We met our youngest daughter, Anita Hope, today. She is absolutely darling and we are all in love with her already. We had to start our day with a meeting with our lawyer, Victoria, to review our dossier and answer any of her questions that she thought the judge might inquire about so that she was prepared. We then drove to Nsambya Baby Home where Anita has been since April of this year. We were welcomed into a small room and took a seat while we waited for them to bring her out to us. Every time the door opened we all jumped to see if it was her. Finally, the door opened and a worker emerged with a beautiful baby girl. I didn't dare get my hopes up that it was actually her until they said "this is Anita".
She had a large smile on her face and looked so healthy. I went up to her and hesitantly took her from the worker's arms as I wasn't sure how she would respond. She came right to me and never even flinched. She just looked at me and gave me that beautiful 2 tooth smile and my heart melted immediately. Bill and the girls all surrounded us and we were an instant family! Dee handed over her iPod and Anita took to that very quickly.
We were only allowed a few minutes with her and then we were whisked away to meet with the probation officer. We snapped a few photos, took turns holding her and then reluctantly handed her back to Betty to care for while we went to our meetings.
The probation officer was a very scary man! We walked down this dirt alley and entered a small door into a brick building only to find it completely empty except for a very large desk at the end of the room with a very large man sitting behind it. He and our lawyer's assistant, Helen, exchanged some words and nobody spoke directly to us! It was clear that he had no idea who we were or why we were there (and we were supposed to be picking up papers from him to take to court tomorrow!). I quietly sat in my seat and prayed a silent prayer to God that He would work out all of the details. A few minutes later the assistant to the probation officer emerged with a large binder, flipped through some papers and found our paperwork! Bill slipped him a very appreciative smile and a silent "thank you" to which the young man smiled back and nodded his understanding. We waited while the probation officer filled out 3 copies of our forms, stamped everything with his official seal and we were on our way back to the baby home. Phew! That was nerve wracking.
Back at Nsambya we were brought right into the central court yard where all the babies were playing. We were not allowed to take any photographs inside the actual compound. I wish I could have because there were so many precious moments. Dee and Sarah were the instant entertainment for 24 babies. Every time I looked up Sarah was holding at least 2 children with several more around her ankles waiting to be picked up. At one point she was pushing one on the swing and there were at least 15 children around her waiting for their turn.
Anita is a beautiful child, with a happy smile. We are not certain of her actual age. We chose June 10, 2009 as her birthday but I doubt she is 15 months old. She has 6 teeth, weighs approximately 25 pounds, sits on her own, pulls herself up to a standing position and can drink out of a cup which she can hold herself. I imagine that she will make some leaps and bounds with her developmental milestones once we get her home and give her some one on one attention.
While we were there it was bath time. All of the children congregate in one small bathroom. The older ones get themselves undressed and wait in line for the tub. One worker undresses the babies, another washes them in the cold water in the tub and hands them to a third worker who takes them to their room, lubricates their skin with vaseline and then hands them off to yet another worker who diapers and clothes them. The older ones (and when I say "older" I'm talking 20 months to 3 years old) wait for all of the babies to be washed and then they all congregate out in the courtyard and pick their outfits from a pile of clothes. It was quite a system and they seem to have it very well organized. It's quite a site to see 20 little naked brown bodies running around. I can't help but smile thinking about it. :)
After bath time it was time for lunch. I was able to change Anita's diaper, give her a fresh outfit and feed her lunch. Actually, I held her while Dee fed her her porridge. Anita can drink out of a cup on her own and she drank down her milk in between bites of lunch.
After lunch I put her in her crib, kissed her good-bye and told her I would be back for her in the morning. She never cried. She just looked at me like "O.K. you're another white person who has come and left like so many before."
Tomorrow, we will return to the baby home at 7:15 in the morning, pick her up and take her to court for 9 am. From then on out she will be with us. What an amazing feeling!
Thank you for joining us on this journey...what a ride it is!