(If you are just joining, you can find the links to Parts 1-6 in my sidebar.)
We woke early the next morning and decided to venture down to the small shop located on the first floor of the hotel. English was not well known in the remote area we were in, so trying to communicate with the girl at the shop was proving to be difficult. No matter what we said the girl behind the counter kept trying to hand us warm bottles of water. Finally a man in the shop took pity on us and asked us "eggs?". We really wanted to have coffee but we couldn't seem to make anyone understand us because apparently we are not very good at charades, and all of the Russian that I had studied and tried to memorize was nowhere to be found. The helpful man just kept repeating eggs louder while nodding at us. Finally we agreed and said "Yes, eggs please." The man beamed his approval at us and spoke to the girl behind the counter. He waved us over to a small table, so we took a seat and waited. Soon we received two plates with fried eggs on them. Every time we saw the man after that he would smile, nod and say "eggs". We decided it was the only English word that he knew.
We were ready to go before it was actually time, so we paced around our room and tried to settle our nerves. Finally it was time to meet the taxis. We were joined by the other couple that was there for their court date to adopt twin girls from the same orphanage. The taxi ride cost about $0.50 for the fifteen minute ride to the orphanage. We made nervous small talk with the driver but were really just anxious to catch our first glimpse of the orphanage.
We pulled up in front of the large, pink building and looked around at the barren playground and stark surroundings. As I glanced at the windows I noticed children peeking out from the dark windows in various rooms throughout the orphanage.
Immediately when we passed through the door we were hit with an incredibly strong smell. It smelled of years of continuously cooking cabbage mixed in with the new plaster they were putting on the walls going up the stairs. Everywhere we went we could hear the echoes of babies crying. We were led in to a large room and told that we were to wait there while our guide went to get Nastya. The room was large and had several doors off of each side of the room. There were several colored pictures taped to the walls, a piano and small chairs lining the parameter of the room. One of the doors had a curtain instead of glass in it and we could hear babies crying from within that room.
Finally a door opened and the smallest little girl walked in looking as scared as could be. Her hair had been shaved and she was wearing a dress that seemed to make her fidget a lot. We showed her all the toys that we had brought and she closely examined every one of them. She was so fascinated by the ones that made sounds.
She did not seem to be scared of us but was definitely timid. She didn't make any sounds or talk, but just looked at us and at the toys we had brought. She looked a little bit stunned and unsure to be here in this room with us. Her little legs kept flexing and she was having muscle spasms that moved up her body and ended with her clenching her jaw. These happened so much the first day that I stated to feel worried about what could possibly be wrong with her. We spent the morning playing with her and she warmed up to us, especially after we gave her food. She quickly swallowed without chewing everything we offered her. I was scared that she would choke, so I started only giving her small pieces of food at a time.
We went over her medical information with our guide which stated that they had diagnosed her twitching as hyperactive syndrome and that she received regular medication for this. This did not sound completely right to me, but there was nothing else in her file about it. I mentioned it to my husband, but he had not noticed anything, mainly because he was busy falling in love with this little girl.
Pat was beaming from the moment that he saw her. It was the strangest thing to me, because he could see nothing but this scared little girl and I could see nothing but the twitching and flexing that she was doing. When I look back at the pictures his face is radiant - just glowing, and I am studying the muscle spasms and going over in my mind the many possibilities of what it could be and what this would mean for us all as a family, if this was more than hyperactivity.
This was not the way it was "supposed" to be. I was the one that was going to be head over heels in love with her the moment I saw her and he would be the one that would have doubts.
We were asked if we wanted to give her lunch, we said definitely we would love to do that. They brought in a small chair and table and sat her down. It is an understatement to say that feeding her was a horrible experience.
It was a frantic shoving of hard bread, extremely hot, steaming tea and porridge that ended in about 2 or 3 minutes. She crammed as much food as possible down her throat without chewing and forced it down with the burning hot tea, the whole time her tiny body was shuddering from the scalding temperatures of the tea and porridge. I had never experienced such desperation in my life, and have not seen it again since. It truly broke our hearts to watch! I could not bring myself to feed her a meal again the rest of the trip.
As the day went on she started responding to us more. She would start walking backwards from across the room and then when she got close enough she would plop down on Pat's lap and snuggle into him.
At one point she kept trying to walk down a hallway, but we kept calling her back because they had told us to keep her in this room with us. Pat put her on his lap again and was showing her a book when all of the sudden he sat up straight and lifted her off his leg. There was a large wet spot where she had been sitting. It explained why she kept trying to do down the hallway, because now I noticed the little buckets that were lined up in the hallway.
When it was time for us to go, Nastya went off with the staff and never looked back. We watched her until she was out of site and then we were ready to leave. My head was pounding and the babies were still crying, and really they had never stopped the whole time we were there.
We went back to the hotel and had dinner with the other couple, that had spent the day with their girls, and our guide. We all had a wonderful time and we were able to laugh and enjoy their company. After such a stressful day, it felt good to be there together and talk over our day and my concerns.
That night I again lay in bed, praying my heart out. I was scared and wanted reassurance that I was up to the task before us and at the same time I was upset with myself for being scared.
To be continued...