Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Recap of Our Trip: Visit 1 (Take 2)

We left Denny's region and made the drive about an hour northeast to Tory's region.  I was exhausted, emotionally drained, and apologized to our translator for nodding off so much.  So, I missed a bit of the drive, but I was awake enough to see the highway being widened (which we were told takes just as long over there as it does here, for anyone who has ever driven I-40 in NC and griped about the decade-long construction).  Getting in a quick nap meant I'd have energy for our first visit with Tory, so I didn't feel too guilty.

Denny lives just outside a decent-sized city, where there were several restaurants, plenty of stores, and um, a hotel.  Tory lives in a small village, and we passed what appeared to be a restaurant, probably more like a deli, and there was a very small grocery store.  Aside from a small playground, houses and the plentiful gardens that grew in front of the houses, there was nothing else in the village.

Denny being in a city and Tory being in a village had absolutely no correlation to the condition of their orphanages.  Where Denny's was very old, drafty, and dark, Tory's was completely renovated with all new... everything.  I was shocked when we walked up to the freshly painted building and were welcomed inside by one of the caretakers, who led us down a bright hallway to the director's office.  Every door we entered was new, the floors were new, it was immaculate.

As we entered the director's office, she was engaged in conversation with three or four older kids, and they left shortly after we came in.  She was instantly warm, and began talking to us almost faster than our translator could tell us what she was saying!  She was so excited that we had come to meet Tory; Tory woke up that morning and dressed in her favorite outfit to meet her Mommy and Daddy; the social worker was on her way in if we have any questions; we're a beautiful family, on and on, just beaming.

After speaking back and forth for a few minutes, she asked one last question: "Do you want to meet her?"  I almost jumped off the couch with my 'yes'.  Seriously, she has been a picture since January, and we had finally jumped through enough hoops, filled out enough paperwork, and paid enough of the fees to be standing in the director's office, just a door separating us from our daughter.

The door opened, and in walked a beautiful young lady, her dark hair braided around her head (which we later found out was done by one of the older girls there), wearing a pink shirt with matching denim skirt and jacket with pink flowers on the hem, white stockings, and pink shoes.  She. Loves. Pink.  This is her favorite outfit, and she wanted to be wearing it when she met us!

She shyly held her head down as we said hello to her, and someone suggested that she sit next to us.  She responded 'da' (yes) when questions were asked, but she was still too shy to look up.  My bag was sitting at my feet, and I pulled out the doll I made for her, with her name stitched on the front of the dress.  She immediately beamed and held the doll close to her, and the shyness was gone!  She did have one question about the doll, which I hadn't really considered, but she wanted to know where her panties were.  I told her I'd make a pair, and she was satisfied.

After a few moments, she leaned over to see if there were other things in my bag, and there were.  A couple of things I meant to leave at Denny's orphanage, but forgot.  There were nesting cups and one of those peg thingies that you can press your hand into, which she was absolutely terrified of at first!  Everything we gave her she would not put down, and kept saying, "These are mine, from my Mommy and Uncle Daddy."  ('Uncle' is a term they use for introducing male strangers, like we use 'Mister' here.)  Having personal possessions in an orphanage is a BIG deal, because almost everything is communal property.

She wanted to show us where she lives, so we made our way back up the hall and up the flight of stairs to another doorway.  Through this doorway was an apartment, with a kitchenette, dining area, living room, 2 bedrooms, and bathroom.  Everything was new, freshly updated.  We asked when these renovations happened, and it was all in the past two years, with the director advocating and looking for donors to sponsor all the updates.  It was wonderful to see how passionate she is about these kids, and made me feel so good about Tory waiting there for us.

The director left, and we were alone with Tory and our translator, who told us that she took the 40 pictures we received when we first inquired about Tory.  The pictures that were almost two years old when we committed to her.  So our translator, who we saw all week loved being with these kids, was personally invested in Tory finding a family.  I was so glad she was there for our first meeting!

We spent our time with Tory, just playing... with Legos (she gave Scott every single teeny tiny piece she dug out), with playing cards (we called the game "Tory Makes the Rules" because she would deal the cards in the order she wanted, take them away from you at random points during the game, and declare a different winner at the end of each round), and with the toys we brought.

She was still a bit reserved, keeping her personal space, except for one picture of the three of us, which for us was very reassuring, because all our education has stressed attachment and how it's important that children *don't* hug and show affection to each person they meet. 

She looked through the photo book we brought, stopped at each picture, and "kissed" each of us.  She'd say again and again, "I love Mommy, I love Uncle Daddy, I love the girl (Ayden), I love the child (Elijah), and I love the baby (Sadie)!"  She would just look at us and grin, and once she ran into her bedroom and called "Obicham te, Mama!" (I love you, Mama). 

A couple of the girls came into the room that afternoon, and they were learning English in school.  They were so proud to say "Hello.  How are you?  What is your name?" to us, and us respond.  One of the girls was the one who had fixed Tory's hair, and Tory loved any attention she got from her.

We left that afternoon with her standing at the doorway of the orphanage, and as we walked across the yard, she ran to each of her friends and said, "I have a Mommy!  I have a Daddy!" and showed the pictures to everyone.  Everyone.  She beamed the whole afternoon, and so did I.

We actually drove the director home that afternoon, to a larger city about half an hour from the orphanage, and she talked most of the time, asking how we thought the first meeting went, telling about the orphanage meeting the new EU requirements, talking about how happy she was that Tory was being adopted.  She talked about her son studying American legislation in college, which is why she was without a car.

Once we were back at our apartment in the capital, Scott's first words were "Whatever it takes, we've got to get them home fast!"  The difference between the two orphanages was night and day, and we were sad for Denny that he has grown so little in his, and thankful beyond measure that Tory is in such a wonderful place, especially considering the medical update we received just before we traveled: that she has Type 1 Diabetes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Recap of Our Trip: Visit 5

I dreaded even getting up that morning, because going to see him meant saying 'goodbye' for the next several months.  But it also meant one more visit with this amazing little boy who, even when he was just a picture and especially now that he was real, had stolen a piece of my heart, and that was worth a few more months of waiting.

We drove to the orphanage, no sign of the cars that forbid us to drive the day before, and waited in the corridor while our translator went to have documents signed by the director.  A few moments later, and we wove our way back to the playroom to see Denny.

I walked in, scanning the room for my sweet boy, and didn't see him.  Another scan of the room, and he had turned his face toward us, and no wonder I didn't see him, his hair had been cut!  He had ears!!!  (You think I'm kidding, but his hair stood UP a good 4" on the top of his head, and was long enough that you couldn't see his ears.)  I rushed over and scooped him up, and he leaned in for the kisses he knew were coming.  A smart boy, that one, knowing that mommy loves to smooch on those cheeks! 

I asked our translator, and she confirmed that they had cut his hair for his visa picture.  Which meant that we got to leave the orphanage with him.  His physical therapist joined us, and the five of us drove down to the city, Denny sitting between Scott and me, his hands resting in mine.  In that short time, I imagined what it would feel like in a few months, knowing he was out for good, and I had to stop thinking, because I was getting emotional.  (They call it a "paper pregnancy" for a reason.)

I carried Denny from the car to a small shop tucked away in a corner of several buildings, and I had a moment where I thought, "I wonder how far I'd get if I just started running now."  I'm not in jail in a foreign country, so obviously logic won over insanity, but I get to be honest here, and it was a real thought.

Getting a 5 year old boy, who is cognitively and developmentally about a year old, to sit up with his head at just the right angle with his eyes looking straight at the camera and not irritating him in the process was no small task, but finally it happened.  I wish I had a picture of the scene, me practically laying on the stool, with Denny sideways on my lap, my arm hiding behind his body to push him into sitting up straight and move his head to the right position.  There were no less than 10 pictures taken, and I was so happy when the photographer finally looked pleased with a picture!

We waited for the photo to be cropped and printed, then we started back up the mountain to the orphanage.  The orphanage is not like most other places you go, where they fade into the scenery and you have a hard time picking them out from any of the other places around them.  No, this building was visible from the highway as we came into the city, and at almost every turn up the mountain, you get a view of it.  Every time I saw it on the drive back, it was silently pointing out that Denny was still stuck there, that I couldn't have him yet. 

Back in the playroom, we were left alone with Denny, and I wanted only to snuggle with him.  Our translator was in and out of the room, but she stayed on the far side of the room so Denny wouldn't notice her there.  I hadn't forgotten my goal of getting him to go down the stairs on his own, so when he seemed like he was ready to go, we made our way over to the stairs, and up he went.  At the top, he grabbed the railing again, knowing what I wanted him to do next.  I helped him bend one knee while stepping down with the other foot and cheered when his muscles didn't fight me to do it.

Once down, we circled around to do it again.  This time, at the top, he watched my face as he took a step down on his own, and I cheered so excitedly that Scott shushed me (oops)!  Denny is smart, capable, and loves to be praised!  He has just been trapped in a place where he has not been given more opportunities to grow and develop.

We sat back down with Scott to spend our last bit of time just being together and, even without a watch, I knew it was time to go.  More time passed, and no one came in to announce that our time was up.  I was thankful, but Denny was starting to get restless.  I didn't want our last visit to end like the day before, so I asked if it was time for him to eat and take a nap.  Our translator said the other children were already eating, and that we would need to leave soon so he could eat.

I stood Denny up, and he started walking with me, and I let him lead where he wanted to go.  Not surprising to me, he went straight for the door leading out of the playroom, knowing it was time to eat.  I picked him up and held him close once more, taking in my last moments with him as we walked back to the door that led to his bed.

When the door opened, he leaned into me, not wanting to be handed back, but thankfully he didn't scream.  I don't know that my heart could've handled leaving like that again.  I don't know if he expected us to be back again after his nap, but I prayed for him to know we'd be back as soon as we possibly could. 

We saw his physical therapist, and remembered that we never took the picture that I wanted of him with her.  She brought him back out and we sat together, getting a quick picture before leaving again.  Denny went back to his bed, and the physical therapist walked out with us.

I tried so hard not to cry as we left, and again I failed.  I can't even type without crying.  Leaving is hard.  It was, to date, the hardest part of the adoption.  It doesn't matter how much you tell yourself that it's the next step to bringing them home, or that in only a few months you'll have the rest of their lives, it's hard in the present, and in each day that passes.  I am so, so thankful that we took lots of pictures, because I look at them all the time. 

As hard as leaving was, it was bittersweet.  As our translator said, leaving meant we got to meet our daughter.  And she was only a picture for nine long months.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Recap of Our Trip: Visit 4

Denny always seemed more sluggish at our afternoon visits, and once again he was carried out to us and we made our way to the playroom.  We needed to give him about 10 minutes to wake up, so we sat together and I sang, bounced him on my knees, and played peek-a-boo until he was a little more alert.  He was eating up the attention and affection, and was really leaning in for kisses.  He would giggle every time my lips smacked his cheeks! 

Scott held Denny a bit, and they took in the view from the window.  (Denny prefers women, understandably so, since the only two men we saw at the orphanage never spoke to us or acknowledged the children, so he didn't want much to do with Scott until this visit.)  And we quickly discovered that Denny can almost run with the right motivation!  If Scott held Denny's hands, and I walked backwards on my knees, calling to him, Denny would do his best to run to get to me!  We were moving now! 

He had endless energy with this game, so we put the stairs to the test with our new game.  Scott helped him walk up the stairs, and I stood ready on the other side, to help him bend his leg and step down.  He needed a LOT of help, but when he made the first step down and I cheered "Bravo!!!!" his whole face lit up.  It made my heart so happy to see him love the praise so much.

Those were the fastest 2.5 hours of our trip, and we got our 10 minute notice from a caretaker.  Denny was doing so well this visit, and I wasn't ready to leave.  But leave we must, so I carried Denny back through the corridors that twisted to where the littles ate and slept.  The caretaker who just popped in to tell us we had 10 minutes was nowhere in sight, and another worker was walking up the stairs, and said she would take him.

I pulled Denny's arms from around my neck to pass him to the worker, and as I did, he started screaming and twisting to get back to me.  I fought every maternal instinct to pull him back to me, and the worker tried to shush him as she walked away, but I could hear him crying as we walked away, tears streaming down my face.  That was the first time he preferred me over someone else, and having to leave him right then was gut-wrenching.

The whole drive back to the hotel, I rode with my sunglasses on, trying to push back the tears, and quietly failing.  I thought about leaving Sadie in the NICU on my discharge date, and how similar the feeling was, even though one was carried in my womb for seven months, and the other in my heart for only three months.

Scott's words that evening mirrored my feelings, when he told me that he didn't care what it took, we had to get them home fast.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Recap of Our Trip: Visit 3

We drove up to the orphanage, and were stopped by two cars half-blocking the road, and a woman wagging her finger at our driver/translator.  We were told that a helicopter was passing over the trees next to the road, to spray chemicals, and that we couldn't drive on the road, and needed to park on the road that forked off of the road we were taking.

Somehow a difference of 100 ft. in where we drove and parked made a big difference, and we were okay to walk down the road to the orphanage, but told not to breathe in what the helicopter dropped if it passed again.  Reassuring, really.

We arrived to find Denny sitting on a big rocking fish in the large playroom, and I scooped him up immediately.  He definitely remembered us from the day before.  We were asked to move to the next room, which was much smaller, but we were able to focus solely on Denny.  We had little room to move, but we walked back and forth down a small hall that was part of this room connecting to the large playroom.  He was uninterested in the toys, unless one was in your hand, then he was interested long enough to toss it aside and take your hand.

After about an hour in the small room, the six or so other littles came filing out with the caretakers, and we were able to go in and work with Denny with a little more elbow room.  His physical therapist came in again, and we started with our questions while she showed us that she can't get him to walk down the therapy stairs, because he doesn't realize that he needs to bend one knee while stepping down with the other.

This became my goal for our time with Denny.  As much as I just wanted to sit and snuggle with this little guy, he's really ready to be mobile, and I had five hours (over the last 3 visits) left to work with him.  I was determined to get him to walk down the stairs before our visits were over.  Going up was no big deal, but he stood, stuck at the edge of the stairs going down.  He was eating up the praise, at least!

The therapist moved Denny to the ball pit, and that morning, he just did not want to be there.  He quickly got frustrated, and began to cry.  Immediately I had him back in my arms, but he went from frustrated to inconsolable very quickly.  A glance at the clock showed that he was right at lunch and naptime, so we needed to leave.  I hated to leave him crying, but knew he was with the one woman who shows him love, so it made it easier.

We walked back to the car by way of a trail on the back of the orphanage that lead down to the other road.  We saw old orchards and gardens, with rusted gates leading in, but no home remained.  We saw old cars and beautiful views.  My love for this country grew by the day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Recap of Our Trip: Visit 2

We dropped our bags off in our hotel room, then met our translator to walk downtown to have lunch.  Our translator asked us what types of food we liked, and we told her that we didn't travel to another country to eat at McDonald's, so to please take us to a typical restaurant.  We sat in an outdoor part of a restaurant, one of several in a long line of restaurants and bars in the pedestrian area of the city.

Even before our food arrived, there were four or five cats circling our table, as if to say, "Look, Americans!  Maybe they'll take pity on us and give us a scrap!"  Our food came, Scott's meal a chicken leg with vegetables, mine a pork skewer with tomato, cucumber, and mashed potatoes on the side.  The cats were persistent, but easy to ignore, but one lunch guest was allowed to have its fill of Scott's plate of food: a yellow jacket.  The bee would fly over to Scott's chicken, tear off a small piece, and fly away with it.  I had never seen anything like that before, but I learned that I'm not the first one to have seen that and in some parts of the US, yellow jackets are called "meat bees."  (They are not called yellow jackets in Eastern Europe, by the way.)

After lunch, we asked for directions to an electric shop, because the adaptor we bought for the plugs did not work, since the plugs there were recessed and round, and our plug was square.  We found the shop, tucked away down a road I'd probably never be able to find again, and I paid less than $2 USD equivalent for the adaptor, which made me ill that I spent $13 on the one that didn't work.

It was time to head back to the orphanage, after Denny's nap.  After the ten-minute drive from the hotel to the orphanage, we walked in again, and this time we were asked to wait in one of the corridors, walls made entirely of windows that overlooked a play area one one side, and another windowed corridor on the other side.  The corridor was lined with plants, ranging from small hostas to snake plants, and while we waited, I followed the lace curtain as far as I could walk around, and realized that it was one long and continuous panel of lace.  The section I followed was at least 20 ft. long.

Finally, Denny was carried out and handed off to me by a caretaker, and we made our way back to the playroom, by way of the balcony.  Denny grabbed on to the swing as we walked past, and Scott received a nice bruise from being an inch too tall to miss the air conditioning unit sticking out next to the door we walked back into.

Once in the playroom, Denny seemed a bit more sluggish than he had in the morning, and there were no other children in sight.  We were told he was just up from his nap, and after playing with him for about 15 minutes, he started to perk up a bit.  Our translator talked to him, and he ate up the attention.  We talked to him, too, and he leaned his face into mine, loving being kissed.

It was in the afternoon that I really noticed his teeth.  The top teeth had a bit of plaque in the crevices, but his bottom teeth were not even visible, because of the thick layer of yellow plaque covering all but the very tips of what we believe are still baby teeth.  We found out that morning that he was still bottle-fed, with the pureed version of whatever the other children were eating.  Based on his bottom teeth, I guessed that he was just propped with a bottle, which would explain why he burped a lot in the afternoon.

Two hours of walking, dancing, climbing through the ball pit and up the therapy stairs passed quickly, and a caretaker came in to announce that we had 10 minutes left.  I quickly began to dislike the caretakers opening that door, because it meant the end of precious time with my son.  But Denny was tired... typically having one hour a day with someone who cares about you and 23 hours of mostly unengaged time, and then having 4-5 hours of attention in one day is exhausting.

So we left, back down the mountain to our hotel, where I fell asleep until time for dinner.  We walked from the hotel to the pedestrian area again, and chose another restaurant.  And oh, my first dinner in Denny's region is one I will never forget, and will most definitely try to replicate at home.  I'm going to cover my favorite meals in another post, and hopefully I'll be able to find recipes or just wing making them on my own, so I can share pictures.  Because I didn't want to be *that* person, the one with the big ol' camera at the dinner table, the "crazy American."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Recap of Our Trip: Visit 1

We woke up Monday morning, packed up our bags, loaded them in the car, and made a 1.5 hour drive to Denny's region, where we would spend the next couple of days.

Even before we got to the city where he lives, our driver/translator pointed to a sprawling building up on the mountain and told us, "There is the orphanage."  We drove through the city, every turn to his orphanage etching into my mind, and I can vividly remember scenes from each day at the various buildings and homes we passed along the way.

We entered through the left part of the building, which we were told was the baby house, where Denny still lives, despite being almost 6 years old, because there is medical staff there.  We passed ride-on toys, walked through corridors, squeezed through doors that would stick half open, from the building settling over the years.

We squeezed past people, nodding and saying "Dober den" to each one we passed, and finally came to a small, dark room to be introduced to the director.  We sat on a small couch, waiting for Denny to be brought in, and I remember a large eye shadow compact sitting open on the table in front of the couch, like we had interrupted the director finishing putting on her makeup.

After a conversation between the director and our translator that lasted only a couple of minutes, the door opened again, and in the arms of a caretaker was our Denny!  I felt stuck, trying to find a way to squeeze around this little table and Scott's legs to get to my son, without jumping over the table.  Very quickly, the translator suggested we go into another room, so we went down halls, ducked under lace that hung over doorways, out onto a balcony that stretched the length of the orphanage, and into another hallway, through doorways, and finally made it to the playroom.

There were probably 7 other children in the playroom that morning, and the caretakers in the room quickly whisked all the other children out, so we would have the room to ourselves to play.  "Playing" for Denny meant nothing more than wanting to hold our hands, and any toy we offered was tossed aside, because toys were only in the way of holding our hands.  I held him close to me, rocked him, and told him we were there to be his Mama and Daddy.

His physical therapist came in, and I knew from the moment I saw her eyes that she was a kind person, who loved my boy very much.  She explained that she works with him for an hour a day, Monday through Friday, and that he had made a lot of progress, but not like being in a family.  She showed us how she works with him, and we used our hands as toys, encouraging him to walk, climb the therapy stairs, walk around the edge of the ball pit, and dance. 

By the time 11:30 came, Denny was tired, and his physical therapist took him to eat and have a nap.  She told our translator that she would be back the next morning if we had any questions for her.  We thanked the director for having us there and left, driving back down the mountain to take our bags to the hotel and find a restaurant for lunch.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Letter to You... Yes, You!

Dear (Your Name Here),

Our adoption process began in January.  Maybe you've been part of our story since the beginning, been part of our lives for years.  Or maybe you've only recently been introduced to us, or only know us as my profile picture on facebook.  Either way, this letter is for you.

We would not have spent a wonderful week in our kids' country without everything you have done for us.  I mean it.  I think back over the past several months, and I cannot even wrap my mind around how we have gotten to this point.  You entered giveaways, bid on auction items, ran a 5k, played in a soccer tournament.  You bought a t-shirt, a book, cleaning supplies, purses.  You emptied your basements into my van for a yard sale.  You gave us amazing items for giveaways (still grieving not being able to enter my own Chick-fil-A giveaway), crocheted hats and made jewelry.  You made $5 donations, $100 donations, and even $1,000+ donations.

And most importantly, more than the money and the participation in our endless fundraising efforts, you've been excited for us.  You've asked about where we are in our process, when the kids will be home.  You've congratulated us on every small milestone, and listened when I groaned again over how endless this process is.  (Sometimes, you've even told me to put on my big girl panties, and I needed that, too.)  And you really just don't know how important it is to know that we're supported, that our children are loved.

We're coming home now, after meeting two children God has made a place for in our family.  Our daughter and son.  A sister and brother.

We're not finished yet.  We still have more time, more paperwork, more financial mountains to climb.  But you have brought us this far, and we wanted to thank each of you for that. 

We love you, and are so incredibly blessed that you have chosen to be a part of our adoption story.

Scott and Chandres

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Goodbyes and Hellos

Yesterday was a long day, with a lot of emotional ups and downs.

We spent the morning with Denny, for our last visit.  We drove downtown to have his visa picture taken, and the orphanage staff had given him a haircut for the picture (it was so nice to discover that he has ears!).  We spent the rest of the morning in the two play rooms, but he is very big on having hands to hold, so a lot of our time was spent sitting together, with his hands in mine.  I kept promising him I'd be back, that he'd have hands to hold forever in just a few months. 

Normally, one of the caretakers would come in 15 minutes before we needed to go to tell us, but yesterday, no one came.  It was the last visit, the one none of us wanted to end.  My sweet boy was tired and hungry, and I didn't want him to be upset when we left, so when he walked me over to the door, we took that as our cue to leave.  A quick photo with his favorite caretaker later, we were off, and I did my best not to be an emotional wreck.  (Our translator assured me that it was good for me to be upset, which I know, but I was a little worried she'd think I was nuts... good for me that she understood.)

As sad as it was to leave him, I knew that leaving meant we got to meet our Tory, and I've longed for that for about nine months.  When we arrived, the director told us that Tory got dressed to meet us first thing this morning, and had been waiting all day for us to come! 

We first met with the director and the nurse, to go over her medical needs and her plan, since we now need to make sure we have everything in order to handle her diabetes.  (We're going to meet with doctors once we're home to go over current dosages, diet plan, etc.)

Then, the director asked if we wanted to meet her, and I couldn't hide my excitement!  "Yes!  Please, please!"  And in came a shy little thing, her chin tucked into her chest, and she sat next to Scott on the couch.  Our translator suggested I give her one of the toys we brought, and I reached down and handed her the doll I made.  That was all it took!  She hugged her and said she was never going to put her down!  Only seconds later, she was digging through the bag to see what other goodies she could find!

She absolutely loved the photo book we brought, and wanted to show everyone that she has a Mama and a Dad!  We spent another hour together, playing with the toys we brought, and watching her little personality come out.  When it was time for us to leave, she didn't want to walk out with us, and we believe she was crying.

Yesterday was emotionally draining, and I was physically exhausted.  I spent the evening wondering how Denny felt with us not coming back for an afternoon visit, and hoping that Tory didn't cry for long after we left.  This is definitely a roller coaster ride, but a few months from now, it will all be worth it!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Second Day Visits

My sweet Denny was a little overwhelmed this morning.  He is not used to having quite so much attention; instead he is used to being with a group all day, and only having an hour of one-on-one time with his favorite caretaker.

We arrived at 9:30 this morning, to find a happy Denny playing on a big toy fish rocker, and you could tell that he recognized us from yesterday.  We moved into the next room to play alone with him, and got him to walk even more.  He will do just about anything for you if you are holding his hands or if he is trying to get to your hands.  But when he is done walking, he sticks out his bottom and refuses to move his feet or lets his body completely flop.  So, our time exercising sounded something like this: "I-dee, Denny, hup, hup, hup.  Bravo!" ("hup" comes with each footstep)

By the end of our visit, around 11:30, he was very tired and hungry, and started to cry.  We left our sleepy Denny with his favorite caretaker, and told him we would be back. 

After a quick nap (thank you, jet lag) and lunch downtown, we bumped into Denny's favorite caretaker, walking through the pedestrian area between all the restaurants.  She and our translator talked for a moment, and it was decided that we would go with Denny downtown tomorrow to see where he has therapy twice a week, and then go to take his Visa photo.

This afternoon, we were greeted by a still sleepy Denny, who just woke up from his nap.  (He has the biggest cowlick/mohawk I've ever seen, by the way, and it stands just a bit taller after his naps.)  He was a bit zoned out at first, but we turned on the radio and took care of that!  The boy loves music and loves to dance!  He was happy to work on walking, if that meant Scott moving him across the room and holding his hands while he practically ran to me, smiling and giggling the whole time.  Over and over, up the stairs, down the stairs, across the room, just not into the ball pit.  It's too much work for him, and he gets easily frustrated.  Plus, he knows that no matter what he does, he can never truly reach you, because he is IN the pit, and you are OUT of the pit.

We had a wonderful two hours together, and we love that we have so much time with him, but this afternoon, at 5:30, it was time to leave, and I carried Denny back to the part of the orphanage where he eats and sleeps.  When the caretaker came out to take him, he started crying, knowing it meant we were leaving, and he tried to twist out of her arms to get back to me.

I had no choice but to leave him with a "ciao" and a promise to be back in the morning, and it just ripped at my heart to leave him crying like that.  I am hoping our last visit tomorrow is easier, since his favorite caretaker will be with him.  Then we go to meet our girl, "Katrin."

Oh, I cannot wait until I am able to share pictures... his smile makes his whole face light up, and he has the best giggle.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The First Visit

We left the capital city this morning, to drive to meet Denny in his region.  The windy and chilly morning meant more people were driving to work instead of walking, so we were stuck in traffic until we made it far enough out of the city.

Thanks to traffic, we finally made it to the orphanage at 10:30.  We could see it from the main road leading to the small city, sprawled out on the side of the mountain, beyond all the communist-era block tower housing.

We pulled up to the orphanage, and our translator told us that there were two orphanages in the same building: the baby house for ages 0-3, and the second was for ages 3-7.  I assumed he would be with the older kids, but we entered the baby house, and went to the director's office.

A few minutes later, in came a little boy with a head full of light brown hair, carried by his caretaker.  I cannot describe the moment where the picture becomes a person, but he was just beautiful!  Within a few moments, everyone decided it would be best to move to the playroom. 

We made our way to the large room, and found several other small children playing.  The other caretakers took the children into another room, so we were alone with our translator and one caretaker, who was in and out of the room.  He loves to be held, especially to hold your hands.  Even when I carried him, he kept trying to get me to give him both my hands, without understanding that I was using one hand to keep him on my hip.

After about half an hour, he started to calm down a lot, not that he was hyper or excited before, but you could just watch him melt.  The caretaker said this is what he needs: to be held and worked with and loved all the time, not just the hour that she can give him each day.

When we went back in the afternoon, Denny was carried into the hall and handed to me, and we made our way back to the playroom.  He was excited to see us, and was actually willing to walk with me, whether it was holding his hands and leading him or putting him in the ball pit and calling "I-dee" (phonetic spelling for 'come on'). 

He danced to music, played in the ball pit, climbed the stairs, and walked around, as long as his hands were in mine, or working to get his hands in mine.  He showed off his speech, which was only "I-dee" and his name.  By the end of our afternoon visit, he was babbling quite a bit, which is very good.  Three more visits with my boy... I am so dreading leaving him here, but so looking forward to bringing him home!

(I know you all want to see pictures, but this goes back to January, when we signed a privacy agreement with our agency not to publicly share photos.  So, give me a few months, when the kids are legally ours, and I'll post more pictures than you can count!)