March 12, 2004 at 8:28 a.m.
Yet, she’s also unlike most other toddlers in that she took her first-ever tub bath just a few weeks ago about the same time she spent her first night sleeping in a bed.
Michelle Pratiksha Raboin arrived in Lindstrom February 6 after traveling 23 hours by air from Bombay, India.
She has become the third child of Jodi and Frank Raboin, adopted through Crossroads Adoption Services. Once her Chisago County birth certificate gets issued and she receives her Social Security number, she will officially become an American.
Jodi Raboin explained that she and her husband Frank always harbored the notion that someday, when their two sons were old enough and they were financially-able -- they’d bring an orphan from another country into their home.
About a year ago, they decided to make the commitment to an adoption from India. They had first considered the Philipines, but there were three girls already “cleared” by the adoption agency waiting in a village outside of Nagpur, India, for new homes, Jodi said.
Frank explained that the fact they were seeking an older child-- not an infant-- worked in their favor and the adoption process went speedily. Most people desire babies for adoption, but the Raboins wanted a pre-schooler.
Jodi recalled that there were the usual, expected adoption process requirements-- a home check, a criminal background was done-- and lots of paperwork. The Raboins attended adoption sessions at the Crossroads offices in Edina, where sometimes all they covered was paperwork.
As soon as the Raboins selected Pratiksha from Crossroads files, the speed of the adoption process increased, and they found themselves on a plane bound for Bombay with about two weeks’ notice.
Jodi said they were met on arrival by a Crossroads Adoption Services liaison and aside from negotiating their way through customs-- the Rabions had no trouble once they were in India.
The orphanage was a decent facility, caring for about 30 orphans, but children slept on straw mats on the floor and there was no tub for bathing. For that matter, there were no toilets as we know them either. Still-- Michelle, her American name chosen by Jodi and Frank; had been well-cared, but obviously had not been exposed to what babies in American culture have available.
With so many “firsts” in her life since adoption, it’s hard to even begin to comprehend what’s going on in Michelle’s mind, and it’s easy to admire her spirit. Frank pointed out that he likens her adjustments since coming here as if he’d been dropped in a foreign country.
Along with the developmental things-- the toys, the variety of food, a stimulating environment-- Michelle has seen snow falling for the first time. (She loves snow, by the way. Even though India is a much, much warmer climate, Jodi says Michelle likes being outdoors.)
There are continuing hurdles that will be overcome with patience and love, Jodi related.
Michelle is using her native Hindi language for some things and the Raboin family is learning those favorite words. But, Michelle is also learning English. Body language is a big part of communicating still. Michelle sings to herself in Hindi, Jodi mentioned, and it’s a treat to listen to her.
The orphanage was run by Indian women, so Michelle wasn’t sure what to make of her white-skinned father and brothers. Jodi said it took deliberate efforts over the first few weeks by Frank, and brothers Brad and Andy, being sensitive to Michelle’s mood to break the ice and get close.
“We didn’t want to rush her into anything, people wanted to come over, hold her and greet her, and we thought we’d better be taking it easy,” Jodi explained.
One happy coincidence has lightened the situation for Michelle. She was good friends at the orphanage with another little girl, who had been adopted before Michelle was. The Raboins learned that Michelle’s “lost” pal lives in west Wisconsin...and they’ll have many playdates.