S: Risha's Adoption Portfolio
1: Thank you so much for considering me. I am honored and humbled by the weight of this decision. I am adopting as a single parent. As you will see in this book, I was also raised by a single mother and have a wonderful relationship with her and feel very prepared for the parenting responsibilities. I have addressed this book to my future child to give you a sense of what their life will be like. I hope it reveals the close, wonderful Pennsylvania Dutch family I was raised in, in addition to the amazing support network of friends I am constantly surrounded by. I've done this by asking some of them to write a note to you, which you will see throughout. | This following pages should also give you insight into the types of activities and adventures that my future child will be part of. I lived in India for 5 years and Kenya for 3.5 and am likely to live abroad again. I have seen my friends raise children overseas and think it's a wonderful experience for the family and especially children. I have wanted to adopt a child for as long as I can remember and while I have given it a lot of thought it also seems like the most natural choice for me. Everyone says that having a child will change my life forever and I look forward to that and am ready to make any sacrifices or changes necessary to raise a happy, healthy, successful child. I feel like I live an amazingly blessed and fulfilling life, that I would love to bring a child into. Thank you for considering me. | Dear birth parent/s, | Risha
2: CHERISH | I am very close to my family, especially my mother who has showed me that single parenthood is not only possible but can be a wonderful way to be raised. We have a special bond and I admire her greatly. | ____________________________________________________________ | "I loved being a mother and raising Risha. I am so proud of her and very much look forward to being a grandmother to her child." Love, Mom
4: FAMILIES ARE FOREVER | My mom with her mom at Ocean City, NJ | Me and my cousins Mike and Jen at the annual extended family Christmas at the Mastersonville Fire Hall
5: FAMILIES ARE FOREVER | Whether it's silly hats, annual trips to the Jersey Shore, singing, playing card games or having a tea party you're entering a family that is very close and and full of love. No matter where I lived, I have never missed a Christmas in Manheim, PA | The men in the family love to joke, here they proudly wear their silly hat gifts | Singing and music is part of any family get together, mostly hymns
6: HOME Filled with music (I've played piano since I was 4) and a cat I adopted 7 years ago from India
7: Your new home is a 3 bedroom townhouse in Capitol Hill, DC with a lovely back yard where I grow vegetables, opening to a park, a basement for a playroom and a wonderful neighborhood.
8: Top Left: my best high school friends; Kristin, Shayna and Pam Top Right: The summer church camp, Camp Swatara, I attended every year Bottom Left: Graduating high school with my close friend, Imani Bottom Right: Kindreth (also on opposite page) and me as kids
9: I had a wonderful childhood with great friends, especially my best friend, Kindreth (above right) with her husband and daughter | "I have been friends with Risha since I was 4 and she was 2. Her mom was my my second mother and my parents have been among Risha's biggest fans throughout her life. Our parents remain close. Risha has been a part of my own daughter's life since birth. Keira is now 15 and looks up to her "auntie". Keira has been continually educated by Risha's international experiences and her life has been culturally enriched by continued contact with my oldest and dearest friend. I am so excited to welcome a new member into our extended family and I hope to provide the same support and love that Risha has given us for so many years." - Kindreth
10: Your life will be full of sports....
11: I am very active; I was a cheerleader and lacrosse player in school and now play ultimate frisbee (East Africa beach tournament above), softball (my Nairobi team on left) and enjoy biking and going to baseball games
12: Your life will be full of people from around the world who are near and dear to me. They say that friends are the family we choose for ourselves and this is absolutely true in my life. | Thanksgiving on the coast of Kenya, 2011 | My childhood friend Chaz | Wangari and me in Nairobi, 2012 | Namrata and me in Thailand, 2009
13: "Risha is one of the few people I would fly from India to Thailand to meet up with. This trip to Thailand was exceptionally memorable since Risha's presence and calm not only provided the confidence I needed to get into a kayak for the first time in my life, but also gave me the courage to kayak in the ocean from one island to another. This photo was taken right before we got into said kayak! Memories from this trip to Thailand remind me that Risha has never stopped being a source of inspiration since I met her nine years ago in New Delhi." - Namrata Asthana | "Risha is a wonderful person that I've known professionally and socially for over a decade. Over the years, we've lived in the same city and on different continents yet we have managed to maintain a rich friendship. Risha is what you call a solid soul. Cities, continents, experiences come and go but who she is remains the same -- dedicated, compassionate and what we call in Swahili roho safi - a really big open heart." -Wangari Nyangui
14: JOY | Beverly, Rachel, Me and Keri; my closest DC girlfriends | "Risha has an uncanny ability to not only create a home wherever she is, but a family.
15: "One of the great things about Risha is how she finds and develops a community, where ever she is. I have lived in DC when she has been here and have been able to see how she has full community and support system that includes friends from college, grad school, and work. I have also been able to visit her on several occasions in India, and I witnessed first hand the friends and community she built there, a diverse and wonderful group." - Rachel | We have been friends for 15 years and, regardless of how far apart we may physically live, she is one of the few people I know I could turn to in any circumstance. More importantly, she is one of the very few I could send my own daughter to, with or without an explanation, and be sure that she would be OK." - Beverly
17: I met Risha about 9 years ago in New Delhi through work, but it was not long before she became a part of our Indian family. Her zeal for life, adapting to new cultures and situations always inspired me to look beyond my comfort zone. Besides me she has even been a source of inspiration to my little son, Devin, who she has seen growing up over the years. He has always been fascinated with her cart wheels, jealous of her pictures with his favorite animals in Africa, and loving all the gifts she brought for him from her travels. Her way with kids, her sporty nature and fun loving personality always kept my son entertained. I am so excited she is going to have someone special in her life, she will make a wonderful mom and I can't wait for our kids to play together one day! Radhika Chhabra
18: Activities | "I am so excited to contribute to Risha's family album. She is a part of my family - my chosen family of friends who enrich my life. Of all the wonderful people who fill my life, Risha has always impressed me with her unending generosity with and loyalty to the people (and animals) she loves. I have watched her take care of her colleagues and friends - Tenzig, Satender and many others - helping them figure out jobs, family problems, educational opportunities and often just listening to them when they needed to talk. The love she has always shown for her mom, her partner John, her family and friends is so clear in how she talks about, respects and admires them. And everyone comes to visit her! Risha is one of my most creative friends. From the way she approach problems - as opportunities; the way she approaches new places - as worlds to be explored; the way she decorate her home - lovingly with treasures from all over the world - her creativity and joy in learning inspires me. I adore her sense of adventure. - she has seen the world and continues to be curious and open-minded and wanting more. Risha, is my laughing friend. Ironic when needed, silly and playful most of the time- I always end up with my cheeks hurting from so much smiling. Risha will be a wonderful mom - patient, creative, generous and loving. Reading books and playing games. Baking and cooking, traveling and exploring. Her child will see the world and always come home to a loving, kind, engaged parent. How lucky that child will be! How lucky we will all be to share her love and continue being part of her family." -Meg | Meg and I learning drumming in Senegal
19: Volunteering | Whether at a school in Jamaica or leading skiing trips for visually impaired teens, you will be surrounded by activities ensuring we appreciate how fortunate we are. I have always been drawn to working with children and am in touch with many of them decades later.
21: I'm incredibly blessed to be able to see the world and I can't wait to share that and my love of photography with you. Clockwise from left: hiking in Uganda, kayaking Vietnam, gorillas in Uganda, a fisherman in Burma and with my mom in Kenya. | Experiencing the World
22: What to say about Risha? Well, if I could somehow have her adopt ME, I would! Of course, I say that partly just to be funny and grab your attention, but I also say it because I mean it. The child that ends up lucky enough to have Risha as her mother will grow up equipped to handle ANYthing that life could throw at it. Why do I believe this? Several reasons: 1. She’s one of the most resilient people I’ve ever met and she’d inculcate her child with the same resilience. Her life has certainly not been free of challenges or the occasional hardship (Whose has?). But to hear her tell her life story, you’d think it was a cakewalk. And for her, I think it was. 2. Not only does she have an amazing support network of family and friends, but she has this uncanny ability to build one wherever she goes. And quickly! She’s lived all over the world and as a result still has friends all over the world. 3. Risha has a depth of compassion that makes me feel bad for not doing more myself. I cannot even count the number of kids scattered over the globe who she has committed to putting through school – children of less fortunate people whom she has befriended during her travels. 4. With Risha’s educational background, she could have had a job working for any Blue Chip company on the planet earning at least twice what she does now. Yet, she has dedicated herself, instead, to tackling some of the toughest issues faced by the most vulnerable and marginalized people in the world. Values like this are not passed on genetically; they are learned. In short, I wish that Risha could adopt me because she is a raging success by every measure in this life that matters. I’m a better person for having known her and your child will be a better person for having known her, also. -James Ayers (co-worker) | Auditing clinics in Nigeria | Talking to a women's group (and some husbands) in Kenya about family planning
23: Career | It's my work that allows me to live the life I do and I'm immensely grateful. My work also means a lot to me and I hope to raise you with the confidence and opportunity to also make a living doing something you love. I have worked for the same public health non-profit for 9 years, living in India and Kenya working on HIV, family planning and reproductive health issues. I have a BS from Boston College and a MBA from Georgetown University. My workplace is very family friendly and provides benefits such as maternity leave, housing and tickets to the US every year for all family members if we live abroad. It will not be a problem at all to keep my job and have children.
24: Many, if not most, of my friends have children; from infants to adults. In addition I've long worked with and volunteered with kids | You'll be surrounded by kids of all ages | Kaleb Sundsmo, born 2011 | Caroline Singer, born 2009 | "I've known Risha for nearly 18 years. She has always been an exceptional person and will be an amazing mother. My children, Caroline and Ethan, love to get postcards from Aunt Risha when she travels. She helps them learn about how big the world is but how children from all over love the same things: singing, dancing, imaginary play, and exploring. We feel so fortunate to have Risha in our lives and I know her children will feel the same way." -Eric Singer | Pam and son Cameron, born 1999
25: I'm sure I will not be the perfect parent. But I will ensure you always feel safe and loved. I will raise you to appreciate the cultures of the world and react to people with kindness rather than judgment. I will ensure that you have the resources to become whatever you want to, without fear of failure and will support you along the way. I will teach you to appreciate the simpler things; being with people you love, laughter and music. I will show you that the world, natural wonders and animals are magnificent and precious. | Thank you for looking at this portfolio and considering me, I wish you all the best. - Risha