Please allow me to introduce. . . .
The day started early. We drove to the orphanage to meet with the director at 9 am. The orphanage sits on the top of a hill overlooking the entire city (or, as the director says, "at the top of the city"). It is the biggest orphanage that I have ever seen, but it is also the nicest. The buildings are in pristine condition. It is filled with toys (that are played with often), several therapy rooms (where children were in the process of receiving therapy during our tour) and the groups are small (there are only four children in Lily's group). The director gave us a quick tour of the orphanage and then directed us to the psychologists office where Lily was waiting for us.
When we (my facilitator and I) walked into the room, Lily was engrossed in a mountain of toys (she did not stop working through that mountain until it was time to go). The first thing I noticed was that this almost 7 year old beauty was roughly the size of a 2-3 year-old (29 lbs. 37 in.). I knew that she would be small (in addition to corrected cleft lip and palate, she has also been diagnosed with malabsorption syndrome which effects her body's ability to absorb nutrients properly. . .the cause is unknown at this point), but I was not expecting her to be as tiny as she is. However, despite her size, she is very healthy (she is little, but she does not appear to be malnourished). She is delayed for her age, but those delays seem to be completely institutional. Even the psychologist pointed out that her delays were likely caused by her lack of opportunity. Although she receives several therapies each week, the psychologist admitted that it was not enough. And, although her group is small, it consists of a little boy who is deaf, a little boy with down syndrome who in non-verbal and a little girl with cerebral palsy (so outside of the girl with CP, she has little opportunity for communication (which is where she seems to be most behind). Despite her institutional delays, she is incredibly smart (I mean, INCREDIBLY smart!) and you can just see the wheels turning in her head.
She was wary of us throughout most of our first visit (so most of the first visit I spent observing), but she was not afraid. The fact that she kept her distance initially is a very good sign. During the second visit she let her guard down a bit more and she played freely with me and even initiated contact by coming up and leaning on my lap to watch the opening of a Sesame Street DVD over and over and over again (we never got past the opening because opening and closing the DVD player was just a fascinating as the DVD)! Our visit this evening ended by blowing kisses and giving hugs (and my heart melting into a big puddle on the floor)!
In addition to being smart as a whip she is very strong willed (in the sense that she knows what she wants and how she wants it, but in a very calm and subtle away), independent and funny!
And can you believe those eyes!?! Yes, they really are that big and that blue and her eyelashes are at least a mile l0ng. In addition, those cheeks are just begging to be pinched (though I have practiced amazing self-restraint in that matter).
She is an AMAZING little girl and I am completely head-over-heels, in love with her already. She is going to have her daddy wrapped around her finger in no time as well! What an incredible blessing sweet Lily is going to be to our family. How am I ever going to be able to leave her at the end of the week!?!
And now for what you all really came here to see. . . .more pictures!
Lily LOVED the DVD player. She enjoyed the DVD that was in it as well, but she could not get enough of the buttons or trying to figure out how it worked!