Day 3: Tuesday
Tuesday started early. D. was supposed to come pick us up at 10 to take us to the transition house to finally meet our kids! He had told us the night before that the kids were excited and we were just a little excited ourselves so we were up bright and early and ready to go! With crazy butterflies in our stomachs, we got dressed, had breakfast, and gathered in the hotel lobby with the D.’s, the W.’s and the sweet A. family who was preparing to leave [Capital City] with their adorable baby girl. And even though we were ready to go at
the crack of dawn 10 a.m. on the dot, we obviously didn’t realize that D. had meant 10 a.m. [Home Country] time which could realistically mean anywhere from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. I’m pretty sure that the [Home Country] operates in CGT (cable guy time). So, after we reached the lobby, we still had about 45 minutes to kill and I may or may not have spent the majority of that time pacing back and forth. And back and forth. And back and forth. Here is a picture of one of my moments of stillness. This was probably taken at 10:01.
When D. fiiiiiinally arrived, we all piled in the van again and headed out to the transition house. This ride was basically as crazy as the last with the added bonus of it being daylight so we could now see every bit of danger that came our way. The only distraction from the terror was the complete poverty that I saw every time I looked out the window. Being in a place like [Capital City] is overwhelmingly sad. I have never been in a place so devoid of modern amenities. There is 80% unemployment in [Capital City] and there are people everywhere just trying to get by. Just trying to survive. Men selling items on the corners. Women selling themselves on the streets. Children digging through trash piles looking for food. Seeing this hopelessness with my very own eyes made my heart burn with desire to snatch [A] and [G] away from this life. I have never felt more determined to take them home as I did that day in that van. Words can’t describe the feeling of being there and the few pictures I dared to take don’t even begin to do it justice. But I’ll share them with you in hopes that you get a glimpse of what these people are struggling with every single day.
So after a heartbreaking and terrifying ride, we arrived at the transition house. The nannies had most of the kids outside playing on the front porch when we pulled up. As we climbed out of the van, the kids whose mommies and daddies had arrived were brought to the front of the group. [A] and [G] were guided towards us with happy and nervous little smiles. [A] was grinning but it looked like the grin of a boy who’s happy but he’s not completely sure why. Her smile came and went with her main emotion seeming to be intense curiosity. But they both let us pick them up and say hello.
The nannies and caregivers were very excited and wanted lots of pictures of the four of us together and lots of pictures of me and [L] with them. It was very sweet but it made me sad. They were taking pictures with their camera phones which looked to be the first camera phones ever made. And they were so excited to look at the pictures and show them back to us. The images were so blurry and barely recognizable but they thought it was the greatest thing ever. As I stood there with my iPhone 4 in one pocket and my digital camera in another, I felt incredibly guilty about the luxuries we take for granted everyday here in the USA. Especially considering that so many minerals that are used to make our electronics are mined right there in the [Home Country]. But, I’m the one with the fancy phone, camera, and laptop. They’re the ones holding 12 year old phones and going crazy over a bag of Reese’s Pieces. It doesn’t seem quite fair.
We then took our babies into the house and spent the next few hours snuggling, playing, and bonding. During this time we found out that [A] loves to dance and he and his new Daddy spent some quality time together while [A] showed off his awesome moves and [L] showed off his awkward Macarena. [L]‘s first public embarrassing Dad moment. I was so proud and yet so ashamed. While [L] was busy humiliating Americans everywhere, [G] and I were sharing a very special moment as she fell asleep and napped in my arms for the very first time. Thank you so much S. for this amazing picture of one of the sweetest moments in my life!
While we were at the transition house, they also served us up a hearty lunch of fish head stew. For reals. And they loved it. [A] ate every bit of it and expertly picked out the bones, teeth, eyeballs. Gross. But impressive.
After lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the transition house playing with our kids and all the other sweethearts who were still waiting for their mommies and daddies. They were all so stinkin’ sweet and ridiculously adorable. All you waiting families have some amazing kiddos who can’t wait to come home with you!
We ended up staying at the transition house longer than anticipated because our agency’s van broke down en route to pick us up. While we were waiting, it rained for about 20 to 30 minutes. It was nice because it cooled off the air for a bit and, while it was raining, I never once stopped to think about what it would do to our drive home. Finally, D. sent another car to take us back to the hotel. But it could only hold 4 people. It was decided that [L], [A], [G], and I would leave with this new driver while the other families waited for the van. I was afraid that [A] and [G] would have a hard time going with us and leaving their friends but they happily let us carry them to the car and barely even waved goodbye. Leaving that house carrying our kids was a completely surreal experience, only made stranger by the fact that, when we walked out the door, all the other kids were sitting in front of an old TV watching a black and white Charlie Chaplin pretend to be Hitler. And they were loving it. Spoiler alert – [A] and [G] love color television.
So, we left the transition house in the dark; [L], [A], [G], me, K. (the house manager), and our new driver who, I gotta say, was sorta surly. About 3 minutes down the road, K. realized she had left without money for fuel and had to return to the house to get some. Instead of driving back, she simply had the driver pull over while she walked back to the house. And left us. On the road. Alone. With Mr. Personality. It was dark and there were people everywhere. And we were 2 white people in a car with 2 [Home Country]lese children. We were just a little uneasy. Ok, we were completely terrified. But nothing scary happened and K. was back in about 15 minutes. It only took us about 30 minutes to get back to the hotel, about the half the time it took to get there for some reason, but the ride back was totally different. Not just because we were suddenly parents (although that was a big enough change) but also because the rain had made the muddy roads a complete disaster. We definitely have our share of dirt roads down in Georgia but the ruts in the roads caused by the rain were unbelievable. And almost undrivable. It was a bumpy ride to say the least. Somehow [A] and [G] slept the entire way and by the time we got back to the hotel, they were pretty wiped out.
Although [A] perked up momentarily when we got in the room, after he had washed up and put his pajamas on, he pointed to the bed and asked, “kulala?” (sleep in English) We put them both in our only queen sized bed vertically and they immediately turned horizontal. I’m assuming this is how they slept in the transition home but they were sleeping with other tiny people there and that wouldn’t work as well for me and [L]. It took a few turns but they finally slept and were still. And they were adorable.
They were also total bed hogs and that night began the first of 4 in which I got absolutely no sleep. But who needs sleep when you are suddenly a mommy of two and you’re preparing for a 30 hour trip back home? Oh yeah, ME!!!