Today was GOTCHA day for Sofia!
When I woke up this morning I was overwhelmed with emotion. My feelings about this whole experience have been all over the map but today especially. I felt so incredibly excited about finally brining Sofia home. We've waited 6 months for this moment but I also felt a huge amount of sadness for the ones left behind. It's so hard to explain. My heart absolutely aches for all of the orphans left waiting for a family. So with a heavy and happy heart, we set off to scoop Sofia up around 10 am.
We arrived to discover it was a very busy day at the orphanage. There were teams of "doctor" types visiting all of the groupas and so the staff were very preoccupied and seemed nervous and on edge. It was almost as if it were examination day and these groups of people all dressed in white coats were examining the children and the staff had to be alert to answer their questions.
When the staff saw us, they knew the reason we were there and so they scrambled to go get Sofia. One of our ABSOLUTE favorite staff members was there today so I was thrilled to be able to say goodbye to her. We brought the groupa some bananas (a rare and expensive treat to the children) and some baby cookies. We also brought diapers and a large box of chocolates for the staff. We also presented them with a brand new little girl's outfit as a trade offering so that we could bring a pair of old orphanage tights home to have something from Sofia's first home.
Out came Sofia with WILD hair and a HUGE grin! It was marvelous! The staff had so much to say to us so we got Marina on the phone to help us translate. Basically they wanted us to know that they love us, they are grateful to us, they wish us well, and wish for us a safe journey home with Sofia.
Sofia was in her usual form cheerful and sunny but she seemed to be especially giddy today. I wonder if somehow she knew deep down what was going on.
When they brought her to us she had nothing on but a diaper so we dressed her in her sweet little outfit and pulled out her hat...we knew we better have a hat or we might get scolded! And of course a few minutes later one of the staff brought me some long socks to put on her. At first I thought, I better listen to her and put them on but since it was about 90 degrees today, I shook my head and said "No thank you!" It was actually a really sweet gesture, she was going to give them to us and again I realized the staff really do care about these children.
We said our goodbyes with Sofia waving and laughing and made our way to Sofia's "baby" groupa down the hall. The staff took one look at little Sofia and burst into cheers and happiness. They wanted to thank us for the couch and they let us walk into the room (such a "no no" here so we were thrilled!) and we got to see the couch and ALL THE BABIES! Oh my goodness, there were shirtless diapered babies EVERYWHERE and they were ADORABLE. I couldn't scan the room fast enough to try and see if I recognized any of them. I think I saw at least one pair those familiar and beautiful almond eyes! But about a minute into our visit, one of the "visiting doctors in a white coat" shouted in the scariest tone something to the staff and we were quickly led out of the room. If the staff had tails, they would have been tucked in tight after that scolding! Regardless, the smiles were bountiful from Sofia's first "mamas" and we were so happy to have at least said goodbye to them.
Then we made our way to the head nurse to say goodbye and of course ran into everyone on the way. I think every staff person was on duty today for whatever special inspection was going on. So of course Sofia was on display and was giving the crowds what they asked for...smiles and "Paka Paka" waves. We waited a minute for the nurse to arrive (and boy did she seem stressed out today!) and we presented her with a box of chocolates and then we were on our way.
We took our last walk from the orphanage to our apartment, this time with Sofia in our arms and it was an emotional moment for sure. On our way back, I tripped on something and almost lost my balance and I had Sofia in my arms. I was able to regain my footing and not lose hold of Sofia but in that moment it was sheer panic for both Hector and me. I almost dropped Sofia on the pavement on our walk home having her not even 10 minutes under my watch. Oh the pipeworks started. The tears and sobs were uncontrollable. I was so shaken by it. She was fine, I was fine but in that moment I realized that I had fallen literally and figuratively for my daughter. I love her and want to protect her for the rest of her life. Hector was so nervous too and I realized then how much he cares for her as well. All was fine and I DIDN'T drop her and we made it home in one piece. Phew!
When we got home we put on the fans and let Sofia play and relax on the floor with her toys. She was so curious about her new surroundings but took it all in like a true champ. She's such an easy going child. She happily played and smiled for us but within 10 minutes she was OUT. She just put her head down on the ground and fell asleep. I don't know if it was the heat or the excitement of the morning but guess what? We let her sleep! Sure...it was only 11 AM and she hadn't had her lunch and this wasn't her scheduled nap time...but we were so happy to let her sleep when she felt like it. Can you imagine that feeling? I put a little blanket under her head and she managed to stay there for awhile sleeping.
THREE HOURS LATER, she was still asleep and had managed to get herself in all sort of different sleeping positions. It was adorable to watch but I was SO tempted to wake her up just to be with her more. But soon enough around 2pm she woke up...happy! For the rest of the day, I managed to be her mama. Changed a poopy diaper, fed her some cereal, gave her a bottle, gave her a bath, massaged some lavender lotion on her, brushed her teeth, sang for her, rocked her, played with her. It was a wonderful first day together and after a little dinner she put herself to sleep again for the night. Right now, Hector and Sofia are sleeping soundly and I'm left here pondering all the great fortune in my life. I feel so blessed and happy. Thank you God for opening this adoption door for me and for giving me the courage and the faith to walk through it. I am forever grateful and forever changed.