Monday, June 9, 2008

A special family

Today was "mall" day, so Robin and I were hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. It was also the day we went to visit T's foster family, which I'll get to in a moment.

But first...the inevitable trip to the mall. We had heard many a horror story about this part of adoption week. You meet your child at the mall and get time to hang out there and catch lunch. From others' experience, we had very little optimism for a good outcome.

We met T at the 1st floor entrance, and the tears began...just as we had planned for. Those tears were short lived after Robin took hold...and he was a happy camper most of the rest of the day, not counting a few short bursts.

He was even calm enough for us to try out the Ergo...Robin and I loved was much easier than carrying him. The best part is that he didn't seem to mind it.

So, we got through the shopping part fine. We found that he likes to pick up merchandise and throw it around. It works fine for stuffed animals, but otherwise, we had to keep him from the shelves. We also fond he likes pushing buttons...or perhaps he just likes pushing.

Then it was time for lunch.

Here too, he exceeded our expectations. We fed him some noodle and pork soup ordered up by the social workers. He happily let us feed him some, although he didn't care for the pork, so he mostly ate broth and noodles. Unlike yesterday, we were prepared with wet napkins to keep the sticky at bay, and keep ourselves relatively clean. He also tried out a bib provided by fellow adoptive family Jim and Courtney. It worked great...really catches those rejected pieces of pork.
After lunch, we did a little more shopping before heading to the van back to the hotel. We took the opportunity while waiting to snap a photo of T and Kyle and Supattra, with her daddy, Jared.
We left the mall in time to give us a little better than an hour alone with T in our hotel room, which was something we were hoping for. T was nothing short of magical. Check out the video.

We managed to change a wet diaper and get him to try on the outfit he'll be wearing to the board meeting on Wednesday (as featured in the video). He giggled and laughed...pounded his toys together. He had a few minor when I left the room. What's remarkable about his meltdowns is how abruptly they begin and end. We saw this a couple times today where he would be at five alarm meltdown mode, and if you present him with the right toy or person, it's like flipping a light switch. He goes from bawling to grinning.

We expected him to nap, but it didn't happen. It seemed like he didn't want to go to sleep.

This continued when we returned to the van to visit his foster family. While in the city, he couldn't tear himself away from the window to look out to see the cars and people. He was talking up a storm, making all kinds of baby noises. It wasn't until we hit the freeway that, while sitting on Robin's lap, he abruptly threw himself across her lap and onto mine, and fell asleep on top of both of us.

T's foster family lives in rural Bang Sai, north of Bangkok. It took nearly two hours to get there (the first half hour was spent in traffic within a half mile of our hotel...crazy). The area is lush and beautiful. Their property is surrounded by rice fields and wats on the horizon. We could spot his home right away from the pictures we've received in the past. And we immediately picked out the foster mother.

We were invited right away into their home, where we sat down to talk about T. The foster mother's first question was how we planned to care for him...who would stay home, etc. We had a whole list of questions for her and her family...and got some great answers. It was an invaluable session. I managed to video tape nearly all of it, for T to watch in the future.

The meeting started with us, the foster mother, and Mo. It gradually expanded to include the entire extended family. T jumped from person to person, eating up as much of the attention he could get. We marveled because we had expected to see a different side of T, as so many families do at this point...he was the same happy T we knew, he just had more people to share it with.

T's foster father arrived, and didn't say very much. Mo (who was acting as a translator at this point) explained that he was told he could say whatever he wanted, but he was clearly a man of few words and cared very much for T. You can see him holding T in the picture.
The family was very hopeful that we return someday with T. They even relayed a story about another child they cared for who was adopted by a couple from Europe. They found out the couple came back to Thailand, but didn't stop in to visit. They were clearly disappointed by this. We made clear our intentions to return with T someday, and to keep in contact by sending pictures and updates. Hopefully the huge photo album we gave them, with tons of open slots is a good promise of our sincere intentions.

Before leaving, the family also indicated they would plan to foster another child in the future. What a lucky kid.

Before leaving, Robin asked if she could hug the foster mother. I wasn't sure, culturally, what the family would allow us to do, so I offered my thanks and goodbye with a I walked away, the foster father came up behind me and put his arm around me...coming from him, this was quite special. I returned the arm around the shoulder and thanked him once again.

Robin and I really lived the moment of this visit with the foster family. It was emotional for us to see this family hand over a child they very clearly love. They are a very special family. They have fostered many children before, but certainly this doesn't make the separation any easier.

I spent the ride home trying to reconcile feelings of guilt (for taking T from his foster family), sadness (for the family), wonder (for the family's ability to love to such a capacity), and joy (that T was lucky enough to be cared for by such a great family).

Robin and I also talked about how T is doing SO well in adjusting to us. We're just waiting for the shoe to drop. Like with anything in life, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Just as a child who is incapable of trusting anyone can be a problem, we can't help but think that a child who trusts anyone could also be a problem. We're not panicked, because it's clear he won't go to anyone for support...he didn't take to us immediately. But we're paying close attention.

The next big test will be tomorrow, when we get custody. It'll be his first night staying with us. We'll see if he still likes us at bedtime.



Hannah said...

Oh - what a great post! I got all misty eyes when you were talking about his family and the hugs! How wonderful for everyone that there seems to be a lasting bond!!!!!
Thanks for sharing everything - it's great to read along with your journey and be a part of it.

Hannah said...

Geez - and the video, how could I forget the video!!!!!! It was so great!

Sharon said...

What a wonderful post. I am writing and trying to see through tears. The bit about the foster family got me too. It took me right back to our experience and it is something that you have to experience, to feel the full power of that incredibly emotional moment.
Thanu is a very lucky little boy in so many ways, but as you guys know, it is us, the Mama's and Papa's and our families, who are ultimately blessed in more ways than we can ever describe.
I love the video, what a giggle he has, and how sweet it is that you already have him cracking up! (I love his outfit for the meeting too)!!
Tomorrow you will be three (four - sorry, Punkin) Forever! Thank you for allowing us to share your journey.

Anonymous said...

That was a WONDERFUL video; I really enjoyed watching that. What was so nice was seeing the happiness in Kyle's eyes watching Thanu :) I'm really looking forward to seeing that in my husbands face when we pick up our munchkin in South Korea...almost 2 years from now. Wow, I don't know how you guys survived the long wait but seeing how happy you guys are, I know it will all be worth it :) Congratulations again!

Anonymous said...

I also marvel at the amazing amount of love the FF give to our children. Thank you for good to know Thanu is the same with you and the FF - K was the same with us and her FF same happy child and she still is - so Thanu will continue to be...a child that has trusted is easier to turn around than one that has not (in my opinion) even if it takes a little bit of time for them to know that your are his forever family!!


Judith said...

Every post is more exciting than the last. It's been fantastic seeing the two of you interact with your wonderful little boy. I read all your posts multiple times - once isn't enough. See you soon. Love mom

coole chris said...

Its so fine to read your special moments, even through a mass of tears. Thanu is really a wonderful little boy, who is 'lucky' to get such nice and careeing (from to care ??) parents.
Be happy together ! Chris

Farrah and Jed said...

I'm so enjoying reading your journey!! He is amazing and he is bonding wonderfully....

How beautiful!!!

When do you get to come home???

Chris, Terri, Matt and Mark said...

The foster family day always makes me choke up. I have no idea how I will even get through that. I love his little laugh. He's a doll - what a great post! Thanks for the videos.

Melissa May said...

I'm not even sure what to say! It's such an amazing process and I feel so priviledged to get to hear about it all from you. He is so sweet and I hope and pray he continues to feel safe with you both. You both look so happy with him - it's wonderful!

Jay and Chandra Regan said...

I'm SO happy for all of you!!! We had some happy news today that the orphanage only has a few more documents to send in. Also, Penny says she is excited to join our family but is anxious to find out more about going to school as she feels her English isn't very good. She must be as excited and nervous as we are.

Glen and Andrea said...

Oh - adoption is so special. But bittersweet too. Even though our children cannot stay with their caregivers as it was only ever temporary until they could be adopted, the feelings of guilt are so strong. Thank you for posting the photos and gorgeous video. He is a darling, darling boy with a very special character, and so very lucky to have you both as parents.

The Whole Crew said...

The video is so great! He is soooooooooo cute! So glad for you guys!

Amy Holland