The only thing I can think to compare this week to is my wedding. We planned and planned and then in a blur our wedding was over and it all seemed so surreal. I don't think I have attended a single wedding where I did not cry, or at least have to fight back the tears...and one thing I dreaded about our wedding day was that I would be a mess. Our wedding day came and went without my ever shedding a tear (okay maybe my eyes filled up a time or two, but it was far from normal for me). One of my big fears in coming here this week was having to face an orphanage full of children without families and most of all having to say goodbye to our little boy. I thought for sure I would become an emotional mess and the workers would see me as completely out of control (slight exaggeration). And yet....I only had one evening where I felt overwhelmed with emotion. I know that so many people were praying, and that God gave me strength that was not my own....but I also think that in situations such as these, it is just so surreal that I don't react as I normally would. It's as if I just can't even wrap my mind around things enough! This is somewhat irrelevant to the events of our trip as I have been documenting them, but something I have found interesting nonetheless.
It feels as if we have been here for months, while at the same time it feels as if it can not possible be the end of our short trip. I can't believe we have said goodbye to our precious boy, and I know this realization will soon set in. We have, however, had an incredible experience here and our time with Levi was truly blessed as we have asked so many of you to pray for time and time again.
Today we arrived at the baby house about ½ hour later than the rest of the week, only to find that Levi was still sleeping! He was certainly exhausted yesterday, so we were glad that he had slept well. They woke him when we arrived which we felt badly about, however they insisted that they were going to wake him soon anyway. He clearly needed some time to wake up so we held him and just played a little until he was ready. He soon found his energy and began crawling around as he played with his various toys. I think his favorite has been the book that we made him….not necessarily for it’s purpose of the pictures of our family, but rather for chewing, licking, sliding on the mats, and flailing around in the air. Everytime he sees it on the mat, he crawls over, grabs it, flips right onto his back and holds it up. For some reason he always chooses to hold it by the page with Luke and I on one side and Caleb on the other. This would be exciting, except that he hardly ever held it right side up, but always upside down or sideways. If you tried to take it from him to turn it around, flip a page, or control it in any sense, he would immediately whine and express his displeasure. He is very particular and is not afraid to let you know. I love it! When we were walking around yesterday we wanted to get him one small thing that is from Russia, and at first this proved rather challenging. Most toys, clothes etc. are made in China and are written in English with some Russian words added, but everything looks just like what you could find in the US. Our facilitator suggested we look for the famous Russian toy which comes from a popular cartoon there. We found one (Cheburashka) that talks and sings in Russian and brought this to him this morning. He seemed to enjoy the familiar language and the song especially, and we played with this for some time as well. After a couple hours, it was very evident that he was tired once again. He just stops being so active, starts to be more cuddly, and eventually starts to cry. When I picked him up, he immediately stopped and rested against me. It is so simple to make him happy again…he just wants to be held and loved. Oh how my heart melts every time I pick him up and he rests against me. We stayed that way until he had to go for lunch and a nap and I treasured every minute!
During his time away we again went downtown and walked around a bit, exploring more of the town. It was interesting to see where he goes to the doctors for checkups, etc. We returned to the same restaurant as the other day for lunch and experienced a little more Russian cuisine and then headed back to the baby house.
We had three hours remaining with him, and he was much more awake and ready to play. It’s crazy to think that it was only a few days ago that we met him for the first time. He comes so easily to us and our time together has become such a routine. We set up the mats when we arrive, put out some toys, sit down and wait for him to come play! It makes me cringe to think that tomorrow we just won’t come and he won’t have the slightest idea why. I understand the process, and yet this is the part I cannot fully agree with. Yes it is hard for us, but we understand what is going on….I wish so much that he KNEW we were coming back and did not want to leave.
We thoroughly enjoyed our last few hours, and ventured out a bit with the toys…..we pushed him around on a toy train (he seemed indifferent to the ride, but liked the horn and my saying “choo choo, all aboard”), had him ride on one of those inflatable bouncy animals, and took out some large rings used for I don’t know what. He seemed to enjoy himself and of course loved the random rings the most. He flipped them back and forth on the mat for what seemed like forever. That and playing with Luke’s pinky finger seemed of the greatest interest to him for quite some time. : ) His attention span is quite long, and as I said, he knows what he likes! Finally, we gave him a stuffed dog we made at build-a-bear that has a voice box inside with us saying “Hi (real name)”, “We love you”, and “we’ll see you soon” in both Russian and English. He really seemed to love the dog…..twice he sort of bent his head down to look into the dogs eyes….it was quite cute. Unfortunately I don’t think he can press the Russian toy or the dog on his own, but the caretakers there seem very sweet and I do believe they will do it for him from time to time. There must always be someone there with us, but here and there others would come in to watch us play with him, and they would interact with him as well. A few took pictures of us with him on their phones. They really love him and it shows. This has been a tremendous comfort in having to leave, and I know we should be grateful.
At one point in the middle of our time, I could tell he was starting to get tired again and when he started to cry Lucas tried to pick him up and calm him down. He just kept crying and pulling towards me. I picked him up and he immediately stopped crying and lay against me. In four days he has learned that I am his momma. I am the one to go to for comfort. Not that Lucas couldn’t and I am sure if he had persisted, Levi would have calmed with him as well. But he has seemed to enjoy playing with Luke more….I know he has enjoyed playing with me as well, and he has expressed this, however the belly laughs have come when Luke is flying him in the air, or being downright silly with him. He has learned too that daddy is a lot of fun and loves him a great deal. This is amazing to me…I truly could not have dreamed of a better time with our son. He clearly has his own adorable personality and we have absolutely adored getting to know him. I cannot wait to bring out the toys at home and to sit down and play as a family with both of our boys….and then to cuddle and hold them close. Yes, I think reality is starting to set in and the real test of patience has only just begun. Praise God that He cares about every detail of this adoption, every hair on that precious boy’s head, and that He WILL see it to completion in His perfect timing!