As I read back over the last post, I hope that you got the sense of how excited we were....how much we wanted to live by faith...how much we wanted to be obedient....how much we loved our new boys....how full of life and hope we were.
As we got ready to board the plane, I was almost sick with grief over leaving my four kiddos at home. I had never left them before and even though it was only for four days, I could hardly bear it. On top of that, in the few weeks before we were to leave, sales at Handsome's business had slowed way down. It was not unusual for that time of year, but it left unease tugging at our minds. I really didn't want to go to a different country - we are not adventurers at all. But I was finally going to hold my precious boys. I still felt a bit like I needed to pinch myself.
We arrived in Guatemala safely and ended up at a very, very nice hotel. Much nicer than we had ever stayed at, but we were still a little surprised to find out it was the nicest hotel in Guatemala. I paced the floor as we waited for the phone call that our boys were there. The facilitator had just had a baby, so it was complicating things a bit. I was in complete angst to hold my boys - very fearful that something would go wrong. Finally, the phone call came. They were going to be downstairs in 10 minutes. Handsome and I raced downstairs. The first glimpse of them left a bit of disconnect. One of the two men carrying them was very, very nicely dressed - like over the top nicely dressed - like suit and sparkling cufflinks type thing. The other one was fairly nicely dressed as well, but a little more subdued. But my boys had very used, very mismatched clothing on - and both boys looked completely terrified. It just made an odd picture in my mind. They quickly handed them over as one of the boys started crying. My immediate thought was, "They stink!!" - not exactly what I had pictured my first impression being! They handed us some raggedy white-grey diapers. I could not figure out what those were for - and they shook our hands and began to leave. That was it? Really? The man in the suit swung back around and said in broken English that they liked their blankets, as he gestured to the raggedy white-grey diapers and then said, "We feed that one (referring to the Professor who was much bigger and healthy looking) first, and whatever is left, we give to that one (referring to Romeo, who was very tiny and sickly)." My mind just went blank with shock. And then they walked away.....that was it.
So Handsome and I each have one of our new, stinky, disheveled, crying babies, standing in the middle of a fancy foyer. Shock just poured over me. I don't know for sure what I expected, but this was not it. I thought they would give the boys time to adjust, that they would give us detailed information on how they were used to be cared for. I thought they would smell better. I know that sounds very silly - but they STUNK! Like eye-watering stink! We took them upstairs to our room, with all the toys that we had gathered with so much excitement, only to have them cry and cry and cry. Looking back now, I had never fully considered in my excitement that this would be scary and earth-shattering to them. All I could see was how much we loved them and that their life would be so much better - but a little person doesn't see that! All they knew had been taken away from them....we were all in shock.
We decided immediately to change their clothes. It was getting close to bedtime and I really didn't want to attempt to bathe them as they were so distraught. Plus, I was beginning to worry about our neighbors with all the crying going on. I knew that they babies in Guatemala tended to wear alot of clothes, even in the heat - but I peeled 3 layers off of both of them. As I changed Romeo, I went into complete shock. His chest was completely caved in on one side. The top part bulged out and the bottom caved in. WHAT??? We knew that he was smaller. We even paid to have a doctor examine them who was well known in the US because of our concerns with Romeo's size and nothing was said. We were told they were very healthy. (This was before we knew what a blessing children with special needs were.) The shock just deepened for me.
As tempted as I was to just throw the clothes in the garbage can, they were my babies' clothes, so I wrapped them up in a plastic bag. The stench got much, much worse. This may be too much information, but when I changed their diapers, their boy parts were black. I thought, "Is this what Hispanic boy-parts look like?" I had no idea at the time. We put them in pajamas and fed them. Romeo was just limp. He did not sit up, he did not try to roll over. He just limply sat in my arms crying. The Professor was finally playing with a ball with Handsome.
We had only ordered one crib because we were told the boys were extremely attached to one another and needed to sleep together. As we laid them down, we quickly saw that it was not going to work. The Professor (the much bigger one) was kicking, hitting, and rolling over on tiny Romeo. What? Had no one told us the truth on anything? I pulled Romeo into the bed with me and left The Professor in the crib. A long, painful night began. I ended up rocking Romeo repeatedly as he would doze off, then cry, doze off, then cry. A few times Handsome had to walk the hallways with The Professor to get him to calm down. I was in complete shock - I just began shutting down.
We had to be at the Embassy very early in the morning, so there was still no time to bathe the boys. We took our crying babies down to the lobby where one of the men from the night before met us to take us through the process. He was very nice (not the man in the suit) and could speak fairly decent English, but was pretty quiet overall. More shocked awaited me as we saw hundreds of people lined up outside the Embassy. Many were old or crippled, but there was no place to sit - just in this line that didn't seem to move. We asked our guide what was going on. He simply shrugged and said it was all the people trying to get a visa to go to America. He said they started lining up before dawn and many would still not even get in that day. My shocked heart just broke in two. How comfortable and easy our lives were - how bleak and full of pain each of these people seemed to be. It was very hard to just walk past them because I was an American. More shock upon shock to my already overwhelmed heart.
The Embassy was the tiniest of all I have been in since that time and was very crowded. I was holding tiny Romeo and trying not to gag at the smell. He just laid like a limp doll. The Professor was fussy unless Handsome was walking him. After a very long wait, we were called back into a room. The officer in front of us had a pretty grim look on his face. The boys had had their medical exam a week before, and we were told all was fine by the facilitators. The man in front of us said, "You realize that the little one was diagnosed as "failure to thrive", right?" I had never heard that term before (now I know it is a "catch all" phrase) but at the time, it seemed so ominous and terrifying. I told him no, that we hadn't been told that. He looked concerned and said it should have been passed on to us. He asked if we were still willing to go forward - we said, "Of course" but I was so very, very scared. So very, very overwhelmed.
We got through the Embassy and our visas were ready by the afternoon. We weren't scheduled to fly out until 2 days later and we tried desperately to get a flight out the next day, but it didn't happen. I just wanted to be home!!! I was so overwhelmed with my screaming, stinky babies. It was nothing like I had romanticized about for months. (Looking back, it was one of our easier transitions, but at the time it was completely, utterly overwhelming.)
As we got back to the hotel and we waiting for an elevator, all of the sudden a bunch of men armed with huge machine guns came pouring into the lobby. WHAT? No one else seemed panicked, but we didn't know what to do. The men then lined up and an older man in very nice clothes walked in from a fancy car. He walked straight to the elevators. We stepped way back from the men with the guns. The older man stepped on the elevator and then waved us on with him. Ummm, okay. So we climbed on the elevator with him and a few armed men. He smiled and shook our hands. He then asked in English, 'You adopt them?" We said yes. He said, "Very good." We all got off on the same floor and he went into the suite next to ours. What was going on? Later, Handsome took one of the boys for a walk and asked who that man was at the front desk. They looked shocked that he was even asking and then told him it was the President of Guatemala! Good grief! Now the President could hear my boys crying day and night. I did wonder briefly if he would take them away from us!
I did finally bathe them as they screamed and was a bit shocked as the black even washed off their parts. Honestly, that made me gag a bit, that they were so dirty. The bath however did not help with smell. I was not a sensitive person to smell, but this was bad. We had been told that adopting from Guatemala was amazing because the babies were so well cared for in foster homes instead of orphanages. Again looking back, compared to the orphanages in Bulgaria, that is true - but it still didn't make it an ideal setting. They were cared for by poor families, who did not have any resources or training. As we put pieces together, the boys were probably in their crib a great deal with a TV on. They did feed The Professor more because their culture said not to "waste" resources on a child that was likely to die. So little Romeo got less.
We made it through the last day and a half. The boys crying most of the time. I just stuffed everything in the suitcase - dirty clothes and all - only to have it hand searched at the airport. It was humiliating to have the man holding up my dirty underwear - but we got through it. The boys actually did fairly well on the flight home, with Don walking The Professor up and down the aisles. We almost missed our flight from Houston, but finally arrived home. I was so very thankful. Being home would make everything better, right?
My mom was waiting at our house for my dad to bring us home. She took one whiff of the boys and started the water running for another bath. I said through tears that we had already bathed them, but she did it again anyway. They still stunk. I was so overjoyed to see my other kiddos. I just wanted to pull Smiley into my big chair and go to sleep. We tucked the boys into their new separate cribs and climbed into bed. All seemed well.....for an hour. Then the Professor started screaming and jumping in his crib. It didn't matter how I tried to soothe him, he just wouldn't stop. Little did I know that this was a pattern that would go on for over a year. We finally pulled pillows over our heads and let him scream. And scream he did until the early hours of the morning.
We woke up even more exhausted and overwhelmed than before. Being home didn't make it better if we didn't get any sleep. I will spare you the minute details - but a pattern quickly developed. The boys would wake up crying (after The Professor screaming and jumping on and off all night), they would eat, then cry until lunch, eat and then go down for nap - which they did sleep for about two hours - then cry until dinner. Eat, then cry until bedtime.....and then repeat the whole process again. Day after day, week after week. We were so overwhelmed.
The Professor seemed to like the super saucer, but he would bounce so hard in it that he would be jarring himself repeatedly. The sound beat into my head like a hammer - but if I took him out, he would cry all the harder. Romeo could not sit up. He could not feed himself. He screamed every time one of the other kids would come near him. We were at our wits end. At one point in time, Handsome stormed out of the house and just walked away. In my exhausted panic, I thought, "What if he never comes back?" It was such a hard, hard time. In addition, sales at Handsome's business were still very, very slow. Where was God in all of this?
As if that was not enough, the adoption agency that had Tatiana and Denis's file emailed with very sad news. When the couple that was going to adopt them moved forward, they found out that another family from New Zealand had begun their adoption the week before. They sad the couple was completely crushed and decided not to adopt at all. This was the final straw for me. The agency returned our money we had given - which we now desperately needed for the mounting pile of bills. Where was my Savior? Where was the blessing we had been expecting? I knew it would be hard - but honestly, I expected a kind of "holy glow" over everything - that I would be full of such joy serving my Savior and my kids that it would be okay......that was not the case. It was soul-crushing hard and I could not find my way out of the despair. I laughed bitterly over my previous thoughts of adopting Tatiana and Denis after the twins - and that "other" little girl I thought was ours? There was no way I was EVER adopting again. I was in complete darkness.
The weeks went on in the same routine. About six weeks after they came home, I started feeling very yucky....like....like...pregnancy yucky? NO WAY!!!! There was NO way. How could God do that? We had taken "precautions" - how could He? I remember the look on the checker's face as I stood in line with 2 crying twins and 4 other young children and handed her the pregnancy test. Yep, humiliation galore. I took the test on the morning of our tenth anniversary. It was positive. I sat down on the bed and cried. I hadn't told Handsome yet. But I cried as I did. I was also deeply ashamed, even then, that I would cry over a new life. I told Handsome that if it was a girl, we needed to have her middle name "Joy" - so she would know that I did love her. This thought was God's grace even then - that in my despair, He could still whisper to me that this was a gift - thought I did not feel like it then. I was so, so overwhelmed. How could my Savior do that to me? How were we going to survive? The tears poured down my face as I could hear the twins screaming in the other room. How could I go on?
Little Man is crying....
Until He comes....