A video about our family

Friday, January 20, 2017

Day 1 with Georgi

 
Our breakfast this morning. Tyler went down to breakfast before me and the server brought out some coffee. Tyler said, "No, milk." So then she brought him some warm milk for the coffee. Ha ha. Eventually we were able to communicate that we do not drink coffee and that we wanted milk.  

Day 1 with Georgi exceeded our expectations. Maggie met us at our hotel near Pravets after breakfast, and we went over to the orphanage. As soon as we drove up, there were about five boys waiting outside. I scanned their faces, looking for my Georgi, but he wasn't out there. 

We got out of the van and were about to head inside to meet the director, until Maggie said, "Here he is! Meet Georgi!" My first thoughts were that he was taller than I expected and also on how handsome he is! I introduced myself to him before we went inside to meet the director. 

The director is a nice lady. She told us that we are getting such a good boy. She said that he is different from the other boys. He does what he is told and is smart. Partway through our conversation, it comes to our attention that Tyler didn't lock the car doors and there may have been some boys getting in and out of the car! So Tyler quickly locked it up and we went over to sign Georgi out. 

We packed up in the car and headed back to our hotel. We did a lot of talking about the other Pierce babies and then Georgi asked if he could share some of his childhood with us, although he said that it wasn't a good story. Most of it we already knew from reading his file, but we learned some new things, also. Georgi said that he has been praying every day for a family for a long time and that every time he would see the social worker that he would ask if there was a family for him. And how excited he was on the day when the social worker said that we had committed to him. Maggie couldn't help but become emotional as she shared that last part with me. We were both tearing up! Georgi hasn't had much love in his life thus far, but that is about to change. 

He said that he was very excited to receive the package that we sent him. When he showed his photo book of our family to the other boys, some of them made fun of my weight. Georgi replied, "What does that matter? She's my mama and not yours!" 

We played uno, Spot It, pick up sticks, and gave him his MP3 player. He figured it out in no time. He also picked up Tyler's iPhone and figured out how to take pictures on it! He clearly loves technology. He said he converted a calculator into a radio! He also showed us some magic tricks with the uno cards. He enjoyed watching Tyler juggle. He is very curious of the items in our hotel room. He noticed my CPAP machine and asked if I needed oxygen. When I explained that I have sleep apnea, he looked worried and asked if it meant that my health was at risk. We assured him that it helps me sleep better and that is all. I was touched by his concern for my well-being. 

We took Georgi to a restaurant in the village for lunch. It was his first time there. He ordered chicken nuggets and French fries. He asked if he could get a milkshake made with ice cream and сок (juice). Then he asked if they sold Melba there. We ordered him some Melba (it was a fruit and ice cream sundae) and he said he has always wanted to have a Melba and now he could try it for the first time. We watched this skinny kid pack away more food than any of us could eat. Maggie said that that meal was probably the best meal of his whole life. 

We have been talking with Georgi about names, as we have to select a full name before the end of our visit with him. Instead of retaining "Georgi" as his middle name, he said her preferred this name that he wrote below: 

 
I absolutely love it, too. ❤️

 
I wonder what "stuffed with trivia" tastes like. 

 
Potato soup. 

 
Chicken in a cheese sauce. 

 
Милка и какао (hot chocolate made with milk).

 
Some kind of sausage with salad. 

 
Potatoes with dill. Most dishes include fresh herbs. 

 
I found this photo hilarious in our rental car. 

The hotel we are staying in is quite lovely. It has been remodeled to reflect an older Bulgarian style. The views outside our window are lovely. We feel very blessed to be staying here. And the restaurant has some nice Bulgarian food, also. 

 
Our bathroom. So nice!

 

 

 

 

 
Our view!

 

 
The restaurant. 

 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Saying goodbye to Temenuzhka

I was informed today that I can no longer post photos of our kids on my blog until they are legally ours. So we will be following that rule until that time, which I believe is one week after court. 


I cannot help but compare this adoption in Bulgaria to our previous adoptions. I remember being sad to leave Calvin and Silas in Russia (twice) and how hard that was...but it doesn't even come close to the intense emotions that I felt today in saying goodbye to Temenuzhka. 


I have tried to identify what makes this situation different from other ones. The only conclusion I have come to is that with Calvin and Silas, they didn't have a say in whether or not they wanted to be adopted. But with Temenuzhka, we are not only choosing her to be our daughter - she is choosing us to be her parents. And that seems to me to be the difference. 


This morning we packed up our hotel room, ate breakfast, and drove to Lesichovo. I have absolutely enjoyed my time in Lesichovo. Every time I visit that village, I want to move there. It feels like home to me, somehow. I keep telling Tyler that I am falling in love with Bulgaria. He says that he feels the same way. We would love to move here. How can that be after only five days in this country? I don't know. But there is a strong pull for us both in Bulgaria. 


When we arrived at the orphanage, Temenuzhka was right there waiting for us. She had a big hug for me as soon as I could step out of the car. We came inside and had a meeting with all of the staff and the social worker and Maggie and Temenuzhka. 


The orphanage director, Naina, led the meeting. We discussed Temenuzhka going to court, when the time comes. We talked about Skype sessions with Temenuzhka every two weeks. We went over plans for her to take English classes to improve her English. Additionally, the whole staff intends to learn the sign language flash cards that we brought for Temenuzhka! I must add how helpful the sign language has been between us and Temenuzhka. She has almost all of them learned and regularly uses signs to communicate with us. I am glad I made the effort to bring those. 


Next, Tyler and I played some games with Temenuzhka. She really likes to play the Spot It game. After a while, Naina said that Temenuzhka had a Bulgarian surprise for us. 

 

Temenuzhka made a sweet banitsa with (Turkish delight inside) for us. It was very similar to baklava and was incredibly delicious. The staff said that she made it all by herself! She is quite the chef!


After the dessert, we knew it was time for us to get ready to leave - something we all had been dreading. I went to the restroom and tried to collect myself, as tears were coming. When I came out, Tyler suggested that we all three sit on the couch. 


Tyler and I each had written Temenuzhka a letter about our feelings for her. Maggie translated them on the opposite side of the paper. And we presented her with a framed family photo that we had taken when we went in for her visa photos. 


We asked Temenuzhka if she wanted to read the letters with us, and she said she would read them later. Then I kept snuggling her, and I told Tyler that I was trying not to cry. He encouraged me that it was okay, so I cried and then Temenuzhka cried with me. It was sad and beautiful at the same time. I was thankful that I could be comforting her and crying with her. I told Temenuzhka that the next time I saw her, I would be bringing her home with me. And she kissed me on the cheek. At this point, all of the staff were crying, too. 


We hugged again and then went out to leave. I was able to take a picture of her watching us drive away. I cannot wait to see that orphanage again, because when I do - she will be leaving as MY girl!

 

Goodbye for now, my little flower! I will see you soon!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Day 3 with Temenuzhka

I am afraid that the spelling of "Temenujka" is actually supposed to be "Temenuzhka," so I will be referring to my sweet girl with that spelling from now on. 

Today was a good day! It started out with Maggie, Tyler, and I eating breakfast at our hotel and then picking up Naina to head over to see Temenuzhka. We then picked up Temenuzhka and turned back around and headed to Pazardzhik. We first started with getting photos of Temenuzhka for her visa and we also took a photo of all three of us. I plan to get it framed to give her tomorrow. 

Next we walked over to a bowling alley, which, unfortunately, was closed. We chose to eat some lunch at a cute little kids cafe and then we played some games. Temenuzhka seemed a bit uncomfortable when we were out and about. Playing a game helped her to relax a bit. 

Tyler bought a pot of red flowers for Temenuzhka to have, since she is our flower. "Temenuzhka" means a flower, called a "Poppy." Naina sang a song today about blue poppies, which Temenuzhka knows. It was really a sweet moment. 

We went up to our hotel room to get some measurements for clothing and shoes for Temenuzhka. 

 
Ducky-Mo-Mo wanted in on the photo, too. 

We stopped by Temenuzhka's school on our drive back to Lesichovo. She was SO thrilled to take us to meet her teachers. She was practically giddy! It was so wonderful to meet these teachers, some of whom were crying tears of joy that Temenuzhka finally found a family after so many years of not having her own. We are so thankful for all of the love that she has received from many people over the years. We are eager to bring her home and to give her a forever family. 

 
Naina and Temenuzhka outside the school. 

 
One of her teachers. 

 
This is where our flower sits!

 
Old school heating options. 

 
Beautiful flooring. 

 

 
Some art in the school hallway. I was surprised by how much English we saw. 

We drove back to the orphanage, and then we looked over some decorations that Temenuzhka made for Baba Marta Day on March 1st. She had one for each member of our family, including Georgi and Miroslav. 

 

 
I held Temenuzhka on my lap for a few minutes. Then I told her how much I enjoyed snuggling with her. We have been affectionate some up to this point, but it was mostly hugs and me rubbing her back. Well, I think my telling her how much I enjoyed her snuggles changed her, somehow, because for the rest of the evening, she was grabbing my hand to hold it, snuggling up to me, and giving me lots of hugs. It was so sweet and it felt natural. 

 
These are the colors that she wants for her quilt. 

While we were playing some pick-up sticks with Temenuzhka, a boy from the orphanage came inside and informed Temenuzhka that her boyfriend was outside. We learned on day 1 that she had a boyfriend and I just had to get a look at him! His name is Georgi and he is 15 years old. Both of his parents have died, so he is a true orphan, and of Roma descent. They have been boyfriend/girlfriend for two years. When he decided to pass by the house again, I invited him to join us for some games. I figured that Temenuzhka really likes Georgi, so it would only help things if I got to know him, also. 

We played Spot It and Georgi did really well. I noticed the scars on his hands and we were told how there are non-orphan boys who attend Georgi's school and that they want to pick fights with all of the orphans. So sad. I tried to encourage Georgi to use his brain and intellect for a career. I told him that we would be happy to have Temenuzhka Skype with him after we bring her home. Then I gave him some candy, too. I think it meant a lot to Temenuzhka that I was so kind to Georgi. She seemed very happy and was very affectionate with me while he was there. I can't get enough of this girl's smiles!! 

Would I prefer that she have a boyfriend? No, not really. But the bottom line is that she has her agency and there's not much I can do to prevent anything from happening. We did have a thorough conversation about our family's values and appropriate boundaries in dating relationships. For now I can just pray that she will make good decisions. 

Maggie, Tyler, and I went to dinner at the restaurant across the street from our hotel tonight. It is the only place we have eaten dinner since we got here. It has nice food and even an English menu! Tonight there was a musical group present and they played some nice music. It sounded more Greek than Bulgarian to me, but I can't really identify Bulgarian music, anyhow. Ha ha. 

Tyler and I each wrote a letter to Temenuzhka and Maggie translated them for us. We plan to give them to her just before we leave tomorrow afternoon. It will be so hard to say goodbye. And she will have those letters to comfort her when we are gone for four months. 

 
Cappy сок (juice) with dinner. 

 
I am guessing that the orange was to add some nutritional benefit to my chicken Geneva with mashed potatoes?

 
Some yummy garlic butter naan bread. Seriously, it was so good! I am loving the bread here. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Day 2 with Temenujka

This morning we went grocery shopping for some food to make for lunch with Temenujka. We also decided to have a small Birthday celebration for all of the birthdays that we have missed with our girl. We picked up a cake and some balloons. 

 
I love all of the snow here. Those are mountains in the distance! We are tempted to move to Bulgaria and live in one of these villages.

 

Day 2 was wonderful with Temenujka. We were able to spend most of the day with her, 10am - 6pm. And as the day progressed, she seemed more relaxed and more herself. I heard her laugh for the first time and it was adorable!

We started off our time by talking about the childhood of Tyler and myself. She was invited to share some thoughts about her life and we learned a bit more about her. She had a grandmother in the same village and she loved her. There was even talk of her going to live with her, until the grandmother died suddenly due to cancer. This poor girl has had so much pain in her life!

 
Temenujka was the honorary mayor for one day due to her excellent character. 

 
The director of this center for family type accommodations, Naina, and me. She owns this house and it is over 100 years old. She runs this non-government organization and has been working with orphans for forty years. She inspires me! I told her that I would love to do what she is doing one day. She said to look her up when all of my kids are grown, and see if we can arrange something. :-)

Next we blew up some balloons and got out some party hats to celebrate all of Temenujka's past birthdays. We brought out a cake and sang to her. We gave her birthday drawings from her siblings back home. We gave her a watch that she set on our time, so she will know what time it is for us after we leave. She seemed to enjoy it, despite all of the focus being on her. She is such a shy girl. 

 

 

Next I helped Temenujka make a shopshka salad, which has tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, and cheese. It is a very Bulgarian salad! Temenujka is quite the cook. They said she can make many dishes all by herself. In fact, she made traditional Bulgarian rolls for our lunch today. And they were amazing! This girl is so talented. 

 
This girl peels cucumbers with a knife! She has some awesome skills in the kitchen. 

 
Some yummy chicken and rice. 

 
The rolls that Temenujka made. They were delicious!

 

 
Look at that smile! I love this girl. 

 
So after lunch, we had a dance performance by Temenujka (and three other kids) that Temenujka choreographed. Then she plugged her MP3 player into the computer and played her current favorite song on it: I Love You Like A Love Song, Baby, by SELENA GOMEZ. 

 
Apparently she really likes that song, because she played it three times in a row. Ha ha. We had so much fun dancing with her! At one point, Tyler knelt down on the floor and he was exactly her height!

 
During lunch, Naina was telling us about how the kids have chores that they do everyday. With a full table of food and many people eating, I commented that I felt badly for whoever had dishes today. The reply was that Temenujka did! Ha ha. So Tyler and I helped her to clean all of the dishes. She was so positive about working hard and she did a great job. It was fun to help her. 

 
Next we played pick-up sticks, Spot It, and Uno with all of the other kids. Then later on, Temenujka asked to play pick-up sticks again. She is really good at it!

Some photos of the laundry room and bathrooms on the main floor. 

 
And they still use a trash can to put the toilet paper in. It is hard to not throw it in the toilet!