We're at the beach this week, spending some time with Jeremy's family, and the unusual (for me) downtime promises some evenings of blogging, to catch up on Rwanda and our lives since. No promises, but that's the plan. (Edited to add: this post turned out to be freakishly long, so I split it in half. See Part II here.)
We met Laina on a Thursday. The next day, two families that we knew through the wonderful world of Rwanda-families-online arrived, also coming early because their children were sick. We were happy and relieved to have the Stengels and the Bowers with us. We really grew to love these two families and feel honored to have shared the trip with them.
Side note: If we thought that sharing the waiting with families made us close (it did!!), traveling together cemented the bond. Our "team" consisted of nine families adopting a total of 11 children. Meeting them, watching them meet their children, getting to know them and their stories, spending time with them, all of this made the trip so special. We love you guys, and miss you!!
Okay, back to the story. We visited Laina in the hospital that morning,
and then went with one of our POAs to the airport to meet the Stengels and the Bowers, and then headed back to the hospital to see Laina again. She was feverish and subdued at first--I think we got there at the tail end of her round of meds, because when she got some more in her, shortly after we got there, she perked up. Even so, she was quiet, serious, and interested only in pulling on my necklace and reaching for Jeremy's glasses.
We also got to see our first gotcha moment in real life, as the Bowers met their son. It was a full, beautiful moment, reflecting all the emotions we were feeling or had just felt, and almost magnified for us because we had far less exhaustion, worry, and stress than we had had the previous day when we met Laina.
We spent sweet moments with our children in the hospital hallways before kissing them goodnight and heading to the orphanage to pick up the Stengels.
(Loved these flowers. I have lots of pictures of them. You'll see.)
And then it was time to hit Sole Luna, the best pizza place in Kigali, for some dinner. The men had what became the Man Drink: Fanta Fiesta.
Saturday, another family arrived. Laina was discharged from the hospital and sent back to the orphanage, so we spent part of the afternoon visiting hours with her (4:30-5). We couldn't go in the morning because it was a public action day, where Rwandans clean and fix up their homes and towns. But in the afternoon we got to see her. We got our first smile! She was still a little junky in her lungs, but not feverish and obviously feeling better. It rained while we were in the orphanage, a beautiful, cooling rain that made the colors of the flowers and the red earth almost glow. I loved holding Laina in the doorway and watching the rain.
(see the rainbow?)
(I know this one is too dark. I left it in because of the shining wet courtyard behind us.)
(not the first smile, but one of them)
(sweet, sleepy girl)
See Part II for the rest of the story...