The most euphoric days of my life were the days I brought my babies into the world. I now have a third day to add to that list. Since we left for Ethiopia, I have felt like we were about to meet a celebrity. We have watched his video no less than a hundred times (each), stared at his pictures for days on end, researched everything we could know about his history, yet we have really known nothing about him. Today was the beginning of a lifetime of learning, knowing…..loving.
It couldn’t have gone better from the minute he walked in the room and the orphanage director (I think that’s what she was?) announced his presence. He was beaming with the sweetest smile I think I have ever seen on a child’s face. He walked over to us without any hesitation and gave me a hug. Next he hugged Larry and then Buddy and Lou as the director introduced us as “Mommy, Daddy, Brother and Sister.” The first thing I noticed about him was his dimples–they took his cuteness factor off the charts. I sort of saw them in his photographs we were given by WACAP but they weren’t as pronounced as they are in person. His gentle, warm brown eyes are enough to melt your heart. He didn’t speak a word but seemed very at ease with us. After our introductinos, we sat down and played with a small blow up ball he brought into the room with him (great move on the part of the orphanage–instant ice breaker). We sat in a circle throwing it to each other. Buddy and Lou were as smitten with him from the minute we met him as L and I were. They were very natural with him, the language barrier not prohibiting their play for an instant. Larry brilliantly started saying the name of the person he would throw the ball to and the kids and I did the same, in an attempt to add some repetition while he learns our names. He didn’t say a thing the entire time we were with him, but we did get some chuckles out of him, and he would watch us intently as we spoke to each other. And we noticed he has lost his first tooth–a lower incisor. We tried to talk to him about it but he didn’t have a clue as to what we were trying to ask–he’ll know soon enough when he loses another one and the tooth fairy visits him!
Paige gave him two of her silly bands and when she started twirling the remaining pink one she kept around her fingers, he started mimicking her and twirling his. When she put hers on her wrist, he did the same. He loved the wind up toys we brought. He was particularly impressed with the ladybug who would wheel around and then do a flip. Eventually he turned her upside down to study her parts, even holding it up to his ear after he wound her up. Buddy and Lou were frustrated that I wouldn’t get out more toys for him, but he was content with what he had and I felt like it would overwhelm him to keep adding more to the pile.
The orphanage served the adults coffee and all of us popcorn (which tasted like kettle corn as it was semi sweet). Then they put scarves/shawls around each family’s neck. It was such a kind gesture. The social worker in Awassa and the orphanage director would occasionally speak to him in Sidemenga with a bit of a stern tone, for instance, when he turned the ladybug upside down to study her parts. I think they wanted to remind the children to be on their best behavior to make a good impression and I wished so badly I could have said to them, “He’s fine. I want him to be comfortable and act as normal as possible!”
At times, he would seem a little tired and look around the room, observing what the other two families who were meeting their children were doing. My favorite moment of the experience, by far, was when he would look up at me and hold my gaze. He would smile gently and we just studied each other. This was surprising to me. I didn’t expect him to want to make eye contact for long with any of us yet. I know we have a tremendous amount of bonding and attaching ahead of us, yet I sense with my entire core that he consciously wants the connection too and will work for it. I may be a naive new adoptive parent in saying this but I’m going to run with it and hope I’m right to some degree.
Eventually, Solomon, WACAP’s social worker informed us it was time to leave. I think we spent a little over an hour with him. Tomorrow we meet his uncle (thankfully–I have been so worried he wouldn’t be able to make it) and I’m hoping we can go outside with him and see some of the orphanage and the other children. I would love to see him interacting with his friends in hopes of hearing him speak more. Whew, the language barrier will definitely be a hurdle but oddly, I’m not terribly worried about it (and anyone reading this blogs knows that I worry about everything!) Honestly, I’m not worried much about any of it. It will be a challenge in many ways, but I am so excited about all of it, the good and the bad, and I can’t imagine leaving here without him.
Somewhere, on some level, I sensed Mama with us today and I know she will surround him with her protective wings until our return. Lou summarized the experience best on the day we left for Ethiopia when she randomly said, “I think I have this thing figured out. When we go to Heaven, a new life begins.” Yeah, I couldn’t agree more.
**I am posting these photos because WACAP told us we could share them with family and friends only until we pass court. What I’m trying to gently say is please do not forward this to anyone! We want to respect our agency’s policies and could jeapordize their work in Ethiopia if they thought we were sharing them with the world before he is legally ours on July 5th! Enjoy!