Friday, June 17, 2011

DAY 6-- bittersweet

Woke up this morning to our last day in Shumen.  Stayed at a wonderful hotel.  Very quaint and romantic.  Not far from the orphanage.  Had breakfast and off to the orphanage to get the kids.  We were going sight seeing again.  Yes, you guessed it...another mountain to climb.  This time though, we got to drive.  Walked quite a ways and up a bit but nothing like yesterday.  Kids are just super.  Can't express that enough.  I don't even care if the one doc is w/ us.  I treat them like they're already mine.  Actually doc nodded in agreement when I told Logan to pick up the gum wrapper he just threw on the ground.  Doc just smiled like you got in trouble kiddo.  Mom knows what she's doing.  Kids are brother and sister through and through.  Very close.  And, Logan will give Reni a hard time from time to time.  Little stuff like mine do at home.  Nothing big and all totally normal.  R's eyes are bad.  We are praying we can get her home quickly.  If you leave her w/out glasses for too long, the eye will no longer be able to be used.  Happened w/ Alyona.  First stop is a opthalmologist for sure.  Second stop, cosmetic surgeon.  Think she still may have rock stuck in that scar on her nose.  From where the other kid hit her w/ a stone over and over again in the face.  Saw the kid who did it today on the video they showed us.  They showed us videos of R when she was younger.  Awesome. 

After our mini hike, we went back to the orphanage to pick up the director.  Going to get the director.  Picked him up and off to the store to purchase items w/ the donation money we gave.  You gave.  Got a better exchange rate so able to get a video camera, digital camera, web cam (tell you why later!), miscellaneous for the camera.  After that, went to the toy store b/c had money left over.  Bought volleyball, soccerball, and a bunch of swimming floating stuff as they go to the coast during the summer.  Director was thrilled b/c they take the children but never have stuff to play with.  After that, we went to pick up the visa pictures.  Then, off to the park for lunch.  Ate at another outdoor cafe for the kids.  Boy, can Reni pack it down!  Both are great eaters.  Oh and if coming to Bulgaria, you MUST try this sausage they have here.  best ever.  Now, the most amazing thing was when I pulled out something Bojan had given us.  Logan actually started reading English!  The kid can read English.   He's blown us away with all the stuff he knows already.  While exchanging money, the kids and I waited in the car.  We were going back and forth reading Russian and Bulgarian and teaching each other words.  Truly, these two simply have blown us away but their personalities, their charm, their knowledge, just everything. 

After lunch, we headed back to the orphanage.  R was getting upset so I knew she knew we had to go.  It was written all over her face.  She didn't want to let go of Warren or I on the walk back.  Got back and were waiting for a document.  Got to say goodbye to some of the other kids.  Great to see them again.  Social worker from the courts came in.  She said she has no questions for us b/c you can see it in our faces that we love the kids and vice versa.  Glad to hear.  Yes, Logan will be giving consent to be adopted.  Has to since he is 10.  R came over and started hugging us and wanted to cry.  She was starting to but we all stopped her.  Logan was holding on for dear life and wasn't about to let go.  It was torture.  Oh, before this, we got to see a video of the kids.  See, that was why they wanted a video camera shoot v\ideos of the kids.  The webcam is for us to skype the kids with.  cAn't wait.  And, the director took our camera chip, copied it tothe computer so that the kids will have pics from our time here to look at.  Very sweet of him to do that.  Told you, he's all about what's best for the kids. 

Went outside.  It was heartwrenching and very hard to do.  We had a real connection with these two and thoroughly enjoyed our time there.  Time to return can not come soon enough.  Went back to the hotel and got our luggage.  Then, in the car for our 6 hour drive back to Sofia.  However, had to stop by another orphanage for some business first.  This was for another family but we got to tag along.  It was great to watch the kids play.  This was a younger children's home.  They were all outside.  Ran up to us and started talking away. Didn't take them long to figure out we can't speak Bulgarian.  Still high 5's and caio's are all it takes to get a smile.  Made me realize that we were definitely doing the right thing.  Adopting these 3 kids.  It may be hard, it may be expensive, but it's right.  I know we're done but still doesn't stop me from advocating for the ones left behind. 

AFter finding lost keys, off to Sofia.  Seemed to take forever and traffic did not help us any.  All of us were exhausted.  Been a packed trip this week for sure.  Arrived back at Scotty's late and got even a smaller room than our first time here.  Went to the local market b/c I was in dire need of some nail clippers.  Geez, the things we forget to pack.  Came back and started writing.  Nothing major.  Tomorrow, we tie up loose ends and depart for America.  Next post will be from America I'm guessing.  I still can't believe we were here.  Feels like a dream.  I can't believe the 3 kids we met were always ours.  It's been a long, hard road to get to where we are.  I will tell the whole story once kids are home for sure.  We've had an agency stick with us through thick and thin.  REally believed in us.  I'll write something about them when I get home as they deserve the credit.  We are bringing home three kids that essentially no one wanted.  Not a one person.  Medicals were beyond horrifying.  Not going to lie about that one.  We were scared.  We jumped in feet first without looking.  Could it have all gone wrong?  Absolutely.  Did it?  No.  Sometimes, you must take that leap of faith.  I don't think any of you will believe what was on our medicals once I reveal it all.  These children are such a far cry from the ones on there.  I'm glad I didn't dwell on the piece of paper in front of me.  I'm glad I looked at the child and who they were.  Not what was said about them.  We have gotten to know 3 wonderful children this week who more than fit in our family.  I will have more pictures once back.  As I said, this computer sucks that we're using.  Just had to share today's experience.  We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Bulgaria and meeting our children.  Though the next time taking them home is awhole different ball game.  And you have no idea what I even mean by that statement.  LOL.  We have a logistical issue of where the kids are located and crossing a mountain that we may not be able to cross.  We have the issue of room in a car.  We have the issue of where we're going to stay as we know we'll have one "screamer/ cryer."  We wnat to pick up the older kids first so that we may ease Summer.  These are all things that will get worked out and more.  For now, we can look at some wonderful pictures and time spent together.  The way they laugh, the way Logan always smiles, the way R is afraid of heights, and every other little thing in between.  I can honestly not wait to share them with you.  I seriously can not believe no one considered these children.  It's all abotu timing and I guess timing was perfect for us.  We may not have had our life together at the time, may not have had the financial means to do this at the time, may not have been the best thing at the time, but look at where we are now.  It turned out to be the perfect time not just for us, but for our kids at home, our kids here.  I'm coming off cloud 9 because I have to.  I miss them terribly and we've only been gone a few hours.  Going home is bittersweet.  We're going home to our kids but without our kids at the same time.  Please Mr. Immigration Man, approve us at lightening speed so we can bring our kids home! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DAY 5-- pictures...finally

I know you're all dying to see the kids but honestly, I can not show those until after court.  Shoot, I wasn't even really allowed to take pictures of Summer or her orphanage.  For future adoptive parents, you must realize this rule is all orphanage specific.  Some orphanages we've been to have gladly let us take any pictures we wanted to.  Some, will not allow any.  This trip, one region allowed us, one did not.  Just the way it goes.  I will definitely show pics of the kids the day we have court.  You better believe it.  For now though,  I do have some cool pics to show. Or, not so cool.  It's been hotter than you know what here.  Those coming, do NOT dress fancy.  You'll regret it.  I've worn shorts the whole time as has Warren.  I wore pants the first day to visit Summer & really regretted it.  I wanted to look official but nothing looking official if sweat is pouring down your back and face.  Shorts the rest of this time.  Shoot, our son took his shirt off today it was so hot.  Anyhow, thought I'd share a few pics and go from there. 

Tip #1.  If going on an adoption trip, don't forget to take out the money from your last adoption trip.  Anyone up for some rubles??  Not where we're going. 

Bojan wrote us a letter.  I wish his teachers would have listened when  I said the kid can't spell.  URGHH!!!  Look at how he spelled plane.  Going to work on him w/ spelling this summer for sure.  Remember, he's going into 6th grade...middle school.  Smart as can be except for spelling.  He can do it though so not giving up.

Wasn't this sweet?!  Great to pull out of the envelope.  Sorry, opened it at the airport not on the plane but think that was okay w/ Bojan. 

And then we arrived at Scotty's Botique.  We checked it out including the toiletries above.  The blue pack in the back are the condoms.  Hmm. 

This is the total size of the Praque room at Scotty's.  Warren said it's said when the suitcases dominate the room.  You may not be able to see it in this pic but the beds are on the floor w/ a very low frame.  The wallpaper to the left has a neat trick... it glows in the dark! 

Okay, this upload is WAY too slow & fustrating.  Pics will have to wait till we get back.  Many pics to be uploaded on Sunday.  Just can't take it here anymore fussing w/ these things on here.  Posts take forever to write too b/c of this computer.  More tomorrow night.  It will be DAY 6-- last day w/ the kids and back to Sofia.  Can hardly believe tomorrow at this time we'll be thinking of heading home.  Hard to be parents in two places at once.  Kids on both sides of theocean for awhile.  More to come tomorrow evening. Our last night in Sofia!  For a few months anyways. 

DAY 5-- climbing the mountain

My so much to say yet again.  Geez, this is a lot today.  Can I just say "I'm lovin' it!"  Still haven't come off cloud 9.  Let's start out w/ a recap of our day.  We woke up after having slept.  Always a good thing.  Went down to breakfast and then met up w/ translator to go to the orphanage at 10am.  Got the kids and went to Madara.  It's an ancient site.  Did I mention it was hot today?  We climb the mountain.  Now, when I say mountain, I am not talking some little mountian.  Honest to God had I known exactly what we were going to do today, I would have suggested something else.  We climbed the mountain for a few hours.  Yes, you read that correctly...hours.  It was gorgeous but SO hot and we ran out of water.  Again, had I known, we would have bought the water before climbing the mountain.  Now, if some of you haven't figured it out by now, I'm terrified of heights.  Hence the dramamine on the plane ride here.  But, I conquered that fear & climbed the entire mountain!  Holding on for dear life.  Apparently, our daughter R is not too stable w/ the height thing either.  She & I are NOT roller coaster people.  Logan, could careless how high he is.  Beautiful views though.  Picture perfect for sure.  Saw caves, a fortress, etc.  Learned a lot about this ancient city.  And my kids on the way up.  Logan has no fear.  R is a chicken like me.  How the Bulgarians dress in layers in Summer, I will never understand.  Though Logan did take his shirt off later. 

We climbed back down the mountain and refreshed w/ some bottled water.  Into the car and back to the city.  Logan is picking up English like crazy.  The kid can already count to ten, say the basics and learning like a sponge!  R is doing the same thing!  Heard her count to ten out of the blue today.  I also learned our daughter truly can not see.  I know the doc here does not think there is something wrong w/ her eyes but trust us, there is something really wrong w/ her eyes.  She will see a specialist immediately upon returning home.  No doubt.  She could not find her footing over the mountian.  Very scray for me to watch at times.  Reason I say that is b/c OSHA would have a field day w/ these people.  After great exercising, we went out to an outdoor cafe for lunch.  Stunning setting.  SO relaxing for sure.  Ironically, they were working on the English menus while we were there so no menus for us to order from.  So, relied on the translator.  I asked if the pizza was small.  Yes, was the answer.  LOL.  I should know better by now that they make food to feed at least 4 people here to a plate.  Delicious food!  Delicious food!  Yes, I said it twice.  Was a very relaxing meal together w/ our kids.  Even found out where R's scar on her nose came from.  Logan said that a kid from the previous orphanage kept hitting her in the nose w/ a stone.  Ouch!  We'll have it looked at once home but she is still beautiful. 

After lunch, we went to the park.  No translator w/ us.  Fun.  But, Logan and R catch on super duper fast so wasn't worried one bit.  We are so relaxed w/ these kids that I can treat them like my own already.  You know, like saying something to Logan at lunch for teasing his sister and getting her to eat a red onion.  Yes, typical sibs for sure.  Anyhow, at the park, I gave them their first taste of poprocks candy.  Hilarious!  Faces were priceless.  Then, we met up w/ some of their freinds from the orphanage there.  Such great kids.  I'm telling you, want to adopt, do it from this region and THIS home.  These are all older kids but so,so much to offer for sure.  I'd scoop up two more girls here in a heartbeat if Warren would let me.  LOL.  I think he'd take them too.  Van's full now.  No can do.  But, I do not intend to stop advocating for the kids here.  Never.  These are great kids, great orphanage, great orphanage director, great city, etc.  Can not express that enough.  Granted, the orphanage is still poor and needs financial help but they have got it right in raising these kids.  Our kids are not scared of their director and seem to show him respect.  I love that.  Like I said, they got it right here.  Once we are officially done w/ court in a few months, I will share pics of some of the kids.  For now though, I can't.  Trust me though, just amazing.  
Back to my story.  We met up w/ the other kids and all played together at the park.  Sharing pop rocks, a glider we brought and good old fashion fun.  We all took pictures together too.  Then our translator came back.  Off to ride ponies and then to get visa photos.  LOTS of walking.  No, no smooth sidewalks still.  While at the picture store, they want us to get this snowglobe that you stick a picture in.  Told you this orphanage was awesome.  They want the kids to see all four of us together while they wait it out.  Love it.  They also want us to skype the kids each week.  CAn you believe this?!  I'm thrilled at it all.  Other region, we were not allowed to take pics so this blows me away.  After pictures, off for icecream and drinks at a small stand.  Back to the car and orphanage.  Talked to the director about donations.  He wants a video camera for them to be able to tape the kids.  Now, I do believe that 1) it will help get more kids adopted and 2) they can record the vacations they take w/ the kids.  In ohter words, he wants momentos for "his" children to have in life.  Again, sign of a good guy.  Wants the kids to be able to have something to remember.  I think this is vital as I know how hard it is for my girls that have nothing to remember.  They long for that.  And, if he has extra money, he wants to buy a camera for another orphanage locally.  We said fine. 

It was time for the kids to say goodbye.  They do not like saying goodbye.  R is having a hard time w/ this part.  I know tomorrow will be rough for her.  Today was a dream.  We are head over heels in love with these two kiddos.  Their personalities just shine right through.  They want to hold our hands, they want to interact & play and joke around w/ us.  They want to teach us Bulgarian and they want to learn English.  They share with each other, play w/ each other, etc.  R gets tired, she gets cranky.  The littel things we are seeing in them is just wonderful.  I can not wait to see what the future has in store for these children.  There are  really no words to describe how I feel about them.  Love is not big enough.  I want them home.  I don't want to say goodbye tomorrow. I don't want to leave them here for a few months.  I don't want to.  But, I must.  I know that, they know that but it does not make it any easier on any of us.  Not one bit.  no one says adoption is easy.  But, all the good things are never easy anyhow.  We took a leap of faith that not many other families would and I know that.  It was not easy for us.  When we got the second medical reports(updates), don't think we weren't terrified or ready to possibly run away from it all.  It was indeed a thought of ours.  However, we decided to take that leap of faith and see where it led us.  Led us right to our children.  So glad we did.  I can not imagine life without them in it now that we've met them and spent the past two days with them.  They are more than we dreamed they'd be.  The medicals were not true.  I know I'm not telling you what all was in it but trust me, it is not for the faint of heart.  Our agency already told us that if it were any other family, they would have run far away in the other direction.  Sometimes, you need to take that giant leap of faith that everything will be okay.  For us, it was the right thing to do.  I know this has been a long journey.  Shoot, we have had just about every single curve ball you could have thrown at you.  A mad immigration agent(don't ask), Irina turning 18 & complicating what we needed, a CPS investigation and a few other things that I'm not at liberty to discuss yet till this adoption is over.  Yet, through it all we kept the faith that this is exactly what we were supposed to be doing and when.  It all feels right.  They say timing is everything.  It sure is. 

Now, Warren and I are getting ready to go downstairs, sit outside, have a great conversation about our kids (all 10 of them!), and enjoy a salad.  BEST salads ever here btw.  Tomorrow, we pack up, go to the orphange and to another site seeing place.  And, pick up their pictures.  The orphanage director also wants to load all pics we took of hte kids to his computer so that they can see them & us while they wait it out.  We also pick up visa pictures and the donation tomorrow.  Afterwards, time to say goodbye. I can not imagine that part of this process.  I love these kids.  It will be heartwrenching to be a part of saying goodbye knowing I will miss them dearly.  Pictures to come next post.  For now, just wanted to share about another fantastic day.  Even made more fantastic knowing that things at Chaos Manor have settled down and Alex is on the down turn of those meds.  Still not happy that was not in his file.  If we had the funds, we'd come back here again in a heartbeat and pick up those two girls.  The kids here deserve a family.  All of them asking when it is their turn.  It is a rarity for older kids to get adopted.  I don't see why.  You have not missed out.  On the contrary.  They have so much to give and you don't have to potty train!  I am looking forward to this fall when we are all together again.  All 12 of us, enjoying a meal at the table that Warren cooked.  Watching a movie together or going hiking together.  So much yet to experience together as a family.  So those tinking they are missing out by adopting an older child, think again.  Far from it.  You are gaining more than you can ever imagine.  We are adopting a 9yo and a 10yo.  And a 4yo.  Even 4yo's are considered older children in the adoption world.  A post for when I get home.  Just want you all to know, we love our kids at home and our kids to be with all our heart and more.  We have not missed out on a single thing all these past 12 years of us adopting older kids.  Enjoy your evening.  PIcture post next, I promise.  For now though, must go eat a fresh salad and enjoy one last evening alone w/ Warren before we head back to Chaos Manor on Saturday.  STay tuned for the picture post and DAY 6 tomorrow.  We go back to Sofia tomorrow w/ a stop at another orphanage.  No, we're not getting another kid.  More to come shortly. 

DAY 5-- issues arise back home

You know, doing this journey can not be all roses, right?  Now, we have a very capable and great woman watching our kids back home.  Want to preface with that.  That being said, there are still things that can happen that she has no control over or would never have known unless she knew the kids her entire life.  You all do remember 6 out of my 7 are FAS and all seven are special needs, right?  Makes for a bit of a challenge for anyone coming in.  She has handled all issues like a pro.  The other day, Alex and Alyona got stung.  Now, they can turn any bite into a massive wound by day's end.  However, Alex's thumb got twice the size and she decided to take him to the doc.  We gave the okay.  Email is a great communication tool.  Anyhow, I did remember telling her dimetapp will make him comatose as will benedryl.  Our neuro said it is just the way his meds interact.  Now, certain things we know Alex can and can not take.  I did think our doc knew exactly what to put Alex on.  Umm, no.  I'm not sure what happened but they prescribed Alex an antibiotic and predisone.  Okay, predisone makes Alex downright evil.  I do not say that lightly.  It is NOT the same kid.  Max said Alex is a nightmare mom.  And, whatever we do, we can't stop the drug once started.  Not even when he's this bad.  He's awful.  I feel awful b/c I've been through this w/ Alex. Hence, why he's NOT supposed to be prescribed predisone!  To make matters worse, he can't go outside on this stuff.  He does, it messes even mroe w/ his adrenal issues.  The whole thing is a mess and now this poor lady is stuck w/ a kid that is just a tad shy of crazy.  It is not Alex's fault.  Not the sitter's fault.  It happened and I'm sure doc just forgot about Alex's reaction chemically to the predisone.  Today he has 3 pills, tomorrow 2 and Saturday 1.  I don't know what to do from here.  Unfortunately, you have to wait it out which sucks.  The kids all told me Alex is a mess so I know it's all true. 

Another issue at home is the dogs.  Apparently, my children have not been doing what they were told and not walking the dogs.  This has caused Alaska to poop in IRina's room and Kota to want to bite at stuff.  Our dogs are Austrailian Shepard mixes.  they are used to getting LOTS of exercise and running.  They are not getting that and feeling pent up.  Again, this one I blame solely on my kids b/c I told them BEFORE we left their duties and what would happen if the dogs were not given enough exercise time.  Frustrated from here for sure. 

I can not reiterate enough how well our sitter Rebecca has handled issues & the kids that should have never arisen in the first place.  She has told me not to worry but hard as I'm the parent and can't help.  Alyona misses us as  does Nik.  Those two had not been through this process before.  All the kids have asked when we are coming home so I think the mising us part is setting in more.  I did something last night that normally I would not have done.  But, given all that is going on, I went ahead and told them if they behave the rest of the week and help out, we'd stay an extra day on vacation when we get back.  I usually never bribe my kids but again, only so much we can do from here.  Boys are being loud and rowdy.  I know my kids and the chaos they can create.  Trust me, I do.  That's why it's so hard to decide to take these trips. 

Rebecca, our sitter, has been beyond excellent.  All the  things that seem to be happening are coming from external forces that she has no control over.  I mean really,what are the odds of 3 of my kids getting stung the same week.  That's how they discovered the hornets' nests under the pool edge.  Taken care of now but still, that chain of events has created more chain of events.  I feel bad for the sitter.  She is SO good w/ the kids and the odd issues(not just the ones listed above!)  that have arisen.  I tell you, I don't think many others could have done what she did this past week.  I owe her big.  Today is Thursday here.  We leave tomorrow from this region.  After everything that has gone on, I know it's time we venture home soon.  I just heard today that htings are settling down at Chaos Manor.  She's even taking them to the movies today.  Told you, she's amazing.  Oh, I may have forgotten to mention she is not just watching my kids but one of her own and one of the other boys I watch during the summer.  Yes, she may be certifiably crazy!  LOL.  We have thoroughly appreciated her patience throughout the week.  Got to go.  Next post is DAY 5-- climbing the mountain.  You won't believe all we did today.  Just thought I'd share that there are issues at home but htey are being worked out.  When you leave your kids w/ someone, definitely make sure they're capable.  I highly doubt anyone else could have accomplished what Rebecca did this week. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DAY 4-- wonderful suprises await!

I honestly can't even believe I get to write this post.  Woke up and went to notarize some documents.  Headed to a new region...6 hours away.  Oh, how I hate the car.  BTW, you come to Bulgaria, close your eyes when they pass cars.  I don't know how they can drive like that but they do.  It's nuts!  We have an excellent driver.  No worries about her.  It's the other people coming at you at 140KM and not slowing down.  We were going to a region near the black sea.  Still 70KM from the sea but close enough.  The mountainous views were just beautiful.  Stopped once at  a gas station.  Great sandwich from a gas station.  Something to drink &we were all on our way.  Commenting how we always got stuck behind the trucks.  Breath taking views and I will upload pictures at some point but seriously, we have not slowed down since we arrived.  Schedule is packed.  Orphanage kept calling to see where we were and kids were all anxious to see us.  Got to the city and drove around for a little bit trying to find the orphange.  Called someone to come pick us up. 

Was nervous walking up to the doors but kids were leaning over the balcony saying R's parents were here.  Very sweet.  Went up to the director's office and starting the meeting w/ questions and things.  Asked about various meds, etc.  Well, then the kids came in.  These could NOT have been different children.  You study those pictures for months and finally get a glance at your kids in front of you.  Logan is a very handsome young man, full smile.  Loves to smile.  Personality was bubbling.  R takes a little longer to warm up but that was the room we were in.  Too serious a room.  This orphanage director is used to dealing w/ adoptions and I think is GREAT!  He was very nice and really has the kids' interests at heart.  Very proud of his institution and should be.  The kids were polite, all the ones we met.  They allowed us to go to see their rooms.  Their friends were there & all were interested in who we were.  Just a cute scene.  Rooms are sparce for sure.  Friends were nice though and kids were fun to be around.  We then headed outside & we're going to walk around. 

Since Logan is 10yo, he must give consent for the adoption.  So, someone from the courts has to follow us around for some of the time.  that was fine with us.  We were just estatic to see the kids.  Walked around their city.  They were teaching us things in Bulgarian and we were teaching them things in English.  Great conversations for sure.  Taking pictures the whole time.  Walked all the way to this local park. New park and fantastic.  PUlled out the glider we brought and got to playing.  Kids were playing on the playgrond as well.  Logan already knows some English and is sharp as a tack.  This kids is a smart boy for sure.  BTW, did I tell you he loves soccer.  I mean really loves soccer?  He even got to go to Sofia for a competition.  We actually ran into one of his teachers from school.  She told us he was a very smart kid & is going to miss him.  Wished him the best with his new family in America.  Wonderful that we got to take the kids out on the first day.  'R' was just as amazing.  These two are fantastic and I can not say that enough.  They are more than we'd dreamed they'd be.  I know I can't disclose medical info but just know the medicals looked very, very scary.   I can not stress it enough to take medical info with a grain of salt and really just meet the kids.  These two are doing very well in school, are thought of very highly, and are sweet.  Nice, polite, etc.  Kids that would make great role models.  Kids that you want your kids to strive to be.  What we saw today was just two awesome, awesome kids very ready to have a family.  Holding our hands, not wanting to let go at times.  Didn't mind one bit.  We went and all got ice cream on the way back from the park.  Tasted great and cooled us off though just a touch.  Went back to the orphanage and said our goodbyes.  They quickly asked if we were coming back tomorrow. 

To say we were pleasantly surprised by the kids we met today is a grave understatement.  It could not have gone any better if you tried.  Did I mention these kids are awesome?!  The orphanage is nice.  Okay, still an orphanage but I mean the staff is wonderful.  Care for the kids and love the kids.  You can see it in ALL of them.  Not just our kids.  Says a lot about this place.  I don't even want to leave here!  Tomorrow, we get to take the kids sightseeing all day and to lunch.  What a dream.  A caretaker will be with us I think too but the court lady not sure yet.  We don't care who comes. We are seriously having a lot of fun w/ these kids and can just picture them w/ our kids at home.  He and Alex will run each other ragged.  LOL.  R and Alyona will enjoy their time together & I think R & Yana will actully mesh really well too.  Perfect fit.  You know, I'm glad they were turned down so many times.  I'm glad everyone just looked at the medicals instead of the kids.  I know that sounds horrible but if it weren't for that, we would not have them in our lives today.  We saw past what so many could not get past in regards to medical info.  I will stress this one last time, take any medicals you have with a grain of salt.  Won't say what is on ours until after court.  You will see night and day though, I assure you of that.  I am so glad we took that leap of faith on these kids and believed in them.  I am floating on cloud 9 right now and not coming down any time soon.  I'm looking so forward to entire day tomorrow & am already dreading deeply having to leave them here till we can come back.  These are our kids through and through.  BTW, girls better lookout for Logan.  He is a cutie!  'R's hair is thick and black and beautiful.  Someone french braided it for her today.  They were so thrilled we were coming that the kids got to pick out a new outfit just to wear for us.  All their friends gathered round to look at the photos of our family.  Very cute.  Oh, btw, Logan was funny.  Before we came he asked if he was going to be Italian.  See, they have quite a few Italian families adopt from there he said. 

Logan and R are very healthy.  Very healthy.  Gosh, I can hardly stand not sharing a picture right now.  Killing me for sure.  Coming here expecting one thing & preparing for a variety of needs and then seeing the complete opposite is well, just a wonderful surprise.  I love these kids w/ every fiber of my being.  Warren and I are not worried one bit about their adjustment or their fitting in.  None.  I can not wait to introduce them to the kids at home.  I can barely stand it!  I want all 10 kids home now.  I do.  I want to have them all swimming in the pool, eating dinner at the table together, playing outside, going on trips with us, etc.  I am in love with my kids.  They were beyond worth the wait. 

Okay, hotel we are in is awesome. Very romantic feel.  Beautiful and will have pictures tomorrow to catch folks up.   I know pics are the best part.  Warren and I had dinner outside.  Just the two of us.  Talking about our kids here in Bulgaria and at home.  Ordered a wonderful dinner and some water.  Came upstairs and have been working here for quite some time.  Kids are calling in just a short while.  Can't wait to share the news.  The room is fantatic, kids at home are doing great, kids here are doing great, life is good.  Need to catch some sleep as walking all over tomorrow.  Beautiful weather to boot.  I am just so dog gone happy right now.  I wish you all could feel this way when meeitng your kids.  It is such a wonderful feeling.  And, I get to see them tomorrow all over again.  I am regretting not staying here an extra day or two.  It would have been wonderful.  However, we do have kids at home that need us just as much and we had a judgement call to make before coming here.  I was worried about my kids at home before we left.  Turns out they are doing just fine w/out me there.  But, we do need to get home fast so we can get back here fast.  MOre paperwork to do and waiting on the wonderful FBI.  Praying it all comes together in record time as I honestly don't know how I'm going to say goodbye on Friday.  I don't want to say goodbye.  This is the most torturous part I think for adoptive parents.  I fell to my knees when putting Yana and Alex back on the plane after hosting them.  Literally, fell to my knees crying in agony of saying goodbye.  Pathetic, I know but don't care.  I am going to try not to be a basket case on Friday but no guarantees.  Just wanted to share I am in love with my kids and can't wait to learn more about them tomorrow.  Got to get to bed.  PIcs coming tomorrow.  Well, ones I can post.  And, DAY 5 comes tomorrow.  No driving tomorrow night so I"ll be able to write about it for sure.  This is the oldest city in Bulgaria we are told.  Beautiful here.  Wait till you see it.  And, in case you are wondering, R is in a size 7/8.  Logan is in a size 8 boys.  He's smaller than Alex but not by much.  Alyona and R will be able to share clothes.  Wahoo.  Got to go.  Stay tuned for DAY 5 tomorrow.

Day 3 (part II)-- last visit w/ Summer

Alright, time to get back to work on here.  Traveling from day to day makes it very difficult for sure.  More on that too.  SO, SO much to tell.  HOnest to goodness, you will not want to miss DAY 4.  That's today but had to finish yesterday up first.  BTW, you travel to two different regions, all the time just blends together.  Right now I am just high as a kite about today but have to wait to tell you all in next post.

I left the last post about us & the orphanage donations.  Left Summer and us, translator, & orphanage director headed out to buy some donations.  To say they needed this stuff is an understatement.  Again, more on the orphanages & donations when I have time for a separate post  b/c it really does deserve its own post.  Anyhow, we set out to exchange our money first. Got a crappy exchange rate btw, but I don't think they realized that.  Also, when we went into the bank, I started getting nicotine poisoning and thought I"d throw up right there.  Did not throw up and thankfully, it was raining outside & once int he fresh air, was okay.  Took us 3 stores (not close together) to finally find a place that had some desks.  And, they'd deliver.  Great news too b/c I think all of us failed to think where we'd put those things.  LOL.  After treking around the city which was blazing hot & felt like an eternity, we decided to stop for lunch.  Worst waitress ever in any language!  It was hilarious & all 4 of us were laughing about it.  I wanted a bake potato but ended up w/ french fries.  I said don't worry b/c who knows what she'd bring back if we told her to exchange it.  We had a serious conversation about adoptions with the orphanage director.  Really got to hear what Bulgarians think in general.  I disproved one major misconception they all have.  They all think Americans are VERY rich to be adopting.  We explained in detail how it all worked & how much we sacrifice to do this.  I think they felt sorry later b/c they offered to help pay for lunch.  The conversations were light and honest.  None of us were afraid to ask questions or speak.  I asked if the orphanage director had any questions for us.  She said no, the pictures of your happy family you brought speak for themselves.  She said the children have no life if they leave the orphanage once they age out.  They need love and family she said.  She is not worried about us at all.  Was a very pleasant lunch.  Finished up w/ some shoe shopping for the kids and headed back to the orphanage to try to get our daughter to interact w/ us.  Saw us and the screaming started.  Now, what is ironic about all this is when we are gone, she asks where we've gone and when we're coming back & tells all her friends what she did w/ us that day.  Got to love it.  Met in the meeting room since it was so rainy out.  Hot room.  Nothing to do so I don't know how we're supposed to interact when she's clinging to the caretaker's neck like she's falling off a cliff.  Crying the whole time of course.  I asked do you have any games?  They had a small box w/ very few puzzles.  So, sat down w/ her and started doing puzzles.  She even let me touch her. Hey, we'll take progress at this point.  She was laughing at the end saying all our names on the pictures.  Loves the necklace Irina made her.  We then had to say goodbye and watch her blow us kisses as we drove away.  I hate the drive away.  Despite her crying, I know she'll do fine once home and healing starts.  We all however, are trying to figure out how we are going to stand the drive from the orphanage next trip.  Ear plugs maybe?  When I say she's going to cry, I'm not exaggerating here or pumping it up.  This is not a joking matter to say the least.  Some healing will have to go on but that takes time.  We realize this, we weren't going to push her w/ this being just the beginning.  I think Reni will help a lot the second trip. 

Summer is going to be our youngest.  She is going to be spoiled.  She is going to be loved.  However, we know this is not without work to come.  I think once she leaves the orphanage setting things will be different.  I know they will.  There are things I can't say on here yet as we are still in process.  Summer will be just fine.  She will be loved beyond measure and you will seriously not believe how gorgeous this little girl is.  How so many can pass her by is beyond me.  I know her medicals read horribly, but we saw past that.  Glad we stopped and took the time to look and see her past the issues.  Which, btw, she does not have the issues originally on the medical.  I will remind everyone to take the medicals with a grain of salt. 

Though all exhausted, we had to drive back to Sofia.  3 hours back.  Got back at 9:30 at night to Scotty's.  Put in the Paris room this time.  We were in the Prague room last time.  Paris is MUCH better.  Bigger room and nicer shower set up.  No funky smell.  We were going to go out to the market since we were starving.  Realized I'd either left my pocket book in Kurdzhali or in the car.  Praying it was in the car.  Called my agency in the states to find my pocket book b/c I didn't have the coordinator's #.  All my stuff was in the purse from money to passports to everything.  I think we were just so exhausted, we all forgot to check if we had everything.  NOt too long later, our translator came back, purse in hand.  Market was closed so Warren and I had crackers and water for dinner.  I was SO in the mood for a big dinner after french fries for lunch.  All this walking and hardly eating quite right has as of yesterday, allowed me to lose 6 lbs thus far!  Paris room had a scale & I was curious.  We settled down for the night.  No longer worried about Summer.  Talked it all over and what the plan would be though we really won't know how all will work exactly till she's home.  Wait and see.  Lots of love coming her way for sure.  BTW, she's big.  Well, bigger than all my other 4yo's I've brought home.  The 2T we brought her fit great though I think a 3T is what she'll come home in.  DAY 3 was a lot of learning for sure.  I loved watching my daughter.  If the adults are not hounding her & you just let her in her element w/her friends, it is so wonderful to see her play.  She plays well w/ her friends.  One day, she'll play well w/ her family too.  Much more to come!  DAY 4 is AWESOME! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DAY 3-- more visits/ orphanage donation (part 1)

This morning we tried to refresh by getting a shower. Worked a little. Headed down to breakfast half asleep. Now, our menu is translated literally so even in English you have to figure out what they are saying. It is pretty funny & I wished I'd taken pictures of it. We figured out the fried bread w/ egg must be french toast. So, french toast it was. It was delicious & had I known that was my last meal for hte day, I would have finished it off. Oh well. Live and learn when traveling. Eat when you can. Packed up the car and left for the orphanage.

Summer was waiting for us but not willing to go for us yet. Her friends on the other hand definitely are ready to get out of there. There is a 5yo boy there that I could pack up in a suitcase in a heart beat. Too bad the van is full. LOL. Some orphanage kids you meet just touch you. This is one of them. Anyhow, the caretakers try to chase the other kids away but frankly, it's easier w/ them there as it is more of Summer's normal routine. Helps her adjust. Plus, she gets upset if those familiar faces are taken away. There is nothing wrong w/ her tear ducts, that's for sure. We started asking more round about questions to try to figure out what is triggering some of the crying episodes. Summer was at an orphanage before this one (no, I won't disclose which one) and it is not so nice as they put it. When she entered this current home, she did not speak for 6 months we are told. Ahh, now we're getting somewhere. Now, we understand that these meetings will NOT fix thiis problem. This will take time. And from then on, we were not so worried about her crying or about the why or about her even warming up to us during this trip. that was just not in the cards this go around. However, she is indeed our daughter and yes, we are pursuing her adoption. Yet, I think it is important for other adoptive parents to realize it may not always be the meeting you dreamed it would be. Don't sweat it. Read between the lines and ask questions. The caretakers gave us some pictures of when she first came there and also some milestones. In Bulgarian of course. WE'll get it translated eventually.

It was again time for lunch but first we were going to take the orphanage director to pick up some items. You all helped raise $1200 to give to 2 orphanages. She was thrilled when we told her $600 was coming her way. At first when we asked what they needed, they said toys. And folks, if you saw what little toys they had, you'd say the same thing. One sad pack of markers that barely had any color left in them. One pack. But, she truly wanted to think hard about it. So, gave her some time. She decided on tables and chairs(desks) so the kids could eat and write on them. Also, some summer shoes for the kids that really needed new ones and some yogurt.  So, your donations helped w/ desks, shoes and some food.  I feel it was well spent.  Now, had I known how long it would have taken downtown, I would have opted out (no choice though) of going for a trek around the city...on foot.  I swear to you there are NO smooth roads in this region.  Nope, can't find a one.  More on our trek and stuff later.  We must get to bed as tomorrow we rise and go to Reni & Logan's region.  A 6 hour drive.  To say I'm not looking forward to that drive is an understatement.  The things we do for our kids.  Goodnight and part 2 coming maybe tomorrow if we have internet in region.  We did not in Summer's region.  Much more to come.  Part II of Day 3 is next.  Then , our meeting of the sibs.  Can't wait. 

DAY 2 -- meeting our daughter

Alright, I'm typing on a laptop that I hate so many errors & i'm frankly too tired to fix.  There, you've been warned of spelling.  LOL.  We got up, ate bananas and water and we're ready.  We went on a very long road trip to the region of Kurdzhali.  Pronounced nothing like it spelled btw.  Very scenic.  However, we went through bumpy mountainous roads.  Nascar has nothing on this woman!  I literally closed my eyes.  I was so nauseous, the one gas station we stopped at, I had to take something.  It was between pepto and dramamine & w/ meeting Summer soon, Pepto it was.  Hey, as fellow adoptive parents know, you do anything to meet the kids. 

After dodging a few cows and goats in the road (no, I'm not joking), we made it to the orphanage.  Typical iron gates and very run down building.  Got out of the car & there is a crowd gathered by the enterance.  Walked up the stairs and this little girl starts running to me giving me the biggest squeeze.  She didn't want to go to dad yet but hung onto me for a little while.  Little did I know, that would be my last hug for quite some time.  We go inside and are taken down the hall.  Pass her bedroom.  There were a few other kids about but not many.  Went to the meeting room and played.  She did not want to warm up at all so decided to go outside for a bit.  Went to what they call a playground.  Folks, I'll have a separate post on the poor conditions of this orphanage.  For now, this is all about Summer.  She is 4 years old.  VERY healthy despite all medical reports we were recently given.  She's fine.  Medically.  Emotionally, we'll talk about in a bit.  Deep scars.  Summer is so pretty.  And I'm not just saying that b/c she's my daughter.  She is absolutely stunning.  The biggest brown eyes and long eye lashes.  Beautiful black hair.  Olive skin as she is of Turkish origin.  Gorgeous all the way.  She is developmentally on track in my opinion.  We've done this enough to know.  Soft voice but very bright.  Cutest squeezable cheeks you've ever seen.  We played in the sandbox for qutie some time tyring to get her to open up.  Also got to ask some questions regarding Summer.  Basic stuff really.  No allergies, she never gets sick, etc.  Great stuff.  Left the boiling pot and went to lunch.  The outside temp had to be in the high 80's low 90's and humid.  Not to mention, sand box doubled as an ant mound.  CAn't believe they let the kids play in there butnothing you can do about it. 
Anyhow, went to the hotel.  Nice hotel.  Bigger room and smelled better.  No smoke either.  Ordered lunch.  These portions were enough for an ogre.  I could not get over how big it was.  But delicious considering it had been a few days since real food.  Filled up and went back to the orphanage.  Required to visit twice a day.  Came back to see her and got out a few toys from the bag.  She was crying.  She is always crying.  This is not typical shyness.  At first we thought it was.  It's not.  There is something a bit deeper going on for sure.  I won't disclose all her history of course yet as she is not officially our daughter till court.  Just suffice it to say, she needs some time and space to adjust to new situations.  this will be one of them.  It will not be an easy road.  That's for sure.  For one, I am positive no one will want to be on our flight home. LOL.  However, we did get a few smiles and a few laughs out of her.  Enough to know the potential is there to heal for sure.  I am in love with this little girl.  So much to say about her.  Her soft skin, sweet laugh, little hidden smiles, etc.  I will tell more.  We left that first day knowing this was our daughter.  On the way up to the orphanage doors, Warren had one hand, I had the other, swinging our daughter w/ giggles  you could hear and see.  A change from earlier where there was nothing but tears.  However, at first, Warren couldn't get within 2 meters of this little girl.  Then we asked the caretakers if she had ever had contact w/ any men.  No.  So, she'd never really been exposed to men before so this too was new for her.  She would follow Warren w/ her eyes.  If he got w/ in her range, she'd scream.  Warren handled it like a pro though. 

We left though knowing we'd come back the next day and try to break down some more walls.  We had dinner at the hotel.  best spaghetti ever!  Tried to sleep that night but soon discovered Fred Flintstone had to have a softer bed than we did.  The agony of not sleeping.  Ouch!  AGain, she's worth every bit of the sickness, pain, sleep deprivation and anything else you can throw out there.  We retired for the night and woke up today, Tuesday.  Write about Day 3 in a bit here.  There will be pictures but not right now. Computer is doing all kinds of funky stuff.  Much more to come.  Reading between  the lines and how to cope w/ a child you meet that wants to just cry.  It can be done. 

In Sofia!-- DAY 1

Well, we finally made it.  Safe and sound at Scotty's.  Yes, we are staying here tonight and not sure if we're staying in region tomorrow or here.  For those traveling to Bulgaria, it is much, much different than the Russian programs we've done all these previous years for sure.  This may all sound choppy b/c we are w/out sleep.  Exhausted for sure. 

Anyhow, we were met at the airport by our driver and another family adopting.  They are adopting from a region up north.  They are from Italy and this is their first child.  Hey, maybe they'll end up like us.  You could see the sheer joy & excitement whenever she talked.  Though we've been excited for each & everyone of our adoptions, it still is different than the very first time you ever take that plunge.  Facing total unknowns since you've never ever done it before.  I digress.  Sleep deprivation.  Headed to the hotel.  The room is shall we say quaint.  No, let's just say it's small...VERY small.  2 twin beds take up the room.  Warren said it's sad when suitcases dominate the room.  LOL.  For those wondering, we didn't get the zebra room.  And we were going to take a picture of Trip(our travelocity gnome) in the room but Trip didn't make the voyage across the Atlantic.

okay, I started this and the stupid laptop erased it all.  URGHH!!!  Let's see what I can remember about our first room at Scotty's.  Small.  Funky smell but not sure what exactly.  A bathroom.  Yes.  Little toiletries included.  Even condoms  named Sure.  If you shower, it is all in the same room.  Nothing like taking a shower over the toilet.  OH, you must remember to take the toilet paper out when you shower for obvious reasons.  When you go to bed, no need to have a nightlight b/c the wallpaper glows in the dark.  Enough about Scotty's though.  Anxious about meeting Summer.  We retired for the evening but neither of us could sleep.  Oh before that we went for a walk around the corner and got some pizza and a soda. Hit the spot for sure.  PIcked up bananas for breakfast.  And water of course.  The pizza was HUGE.  I'll write more posts.  I'm trying to remember it all.  We had no internet in the next region so couldn't type.  MUCH more to come!  Writing 2 or 3 other posts tonight.  This one was short and sweet.