On October 24, 2009, we volunteered at the home for the first time. It was a Saturday morning and we were excited but nervous. As usual, Liezl was more eager than apprehensive while I was the opposite. Ultimately, I think we evened each other out and we were able to deal with visit appropriately.
By this point, I had come up with some basic criteria for what I wanted in a child. Firstly, I wanted a boy. Secondly, I wanted a baby, as young as possible – if we could have taken a child straight from birth, that would have been perfect for me. Finally, I didn’t want to foster a child – I wanted an easy, uncomplicated, straight-forward adoption. At the time, I took a strong stance, almost like I would only adopt if we found a child that matched my criteria. I was adamant on these things but now I am so grateful I was wrong.
The home was in Krugersdorp, about 66km away from our house, so we had some time in the car to chat about how we were feeling. I remember so clearly saying to Liezl; “How do we go there and spend time with these children and not want to take all of them home?” You’ll agree that this was quite a dilemma.
So we prayed. We prayed that in amongst all of the emotion God would speak clearly. We prayed that in some small but significant way we would show all the children some love and affection, even though we would probably only take one of them in the end. We prayed that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed by needs of the children and God was faithful beyond our expectations.
We arrived at the home and were taken to the “Baby and Toddler” house. One of the house-mothers invited us into the kitchen where bottles and food were being prepared. We introduced ourselves to the other house-moms and chatted in the kitchen for a short while. Finally one of the house-moms invited us to see some of the babies. We went through to the first room where we found only small babies. Lying swaddled on the bed were two babies who, according to the house-moms, were only a few weeks old. My ears pricked up and I went to have a look. They were tiny and beautiful but there was no sense of “this is the child”. There were other, slightly older children in the room, but they were asleep in their cots.
From there, we went through to the lounge and the fun really began. We met about twenty or thirty boisterous children, ranging from about eighteen months to six years old. They ALL wanted to play with us. It was intense. We tried to play and spend time with each child, moving between the lounge and the playground, over the course of about two hours. It was exhausting but the children responded so well. In all that time, however, we knew that none of the children were meant for us.
Towards the end of the two hours I took a breather in the kitchen. En route back to the lounge, I passed through the baby room we had gone to first. I glanced down and was struck (not literally) by a set of almost perfectly round lips. I remember thinking something like; “Wow, you are cuuute!”. She was one of the older babies who had been asleep when we arrived. Her name was Amo.
I picked her up and cuddled her a little but she didn’t seem too interested. I took her through to the lounge and gave her to Liezl. Liezl held her for a short while but Amo seemed intent on joining the kids playing on the floor. Initially, and perhaps intentionally, I didn’t think too much about her but I did find her interesting. She seemed quite independent and she was definitely determined. It wasn’t much for her to climb over several other children to get to a toy she wanted on the other side of the play mat. After watching her for a short while, we had to go.
On our way home, as we chatted, we realised that God had indeed answered our prayers. I hadn’t, in fact, felt a connection with any of the children at the home. Not even Amo – or so I thought. I told Liezl that I hadn’t really had strong feelings for any of the children. If there was anything, it was a slight something for that Amo girl. Liezl wasn’t unsure – she felt an immediate, strong connection with Amo. Thinking back, she was so wise to let me process and work it out without any pressure.
We decided to pray about Amo and see what God did with our hearts the next time we saw her. So we prepared for our next visit, and it was a telling visit indeed.