Our 2nd walk went well. Again this rarely happens so we are so thankful for every new experience we get to share with him. Today's was a business walk as we went to a photo shop to have Andrew's picture made for his visa when we return after the adoption is finalized.
As we left the director instructed us to hold his hand tightly as he would be afraid of the cars. We both took his hand and followed one of the caretakers to the shop. As cars passed Andrew didn't even flinch. There wasn't even any body language that suggested any anxiety over being outside on the road with us.
When we reached the photo shop the caretaker stayed in the one roomwhile the translator went in the other with usand helped. At this point Andrew did begin to be a little uncertain of things. New place, new people, weird equipment all over the room. Jen asked the translator to explain to Andrew what we were going to do. Andrew still wasn't ok with everything so Jen took her picture first and the photographer showed Andrew. Then Jen lifted Andrew up to the seat and the two of them took their picture together. The last time Jen stepped out of the picture and Andrew sat still though still not completely at ease. Usually Jen will have to ask if she can hold him, this time when the pictures were over Andrew lept for he arms. Her "mother-bear" instincts kicked in and she was somehow able to carry him all the way back to the orphanage. She loved every minute of it and didn't care that her back hurt or that her pants were getting filthy.
Once we were back at the orphanage Andrew only wanted to play with the other children. He again began to throw a tantrum. Jen was able to have him ask nicely to go with the kids, but of course we were disappointed, yet content to enjoy what he was able to give us. We can only imagine what must be going through his mind right now as so many changes are happening or are about to happen. So we sat down in the same area where he was playing and tried to coax him with the red backpack. Nothing seemed to work. Some of the caretakers brought him a piece of candy. Not helpful. We tried a few more items but he was still resolved to do as he pleased. Finally, the caretakers just told us to leave and comeback later. "He's just tired" they told us.
He did have quite a morning. The caretaker that went with us had only started working there a couple of days before we showed up, and our normal translator was not able to make it for our morning session. The caretakers, we later learned, don't want the potential parents to dislike the child and not proceed with the adoption so they will often run interference. For our part, it is awkward to be "not-quite parents" to Andrew. We as parents have a procedure for handling situations, but until he's fully ours, where does our authority begin and end?
This afternoon we got there a little early while Andrew was still sleeping. When he woke up they sent him out with a cup of water and a snack, still groggy from his nap. We tried to talk with him, play with him and get him interested in the red backpack. No response. He wanted to go inside so we followed him. He wanted to go back to the other children, we didn't let him. Another tantrum. We decided maybe if we could get him outside around the playground that that would spark something. As Jen picked him up he flung his head back into a door jamb. More screaming.
Fortunately one of the caretakers that knows him came around the corner, calmed him down and carried him outside. We followed her to a bench where she sat him down and told him to spend time with mommy and daddy, they love you. She then told us that he was stubborn and we were to be just as stubborn and not let him win. Those were just the words we needed to hear. We then reassured her that we were in this for good, and that we knew we would have to face these battles at some point. She told us that she was glad that we were so well prepared and were not scared away by his fits.
As soon as she left, Andrew again wanted to be with the kids. We told him he had to stay with mommy and daddy. Then the fits began. Jen picked him up and walked to the furthest point in the yard away from the building. He kept crying "There, there, there.!" (In Bulgarian, of course)pointing back to the building. Jen just continued to hold him and tell him she loved him. He refused to stop screaming and crying. Finally Jen sat down on a bench holding him while he continued. Jen moved to the ground with him still in her arms kicking and crying.
At some point we noticed that the crying changed. He wasn't trying to get away anymore. He actually stopped a few times and would be distracted with something. He would start again but now more whining than crying. Jen brought out some of the blocks we had brought but Andrew was still not interested. Our translator remembered us playing with the blocks and knocking them over. So she tried. Quiet.
The rest of our time together from that point on was delightful. Andrew sat in Jen's lap content. He showed no interest in going anywhere. We gave him a water bottle to drink from. He loved opening and closing the lid. Every now and again the lid would get stuck so Jen would ask, "Ishkash li promosht?" (Do you want help?). Andrew would say "promosht". Then Jen would say "Mozhe li" (Can I please? - Telling him to ask nicely) and he would say "mozhee" (Can I please in a toddler way ). Jen would help him open it and before he could take a sip she would say "merci, mama" and he would say "merci" and then take a sip. Every time he would say a word he would get a huge grin on his face. We did this for quite some time and loved every minute of it.
He wanted to play with all the toys. He was very loving and affectionate. Near the end of our time we asked him to help clean up. He loves to organize things so he was excited to help. He opened the bag to put some things in and noticed a package of wipes that did not belong. So he called to Jen saying "mama" and handed them to her. This was the first time he called her mama without being prompted to. He gave us hugs and kisses goodbye, but something was different about today. Where before he had to be instructed to do so now there was a willingness about him.
Tomorrow is our last day with Andrew and we don't know how we're going to be able to leave him for so long. We are pleased to know that at least three of the staff have known him since he was a baby. He has been well loved and taken care of. We have been very impressed with the care he has received from the staff. He's actually one of the favorites and has been able to do many things outside of the orphanage. We're alos glad to know that they have kept records of his milestones which we'll have access to when we pick him up. The home is very nice and has many toys to play with. The yard to the orphanage is quite nice as well and they do spend a lot of time outside in the fresh air. If he had to be in an orphanage we are pleased that it was this one.
On a side note: Yesterday we were being tourists and were approached by a man asking for money for a child with cancer. Our translator told us he was paid to do this job and that not all the money always goes to the cause, so we walked away. As we did, he told us in English, "Don't be like the Germans." We laughed. We asked the translator what he meant and she said she had no idea.