Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 4: The first day of visits

Maria's View:
Morning visit-

I woke up super excited to see our little man this morning!  We grabbed our diapers that we are required to provide now for him (stage 4, the same stage that my 18 month old is wearing) and headed out the door.  We waited on the curb for our driver to pick us up.   When we arrived, the view of the orphanage got me again.  What a very dreary, sad place.  We went into the building, having to dodge the cute little ones as they were making their way to the playground.  So sweet!  They were all smiles and extremely curious.  Our facilitator took us to his groupa and the nanny welcomed us very warmly, actually.  She took the diapers from us and got our little boy from a back room.  I would love to see his living conditions but I'm not sure that I ever will.  There is also another little boy with Ds in this orphanage and I would love to get my eyes on this little cutie.  Again, not sure that I ever will.

We were given the rules.  They would like for us to take him outside for 20 mins.  Sounds good to us!  Then we are to take him to an area called the playroom for the remainder of the time.  It's not much of a playroom, though.  Just a large area rug that we aren't allowed to wear shoes on and a plastic playhouse, piano, and a large potted plant that he can not touch.  Oh, and there's a huge panda bear sitting on top of the piano.

They bundled him up and passed him over to us.  Let me tell you, clothes can be so deceiving.  I could feel his little hips beneath the thick clothing and they are tiny.

We walked around the orphanage, trying to avoid all of the little ones playing in different areas on the playground.  The playground is a pretty large one and wraps around the orphanage.  I watched as a little groupa of probably 3 year olds ran to their little play shed, climbed the small fence to get in, and began to play.  The nanny turned and walked back inside.

We found a bench to sit on, next to an empty play shed.  We sat him up on the bench to see if he was able to support himself.  He could!  His low muscle tone, however, makes him very wobbly.  I took him off of the bench, looked around to see if any of the nannies was looking, and sat him on the ground (a huge no no) just to get a better idea.  He can definitely sit unsupported.  We picked him up and Chris pulled a balloon out of his bag and started blowing it up and then letting the air out of it.  "Finn" figured out that he could mash the air out of it, too!

Within a few minutes, "Finn's" nanny came out with a few of the children from his groupa to the empty play shed.  She seems like a good nanny.  She always speaks to him well and I pray that she's sincere. 

We didn't want to go against what they told us to do so we promptly took him back inside after being outside for 20 mins.  We took off our shoes and put him on the area rug in the playroom.  It was then that we discovered he can crawl!  It is a very stiff, awkward crawl but he can definitely travel.  His nanny walked by and told us that we could take off his top thick layer.  Yeah, he's skin and bones.  Very, very small.  I brought 18 month clothing with me and I think the pants will prob fall off of him.  Bless his little heart.  After I took that layer off, though, he came alive.  He began to roll a lot and he has a curious streak.  I took his shoes off (size 3 baby shoes) and he grabbed one and put it back down to his foot as if to tell me to put it back on.  He babbled a few sounds but he is not verbal at all.

He is very lovable, though!  So soft and squishy!  Chris handed him to me so that he could put his shoes back on and as Chris walked by, he reached his arms back out for him.  Of course, Chris stopped what he was doing, took him into his arms, and left me to carry the backpack that was much heavier than our little boy.  haha.  He's definitely a Papa's boy!!

Evening Visit-

We were pleasantly surprised this evening!  The nanny had him ready to go outside for his 20 mins of sunshine.  Afterwards, we brought him back inside and took off his thick layer of clothes and we began to play.  We learned that he can actually get himself into a standing position all by himself... and he almost made a step.  ALMOST!  So proud of him!  As I watched him walk with assistance, I could tell that his hips are just so loose and that he doesn't have good muscle control.

We are beginning to see a tiny little stubborn streak!  He doesn't like to give things back to you once he has them in his hands... I have to take things away quickly and get them out of sight fast!   Today, we let him play with a toy car, a balloon, our photo album that we made for him, and a spongy ball.  He knew how to play with the ball... We rolled it back and forth with him and he was really good about returning it!  The car, well, it appeared that he tried to roll it on the ground, but then he began hitting himself in the head with it.  I'm noticing that he does that with everything.  He took his hat off and immediately starting hitting himself in the face and head.  I'm pretty sure this is an orphanage behavior and hopefully we can help him to stop doing this.  Also, another orphanage behavior is coming through... it appears that when he gets overstimulated, he starts hitting his head on the floor. 

As I was rolling the ball back and forth to "Finn", his nanny walked in and said his name loudly and then said, "Privyet!" (hello) and stuck her hand out to him.  He reached up and shook his nanny's hand!  As his nanny was leaving for the day, she said his name loudly and then said, "Paka Paka!" (byebye) and he yelled out in a tiny high pitched little voice, "Pa Pa Pa!"  It's so obvious to us that his nanny is starting to show us that he is doing certain things and we really appreciate that.  I really feel that this particular nanny is taking good care of him.

He is SO small, though.  I snuck a peek inside his footed sleeper that he was wearing and his legs are so thin!  I imagine he's around 20 lbs at 3 years of age.

Our girls are doing great and we are so pleased with how they are coping with us being away!  I think they are doing better than me!!  So proud of them!

It really was a good day.  I really just want you to know what our days will be like and then we will just blog about highlights of the day instead of the whole day so that we won't bore you too much! haha.  Thank you for your encouragement and prayers!  We really appreciate them!!!

Chris's View:

Today was a good day.  We got up and, even though our driver was slightly late, we found out that the orphanage is not super strict on the time window that we get to spend with our boy. 

We have two visits, obviously if you have made it this far you have realized this, the morning visit is from 10:00-11:30, and the evening visit is from 4:00-6:00.  This seems to coincide with feeding times.  When we got there this morning, his nanny brought him out to us.  We exchange our passports for him each visit, which is a little unnerving being in a foreign country and surrendering your passport... the sole document that proves you are American and in their country legally. 

We started our visit outside, which I think is probably best, since it seems like he may not get much time in the sunshine.  As soon as he gets near a window, he flings himself back to get a better look, and when we pull him up to continue walking down the stairs, he kind of moves to try to position himself to keep the view. 

He interacted a little bit this morning with us outside, but not too much.  He seemed really interested in the photo book that we brought with pictures of us & the girls.  He wanted to eat it!  He seemed unimpressed with the balloon we brought though.

After we had spent about 20 minutes in the sun, we headed back inside.  We went to what they consider a playroom.  After seeing this, 99% of all American kids are spoiled ya'll.  It is a room, maybe 30'x15', with a large area rug in the middle of mostly tan.  The room walls are very muted, so much so that I cannot even picture the colors.  They tried to liven up the place by putting a handmade scene made out of cloth on one of the walls, I guess to break up the muted palette.  In the room is a plastic outdoor playhouse, a piano (which I am sure they'd throw a fit if Maria started playing some Amazing Grace on), 2 potted plants (which we were told specifically he cannot touch), and a 2-3 foot tall stuffed panda bear (which is probably more for show than anything).  We CANNOT, for any reason, wear shoes on the area rug, which is kind of odd.  If no one can wear shoes on it, why does it feel so grimy?  So, we began playing on the carpet, and found out that he can crawl.  He still wasn't very "alive" like he was the first day we met him.

As his nanny passed by, she told us we could take off his outside clothes, and the boy came to life.  He was crawling around, rolling around, and playing with the little plastic car we brought.  He still didn't really care much for the balloon though.  The time came to a close, and we delivered him back to his nanny.  On the way out, while I waited for Maria to wash her hands, I watched the nannies get the children's lunches from the kitchen window.  They would lay a cloth out on the table near the window, and pass a couple pots & a kettle through the window.  They would receive the pots back and they would stack 2 of them in the center of the cloth, bring the corners up and tie the pots inside.  Then off they went to feed the children.  Today's lunch smelled like cabbage.

We left the orphanage and went back to the apartment.  It was time to try some of the local cuisine.  We surveyed the options and finally decided to try a place called Kafa in the shopping center near the apartment.  I did not take a picture of the food, but will try to describe it.  Think of the twin popsicles that you can share... you know, the ones with 2 sticks in the bottom & you can break the whole thing in half to share it.  Yeah, the main course was something similar to this.  It was like a sweet sausage meatloaf twin popsicles!  Uh... N-A-S-T-Y!  It has been a long time since something made me gag.  This did it!  Along with this atrocity of a main dish was a coleslaw type salad with corn in it (the best part of the meal), some potato wedges (I don't know how you can mess these up, but they sure did!), and some red, salty juice drink stuff that I can only assume was beet juice.  Maria had a doner kebab (shaved meat in a tortilla/pita style wrap with veggies and cheese)... she really got adventurous (that was sarcasm)!  After what I could eat of lunch, we walked to a little coffee stand in the shopping center and we shared a $2 coffee... BEST COFFEE EVER!  Starbucks has nothing on this place!  We finally walked back to the apartment to wait on the evening visit.

We got back to the orphanage a little early and the nannies were taking food from the kitchen window again, and going into the rooms.  It seems a little off to me cause we were only 10 minutes early, so we hope that our boy got a full meal.  When the nanny brought him out to us, we again went outside to enjoy the sunshine.  He got to swing some, he seemed unimpressed, and we just walked around and enjoyed being outside.  When time was up, we went back to the playroom & immediately stripped off his outside clothes.  Right back to life... we assume he doesn't like to be bundled up.  The highlight of the night was when, under his own power, he stood up and took a half of a step!  Holding on to a hand, he can take several steps, and holding both hands he can walk fairly well.  I think he'll be walking by himself in no time!  The nanny started opening up to us more and showing us things he can do, which is really neat.  Honestly, who knows his personality better that they do?  For all intents & purposes, they are his family.  Our boy seems to be very mild mannered and we have yet to hear him cry at all, even when he banged his head into the wall.  He's coming alive more and more every time we see him... all these kids need is a little love & affection!

When we got back to the apartment, I cooked us some Bear Creek tortilla(less) soup.  Yeah, no tortilla chips, but the soup was phenomenal!  Best meal we have had since we left Germany!  LOL!  We wish we would have brought more... note to other families waiting to travel!!!!!!  GET THIS STUFF!

See ya'll tomorrow!

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