On 10/10, after a second night of very little sleep, due to traveling and anticipation, Pete and I woke up with a surprising amount of energy—no doubt the adrenaline surge from realizing that we were to meet our fifth child this day!
After the nicest, largest buffet breakfast we have ever seen, we met our guide, Flora, in the lobby of our hotel where she had a driver ready to take us to the orphanage. It took about 30 minutes to get there, as traffic was bizarre and heavy.*
Flora told us on the way over that the plan was to spend some time at the orphanage – we would first go to the business office to sign forms, and then Jinna Rai would be brought to us. Then we would have a chance to talk to the staff about any questions we might have.
Well, that wasn’t quite how it happened. We arrived and walked around to the business office, and as we were walking in the door, Flora very casually said, “Oh, Jinna is here waiting for you.” We came around the corner, and there she was!
I had told myself ahead of time that even though I cry about EVERYTHING, I really needed to make an effort to not cry when I met her because that might scare her. We had also made plans to video our meeting, etc.
But here she was and we had no warning…. So, of course I teared up before I had a chance to tell myself not to! She didn’t look too alarmed, though. She was sitting in a chair holding 2 items – both things we had sent her in a care package. One of them was a stuffed panda and the other was a photo album of pictures of our family. She turned to the first page, a picture of Pete and me, and immediately started pointing at the picture and then pointing at us, saying “Mama, Baba!” She had been informed that we were coming and what to call us! (We don’t know if she knows what those terms mean exactly, but she knows they are our names.)
Flora spoke briefly with the women and with Jinna and told us that Jinna knew we were coming so she didn’t sleep much last night. I told her that we didn’t either!
Then Flora asked me what my questions are, so I showed her the page where I had them all written out. She turned to a couple women and started talking rapidly to them, jotting down notes on my page. Pete and I talked to Jinna (Rai-Rai) and played with a couple toys with her.
After about 5 minutes of our simultaneous conversations, Flora informed us we were ready to leave! We took a quick photo with one of the staff women, and then walked out to our car.
Everyone there seemed very friendly and happy, including Jinna Rai. She showed us a framed photo she could take with her - -a picture of her “class” –about 20 kids and 3 teachers.
So, with that we casually strolled away – no tears, no drama. This seems peculiar to me, but rather than delving into why Jinna wasn’t more upset and any potential emotional or neurological problems this could be indicating, I’m just being thankful that our prayers for a peaceful day were answered. :)
From there we drove to the Civil Affairs office where we waited for awhile for paperwork to be processed. After this it was time for lunch back at our hotel, where walked around a little mall next door. Then we let her lie down on the little couch in our room and within 10 minutes she was asleep for her nap. We had to wake her up about 20 minutes later (poor thing!) to take her back in the car as we were off to the notary office. (By this time we realized that driving in this city was never a quick trip. No matter where we were going, it took about 20-30 minutes because of the crazy traffic!) We sat in the notary office for over an hour, and then got back in the car for another ride, this time to the police station for her passport photo.
So, to recap, this little girl in the span of 8 short hours experienced:
· Leaving the only “home” she can remember
· Leaving everyone she’s known for the last 6 years
· Riding in a car for the very first time (and then 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th times)
· Seeing city life for the first time
· Riding on escalators for the first time
· Walking through a mall and stores for the very first time
· The first white people she’s ever seen
· A bunch of strangers whisking her around to various places
· Her first non-orphanage food
· Getting woken up from a deep sleep
· A whole bunch of English words
· People not understanding her
….. and none of this seems to have thrown her! She has been so happy and cheerful the whole time. She giggles at things easily, sings songs to herself, and keeps up a running commentary on everything she sees (We can’t understand any of it, unfortunately!).
She seems much younger than she reportedly is, and has some funny little quirks – like shaking her hands and head vigorously when she’s excited – so we’ll see what else develops as we go along. But so far we are very pleasantly surprised by her go-with-the-flow, happy personality!
*We’ve seen crazy traffic in many places, but nothing quite like what we’ve seen here. Not only are the cars driving maniacally, not really staying in lanes, being very aggressive, etc., but there also just as many bikes, mopeds, and small carts on the roads. There doesn’t seem to be any separation among the various vehicles, and the smaller ones (bikes, etc) just go wherever they want. So on a highway through the main parts of town, there will be several “lanes" of cars and then bikes and mopeds in between them, going the same direction as traffic AND going the opposing direction, on the same side of the road! Then, interspersed throughout, there will be a parked tractor or truck selling produce, or an accident blocking some lanes. Plus pedestrians darting all over. I just have to close my eyes as we drive because I’m sure we’re about to hit dozens of people every few feet. The alleyways are no better – just as tight and crowded with a huge assortment of vehicles going all various directions at once.