I mutter under my breath as I pick them up and toss them into a ziplock bag. I find a string of beads, a magnifying glass and a mickey mouse pendant amidst my pans. Sun glasses peek from between boxes in the pantry.

My world is overrun by my children. I set things in order, restoring a balance of sorts. A half page flutters to my feet as I sweep a clutch of papers from another table. Half done homework, reminders about the fall jamboree, invitations to volunteer at a local event. I put them into the recycle bin and turn the paper over. Stick figures representing the three siblings. Two with yellow hair, one with black. They all sport wide eyes and matching smiles.

The past week has been a turning point in sibling dynamics. Ammu and Laddu have always been drawn to each other. In the past few days, it has been very apparent to anyone watching. Ammu feeding her food, Ammu gently holding her hand as they walk downstairs. Laddu looking in wide eyed awe as Ammu forces one of Laddu’s outgrown dresses on a stuffed elephant.

“Elephanty needs to go potty” Laddu exclaims. Ammu digs through a drawer and comes up with a swim diaper several sizes too small for Laddu. The two of them hunch over the sofa as Ammu puts the diaper on the elephant. Laddu roots around a jumble of things on the floor and holds up a hair band for elephant. Together they put a hair band on, slip a bracelet on one leg and take turns playing with her.

Each morning as she wakes, Laddu looks for me and the next moment calls out for her sisters. “Ammu! Pattu!” she calls loudly until they appear. At night, Laddu tags along as I tuck each child in, bestowing hugs, kisses and whispers in each willing ear.

Ammu stomps around the kitchen in her fluffy pink shoes, Laddu runs behind her screaming, tugging at her dress so she will stop. The minute she does, she bends, pulling at the shoes until Ammu tumbles and sits down. The two battle it out until one of them walk around victoriously and the other dissolves into a puddle of tears. Pattu rarely joins except when Laddu marks her sights on something she holds. A book, a puzzle piece, a toy.

Watching my kids reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me that one of the earliest lessons my siblings taught me. Life is unfair, inherently so. It also taught me that there was nothing I could do about it. All through life I soldiered on, taking failures with grace and aspiring to things knowing they would not happen.

I wonder if my children are learning the same lessons as I refuse to interfere, letting them resolve their battles themselves. I also wonder if they will march through life a tad more confidently knowing there are parts of themselves in their sisters that will be there for them should the need arise. That there will be warmth at the end of the phone that will hold on when words seem insufficient. I sure hope so but if it doesn’t they would have already learnt their lessons.

The Savior Syndrome


I am on my way to drop my child at daycare, the trees that line the median and either side of the road are glowing in the morning sun. Russet, Auburn, Sun-burnt, Fiery. The adjectives spring to my mind even before I can comprehend them. The colors are breathtaking. I wish if only for a moment to be able to stop and capture the magnificence of fall as it happens.

I drive on, realizing that the beauty is breathtaking only because it is transient. My drive back is weighty, quiet even. I don’t turn the radio on. My head is a swirl of thoughts. Just before I drove off from the daycare, I checked my phone. At least five different apps were lit up in red indicating messages to be read, responded to. Some made me smile, like the gofundme app that told me that the balance had doubled since the last time I checked. Then there were the WhatsApp messages from family. The last were messages from people – friends, strangers and anonymous people around the world.

The messages were the same in essence. Thank you for doing what you do. Thank you for stepping up for a stranger. Thank you for doing things I wouldn’t have done. My fingers hovered over the reply button debating between “No! Thank you!” or “You are welcome.”

The third more honest reply sat in my head, unvoiced. “What are you thanking me for?” This is exactly anyone else in my position would have done. When you see an accident on the road, you do not walk away. You try and help. You clear the airway, you call the ambulance, you call the police. You wait until the responsibility shifts to an appropriate resource. Then, you walk away.

When you hear appalling stories of how someone has been treated inside a relationship whose sole basis for existence is trust and love, how can you walk way? How can you step away thinking someone else will help? Isn’t there a part of you grateful you have never had to face something like that? Isn’t there a part of you wishing and hoping you could wave a magic wand and make the problems vanish? Isn’t there a part of you that wants to go all out and say “Don’t worry, I will help you, I will take care of you until you can take care of yourself”

Then I realize I haven’t always been this way. As a teenager, I have walked away from accidents. Even today, I do not stop and drop coins into every beggar’s hands I pass when in India. I am not moved by appeals for relief when natural disasters strike, at least not all the time.

Becoming an adult has with it made me susceptible to certain things more than others. Unfairness, injustice, women’s rights, abuse of any kind. These things make me pause. They make me care. They make me stay up at night researching ways to help. They make me pour my heart out to strangers hoping they will be as moved as I am.

Perhaps, the next time someone thanks me for what I am doing, I should be gracious and smile. I should say you are welcome and know that they will be moved by something else that I cannot see myself getting involved with. That there will be moments I will be looking upon someone as savior when in truth they are debating the tag themselves.

Violence Against Women – Face to Face


I sit at my desk, an empty document staring at me, my mind churning with all that I have heard today. I am disturbed. I am emotional. I am helpless.

I met a girl for the first time today. Somebody another friend introduced me to. She arrived in a silver SUV, her children smartly dressed in formal pants and dress shirts. She wore a long sweater dress, emerald-green and cinched at her throat by a pin. She carried a tote bag, the large ones moms have a way of filling with all together unnecessary things. The house was empty save for me. Saathi had taken the girls grocery shopping. I set out balloons, books and notepads for the kids to play with.

I’ll call her Shakthi.

Shakthi and I sat awkwardly at the sofa, making small talk, breaking into our mother tongue by instinct. I then moved to the breakfast table with its hard backs and rudimentary cushions. She followed suit. I offered beverages and she politely declined. We eventually got around to speaking of the things she was here for.

Shakthi is one of us, a Master’s degree holder, a married mom of two children, owner of a home in the suburbs. She is also a domestic violence survivor. Some time in the past few months, she was rushed to the hospital by a neighbor who found her beaten badly and unconscious outside her home. That set in motion a sequence of events which led her to eventually escape a torturous marriage of many years.

We spoke, her and I, of how she married her husband. We spoke of the everyday things that are abuse but you have no clue of until you are outside the marriage. She spoke of being beaten, of being forced against the wall, her jaws locked. She spoke of abuse of every kind — physical, sexual and mental. She spoke of being belittled every day, of being made to feel she did not matter, her views did not matter. She spoke of seeing herself derided in front of her children, young and innocent.

She spoke of loneliness. She spoke of sleepless nights by her son’s bedside as he battled a terrible illness. She spoke of going through pregnancies alone while her husband traveled ostensibly on business. She spoke of the horrors that unraveled one day as she realized he had been dating, meeting multiple women throughout their marriage.

Her eyes were vacant as she described how their once ‘friends’ deserted her in droves. She spoke of suicide threats, of having a firearm pressed to her forehead, of having to prove her innocence when her spouse overdosed on prescription drugs in order to frame her. She flitted from topic to topic, treating them casually lest they overwhelm her.

She spoke of the kindness of strangers. Of people who opened up their homes to her. She spoke of the couple who lent their car and their phone. She spoke of the woman who cared for her children as she attended interviews and court hearings. Her voice wavered as she spoke of this family that took her grocery shopping so she and her boys would not starve. She spoke of mounting bills, of unpaid mortgages and the financial ruin she was in.

She looked fragile sitting across from me as if one kind word would shatter her. Her petite frame trembled as I enveloped her in a hug and promised the best I could. I waved her off, her boys and her and closed the door behind me. I sunk to the floor, my body racked with sobs.

We hear of domestic violence. We read about it. We watch it in movies. We treat it with the same apathy as we treat bombings in different countries. We shake our heads in sadness and move on. Today I could not move on. I felt atrophied, the images she had painted running in a loop in my head.

How can I help? How can one help someone whose life is in shambles?

A job, a place to live, means to provide food to her children. These are the basics. Then there is this whole process of healing, of coming to terms with the abuse, of accepting what happened to you and then finding closure.

I am scouring my network, asking shamelessly for help in getting this girl a job she needs. She is qualified, willing to take on any job. I am asking those who know me to contribute to a fund that will let her and her children get back on their feet. Money that will be used towards groceries, medication for her sick child and essentials until she figures her way through this quagmire. Money that will be used to defray the expenses a protracted legal process will certainly consume.

I appeal to you. Each of you who reads this to take a moment and imagine you, or someone you know in this position. I urge you to dig into your pockets and contribute whatever little you can. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help.

Contributions in the form of gift cards (Walmart/Target/WAWA/Amazon), gas cards or cash can be sent to me (Reach me through the Contact Me page).

A gofundme campaign has been set up at the link.

If you are unable to help monetarily, please let me know if you can link me to resources or other ways in which I can help her. If you are someone who is local and in the capacity to make hiring decisions, please reach out. If you know a child psychiatrist who can help with  the children, please reach out as well.

Above all, I request you to take a moment to recognize that this woman and mother needs all of the collective goodwill we can muster.

Thank you.


Empathy, Not Discipline


It was the week before the 2016-17 school year began. The Friday before first day of school, I sat on a folding chair at the elementary school, a pink paisley purse by my side, watching the office manager answer the phone, jest around with the teachers and smile at me. I could hear the deep voice of the school psychologist ask questions and the low voice of my daughter answer. To me, it seemed like she was unsure of the question as much as the answer. To my relief, I heard him say, “Good job! Here’s your sticker” and shuffle until they appeared at the door to my side.

Any hour later, I drove along winding roads empty of traffic. The radio was on and my daughter kept time with the music. I was not sure how I felt. We reached home and I focused on the routine, the mundane, the safe things that made up my life in order to figure out what I was feeling.

Relief? Definitely.

Sadness? Not sure.

Anger? No!

Closure? A big yes!

I noticed it perhaps when the twins were two years old, walking, running and jumping. I would notice other toddlers  their age actually have conversations with their caregivers while mine spoke but did not make much sense. By the time they were three, I was starting to get concerned about potty training. At near 4, my husband and I each took a week off from work to potty train the girls. The exultant relief when they finally got it compared to one of the best moments of my life. It was a good two weeks later that we did away with potty training aids and dreamt of road trips and freedom from all things toddler. We gave away high chairs, cribs and two wheeled scooters and invested in booster seats, bicycles and spanking new full size beds. They were in pre-school and each time I brought up concerns about how there was no cogency in their speech, it was brushed away.

Finally one teacher agreed. There was something off. I brought it up at a pediatrician visit. She had me fill an autism questionnaire, talked to the kids, tested their motor skills, peered into their eyes and gave me a referral to a developmental psychologist. I called dutifully, listening to hold music for about five minutes. A crisp voice spoke at the other end.

“There is a year and half waitlist. We can send you intake paperwork six months prior. Please give me your address.”

I hung up and brooded. I wrote in my journal and ended up on the county website looking for services. I called them up on a hunch and was asked to get a referral from the school as well. Fast forward a few months, tons of paperwork and in-school evaluation and two bulky manila envelopes arrived in the mail.

The conclusion? My children were fine. They were not on the spectrum, they did not exhibit behaviors that would allow them to qualify for services. Elated, I took them to the teacher at the pre-school. She skimmed them over, thoughtfully chewing on her lower lip. “You know the limits for being diagnosed are pretty high right? They want to limit the number of people who would qualify for services.”

She left it open-ended. I returned home, the elation evaporating with each mile the car covered. I filed the report in our document drawer and decided to forget about it. Our children had had a rough start in life. They will probably get better I figured. Which child does not test boundaries or engage in power struggles with their parent? Only the potty regression had me worried. They’ll outgrow it my husband reassured me.

They started kindergarten and the notes started showing up every once in a while.Twin A has trouble focusing, Twin B has trouble switching between tasks. You should separate them next year, put them in different classes. The potty accidents occurred with alarming frequency. I was patient, I raged, I reasoned. They turned six and started first grade at a different school. I put them in different classes. The teachers sent glowing notes. I relaxed. The end was in sight. It was the school I told myself regretting having sent them to a charter school for full day kindergarten.

Then there was a note from one of the teachers. Could I meet her after school? I drove up wondering if she was going to raise focus issues. She did. She sat with me, meticulously showing things that needed help. I could ask for additional help with reading she said. By the end of the year, one twin had help with reading and math and the other with reading. I watched five year olds read chapter books while my children squealed and had fun flipping pages with giant illustrations and sparse text.

The anxiety that has been building inside me peaked and I sought a meeting with the principal. I walked out with a form that I could use to request a clinical evaluation by the school psychologist. I did.

Assessments were set for the last week of summer, a ploy to get them tested against second grade levels instead of first grade in the hope that it would allow them greater scope for a diagnosis. The tests took place over two days. I dutifully dropped and picked up each child and waited outside the door listening to teachers catch up and prepare for the school year.

“Can you step inside for a moment?” the kind doctor asked me. I walked inside letting my seven year old know she had to stay within sight of the school nurse until I came back. I sat on a functional chair, my heart hammering in fear. The doctor removed his glasses, shuffled a sheaf of papers in his hand and cleared his throat. The moment was anticlimactic.

“I definitely see signs that they need help” he began. He walked me through IQ scores, scatter in charts and areas where they deviated from the norm. He capped it all with the words I had been waiting four years to hear.

“They will qualify for services.”

I felt years of instinct sing in agreement. I hesitated before I asked “Is this fixable?”

“This is who they are. Yes, we can work with them, help them with strategies to learn better. We can help the teachers teach differently. They will go on to catch up and do well but I am afraid it is not fixable” he said the air quotes shimmering in the air between us.

As I bathed my children that night, yet another potty accident behind us, I found a voice whispering in my head that urged me to be kind, to recognize that this is who they are, that they need empathy not discipline. What needed changing was not them but me. Those lessons are often forgotten in the rush of the morning but they come back, etching themselves deeper in my mind with each passing day. It took a doctor to teach me what parenting should be about.


Tis All About Me This Time


Two years ago, I turned in my badge, laptop and everything else that signified I had a corporate persona. I drove home feeling relieved. I spent the next one year physically tending to my children in an effort to validate my decision. I cooked (and still do) fresh most meals and did away with most processed stuff. I pruned years of clothing, pared down overstuffed storage, designed our basement, made multiple trips to our township office and watched my house turn into a cozy home. I was a domestic goddess and I loved the adulation that came with the responsibility.

Fast forward a year, the stray thought wandered into my head. The what ifs, the second guessing, the token conversations on whether my decision was the right one. I applied to local companies and sighed in relief when I heard nothing. I added shopping to my repertoire and worked away on the book that I intended to write.

This week marks the second anniversary of my decision to quit corporate life, I am at my desk typing away, one eye on the clock. All three kids are in bed, my chores for the day done. I have a mental to-do list that seems to keep growing. I know I should be doing more around the home but for now, I am willing to let that slide.

Two yellow envelopes sit by the side of my desk. This morning I was at a meeting at my children’s school to discuss additional help that they need. I have books in front of me that may help me understand my children better. My browser bookmark folder has too many links that need attention.

I am at peace.

It hits me every now and then that if I just let myself be, I am happy. I am happy to be doing things for my family. I am grateful for the time I get to myself each morning. I am happy to be exercising my grey cells each day as I pound blog posts out. I am beyond thankful to have the time to make food a priority in our lives.

I realize things may change over the next few years but for now, I am happy to be home, tending to and nurturing our fledgling family. It may not work for everyone but it does for me. As the years pass, I realize the decision to stay home benefits Saathi and the children but mostly it has been life changing for me. It has freed me to imagine the kind of things I want to do but had no clue in my twenties. It has permitted me to experiment with things I dreamed about in my thirties but deferred in my pursuit for money. I may or may not make money out of these forays but they satisfy something primal, a need to create, a need to nurture, a need to see the impact of my time in tangible ways on things I care about.

I suspect I will return to the workforce in some capacity in a year or two but it will be in a field vastly different from the one I have been in. I am in that state of flux, having let go of the past and unwilling to look into the future, suspended in the now.

Of Light, Love and Joys

I walk quickly down the stairs, pausing only to switch the lights on in the basement. The house is unnaturally quiet. The kids are in bed and Saathi rocking Laddu to sleep. The LED string lights are almost invisible under the glare of the overhead recess fixtures. I look around. There are brown bags clustered on one table. Another table has plastic cups and spoons and a bunch of paper napkins. In the far corner I spy additional cutlery, a jug of water and a wilting bunch of flowers. There are potted plants, floating lamps and the dying embers of an oil lamp. I pick each LED tea light, turn the switch off and collect them in a paper bag. I remember the turn the light off in a lamp that boasts gently falling water with the silhouette of a tree. I look up and realize the rest of the clearing and cleaning will have to wait a day. I remember to put the wooden marapaachi dolls to their side and walk quickly away, turning out the lights. In the inky darkness, the string lights take on a new force and glow, outlining the golu steps. I whisper a prayer of thanks and walk upstairs.

It has been ten days of celebrating Shakthi, the female power. The Goddess has been in residence, showering her blessings on us as we soaked and boiled lentils for her, garnished them with a mix of coconut and green chillies, slowly simmered a thick golden syrup to make vella sundal and prepared rice noodles and kesari. Each day saw us don Indian finery, adjust jewelry, take a dozen selfies as we hosted or visited other homes boasting better displays than ours. Each day, I went to bed feeling curiously sated. Each evening as I bowed my head in prayer and rang the bell announcing food fit for gods, I felt the sense of a duty fulfilled.

The kids ran around, re-arranged the dolls, fought over who got to wear which pavadai and stuck bindis on their foreheads. They stacked bangles on their slender wrists and twirled as they saw themselves in the full length mirror in my closet. Each day I held their precious faces in my hands, drank in their pure radiance and hastily warded off evil eyes. My eyes sought them out in crowds and asked a little too often if they were OK.

Navarathri ends today and with it packs away a whole bunch of memories to be pulled out next year. When I started the tradition, I had little idea of what it would come to mean. Year after year, as I pull out the dolls from their bubble wrap, dust them off and set them on satin steps, I also pull out memories. Memories of the year we bought each doll, memories of moms, grandmas and great grandmas. Memories of friends who visited us once and are no longer with us. Memories of long outgrown pavadais and pigtails. As each family visits us, I gasp over children who have grown, greying hair, older, wiser friends. We hug and air kiss and pose in groups and as we do, I realize I have pictures of the same people in albums from a year ago and the year before that.

Festivals have become ways to mark time, to measure growth and distance, to marvel at how much children assimilate and absorb. They are occasions to gather our dear ones nearer and celebrate new friendships. They are occasions to have neighbors over and expound on recipes that are not commonly heard of. They are reasons to dab that perfume, break out the new jewelry and line those eyes with kohl. Most of all they are reasons to love and forgive, to live and rejoice, to celebrate all that is good and bright.

The Spectacle That Is Death


I scroll through my twitter feed, aimless, bored. I hit the search button and key in #Jayalalithaa the results stream in reiterating the same things from the last time I searched about an hour ago. I am fascinated. I am obsessed. I am morbidly curious.

In 1999, my Appa lay in the same hospital in a bed that looked more like a cage, a multitude of pipes and tubes running from the cavities in his body. He looked gaunt and very unlike the father I knew. My family and I roamed the halls, lay in wait for the doctor visit each morning and clung to the updates like our life depended on it. He was in the hospital for over a month the first time around. I was 23 perhaps, not yet completely independent. I remember the grave eyes of the doctor and the nonchalance (perhaps affected) in his tone as he said in thamizh, your dad is like the cat on the wall, he could go either ways. If I remove the ventilator and he breathes, he will live.

I remember waiting with bated breath as they took him off the ventilator. He lived for seven years more. The next time around, I was older, all of 31 years old. The hospital was different yet mostly it was the same. The constant worrying, the anxiety as the reports came in each day, of CO2 levels, of Sodium and Potassium, Of urea and creatinine. The oxygen saturation, the constant googling of what these levels meant. The worry about the quality of life thereafter, the constant visitors and the questions they brought with them.

Even today, I loathe hospitals. I hate being part of the ring of people who are caregivers. I hate the waiting, the endless marking of time until the monitor flatlines. The waiting, the watching, the expectation of the final breath and with it, the sorrow of having to wait for it all to end.

It will be ten years this November since Appa passed. Watching news of Jayalalitha brings back the same anxiety, the same racing heart. It reminds me of all that I have lost. It reminds me of the morbid curiosity that resides in people not touched directly by the tragedy in the making. The extended family, the neighbors, the friends who ask each time they see you “any updates?” In the circus playing out in TN, it reminds me of the apathy with which we treat death unless it is in our home.

I know not if Jayalalitha will recover from this. I do know that I wish her well. I wish for her the space to deal with her illness without it being a public peepshow. I wish for her, most of all, freedom from pain.

Imperfect Love

My hand shakes a bit as I shape the batter on the sizzling tawa resulting in an imperfect heart. I try to fix it and end up making it misshapen. I dot the edges with ghee and feel frustration overwhelm me. The clock reads 8:16 AM. Six minutes before the bus will trundle past my house, turn around the corner and come to a stop where the kids will scramble to get in. I turn around and Ammu is still on the sofa, her torso bare. I am tempted to force her clothes on her, push the dosa down her throat and drag her to the bus stop. I do none of that. I flip the dosa and stand mute, the heat from the stove making my eyes water.

I hear her behind me. She is pulling on her socks, her face defiant. Pattu snuggles me from behind. “You are the best mom ever,” she says as if to compensate for Ammu. “No” I say and hug and kiss her before she leaves. I ignore Ammu and set the timer for 8:20, the absolute latest she needs to be out the home to catch the bus. She scarfs down one of the two dosas, rinses her hand, gives me a token hug and when I turn refuses to meet my eye as she mumbles sorry. I drag her to me, squish her against me and let her go. She runs, her purple scarf bouncing, out the garage door.

8:21 AM.

I wait a minute to gather myself and walk to the front door. I see her standing on the neighbors driveway waiting for me to appear. She appears to want to come back for a hug. “Run!” I urge and she does even as the bus turns onto our road. I cheer for her as she makes it in time.

I close the door behind me and walk back to the kitchen which feels stuffy. The artificial light, the smoke from the cooking, the weight of oil in the air. Ammu’s plate is on the island, the heart on it murmuring apologies. I break down.

We hurt. We heal. We are imperfect. Our love is imperfect. Its edges are ragged, parts of it lumpy. Yet it has come to symbolize everything that is true of our life together. I tear off a piece, dip it into the chutney and savor it. I feel my stomach settle, my breathing even and a smile creep into my face.

Open Adoption – Reflections On The Journey


I sat at my desk browsing for gifts, ears keenly attuned to the sounds from the adjoining family room. I’d let my twins sit at their table, their art pads open and one single instruction.

“Make a card and write a note in it for your mom’s birthday. All I ask is that you think about what you want to say before you start writing.”

I held each child’s face in my hands, our eyes peering into our souls as I tasked them and turned around and left to the privacy of my study. They worked in silence, the sketch pens scratching paper. I was midway through an article on why Hillary is the most accomplished person to be President in this election when I felt Ammu beside me before I saw her.

“Am done!”

She thrust a sealed envelope to me. On the top in her neatly printed hand was written “To Mommy B, With Love Ammu” She had even stuck a sticker where the stamp should have been. I found my eyes misting as I drew her close to me. With her permission, I opened the note and teared up all over again.

Pattu came as soon as Ammu left, clutching her letter. Hers was simpler. A single sheet folded to mimic a trifold card, with a heart cut out at the center. Her letter was longer, delving into feelings and making requests. I took pictures of her note and she left hers behind as she ran behind her sister ostensibly to play.

I dutifully emailed the notes to their mom and sat back in my chair overwhelmed by the intensity of my feelings. I read and re-read the notes, committing the shape of the lettering, the wealth of emotions and complex feelings it evoked to mind.

In the early days of our becoming a family, talk about adoption and being adopted were rife. I snuggled with them at bedtime, whispering the story of how we became a family, offering every detail of their life before us for them to remember. With each passing year, the conversations spread out over time, bubbling up to the surface only when circumstances demanded them. We still pored over old pictures, relived anecdotes from the early days and reveled in the cute, cuddly babies they once were. Adoption firmly relegated itself to the past only coming up around holidays, birthdays and milestones.

This week, I realize we have been a family for more than six years. When we stepped into unknown worlds of open adoption, we forged ahead on blind faith hoping that our beliefs will translate into reality. Each time I said to my daughters that they have two families and they should never have to feel like they have to pick one over the other, I believed it with every fiber of my being. After our visit last year, they have faces to put to names and memories that color their expectations of what they want in the future.

Reading their letters today reminded me of the trepidation from years back when we were on unknown territory. Today that has given way to confidence that what we are doing is right and while the relationships are complex, the children have absorbed it well. There is no hesitation, no holding back when they express love to both of us. That to me is worth rooting for.