Hello! Here we are, one month home, and I’m finally finding time to share photos and a few stories of the last few days of our adoption trip. What is it about having a toddler in the house that makes productive work feel just about impossible? I keep telling myself I will blog during naptime and then I find myself napping during naptime!
We are slowly settling into our new normal over here and I’m looking forward to shooting a few recipe posts this weekend so we can start talking about food again. I am missing my kitchen! So, rest assured, if you’re usually stopping by so we can obsess about food together and discuss new recipes, we’ll be back to it soon.
When we last left off with updates from our adoption trip I shared about our Gotcha Day – the day we first met our son and got to bring him home (to the hotel) with us. Our Gotcha Day was on a Sunday and we actually had to return to his orphanage the following day for our Entrustment Ceremony.
Thankfully, a sweet friend I met at Created for Care had adopted her son from the same orphanage so we knew a little of what to expect, but we really weren’t prepared for how emotional this day would be. The entrustment – in this case it was a Catholic Mass – is how the orphanage officially entrusted Merritt to our care and recognized us as his parents.
Our little guy, he was so loved at his orphanage and we were blown away by how many people wanted to say goodbye to him, by the heartfelt speeches they gave, and the pure joy they shared with us. We knew of course how emotional it was for us to be finally meeting and bringing our son home, but I wasn’t expecting how emotional it would be for his caregivers to see him finally in a family and to have to say goodbye.
As we sat in the sweet chapel in the center of the orphanage and listened to the priest bless our family, to the children singing, to the orphanage workers sharing about our son’s time with them, I was completely overcome with gratitude and love and heartbreak.
It was an intense morning for all three of us. We stayed at the orphanage most of Monday morning and had a short celebration feast after the ceremony. Then we took a tour of the orphanage – it is a beautiful, sprawling place – and by the time we left we were all exhausted. I wish I had taken more photos, but I was too busy trying to stop crying and taking it all in!
This is where I would like to tell you we left the orphanage and went on some great exploration of the city, but the truth is our little guy was overheated, extremely confused, and beyond exhausted. We made our way back to the hotel, cranked up the A/C, and he slept for hours while we tried to process what had just happened!
The next day, Tuesday, was our last day in the Philippines. We woke up early to make our way to ICAB, the government agency responsible for inter-country adoptions like ours. At ICAB, we were given Merritt’s official documents, the packet of papers making him a legal immigrant to the US, and a few cultural gifts. We also had the opportunity to talk to some of the social workers that worked on his case and made our adoption possible.
After our ICAB meeting, we made our way back to the hotel to find lunch, rest, and play! Merritt had so much fun walking around the hotel, running up and down the hallways, riding in his stroller, stealing cookies (cookie monster!), and watching the boats in Manila Bay. He also did great riding in the taxis and watching the crazy traffic out the window. There is so much to see on a taxi ride through Manila!
We loved the small part we were able to see of Manila and the Philippines and plan to take Merritt back one day so we can explore his birth country more. This beautiful country and its culture is a part of our family!
A note for other adoptive families: If Merritt was older I think we would have been able to explore more. He is only 2 and was so overwhelmed (understandably) that we found he was happiest holed up in our hotel room playing with the two of us, so that’s how we spent our time. My best suggestion if you are also adopting a toddler is pack a lot of snacks that can serve as meals. Going out to local restaurants was even a bit much on him and we relied a lot on hotel room service. We packed a lot of toys and he pretty much just played with the wheels on our stroller and a few pieces of fruit that the hotel had provided!
Psst. You can see our complete Philippines adoption timeline on this page.