Today was the most amazing day. After nine months of filling out papers and waiting, traveling over 5,000 miles, and lots of anticipation, we met our sweet girl. She is incredible. She is more than we ever dared to allow ourselves to dream she would be. She is smart, sassy, funny, silly, loud, opinionated, and beautiful.
First we went to the government agency that handles adoptions. We sat in this hallway, after riding up literally what I think is the world's smallest elevator. Like, three people barely fit. We were all touching each other. After waiting in this hallway, they called us in and read us the information they had about Katie - including the ages of her parents when she was born, where she was born, when she was given up for adoption, and her medical diagnoses. We signed a paper saying that we wanted permission to visit her, and we were off.
Her orphanage is about two hours outside of the city. It takes so long partially because of the ridiculous traffic in this city - it takes forever to get anywhere!
It was pretty incredible to see how drastically the scenery changed as we drove further and further out of the city.
There are so, so many apartment buildings, and it was strange to see some small houses on the way.
As we got further from the city, things were definitely more run down.
That started to make me nervous.
We had our driver, our facilitator, our translator, and us in the van.
When we pulled up at the gate and were allowed in, the first thing I noticed was how big the facility is. The second thing I noticed was the great outdoor space they have, and lots of play structures.
The next thing I noticed? Lots of older boys in an upstairs window with their faces pressed against the glass looking out at us. That was sad for me.
We parked the van and walked to the peach building in the distance - this is Katie's building.
We waited in the lobby area for a few minutes while our facilitator told them who we were there to see. There are lots of drawings and artwork done by the children hanging on the walls, as well as lots of medals for athletic competitions. They facility has a crew team that travels the world competing in races. Right now some of them are in Italy competing. They have a swimming pool at the orphanage, and they do aquatic therapy with the children. They also start the kids at 5 years old doing horseback riding therapy. I was shocked. This orphanage far surpassed any hope of where she would be. We found out that Katie receives speech therapy twice per week, once individually and once in a group. She also gets what they've called "sensory therapy", but sounds a LOT like David's OT.
They brought us into a t.i.n.y. room for "visiting". I am here to tell you, there are never any children in that room. It is about ten feet by fifteen feet with no toys and no space for children to sit. It had a few books, two chairs, some plants, and a small table. We sat in the chairs and waited. I expected to wait a while, but it was probably three minutes. And in walked this little girl in a purple dress, white tights, red shoes, and the biggest hair bow I've ever seen.
She was cautious, but not afraid. This was our first picture - and you can see some definite hesitation when you compare this photo to a later one. . .
She is absolutely amazing.
Many of the photos are blurry . . . because she was so active and constantly moving.
They said she is "very energetic". Um, she'll fit right in.
She LOVED this little egg spinner we brought.
And this headband! And her hair is not bad - I hope they don't cut it much before she comes home.
She's very, very expressive.
She doesn't speak, but she has NO trouble making herself clear. She is so like David was in this regard. Lots of pointing, head shaking, yes and no, and yelling if you don't get it.
And sister likes to accessorize!
That enormous bow was courtesy of the orphanage - it symbolizes that she is an orphanage favorite and is well loved. Which was obvious by everyone we met. She is clearly being very well taken care of, and for that we are so thankful.
She loved to draw in the notebook I brought, and when she couldn't reach it she had no qualms about pushing the chair over and helping herself. She's quite the independent little miss.
She loved to look at herself in the mirror, and she was laughing hysterically.
We go back tomorrow, and I cannot wait to see her!