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Adoption Blog: Melting Pot Family
To Rise Above and Just Be
I shared a bit about my experience visiting Leyla's orphanage in my last post. Among the realizations I was struck by while I was there: Kids are kids. No matter what their situation, or where in the world they are, youth appears to carry with it the ability to rise above circumstances and just be.
While planning our trip to Ethiopia, we were worried we wouldn't be able to connect with this part of our daughter's early history because our adoption agency no longer worked with her orphanage. The primary director's mother had recently died, so he was not available to make the arrangements for us, either. Luckily, representatives from our efforts to raise funds to build libraries in our daughter's name were able to arrange a visit through their local contact. We were elated when confirmation came through the day before our arrival.
The morning of the visit, we sat nervously in the small waiting room with the very serious assistant director. His expression remained unchanged as he asked many pointed questions about Leyla's past. He carefully noted each answer I gave him in a book he had pulled out of a desk drawer. I felt my husband stiffening next to me. He had much trepidation about this part of our trip. As I sat there answering question after question, I could feel panic rising from my belly, but I did my best to not let it show. I began wondering if I should have examined my husband's concerns more thoroughly, though I tried to dismiss this fear as irrational. Since then, I have learned of legal guardian who lost custody to the girl's biological father while visiting her birth country (a different land than my daughter's). The circumstances were unique, but I now realize that deepest fear can and does happen, however rarely. Then the assistant director abruptly stopped his questioning and put away the notepad. His face broke into a big, toothy smile and he asked, "Would you like to meet the children now?"
We eagerly said yes, hoping our extreme relief was not obvious. My eldest son was not well and had been led to a spare room when we entered. We passed him, laying on a small twin bed in a room just off the entrance. (The reason for his condition is a subject for another post.) My daughter clung tightly to me and took in everything with her liquid black eyes.
The director suggested we take a picture with the kids. I knelt down and they happily crowded around us. I felt the press of little bodies on three sides and I struggled to remain upright in my crouched position. I clutched Leyla tightly. I could sense that she wasn't enthused by this sudden and extreme violation of her personal space. As you can see, from the kiss, she was more focused on me than on those around her. I smiled and laughed almost giddily as my husband snapped away. Part of me wanted to believe that this happy photo op represented these children's reality. Although, as I blogged previously, their tenuous future, dependant on a family coming for them, was not lost on me at any moment while we were there.
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