Ok. Put a fork in me, I'm done. Cooked. Finished. Done. It's over.
This boy has won over my heart.
Today, went AWESOME! N. was less nervous, calmer, and in great spirits.
When we arrived at the orphanage today, the socialworker (Vania - Vohn-ya) had N. outside playing in a 40 year old car that the orphanage owns (and still drives!!). He was playing and pretending to drive. When he saw us, he smiled and became excited, but then returned to playing. We decided to jump on in!
We got in the car and made driving noises, pretended to honk the horn (it was broken, thankfully!!) and opened and closed the doors. N. was in heaven! He LOVES cars!
For a while, the socialworker remained with us, but eventually left us to play independently. Last night, Chance and I had discussed some strategies for how to help N. begin to develop appropriately. Because of his speech delay and his lack of muscles in his fingers, we decided that combining sign language with speech would help strengthen both delays. We determined that N.'s greatest need is to learn to ask for help. Currently he just grabs our hands and pulls us toward what he wants. He does not use words - typically just whines and pulls harder if you don't comply. Our major priority for the week was to teach N. to sign "please". We thought we might introduce it today, and hopefully he'd have it down-pat by the time we leave.
We were pleasantly surprised when N. learned to sign "please," "drink," and "eat" today. Such a smartie-pants! He quickly realized what we meant when we added a sign to the words. He would imitate the signs after we did them and we'd say BRAVO!! (good in Bulgarian). We are also attempting to encourage "soft" physical touch - not poking at people's eyes or taking their glasses! When he would imitate a sign and we'd erupt with "BRAVO!s" and pat/rub his back gently. He would light up and smile every time. Because of his excitement and desire to please, we practiced these three signs all morning long!
Whenever N. would want the door of the car opened, he would grab my hand, pull me toward the car and say "koola" (car). We would then say "please?" and do the sign. We would also take his hand and encourage him to sign "please." In the beginning, he really fought the physical contact. But eventually he understood what I was trying to accomplish. Anytime we said "please," he would automatically sign it and wait for us to do whatever it was that he was asking.
By late morning, N. had stopped pulling our arms, and had started signing and attempting to say "please!" Amazing!! It's going to need to be practiced continually, but the socialworker observed the interaction and was very excited. I think she will require him to continue to sign sometimes. Also, N. was attempting to verbalize "please" as well. He typically made a sound like "pl-uh." SO proud of that boy!
We brought a snack of pretzels, gummy bears, and bottled water. We gave N. one freebie, but then required him to sign "eat" and "drink" whenever he had a need. He did amazingly well.
N. is slightly fearful of physical touch from Chance, but we are intentionally working on this issue. Chance tickled N. a lot today because N. reacted well to it. We also taught N. to "cut the pickle" (do a motion to our fingers to cause us to tickle him) because it was an easy way for Chance to touch N. with N.'s "permission."
We were allowed to stay for N.'s lunch again today. When the socialworker and I sat down on either side of him, he automatically moved away from Vania and scooted very close to me. I'm his favorite! (I must point out - Chance is Allen AND Joel's favorite. It has to be my turn this time!!!) I held his food again as he ate, but he was more tired and more distracted today.
Here's my favorite part of the day though; during lunch, this sweet Bulgarian baby who was abandoned shortly after birth, looked up at my face and said, "Mama." Let me write that again, HE CALLED ME MAMA! My baby boy called me mama. The socialworker and Svet exchanged a smile at the sound, and I asked Svet later if that was actually what N. had said. He said that it was and that N. had said it in a kind tone.
Put a fork in me, I'm done...
Our son has found his mama.
(Soon he will find his Taty (Daddy in Bulgarian)! :) Maybe tomorrow... for now, I am loving the fact that I'm the favorite... after you watch the videos, you will see that Chance is bound to become his favorite soon! Blast...)
This morning, we were able to talk with the orphanage director, Ivelina, more (through the translation of Svet). She is evidently a very religious woman. She belongs to the Bulgarian Orthodox church. She asked Chance a lot of questions about the differences in our beliefs. We had shared much of this information with Svet yesterday, so these have been great conversations. Ivelina was moved to tears to know that N. would be raised in the church. She asked quite a few questions about how/when N. would be baptized. It was so neat to hear her concerns about N.'s spiritual life. She cares for him physically, but cares even more deeply for his spiritual well-being.
Ivelina also asked if we could try to encourage other "religious people" to adopt from Bulgaria. The spiritual well-being of these children is heavy on her heart. I attempted to explain this blog to her and told her the stats from yesterday - 819 of you looked at the posts!!! I told her that we are praying for more and more Christians to adopt God's children of Bulgaria. At that point, Chance was able to share the scripture that is guiding us on the adoption path: God is a father to the fatherless... God places the lonely in families. (Psalm 68:5-6) Ivelina began to tear up again and asked us to continue living that way.
Now friends, can I ask you to search your hearts? Begin thinking about adopting or supporting someone who is adopting (it can be somewhat expensive, FYI! But don't let that deter you. Let it encourage you to give freely!) Let's make a difference for God's kingdom in Bulgaria (and anywhere that orphans are present)!
So much more to say, but I can't wait a moment longer to share photos and videos with you! We love you all! Thank you SO much for your prayers.
Check for the password protected post soon. Again, email me if you need the password. Don't think that it is being nosey or anything. I've looked at all my friends' kids' sonogram and baby pictures. It's my turn to share now - and I'll pretty much share with anyone! :)