Thursday, June 21, 2012

Getting Warmer

June 9, 2012

Our third visit to the care center seemed like a real breakthrough.  When we arrived it was a bit chaotic; it was Saturday, no school, so all the kids were there.  And there were three of us visiting families.  I sat on the steps in front of the room Eli shares with several other boys and he hopped up onto my lap.  He melted (just a little? maybe?) into my arms and stayed there for the better part of an hour.

He still watched all the action going on the courtyard, and a few times hopped off my lap to go get something.  Like when Julie was handing out lollipops.  But then he'd make a bee line directly back to me and climb back up.

And a lot of the action came to us while we were sitting on the step, which he also didn't seem to mind. He just seemed happy to hang out with mama.  My heart was soaring.

He loved those ziplock bags, to stash his stuff!
And Eli took a few pictures of Brad.  We definitely have to bring him his own camera when we return.

I think this is a great picture that Eli took!

Eli's daddy has nice legs!

I've been so worried about bonding and attachment--and I realize we are a long, long ways from anything resembling a secure attachment--but the fact that he was seeking me out when there were other adults there (and with lollipops!) was very encouraging.  All kids love Brad, so most of my worry has selfishly been about me.  That I'd be standing alone on the sidelines while Brad and Eli bonded.

He and Brad played some more soccer, but it was a little harder with more kids in the courtyard.  I'm still not sure Eli understood what's going on, but he wanted to play with Brad (and only Brad) and he wanted to cuddle with me.  He seemed to like us.  And he seemed to prefer our company to the other adults and kids.  I'm no expert, but I think that's something to hang onto at this point.

He was still so very quiet.  He sang a little bit again while he was sitting in my lap, but didn't speak to us or any of the other kids.  It must be so hard for him, not being able to communicate with anyone around him.

At one point, not long before we left for the day, Eli took a break from playing soccer and went into the bathroom.  When he came out his eyes were full of huge tears.  I tried to ask one of the nannies if perhaps he didn't feel well by rubbing my tummy and shrugging my shoulders, but I'm not sure she understood me.  She saw he was crying, and asked him something, but it didn't seem like he understood her.  And she wasn't able to help him.

So he and I went over to sit on the step again, and his tears dried.  A few minutes later the kids were washing up for lunch and it was time for us to go.

It was so hard leaving him that day, even though we knew we'd be able to see him again the next day.  I recall wondering how I'd handle it when we had to leave and not come back for a few months.  We were assured it's not that hard on the children when we leave; they've had so much upheaval before we ever came on the scene, that our disappearance is nothing new.  But that breaks my heart anyway.  What child should ever become so accustomed to loss and people disappearing?

We left the care center and Fekadu had us over for lunch at his home, which was really fun.  His mom prepared us a delicious meal and coffee ceremony.  And then he showed us his photo albums; such great memories he shared with us.

When we drove through the gate at Fekadu's home, I saw he has two dogs.  I love dogs, and as we got out of the van I leaned down to scratch them behind their ears and asked what were their names.  Fekadu responded, quite incredulously, "they're dogs, they don't have names."

Well, they do now, at least to me -- Dog Number One and Dog Number Two.  (Dog Number One is the bigger of the two, obv.)

Fekadu thinks I'm crazy, but I think it's a nice compromise of cultures.


  1. Heartwarming. It sounds like Eli understands that you and Brad are his mommy and daddy and that the first seeds of yoru bond are starting to grow. So happy for you! (And how interesting about that the dogs don't have names!)

  2. This was beautiful, Kathleen! I love that you and Eli already have an unspoken bond! He knows who his mommy and daddy are. (I guess I'm repeating what Erin said!). I know this must be difficult counting the days until he is home with you but just think of how wonderful it will be when you are all together for good! :) You and Brad are in my thoughts! So happy for you guys!

  3. It sounds like the seeds of family are definitely starting to take root! The actions of love speak more than words ever could!