Waiting for Mom and Dad, Part 2
In Part 1, Blog Post # 22: An Orphanage Story, we left Alexandru, waiting and watching for his own parents to come get him.
When he was 2 and 1/2 years old, suddenly potential parents started visiting him! They were very nice, and he always hoped they would take him home, but they didn’t. He didn’t know enough time had passed that international parents could now adopt him.
As the days went by, he spent time each day standing at the edge of his enclosure, watching the orphanage gate for his own mom or dad to come and wondering what was taking them so long. He longed to leave the orphanage. Yet it seemed parents only came for other kids. He knew they were parents because they were dressed in street clothes; his caretakers always dressed in white medical smocks. And he knew volunteers dressed in colored smocks with brightly colored designs on them. But he knew that one day his parents would come through that orphanage gate, so he kept watching.
One day, when he was about 3 1/2 years old, he and other children were in a small fenced-in play area on the orphanage grounds. He was at the edge of the area, looking yearningly outside the fence while other children were playing in the middle. Suddenly he saw his mom come walking through the entrance gate! He just knew it had to be his mom, finally, finally, coming for him! Sure enough, one of the caretakers with his mom pointed to him! The caretaker who was with the children inside the fenced in play area opened the play-area gate and he raced out, straight to his mom, and jumped into her arms!
Starting that day and everyday for 4 weeks, his mom would come visit him in the orphanage. He would always jump into her arms and have her carry him as he bossed her around, pointing to where he wanted her to take him.
Sometimes he had her put him down and he played while she sat and watched. Then he allowed her to play with the other children because he knew she really was all his. As soon as he was ready to move on he would jump in her arms and let her know the next area to take him by authoritatively pointing in that direction. She kept doing funny movements with her hands, and one time he repeated one of those movements back to her. He thought it might mean “swing” and he was right!
She brought a photo album with people’s pictures in it. He didn’t pay much attention; he didn’t know those people were his new family. She also brought children’s books and tried reading to him. He didn’t have much patience with those books either, though sometimes he liked looking at the pictures.
He still gave no eye contact to anyone, including his mom. And he still zoned into his own world, except he was always aware of where his mom was and made sure she stayed close to him.
Every day he would cry when she left.
At the end of that 4th week, the car arrived with his mom and drove right into the orphanage grounds! His mom got out of the back seat. She had been told by the orphanage to bring brand new clothes for a final ceremony. His caretaker dressed him one last time in the new clothes, symbolically beginning his new life outside the orphanage. Oh no, the shoes she brought were way too small for him! The caretaker smiled and indicated the orphanage would simply keep that pair and he could leave in his orphanage shoes. Ceremony completed, they went outside. But when mom turned around to pick him up to put him in the car, he was gone! They soon found him already sitting in the back of the car, smiling and ready to go! So with her own big smile she came and got into the car with him and the driver took them out of the orphanage.
Each of his caretakers, while hugging him goodbye or waving as he left, had sad tears going down their cheeks.
LESSON LEARNED: Be patient; While you are looking for someone, remember they may also be looking for you.
LESSON LEARNED: Be grateful to others whose jobs may hide deeper sacrifices than you know. For example, it must be hard being a caretaker at an orphanage, falling in love with the babies, knowing one day (hopefully) they’ll leave. It must be bitter-sweet seeing them adopted, being so happy they found their own home, but missing them after they leave.
LESSON LEARNED: Lead with love. Every day for those four weeks as I walked around the orphanage grounds with Alexandru, I observed the caretakers with the children. They were always very patient, kind and loving with them. Even though they couldn’t help him begin his life with language, very importantly they helped him begin his life with love.
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