The arrival at the orphanage was much different than on previous trips. The oldest children whose parents were on this trip came running out the door of the orphanage as soon as we stepped on the property. Mare mentions that she was shocked when her daughter (about 7) came running to her arms and said, "I love you, Mama!" in English. Then she asked "Where is Papa?" (her dad came on the last trip but couldn't make this one. It was amazing to see that they had already picked up some English and that they were so excited to see us.
Jessica was NOT happy to be thrust into my arms. She screamed and screamed. Someone put Nathan in my arms as well and he was also screaming. I can't even begin to describe to you how chaotic those moments are. All sorts of people and children screaming and everyone talking at once. I put Jessica down while I was hunting for Brent and she ran over to one of the aunties and was quite content. Brent appeared and I handed Nathan to him (which quieted Nathan down... I'm not sure if he REMEMBERS Brent, but he's always been very content and comforted in his arms). Since both kids were safe and content at the moment and Harry was occupied, I decided to see if I could dig out the water filters from our bags and try to hook them up.
Remember, the orphanage is just a regular home, and there were kids running around and we'd brought a large group of adults and.... anyway, things were confusing. I could see pretty quickly that the filters weren't going to connect to the faucets as they were and that we'd need another piece. So, I'm running around, trying to find someone to translate so I can explain to Abel what is needed to connect them correctly, etc, etc. I notice that the auntie that Jessica ran to has followed me into the kitchen and that she's standing there, staring at me, while I'm doing this running around. I stop for a minute and try to get Jessica (who is in this auntie's arms) to smile at me or play peek-a-boo and then I'm off again.
Come back with Harry and Abel and explain the filter and how it works and what piece they need to get in order for the filters to attached to these faucets. All through that discussion, I'm aware that the auntie holding Jessica is still staring at me. We finally get a game plan together on how to find the needed part.
I turn back to the woman with Jessica and move to take her from this auntie. The auntie is still staring at me, and I step back and really look at her eyes. It's like we connect immediately. I'm staring at her as well and it hits me: This is Jessica's birth mom! Her eyes look exactly like Jessica's half sister. This is her. I've wanted to meet her. I've wanted to talk to her. I've wanted to know what her thoughts are about giving up beautiful Jessica and giving her to us. Where is my translator when I need him? So many things that I want to say and hear from her.
I point at Jessica, in her arms, and then I point at the young woman herself and I say, "You her mother?" And her eyes brighten as she knows that I've caught what she was trying to tell me with her eyes while I was running around about water filters. She nods and says, "Oui." My eyes teared up and I started to ask her if she was really OK with giving Jessica to me - as best as I could without knowing Creole. Just then, however, Nadia (the orphanage director) came from across the room. She'd apparently been watching this and said, "No, Lori. YOU Jessica's Mom." And suddenly we were surrounded by other women - Nadia's mother, and Pascal (Harry's wife). At least Pascal spoke some English. I found out that her name was Darlynn. I tried to communicate how much we loved Jessica and how grateful we were for her. I don't know how well things were translated but I think she got what I meant.
We rounded up Brent and had a picture taken of ALL of Jessica's family:
I have so many questions for Darlynn. I want to know about her own family growing up - how many siblings does she have. Is Jessica's father living? What does she love most about Jessica's personality? All these things and I'd like to be able to tell Jessica someday.
In the meantime, Darlynn is working at the O, so Jessica will have comfort and a mommy looking out for her when I can't be there. I hope she'll take Nathan under her wing as well.
Please, Heavenly Father, watch over my babies. Help them to have the food they need to be healthy and happy and to be able to play and grow. Please, please, help us to get them home soon.