They called me mama. It might have been the best thing I have ever heard. Today was the big day where we were able to explain to the children that I am not just a fun American visitor, but a mama who came to love them and take them home.
The day started out with just Sam. Sofia had to go to school to complete her equivalent of an IEP, so she can receive special services in school the next few months she is here, in order to catch her up with her peers (she missed out on a lot while institutionalized). We picked Sam up from the house and headed to the park again. We had a great time. He even asked to go to the "toiletna" :) When I took him to the restroom, he started doing his crazy man thing and flushing the toilet, touching everything, and getting into the garbage can. I took both of his hands firmly in mine, pulled him towards me, looked him in the eye and said "Ne" (no, the only thing I can say). He then immediately calmed down, smiled at me, put his arms around my neck and let me hold him. Aww. Loves. But since his pants were halfway down I set him on the potty and let him go. And even after that, he was a calm little man and allowed me to carry him back to the playground and then he just let me hold him and he put his little head on my shoulder. This happened yesterday too. I can't figure it out. Maybe its a sensory thing? Maybe he likes having limits or being told what he can/cannot do? I don't know yet, but if that's all it takes I'm not complaining, although it will be nice to know what the issue is so we can prevent it all together.
Then for the afternoon visit we picked both of them up at the house and took them to the office, so the social worker could explain to them everything that would happen over the next few months. We all sat around this big table (very formal) to talk, and the kids were given crayons and coloring pictures. Sam can't see well enough to color anything yet, so he scribbled for about 2 seconds then got down and started to play. Sofia's one coloring paper had different depictions of families on it, like a mom and dad, grandparents only, one with lots of kids, and one with a single mom. She was told to color her family. (She had not been told that she had one yet) The other paper had 3 different pictures of families, and Sofia was told to color the one with the happy family.
While the adults were talking, she was coloring. It was all sort of formal and you could tell she was shy and uncertain of what was happening, so she was intently coloring her pictures. When she was almost done with her pictures, the social worker started talking to her and telling her what was going to happen. That sometimes people have children and can't care for them, then someone like me wants those children and chooses them. The SW told her that I have been approved to be their mama, and soon I will be coming to take them home. She started smiling really big and said "yes, yes", but wouldn't quite look at us yet. Then she showed us the pictures she colored, and she had colored the picture of the single mom, and she made it with blonde hair :) She also picked the "correct" happy family, the family sitting on the couch snuggling.
Then the SW asked her if she wanted to see the photo album I prepared. She said yes and came and sat in my lap and we went through it. The first few photos were of me, then of my parents, grandmas, sister/brother, family, then photos of our house. When she first went through it, she would point to the picture and say "Autumn" (that is what she had called me all week) whenever she would see me. The SW would then say, "yes, mama Autumn". We explained to her the rest of the photos. She would look up at me and smile. She saw the photo of her room and smiled really big, and said "this is my room". She was pretty quiet but smiled the entire time. Then we had her get off of my lap, and sat Sam there and went through the album with him. When he got to his bed, he said "that's MY bed. It has a pillow." LOL. He held it up to his little eyes and studied the photos the best he could. Then all of a sudden, Sofia had a change in her expression, like a lightbulb went on. She came over and got in my lap, and started going through the photos again. She opened it and pointed to the photo and said "Mama!". She looked at me and smiled, and just kept saying "Mama" over and over again, then she gave me a hug. She went through the photo book so many times, pointing out everyone, and always made sure she pointed to "Mama". When she came to the kitchen, she said "this is where mama will cook" (oh great!). She would smile and nestle her head into my neck, then start looking at photos again. She pointed out Baba and Dyado (Grandma and Grandpa), and Chucho Mike (uncle mike). She actually said "Aunt" Melissa. When she kept going through the book, she would turn her whole body to face me and just smile so big and lean into me, and I hugged and kissed her. She was talking about how she was going to America and that I was coming back to get her. She was so happy. The whole car ride back to their house, she would call my name - "mama", no longer Autumn. She said it like 50 times. So awesome. She had been telling people over the last few days that she was going to America, but I don't really think she understood that she had a mother until today. She was so happy.
Sam was happy too :) He was smiling while looking at the photos, and was so excited about his bed and pillow. When it was time to go, the SW told him to go over and hold mama's hand, and he walked right over to me with a smile on his face and held my hand :)
We also told them about their new names. Here, it is not common to have a first and middle name, so we explained to them that in America people have 2 names, and we told them what theirs was going to be. Sofia was happy with her name.
So now they know that they have a mama, and a family who wants them. They know that they belong to a family. Tomorrow morning is our last visit, and I will be so sad to leave them, but so ready to return and pick them up!
More photos tomorrow!