We drove to a park on the outskirts of Phoenix and began to walk around. I couldn't bring myself to let go of Russell's hand or to venture far from him. I was so nervous and excited and anxious.
I turned to Russ and asked him;
"How crazy would it be if they just walked around the corner?"
Russ looked up and saw a lady walking with a little boy and a wagon and said
That's them. That's them!"
We said hello to his foster mom and then introduced ourselves to him. He was extremely shy and didn't quite want to make eye contact with us.
His foster mom kept telling him, "remember, these are your new friends we were going to meet."
But he stayed to himself. She then laughed and told us, "well he has to be somewhat relieved! On the way here he was worried that you guys were tigers!"
The first hour or so that we walked around the grounds of the park, he kept his distance. He clung to his foster mom and, when he did venture a little ways away, he kept sneaking glances over his shoulder to make sure we weren't getting too close.
He found a couple of oranges on the ground beneath a tree and collected them into his wagon and had his foster mom hold one. After walking through a couple of gates, a couple of times, he began tossing the orange and running after it. I asked if he wanted to race, and he gave me a firm 'NO'. He threw the orange at a palm tree and nailed it from at least 6 feet away, which we were impressed with for a 3 year old!
He then proceeded to chuck the orange at us and yell "WATCH OUT".
In that order.
I couldn't help but laugh and think about telling him the story of the day we met, when he is much older, and telling him "yeaa, you chucked oranges at us." haha.
It took about an hour or so for him to warm up and then we began playing on the playground. We played tag and hide and go seek. We built sand castles around the orange and pushed him on the swings for a little bit.
We found a sprinkler box with a hole in it and he told us there was a snake living in there. I had goldfish in my purse so I asked if we should feed the snake. He decided we should and made quick pokes at the goldfish until it went down the hole. He was nervous there was a snake and that it would get him. As we sat there, he finally relaxed a bit and snuggled close to me as I showed him pictures of our house and videos of our puppy and nephew. He thought Echo was just the funniest thing and wanted to watch the videos over and over again.
Before we headed back to the car, we gave his foster mom some pictures of us for J. to hold on to. The change from our first seeing him, to us walking him back to his car was huge. We walked out of the park with him riding high atop Russell's shoulders and wanting to touch every leaf we walked by. He gave us huge hugs and just about burst my heart as he reached up and touched the side of Russell's face before laying his head on Russell's chest.
He gave us the biggest, squeeziest hugs I've ever received. We walked back to our car on cloud nine talking about all the things we were going to do on Sunday when we took him out for the day.
We just can't believe that he's ours. He's smart and funny. As well mannered as any 3 year old comes and wants so earnestly and completely to be loved.
He looked at Russell while Russell held him and said
"Hey, I have blue eyes just like you!"
Foster mom sent me pictures throughout the day today. He is inseparable from the orange that "his friends gave him" and she sent a picture of him showing one of his foster brothers all the pictures we sent home with him.
I really didn't think I would fall in love this quickly. I was prepared, realistically I thought, for this to take time. To even feel a little guarded but I find myself missing him already. Which feels crazy to say, but...its true...as scary and beautiful as it is.
My heart is officially his.