In July of 2020 we set out for our first adoption trip. First, because it most often takes two or three trips to this country before a child is officially adopted and brought home. The first adoption trip is specifically to meet the child and then get a court date. The second is to have court and the third is a pick up trip after the required 30 day post court wait is finished. Some families will stay the entire time. Other families, like ours have to take separate trips.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that the country we’re adopting from is known to have quick adoptions (often taking less than 12 months) and that ours has definitely taken much longer then expected. Read more on our discouraging time frame here. We were thrilled that travel had finally come and so I’m excited to share from our first adoption trip!
Day One: Boarding our Flights
We arrived at the airport early in the morning and got in line to check baggage. As soon as we told the clerk where we were going she made a phone call. The woman on the phone kept saying “mmhmm. Ok” and then she said, “I need to make sure you understand that the country you’re traveling to may have a quarantine. We nodded yes. Then she continued, “and they may not allow you into the country. ” We nodded again but inside we were getting a bit nervous.
Our long day of flying ended with a trip through Customs like I’ve never experienced. We’d been told there was a quarantine app to download on the phone and we prepared for that. Unfortunately I didn’t get my in country phone numbers yet and the download wouldn’t work.
The app would prompt us to take a picture several times a day and track our location to make sure we took it while at our residence. This would be their way of keeping us quarantined. We kept trying as Custom workers told other visitors they’d have to stay overnight in Customs if they couldn’t load the quarantine app onto their cell phone. The stress was rising as nothing seemed to work.
Finally Crossing Boarders
Finally a Customs worker came out and told everyone that the app was not working correctly. We were to just go through the line and have it loaded in 24 hours. Just like that, our outlook went from sleeping in Customs to taking our first steps into the country. Our driver met us at the airport door and took us straight to get covid testing done. Then we traveled to our apartment and spent the rest of the day learning where grocery stores and restaurants were as well as getting our quarantine app to work. By the time five o’ clock rolled around we were ready for bed but managed to stay up a bit later.
Day 2-5 on our First Adoption Trip
Sleeping did not come easy. Three AM became a normal wake up hour. After three days, our covid test results came back negative and we were let off the quarantine app. I was so relieved and suddenly realized how stressed out I’d felt until we knew the results. The next couple of days were full of long walks around the city and meeting up with a few other adoptive families who were also there. It was almost time for our appointment to get the referral to meet our soon-to-be daughter.
Day 6 The Appointment
The big day arrived and we were picked up by our driver for the official appointment to see the child’s file. The appointment was short. We learned a bit about her birth date and how she came to live at the orphanage. After the appointment, our driver went straight to the grocery store and we purchased diapers to bring to the orphanage. Plans were made for traveling to the little girl’s region the very next day.
Day 7: The Meeting Day
The facilitator and her driver picked us up at an early five AM. It was early but our three AM wake up time made it feel even more so! I sure hope I learn to sleep on the next trip! The drive was about five hours and very beautiful. We drove through country and farmland. We passed little villages where older men walked their geese. Cows sat on the sides of the road. It was all so lovely.
Because of the many rules surrounding Covid, there were still the unknowns about how our meeting would go. Would we have to do a video chat to visit? Would we need masks? Nothing was certain. When we arrived at the orphanage, we met the director, washed our hands and sat down. It was frustrating not knowing what people were saying because of the language barrier!
All at once, a nanny brought in a nervous looking little girl in a puffy pink dress. She was beautiful. We were told to take off our masks and the nanny helped seat the little girl next to me. Soon, she was ready to sit on my lap.
Because of her diagnoses, she couldn’t stand or walk but she became quite content in my arms. We turned pages of the photo book I brought and she enjoyed pointing to pictures and saying the names for “horse” and “dog.” When she came to her own picture in the book she was overjoyed to say it out loud.
A Little about Attachment
In pictures it’s clear that she immediately latched onto me. She enjoyed Bodie’s attention but was a bit nervous to have him hold her as she’d never been around men. Either way, she soaked in the attention like a cold popsicle on a hot day. To anyone looking on, it might have looked like we quickly bonded.
I wondered afterwards, “has this been the first time an adult has ever given her an hour of full attention.
The next question was “would she attach quickly to anyone who gave her their full attention for a bit?”
As much as the nannies have cared for these children, teaching bonding and attachment is extremely hard to do without parent relationships. Reactive attachment disorder can often appear over time when bringing a child home from an orphanage setting. I hope that she has built trust and bonded well with one or two of her nannies but I don’t know. It may be something that we work on the rest of her life.
True attachment happens over time. It will take a lot of consistent care and love for this little one. She needs to learn:
- To come to mom and dad when she wants help
- How to come to mom and dad for approval in activities ( eg. “Mommy, look at my picture!”)
- How to look for help from dad and mom when she feels emotionally upset
- To look to mom and dad to help her calm down.
- To look to dad and mom to bring justice to conflicts.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to learn a little more about typical post-orphanage behavior click here.
Day 8 and Onward
The next day we packed our bags and booked a flight home. The judges who carried out court for adoption in this specific area were on vacation for the next month. We’d have to make another trip soon.
It has been nearly a month and a half and we are still waiting on a court date. Our judge has returned and will release the date soon. At home we continue to prepare for having a little girl here! Her room is nearly finished (more on that soon!) and we’ve stocked up on the necessities like a car seat, highchair, etc. Our first adoption trip feels like it was SO long ago. We are ready and eager to bring this girl home.
If you haven’t read about our adoption, catch up with these posts:
Thanks for visiting!
From the Hilltop,