September 15 was a Saturday and the day we had looked forward to for years. This day, we would finally meet our son for the first time. Things were done a bit unusually for us, and we will be forever grateful to the staff of the RSCC, ICAB, and our agency, who, at a desperate mother’s urging, made it possible for us to see Francis on Saturday and Sunday when the RSCC officials would not actually be available to do the entrustment until Monday.
Anyway, Gregg and I had a wake-up call set for 2:00 a.m. so we could leave for the airport at 3:00 to make our 6:00 flight. Sleep? What sleep? Oh, Gregg slept, I think. I sent e-mails from the bathroom. I was too excited to sleep – I was meeting my son in a few hours, for heaven’s sake!
The flight to Legazpi, which is 300 miles south of Manila, was smooth, and I enjoyed seeing more of the beautiful Philippines from an aerial view. The flight may have been an hour, tops. It was fast. Suddenly, we were just so close. It seemed to take longer to get our bags this time, but once we found them, we were then able to quickly locate the driver for the Venezia Hotel and get going. We checked in at the hotel, unpacked for about 15 minutes, and then got a call – our visitor was in the lobby. Deep breath. This was it.
We recognized the visitor who was waiting for us in the lobby right away. She was the caregiver we had seen with Francis in the pictures from when he went to Manila for his passport and visa. She introduced herself as Mama La, and we came to find out she was one of Francis’ most beloved caregivers.
A van took us from the Hotel Venezia to RSCC Ligao City, which was about a 30-minute drive through some of the area’s eye-opening poverty. While we drove, Mama La told us how excited Francis was for this day and that they had trouble getting him to sleep the night before due to his excitement. (Sound familiar?)
We pulled up to the very beautifully-maintained RSCC campus and went inside. By the time we changed our shoes, Francis had been brought into the lobby to meet us. He was smaller than he looked in all of his pictures, and so quiet. He didn’t say a word until Mama La asked him, “Do you know who this is?” --- “Daddy.” And this?” --- “Mommy.” My heart melted. And from that moment on, he was Daddy’s boy.
Gregg and I had carefully selected a Bumblebee Transformer to bring with us to our initial meeting with Francis. It was a good plan. We were able to play, rolling the car back and forth, and Gregg and Francis bonded over learning how to transform Bumblebee. Mama La also brought out the cars we sent Francis in his care package as well as the book we recorded for him and his photo album. The book and photo album were clearly well-loved, and he also loved playing cars with us.
We blew up a balloon, and that was one of Francis’ favorite things. He loved batting it around the play room with us. We also took him out on the playground and discovered his love for slides. Our other discovery was exactly how much energy he had! High-energy boy + high heat and humidity + jet lag = exhausting! Mama La made us a delicious lunch, and we got to find out exactly how much food our boy could put away! A little more play time and our visit was over all too soon. Someone needed a nap, and it wasn’t just Mommy and Daddy.
We returned to the hotel, unpacked some more, and went to Mass that evening. Gregg and I were floored when, out of over 1,000 people in the cathedral, we were selected to bring up the gifts. We enjoyed the experience of the Mass, which was in both English and Bicol.
After Mass, we returned to the hotel and had dinner. We tried the Bicol Express, a very spicy regional specialty, with some calamansi juice. Unbelievably good.
First day with our son down. One more visit to go, then he would be ours forever.
To be continued…
|Welcome to Legazpi!|
|Sitting in the RSCC lobby minutes after meeting Francis, looking at the book we sent him.|
|One of Francis' favorite things - playing with the balloon in the playroom.|
|Our first real family picture. Still one of my favorites.|