Monday, February 22, 2010

I am in LOVE!

Please allow me to introduce. . . .

LILYANA CLAIRE RIEBEN

Today was absolutely INCREDIBLE! Today, the picture that I have looked at hundreds of times over the past few months, finally came to life!

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!

She has the BEST facial expressions! This is one of my favorites! We saw it often!

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!

LOVE those amazing blue eyes!!

She also LOVES music and this drum was a favorite toy during both visits today!

25 comments:

Kirsten said...

Yeah!!! I've been waiting for your post. She is amazing and my heart is overjoyed for you! I am a foster mom, hoping to adopt our foster baby. I'm just so happy for you and your family!

MoonDog said...

AWESOME!!! she is a beauty! what a lucky mama you are.

Jill said...

She's gorgeous, which means she'll fit right in with your family! :) I can't wait to hear more!

Tiana said...

Oh my goodness. Such a beauty and I am so happy for you to be with your little gal....when do you get to take her home. It would be so hard to leave her.

Renae said...

She is precious! I remember seeing her picture come through our agency(actually, both girls came through our agency:)). So glad she is well and healthy!

Shelley said...

She is adorable!
I love her name too!
Oh, I'm just so happy for you! What a long walk you have walked to get to this point. SO very excited for you! Enjoy your week with your little girl!

Amy L said...

She is just beautiful! Love those eyes of hers! Cogratulations!
Amy

Charity Brown said...

How cute!!!!!! Love the pictures! And love the name!!! :) Can't wait to follow you on your trip!

soontobemomof9 said...

SHE IS beautiful! I am so glad to hear how thrilled her mama is to FINALLY meet her! She is skinny! Yana is the same age but 4 inches shorter and 2 lbs heavier ;). As to how to leave her at the end of the week, it will be one of the hardest things you will ever have to do! But, I told myself, the sooner I leave the sooner they come home!

mommajeane said...

I can see why... she is precious.We have a Lilyanna Rose and call her Lily too. I told myself the same thing as Kelly... the sooner I go the sooner I got to come back.

Yates Family said...

What a little doll! She is so precious. I think Richard IS in big trouble!!! :)
I'm glad it was a good day! I got teary eyed several time reading this post!
I know she will be so happy in your home!
Love ya

Jennifer said...

Oh, I think I'm head over heels too!!!!!!!!! So happy for you!!!!!

Tracey S. said...

Ohh I am soooo happy for you! She's a doll! & I love her blue eyes! I absolutely love the picture of you grinning ear to ear looking at her!

Barry, Donna, and Tam said...

Tears and more tears..
I am so glad that you are with her.
She is beautiful!

The Howe 5 said...

I am so happy for you and your family!!!! After a bumpy start I am sure that looking into her eyes made all the frustration worth it!!

Cynthia Rieben said...

Thank you for the wonderfully detailed report. I also enjoyed our chat Monday afternoon -- I'm so glad that you had such a positive, healthy first contact with her AND were able to take such nice pictures. She is a cute little girl. I really look forward to getting to know her. I hope all continues to go well. Love, Grandma DD

DeAnna said...

Oh I've been waiting for this post! I am so excited for you guys and she is beautiful! So you'll go meet your second little girl next? And then what happens after that? Wow, this is so exciting!

Cammie Heflin said...

She is gorgeous!

Cheryl H. Schalk said...

She looks like a Rieben, she has that dark hair and pretty eyes. Congratulations

Palmer Family said...

Oh she's beautiful. My heart is leaping out of my chest with happiness for you. Can't wait to hear more.

Jessica K. said...

OMG could she be any more beautiful!! Those eyes!! WOW!! I am so happy for you guys! I am a new reader here, but I just had to let you know how happy I am for you and sooo happy for these precious blessings you are taking in!! I want to adopt one day too. I would love to adopt a child with down syndrome from Russia or Ukraine. God bless your family!

Stacey Kirchner said...

She absolutely gorgeous! Congrats Val! I am so glad you got there safe and are enjoying meeting your girls! You look like you are about to burst with happiness!

Kim said...

She is such a beauty! Sounds like she has a fantastic personality as well. What a blessing for you all.

adoptedthree said...

Hey valerie
Congrads what a doll!
If you need any resources for CP/CL give me a holler!

Leanna

Valerie said...

Leanna- You are already first on my list of people to call when I get home!! I already have a million question for you!