Over halfway – bittersweet

Daniel learns very quickly. His attention is not held long by something he easily masters. We brought a little stacking toy today and after just a moment, he understood it and was delighted with the different options he had. Stack together, apart, tall, short, here, there, everywhere. He giggled at his own cleverness. He will stop and be attentive for music and for walking around also. When we finally bring him home, I predict a difficulty in keeping him occupied in the hotel and for the long flight home! When he is afraid or worried, he becomes quiet and still, like a little mouse. We’ve been discussing what our parenting strategies will need to be in order to meet his heart’s needs and respond to his internal fears which he will not dismiss just because we adopt him.

And that he struggles is clear. His stick-thin legs. A staff member (who seems to treat him kindly and to care for him) says that he does not like to eat. And that he will be a model when he grows up, because he is so thin. The combination of neglect and ignorance and plain wrongness tries to make wounds in our hearts. We have a big tender spot inside our chests with many bandages right now. He is the size of a small toddler despite his four years. They say he has only recently begun interacting with the world. Even as we sit and spend time with him, no other orphan children come outside. Just some children from a community program. I know this building has a basement with the sick kids. The dying kids. If Daniel is in good condition, then that is a dark room, no matter the sunlight or well-meaning staff. Daniel does not have relationships with his staff and has a clear emotional distance from us. He delights in the world and he enjoys to be touched… these will serve him well in the future. But I don’t want any of you to believe that he is just fine here.

There are other children… in similar conditions and in worse conditions. It brings us to our knees in prayer to be unable to bring them comfort and family. Anna feels this way about all the stray dogs and cats that wander around the city. Two dogs had a territory dispute where we were resting on a bench. Anna said, “I don’t know which one I feel more sorry for!” and then, “I wish I could give them all homes and love and snuggles.”

Because she knows… everybody needs those things.

Just two more days here and then we begin the long journey home. And the aching long wait until we come back for the pick-up trip. It should be November or before. Pray for before!

Daniel was dressed very nicely for his visit and photo today!

Daniel snuggled up very close and quiet for the drive, only moving now and then to get a better look at things.

Soooooo handsome. Thankfully, the visa photo was quick, because his face began to scrunch up for a cry when I sat him on the stool for his picture.

When we got back, they brought us his morning snack – this time a bowl (sweet mashed bread, cheese, tea and sugar) and also a bottle. He actually ate some for us. Then he drank some of the bottle. It was a pretty emotional moment for Brian to offer his son something nurturing that he’s missed the first four years of.

Snuggling up on the swing.

We decided to hire a woman through a “baba” program to spend time with Daniel five days a week. We have heard mixed reports from people who have done this before us and it seems to really depend on the baba. We are praying we made the best decision.

Daniel really liked this toy!

Soooooo handsome!

Walking by a cathedral we wished to visit…. but we waited until too late and it was closed.

We enjoyed watching a car get towed. Happily, it wasn’t our car! This is called a “spider” in the community for picking up illegally parked cars.

We enjoyed walking through the shopping and tourist area downtown. This juggler was entertaining people and Brian and he traded juggles for a moment. We left him a tip and marveled at his skill.

The videos today are wonderful!

He learns SO FAST. He imitates what we do and what we say. He is curious and determined. He tries everything.

I love the way he was chuckling with his success:

There were many memorable moments today. But this one I stopped to film. I think Brian commented that he had never in his life had a more appreciative audience for his juggling.

3 Comments

Filed under Everyday Stuff

Adoption trip 1 – Tuesday

Yes, Daniel is 4 years old despite his size.

Today we visited Daniel from about 9am-1pm. Anna was pretty tired and hungry by then! Daniel refused his meal with us again. I hope he is eating more for his caretakers. I am not worried about working through feeding challenges with him at home. But I do worry about him while he is here for the next months until we can get him.

Daniel does not look at our faces or look for touch for comfort. Perhaps because we are strangers. But I think more of this is because of the small amount of touch he’s received during his life. And the lack of a parent’s attention. We see a lot of growth and healing that we will need to help him with in order for him to feel safe and to trust us.

That he sings, and even sings real songs, is a treasure I did not expect. I only got one song on video today, but it is as sweet as the others. This song is an actual song, which our interpreter found for us and played for him immediately after he sang it.

We went to a restaurant for lunch and then the afternoon on the beach. The weather is beautiful and we are glad to be here. Tomorrow we will take him to get his Visa picture taken and then visit some more. Sometime we will interview a baba and hopefully like her. We think we will hire her to spend time with Daniel until we come for him. It is hard to trust a stranger with him. There is not a lot more to do! Just visit and sign papers. We’ll do a few more papers when we are home, but almost all the rest of the work is done here in his country. Papers, papers, then court, then another month of papers and then we pick him up. It will probably take 6 months. Hanging onto Jesus!

Sitting in the visiting room near the front door.

On the swing. Eye contact and personal space are not an immediately comfortable or desired thing for Daniel.

He made up a lot of games with the measuring tape I used to get some of his measurements with. He was more comfortable across from me than in my lap.

Little guy. Will be won over eventually by the big guy with the big heart next to him.

Warming up.

With our firstborn.

Something special about a daddy holding their child.

Daniel is not bothered by the sensory input of being in tickly grass.

He fit, so he got a ride!

Daniel liked to hold the tree branch!

Well, he didn’t just hold it. He grabbed on and shook it. Did mini pull ups and basically was a tiny lumberjack in training.

Part of our salad after a few bites were taken.

After lunch.

Getting some time on the beach!

The water is very comfortably cool.

There is soft sand… and sand with large crystals and small seashells.

For scale

This is my postcard picture.

On the swing with Mama:

He loved playing “fish” with Anna and giggled when she tugged on the end of the tape:

Sisters:

Adorableness:

Playing swords?

Singing a children’s song:

1 Comment

Filed under Everyday Stuff

Meeting a Son

Before I begin – let me remind you that any identifying information about Daniel must not be shared. Not his given name. Not the country he lives in. Nothing until he is ours. There is a chance that I will have to remove photos and videos, but hopefully I can keep them up.

I think I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story for right now. I have a lot of words in me… maybe I will type more after the pictures. We’ll see. Videos at the end.

The view from our hotel… complete with street noise directly below the balcony. Beautiful, but not quiet!

Our comfortable little room. Doesn’t smell too strongly of cigarettes, which is a marvel considering how much some people smoke here!

And Daniel is in his Papa’s arms! We immediately wished for trip two when we will take him straight away. Alas, this trip is for learning and loving only.

He learned immediately how to use a cell phone to see animals and hear their sounds. They told us he had never played with one before… but he learned with very little instruction.

Brian kept him busy while I asked questions of the director.

They say they switched him from bottle feeds to spoon feeds one month ago!!! It is still pureed, but by spoon. He is not a fan. 🙁

Happily, we are familiar with and not stressed out about feeding challenges. Sadly, we do not get to take him from here for some months yet. (Common time frame is 5-6 months)

He was mildly entertained by this musical toy. He is going to need to be challenged to be engaged. This is opposite from Jordan’s need for baby steps with activities!

He calmed and became relaxed when Brian took him to the swing. They stayed there, moving gently for twenty minutes or so.

The slide was a big hit! He requested (by moving Brian’s hands) to go over and over again!

Ohhhhh, the men in my life!

This trip is so much better with both these two a part of it.

What to do with this stick?

I will scratch in the sand that you won’t let me in!

Oh, sweet little leg and cast!

Casting to help reposition clubbed feet is a common practice. I just wish it was being done at home by doctors I know with a mother beside him.

It was warm, but windy.

Dad, I think you are going to like this kid. I predict he will wrap you around his crooked little finger! (and i mean that in the figurative and the punny sense)

I was happy to see that his hips have a great range of motion, since his knees barely bend. Even with his cast, I can hold him easily.

Operation: “Make Daniel into a mama’s boy” will commence. Four more days of visits and then we come home while his adoption process completes!

One thing that I love about this crazy adoption journey is that we get to advertise, even to ourselves, a special truth.

He is worth it.

If you ever felt unloved… you are WORTH crossing oceans for. No matter anything. You are a beautiful and valuable creation by God himself. My heart hurts for all those who don’t get to experience this unstoppable love from a parent or sister or friend. Because getting to feel God’s love through a real live person is heart food. I don’t know if I’m making sense guys. I’m jet lagged and processing a lot of things.

Please keep lifting us up to our Father, who sees and knows and loves.

Videos:

Daniel’s first times down the slide. He grew more animated with more turns:

Here he is learning that sisters can be fun (and funny)

Scratching in the dirt! He is quick to learn new activities:

My favorite… if you only watch one, watch this one! My heart is all his. Sing under my window!

In case you were curious about how his legs bend (or don’t)

Singing one more song as he grows tired

3 Comments

Filed under Everyday Stuff

Arrival Blog – By Brian

Monday May 14th, 2017

Here we are in ________ again. I find myself repeating asking myself, “What are we doing here?” It seems so unreal. Not so much that we are adopting again, but rather that we are traveling around the world, while sick, with Anna. It’s not even surprising that Dale called tell us the septic is backed up. With all the difficulties of this trip, actually adding a kid to our family sounds like the easy part.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 6 years since we were here to see Jordan. I see ___________ again and am reminded of all the things I love and hate about this country. The beautiful rolling hills, the cultivated fields with dikes and ditches between them, wild grapes and roses, the dark leafy forests I feel I could just disappear into and never come out. The terse, almost angry way everyone talks with stony faces. Conversations that seem to always sound like arguments. Buildings and infrastructure that looks like the whole place is slowly falling down. The pervasive scent of cigarettes. Fresh tomatoes. The deep sense of history, that this is a people and place with roots.

Jordan and Daniel’s hometown is a beautiful city. I wonder if somewhere deep in Jordan’s soul he knows he was born by the sea. When I think of taking him to the coast, I can see him playing in the warm, and gentle waves of the ________ Sea. Too bad the ocean in the northwest is so cold.

I find myself missing Tiko and Nina. They showed us such hospitality and friendliness. I find myself missing mom a lot. I’d like to see Nina hold mom again and pray over us. Many times I’ve seen mom in my mind. She was so excited to travel overseas, to see everything new and different. To meet Jordan. I wanted to show her the new color of the hotel. We ate in the same restaurant, visited the same grocery.

I haven’t thought a lot about meeting Daniel. There is an undercurrent of fear in my mind that we will meet him and he will be like Jordan was on our first trip, lethargic, unresponsive, sedated. How I hope for better for him.

There is a sense of unreality to what we are doing. Traveling around the world, spending enormous sums of money to adopt a child from another culture. Why would anyone do something like that? Aren’t there children in need in the US? But there is a connection we have to this city that was forged by God. It is a strange mission that He has sent us on, to care for orphans from across the world. But this is what He is about, connecting people, caring for the least. We are not here because we are more compassionate or morally better than anybody. We are not here because we are great rescuers of children. I actually feel more like a bumbling idiot knocking about the world. But we are here because God sent us to Daniel. To speak with our lives God’s message: that all people, whether from the US, or Bulgaria, Bulgar, Roma, handicapped, or fit, Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist, democrat, or republican, all people are the same inside. We are desperately in need of God’s love. We need it shown to us in concrete terms, we need it to wash over us and knock us over like the waves of the sea. We need to be loved without condition or reservation. The love comes from God, but we feel it from other people. The more of it in the world the better off we’ll all be.

3 Comments

Filed under Everyday Stuff

Adoption Trip One – Friday/Saturday/Sunday

About 27 hours after we left home for the Portland airport, we stepped into a hotel on the other side of the world. Literally.

I was sick overnight before we left and too sick to my stomach to sit up or turn my head hours before we left, but improved rapidly throughout the morning. I was able to keep down fluids and slowly became hungry over the course of our travel, though my stomach was never completely settled. Brian became ill as we waited for our trans-Atlantic flight in the San francisco airport. Anna’s tummy gave her trouble during the flight. Neither was terribly ill, but it was not a fun flight.

Somewhere around 5am, a passenger from business class had a mental health meltdown and began to shout at everybody to get out of his house. Those who were still asleep and unaware were quickly caught up as one flight attendant had us open the windows to the bright sunshine at the same time as half a dozen or more other passengers and crew tackled the angry man. Fear turned to pity as he yelled weakly and with fear as they zip-tied his hands and legs and found some doctors to help them supposedly administer sedative.

Did I say out travel was uneventful? It wasn’t. Between our stomach bug and the poor man who lost his wits and delayed flights, I am still near tears with relief and surprise every time I realize that we are here and our final flight landed just 20 minutes late. Our bag was left in Istanbul, but y’know, that’s nothing. 🙂

We had the luxury of hot showers and a truly lavish breakfast in our hotel. The hotel’s website advertised a lavish breakfast, but I truly didn’t expect what we were offered this morning buffet style. Bread in many forms, 4 kinds of jelly, hazelnut spread, a big bowl of honey, scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, bacon, hot dogs?, mushrooms, fried bread, cold cereal, coffee, fresh veggies, salami, cold ham… I don’t even remember. It was delicious. We all were able to eat a little and drink some juice and we’re feeling good despite being tired and the 10 hour time difference.

Today we drive about 6 hours to get to the east side of this country in Eastern Europe. We had the option to fly, but it cost a little more, we are sick of airplanes, and it will be nice to spend the day with our translator and seeing the countryside. Tomorrow morning we will meet our son. The enormity of that leaves me breathless.

It’s very, very good to be here with Brian and Anna. After the fear of our party being separated due to the illness on the day we left, I am treasuring and holding close my travel companions. What a privilege to spend this trip with my husband and firstborn.

Thank you, everybody, for praying for us. It’s sobering to have so many people caring for us. <3

I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Arrived and so happy to see beds and pillows.

Morning!

Out one of our hotel windows.

Cocoa puffs for this girl this morning. look at all the honey in the bowl! And the jam. MMmmmmm

We couldn’t eat much, but we are all eating again!

Part of our lavish breakfast!

Brian and Anna practiced reading the cyrillic letters through the hotel window while I typed the blog.

The wiring on the outsides of the buildings raises my eyebrows!

1 Comment

Filed under Everyday Stuff