On March 10, 2008, I met my son for the first time. His social report had reported him as shy around strangers. I was sure that he would cry if I moved too fast. I arrived at the care center at around 9:30 AM with my parents and the other families meeting their children. They told us they would take us one at a time to meet our children so that they could video tape it.
I anxiously waited to meet my son. Two families were called and quickly walked away. Finally, my son's name was called. As I walked out of the building with my parents and the social worker, I began scanning the children's faces trying to figure out which one was my son's. I saw a child who looked similar in a nanny's arms and wondered, "Is that him?!?" The social worker continued to walk by though without stopping.
We walked over to where the toddlers were sun bathing but I did not see any child who looked like mine. I waited patiently as the social worker asked the nanny where my son was. The nanny we had walked by walked over and placed Jacob in a chair. She began pointing and saying , "Mommy! Mommy!" Jacob watched me with a curious eye sitting absolutely still.
I slowly walked over and began talking quietly to Jacob. The social worker told me to pick him up and look at the camera. I was nervous. After all, I didn't want to scare him by moving too quickly. I did as I was told and Jacob didn't fight or cry. He put an arm on my shoulder and began to play with my name tag. A little girl sitting next to us took Jacob's shoe and he let out a small protest. I reached down and retrieved his shoe. A look of relief came over Jacob's face as if to say, "finally, I have someone to help me."
Jacob and I left the group of toddlers and walked over to a small porch to sit and get to know each other. Jacob didn't want to leave my lap. He seemed afraid I would disappear. A nanny came over and picked him up. He allowed her to but kept looking over his shoulder to make sure I wasn't leaving him. I gave him a small bear and some banana flavored treats. It would be an hour before he would leave my lap and he never did move more than an arm's length away from me that morning.
About two hours after Jacob and I left, I was told it was time to leave. I hated leaving my baby but knew it was best to stay with the group and see some of the things in Ethiopia.
Two days later, we were allowed to return to the care center. I was the first one to walk up to the building that housed the toddlers. As I walked up the cement steps, I saw Jacob standing by the patio door to his play room. I approached the building and he began screaming, laughing and banging on the door. He was so excited I had returned! I entered the building and sat down in the toddler room. The toddlers came running over and began playing with my hair. A little boy gave me a hug and I hugged him back. Jacob pushed the little boy so hard he fell. Jacob then stood in front of me and kept all of the other children from approaching me. After seeing many other children come and go (he was there seven months longer than most children), he wasn't going to be left again.
I picked Jacob up and brought him to the van. We left the care center for the first time together and went to the guest house where Grandma and Grandpa were waiting. We spent a nice day together before returning in the afternoon. Jacob cried as I left him but was quickly comforted by the nannies. I knew he was in good hands although my heart ached to just bring him back with me. I knew that it was best for him to sleep in his own bed after experiencing the joys and stresses of getting to know each other.
That was one year ago today. A lot has changed but I will wait to summarize how our last year has gone until later. I will continue to reflect and remember one year ago as the week goes on. Stay tuned....