Sunday, April 17, 2011
And all of a sudden...
I very rarely get nervous anymore. Too much has happened over the past few years in our lives for me to get amped up over something that I cannot control. God has rammed into my head over and over and over that it is His plan that we are following, not our own - a lesson that I now fully embrace.
So when I began to feel butterfies in my stomach the night before I went to pick up Vlad from the orphanage, I was surprised. I tossed and turned for what felt like hours. This was not a nervous, "are we doing the right thing," feeling but a "holy cow, this day has finally arrived and I am not quite sure what to do with myself" feeling. After finally falling asleep and then waking up the next morning I figured the butterflies would have left. But nope, they were back. I scurried around doing errands in preparation for the small party that they would have at the orphanage. I figured these tasks would take most of the day and was even worried if I had left enough time to get everything done.
I was finished with three hours to spare.
I couldn't focus. I tried to nap. I tried to read about Notre Dame football, but found it boring. I tried to grade but found myself spending about 20 minutes re-reading the introductory paragraph because I had forgotten what the student had said. I Skyped with Corbett for a while. I tried to nap again. I watched television that was broadcast in Russian. I was starting to get a bit desperate.
And then all of a sudden, it was time.
I showed up at the orphanage, signed some papers and then began to walk up to the second floor only to realize I was going the wrong way. After retracing my steps, I found the staircase that I had climbed so many times to see Vlad. Obviously, I had a profoundly different feeling this time. It felt eerie to walk up those stairs knowing it would be the last time. I almost started to cry nostalgic tears as I walked past the empty play room where we had gotten to know Vlad for the past weeks. I walked down the hall I had chased Vlad over and over again, now knowing that we would be playing new games back home in America. And then I almost lost it when I walked into the room where all the children, including Vlad, were enjoying their afternoon snack. The realization then enveloped my body that I was taking Vlad away from all that he had ever known. Ever.
That is no small responsibility to take on as a Dad.
Of course, I was absurdly excited to finally get Vlad. But my heart also went out to him knowing that he was about to go through a radical change in his life. Certainly a change for the better, but it was just a little sad for me to watch him leave a good home he had know his entire life.
I wasn't sure how long this party was supposed to last exactly. I wanted to make sure that I was able to show appreciation for all that had been done with Vlad but I also didn't want to create an awkward situation of spending too much time in the room as these nannies had to take care of 13 other children. But as soon as I walked in, it was a whirlwind. I started pulling out all the treats and toys for the kids, awkwardly explaining to the nannies who they were for. Hand lotion and chocolates for the nannies came out. Three frosty cold bottles of champagne emerged from my bag, which brought more smiles and giggles from the nannies. After making a rather silly joke through charades that the champagne was not for the children, I stood there thinking, "What next?"
One nanny promptly came over and pointed to Vlad's clothes, indicating that she would change him into whatever I brought. I brought more clothes than necessary just it case, but before I knew it Vlad was dressed in all of them. A fresh diaper went on with pajama bottoms tucked into his socks and a pair of jeans over top. T-Shirt, long-sleeve t-shirt, and sweatshirt went on top. Sneakers were velcroed to his feet. Parka and winter hat with ear-flaps finished off his outfit. I was mildly concerned about heatstroke. But then there he was ready to go...the nannies said goodbye, hugging him, speaking lovingly in Russian and wiping a few tears from their eyes. I realized that this was going to be it.
They put him on the ground and my little overstuffed tick, ready to pop, waddled over to me and looked up.
"Ready to go, Vladi?"
And so we did.