Friday, August 5, 2011

Where It Began -- Pt 1

thinking this morning about all that our kids are going through with this move we are making and was compelled to reflect on the first big move they did .... towards us and away from their lives in the orphanage.  so i started thinking about Lea, and the first few days with her at the home (the boys will come later!).

arrived manila ... New Year's eve.  wow.  watched the fireworks and had a blast.  as instructed by DoCS ...

  1. contacted ICAB on the monday morning after arrival.  
  2. ICAB has no record of our impending arrival, and the caseworker that had been assigned to us, was in fact, away on their honeymoon.  
  3. ICAB advise they will  call us back in a few hours to discuss the matter.  oh man!  what a way to start this journey!  
  4. ICAB calls back.  orphanage had been told to expect us and, as they had been preparing the child to meet us, they were happy to continue.  
  5. please come to the ICAB offices at noon where we would meet the administrator of the orphanage and they would take us out to the home to meet our child.  sure!  we'll be there, lickety split!
  6. go to ICAB offices, contemplate navel

so there we were, the door opens and this woman, who we would come to affectionately know as Mama Fe, walks through the door .... and in her arms.  our daughter.  terrified.  scared.  confused.

would we like to come out and spend the night at the orphanage?  sure (my gut had told me this might happen, which is why i told scott to put his tooth brush and tooth paste in my purse).  we depart ICAB offices in orphanage van ....for a two + hour ride out of Manila and up into the province .... into the mountains.  we tried to engage our daughter, but she would not come to either of us, rather staying firmly planted in Mama Fe's arms.  secure ... safe.  that's ok .... for now.  little did i know that it was our first sign of what was to come.

at the home, after chasing her around and getting the grand tour of the home for an hour or two, Mama Fe wisely said, let's go up to the guest house so you can get to know each other in a quiet environment.  she stayed with us for a little while, where our daughter refused to have anything to do with us.  Mama Fe decided to leave us alone.

Lea ran to the door and started screaming.  not just a kid at the top of their lungs scream .... but a "you are the scariest thing in the world and i don't know what else to do" sort of scream.  the look of horror on her face said it all.  her body went limp and she slid down the door ... and then started banging her head, quiet hard, against the door ... all the while, the screaming continued.

the next two hours were some of the most rewarding and painful of my entire relationship with my daughter.  i immediately got on the floor and scooped her into my arms.  she pushed away, screaming (of course!).  i refused to let go.

and so began the dance of bonding.

her:  back arched away from me and pushing as hard as she could ... screaming.
me:  soothing words, firm arms.  refusal to let go.

my leg was wedged under me ... starting to ache.  i couldn't move ... to do so would give her the ability to get away.  ouch maggs .... deal with it.  on and on .... back and forth, swaying in this bizarre bonding ritual.  and after about 30 minutes, i felt her go limp and just lay her head on my shoulder in exhaustion.  so there i sat ... just letting her feel the warmth of my body near hers as she got used to me.  it was a start.  i had won that round at least.

and the dance continued, albiet in a much less invasive manner.  i was in a bit of a euphoric state .... knowing that i had successfully navigated one incident on my parental path.  lea was, on the other hand  ... well, catatonic at best.  she looked at toys vaguely, stared at us with fear and concern and refused to eat or drink anything.

she was not a happy child and certainly didn't get why she had to be locked away with us.  i mean honestly .... we were the wrong colour and didn't speak her language.  yeah ... if i were in her shoes i'd probably feel the same way!

to be continued ....

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