Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Once we arrived, the guard opened the gate to the property and we pulled into the Transition Home courtyard. We were led to a large outdoor porch where we handed off the camera and video camera. It was time. Being led by the hand, a beautiful little boy with a magnificent smile appeared in the doorway, took a few reluctant steps, and walked right into Dave's open arms. After a solid embrace, Toby and Samantha each bowed down to wrap their arms around their long-awaited brother. Feeling confident that things were going smoothly, I reached out to lift him up and was relieved and delighted when he lifted his arms in willingness. It was a perfect new beginning.
Families are only allowed to visit the Transition Home for a few hours each day. There are approximately 80 children under the care of the staff and some semblance of routine is attempted. The first half of our visit was spent cozied up on the couch playing with stickers. The second half was spent with "C" hoisted up on Dave's shoulders and chasing the soccer ball around the courtyard. When it was time for our departure, we received hugs and kisses before our sweet boy was escorted down the road to the quarters the older children call home.
After all of this loveliness, we were almost giddy to be returning for day two on Monday morning. You can imagine our surprise when this time our son made his entrance through the doorway with a troubled expression on his face that said, "What in the world are you strange people doing back here?" I have no idea what occurred between our affectionate good-byes on day one and this unexpected greeting on day two, but it was clear that we had misjudged the ease of our initial bonding. Most of day two was spent following our child around the courtyard in exhausting efforts to recreate some of the good times we experienced on day one. While he would reluctantly give in to us for a few moments during our time together, we left that day feeling defeated and emotionally spent. As we loaded back into the van with the other families in our travel group, I found myself wishing I could trade my malaria meds for a pitcher of margaritas.