Well? The day finally arrived and we spent about 3.5 hours with our son! I can’t say that I’m feeling overjoyed about how it all went, but I’m overjoyed that we finally saw his face in person! It was rough, but it was just the beginning. It was so great to finally be face to face, and I even snuck in a few kisses when he wasn’t paying attention.
I’m not going to bother captioning all the pictures, so you can just match them with the parts in the story.
Our schedule was that we would meet with the director of HSF in the lobby at 9:45, and the children would join us up in our room at 10:30. Well, when we went to the lobby to meet with the social worker, she said in passing that “the boy fell asleep in the car and the girl started acting tired when they got here.” I could see all four of our eyebrows raise and someone said “You mean…they’re here right now?” “Yes!” she said. “They’re walking around outside.” Poor woman, we lost all our manners, ditched her in a heartbeat and ran to the window and looked outside. Sure enough! We saw two social workers sitting at the koi pond. I could see beautiful Layla, and I could see the back of a little boy leaning over the pond! I think the surprise got to all of us and I was instantly choked up. B/c then we had to walk away and go upstairs for our orientation meeting!
We met with Pat and went over some of the files, including a final pre-placement report that has more details about when the kids sleep, eat, how they like to sleep, favorite foods, what their daily schedule is, etc. She went over the schedule for the week. Then she went downstairs to get the kids.
We got our camcorders set up and then we heard some crying. It sounded like a boy’s voice for sure. Bless her heart, little Layla walked in and started walking towards me and Trent! The social worker helped her figure it out. Asher Saran came in bawling, wearing Carson’s old plaid shirt that he was wearing in his February pics, some brown shorts, and some beige dress socks and tennis shoes…both at least 2 sizes too large. He was distraught before he even walked in the door, and instead of making me distraught, it was almost comical. It was like emotional overload–for me! I can only imagine how difficult it was for him. This child that hundreds of people have waited for and loved on just has no idea. He has no desire to walk into this world right now. We’ve been preparing and looking forward to it for 2 years, he has no idea. Of course he’s going to cry! I would too, buddy. I would too.
We awkwardly tried to interact with him with little cars and a ball, and he soon stopped crying and just whimpered. He sat with the social worker, Ae, and she was gently talking to him the whole time and encouraging him to interact with us. Pat had warned us not to bring out all the toys, but to save them for the long days ahead, like waiting for hours at the embassy and DSDW. So we tried to stick with the cars, the ball and the bubbles.
We didn’t try to hold him or really get very close, but we did find a winner when we offered him some yogurt melts. The social worker told us “He’s a big boy. He likes to eat.” Sure enough, he did, and he would take them from us and even trade and give some back. No smiles or eye-contact. We used them to lure him around the room a bit.
The Brenemans headed back to their room with Layla (who is doing awesome and is just cool as a cucumber about this whole thing), and Asher was clearly getting tired. Pat stayed with us (because obviously our kid was the most upset!) and asked us to try to hold him. Well, lets just say that did not go well. He did not want to be held by Trent or me, and he screamed and writhed to get down. She was right. He’s a big kid…and feels heavier when he’s kicking and screaming! Of course it was hard and I was disappointed, but we knew that was likely going to be the case. They both warned us again today that he is very scared of strangers and cries whenever he’s not with his foster mom. He is extremely attached to her. (Which in the long run is a good thing.) They said his transition “Is going to be a difficult one.” Again, all we could do was just kind of shrug at the craziness of it all. The rest of the day we just kept saying “It is what it is!”
I was so relieved when they said it was time to go down to lunch at the hotel restaurant. Several families have said that their kids hated the elevators, and now I can fully understand why. We were in it with Asher 3 times today, and he screamed bloody murder each time, saying he wanted to go home.
The best moments of the day happened at lunch. This kid? Likes his food. I told Trent we need to stock up on food in our room and we’ll be eating our way to attachment. He instantly calmed down and sat in a highchair, and Pat helped us choose some food for him. But honestly, he didn’t seem picky at all. He was completely obsessed with the fork and spoon, and used them/played with them constantly. We have on our to-do list: buy a fork, spoon and bowl to have on hand at all times.
The food made him so relaxed that he started to let Trent and me interact with him, still with very minimal eye-contact. I think we got 2 smiles the whole day, and fortunately, I think we got both on camera. When I was feeding him, he was at first very reluctant, then when he took it, the two social workers started cheering for him and that made him smile. Trent was doing the “airplane” move into his mouth and he finally (against his will) gave a smile.
We actually had a very pleasant lunch, just sitting there letting him play with all his food, feeding himself or letting us feed him. After he had meat and a dumpling, he had a plate of watermelon and happily demolished that thing with fingers, spoon and fork for a good 15 minutes. Then he seemed done so I got him out and started to see if he wanted to walk, but he did NOT. BUT, he did let me put him on my lap and then when cake arrived, he let me feed him some of that.
After we had stalled long enough downstairs, the social workers said we needed to go back upstairs to our rooms to play and see if the kids would take a nap. Asher was OK with the play, as long as neither of us got too close, tried to talk to him or touch him. But when she said he was going to take a nap, he started to cry again. The social worker (who has a relationship with Asher, b/c she is the one who has visited him the most) finally took pity on all of us and took him into the bedroom. Asher put his head in her lap as she fed him a bottle and Pat, Ae, Trent and I quietly talked while he fell asleep. He was out within seconds.
It was a nice opportunity to talk with Pat and ask her some questions about HSF and ask Ae about the foster family. she said they have never met the foster father, but the mother is young and nice. This is her first foster child. I asked if the foster families could adopt the children if they are interested. She said yes, foster families actually often do end up adopting, but this family just never inquired about the option.
Around 2pm, they had to leave, including the Brenemans, who were going to visit Layla’s foster family today. But that meant waking up the sleeping child, who was none too pleased to be woken, let alone in this place he has no desire to be. Trent and Ae changed his diaper and she carried him downstairs with us (he screamed the whole way). She gave us some good news, which is that Asher likes to be in cool places, and that he was sweating while sleeping, so we can turn the AC up. We had been told to keep the temp higher, b/c the kids’ homes do not have AC and we Americans will freeze them out. I’m glad I have some freedom to cool down a bit more in here!
Then we said goodbye…for now! Tomorrow we meet again at 10:30, take our awkward family grieving public at a local mall for 3 hours, then get in the van and go visit Asher’s foster family. Ae and Pat will go with us to help translate.
Hopefully I’ll be able to blog again tomorrow night, I may be too tired for such detail, but I’ll at least try to get some pics up. Thanks for all the love! PS: If you click on one pic, it will set up a little slideshow for ya, I think.