Saturday, August 7, 2010

One Year Ago, Metting our Son

I did not sleep all night. I stood by the window looking at the Care Center almost the entire night. If I wasn't standing by the window, I was sitting up in bed stretching my neck towards the window. During the night, I heard dogs barking and I also used the bathroom outside our guest house room once. There was one mosquito in the bathroom and that was enough to make me paranoid and escape back to my room.

Just before 5:00 a.m. I heard chanting over the loud speaker from the nearby Orthodox church. The sun began to rise, which was a sight for sore eyes. I got up and decided to quietly gather my stuff and take a quick shower before my family awoke. One by one the rest of the family woke up and prepared for the big day. As you can see, however, some of us slept way longer than the rest of us:

Preparing the morning of the big day: Not that great of the picture but we didn't take many that morning.

After a yummy pancake breakfast at the guest house, our agency drove us to their office for orientation and paperwork. I don't remember much about this meeting because all I could think about was how far we had come on this journey and how close we were to meeting our son.

After our orientation meeting, the bus driver drove our group to the Care Center for our first meeting with our children. Upon arriving at the center, we were asked to turn our cameras over to the guard at the gate because no cameras were allowed. Once we checked in our cameras, we exchanged our shoes for a pair of rubber shoes they provided for us outside the home.

All the families were seated inside in a sitting area on the main level. A social worker explained that she would call one family at a time and one by one we would be followed by the photojournalist, Sammy, who will video tape each of us meeting our child(ren).

After the first couple returned with their baby girl, I was fighting back tears.

Avery then began expressing a displeasure with all the new smells. She was feeling weak and ill. I suspect she was experiencing altitude sickness as well. I was hoping and praying that she would not get sick. But just as the social worker was approaching our family (we would have been about the 3rd family called), Avery vomited all over.

I brought her to the bathroom and tried to wipe up as much as I could with toilet paper. Fortunately, just before we left the guest house, Steve had decided to throw in an extra shirt in our back pack for himself just in case he needed it. So, instead of the shirt Avey carefully selected as the one she wanted to wear to meet her new brother, she was wearing an over sized red, men's T-shirt that looked more like a dress on her. But it was better than the alternative.

Once Avery and I returned to the sitting room, we found our social worker waiting for us.

Then, we marched up a couple flights of stairs, walked into a room full of toddlers, turned the corner and there he was. There was our son sitting up against the wall playing with 2 - 3 other toddlers.

He was wearing a red striped shirt and a jean jacket that fit him kind of awkwardly. He also had tennis shoes that were too small with Velcro that would not close. Our family all gathered around him on the floor. He appeared to be happy but he also had a glossed over look to his eyes, trying not to make eye contact with any of us. Looking back, I think he had some clue as to why we were there but he was trying to not over engage in us.

(In this picture you can see Avery's new "dress" and her holding a Kleenex over her nose.)

After rolling a ball back and forth with him, Steve picked him up like a proud new daddy and we joined the rest of the families in the sitting room downstairs. Samson could run and kick the ball well. He looked healthy and obviously had put on some more weight since our last social report on him. I remember thinking how I thought this must be all a dream. I mean really?! Is this OUR son? For sure?

I don't know how long we were able to stay this first visit but I remember how hard it was to leave him.


Andrea said...

Isn't it funny how different that first day is than you imagine it? How beautiful that you were all there to experience it together... sickness and all. Poor thing!

Kate and Jeff said...

I remember sweet Avery's new red 'dress'...sending love to your family.

Shannon- said...

I'm crying reading these looks back. And then.. then I spotted my guy. In the last picture (i think) way in the corner. I never recieved all the extra pictures from chsfs so everytime I spot one I have seen it gets me. These are beautiful. I'm so happy for you all. A year! Wow. Thank you for being so supportive of others in the midst of your own journey. HUGS!