Where do I begin?! There is so much I want to share and have written so that I don't forget....I apologize in advance if this is all over the place!
Our journey here was surprisingly smooth....I think I just kept waiting for us to hit a major traffic jam, our car to break down, or the plane to crash. That sounds terrible now that I am typing it, but for some reason (partially due to my tendency to worry that the worst will happen) I had assumed we would encounter at least one major obstacle. Our flight to Moscow was long, but really not all that bad with the exception of my apparently excessive motion sickness when on a plane over 5 hours. We quickly learned that Russians eat well, as we were fed 3 meals during the 10 1/2 hours we were on a plane, all of which had several "courses" to them. We somehow managed to miss our escort in Moscow who was there to help us make our connecting flight to Krasnodar, however there were signs in English and the people who checked us in managed to communicate with us well enough.
We arrived in Krasnodar on Sunday (Saturday for all of you!) and our facilitator and driver met us there to bring us to our hotel. Our hotel is comfortable and nice and overlooks the main street here in the city. When we arrived the main road was blocked off, which is tradition on weekends (it is quite similar to Boston in our opinion), and there were street performers, vendors, a concert, and lots of people walking around. This is the custom on weekends, but it was also the birthday of the city, therefore the celebration was a bit larger than normal. We quickly put our things away and walked around taking pictures and exploring briefly. It's really quite beautiful, and the weather is perfect (high 70's). That was pretty much day one as we were beat and after skyping with our little man we were able to get some rest!
So today was the day we've been waiting for! After attempting breakfast (fried chicken and macaroni were amongst the items at the breakfast buffet at our hotel!), we met our facilitator to prepare for our meeting. The meeting was scheduled for 10:30 and they made sure to remind her not to be late. We met and discussed various questions she said they ask everyone, and then walked over. We were a little early, however they invited us in and we sat down in an office ready for our interview. About five minutes, and several statements later (we were not asked a single question), we were given our refferal and asked if we would like to meet Levi today!
We had to wait for him to eat lunch and have his nap so we walked around the city a bit and talked with our facilitator before driving to the town where the Baby Home is. When we pulled up, I was surprised at how pleasant it seemed. I wasn't really sure what to expect as I have heard of and read about such a variety of experiences people have had in orphanages. This, for children birth to age 5, is called a Baby Home and had two play areas in the front with a variety of swings, slides and toys for the children. It was rather quiet when we entered, however I am not sure where the children were, as we had gone up several flights of stairs. There were a few offices and a large room with various toys, a television and a piano. This is where we waited to find out if we could see Levi or meet with the Director. After several minutes a woman came in with Levi….he is just so precious! He just stared at us, looking from person to person as if trying to figure out what was going on. Our facilitator put out a mat and we sat down to play with him. She handed him to met and his little heart was beating so hard! I can only imagine how nervous he felt with all of these strangers, and not having any idea what we were saying to him! Luke made funny faces and played with him and he started to warm up. He stared so seriously and intently at him, just waiting to see what he would do next. Then he discovered all of Luke’s jewelry (yes, Luke’s….many of you agree that he wears more than me half the time!). He wanted to touch and pull his bracelet, play with his watch and feel his ring…it was so cute to watch him interact with his Daddy! We gave him his little bunny blanket which he enjoyed swinging around by the ear and chewing on (he is most certainly teething!). Our facilitator gave him a small tambourine and I think we played with that for almost an hour! He was so sweet….he would copy what we would do, and then if we did something silly he would wait for us to do it again….and again…and again. I would have played with that tambourine with him for the next 4 days if they let us stay! As time went on, he would start to smile at our attempts…he also seemed to love it when I clapped and said his name and would often smile if I did so.
He was taken to have a snack at some point so we were able to meet with the Director of the house. She allowed us to ask questions and provided us with the little information she did have. Then she asked us questions about our family and about Caleb, provided us with some copies of documents, and even left us with an address for Levi’s birthmom. We are hoping to go to her house and attempt to meet her, so please keep this in your prayers! Information she could offer would be amazing to have for the future to share with Levi.
After the meeting we were able to take him outside to play….his favorite caretaker was with him and we pushed him in a stroller to one of the play areas. We were able to push him on a swing, have him ride a see saw and play with a toy truck….so simple, but so priceless. He was obsessed with our sunglasses and as soon as he had the chance he grabbed them and began to chew on them : ) There were other children outside in the other play area (probably all around age 4) and he loved to watch them play. At several times they were standing along the fence calling out to us. I wish I could have understood and answered, but we waived and smiled. They were so precious!
Although we didn’t see many children and not to the effect I had pictured, I have still been amazed at the peace I have felt. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for all of the prayers on our families behalf. God has truly blessed this process and gone before us and paved the way. We know that even if we do face obstacles, He is in control, and we have had some setbacks and delays, but everything is happening in His perfect timing. I have not broken down emotionally as I was so afraid of, and I have not felt nervous or uneasy about meetings and potential interviews which is so far from my personality. I know this is a peace that can only come from God and knowing so completely that this is His will and therefore I truly don’t have to be worried.
As much as I hated to leave, I must say that the caretakers at the baby house truly seem to love and care for our little boy. They all stopped to talk to him and get his attention and were so sweet with him. It all still seems so surreal, but I am so thankful that we have finally met him and been able to love on him!
We were told there is little chance of him coming home before January, but I am still going to hold onto the small chance that they will allow him to come home sooner for medical reasons. He will likely not have his second surgery there and we are so grateful that we may be able to be there with him through that experience. We will certainly share more details once he is home and officially a Cruse! But for now I will try to keep updating every couple of days!