Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Their first pictures....

it's what drew me in.  I thought since the kids have now been home awhile, I will give you a look at the first pictures I saw of them.  You know the referral pictures that you keep pinned to the fridge during the entire process until you can see them and touch them for real.  Those pictures.  Summer was the child we picked out first.  It was her eyes that did it for me.  Something about her.  She has the most gorgeous big brown eyes I think I have ever seen on a child.

This is one of the first pictures of Summer we received.  No smile but we knew something was in there for sure.  Just had to have faith.  No, she's not left handed.  Reni is but not Summer.  

Isn't she just beautiful?!  I just wanted to hold her.  That was it.  Who knew it was going to be SO LONG before I'd be able to.  Now, the child doesn't want to let me go.  She is such a sweetheart.  Her hemaginoma is more pronounced here than now.  It's on her lip but now, you can't even really tell a difference unless you're looking.  We're not correcting anything b/c frankly, I don't see anything to correct.  I believe she was 2yo here.  Perfect.  The age I wanted.  Little did I know, 4 would be the age I longed for.  

She's standing up.  And, was pretty balanced in the video.  Summer was located in that orphanage that everyone is talking about lately.  She was there for 2.5 years.  It was where I thought we'd go to pick her up but she was transferred.  And that was fine w/ us.  I just knew she was ours.  

It's funny, you pretty much know which kids are yours.  See, after we accepted Summer's referral (well, she was on a waiting list obviously due to special needs), we were looking for maybe one more child.  We really wanted a deaf child so Nik would have someone to talk to besides his hearing sibs.  That did not work out and that's alright.  Nik is still right at home.  Anyhow, we found 2 sibs.  Both 4yo twins.  Boy and a girl.  Boy would need his leg amputated but was very healthy.  Girl would need extra care.  Accepted both.  However, shortly obtained a video and realized the little girl would need 24/7 care.  Something that with 9 other kids, we would not be able to provide.  It was very, very hard to let go yet for some reason, very peaceful about it.  See, what we didn't tell anyone was that we were feeling uneasy but couldn't figure out why.  Both of us were.  Now we know.  They were not our kids.  Our friends went to this orphanage in June.  Saw these two and found out a couple was adopting them that only had one older child.  This couple had much experience.  Our friends had said that indeed she would have needed extensive care.  All worked out.  Though I will say this, we felt extremely guilty that day having to write why we could not parent the twins.  It would not have been fair to the little girl nor the other kids in the family here.  I hope that made sense.  

So, we were looking at other kids.  Our agency thought they had the perfect two.  Both of us saw the video and said yes.  Most definitely ours.  Kept watching it and smiling.  Knew somehow, they'd fit right in.  Just a gut feeling.  I could picture them playing soccer in the yard.  Guess what, that's just what they were doing earlier today!  yes, this referral was for Logan and Reni.  2 older kids no one wanted.  Everyone passed up.  It's hard to place a sib group.  Let alone an older sib group where one is a boy.  And that boy has epilepsy.  And the girl is very delayed.  yes, not on the top of everyone's list.  Thank goodness though b/c they then became the top of our list!  First pictures we ever received of them.  

I tried to blow it up but is even more grainy.  This is all we had to go on forever.  Isn't he a handsome young man though?  Makes you wonder how in the world he can get passed up for so long.  Why do they wait?  Especially boys? Trust me, girls are not "easier" as people say.  

Reni's picture.  See, at some point, she did indeed have glasses.  It was at a minimum a year that she went w/out as far as we can determine from future photos.  But this is not a correct script I don't think.  Her eye still turns very badly.  Her current glasses have corrected this.  Again, very cute yet passed over.  

I know much of it is a cultural thing.  All my children from Bulgaria are of Turkish origin.  And that is just fine with me.  They are beautiful, beautiful kids.  It is so hard to see older kids passed over time and time again.  They do have a ton to offer.  

Reni and Logan are bio sibs.  I think they were in a total of 3 orphanages from what I can gather.  The one orphanage we picked them up from was wonderful.  I still stand by that statement.  I can tell just from where they took them, what they did, the nutrition they had, etc.  Director had it right.

I think before they were transferred there is where all the trouble occurred.  Again, this is JUST SPECULATION as I was NOT there with them.  I am being given this information from my own kids.  This is what happened with Yana as well years ago once she started talking.  Truth started flowing.  This is where (not their last orphanage) the rock incident for Reni took place and some other "traumas."(my term for them.  Reni explained in the yard they used sticks on them)  Kids are starting to talk more.  Reni is filling me in on quite a bit.  And I know many folks wouldn't share this info but I want people to know.  It really effects how you parent them when they get home and it lets you know how you can help them.  When they have been hurt in their past, your main goal as their parent is to help them feel safe and secure.  In the beginning, if I ever raised my voice, Reni would squat to the ground and shake her hand no, no.  Now, in this house, it's loud.  You must raise your voice at times just to be heard. Plus, Nik is always loud just due to the deafness.  Now, she does not even flinch.  To me, a sign she is feeling safer and safer each day.  

I know I will never fully understand their past.  I will not know all that happened to them.  But I will be filled in on much I'm sure.  They'll be able to recall even more than Yana did.  Yana was 8.5 when we adopted her. These two are 9 and 11.  And Reni feels safe enough now to share.  Logan does not have as much language as her yet.  There are many, many signs that Reni was negatively effected by some type of trauma in her past.  The good news is kids are resilient.  Reni is doing beautifully.  So great in fact, that on New Year's Eve, she's going to a party w/ Alyona to one of their friends and spending the night.  She has come a long, long way in a few short weeks.  She knows she is loved.  She knows she is safe.  She knows no one will hurt her.  She knows there are people here to protect her.

I know this post got sidetracked a bit.  Hope you don't mind.  I know this is a topic many do not talk about.  It's hard but it is reality for some. Reni told me what happened one time when they used sticks on her.  The only thing you can do in this situation as a parent is comfort them and listen.  Just listen.  If they want to talk, they will.  Some of mine have kept quiet about things in their past.  Some have not.  One of mine used to get picked up by their ears.  They'd also get slapped for wanting more bread.  One of mine got in trouble for trying to take the caretakers toilet paper.  They only wanted real toilet paper.  See, in their orphanage the kids used newspaper instead of toilet paper.  I could go on w/ things that I know happened to some of my kids.  I won't.  You get the idea.  As 'Annie' puts it... "It's a hard knock life for us.  It's a hard knock life for us.  No one cares for you a smidge when you're in an orphanage."  You remember the song and the movie for sure.  And please do  not misinterpret what I'm trying to say.  I want to make this perfectly clear NOT all orphanages are bad.  That is NOT true by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, a few of my kids were in great orphanages.  Reni & Logan's orphanage in Shumen was fantastic!  They were caring, observant, kind, and really wanted what was best for the kids.  They provided for them.  Took them places.  Prepared them for adoption.  Like I said, they got it right.  The kids respected the director yet did not fear them.  This was a good orphanage.  But it was not a home and there is indeed a difference.  However, this was not the only orphanage they went to.  And they were not treated the same in their previous orphanage.  Like I said before though, not all orphanages are bad.  But not a single orphanage is a family.  You can not replace a family life.  Not a bit.  Majority of my kids came from orphanages where the caretakers took care of the kids and loved them.  Some of my kids did not.  I know which ones did and did not have a "good" orphanage.  I will not share that info though.  It will remain private. Just know, over the 8 orphanages we have seen in person over the years, the majority did an awesome job w/ the resources they had and honest to goodness truly loved the kids.  I mean really loved them.  In fact, I still keep in touch w/ some of the caretakers at various orphanages.  Their love did not fade.  That is the kind (if you had a choice) of orphanage you would want your child from.  Others I have seen, do not have that same kind of love.  All you can do is hope and pray for the children left behind.  Right now, we are thankful our Bulgarian kids came from the orphanages they came from.  And from what I've heard, the vast majority of orphanages in this country are wonderful.  Again, not the same as a family but many do help prepare the kids for the transition into family life and give them the stability and skills they need while at the orphanage.  Hope that made sense.  This post is already too long.  Sorry about that.

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