I took these posts from my family blog where I chronicled the visits to the orphanage to see Grace before we brought her home. It is the "back story" of how we met her and how the relationship developed. I know several have been interested in the adoption and more details so here it is. It is long so if you are not interested just skip this one and head down to the next post with the video of Grace's adoption process
JOY and GRACE
We wanted to share some joy with you today!
The Lord has blessed our desires and efforts and We have begun the process to adopt a little girl.
We met her a few weeks ago and have been visiting her and writing about our visits. We hope to have her in our home in a couple weeks, to begin the 3 month fostering before the adoption can be conpleted. She is 1 1/2 years old and has been in an orphanage since she was about 6 months old. No one has ever come to visit her....Until now!
If you are interested you can read the daily account below!
Please rejoice with us and pray for a smooth and speedy transition into our home!
Friday ==Day 1
We went to the Social Welfare office. We had been there a few times already and referred by a baby orphanage. We met with the woman 2 weeks before and she had told us to come back after a certain date because the committee was having their quarterly meeting. At this meeting they go through the children and discuss the cases and see who is available for adoption.
When we arrived, we spoke with a woman and she told us that there were not many girls available. Then a few minutes later in discussing she said she had picked out one for us though. She was 19 months old. But before we could go see her and find out about her she needed to find the paper that her and her colleague had written out of the available children and their names. She rummaged around the desk and kept looking under a stack of papers turned upside down under a writing tablet. I am not sure if that was for safe keeping or hiding. She told us that we would have to come back on Monday when she had the paper. She rummaged one more time as she was telling us to come back, and while she rummaged I prayed. Just then she found the paper. It was just a piece of notebook paper that she very willingly showed us with the children's names and ages listed and where they were. Then several of the names had another name off to the side of the social worker who was "taking" the child to refer them to a family. We saw the list and looked and she was the only girl available under 2. That actually made it easy. We didn't choose because God had already chosen her.
We asked a little more about her and which orphanage she was at. It was almost 5 pm, or 17 hours. We decided to go ahead and drive out there anyway. We were directed back to the baby orphanage to see her. When we arrived we asked for the social worker there and was told that she had already left. We went ahead into the baby rooms and asked to see her and told them that we had been directed to them from the Department of Social welfare.
A few women talked to each other looking for her. She had just been moved up to the other orphanage which houses little ones form 18 months to 4 years old. It was very nearby and so we were given directions and decided to go and see if we could find her there and meet her.
We were welcomed warmly ( I think they are used to visitors and volunteers) and brought into the orphanage. It is just a house that is the orphan home. So we came into the living room, where 25 toddlers were all playing, screaming and crying. As soon as we walked in several kids came up to James and I and just started clinging to us. We sat down on the couch. More kids came over and climbed up on our laps, hugging us and laying their heads on our chests and laps.
We asked which one was "BABY". They said something to us and pointed in a direction. There a little child stood not really coming over to us or looking at us. Then they walked out of the room with that little one under their arm. A few minutes later they brought that child back in and then brought her over to us. It was her. I had thought she was a boy because of her short hair and boy clothes she was wearing. She sat with us and we talked to her a few minutes and then we carried her around the house as one of the women gave us a tour of the orphanage. There are 2 bedrooms with 2 sets of bunkbeds in each. 25 kids. A girls room and a boys room, with at least 3 or 4 to a bed. Then they showed us the bathroom with all the little potties lined up. There was a classroom which was also where the kids sat to eat the dinner which was just about then. So we put her down and she walked over to her plate. They all bowed in prayer and then started eating their nshima. rolling it in their little hands and dipping it into the sauce and eating it. We said goodbye and she gave us a little wave and then went right back to eating.
We left and then started the discussion on the drive and over dinner that night, about adopting her!
We took the kids to see her. All the kids were in the room again and they were all interested in the 7 white people. The kids took turns holding her very briefly because then she wanted to get down or another sibling wanted to hold her. We did notice though she doesn't really like to go to any of the boys or James. That is understandable since she has only had women raising her. Our kids played with the other little ones there as well.
That day she was wearing a fuzzy white coat over a boys sunsuit that was too small.
Tuesday ==Day 3
I went to visit her alone. I walked in to the orphanage and met the head lady.
She invited me to sit down. We talked a few minutes and I told her that we had been here over the weekend to see her.
She said, "oh I heard about you". And then told me she was so happy when the babies find homes. We talked a little more and then I asked if I could see her.
She said oh yes, go right ahead. The orphanage has 2 groups. She is in the younger one, having just transferred from the baby orphanage.
So she was in her classroom. 3 Americans had just walked into the orphanage after me and they are here for 2 weeks volunteering. So, they were already in the classroom off to the side. The woman brought me in and all the children were sitting in tiny chairs, and on the floor. The woman said here is her class and then said lets wait and see. As soon as she saw me walk in, she looked at me and immediately got up out of her seat and came over to me and started giggling.
It was so precious!
I picked her up and started talking to her and she then started laughing! It was not because I was the only muzungu in the room, she was not even paying attention to the others, but she recognized me. The head lady told the teacher as she was walking to me, "This is her mama".
We had only visited her two times of maybe a total of 45 minutes. And she knows me.
I took her out of the classroom and was able to spend time with her by myself again.
I thought on my drive home,
What must that be like, to be sitting there in a room and out of all the kids, she is the one that has been "chosen". And she now knows that someone comes for HER. Not for the other kids, but for her. And not because we knew her and thought she was worthy of a home when all the others were not, but simply because the Lord has been gracious to her!
Sounds very familiar.
I took Emma and the little boys with me. We walked into the classroom and she seemed a bit more hesitant. She did not come over, but when I went to her, she let me pick her up and we went out of the room. We brought along a few books and the kids took turns reading to her and playing with her. She seemed to like Emma as well and let her carry her around. Crying when she put her down.
We all wanted to see her. We walked in and were welcomed into the orphanage. It was chaos. There were about 25 kids in the living room area of the house. Some were crying others walking all around not doing anything. We found her and then took her to get some shoes on. They brought out bright pink boots for her. We put them on and took her outside. There was a little chair in the yard so we sat her on it and gave her the sippy cup of milk and a few bites of banana. She liked it, and liked having others hold the cup for her to drink out. Emma then took the little boys to the other side of the yard to play on the swings. The rest of us stayed to read her a few books and dote on her.
Sarah held her and then Ian tried to and she cried and didn't want to go to him. Nor did she want to go to James, or even me. We walked her to the other side by the swings and Sarah held her a few more minutes. then she started fussing and screaming. I took her to try and calm her and that made it worse, so I gave her back to Sarah and she still was screaming and going limp. We walked back to where we were and tried to console her. The gardner came over when he heard her crying and she stopped for a minute. Then I thought maybe she would like to go back inside with the other kids. We went in there and she started crying and screaming. Neither I nor Sarah could console her so we gave her back to the worker and got ready to leave. She watched us go out a few minutes. When we got outside we still could hear her crying and I looked and Sarah was crying. It was so sad. Sarah was wondering if she would ever like us and then earlier she had felt bad that she did not want to come to me.
We explained that she doesn't know what is best for her. But she will learn to love us. And James made a joke about, "It's about time one of the kids likes someone besides mom."
Tuesday==DAY 6 I went to see "BABY" by myself.
She did very well and came to me. I just let her walk instead of picking her up and waited to see where she was going to go and what she was wanting to do.
We walked to the couches and I gave her the sippy cup. She was getting the hang of it now. Even able to drink out of it with the valve in. The first time I gave it to her, she couldn't drink anything out of it and was frustrated. So I spilled some out to show her it was the milk and then she drank some. She is used to a regular cup that spills out and she gulps down.
We read a few books, the Miss spider one that plays music is her favorite. Then we went for a walk outside. She picked up a tiny peach on the ground. We went around and sat down outside on the concrete in the front yard. She was wearing a pretty blue sweater and her hair had been done into sections. She started to take bites of the not yet ripe peach and then spit them out and hand them to me. She continued to do this for quite awhile, in between her sips of juice. I am not sure if that was the cause but a little bit after she just went to the bathroom- diarrhea all over the sidewalk as she was sitting there. I stood her up and we walked into the house toward the bathroom
she really likes these pink boots she was wearing that day. I took her to the toilet and then changed her. I took her clothes off and started to take the boots, she screamed and so I left them on. She then walked with nothing on but her boots, out of the bathroom across the hall to her room to get the dry clothes. Maybe I need to find a pair of pink boots, or offer to buy them from the orphanage when she leaves!
Wednesday ==Day 7
Emma, Caleb and Jackson went with me. We visited her and she mostly wanted to go to Emma. She did fine and then as we were preparing to leave we gave her back to the woman. She walked out with her to say goodbye to us as we were leaving. The kids all were waving heading for the gate, Carol just followed in line and started waving goodbye to the workers and then got to the gate and when she didn't go out with us she started crying! Jackson was so cute that day he said, "I know… we should pray for her! " We pray all the time at home, but he thought to pray right there with her.! So sweet.
Wednesday we also had our interview. I am amazed at how "easy" it is so far. The home assesment she literally walked in looked around said she liked the house sat down had a drink of water and said ok I have seen the place....So unlike the last time in USA.
I sat down in the office and had to wait for a long time for the woman to get ready. She finally came back in the room and just a few minutes later two co-workers/friends came in and sat down. She chatted with them off and on throughout the whole interview, apologizing off and on too at the distractions and that they was no other place to go that was private.
So right there, sitting in a government office with no lightbulb, and a woman passing through the hallway with a baby on her back, a basket on her head with dead fish that she was selling, I gave the information and answered the question, "Why do you want to adopt?". That answer was simple, … I told her There are so many orphans, children abandoned that don't have anyone and we want to bring one of those children into our home to love and care for them. To make them part of our family. That was the answer. Simple and short.
And I think about all the time and energy and money and time and energy and money and time and energy that was expended to seek to adopt before. References, referrals, a note from our pediatrician that all our kids were current on their vaccinations. A note from our vet that our dog was safe to be around…police checks, background checks, more doctor visits… And it all comes down to that question. "Why do you want to adopt?".
We brought Pastor Elliot and Borgman there to see the children at the orphanage. We saw her and she played with Emma and James. ( The other kids didn't come).
We had her sippy cup and she saw a few other kids and waved it to them and then pulled it against her chest. She was bragging to her friends, I have a cup and it's mine!
She had done that another day when I was holding her, she pulled her arm into her chest the same way "saying" she's mine.
While we were outside a young American couple walked in and "BABY" immediately turned to get down and walked over to the woman. She picked her up, not really aware I think of what was going on. Then the head worker brought another girl over to them.
We chatted a few minutes later and they are with Love basket, just arrived 2 days ago and are seeking to adopt a girl under 2.
For some strange reason they were told about "BABY" and visited her yesterday. Well I guess either yesterday or today they found out that no she is not available and then were there to visit another girl, who was slightly older. Very weird. Then even as we were talking later she went back to her.
When we tried to take her away from the area earlier , initially I brought her inside and she threw a huge fit screaming and even said, "MAMA" referring to this other lady.
It was all awkward and strange. The woman felt bad and confused I am sure.
We talked with them about adoption and sounds like they were told now that there are no girl under age 2 available in Zambia. I do feel for them. Jet-lagged I am sure and then confused by the policies and ways of another country. They have 2 kids back home.
SO reminded me of Ukraine. It is crazy how they can say that and know its not true, but ultimately there were only about 15 kids on the list of "Adoptable" when we met with the social worker a few weeks ago, I saw the list.
All the other kids are either not registered with the social welfare or have a relative come visit them occasionally or were dropped of and told that someone would be coming back for them soon. She said the last person that came through love basket came and was home in a month. That just depends on the judge I guess, whether they have to foster 3 months or not. I really want to look into that later and figure it all out if we can help others to adopt and avoid the 3 month foster period...
It was all friendly and amicable but just strange. Robert Elliot said how great that was that we were there when they came today just to re-confirm that she is "taken" in that sense. Makes me wonder though who said she was available and if it was intentional or an oversight of paperwork to know, but we have been there several times a week for the last 2 weeks. Even in God's providence I was there yesterday and the head lady was talking to me and then brought out a sheet of paper with some fund raiser for her church. I contributed to it and she was so thankful and pleased.
Who knows if that helped, not at all in a bad way but just a way that she remembered yes, she is now becoming attached to me and that she was disposed favorable to me then. Who knows...
I arrived earlier at the orphanage today so she had just gone into her class. As I walked down the hallway I heard different kids crying and then also the teacher singing, "there are seven days in the week…" I opened the door and then said hello and started looking for the little sweetpea. The kids were sitting face the other way so I was having trouble finding her quickly. I saw one girl wearing the same thing she had on last time I was there but then realized that wasn't her. Thankfully she got up saw me started crying a little and came over to me. I picked her up and we headed out of there. We went to the living room to sit down. I got the regular books out and her milk. She didn't seem to interested in drinking but in playing with my phone and keys. She also really likes the "That's not my bear" Usborne book. It has all the neat things to feel.
We played a little bit then went outside. It was colder and I didn't bother to ask about the shoes so I carried her around. We found a piece a tiny piece of a pipe fitting on the window sill and so she held that for a while. I then sang to her, the bedtime song that I have sang to all my kids. She became real still and listened as I sang and kind of rocked her as we walked back and forth. I could tell she was getting sleepy. She was facing me and had her head near my chest. Every now and then she brought it close as if to lay it down but then didn't. A couple times I gently tried to lay it down and then she popped right up. So we did that for a little while and then she became more alert and wanted to do something different. So we walked a little more and then I took the piece of piping and put it back on the window.
Well she certainly did not have that as part of her plan. She screamed and cried and lunged backward, went limp..etc you get the idea. Big time throwing a fit.
I decided to stick to it, she didn't need the pipe anymore and took her around to look at something else. She was not having it and continued the screaming. We came inside to get the books or the cup and she continued. I set her down to see , if she was wanting to go somewhere or what and she just screamed rolled around on the floor, crying and somewhat delirious it seemed. After several minutes one of the workers came in and asked what was wrong. I said well I took something away. To which they said, "Oh baby..Sorry sorry." Then one woman took her to see if she would stop crying. She settled some but then reached back for me. I took her again. Then she reached back for the worker. Then she reached again for me. So I took her and then the woman left. The head lady came over a few minutes later and started talking to us. By that time she settled down and was able to drink her cup. I held her in my arms as if she was drinking a bottle and she drank and drank and fell asleep right there.
I knew she was tired. But also confused going back and forth to me to the worker…The head lady said, "Oh she is mad at you because you did not come visit her yesterday.."
I kept her in my arms and laying on my chest for about 20 minutes. She was sound asleep and even quietly snoring. As I sat there with her I thought about her as an infant without a mother. Today at 20 months old, was the first time she fell asleep in her mama's arms and laid on her chest.
The woman that gave her life and brought her into this world, died soon after her birth. But Lord Willing, she will now know a mother's love. The Lord has been gracious to this little girl in giving her a home. And gracious to us in giving her.
I saw her yesterday.
I always have a cup of milk and have started bringing a banana with me to give her. We have a routine now, she looks in the bag to see all that is in there and then gets her milk. I bring the same books, which has been neat to see her recognize and like to do the same things over. She was in the hallway when I arrived with a couple of older boys. They might have escaped from the class they were in. Having left maybe to use the bathroom.
So when I saw her she walked over and lifted her arms up. I took her over to the couch where we sat down. Immediately three older boys came over and started trying to take her cup and "her books". It was hard to decide what to do, but I decided to leave and take her outside. I am sure the boys needed attention and would love the books and to eat her banana. But I am working on developing time and a relationship with her and I realized she felt threatened with me and the others around.
So we went outside to eat and read. That went fine. Later we went inside to change her wet clothes.
Side note: They claim she is potty trained. Every time I get her she is wet and within the hour she wets again. Probably b/c she drinks a cup of milk too. But one of the first times I noticed she was VERY thirsty when she drank her Tea at snack time. Yes all the kids drink tea. So all the kids really walk around wet. After the first day visiting I just go into the room where all the clothes are and try to find something for her to wear. There are alot of clothes but all very big and then no bottoms or if the have bottoms then they put underwear on that is too big.
So we went to find something to change her into. I sat her down on the bed with her cup and a baby rattle. immediately these same boys came over and grabbed stuff from her and she started crying, and trying to defend herself.
I looked and then was struck with a new understanding of her. It is a fight to live in an orphanage.
Kids take things from each other in every family. But in homes where parents are concerned and love their kids, they don't just let it happen without consequence. Here the kids have to fight to keep anything including food.
It broke my heart a few weeks ago to see a little boy, as sweet as can be, savoring his last morsel of food. All the kids were outside playing and I sat next to him on the mat. I watched and for about 10 minutes, he had a tiny ( and I do mean tiny) piece of bread. He put it in and took it out of his mouth and held it and then put it back in and out for 10 minutes.
That is life in an orphanage. And this is a good one where the kids do eat 3 meals a day, and have some little bit of protein with their nshima.
Yesterday one of the boys had an older brother who came to visit him in the orphanage. He left a few minutes after I got there, and the little boy just stood at the door and cried and cried. Huge streams of tears down his cheeks.
One of the workers came and got him after a few minutes and walked around holding him.
It was only him in the hallway and our little one.
Sweet story for that day, was that she went over to him and gave him one of "her toys" that I had brought for her. It was so sweet. I praised her for sharing it with him and told her what a good girl.
This was so happy to see because just a few minutes later she was throwing a fit on the floor, screaming and crying because she couldn't go into the kitchen like she wanted.
I am usually a bit apprehensive as to what to do during those times, in the orphanage.
But as I tried to hold onto her as she was starting to buckle under and lay on the floor, she made eye contact with me and cried out "Mama" and I felt pity for her.
I wasn't upset that she was throwing this fit, but rather saw it as what it really is for her right now, a cry for help.
She needs someone to love her enough to say no you can't always have what you want, and not just give in to avoid the tears.
I don't know if this is more her "testing" me, but I know she needs love. True love, which seeks what is best for her.
I am sure every parent knows, a child needs boundaries and though they may initial "buck" at them, it is what makes them feel safe, secure and loved.
Another piece of information I heard the other day is that they get these little ones up at 5 in the morning.
I am sure that adds to the crankiness of some at any rate.
But the more time I am spending with her, the more I feel like I am Starting to understand her.
The last few visits it has been getting more difficult to leave her.
Monday I went with the boys to see her. She had her tea. Here are a few pictures. Ian was helping her hold the cup.
As soon as they put it in front of her before I could even get to her fast enough she took a drink, steam still rising out of it and then spilled it down her front. Hot! Now why do they give tea to babies????
Later I put her in the chitenge and walked around with her, she was fine for a minute and then started crying and screaming. I knew she was tired and within 3 minutes I think she was out. Fast asleep. It was sweet.
Then Tuesday I went with Emma. She did well. Emma had her on the swing outside and I went back inside to get something. She hopped off and started saying Mama and walking toward the house. That too was so sweet.
When it was time to go we went back into her class because I heard them singing and thought maybe it would be easier to leave her in her class with her friends. Apparently not. We stayed in there about 10 minutes singing with the other kids. Emma held her and I picked up another cute little boy who was soaked through. Just dripping wet almost. He immediately put his head on me and started sucking his thumb. He is one of the youngest also, part of the group of 6 which included BABY and another girl being adopted that came over from the other orphanage at the same time.
When it was time to go, not only did we have BABY crying but this little boy as well.
It seemed like it was worse.
Then today James and I went to visit her briefly. It was nice for both of us to go again. We brought her outside since all the kids were in the living room. We gave her the milk and banana and read the books. Then we played peekabo and blew kisses. James was pointing to me saying Mama and touching my arm. Then she looked down and started touching my arm too. Then he pointed at himself and said, "Daddy" and then she touched him where he was pointing. Then we pointed to her and said her name.
We then walked over to the swing. I put her in it and then she fussed to get out. So I got her out. Then she reached back to get in, so I put her in, then she fussed so I took her out. Then I set her down on the ground to see what she wanted and she walked over to the swing, took the 5 leaves or so that were in the baby swing out one by one and then proceeded to climb in the swing. James then pushed her (higher and faster than I ever have) and she was laughing and loving it the whole time!
When it was time to go we went back inside to visit with her and the other kids because we knew dinner was already in the kitchen so they would be eating soon. Again I was thinking this would be an easier way to leave. Turns out once again not so. As soon as we came in I sat on the floor with her and other kids came over and she was not at all happy. Crying and screaming and trying to push the kids away from her and me. Again this was hard to see. 2 factors. Her temper and her fear. The first, not good, but the second totally understandable.
I knew exactly why. Kids take toys, and food away from her why is "her mom" any different. She thinks they will take that away too. We wanted to give some of the other kids the love and attention as well the last few minutes we were there, but that did not happen.
So we left and as we were driving away I told James it is getting harder and harder to leave her there. He said it shouldn't be much longer, maybe a couple weeks.
We have all been praying that we would hear something this week.
Even as we were driving to the orphanage I told James, it is something that we are back to the "waiting for the call" stage!
The more later was that very night James and I were eating dinner out and we got a call from our social worker saying to come and get the papers and within a few days we would get her and bring her home!