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.