We are home from a week in Little Man’s country! I really don’t know how people manage to blog their adoptions. I spent the whole week in-country trying to piece together posts in my head to even begin to convey all that took place, and I can’t. I just can’t. I’m still not clear on when I’m allowed to freely share pictures of Little Man, or his name (he has one now!), so I will just have to tease you with photos of everything but him, and start at the beginning.
We arrived in the capital city last Sunday. Wow, a week ago today. Crazy. We landed at about 2:30 and were immediately driven up to LM’s city about five hours to the north. Our driver/facilitator/translator/moral support provider and all-around great person to have around was Eti. And here I have to temporarily derail myself, being the name enthusiast that I am, to explain that Eti is *not* a name in LM’s country at all. Her real name is Krystina (read: CRUST-ina, not KRIS-tina – this is also unusual and frequently misunderstood and mispronounced). “Eti” was her first word, though not a word at all, and her mom began calling her that as a nickname. And it stuck. Was I glad I asked about her name? Oh, yes, I was.
We slept for most of the drive, but the bits of scenery we saw in between were lovely. I had braced myself for five hours of being hungry, sweaty and bursting for the potty, but to our pleasant surprise, we had a beautifully air-conditioned drive with frequent rest stops. We arrived at our very fancy five-star hotel on the Danube at about 8:30, and, too sleepy for a proper dinner, ate some crackers and hit the hay.
Monday morning, I woke up at 3, and there was no getting back to sleep. I was meeting my son that day, and once my mind was switched on, there was no switching it back off.
We arrived at the orphanage a bit after nine, after a grand tour of Silistra and stopping for directions three times. As soon as we opened the gate, we saw him through the window, watching and waiting for his “Mama ee Daddy”. I lost it. He was wearing the same orange shirt as in all the pictures we had ever seen of him (even though most of them were over a year old), and there he was, in the flesh. Tears just came. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it together for our first meeting, but thankfully, we had to meet briefly with the director before being taken in to him, so I had a few minutes to pull myself together.
The director spoke endlessly about Little Man’s history and medical condition, and every few minutes Eti would give us a one-sentence synopsis. Perhaps her job title of “translator” would have been better described as “summarizer” or “boiler-downer”.
Then it was time. We were warned that he would probably cry. I didn’t blame him. I cannot even imagine being told at five years old that the two people you are about to meet, the ones who look funny and talk in jibberish, are going to take you away to a foreign country and be your parents. I would cry, too.
And cry, he did, at first. He hid himself behind his carers and howled. They all whispered encouraging words, but he was not coming anywhere near us. We waited, happy for him to come to us in his own time, until one of the workers asked if we had any toys with us.
Of course! The bag of toys! We pulled out his Build-A-Bear and the whole atmosphere changed. He tentatively came over to us and took the bear, and as soon as he discovered the voice boxes in the paws, his apprehensive look changed to one of sheer joy, and we hardly saw any other expression from him for the next three days.
He delightedly pulled out each item we had brought for him: coloring books, a ball, a puzzle and a photo album of our family and home, taking each one around to each of his beloved carers to show them off.
We were so encouraged to see the warmth and love between the carers and the children in his group. He and another girl with special needs are the only two older children in a group with 6 or 7 toddlers. Because of their medical needs, they are able to receive better care there because the staff are all medically trained. There is also a group of children with more severe special needs in the same orphanage, but Little Man benefits more from the activities and structure that the little (“normal”) ones get. He is in an ideal situation, as these situations go. Everyone loves him there. Even gardeners and social workers and others who only drop in from time to time all knew his name and came over to us excitedly for him to introduce his “Mama ee Daddy”.
For our part, it was completely love at first sight. He absolutely felt like our son the moment we saw him, even while he was sobbing and wanting nothing to do with us, but all the more once our attentions began being met with enormous, light-up-the-whole-room smiles.
More to come…