Last night was full of awakenings, pondering on the thoughts about what today would bring. One judge, in a foreign courtroom, would hold the power to give a new life to our family, or to dash the hopes and dreams of the past year. The day before at the orphanage we were blessed to receive a few photos of Gabriel from earlier in his life. This is the youngest photo we have of him now:
On the one hand I can only think of how incredibly adorable he was. His eyebrows so perfect, like they had been manicured that way, even then. His little chubby hands, ready to hold on to a finger. On the other hand, I think of how I wish I could go back in time to squeeze his little body and tell his lonely little face that everything would be okay, that his story would have a happy ending. How grateful I am to know that he had Olga, to tell him this for the last four years. He had someone who loved him so very much, whose very presence I know assured him that he would be okay. I will happily be in debt to this gracious woman for the rest of my life.
This morning after a fitful rest we arose earlier than usual, got ourselves dressed for our last visit ever to his orphanage. We came downstairs to check our email and were surprised to find a sweet photo of our kids from home. They are staying with Suzanne again. This woman is literally a saint. She is so good with my kids, and they love her so much. Another woman we will forever be in debt to, and gratefully at that.
Since I've eaten so many of the delicious chocolate muffins here, I decided to try a different pastry this morning. Enter this delicious apple cinnamon morsel:
I decided today I would take Gabe something from our breakfast, a treat. I was so happy to find a miniature version of this cinnamon apple pastry, so I wrapped it in a napkin and stashed it in my bag for him. I also threw in a banana for good measure because we know how much he loves those!
Soon Igor and Alla were here to pick us up. It had been snowing all night, accumulating about 8 inches overnight. The tiny flakes were still falling in a steady rhythm, blowing in swirls all around us as we got into the car. It was absolutely beautiful, especially because I wasn't the one who had to drive in it!
We arrived at the orphanage and moved quickly back to the cloakroom to wait for him. We were told he was doing some speech therapy and would be done in five minutes. We spent the time talking with Alla, our beautiful translator and facilitator while here. She has been working in adoption for fourteen years, and has been doing mostly special-needs adoption for the last few. She has her heart invested in this process, and yet she knows how to conduct business and get results. She is the one who has translated all of our documents throughout this process. She has scheduled our appointments with government agencies, the orphanage, director, doctor and on and on. We couldn't have asked for a better in-country facilitator.
I asked Brian to set up his phone camera to capture the moment he walked through the doors because I just love how excited he gets. He is so animated with his gestures, just like Jake, yet another sign he is meant to be in our family. We heard him coming up the stairs talking excitedly with Alla. And then he came in: (listen to Alla tell us how he was telling everyone in his group where he was going)
Can I just say how much I love this kid??!!
We had just a short visit because of the weather. We needed to allow plenty of time for Alla to get to the notary for a few final documents needed for court. We also needed to have time at the hotel to get dressed up for court and have some lunch (ya, right, not with this nervous stomach). But first, I surprised him with his treat. Do you think he was impressed?
We tried some clothes on him I had brought from home. The size 2T pants were too long, and a little too snug in the waist. The size 2T shirt was a little big, but will do. I can't wait to start packing his bag when I get home with clothes for our gotcha trip!
Soon it was time to say good-bye. Every other time we have taken him back to his groupa, he has had no problem leaving us. It is his lunch time and he seems to enjoy eating! But this time was different. He didn't want to change back into his orphanage clothes. He didn't want to go to his groupa. When we hugged and kissed him and said, "Paka paka!" he ran back out to us, not sure what to do but knowing he didn't want us to leave. I finally had to carry him in, and we gave him the sticker book we brought so he could share it with his friends. We closed the door and walked to the stairwell for the last time as visitors.
One last glance back at the gate, the security guard watching our every move. Next time we come, it will be as his Mom and Dad. Next time, there will be no looking back, only forward, to a beautiful life, together.