My Child Kara:
While Susan, my foster kid, was with me, I received “the” call from International Mission of Hope’s U.S. agency. They had a child that I might be interested in adopting. It was a little five year old boy.
I immediately said “Yes!!” I was so excited to finally get my child. I decided to change his name to “Andrew” and call him “Andy.” My nephews were also excited and started to gather clothes they had outgrown for our new family member.
In late February 1980, I received a phone call from the U.S. agency working with IMH. The worker was so excited, she exclaimed, “She’s beautiful!” I went “Huh! She’s supposed to be a he!!” “No, this is definitely a girl and she’s ten year’s old,” the worker said.
It seems when they went to send the telegram with my acceptance on it, they had another family accepting a child with major disabilities and the whole telegram focused on that child; at the tail end they wrote “Lamphere accepts.”
The people in India didn’t know which child I was accepting, so they figured it had to be a girl and the only girl in my requested age range was ten. Her name was “Nomi.” The workers in India thought it was a sign; her name “Nomi” was close to my first name. “Naomi.” I haven’t used that name since I was 14, except on Facebook.
There was nothing I could do to undo this placement, the child’s case had gone to court on the 16th of February and I was approved as her new parent. At that time the Judge looked at her and said she looks about ten and today is her new birthday.
So, legally she was born February 16, 1970. When I finally spoke to the director of IMH, she told me she was closer to 13 or 14 – I know I asked for a child ages 5-10; how is it I’m getting a teenager? No good answer.
Well, at least I was getting my child. IMH’s time frame from the court date to approval by the U.S. Consulate was about two-three weeks and then my child would be getting a passport and shots so she could fly home.
This should have happened except, Calcutta had a new governor and he halted all foreign adoptions the first of March. Can my luck get any better? The governor’s issue was that these children, who in reality were living on the streets of Calcutta, were being adopted for slave labor by those wealthy Americans.
Wait and wait some more. I wondered if she’d ever get out of India. In the meantime, my family and I discussed a new name for her, it wasn’t going to be “Nomi.” We finally agreed on “Kara” and would use her Indian name as her middle name.
Susan was with me while we waited for the governor of Calcutta to release the children. I don’t think she was very excited to have someone new in our home who would need my attention more than she did.
Kara Comes Home
The day finally came, Kara was coming home. That’s when I received the call from IMH’s director explaining how she was probably older than ten.
The director also explained that the escort from India would not continue on to Salt Lake City from New York. Kara would be flying alone under the watchful eye of a stewardess.
My mother, my sister, and Susan went to the airport with me. I was glad of the support because I didn’t know what to expect.
Kara Nomi Lamphere arrived on June 13, 1980 (a Friday – was this an omen of things to come?) She spoke three words of English: airplane, helicopter and car. My life had just been turned upside down.
Kara immediately gravitated to Susan which made things a bit easier for me. We all piled into my car and headed towards our future together.
Once at home, Susan helped get Kara a bath while I fixed some food for us all. We ate and then decided it had been an exhausting day and I was beat up emotionally.
We showed Kara her new bedroom, tried to explain to her about going to sleep without much success, but we left her with some picture books and a few toys.
Susan went to her room and I settled down with a book and my cat to relax before going to sleep. I turned out my light about 10:30pm and fell asleep.
I woke up in the middle of the night and checked on Kara; she was sound asleep on the floor. A few nights later, I found her playing with only the night light on. The poor kid could not get her days and nights straightened around for several weeks.
The next day, my mother and I took Kara shopping with us. We had to get her some clothes to wear. We found it really interesting that Kara had such a strong sense of what she wanted in tops and shorts. Anything she wore always looked good on her.
She did grow 10 inches from June to September. I was buying new clothes every couple of weeks that summer. Thank God for thrift stores!
While out shopping, we also discovered one of her behaviors neither my mother nor I had ever encountered. She tried to steal some fruit and my mother, who saw her do it, told her “NO!” She rolled her eyes back in her head and went into a catatonic state. Over the next few months, she used this self-preservation behavior frequently in order to avoid discipline.
The Tuesday after Kara arrived my social worker, Laura, came out to do her first post-placement visit. I found it really interesting that she would do a visit so close to Kara’s arrival. Three days in does not give the parent and child any adjustment period especially when the child doesn’t speak English.
On that Tuesday, my dad was fixing my air conditioner and he yelled at me to bring him something. I got what he wanted and stepped out the front door into nothing. Dad had moved my front porch away from the house.
I felt like Wile E Coyote from the cartoons. I landed hard on my right ankle, the one I broke in 1978. My foot immediately started swelling. I called my doctor and the office gave me an emergency appointment.
Now, I’m in pain, not really able to focus on what Laura the social worker was saying. And the worst part was she wouldn’t leave. She hung around for another 2 hours. She only left when it was time for my appointment.
Susan drove us to the doctor. I was fortunate, I had only sprained the foot. But, it was back in the boot for a few weeks.
The next few months were really a blur. I could hardly wait for school to begin. My nephew Allen’s wife was willing to care for Kara while I worked. She was caring for her own baby at the time and Kara loved helping her with the baby.
Susan decided it was time for her to become independent. She was working a full-time job now. With the assistance of her caseworker and myself, we helped her locate an apartment and helped her move in.
She and I remained friends for many years until she moved to California and married. We lost contact because we both moved several times. I really liked that kid and I miss her still.
The next post will continue Kara’s story.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.