As I wrote in my previous post, Dee Dee, a person doing mission work in Bulgaria, put me in contact with Jack and Elsabe Louw. Jack and Elsabe adopted a child from an orphanage in Bulgaria years ago. They also established a foundation to help orphans in Bulgaria. Please go HERE to read their story. This family is truly dedicated to improving the lives of Bulgarian orphans.
Elsabe contacted me at times during our wait to pick up the twins. She provided a lot of information about our twins. She told us that Blake received a lot of attention from one of the office workers in the orphanage. We can see how this has positively affected Blake. She also told us how severely neglected Emery was at the orphanage. Several times, when they visited the orphanage, Emery would either be in a far off corner by herself or locked in a room with a few other kids who were all lined up banging their heads against a radiator for stimulation. They noticed bruises on the children's foreheads from the banging. Emery was quiet, didn't speak and demanded no attention. Therefore, she received no attention. Elsabe also told us how happy Blake was when he received his crutches. Before he had crutches, the other kids would push him around and walk right over him. His personality changed after the crutches. He immediately began zipping around the orphanage with ease. He became a very spirited boy. The crutches changed his life. Elsabe had Blake taken to medical specialists regarding his leg. They had high hopes that his leg could be saved. Elsabe and her husband somehow were able to find someone who advocated to let the twins remain in the baby orphanage rather then moving at age 3. I am not sure what kind of orphanage they would have went to at age 3. But, due to their special needs (Blake's leg and Emery's developmental delays), they would have been moved to a disability orphanage at the age of 7, if we had not been in the process of adopting them. To see what happens to children in Bulgarian orphanages for disabilities, visit Elsabe's foundation website or google Bulgarian orphanages. What you see will shock you beyond belief. The thought of our twins in one of these places sends chills through me. I cannot even force myself to imagine what would have happened to them. There are so many orphans in need of being saved, it breaks my heart. Things are slowly changing in Bulgaria, but not fast enough to save all of the children.
We planned to meet Elsabe and her family while in Bulgaria picking up the twins. We wanted to get together for dinner with them and Dee Dee and her family. Unfortunately, the day we could all meet, the twins were having a bad day, especially Blake. We decided it was best not to go out to dinner. Elsabe, Jack, and their daughter, Lora, were kind enough to come meet and visit with us at our apartment. How wonderful it was to meet such a family. A family that has devoted their life to helping orphans. I never thought I would ever find myself meeting such special people. Elsabe talked a lot to Blake and helped us to understand him better. They gave us compassionate advice. They brought us a medical file on Blake and pictures of the twins that they had taken over the years. I can't put into words how wonderful it is to have these pictures. Their kindness continued beyond this visit.
They actually met us at the Sofia airport on the day of our departure. They gave the twins some Bulgarian candy for the plane ride. I saved the candy wrappers for their memory boxes. They took our family picture that is at the top of my blog. They gave us a wonderful send off. The twins knew Elsabe and her family from previous orphanage visits. It was nice for the kids to have familiar faces to say their goodbyes.
Even though we had just met this family, it somehow felt like we knew them for years. I guess we sort of did, through our twins.
One of the most amazing parts of this whole story is during the time I was researching adoption and Bulgaria, before we even committed to the twins, I found Elsabe's blog and was overwhelmed with emotion over their journey with their daughter. I was touched by their faith and dedication to the orphans in Bulgaria. Little did I know at the time, this family knew our twins and one day I would meet them while in Bulgaria picking up the twins! Who would have ever thought? God truly does work in mysterious ways!
Elsabe has continued to keep in contact with me periodically to check in on the twins and to offer insights. I love hearing from her and appreciate all of her kind advice. She recently printed out all of the pictures I had posted on this blog of the twins and took them to the orphanage to share with the caregivers and the office person who was so close to Blake. She said the office worker cried when she looked at the pictures. Elsabe also put me in contact with this office worker. Apparently, this lady has additional information on the twins' history and possibly information on siblings. I am excited to obtain any history on the twins. I will share in a future post.
Meeting this family, discovering I had already read about them, and knowing their connection with our twins, only confirms the fact that God was with us from the very early beginning of our adoption journey.