Thursday, July 7, 2011

Congo--the good, the bad, and the sweaty--Part III--finally in our arms

And just like that they were ours.

When Papa L dropped us off at the guest house he said he would be back to pick us up at 7am and take us to the babies.  I spent the night in an absolute fog.  I was exhausted, but didn't sleep a wink.  I was going to meet my boys. 

I'm pretty sure we did not leave at 7am.  Nothing happens on clock time in Congo.  Everything is on Congo time! 

The driver pulled up in front of our foster family's home and I was crying before I could even get out of the car.  Yes, I'm a crier.  Happy, sad, angry--whatever my emotional state, it comes out in tears.  Mama J was waiting on the front steps holding one of the boys.  I got out and threw my arms around her.  As much as I had been waiting to meet my babies, I had also eagerly awaited the chance to meet the woman who was the first mother to all of my boys, Haven included.  The woman who fed them and carried them and nursed all three of them through cases of malaria.  My boys might not be alive had it not been for her and I just fell apart in her arms.  She doesn't speak any English, but she held me in her arms and whispered to me in a mix of French and Lingala.  She will never know what she means to me and to so many other families.

And then I held my boys.  JoJo was first.  He came to me easily, but from the start was the squirmiest baby ever.  While we sat on the couch inside he tried to climb out the window.  After that, I passed him to Brian.  Next, our sweet timid Manny.  He didn't want to be held by strangers.  He was sad and hot and hungry and sleepy.  I held him for a few minutes and then let one of the daughters take over and comfort him a bit. 

I was trying to soak in all the sights and sounds of this home.  It is very humble.  There is no pastor in the US that lives as humbly as this family.  And besides there own 6 kids living at home, the day we picked up the boys there were 10 other foster kids.  A few of them had only been there a few days, transferred in from an orphanage in another part of the country, but the sacrifice this family makes for other people's children is just overwhelming to me.

That morning we took pictures of all the kids living in this foster home, weighed and measured, hugged and cuddled.  Some have come home to their forever families, some have families in Congo right now waiting to finish up the process, and some have families traveling in the next few weeks.  Beautiful children all moving from the safety and security of this amazing foster family to the stress of a new home here in the states.  They will probably never realize how many people have loved them along the way.  I pray that every family has as smooth a transition as we have had.  It feels like the boys have always been in our family. 

So here is where I am going to gloss over a lot of our trip.  That afternoon we made our first visit to the US Consulate.  We thought we were getting the boys visas that day.  We didn't.  Or the next day, or the next.  After several very long, stressful, angry, tearful visits to that office we finally got the visas on Thursday.  Which set us back almost a full week.  Our trip was supposed to take 2 weeks.  Now it would be 3.  Now we had to explain to our children back home why Mommy and Daddy were not coming home.  We would miss Grace's 4th birthday.  We had to scramble to make sure we had enough money to cover an extra week of food and lodging.  We had to reschedule flights.  I mean, you know there is the chance that things will not go exactly the way you plan them on a trip like this, but I did not handle this change of plans well at all.  Brian and all the very nice people that we were staying with were probably ready to vote me off the island!

I was so incredibly angry and I missed Grace and Haven more than I was prepared for.  I cried. A lot.  And the boys were both sick and it was hot and the food was NOT amazing.  Really, I'm embarrassed at how depressed and whiny I got in that first week.  Every night we would skype with the kids at home and every night I would go back to our apartment in tears.  I don't know how I would have made it through this trip if it hadn't been for the extraordinary people who were living through it all with us.  Having that group of parents and their kids to lean on and share with made it all so much more bearable. 

And so that will be my next post--an ode to the wonderful families that shared my adoption journey.  After that I'm going to do a post about the 2 orphanages I got to visit and a post on the random details that have stuck with me since the trip. 

Keep reading!!!
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