Poland – The Beginning
We left home five days ago. The time has passed insanely fast in a “we’re still jet-lagged enough that we may try to grab a snack at 2am” kind of way. Honestly, this is the first time that I’ve had to really set fingers to keys. I want to get things down before they all meld into one. I write this blog for myself and PK in the future as much as I do to keep friends, family, and others updated. Anyway, here’s an overview of our time:
Friday, the 2nd – About two hours before we were supposed to leave for the airport, Rex the Idiot-Wonder Dog escaped. Cue panic, Facebook blasts, a small emotional breakdown on our parts, a fall in the woods bringing about a sprained finger, and an effort from friends and family to bring our fur-boy home. A massive thanks to everyone who was a part of that, whether you drove around looking for him, wandered through woods, or just kept your eyes peeled as you went through your day. Thankfully, my sister managed to see him (standing in the middle of the highway looking happily at the cars headed for him) and load him into the back of her SUV and bring him back. We were able to get Rex back in the house, finish the last minute rushing around and get on the road mostly on time and only forgetting a few things that were laying out in plain sight. (From what we’ve heard, Rex is behaving for our housesitter.) We got on the plane and off to France without much incident.
Saturday, the 3rd – We landed in Paris, went through a security check-point (where they literally looked at our passports, stamped them, and handed them back) and got to our next gate which was also being used to board a plane heading for Malaga, Spain. I heard at least four languages being used amongst passengers to figure out which flight was being boarded at that point. From what I could tell, everyone who was supposed to go to Warsaw got to Warsaw and the folks flying to Spain got to Spain…but I’m not sure. Thankfully, our hotel in Warsaw was just across the street. We checked in, napped for a while, got food, and passed out again…only to wake up at midnight in Poland (6pm for our East Coast audience). We watched a couple of strange documentaries on an English-speaking channel and managed to go back to sleep until morning.
Sunday, the 4th – Our least interesting day so far…fly to a town near Czestochowa, ride in a car to Czestochowa, check in at the hotel, let a few folks know we were alive, meet with our facilitator (who is amazing), and sleep.
Monday, the 5th – Here’s the interesting bits and, let’s be honest, why you’re reading – the parts with PK. Dressed in our Sunday best, we loaded up in a taxi and had a meeting with the adoption officials here in town. It was short, pleasant, and the conversation turned to dogs like it did when we were here before. We also found out that the sister who had been PK’s caregiver for most of her life is no longer with the orphanage. We were a bit sad about not seeing her again but also a little glad that we weren’t going to be the ones to break up what was obviously a very close relationship.
We then went to the institution where PK lives. We had a meeting for about an hour with her legal guardian who is the director of the orphanage. Then we got to see PK again. While Becky and I both knew that she would be bigger, we were amazed at how much older she looks. She has grown, but she’s still tiny. We think she’s around 17-18 lbs. and she’s got so much more hair. They brought her in the room with the cutest, little topknot. We stayed in the room that we were in before with her for our first visit. She didn’t come straight to us, which is good. It means she’s loved, she’s attached to her caregivers and that there’s not a real worry about attachment disorders. Unlike the first trip, however, she did let me touch and hold her during this first meeting which is big (at least to me).
We left after about an hour with her and moved into our apartment. It is amazing, spacious
and room for me to explore (so I can only imagine PK’s reaction when she moves in…hopefully that will buy us some time before the “What do you mean, I’m not going back to the place I’ve lived all my life” panic starts). We have a kitchen, good-sized bathroom with a washer, two sitting rooms and one bedroom (which has both our bed and a pack-and-play for PK). Before we could even really get settled, we were back to the orphanage. This time we went to the playroom that PK spends a lot of her day in. We got to see her in her element along with the boys that I have to believe were the stars in a story PK’s caregiver told us when we were there last. They’re a wild cast of characters. We spent time in the room with everyone and then the other children left. This has been my favorite visit with her so far. She’s so comfortable in that room and we got to see her as she really is. She smiled, almost laughed, smacked a kid for “breaking” a toy she likes, and then was happy from our arms to make sure we knew who in the room was misbehaving. They also brought out the picture book we left when we were there last. It had pictures of us, Rex, our house, grandparents, aunts, uncle and cousins. They’ve obviously gone over it with her a lot because she toted it around with her in the room and sat down with us to look through it. When it was time to leave, Becky, our facilitator and I headed to a shopping center to get groceries, baby things and supplies. I’m a huge fan of the exchange rate. Three huge bags full of stuff for less than $100. If only it were like that back home!
Today, the 6th – We woke up to snow! Not a lot but New Bern would definitely have run on at least a 2 hour delay, if not completely shut down. We got to the orphanage and went with PK to the first room we played with her in. She obviously isn’t completely warmed up to us yet but I honestly think there’s a vibe in the room that she just doesn’t feel. We can carry her fine through the halls but when we get to that room, she loses it. Honestly, neither visit today was a fairytale. The room is at the bottom of a staircase and when she hears voices on the other side she starts crying and pointing to the door. I can understand. Who wants to be trapped in a room with two big people who are making complete fools out of themselves to entertain you but don’t speak your language when there are perfectly fine and normal caretakers just on the other side. We can distract her for a bit but as soon as there are voices on the stairs, she makes her intentions known. This afternoon’s visit felt rough to me and I started tossing up flare prayers that something would click. Apparently, she watched me while I was doing this and looked concerned, so she seems to have some legitimate feelings for me. Either that, or she doesn’t appreciate another theatrical person stealing the show. Our salvation came a few minutes later in the form of some clickable blocks. She quieted down, started to play and talked to us in her babble for longer than she ever has. When we returned her to her room, she was fine, hopped into the nun’s arms, turned around and gave us a smile and a wave. I’m not sure whether she was trying to trick the nun into thinking everything had been candy canes and rainbows or trying to stick it to us. From all the literature, I know two-year-olds can be plotters. Regardless, we’re starting with those blocks tomorrow and, honestly, I’m glad to see any part of her personality. She is small but she is fierce and she will be a force to be reckoned with one day. World, be on the look out for my girl.
Our walk home was full of debriefing our feelings and then being caught up in the wonder that is Czestochowa preparing for Christmas. The square in front of the old town hall has a huge, real Christmas tree, a train, huge bear, rocking horse made of tinsel and lights, and the town hall has falling snowflakes projected on it. I felt a bit like a kid walking around and I can’t wait to show PK. For now, though, I’m happy about to sit down to a dinner of sausages. If you think of us over the next couple of days, please cover us in prayer as we continue to get to know each other and specifically on Thursday when we have our first court hearing. For my East Coast friends, that happens at 8am your time. We’ve been told it will last about an hour and, if things go well, PK and come and start living with us!