What an amazing ride the last two and a half days have been. As I type this, our son is sleeping beside me with his ever present Mollie the Monkey, sucking his thumb. When we left him in June, we left him with the stuffed monkey and the caregivers said that he played with it everyday. "Mine!" he would exclaim. We might have to rename him something more masculine and Russian, but Sergei the Monkey doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
Daniel has been an absolute delight for every single minute of the time we have had him. Sunday night we rested well until around 4 AM when, much like kids on Christmas morning, the proverbial sun couldn't come up fast enough. The days are still about twenty two hours long. Natalie had given us her son's cell phone so that she could contact us when it was time, with the hope that it would be around 9 AM. She had not yet been able to connect with the social worker, Helen, in the baby home to set up an appointment and the social worker's office hours began at 9. We ate breakfast and came back to the room to wait. Minutes crawled agonizingly by, first five, then ten, then fifteen, twenty, thirty and then forty. We were both silent, anxious . Finally the hotel phone rang with a frantic Natalie on the other end. It seeems that the cell phone we had wasn't working and she had been trying to reach us. We were to be in the hotel lobby in "seven minutes" and then be rushed to the bank to exchanged money and the market to buy a treat for the other children in his group. She was frantic because she anticipated how nervous we must have been feeling so we found ourselves being the ones to console her, assuring her that , as long as at the end of the day we had our son, everything else was going to be just fine.
When we arrived at the baby home, dozens of little people were in the play yard outside the orphanage. It was a beautiful day and all the children were taking full advantage of the sunshine. We assumed Daniel was among them, but we first had to go into the baby home to deliver the huge suitcase of Buddies and trinkets we had brought for his caregivers. At the front desk, however, we glanced outside and saw a little commotion. Daniel was being led by the hand by his caregiver to the edge of the little fence of the playground. She was pointing at us and we saw his face explode into a smile. Brock went outside first and he started jumping up and down and began to climb over the fence to close the distance. He had watched for us every day and it seemed that he was as happy to see us and we were to see him. At long last our family was together! Since we arrived a little later than we had intended and the children had already had their second breakfast and were outside playing, we did not have the party as we thought. We instead took Daniel and the gifts upstairs to the Helen's office, and presented the buddies to her. She covered her mouth with delight when we opened the suitcase and the buddies exploded out of the bag. We emphasized that these gifts were from our friends all over the United States and she was visibly touched by your generosity. We then changed Daniel's clothes and we all oohed and ahhed over how handsome he looked. Even Helen, who sees these adorable children every single day, was not immune to his little converse sneakers and yellow and blue plaid button up. We walked outside and his little friends came over to say "Paka Paka" one last time. We loaded him up in the car and we were off to the greatest adventure of our lives.
He rode quietly in the car. Natalie had said that when she took him to get his passport pictures, he cried when they put him in the car because he was scared. But there were no tears that day. He sat in my lap and took everything in. It was then time for our first big hurdle to overcome. We had to figure out how to feed the little man. We walked to a restaurant that we had eaten at several times. He had a truck in one hand and Daddy's finger in the other. He sat quietly in his high chair at the restaurant and rolled it back and forth. We couldn't have asked for a better behaved child. Halfway through his chicken nuggets and fries, and two glasses of apple juice-rookie mistake, we were just glad he was drinking- he started yawning and rubbing his eyes. We hurried through our pizza and made the short trek back to the hotel. He wanted "Uppa" until he saw pigeons at which time he squirmed to get down so he could make new friends. If only the little rascals would have stayed still long enough. Heaven knows he tried to catch them though and I found myself running to keep up with his short little legs while his Dad stayed back with the video camera laughing at us. Back at the hotel, we changed him into pajamas, laid him down between us and even though it took him about 45 minutes to fall asleep, he stayed still and quiet. No fussing, no fighting. Again, we couldn't have asked for more. In fact, every single hour has brought a new blessing and new wonder. Our hearts have never been so full. The next day was cold and rainy so we played inside and he was absolutely delighted to chase the ball around the room. He read books to us and came running-more like charging every single time we'd clap our hands and say, "Come here!"
During nap time, I slipped out of the room to go with Natalie to pick up his Russian passport and new birth certificate. Daniel Wayne Williams. Born November 15, 2009. Son of Brock Wayne Williams and Lara Ashley Corwin Williams. No sooner had we walked out of the office than Natalie did a happy dance and confided that she had been nervous since we had had such a series of unfortunate coincidences. Every step brought us to this boy. It was a broken and hard road to walk down, but as my son lays curled up beside me right now sucking his thumb, we know every minute was worth it. We will always love and pray for Roman, but I just have to trust that God has a perfect plan for him, too. But I am convinced that Daniel was made to be our son. Perfect and precious!
Our plane ride to Moscow was wonderfully uneventful. Brock and I were both exhausted and Daniel was so content to sit on my lap and watch Mickey Mouse on the iPad while we closed our eyes. When we were landing, though, he lunged at Brock to see all the buildings and planes. He pointed and jibber jabbered all the way down the runway and everything was amazing to him! We were met by 31 year old Alex and Daniel was strapped into Alex's son's carseat. Again, he took it in stride. Alex was wonderful with him and managed to get him to close his eyes and rest. When we got to the hotel, we all trooped up to the room with the Doctor in tow and both men commented on how happy he was and how at ease he seemed with us. The Doctor left and Alex had Brock sign a lot of papers. I was reading to Daniel when I was "summoned" to sign some of the papers. "Don't worry I will pay attention to him." No sooner had I signed my name than did I turn around and Daniel was under the covers with Mollie the Monkey, sucking his thumb and drifting into never never land. We want to take Alex home with us!
Today is Wednesday and after Daniel woke up, we took him on the Metro subway to see Red Square and the Kremlin. We stopped for a street vendor juice box, chased more birds, ran around a water fountain and pointed at every truck, bus and tractor (yes tractors in Moscow!!) We can't wait to see him on the farm. The Kremlin and Pokrovsky Cathedral were beautiful, but no sooner had we walked through the entrance than Daniel's little thumb went in his little mouth, the tell-tale sign that our little man was getting sleepy. We quickly snapped some pictures, but it's amazing how even in the most famous place in Russia, we were completely distracted by our 33 inch miracle. He needed a nap and we needed to get him to a bed. He was an absolute champion though while we navigated the Metro back to our room and then fell asleep for a loong four hour nap.
We have learned so much in the last sixty hours. He loves Mollie the Monkey and does not love the generic elephant we brought for this trip. We learned that there are a lot of things that he will not eat, but he loves Cheerios and sour cream and french fries. That's all he would eat at dinner. Natalie wrote some phrases for us to ask him. "khochesh 'pee saht" Do you need to pee? "Khochesh peet" Do you want to drink? "Khochesh 'kooh shaht" Do you want to eat? "Khochesh Kah'Kaht" Do you need to take a poo? Unfortunately, we got 'kooh shaht and kah'kaht confused so we were wondering why he looked at us funny when we asked if he was hungry and we rushed to put him on the potty. Epic Parental Fail. Today, after having received a million and five kisses from us over the last two days, he puckered his lips like a little duck and laid a big wet one right on Daddy's mouth. He wiped his own mouth off and it became his newest favoritest game. I think he repaid every single kiss with interest. And we couldn't get enough. We've learned that every time he has to go potty, he has to make sure that Mollie is safe in the arms of the non attending parent. He loves water, and since our hotel in Moscow only has a shower, he has danced in the downpour, laughing hysterically. Also, apparently teeth brushing is the most hygienic way to tickle him. He laughs hysterically every time I put a toothbrush in his mouth.
One final highlight before I surrender to my own exhaustion. Tonight the most amazing thing happened. He has been sleeping between us every night. Daniel was laying quietly between us, and suddenly sat upright, spun around so he was facing us. He put on finger dead center in Brock's chest and said, "Dah Dah" and then one finger on my chest, "Mah Mah" Brock and I looked at each other in astonishment. Did he just call us Daddy and Mommy? Sure enough, the next fifteen minutes was spent repeating the same, until each word became more and more clear. Mommy, Daddy, Mommy Daddy, Mommy Daddy. Yes, son, we are your Mommy and your Daddy. We love you so much already. You are our miracle.