Today was "metcha day". We met our boy. The day we've waited for since first seeing his sweet picture and considering the possibility of adoption. What a day it was!
We awoke at about 4:45am to be ready for our early train ride. In actuality, I did not sleep. I could not sleep. But we awoke the boys, had breakfast and waited for Max to come pick us up. We arrived at the train station with plenty of time to spare...and were deeply grateful for a porter to haul all of our bags. Our last missing piece of luggage came in right before we departed...hooray! The boys LOVED the train! We all loved the train...seeing the beautiful countryside, resting, writing in our journals (for Jack and I), having train snacks...it was a hit!
We arrived in Toby's city in the afternoon, but had no time to stop at the apartment...so we tried to freshen up a bit in the car and gather his photo album book and some other things quickly. Driving up to the orphanage/school was a special moment. Walking up the stairs to the director's office was even more poignant. We were welcomed warmly by the Director and others. We have been praying for many months that the director would have a softened heart toward our boys and allow them to interact with their new brother. Today my boys saw their prayers answered. They were all fawned over by the women on staff at the school and the director herself arranged for the boys to have a meal and some activities while we waited for the initial paperwork. She then read all the information she could from Toby's file. He's been at that orphanage for the last 8 years and he was moved their because of his Celiac diagnosis. For eight years they have been preparing him special food to help him stay gluten free. He is known as a smart, good boy who takes care of all the other children. He knows the rules and abides by them in the orphanage. The major discipline problems they have had with him have always come after one of the other children has been adopted. He is the last orphan left. The orphanage transferred over to a school and rehabilitation center and the other orphans were moved to different locations. (Still trying to find out if Wetherby, Rebecca and Charlie are there or not.) He is the last one in that building to not have birth parents come to visit him or interact with him. He has felt lonely and unloved for so very long. He often said, "Why does no one love me? Why has no one come for me?" Then the director shared the story of our puppy. Sarah sewed a small stuffed dog with Americana fabric. I stitched under each ear his name and "We love you" in Russian. A friend delivered it to him when she was there adopting her daughter. It came just after he had been really upset about no one loving him. He lifted those ears and saw a message of love just for him. The director was happy to say, "See...you ARE loved!" and has reminded him of that ever since! The Lord is so good to have moved in that way...to show our love and HIS love to our boy long before we got to his country!
I heard the director and some staff members asking Irina about other children who had been adopted from the orphanage. I had tried to print out pictures of John, Mila, Andre and Truett and their families. I cannot even tell you what a wonderful gift that was to give! The women just poured over the pictures and kept saying, "Oh...my sweet one! Oh look how happy they are! Oh my beautiful girl...so happy in a family!" Irina said that it was the best gift we could have given the director!
We were sent off to eat a meal of borscht and a rice and meat dish while a teacher was sent to fetch Toby from school. We were so nervous that we would miss his entrance! We hurried through the delicious meal and were so touched by their hospitality! We returned to the director's office and waited.
Suddenly...there he was! He was in his school uniform and looked so solemn and nervous and walked right past us to the director and greeted her very properly. She told him who we were and he kept looking at her...until she said, "You can look at them!" We smiled and sat near him as he took it all in. He had a hint of a smile, but seemed really nervous. Every answer was sharp and precise. I so wanted to just grab him and hug him. He asked the boys' names and ages and repeated them all several times until he got them (the "j" sound is hard to pronounce in Russian!) and then stated, "I will be the older brother." :-) Yes, sweet Toby! When we took out the photo album, he just lit up. He loved looking at all of the pictures and repeated names after me. I cannot tell you the joy it was to be able to speak with him in Russian and understand him about 90% of the time! My heart is so full!
At this point, Irina asked us if we would like to proceed with the adoption. OF COURSE!!!! She asked Toby if he would like to have us as a family. He said, "Of course!" What a burden for these kids! I know how much he has wanted a family, but we've had months to pour over his pictures, hear stories of him from other families, find out lots of information about him. He had half an hour to decide he wanted us as a family.
Irina had to rush to get some paperwork done, so she left us with our boy. He asked to see George's Angry Birds and all four boys sat and played together for a while. Jack was so tremendously affectionate the whole time! He kept touching Toby's arm or back and smiling. It was the sweetest thing. Toby would repeat every English word Jack said.
Joe is really enamored with him. He wanted to hug and wrestle and touch his face. It was like he's known him all his life! George was a little more cautious, but still very loving. He gave Toby three of his Angry Birds to keep. If you know George, you know his Angry Birds are his treasures. It really meant something for him to give them to his brother so willingly.
Something in particular amazed me. He has never known the love of parents. Yet he knew who to turn to for different things. When he was on a piece of exercise equipment and it flew back and bumped his nose, he came to me to be comforted. I kissed the red spot on the bridge of his nose and he melted into my arms. When something in the room broke, he called his Papa to come fix it. He knows. Every child knows what a Mama and Papa are for. Now Toby has them for his own. He will never have another injury that will go without a kiss from his Mommy. He will never have a problem too big for his Daddy to help him with. God is so good.
We'll leave you with this as a last picture. This shot is especially important to me, because the first photo we ever saw of Toby was one with his friend Vanya near this stuffed lion. Vanya is settled happily in a family of his own now. And soon, Toby will be too. And he will have a troop of little brothers and lots of other loving arms around him to hold onto him forever!!
We are praising the Lord, as we are seeing things move so quickly even now. The director moved mountains to sign all the paperwork so that what usually gets done in a week is getting done in one day. We could have a court date very, very soon...which we need, since Josh has a limited amount of work that he could miss. I know that just as the Lord has answered every single prayer we have breathed during this process, He will answer our prayer to have our boy home by Christmas. Praise Him!