The days quickly fell into a pattern~
Up, shower, dress, breakfast brought to room (since the hotel restaurant is not wheelchair-accessible), pump and eat.
Meet our attorney and her brother in the hotel lobby at quarter to ten, and head over to the orphanage for an hour and a half.
My attorney waits for us outdoors. Her brother accompanies me to Katerina’s floor, where I retrieve her from her bed, change her diaper and clothes if necessary, and gently carry her outside to sit with our attorney.
We visit quietly for just under an hour and a half, with our attorney as photographer. (Didn’t she do a marvelous job?)
Take tiny one back up to her bed.
Lunch and conversation (at the outdoor cafe closest to the hotel, for our attorney’s sake).
Pump, try to catch up with photographs, emails, blog, Skype with Joe before he leaves for work.
Meet our attorney at quarter to four, head to orphanage.
Visit quietly outdoors with a cranky Katie until five, then take her back to her floor to give her a bottle, clean her up, and put her back into her bed. [I did not attempt to ask about bringing my milk in to the orphanage to feed her for several reasons. The main consideration is that we are waiting to hear from the international adoption clinic what they recommend about adding nutrition before she actually reaches a hospital in the States. We have to avoid the very real possibility of re-feeding syndrome, which causes death if it is left untreated. For this reason, we might not not be having Katie’s baba give her formula as I had mentioned earlier.]
Supper and conversation at the same cafe, then pumping, more computer work, Skyping with the children, pumping.
The visits speed by faster with each day that passes.
Our attorney took these pictures right after we said “Ciao” to her baba.
I discovered that Katie likes to make a kiss sound, and giggles and giggles when I make it back to her.
She watches my mouth intently when I say, “Ma-ma. Ma-ma.”
I start every visit by approaching her in her bed and leaning down to talk with her a little, telling her, “[Her birth name], it is mama.” I am giving her the opportunity to respond, and wait for her to give me “permission” to pick her up, rather than swooping in and scooping her up.
Her face always has the dried crust around her mouth from her previous meal. In her hair is dried…food? Spit-up? Her eyes are always goopy.
She is always unsettled by being held, moved, or touched. I help her to calm back down and relax after being moved by sitting still and speaking softly before progressing to the next step.
Katie was a very brave girl today. Look how she is tolerating this position.
She made eye contact, very briefly and delicately.
She listened, she looked. The safer she felt, the more she ventured to meet my eyes.
And a few times, she reached out her hands…
…to very briefly, very delicately touch my face. Her hands feel like a mere breath of air.
Today I only had a limited time with her, since I had received permission to see the little children who were being adopted by my friends, and went to see them first.
Then my camera went to work on another mission, so there are no photos of my visit with Katerina.
But today she brought great joy to my heart by smiling at me when I first went in to see her and leaned over her crib. She did not cry at all as I took her outside, until the orphanage caregiver joined us for our trip to the portrait studio and began to fuss with her and talk with her. She made it perfectly clear that she did not approve of the car ride. She refused to be soothed during the entire process.
The only picture taken of her this morning was her visa photo. What a surreal experience to ride through the city in the back seat with a uniformed orphanage caregiver, walk through the crowded city streets holding my wailing, stick-thin child in her orphanage pajamas, watch as her photo was taken in a modern portrait studio, surrounded by photos of beautiful, polished people.
She was worn out after this trip, and the end of the visit came quickly.
Today I found these pretty clothes in the drawer, and dressed Katerina up like a little pink dolly.
After taking her outside, she gradually relaxed and grew calm.
Everything about her is delicate except for her breath.
I know how to make you laugh, baby! *smooch, smooch*
Mama loves you…
My camera is still working on another mission, so again, no photos from this visit. It was a good one, as all the morning visits were, except for the visa photo morning. She is fresh and cheerful and more willing to tolerate me.
The time is too short. Despite how it may appear from the photos, she has not connected with me this week. She has simply begun to relax with me and take pleasure in being with me. Toward the end of the week, I thought about trying to put her in the sling, but even by the last day, she was not ready.
As I laid her in her bed at the end of this visit, a wall of grief hit me as I realized that I only had two more visits with her.
Our attorney shot some more photos of Katie that show her condition underneath her clothes, wearing only a diaper. These are being used to help expedite Katie’s adoption.
To help her calm down afterward, I sang one song after another. Next trip, I will bring my Trinity hymnal.
Unbeknownst to me, our attorney shot some video of our little song session, but that will have to wait for home, time, and Joseph.
“Shoo, shoo, go away, evil flies…”
That she smiles is a miracle.
My camera was again elsewhere doing the will of God for other children, so I have no pictures of my leave-taking. But I am more grateful than I can express for nearly two hours of private, uninterrupted time with her.
I gingerly tried out a nickname with a little chuckle. The caregiver had told us that she didn’t have a nickname.
She listened, and responded with her own chuckle.
Speaking Scripture over her.
Let the little VeroniKatie come to me, and do not forbid her, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven…
Praying over her.
Trying with all my might to keep my throat open and hold my voice and smile steady as I sing to her…
…and lay her back in her bed…
…back into Jesus’ strong arms…
…and walk away.