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!!!!!