We met “Helen” today! Our day got a bit of a rough start. We set the alarm early to have plenty of time to eat breakfast and get ready. We walked out of breakfast at 9:30, knowing Alla would pick us at 10:30. Aaron needed to shower and I planned to just relax and read for the next hour. We walked into the hotel lobby from breakfast and there was Alla. Turns out, it was really 10:30 and we’ve somehow been an hour off this whole time! So, we had to rush to get everything together to make our appointment.
We got lots of info on her… almost all of it new. Her real name is Elena, which we knew. Elena, Lena, just like a certain little girl we know well. We have been thinking about this for quite awhile and trying to figure out what we will do. Turns out, this Elena is nicknamed Alyona. This name also has some interesting significance to us and this adoption. Her father is the same age as Aaron and her mother is 2 years younger than me. Her name is very similar to my middle name.
Then, we went over to the hospital to meet her. We waited and waited. Then, she walked out. She was very shy, but shook my hand. They took us back to her room and we met her nanny. Her nanny lives with her all the time, and has for the past year and a half. She is so nice. She was laughing with us and encouraging Alyona to interact with us.
Alyona was being SO shy. I showed her the baby doll we brought her, at the recommendation of some volunteers who visit her. Her nanny laughed and told us that she likes to play with boys and really prefers cars and mechanical things. I brought out the markers. She colored with me a bit, but still wouldn’t look at me. That’s when I broke out the camera. I took her photo and showed it to her. She grabbed it and was clearly pleased with that toy! For some odd reason, I had remembered to bring along the flip video as well and so I brought that out and we kept switching off so that she could have one to play with while I took video and photos with the other.
She seems like a real character. Alla was telling us that they had been explaining to her this morning that we were coming and we spoke a different language. The word in Russian for tongue and language are the same. She walked over to the mirror and stuck out her tongue to inspect it and figure out what might be different!She really seemed to like Aaron and sitting on his lap. She seemed much more uncertain about me, but liked to yell “Maaaaaaaaamaaaaaaaaa!”
I think she will get along very well with Reed and Lena. She likes to MOVE. She likes to hold onto someone’s hands and jump around. This is something that Lena loves to do. She wanted her nanny to pick her up in the air, and her nanny suggested that Aaron do it. She let him and she was thrilled! She thought it was so funny.
Her nanny really encourages her to be polite. She tells her when to say “thank you”. Alyona dropped the camera and her nanny told her to apologize. Instead she said, “I got scared.” Alyona asked us to play “peekaboo” with her. She would go and count and we would cover out eyes. Then, she’d come out and uncover them and we would say “cuckoo!” That’s what they say instead of peekaboo.
Her doctor does not seem concerned about her health. In some of the updates we got, we had some reason to worry. Her doctor was explaining that really the only concern is that her intestine elongates and if not, she may need surgery. She is free to play like a normal little girl. She also has dietary restrictions, but no catheter or g-tube. They said her favorite is mashed potatoes with meat. Sorry, Reed and Lena, you are going to need to share your potatoes. My mom had just nicknamed them the potato prince and princess for the “42 bowls” of soup that they ate the other day.
Alyona is big. We had received some measurements at the end of September. These measurements said that she was a bit shorter than Lena and a few pounds heavier. We both think she is much more than that, especially heavier. Her hands seem huge in comparison to Lena’s. We plan to bring the tape measurer tomorrow.
It was a lot of fun visiting her. I thought I’d prefer that Alla and her nanny were not there, but it was actually really nice to have them there. They talked to her a lot and encouraged her to play with us. We are really looking forward to going back to see her again tomorrow.