Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Bulgaria?

    Out of all the countries in the world, and all the orphans in those countries, why did we choose Bulgaria?  That's a question that most everyone asks us....  even our social worker as it had to go into our home study report!
    It was a fairly simple process of elimination for us.  Each country has its own regulations for adoption.  Some require one trip to the country, some require two.... some of those trips are required to be up to 6 weeks in length, some countries have required income levels, some have limits on the number of children you can already have in your home, etc.  Because we are a single income family, and because we already have 5 kids in our home, AND because it simply is not feasible for us to be out of the country for more than a week or so at a time (both due to Dan's work schedule and needing to leave our other kids at home) almost all of the countries other than Bulgaria were already marked off the list!!
   We really would have loved adopting a child from Mongolia.  However, with their adoption laws changing with the seasons ( it seems!), it just wasn't going to work out.  We are sponsoring a little boy from the orphanage that I mentioned in a few posts back, and he is SUCH a cutie!!  I feel like he's part of our family... his picture is right there on the fridge with Teodor's!!  :)
   Some families actually start out having been led to adopt from a specific country.  We, however, just felt like we should pursue adoption, and once the ball got rolling, the Lord kept leading us in this direction.  It was confirmed even more as we found out after our application was accepted by our home study agency that they were starting a Bulgaria program themselves.  We had thought that we would have to have different agencies for our home study and our placement of a child.  It has been so nice to work with just one agency.

God's Great Provision!!

   We got our tax refund in the mail yesterday!!  Hurray!  It more than covers our tickets to Bulgaria and the plumbing work we need to get done on our washing machine drain so that it will stop flooding the laundry room!!  Double hurray!!!! :)  God is so good!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Those who inspire our hearts~

      The other day I was thinking about the turns in the road that our family's life has taken over the past 4 years.  God used lots of things to lead us back home to Alabama, and He has used several things to lead us to start on the adoption journey as well.... 
     My first trip to an orphanage in Mongolia made a huge impact.  An American lady that Dan and I had known since before we were married was living in the capital city working as a pediatrician in a Mongolian hospital.  She saw multiple children abandoned there and over the course of time, felt God's leading to start an orphanage.   http://www.childrensplacemongolia.org/  Her co-worker is an OT, and in the past years, they have started a development center as well.  My older girls and I went to visit and play with the children while we were living in Ulaanbaatar, and wanted to take every single child home with us.  At that time, it just wasn't feasible for us to adopt for many reasons.  Within a year, though, God had brought us home to America, and our circumstances had changed.
    At about the same time, some of Dan's friends from growing up years had adopted a little boy (Will) from China, and were working to adopt their second Chinese son (Sam).  We visited them and were so floored by the impact the adoption was having -- both in Will's life, and in theirs.  Will is blind, and his little life has been transformed from one spent almost entirely in a crib to attending symphonies and naming the individual instruments he hears being played.  His family is quick to tell us that it's not just his life that has been blessed....  THEY are blessed so very much by the gift that he is to them.  And then, they were blessed even more when Sam came to join their family.  The picture above was taken in China with Sam and one of their 4 biological daughters.  After spending time with their family, our kids began to ask why couldn't we adopt?!  We started praying about it, and the Lord started prompting us more and more in that direction.  God's plans are so incredible....  who would have thought that children living in Asia in 2006 in orphanages in Mongolia and China would be impacting a little boy today who is living in Bulgaria?!  Yet, God weaves people and situations into our lives to bring about His providential ends.  And, it's incredible providence!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Special Gift

     Today we were discussing names again, and how we want to hear what Teodor thinks regarding his name.  We have chosen a name for him that we'd decided to be his first name, and then planned to keep "Teodor" as his middle name.  Then, as he adjusted to life with us, we'd let him choose which name he'd rather be called.  We've heard that sometimes, kids want to break all ties with their past and really want to identify themselves as an American, and choose only to be known by American names.  However, some kids (especially those as old as Teodor when they're adopted) very much have their own identity tied up in their name.  We don't want him to feel that we're trying to make him into someone that he is not.  Now, thankfully, his name is not "foreign" to westerners.  If it were, then we'd definitely plan to change it because it's important for kids not to make fun of him....  and strange sounding names can become quite a joke among teasers.
      So, anyway, today I was thinking about this a lot after reading a blog post of a couple that were recently in Bulgaria to adopt a child the same age as Teodor.  After hearing how their daughter responded to the name they'd chosen for her, I thought again how Teodor might not be my first choice of what we'll call him, but if it's what he chooses, then that's fine.  I started wondering about the name, "Teodor," and decided to search the meaning on the internet.  I was so unexpectedly, wonderfully surprised to find that "Teodor" means............."GIFT OF GOD!!"
      Wow--  Well, I'll love it if he chooses to keep his name the same, and most certainly we'll keep it as his middle name no matter what.  He is most definitely our gift of God, and I am SO very thankful.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Updated File

     Yesterday I got some information about the next part of our paperwork.  Toni (our Bulgarian translator/attorney) sent several files of documents for us to look at.  We'll come home next month with the originals which will be filed with the U.S. I.C.S. (US Immigration and Citizenship Services).  I didn't take the time to look at them yesterday, but this morning, I opened up the documents.  I was VERY surprised that one was Teodor's file, and it contained updates!! 
     Dan and I had gotten a similar file with his picture (the one posted here which is the only one we have) back in October.  I honestly had NOT expected to get any updates at all.  Some of the comments were dated Feb. 8th, 2011, and some were Feb. 10th.  We were given the adoption referral from the MOJ on Feb. 11th, but I am not sure if this update has anything to do with that or not. 
     I was SO excited to learn that in the past year, he has grown 2 inches and gained 8 pounds!!  That is such good news because I now feel confidence that he is getting decent nutrician!  We quickly marked his height on the doorframe of the door that I mark each of the kids every year.  He is right exactly between Leslie and Justin in height, but only weighs 5 pounds more than Leslie.  Both Justin and Leslie are tall, so really Teodor is not terribly short at all for his age. 
    The report also said that he has a tutor who is helping him daily.  I'm not sure if that person is connected to his school or his orphanage, but I'm so thankful that he is getting some one-on-one attention from somebody!!  And, it said that with the tutor's help, he is doing well in his second grade work. 
    Another thing that I was shocked about was that it said that he had had surgery on his leg in 2009.  In the first report that we got, it said that surgery was recommended, but did not say that it had been done.  So, that is very interesting.  We'll probably get that followed-up on when he gets home.  We already know (from the prior report and this new one) that he'll need an eye exam and glasses.... which makes me wonder.....   I wonder if we could get an eye exam for him in Bulgaria.  As far as I know, he doesn't have glasses.  Yet, he's in the 2nd grade.  If he needs them, then I want him to have glasses as soon as possible.  His eye problems are fitting in very well with my other 3 girls who have all had glasses for years.  I'll have to check into the possibility of our paying for his glasses now.  My best guess is that if he needs them, the reason that he doesn't have them is that the orphanage doesn't have the money to buy them. 
    So, the final shocking news was that Teodor's mother died 6 years ago.  We were aware of the fact that information about her might be known.  I had even hoped and prayed that we would be able to find out more about her just so that in the future if Teodor wanted to know more about his birth parents, that we'd have something to tell him.  But, now we know that she has passed away, and even have the date of her death.  Again, more information may be available to us later on.  I was just so surprised to get this info. now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Countdown Begins!

   In exactly one month from today, Dan and I will board a plane heading to Bulgaria to meet our little boy for the first time!  I get so excited I can hardly stand it.  I've already started buying things for the trip, and now that we're actually down to the "one month away" mark, I'll start getting more things together in earnest. 
   After arriving in Sophia in the late afternoon on Saturday, we'll spend that night there and leave early the next morning to drive to the village where Teodor's orphanage is.  It will be about a 6 hour drive.  Then, we'll meet with the orphanage director on Monday morning, and get to meet him shortly thereafter.  Normally he would be in school, but I think that they will keep him out of school for the days we are there.  Most adoptive parents spend a couple of hours with their child in the morning, and then a couple of hours again in the afternoon after lunch.  The majority of kids that I've known of, though, are younger, and they usually need an afternoon nap.  Since Teodor is past napping age, I'm not sure how long they'll let us spend with him in the afternoon, but maybe it will be longer!
   People always ask us what we'll do during that time since he will know no English and communcation will be difficult.  Toni, our translator (and attorney), will be with us the whole time, and her brother as well.  So, she'll be able to help out a lot.  We plan to take crayons and coloring books and things for other crafts to make together.  One thing I thought of was one of the foam picture frame things with decorations that you can stick on. (Others have done that.)  If we can get some pictures developed while we're there, then we can even put a picture of him and us together in the frame that he makes for him to keep after we leave.  We'll also take along Uno and any other simple games like that which we can possibly teach him to play (with Toni's help!)  If the weather is nice, we'll spend some time outside.  We'll take a ball that he and Dan could play soccer with (did you know that "goal" is a universal word?! Ha!)  Also, I've worked on making him a photo album with pictures of us and our house, his room here, etc., so we'll spend time talking about everyone and life here.  We'll leave the photo album with him, of course, too.  Actually, we'll leave most everything, but we've been told that the kids usually just have joint toys, so not to expect that any toys that we give him will be just his to keep.  I also hope that we'll get to see his room and I have tons of questions about how he spends his days.  Being his mom AND teacher, I really want to see his school books and any work from school that he has brought home.  In fact, I plan to get Toni to ask the orphanage director in advance to be able to see those types of things so that he'll be sure to have some of his books at the orphanage.  Otherwise, if he didn't have any homework over the weekend, he might not would have brought anything home with him. 
   Other adoptive parents have also taken along food for snacks to share.  Kids who might have a hard time warming up to strangers usually warm up to cookies!!  :)  Depending on the regulations of the orphanage, we might even be able to take him for a walk around the village.  I'd love to be able to take him shopping, even if it were just for a juice box!!  We plan to take some chocolate bars for him to be able to give to his friends.  People have said that kids in institutions never have personal money to buy anything with, so they have loved being able to have something to give to others.  If we ARE able to take him to a store, we'd let him choose some things to buy not only for himself, but also to give to friends at the orphanage or school (candy, gum, or whatever).
   Just thinking through all of this to put it into writing makes me even MORE eager!  So, I'll be counting down the days!!!!!