Oh my goodness... My heart is so full.
N. is a beautiful boy. In fact, he is ALL boy. He is active and curious. He is determined and persistent.
He is a blessing and he is going to be ours.
This morning, after taking a long "nap" (considering I slept less than five hours) we gathered my parents and went downstairs to breakfast. There is a restaurant in the basement of the hotel and a breakfast buffet is included in the price of our room. This buffet was extensive and consisted of much more than just pastries (which is good because of my inability to eat gluten!) There was tea, coffee, peach and pineapple (?) juice. Also offered were three types of cereals, three or four kinds of bread, several cold meats, cucumbers, tomatoes and different types of cheeses. On the hot side, there were eggs (prepared in two different ways), sausages, and bacon. The hotel actually began serving breakfast fifteen minutes early because Svet (our guide, adoption worker, and translator) convinced the staff that we needed to be fed by 7:45.
After breakfast, we met Svet and his son Tony on the street with their cars. Because my parents are here, Svet has asked Tony to be a driver for the week! This, of course, suits Tony because my parents are paying him! ;)
I'm not sure how old Svet is, but his son Tony is 22. He is preparing to enter his fifth (and final) year at the university. He's studying Marine Engineering. Svet also majored in this, but then got his masters in social work after he began doing adoptions.
The orphanage is about an hour from where we are staying, so we had lots of time to pick Svet's brain on the drive there. In fact, Svet had never been to N.'s orphanage, so we got lost a few times and had PLENTY of time to ask questions.
Svet, as I mentioned, has a degree in Marine Engineering. He worked in that profession at a ship yard for a few years, but was also a musician on the side. He played bass for the Bulgarian ZZ Top. He showed us pictures. It. was. great. :-)
After working in the ship yard during the day and playing music at night, he determined that music was paying more, so he quit his engineering job.
One of the members of Svet's ZZ Top group was a man named Martin. For those of you readers who have been with our blog for a while, you'll recognize that name! Martin is our American liaison for our adoption. He and Svet have been friends since they were in first grade. Martin went to college for child psychology. Svet told us that when Martin graduated he was the first male kindergarten director. It was revolutionary for a man to hold that position. Eventually, Martin moved to the U.S., made contact with a family who had previously adopted from Bulgaria, and was thrown into the adoption world. He eventually pulled Svet into this profession with him! They obviously make a very good team and we have been nothing but pleased with them both!
After learning lots about Svet, Bulgarian politics/history, and orphans, we finally arrived at the orphanage. It is in a very small village - kind of in the middle of nowhere. The orphanage has lots of outdoor playground equipment and very large rooms inside. Currently there are only thirteen children at the orphanage, but it is a large building that could obviously accommodate many more. This week, they are installing new (very nice) windows and painting the ceilings. The halls were kind of a mess, but I was just glad to see that renovations and updates are being done when it is necessary.
We met the orphanage director (Evelyna?) and the social worker when we first arrived. The director quietly disappeared at one point, only to reappear with our N.!
Words cannot describe all the emotion of today, so know that this post will never be adequate, but that won't stop me from trying!!!
N. is a blessing. He is ADORABLE and sweet and cute and active and funny and curious.
When N. walked in, the director asked him to shake our hands. Without prompting (and we later learned that he has never done this before) he grabbed our hands and kissed the backs of them. So sweet! He's a little charmer... Friends, lock up your daughters, N. is coming to America soon!
After the initial meeting, the director prompted N. to sing a few songs that all have motions. He has a speech delay, so he makes a few of the sounds while singing, but does not say many of the actual words. He does, however, know all the motions and even knows his favorites (tickling); he will skip portions of the song in order to hurry to his favorite parts!
We then gave our gifts to the director and other staff. We bought the director some perfume here in BG. The other staff received Thirty-One thermal tote bags. We, of course, brought thirty of the knit dolls as well. The orphanage director was very appreciative and said that the children will love to hug the dolls and hold them while they sleep.
Today, we did not see any of the other children because they were not there! The children had been invited to a woman's home in the village. This woman is an American who regularly donates to the orphanage. It's so cool that the group is so small and that they are able to take "field trips" regularly.
We then moved to one of the rooms we recognized from the videos we had received. N. was persistent until the social worker brought out a small plastic riding car. The car has a wheel that has fallen off, so it was put away to be fixed. N. desired the car anyway, so we all took turns holding up one end of the car so N. could safely move across the room. This car was obviously his favorite, but it was also enclosed on top, which seemed to provide him with a "safe place" away from the strange adults in the room.
We gave N. a few of the from his backpack. He was interested, but really unfamiliar with how to play with them. He held his matchbox cars up very close to his eyes in order to inspect every detail. He kept the bag of the cars near him at all times. Later in the day, when they had been moved, he became agitated when he could not find them. Eventually, when it was time to go, we left the cars in a safe location. The director promised she would show them to N. again when he wakes up from his nap.
N. will be five in September, but he is closer in size to a three year old. He is short and skinny. His joints appeared very knobby to me. Meat is typically only served once everyday, so I think he may need to have more protein added to his diet.
Despite his actual age, he acts more like a two-year-old. He is curious and very grabby. Multiple times today, he reached for (and typically got) glasses from my face, Chance's face, and my dad's face. He also took my dad's baseball cap. He did wear the hat for a while. He was so proud of that hat! At one point, N. grabbed my bracelet and pulled so quickly that it broke. At that time, I removed all my jewelry for the day. Most of you know that I wear quite a bit of jewelry, so we'll have to work on that!
We spent a while watching N. play outside today too. He was infatuated with the cars that Svet and Tony drove us to the orphanage in. He definitely loves cars! That's great because we bought comforters for his bedroom that have cars and trucks on them! He continually grabbed the adults' hands and asked us to take him to the cars. (Cool-ya is how you say "car" in Bulgarian — it's one of the words that N. is able to say!)
After playing for the morning, we did get to sit with N. as he ate his lunch. Again, this day was completely out of the ordinary for him because all the other kids were gone and there were five new adults present! N. did start to show some interest in a relationship with me during lunch. He had me hold his dishes while he ate out of them. He also grabbed my hand and brushed it across his cheek at one point. The director explained that it was what she used to do when N. came to this specific orphanage at the age of three. He did not chew his food at that age, so she would touch his cheek to remind him to chew. I almost bawled when I realized that N. was bringing me in on a memory that he had with a previous caregiver. So sweet.
N. also attempted to feed me some of his lunch. He ate a cold cucumber yogurt soup, a fried egg, part of a piece of bread, and two plums. At one point, he used his hands to direct me to tear off a bite if bread and feed it to him. This little boy so desires someone to just meet his needs and love him along the way!
Following lunch, N. indicated that he was tired. It was naptime, so we said "Ciao!" and spent some time signing paperwork with the socialworker.
One very cool thing was that the socialworker has digital photos and videos of N. — even from when he was pretty young. Tomorrow, she has asked us to bring a thumb drive so she can give us digital copies of them! We will pour over these files in order to gain perspective on N.'s past.
We took a few photos and videos today, but not too many because we had to wait for permission from the orphanage director. This afternoon, we had to have some documents notarized stating that we would not use N.'s photo for commercial use, or in ways that might harm him.
I will try to publish a password-protected post with some of these photos and videos. The blog's website has been touchy here, but I'll try my hardest! Can't wait to share our sweet boy with you! Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need the password.
We are back at the hotel, exhausted, at this moment. We plan to go to bed in about an hour (7:30 P.M. BG Time). C and I will go back to the orphanage tomorrow and my parents will spend some time sightseeing.
We're hoping to have enough energy to sightsee some tomorrow night. We want to learn all we can about the country of our boy's heritage!
For now, it's time to relax! Thanks for your prayers and love. The most emotional part is over for now. The next most difficult part? Leaving the country without N. next week...
But, we're not going to talk about that right now!