Wednesday, February 17
Because Brian had been unable to get much work done yesterday, he needed to be able to get a lot accomplished today. To help with that, I planned to take Tisetso to the mall to give Brian some quiet time. I was also hoping it would be good for Tisetso and I to spend quality time together. The past week has been super hard with him and I. He has been acting out towards me and being unkind, so I wanted to have time with just us.
We headed to the mall and got a killer spot, which was nice. I grabbed a trolley (shopping cart) from a nearby spot and put Tisetso in. He loves riding in ("driving") the trolleys, so it’s bonus points to get one without him asking. Our first stop was to get him a baked treat of his choice from the Doppio Zero bakery. He chose a gingerbread man cookie. He didn’t want to eat the cookie because he wanted to show daddy. I asked if it would work for me to just take a picture and send it to him. It worked and he got to work on the cookie.
Our mall stop included Woolworths to pick up sweeties for the kids at the care home and a stationery store to get letters printed up for the US visa and border control officers. While at the stationery store, we waited quite a while. The employees seemed to be frantically working on a huge project and our four sheet print job fell low on the priority list. Tisetso was feeling antsy and, truth be told, so was I. We had had a good morning up to this point and I certainly didn’t want this to be the thing to turn the tide. Thankfully, after 30 minutes of hang ups, they managed to figure everything out and we were able to leave with our documents in hand.
After walking around the mall and grabbing an Americano for Brian, we headed home. After an easy lunch of sandwiches, Tisetso and I played Batman and Joker. With our kid significantly more tired than before, we sat down to do a quick session of school. Tisetso wasn’t really wanting to write, so I had him pick the words he would write. He decided on: Batman, Hulk Smash, Harry Potter, hero, and, for good measure, I added Tisetso to the list.
With school out of the way for the day, we got ready to head to the care home for Tisetso to say goodbye. We had sweeties in tow and Tisetso had his bow tie on. Pulling up to the Haven felt a little like a dream. We hadn’t been there in a while and so much had happened since our last visit. Tisetso was so excited he practically jumped out of the car before we had fully stopped. He ran up to the door and waited to be let in.
Tisetso was so glad to see his friends. Most of his friends (the older kids) had recently come home from school and were in the process of doing homework and were glad for Tisetso to be their distraction. He sat at the table and at lunch with them and talked to them as they did their work. It was as if he had never been gone. My momma heart loved seeing him surrounded by his family. It was hard, too, because this was what he was leaving behind. These wonderful aunties and sweet children had made up his life for seven years. We would soon be leaving it. I was overwhelmed for Tisetso.
Brian and I, not wishing to be hanging over him as he hung out with his friends, excused ourselves and went to the living room. We talked with some of the aunties and gave them updates about the past month. They all commented on how he had grown and how his accent was beginning to mirror ours. We would occasionally check on Tisetso to see how he was doing. At one point, he was off playing with one of the older girls who had been there for a long time, like he had. It was such a sweet moment, Brian and I both snuck pictures.
After a while, we wondered where Tisetso was. We hadn’t seen him in a while, so I went looking for him. I checked outside, in the TV room downstairs, and in the classroom. Still not finding him, I went upstairs. Tisetso was sitting alone in the TV room watching a show by himself. My heart broke for him in that moment. He was clearly overwhelmed at saying goodbye. He needed to retreat and that’s where I found him.
This is the hard, painful side of adoption. No matter the situation where your child comes from, they are leaving something behind. We are massively blessed that Tisetso came from such a wonderful, loving home, but in that moment, I could tell Tisetso was done saying goodbye to his brothers and sisters. I sat with him a few minutes and then let him know it was time to go, but we needed to take a picture with his brothers and sisters first. He was not excited about the prospect, but I knew he will appreciate the picture later.
Wrangling the kids and Tisetso proved to be fun. Auntie Yolanda was up for the challenge. After getting them all on a couch, chaos ensued. We never actually got a picture with all of the kids looking at the camera, but that perfectly summed up life there. I love the pictures we got. I can’t post it because it shows the faces of children who are not mine, but rest assured, these kids would steal your heart with their smiles.
During the photo, it began to storm in a major way. As we walked out of the Haven, there we got drenched. To add to the rain water coming from the sky, Tisetso decided to walk under a downspout, which was fun for him… I had been texting with Auntie Alma because she was unable to make it to the Haven for our goodbyes. We asked Tisetso if he felt up to one more goodbye. Tisetso was good to go, as he hadn't ever been to Auntie Alma's house.
We headed to Auntie Alma’s house to say goodbye to her. She and her three daughters have known Tisetso for the last five or six years. At their home, the girls occupied Tisetso (seeing pets in the back yard, playing drums and a guitar in the basement, etc.) while Alma shared stories and wisdom she had gleaned from knowing Tisetso for so long. It was great. There’s one story in particular that I look forward to reminding Tisetso of when he’s older.
After enjoying their company for a little while, we made our exit to take Tisetso to his favorite restaurant—KFC. I hoped and prayed it would be the last time we went to that restaurant for a good long time! With our bellies filled with greasy fried chicken, we made our way back to the flat (through more of that wonderful traffic).
Our evening was as low key as we could make it. We got home with only a short while before Tisetso went to bed, which was good for all of us.