As much as I purposed to carefully record each day’s happenings and emotions, it didn’t happen. I think I will do my best to record our trip in potentially fragmented glimpses, impressions, and memories. I wish it were more polished, but this first trip was a whirlwind like no other!
It’s still surreal to consider all we put ourselves and Poppy and Bumblebee through in that first day. Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling; we were remotely functional only because of the adrenaline and pure amazement. The grace of God carried us clear through our travels and, indeed, through our whole week.
As I remarked to someone in the moment: it’s always exhausting to meet your child for the first time. 🙂
Because we had only a few hours to sleep before heading off to our official appointment, the girls slept in Chris’s and my arms the whole time. I think that we were all a little dazed with that first day of visits at the orphanage. I remember feeling like I needed a good night’s sleep so I could come up with a way to actually interact with Ladybug and not just smile at her and watch in wonderment.
Our first visit was rather short – we got there a little later than would be our usual for the rest of the week, and we had to leave after only about an hour so she could take her nap. Our translator took us to a popular-for-adoptive-families restaurant for lunch. Poppy enjoyed a Nutella and banana, Chris had something I can’t remember, and Bumblebee and I shared angel hair pasta with herb sauce. Bumblebee quickly fell back to sleep after eating a little, and it wasn’t long before we were picked up to return to the orphanage for our afternoon visit.
We met all of the children in Ladybug’s group that afternoon, and we got to see more of Ladybug’s personality since all of our attention wasn’t directly focused on her. We had a nice balance of 1:1 time and group time all week which enabled us to observe and interact with her in a variety of ways. It also gave us a chance to love of the other little ones – three of whom have families now pursuing their adoption and many others who still wait.
I didn’t know how to anticipate how Poppy’s and Bumblebee’s presence would affect our visits. It was challenging because we remained in parent mode 100% of the time, no matter how much we wished to direct our attention elsewhere or how tired we got (kind of like parenthood at home, huh? 🙂 ). However, there were unanticipated benefits: primarily that usually Chris and I traded off on parenting when the need was intense, which actually resulted in time for the other one of us to direct attention solely to Ladybug. Additionally, Poppy fell in love with a little girl there her age, and it was so sweet to see our oldest thriving in such a new situation.
Our week began to develop a somewhat predictable pattern: we’d awake no later than 9:00 AM to be ready for our 10:00 AM pick up. After a 15 minute drive, either via taxi or via our driver and always with our translator, we’d arrive for our morning visit with Ladybug. We’d play and visit and get to know her until about noon when she’d go down for a nap and we’d head back to the city center for lunch and walking/sight-seeing – this city is known for its many tasty diners and cafes and has plenty of points of interest to find! We’d return to the orphanage around 2:30, where Ladybug would be waiting for us following her nap and afternoon yogurt snack. Bumblebee was usually asleep in the carrier by then. We’d stay and play for 2-2.5 hours, leaving when Poppy and Bumblebee began to melt… or when Chris and I began to melt. We’d return to our apartment, 1-3 of us falling asleep on the way. We’d make it into our apartment usually no later than 5:30 PM, and we’d crash for about 3 hours. Then, it was up and at ’em for a night stroll to eat supper before returning to the apartment for bed, anywhere between 10:30 and midnight.
It was not a sustainable routine.
I don’t think any of us really ever adjusted to the time change, and the emotional tax on our days was high! Yet, our days were peaceful and spent playing, dining, walking, and sleeping. It was no frills, and our priority each day was always our time spent with Ladybug.
More memories and recollections to come!