Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Novokuznetsk Day 2...and then some

The afternoon of day 2 was a bit bittersweet. We knew it would be the last chance we had to see the boys until we returned, but we also got to spend almost 2 and a half hours with the boys. Steve started playing with Sam and I with Rowan. Not to far into the visit, Rowan got a horrible look on his face. When I looked at him, I discovered he had wet himself, which brought about the potty training question. The children start potty training early. They are training to a schedule - when they get up, before a meal, after a meal, before bed. They don't yet understand the connection between the urge to go, and going in the toilet. Looks like I will need some books on potty training. Rowan was taken away to get changed and was soon back to join us. After that, we decided that it would be good for Steve to spend most of the time with Rowan, to help him get used to Steve, and boy did it pay off.

The other couple that traveled with us took their son into an adjacent room and played with him. I played with Sam in one corner, and Steve played with Rowan in another corner. Quickly, Rowan began to start playing, which was more than we had seen him do in the previous visit. He found some stacking cups and began to pull them apart, stack them in order, and put them back together. Steve hid some cookies in the center cups for Rowan to find. When he opened the last cup, he saw the cookie, and began to put the cup back together. As he was doing that, he realized that was a cookie, pulled the cups back apart. This time, instead of smashing the cookie, he picked it up and started eating it as expected. I think I even caught a smile in there.

Sam was a bit of a cling on during the visit. I'm pretty sure we interrupted nap and snack time. He wanted to be held, but not really. He wanted to play, but not really. He wanted to do what he wanted to do, but couldn't really, because he had to stay in the room. He was fascinated at looking outside. I don't know if it was the rain, or the fact that he could hear other children playing outside, but he wanted to look outside.

He continued to run around like his hair was on fire. One moment with the balls, the next with the bubble, and the following with the books. He was incredibly fascinated by the books, especially the books with textures. He enjoyed flipping the pages, getting to the end and starting over again.

At one point we were playing in the ball pit and he decided that he was done. I knew this because when I tried to play with him, he reached up and smacked my face. I said the only Russian word that fit the moment - NO - except I said it in Russian. The translator saw the event go down, and started verbally disciplining him in Russian. He immediately corrected his actions. And this is how I know he understands Russian.

Steve and Rowan explored textures during some of their play time. He would take Rowan's hand and feel his beard, then would take his hand and feel the soft stuffed animal. After a few times of doing this, Steve said that Rowan could recognize the two were different. Steve said he would make different facial expressions as he touched the different textures.

Before we knew it we got the ten minute warning. It was good to know that the time was ending soon, and that the boys would not just be whisked away as before. We sat with each of the boys and prayed over then, asking God to protect them until we return, for the time to go quickly, and for their continued care by the workers until we return. We took some quick family photos, and surprisingly, everyone was looking at the camera. Soon, the head caregiver came in, and we knew what that meant.

We pulled out the items we brought for the boys - the bunny blankets I knit them, the pictures of momma and poppa, and the bubbles for orphanage to keep. Sam was not interested in the pictures. He wanted to see what all the commotion was about. Rowan was fascinated by the photo. He would look at the photo and then at Steve, and again at the photo and up at Steve. You could tell his little brain recognized the guy in the photo as Steve. We kept saying "poppa" as he would look at Steve, but we know he has no concept of what "poppa" means.

We said our goodbyes and gave hugs and kisses. The Russian word for goodbye is pronounced "da svidanya." Both boys knew what that meant. Once we said it, Rowan headed for the door and was escorted out by another caregiver. Sam lagged behind. The head caregiver had placed all the toys to be left into a plastic shopping bag. Sam was determined that he would carry the bag to its final destination. He would pick up the bag and fall over. He'd get back up and try again, and fall over, and he'd try again. Steve said he already has his mother's stubbornness. It eventually became comical to watch him pick up the bag that weighed as much as he did. After about 5 tries, he decided that dragging the bag was a better idea, but just as comical. We got some photos of him dragging the bag down the hall. As he was halfway down the hall, Steve and I said da svidanya. He stopped, turned, waved bye and said da svidanya back to us. He was smiling from ear to ear, and I think Steve and I were too.

We fought back the tears. It was hard to watch our sons walk away, them not knowing any different, but us knowing we would leave them for a few months. It was apparent, or at least they made it seem, that the boys were cared for. The workers knew their names, they were fed, clothed, had a bed to sleep in and a roof over their heads. They had others to play with, and the boys didn't have a care in the world.

We went back to the hotel both happy and sad. We met our sons, the boys who would be ours, but we had to leave them. That night we completed the formal petition to adopt the boys, including giving them their new names (hope I spelled them right). We would fly back to Moscow in the morning, 7:40 to be exact, happy to head home, but knowing a part of our heart would be left behind.