We were waiting to meet our daughter for the first time. I had a momentary recollection of delivering babies and waiting for that moment for the doctor to hold up that new little one to see. There was that much anticipation (without the physical pain J ). The doors opened from the direction we had originally come in through, and suddenly there she was! Along with a dozen other people…all speaking Ukrainian, except for our 2 facilitators who were rapidly translating everything for us. We were first introduced as “new friends” to Masha, as the potential adoptive parents are given the option of meeting the child before officially saying they are adopting. Of course, we knew instantly we weren’t saying “no” to this little doll! We gave her the gifts we brought for her…a stuffed bunny, a bag of Skittles, and a little purse with hair accessories which she proceeded to clip all in her hair, even though it was already beautifully braided. The nannies brought us so many things to show us how smart Masha is…her handwriting booklets, things she had cut and colored, and some other crafts. The nannies had her stand and recite poems for us, which we thought she did beautifully, even if we didn’t know her language. We were impressed with all her handiwork and recitations, but we just couldn’t take our eyes off of her. She had the sweetest, shy little smile…and she totally knew what was happening. She knew she was getting a mom and dad, without a doubt. Even our tough-exterior, Russian-mob-looking facilitator looked at me and said, “I’m going to cry!” We only had a few minutes to visit with her before we had to say goodbye for a little while.
Our first time meeting each other!
Then we were whisked into an office with our facilitators, the social worker, and the orphanage director. We were told all about Masha’s life…how she came to be there, her medical history, her diet, her social interactions. And we were asked if we wanted to adopt her. YES! Of course, we wanted Masha to be our new daughter J
The rest of the day was spent running all over the place. We went back and forth between the notary, the court, the social worker’s office, the orphanage, and I don’t even remember where else. It was a tiring day, but we were exhilarated. We returned to the orphanage just after dark for a short visit with Masha. We were shown areas where we could hang out with her, and then shown to where her group was playing. She immediately came running to hug us, and she called us Mama and Papa! Yes, this little girl had been waiting for her family to come!
Masha brought out all the gifts we had given her earlier that day. We sat on the floor with her and colored princess pictures. We also showed her a photo album we had brought for her. In it were pictures of everyone in our family, as well as pictures of the rooms in our house and the exterior of our house. She repeated all the names as we flipped through the pages, and we could tell she was studying each one. We showed her the girls’ room she’ll share with two of her new sisters, and we pointed out which bed would be hers. She quickly noticed the baby dolls in the room. She loved the picture of our little dog. And we taught her the word “home”…so sweet to hear her say it.
The visit seemed to end all too quickly, but we were told the times that we could come back every day. We said good bye and promised we’d see her the next day. We left and headed to our hotel with our hearts bursting for this precious little girl we were falling in love with!
Our daily visits were anywhere from one-and-a-half to three hours, depending on which time of day we went. We spent lots of time coloring and drawing, playing on the iPad, doing puzzles, looking at the picture book and practicing names, and playing in the long halls where the children ride bikes and have indoor toys they can climb on. We spent one frigid afternoon outside on the playground, swinging, sliding, and blowing bubbles. The playground was in disrepair like the exterior of the building, but Masha had fun running from place to place, and I think she enjoyed being the only child out on the playground! We took her new small toys to play with each day (a new puzzle, coloring book, etc.), or we played new games on the iPad. We could tell how bright Masha is, and that the nannies in her orphanage had spent a lot of time teaching her. These visits went on like this for several days, and we were enjoying getting to know our girl. We had been told that our facilitators were trying to get our court date set for December 12th (which was at least a week earlier than we had thought originally), so we were enjoying our visits, thinking we had over a week left before court.
Masha and Dad
On the morning of December 4th, we were awakened by a phone call from our facilitator who told us our court date would be the next day, December 5th! What?! We were shocked. We all had no idea how it came together that quickly, but we were excited. Then Kevin and I began to try to figure out how that would work for actually bringing Masha home. We had already discussed with our facilitators the 10-day wait and all the holidays that we coming up. While we were excited that we could have court so early and go home sooner than expected, there was a potential down side to this early court date. If the offices and agencies we needed to help us finalize everything were closed for various holidays, it would be middle to late January before we could come back to Ukraine to get Masha and bring her home. That part was hard to think about. We also wondered how we could help her to understand that we would be back and just when that would be.
We went to lunch at a small restaurant across from our hotel and then looked in some shops nearby. There was one little shop that was the equivalent of an American dollar store…a little bit of everything and cheap. We found some more coloring books and drawing pads. We also found some colored paper. We decided to help Masha make a colorful paper chain…a loop for each day we would be gone and a tangible way for her to count down to us coming back by tearing off a loop each day. We found some tape and scissors to help with the project.
When we went to visit Masha that evening, we cut strips of the paper and began assembling the paper chain. She loved it! While she and Kevin were putting the first few together, I pulled out my phone to check the number of days/loops on the chain. 42! That meant it would be six weeks until we could be back and begin to finish up the adoption process. We decided to add on a few more just in case we were delayed in coming back for some reason. Masha was having fun, but Kevin and I just kept watching that chain grow and grow. To her, it was an entertaining craft; to us, it was a symbol of being separated. We were glad we made tiny loops, because that number seemed so big to us. We finished and hung the paper chain on her little cubby door; it went all the way to the bottom. We decided to wait until we said goodbye for our departure to explain the chain to her. Only we didn’t know we wouldn’t get to say goodbye.