Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Home from Bulgaria

We have been home from our first visit for over a week now.  I have been so busy, I haven't even had a chance to post.  Our flights home went smoothly (although very long).  We had two long layovers - first in Munich and then in Chicago.  We were able to upgrade from Economy to Economy Plus for the long trip to Chicago.  The additional cost of $60 each was well worth it.  There is much more leg room in Economy Plus.  I think we will apply our frequent flyer miles for the upgrade for our trip home with the twins. 

When we arrived home, my Mom had our house all cleaned and the laundry done.  My sister made us dinner for Sunday and family and friends joined us to view pictures and video of the twins.  Thanks Susie and Kristi! 

We have a conference call with our Education Coordinator from AGCI today.  We will discuss all of our observations of the twins with her.  As instructed, we documented our observations each night after our daily visits with the twins.  This will definitely be a benefit for our conference call.  I will post more on specifics about the twins later.

We just received an email yesterday from our agency that our I800 approval is now at the US Embassy.  We filed the I800 application before leaving for Bulgaria.  The Bulgaria Court normally will issue the Article 5 letter within 4 to 6 weeks from receiving the I800 approval.  This means that we should be traveling to pick up the kids in about 8 weeks or so.  So things are moving along as expected so far! 

I have been focusing on all necessary December tasks - Christmas shopping, Tree decorating, Birthday Party and Gifts for the girls (they both have December Birthdays), Christmas gifts to ship to Blake and Emery.  I still need to begin (and complete) Christmas cards and wrapping.  After the holidays, I will focus on everything that needs to be done before we travel to pick up the twins.  This is a long list.  I also want to help Nicole do some marketing for her book.  My sister gave me some great marketing ideas.  In between, I am creating a spreadsheet for playing time for basketball (I am coaching Ashley's 6th grade team with my friend).  We have 11 girls on the team and it is difficult to keep on track with fair playing times.  I am hoping the spreadsheet will make it easier! 

I am feeling much better and more confident about life with our twins.  It really helps to read other adoption blogs.  I am always inspired by so many people.  My husband feels good about everything and always says just the right things to boost my confidence and spirit.  Thinking about the twins makes me feel sad that they are not yet with us.  But, I know they are in good hands.  They are so loved by their caregivers.  I will be forever grateful to these wonderful people for taking such good care of my kids.  I cannot wait for the twins to be legally ours so I can post pictures.  They are such cuties!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 5 in Bulgaria

Sorry I have not been able to give earlier updates.  It is Thursday evening and we are in Sofia, Bulgaria.  We spent the last 4 days in Kyustendil meeting and visiting our twins.  I cannot believe our visiting is already over.  It went by so very fast.  The twins are exactly what they appeared to be in all of the videos we received through AGCI.  Blake is very outgoing and extremely talkative!  He asks a million and 1 questions in 5 minutes!  He is very active and appears to be a happy 6 year old boy.  Emery is definitely more quiet and shy.  She is so beautiful.  She has fallen in love with Bruce.  On our last morning at the orphanage, she came in the room to greet us and ran directly into Bruce's arms.  I told Bruce he may end up having to take her to work with him after she is home!  The children are well taken care of at the orphanage.  They eat normal foods and are well loved by the staff.  They are very fortunate to be in a small orphanage where the ratio of caregivers to children is good.  The orphanage staff treated us so good - I took many pictures of the kids with the caregivers.  The twins have been with these people for most of their lives.  I know the pictures will be important to them as they grow up.  We were able to take the kids to the zoo one morning and to a wonderful park another morning.  They seemed to have warmed up to us easily.  But, I know the staff prepared them well for our visit.  By Wednesday, Blake was introducing us to everyone as his mama and daddy.  The staff told us that over the past year he as been questioning why he and his sister have not yet been adopted.  They finally were able to tell him that he has a family. 

I must say that even while driving to the orphanage the 1st day, it still seemed surreal to me.  After meeting the twins, reality definitely set in.  I started feeling very nervous about the challenges and changes that they would bring to our lives.  I know I have well prepared myself for their special needs and for the normal challenges of institutionalized children.  But, with all my preparation, I feel somewhat inadequate and overwhelmed.  I am praying for peace in my mind and heart in the coming months before traveling to pick up these precious children.  I trust that my prayers will be answered.

Bruce and I have enjoyed being in Bulgaria.  The food is wonderful.  Our coordinator/translator provided by AGCI has been beyond helpful.  We could not have asked for better guidance.  Tonight is our first night in Sofia.  It is a very big and busy city and it is so exciting to be here.  I will always cherish our experience in our childrens' birth country.  We plan on doing souvenir shopping tomorrow after applying for the VISA's.  Our flight for Grand Rapids leaves at 7 am Saturday morning.  We will be home by 10:00 pm that night.  I really miss the girls - we have talked to them a few times on the phone.  They are in good hands with my mom - thanks Susie!

It is getting late here, so I will sign off for now.