This morning when we awoke, it was raining outside. By the time we walked out of our apartment, it had stopped raining so we were able to walk to the orphanage. The walk to the orphanage is mostly downhill. The trek back to the apartment from the orphanage, is mostly UPHILL (hopefully we will shed some pounds!)
Jasmina had told us a time to be at the orphanage, but I had not asked enough questions to know what to do once we were at the orphanage. The atmosphere is nothing like what we have experienced before. Before, we were "greeted" at the front door of the orphanage and told to wait outside while they went to get our Hannah. Here in Serbia, we are able to enter the orphanage, go up to the 4th floor where Mila is, and are greeted politely...even though I do not speak the language! We waited a few minutes and a nice lady brought our wild haired child to us. She was all smiles when she saw us. Another new thing--where to visit with Mila. Again, last time around, we were told where to be with Hannah and how long for. The people in Serbia are wonderful. They handed Mila to us and gave us options of where to spend our visit time with Mila.
Jasmina, Doug, and I took Mila outside. Since it had rained, many of the outdoor toys were wet. We found a swing that was under a tree to put her in. She enjoyed the swing, but just seemed to be "there", no real excitement. Later we took her over to a picnic table and showed her a sensory, peek-a-boo book that she had enjoyed yesterday. With help, she enjoyes turning the pages, and the book seems to induce lots of babble. I love to hear Mila string several sounds together.
While sitting at the table, we had the chance to talk with Jasmina. She is WONDERFUL! (For those of you who I am following in your footsteps, I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know, or haven't told me!) We talked a little about how many children in the country end up in the orphanage system and what is involved in that process. We also talked a little about our Mila. Mila's mother was here to visit her not that long ago. Mila's mother seems to really care for her--enough to travel from her home city to see her occasionally. Unfortunately without family support, her mother knew from the day Mila was born that she couldn't keep her. I hope it warmed her heart to know that two people were coming from a great distance to meet, love and care for the child she gave birth to.
Jasmina and I were talking about the ratio of "typical" to "special needs" kiddos at the children's home. She told me she would like to show us the orphanage sometime and introduce us to the children. I am anxious for that day. During a sermon at church, the pastor encouraged us to step out of our comfort zone and go take your love of God to those less desirable. I heard God speaking to me that day. I know that God has blessed me with a amazing gift to teach and love children with disabilities. Someday I would love to go to an orphanage, just like the one we are visiting Mila at now, and be the hands and feet of Jesus. I would love nothing more that to be an extra set of hands at an orphanage. To feed, change diapers, interact with, care, and love the children. There are so many children in orphanages all around the world that lack intimate, personal contact. I know this kind of contact is not possible in an orphanage setting, despite how much the workers would like it to be that way. The child to staff ratio is to great for a "Mother's love" kind of contact. I would love to be able to go to a room where I heard a cry or a moan and help sooth the child by rocking, rubbing his/her back, or interacting with the child. I feel this is a calling burning within me. I know Doug feels the passion of missionary work to orphans just as I do...if not more. He would pack up our family and move here, there, or anywhere in the world to do mission work. But for now, we know our place is at home with our girls so they can thrive, grow, and learn to the best of their abilities. I look forward to the possible chance of meeting and loving the children in Belgrade.
Our Mila babbles, but is not talking yet. Will she ever put sentences together? I don't know, just as we didn't know with Hannah. There are moments that she has that sparkle in her eye, and she works so hard to mimic what someone says or does, and then there are other moments when she would rather just "be" than take the effort to try. Will Mila walk? Again, I don't know. She has the ability to stretch out her legs and stand tall, but buckles at the knees moments later. Will she ever feed herself? I don't know. She has the ability to hold a spoon, but enjoys the "oh, I dropped it..." sensation. All these things we pray she will make improvements once we give her the love and support she deserves...and some lovingly pushing from a special education teacher Mom! I have already termed Mila "Lazy Daisy". (Chatty Cathy is at home!) She has the ability, she just needs to realize she has it and use it!
We were given the chance to feed Mila her lunch today. Better believe that we took that opportunity for bonding. I am very interested because it doesn't seem that Mila chews. Rather she seems to "thrust" food with her tongue until it is smashed enough to swallow. She is a BIG eater. When they brought us her lunch, Doug and I looked at it and thought there was no way she would eat all of that. Well, she ate almost all of what they had given us for her!
A special treat from Mila today...words. English words. At first I though maybe it was a fluke, just babble, but then when I repeated it, she said it again. As she had babbled earlier while we were outside she said something that sounded like "Mom" and we joked with her and repeated the word mom. While waiting for lunch and in between bites, she would look at me and I would say "mom". Then she looked at me, worked hard and recreated what I had just said "Mom"! I would say it again, and she would be quiet for a minute, then she would say it again..."Mom". Then I switched to Mama. Again, she was quiet, seeming to take time to process what she has heard and the way my mouth moved, and she said "Mama". I tried to get her to say Papa, but knowing that was a harder sound to create, we didn't expect it. At one point, Doug stood up and was behind her stroller, where Mila couldn't see him. I told her, you have to call him, say Papa....and wouldn't you know after a minute of silence, out of her mouth came the word "Papa". What wonderful sounds and smiles of being proud of herself!
We don't know if Mila will set the world on fire, become a doctor/lawyer/teacher/etc, but what we do know is that this little girl deserves every opportunity we can give her emotionally, physically, and educationally. Yes our lives are about to become more challenging, but also they are about to become more rewarding. As a wise woman once told a doctor approximately 25 years ago "I don't care if I have to spoon feed her for the rest of her life, I am taking her home to love her". My mother has been such a wonderful example of unconditional love, I know I learned that unconditional love from the best. Our #1 goal is to take Mila home and love her unconditionally. What ever comes as a result of that unconditional love and support, we will give that glory to God, for creating Mila and giving us the chance to call her our daughter.