Originally posted Monday, June 4, 2012
This morning we had a relaxing couple of hours before the social workers brought the kids to the hotel. Trent and I took the suggestion of another adoptive family and dropped our laundry off at a little tiny laundry service in an alley. It felt a little strange leaving most of my clothing with them, but I’m choosing to trust we’ll get them all back!
I was praying and preparing for a very difficult time at the mall today, and it was a mixed bag. First, for all you Holt families, this is the second time HSF has decided to take the families to Big C instead of MBK. Trent and I ventured out to MBK yesterday, and I can definitely say I think Big C is a great choice. It is like a big Thai version of walmart. It is much more open and organized by department, rather than many floors of teeny stores that have specialties. Not NEAR as crowded. Asher was crying when we met up with him, cried a lot in the van, and cried as we started shopping. We did not even bother bringing our good camera, b/c we knew it would be a hands on situation.
Our social worker, Ae, is so phenomenal. She has a perfect balance of helping us, but not bailing us (and Asher) out every time he is sad. A few times she just walked away to the next aisle and let us figure it out for ourselves. He was pretty distressed several times, and we were trying to hold this writhing and screaming child while Pat was talking about diapers and formula and I told Trent we needed to divide and conquer…I can’t think about Mamy Poko diaper sizes with a squirming child screaming in my ear and scratching at my face. I’m so grateful to have my good friend Catie on this trip with us. Even as she’s working on attaching with her own daughter, she’s always looking over to me to see how I’m doing. Today while we were shopping, Christina Perri’s song “A Thousand Years” came on, and we’ve both kind of claimed this as our perfect adoption song. We gasped and looked at each other and, of course, got choked up. Gotta keep on shopping, though!
After several minutes (and many stares from curious Thai shoppers) we came to an acceptable compromise between the 4 of us…Ae refused to hold Asher, but she would walk with him and us together. So he mostly walked. Once or twice he would let us hold his hand, but then he would realize what was happening and pull away.
Once again, lunch was the highlight of the day. Big C has a ton of restaurants on the lower level, and Pat chose KFC. Asher again was very focused on a his fork, and kept asking me to cut his chicken nuggets. There were also some french fries that he wanted me to cut and he ate with a fork. One little detail that was not lost on me was that as he was eating, he would also use his left hand to maneuver the food onto the fork, and it kept getting messy. He would hold out his left hand to me so I could wipe it down with a wet wipe. Soon he did this absentmindedly. It’s little details like that that encourage us, strange as that may sound.
After lunch we headed back to the hotel and Pat told us we were going to spend an hour with the kids in our rooms. I’ll save space and tell you that Asher cried for about 56 minutes of that hour, standing at the door, packing and re-packing his little diaper bag and putting it on his shoulder. He would walk to Trent pat his shoulder, and pat the door. We tried off and on to hold him, but that wasn’t a comfort in any way, so we just sat down on the floor by the door and tried some snacks, toys, songs, and just tried to speak some nice words. We didn’t go too crazy…but I think that was because we knew it was only an hour!
We met back with the HSF workers and we got in the van with them, Asher and Layla. (Layla? is ADORABLE! I have to have major self control not to pick her up, b/c she would let me, and I don’t want her getting confused about the white ladies and which one is her mom. But let me just say that she is so stinking cute.) Asher was so exhausted that he didn’t even bother with the fact that Trent was holding him. We got his bottle out and he was asleep in Trent’s arms before the end of the driveway. Trent was getting really sweaty, so we gently laid his body over both of our laps. The ride was about 80 minutes outside of Bangkok. Traffic was light b/c today is a Thai national holiday. It’s Buddha’s birthday, in case you weren’t aware. Right before we got to the home, we had to stop to get gas. I could feel his body kind of startle awake, and out of my peripheral vision I saw him jerk his head to look at both of us…but he didn’t cry or try to get up. This is what we call a baby step, people.
Ya’ll just go ahead and get your kleenexes out, b/c it was so wonderful and so emotional. We went into the upstairs of the home and sat on the floor, which was just a wood floor covered with plastic tablecloths. (I think I was on spiderman.) The foster mother, father, and grandmother were there, plus 2 older foster sisters, a new foster baby brother, and at least 10 other kids (mostly cousins) came in and out while we were talking.
This is the room we met in, sitting on the blue mat in the back near the windows.
This is the exterior of their house. We call it the Blue House. The ground level is basically an open-air basement with concrete floor. During the floods in 2011, the water rose and completely flooded that floor for months. They lived in the top level (letting some neighbors live with them) and received supplies delivered by boat.
We went back and forth with some basic questions…I asked what his first words were, favorite toys, and what he likes to sleep with. Turns out his comfort item is an actual COMFORTER. They brought over this large pink silky bedspread and a fleece nemo blanket and said he always sleeps with them both. I asked if they wanted us to take them, and she said we could if we wanted to. I looked at Trent and we both nodded and said we’d take them to help him sleep. So….if you’re wondering who those crazy white people on the plane with the crying brown boy and his huge pink silk blanket are…it’s just us.
The tears first started to fall when I asked if there were any songs they sang. They pointed to grandma. She said yes, she sometimes sings a certain song to him. I asked if she would sing it for us, so we could record it on video and play it to Saran in his new home. She barely got out a few quiet phrases before she stopped and was very teary. I don’t know if the song was short or she just couldn’t keep singing. It was so moving, I can’t even put it into words.
The first question the grandmother asked was who would care for the boy…me or someone else. I am grateful to have the opportunity to be a stay at home mom, and I was glad to be able to tell her I would be home with him. They asked some other simple questions, then I asked them what they want us to tell Asher about them…what do they want him to remember. Well, Mrs T immediately got choked up and started crying as she talked. (And of course I didn’t even have to wait until the translation to start myself). She said she wants us and him to know that she loved him and raised him as if she gave birth to him. Grandma said she has many grandchildren, but he is very special and a favorite. Mom said that the whole neighborhood loves him, and he is such a charmer that they all want to help take care of him and they love him. At this point I realized that one of the big sisters, who is 11, was just bawling. I lost it! They asked us to please love him as if he were our “own” child. I was too far gone to say anything, so I looked to Trent and he said we think of him as our own child and we promise to take very good care of him.
That was also the perfect segway to tell her about the huge card (the brainchild of my brilliant friend Kristen) that was signed by about 20 of my friends. I explained to her that we have a big neighborhood too (i chose to use that word), and that so many people already loved him and wanted the foster family to know how thankful we ALL are for what they have done, and that our family will have many other people to help us raise Saran and look out for him. As Pat (who was translating) opened the card and started to read, even she had to stop and get a kleenex. We were all just sitting there crying! So, K, the card went over really well.
I could tell it meant a lot to the family.
Then we wiped our eyes and we gave them our gifts. We had heard they could use another fan (which we got at Big C this morning) and we gave some gifts to the big sisters too. In one of the pictures I think you can see Pat giving foster mom a picture book of Oregon to show her how beautiful Asher’s new home is. Another one is of the littler sister thanking us for the gift. Then we took some group pictures. After the pictures, the mom wanted to show us how she baths Saran, b/c he really likes it and wants to make sure we do it right. So, sure enough, in front of at least 15 neighbors, we all walked downstairs, she pulled out the basin, he stripped down and she gave him a bath right there! It was priceless! Trent got it all on video camera. She was giving me tips on how to shampoo his hair and that he liked to brush his teeth in the bath.
The first level.
After the bath, big sis helped him get out and dry off, they baby powdered him up (we’ve learned this is a big thing here) and got some new clothes. Just then the ice cream truck came by. I kid you not! It was a little motorcycle with a cooler attached. The kids went crazy, just like my big kids do. Trent and I were tempted to just buy him out for the whole crowd, but we didn’t want to offend the mom, who did buy for her kids, including Asher. The happy chaos provided a great moment for me to step back up to the upper level, take some pics, and some of the house and neighborhood.
Asher’s foster sister sat him on the ice cream truck and gave him a kiss. She was the one who was bawling as we sat together in the house.
The road to the Blue House.
After several minutes, we started to walk back to the van. Foster mom came with us, and Asher happily waved goodbye from his perch on the ice cream cooler. But then she decided he should walk with us, and he didn’t like that idea! He was crying and she was holding him. But when we went to get in the car, she set him down and looked at me. I just locked eyes with her and we both had tears about to overflow. She looked straight into my eyes and said (Pat translated) “Please take good care of him.” And I said in a cry-whisper “I promise.” Then I gave her a big hug. It was a crazy connection, I tell you. It was like two mamas hearts who know how huge this is, and want the best for this child, and one is having to deal with a loss while the other reaps the gain. It was very overwhelming, but a moment I will never forget.
Tomorrow at 11 am (9pm Monday, west coast time) we’ll take custody of Asher and there will be no social worker in the lobby to bail us out. No van coming to take him back to his house. It is going to be a long and sad day for Asher, and surely for the foster family. This morning they will say goodbye to each other forever. Thank you all so very much for your support and kind words! It means the world to me, and we’ll take some more of those prayers tomorrow!