Thursday, July 09, 2009

Gotcha Day! Part Two: In Our Arms

I had seen the route to the orphanage on film. I had watched it so many times. And here we were...driving the somewhat familiar streets...and yet seeing everything truly for the first time. There is nothing that can prepare you for some things in their reality. As we round a corner, Sasalwi points up at the sign. Toukoul. We turn onto a bumpy dirt road, past boys playing in the street, causally watching the goats in their care. Past a mechanic working on yet another beat up car, and finally we turn down the small road which brings into view the blue gate of Toukoul. One honk summons the guard who speaks a few words, glances at us with a smile, and opens the gate for our car to drive through. This is it. This is really it! "Well, We'll see you in a little bit" we tell Sasalwi...not knowing if he will stay or not. "Okay...I be right here when you ready."

As we go into the office, Ollie begins to fuss. It is an exceptionally fussy day for him. She is expecting us so she calls someone in and, as I am trying to get the video camera ready (just in case we are surprised quickly) I hear her mention the name Geda. A little girl of maybe seven comes into the office and wants to see the camera. Sweet girl. I am sure many of you know her who have been there. I think she is given a little bit of "special privileges" to go where she wants. It is though she is used to video cameras and nice people coming and going, and yet it is still novel...still amusing. I am enjoying playing with her, but a little on edge wondering at what moment he will come in.

Eventually, after talking a moment with the office manager, we are shown into the meeting room. There is a lot of pacing, excitement, disbelief. We are in the room alone...just us waiting for him.

"I think that is him! His nurse walks in, hands him to me, and leaves - just like that! It is so peaceful. So still. The rush of activity and noise I thought would surround this moment is only calm and quiet. I was perfect. He lays his head down and spends the entire visit snuggling with the two of us. Perfect. The meeting is perfect. After a few moments, reality hits and then come the tears. This is our boy - our son - My mind wants to call him Geda as I know it is a word he knows. Maybe it will comfort him or maybe we are the comfort he needs. I have never seen a baby so still and calm. I wish I knew why! Oh how I love this boy!" - Journal, on the drive back from our first visit

Before long our solitude is interrupted by some more honks. The door opens to the W. family and the N. family. We watch with Noah in our arms as their children are brought to them. It is a sweet sight to watch families brought together in such a way. All of these children just fit into their new families like there was no other way it could be. The families go back and forth between talking with one another and loving on our new kiddos.

Soon a nanny walks in and sings the word "Ge...da" No! It can't be over already. I hand him to the nanny and confront emotions I didn't anticipate. Handing him back brings tears to my eyes and as I watch him being carried away there is nothing but the feeling that he is my son. I love you little man! We say our goodbyes to the other families and walk back to the car.

This time the sights of the streets do not compare to the feelings we had just experienced. I ride back in a daze. Routinely get out of the car, walk inside, and sit on the bed. Wow. We have lunch, relax for awhile, and head straight back for the next visiting hours.

We returned to the orphanage once again, told them who we were there to see, and waited...and waited...told her again and waited. Finally, Geda was brought in. On this visit we actually put him down to get a better look at him. Yep...there he was: our Geda.

With each photo we received before we came, we waited for him to be smiling. Oh how we wanted him to smile! We tried and tried...looked at the other babies smiling and laughing...tried harder. Little did we know he just wasn't ready yet. He did make sounds for this visit. Small grunting sounds accompanied by short kicks and small waves of his hands. Then it would almost be too much for him and he found refuge in staring at his hand. It was an adorable hand, I didn't blame him. Every part of him was adorable: his curling eyelashes, his chubby round cheeks, those large dark eyes. We peeked under his shirt, took off his socks, examined what kind of diapers he was wearing...he was ours and yet not quite. He was not in our care yet. It was a strange feeling. We knew nothing about how he liked to be fed or what his cries meant. He didn't smell like my child. We were his parents but not his caregivers. I wasn't used to this and it irritated me.

I knew she was coming because he was getting hungry. And sure enough, she came: the lady in the white coat with the open arms to take him once again. "We love you baby! We will be back soon!"

"Once we left the orphanage, it was time for dinner. Sasawi knew of a nice Italian place. I asked if we could buy dinner for him but he just laughed and called us cute." - journal

When we entered the restaurant we found soft chairs...lounge style...and menus with wonderful sounding food. It was the nicest and quietest dinner that Josh and I had been to for a long time. Ollie slept peacefully and we enjoyed such a nice time together...reflecting on the events of the day and on our new son. Our only question was why S. would not join us. Was it because he did not fit in and would not be welcomed? Or because of his fasting? I wish to this day that we knew. We would have loved him to dine with us each time. Within the restaurant was a whole different crowd than we had seen. People were dressed much nicer than we were and acted much more refined that us as well. It was a lovely time. We finished, payed (a surprisingly small bill) and drove the short distance to the house.

It was an incredible day. What would follow in the night and the next day would prove to be the worst and most trying time of the trip. But that is for tomorrow.

To be continued...

*** Tonight I am having some problems with photos and videos. Check back for additions.


Janine the Bean said...

I just cried my eyes out.

Glimpses that this sister and aunt have not yet seen...the power of adoption.

Kat said...

I've been reading along and loved reading about the moment you met your son. I've been there and there's nothing like it. It brought tears to my eyes to see your video capturing the first moments. Thank you so much for sharing.

alpidarkomama said...

Jodi, I'm enjoying this so much. So eloquently written, and so very, very familiar! It's been fun to relive it along with you.


Sheri said...

such a great story and one that Noah will someday treasure!

I loved hearing the sounds of Ollie in the background. Sooooo very tiny! I forgot the "infant" that you took with you!