Mariel had been in foster care for about the last 2 1/2 years, but she would come back to the orphanage from time to time. I'm not sure if she had extended stays during these times or if they were just day visits. Prior to foster care, she lived here exclusively, so it was important to us to see it. She came back to stay at the orphanage prior to us adopting her, on November 4th.
She seemed pleased to show us around and introduce us. At one point, she leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. This was the first show of affection she has had toward me, which was so welcomed, but I know it may have been merely for show at this point. But I took it as positive anyway.
We first saw a large group of babies with a few nannies in a playground area. It was a beautiful and warm day, and I enjoyed seeing them outside in the sunshine. There were some in cribs and some on blankets on the ground. There were some of them being held. But there were so many... Helping them was a beautiful young girl who our guide said has already "aged out," meaning she's over 14 and is no longer eligible for adoption. Her place in life is to live at the orphanage and work as a nanny and care for more orphans.
We went in the building where Mariel lived. The 3rd floor was open and there was a courtyard below with a basketball court. There were a couple of preschool classrooms (this is the only education that Mariel has had) and the children in this area were below having their PE time. Mariel showed us her classroom and the chair she sat in. Down the hallway were some younger children lined up in high chairs watching a children's program on TV. We then went through another door to the residential area. We saw the laundry room, restroom, bathing room (big stainless steel sinks and a couple of large basins), bedrooms (Mariel's room had 10 cribs in it), and an eating area. We went down to the basketball court to see the children. There is a little girl who is Mariel's best friend who is being adopted on Monday! We got to get a few pictures of them together. Hopefully, the girls can stay in touch. Each child we saw was beautiful and to watch them and know where they are and why they are there just tears at your soul.
All I can manage in this post is observations. To go beyond that is something my heart just can't do right now.
We left and went to Mariel's finding spot, the place of her abandonment. Only me and our guide got out so I could take pictures. We did not tell Mariel why we were there. I left there only wanting to know more, but there isn't anything else to discover. We'll likely never know the how's and why's. I do know that she was meant to be found. Amazing Grace.
In front of the sign for the orphanage
Wish I could read her mind here.
Mariel and her favorite teacher
Where she was bathed
The dining room
Isn't this the cutest? Their little drinking cups.
Waving hello to her friends.
Our guide told us that she yelled happily to them, "I have parents!"