What an emotion-filled day this has been! We arrived early to pick up Haven at the Civil Affairs office, because our guide thought we could do the paperwork before she arrived. As we walked in the door, Anthony said, “There she is!” They had arrived long before us and were waiting. We scrambled to get out our camera. As we walked up to Haven and her nanny, we knew that we should take things very slowly. We knew that she would be terrified. And she was! As soon as she saw us, she hid behind the nanny and wanted absolutely nothing to do with us, having absolute fear in her eyes. We just sat nearby and let her get used to having us there. Eventually we asked the nannies if they would go back to our hotel room with us; we figured it would be easier on Haven than just walking away with her. They agreed. It was such a blessing to have them stay with us for a while, we asked them many questions and got a lot of feedback. It was so helpful.
When the time came for them to leave, we knew it was not going to be easy. Haven freaked out and clung to them, begging them not to go. When they left, she cried uncontrollably for about an hour…it broke my heart. Everyone that she knew and loved just walked out the door, leaving her with people she had never seen. I felt her pain and could not help weeping with her. After about an hour of sobbing, she began to settle down. She just lay in my arms and calmed down. When Anthony and the kids got back, she started coming out of her shell a little, very slowly but surely.
By this afternoon she was a different child. She has been exploring her environment and laughing at the silliest things. I have no doubt that she is going to bond with us. She is already coming for hugs. 🙂 I know that as the days progress, and she knows that she can trust us, it will get even better.
So, here are some observations about her personality and development. Firstly, she is TINY! She is so much smaller than Hannah-Claire, who is two years younger. Either she is just a very small person, or she will catch up. I bought size 6 clothes for her, but they are way too big. She is completely non-verbal (we have not heard her say anything). She makes lots of babbling sounds, but no words. The nannies were adament that she does indeed say words….we will just have to see. Inspite of not speaking, she communicates pretty well….she shakes her head for NO and smiles for YES. Our initial feeling, and it is only day one, is that she is EXTREMELY delayed in all areas of her life. She seems more like a three year old, than an almost eight year old. A lot of it could be institutionalism. The nannies told me that she never has one-on-one time in the orphanage. There are just too many kids. She is always in a group setting. We will share more as time passes.
We feel so blessed tonight. Yes, the road ahead with Haven is going to have its challenges. We still have no idea what the future is going to hold for her, and probably will not know for a while. BUT, she is such a joy. I look at her today and am so grateful that finally, after three years of waiting for a family, she has a mom and dad who love her unconditionally, and brothers and a sister who will treasure her just the way she is. She will have all the one-on-one time she so deserves and things will only get better, one day at a time.
Here are some picture of our first day with Haven. You will notice toward the end how she is smiling and how her little personality starts shining. I have a feeling that this little rosebud is going to blossom 🙂 She is just absolutely beautiful.