Sasha Then (Gotcha Day)
I'd always imagine the day we first met Sasha to be, if not magical, very memorable. It turned out to be not at all the experience I pictured, and it left me a little deflated when we returned to the hotel. Of course, the days that followed made up for everything and more!
We met Sasha Eraye (pronounced E- RYE, among other ways, by the nannies at the care center, meaning "vision" or "future" instead of "good sister" as we originally were told) the day we arrived in Ethiopia. The night before, in Dubai, I was almost the whole night vomiting from food poisoning, leaving me exhausted and disgustingly ill the next morning (we had to get up at 5am to catch our flight, and we were still all extremely jetlagged!) Sitting in the airport, feeling miserable, I wanted more than anything to just go home and sleep in my own bed, a thought I knew I'd regret later. I couldn't sleep on the plane and my stomach felt worse for most of it. I felt slightly more upbeat when we arrived and were driving through the chaotic, exotic streets, happy to be in Africa again since it reminded me of Nairobi. When we arrived at the hotel we called the care center, learning that we could go meet her right away if we wanted. I was excited, naturally, yet I didn't feel mentally prepared. My mom suggested that I stay behind and rest so that I was ready to see her the next day, and although I absolutely refused this idea, a part of me wished we all could wait until I was feeling more myself for the moment I'd been waiting for for two years. The weather was rainy and dreary, the area by the care center muddy and far from pristine, and I started to feel a little depressed. When we got there, though, I felt like I was in a dream; walking in and hearing kids shouting, seeing the clothes hanging on the line outside, I just couldn't believe this was all really happening.
A man that is famous at our agency- I think his name is Massi- led us inside and to an empty playroom. He talked to us for a little while and then left; we didn't know where he was going. When he returned a minute or so later, he was accompanied by a nanny holding a baby girl dressed fully in denim- a denim jacket with a fur collar and denim capris with embroidered flowers, and the later infamous pink, too-small sandals. I remember being startled: "Oh my gosh, is that her?" I asked, I think out loud, even though I knew. My parents started cudding and talking to her right away, and I instinctively went over to her. I felt tears welling, which was unlike me- I don't tend to get emotional. It just felt weird. How was this kid supposed to be a part of our family- this toddler, who we didn't know? She cried when placed in my mom's arms, and we were led to a separate, empty room, with nothing in it but a couch. We were left alone, and although Sasha stopped crying, her eyes remained scared and filled with tears. She looked tired, and I felt sorry for her- she didn't ask to be here, with all of these strange people. It was worthless to coax a smile out of her. I wanted to hold her, but also didn't; I wasn't used to her, and she wasn't used to us. She was so adorable and innocent-looking, and younger and smaller than the pictures we were given. Her little head rested on my mom's shoulder as we surrounded her, and her little fingers were stuck in her mouth. We had been asked before if we wanted this moment videotaped, and we were all glad at that point that we'd declined; it was probably the most bizarre situation I'd ever been in, and a huge range of emotions were running through me.
*FYI- I did finish this post, but somehow most of it got erased (I'm ready to sue Blogger!) I'm so upset I could cry- I just spent hours writing a detailed reflection of our time with her. I guess I'll just have to finish some other day...