We were picked up from our apartment at 8:30 and began the snail crawl drive to the city. It took a little over an hour and a half. The car smog is bad and there were lots of accidents and stalled cars which made it worse. The city is the business center so there are lots of nice cars and nicely dressed and very fashion forward people to watch! We arrived at the Ministry of Education met up with our coordiantor Alyona and got into the tiniest elevator I've ever seen and up to our appt. It was an old office and we went in and sat while a young woman began to read the information about Maria to us. Most of it we already knew, except we found out a little bit more about our daughter. She was given up by her parents at one week old, had gastrointestinal surgery at 20 days old and open heart surgery around 5 months to correct an open oval window. She has vision problems, flat feet and is overweight. After to hearing everything we were asked if we accepted the referral and wanted to go meet her. We said yes and signed some papers. Then the lady told us how happy she was that we were here and that we had come to adopt Maria. This was a very easy meeting, and we were never asked why we wanted to adopt. There was a poster on the wall with a rainbow and sun and I asked what it said. It is for their adoption campaign and says, "Adoption- an everyday miracle." Couldn't be said better!
Then off we went to the baby house. It took us about an hour and 20 minutes. It is more in the country, lots of trees. We arrived and I was surprised by the colorful orange building and murals on the walls. We met the director, Olga, and were invited into her office, after putting on our plastic booties. The director told us more information about Maria. She is very open and wants us to know all about her. She also asked us a lot of questions. This part was hard. They are trying to evaluate us. This is a child they dearly love and care for and they want to protect her. They want to make sure we will care for and love her like they do, if not more. We were asked questions like, "What kind of qualifications do you have to raise a child with Down syndrome?" "Do you have what it takes to care for this child?" These are tough questions! I never had to answer these with my biological children! After more questioning, they began to feel more comfortable with my answers. Then they pulled out a photo album and showed us pictures of Maria when she was a baby up to now. We were promised a copy of all the pictures on disk- we are so blessed!
Then we got to meet her! They took us into a room with some couches, a little acitvity table and chairs and toys, a cage with a parakeet and a huge altar with religious pictures and candles. When she walked in the room, there were two things that surprised me. First, she was wearing these adorable blue glasses! Second, she was huge! She walked right over to me and climbed up into my lap and put her head on my shoulder. She stayed like that for a long while. Every time she looked at Kike, who was taking video, she would get a serious look on her face. Then she started to talk to the bird. She would say his name, Keesha and then say hi, Preevyet. She would say it in a high pitched voice it was really cute. If I ever get the videos to post, it is too cute. Then after a couple of minutes, she leaned in and gave me a kiss! This is my daughter and I am her mama! We actually had a long visit. We showed her the photo album with our family's pictures. She repeated all the names. We also gave her a magnetic drawing board, the kind that you can slide the thing and it erases. She loved it! She loves to draw and paint. We also showed her some things on the iPad, and they showed us some of her artwork.
Then she had to leave for lunch and a nap. She did NOT want to go, but they carried her out. We then went to eat at a nearby restaurant. I tried borschdt for the first time-delicious! I didn't realize what was in it- it's like a beef soup with cabbage, onions, beets and potatoes.
Then we went back because they asked us if we would please take photos of the other special needs children and try to find families for them! Um, YES! I was surprised about this too. They were very open here. They love these children and they don't want them to go to the institution. They want them all to be adopted. This is really important! This is a very good orphanage to adopt from because of the level of care and love they receive. Imagine the horror they will experience when they leave this loving environment. They kept thanking us over and over for coming for Maria. I know it is an answer to their prayers.
We got to then meet Charlotte, who Kelly and Kyle Dirkes, will be adopting. There are several RR kiddos here and some that we hope to add. They all need families! They don't all have Down syndrome. Some have cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, apert's syndrome and other special needs. A couple of the kids in the group are typical children and not all of them are available for adoption. There will be another post advocating for these children at a later date.
We spent another hour playing with Maria and the kids in her group on the playground. We were trying to hug and love on all of them, and Maria was getting jealous! That was a great sign! Then we had to leave and spend 2 hours in traffic on the way home. We were pretty exhausted!
Today's plan was to go to the baby house at 9 and stay until lunch. Our driver took us, but the coordinator did not come today. A translator would come for us though. It took about an hour and 15 minutes to get there, with little traffic. When we got there and went straight to the play room. They brought her in and she came over to me and hugged me. She was wearing a cute pink halter top and capris. We could see her scar on her chest from heart surgery. They got out some watercolors and we painted with her. They director had another woman come in who was a Defectologist, which maybe means a Behavior Specialist. They asked us questions again. I realized about halfway through the day that this lady was here to evaluate us too. She actually stayed with us during the entire 3 hour visit. We also got to watch her eat her snack: apple juice, an apple and a pear.
Then we went outside to play. We had a great bonding moment. She wanted me to hold her and kiss her and she would start cracking up. Over and over and over I would kiss her and she would throw her head back and laugh. I also got to rock her and sing to her.
Today she really bonded and opened up with Kike. She would sit in his lap while he showed her the video of her. We also got a taste of her strength when she tried to grab the camera from him. It was a bit of a wrestling match, but Papa won! Later, they rolled a car back and forth. He told me he could have done that all day long with her and it felt so natural and that she was his little girl. We then had to take her in for lunch. She did NOT want to go. When they told her to tell us bye (Pak-A), she waved bye to them and tried to leave with us. Break.my.heart. We stopped by the director's office before we left and she told us that yesterday she cried when we left. Tomorrow she is planning some type of outing for us to go on with all the kids, maybe to the zoo! Very exciting.