Sorry it’s taken so long for me to give an update but I now have a VERY busy toddler at home. So, I will take this opportunity while he snoozes to give you the rundown on the Second/Pick-Up trip.
So travel dates were from August 12-23. Yes, you need 11 days total to get everything done. I traveled to Bulgaria first. I flew from Dulles to Sofia via Heathrow.
I will take this moment to tell you that British Airways was fabulous. Absolutely NO complaints. The plane did leave an hour late from Dulles due to weather concerns but that was no fault of theirs. I did miss my flight from Heathrow due to this delay. When I got to London, the BA team had already switched my tickets over to Lufthansa. I would be delayed by 5 hours getting to Sofia because I now had to make a stopover in Munich.
Both of those flights were fine as well. I slept for the better part of them. Once I arrived in Sofia I found my checked luggage delayed because of the change in flight plan. Luckily I had everything I needed for Samuel and myself for 3 days. The translator picked me up at the airport and we immediately traveled the 6 hours to Silistra. We finally reached the hotel around 1 am. I fell into bed and slept until 8 the next morning.
We were meeting the Director at the orphanage around 10 am. We had some paperwork to attend to first then they showed us into the play area where we waited for him to come in from playing outside. We chatted to the Director as well as some of the caregivers for a bit. They were so kind and obviously thrilled that Samuel was finally getting to go home.
When they brought him in he was sweaty and a little dirty from playing outside, but like a normal little boy, grinning from ear to ear in his filth.
Now, I know one question I’ve been asked many times is: Did he know you? Did he remember you?
Honestly, I’m not sure. He smiled and walked over to me. I was smiling (I think) and he grunted for me to pick him up, so I did. The caregivers were all pointing to me and saying, “Momma,” over and over. He just looked and me and smiled, dirty face and all. I’ll take it. It wasn’t an emotional episode. I didn’t cry, though his caregivers did. I just kissed and hugged him as much as he would let me. He seemed happy and extremely healthy.
They took him to bathe him. I was allowed to go along of course. They put him in a utility sink and rinsed him off with soap, using a spray attachment.
I then noticed how big he was. He seemed half this size at the February visit. I noticed when I held him that he was heavy but in the bath I could see that he had chunky legs and arms and a portly belly. (I’ve always wanted to use that word)
We dressed him in the outfit I brought for him; basic t-shirt, gingham shorts and a pair of sneakers. The caregivers did give him some kind of suppository that was herbal and supposed to help with motion-sickness. (It didn’t work btw)
We then said quick goodbyes as they herded us out the door. His caregivers were smiling and crying and they gave us a special sent-off with some leaves and water.
So, to be quite frank, it all happened so quickly my brain had yet to process anything. We were in and out within 30 minutes.
The drive back to Sofia was not too bad for the first 3 hours or so. He slept in my arms. Note: They did not have a carseat for him. I had to hold him or he had to sit buckled next to me. When he woke, he was feeling the affects of 24 months of not riding in a car. He “tossed cookies” once, then again right as we were getting into Sofia. Thank God I had extra clothes for us both.
We arrived at the apartment in Sofia smelling pretty rank. My checked luggage had still not arrived at this time. The translator offered to go to the grocery to pick up necessities. Sam and I unpacked and looked around the apartment. They had some toys there so he played with them for a bit. Once the translator returned we were able to wash clothes and start cooking dinner.
First thing on the agenda was trying to wash the puke smell off of Sam. BIG MISTAKE. He started crying the moment the water started running. I quickly washed him down with good-ole’ Johnson and Johnson and then began what my late mother called, “The ritual.” Johnson’s classic baby lotion head-to-toe, then Johnson’s baby powder head-to-toe. Now, he LOVED that part. Who wouldn’t right? It’s a massage.
Dressed and getting sleeping, (It was around 8 pm at this point) I decided to attempt to put him to sleep. Now, because I am not going to walk you through each sleep period of the trip I will just go ahead and say that the first night he slept in the bed with me from 8:30 until 7 the next morning. He was exhausted. I held him and rocked for about 15 minutes before he conked out.
Now, he only took 1 nap at the orphanage from 2-4 pm each day. I am of the old-school mentality that 2-year-olds need either A) 1 long nap a day, think 3 hours, or B) 2 shorter naps a day, think 1.5 a piece. We started out with B and we are already on A. All kids are different. We started out with him sleeping in the bed with me but he moved around too much and nearly fell off the bed several times. He easily transitioned to the pack-n-play they provided in the apartment and slept much better in it. I still rocked him while standing for a good 10 minutes or so, then laid him in the bed. He would do a little fussy whine for only a few minutes before going to sleep.
The next morning, Friday, we had his medical appointment and his BG passport application appointment. We did both. Found out he is a perfectly healthy 32 pounder. Yep. He just turned 2. He had the TB skin done. I did not hold him down, the translator did that. He cried for a moment but that was it.
After that we went back to the apartment and tried to keep a routine. We ventured out several times over the weekend to visit the park or the grocery. I finally got my bag on Saturday!
So because we did nothing of importance until Monday I will walk you through some of the “issues” we had/have. Some of these apply to right now at home as well. Don’t hate me...but they’re aren’t many.
EATING: The boy is Mikey. You know, “Give it to Mikey, he’ll eat it.” He has had no stomach issues from food. His bowels are very scheduled, if you know what I mean. He drinks plenty of water and milk. He also likes chamomile tea. He eats fruits, vegetables, meats (all but pork) and yogurt. He can eat with a spoon and a fork, though I admit to feeding him more often for bonding purposes. He sits in his highchair, bib-on, and when the food is gone, he announces “gone-gone” with his hands out in lotus position. That brings us to...
LANGUAGE: He is doing the jabber more than anything. He does say “Molly,”
(our dog) but that word is inclusive of all the animals he sees. So the squirrel in the tree is, “Molly”. He says “Mon-kee” for, well, I think you can guess. He calls Lily, “Lala”. He has bonded very well to her and when we get in the car to go pick them up from school he repeats, “Lala” on the way. “Gone-Gone” from above. He says something that sounds like, “I’ll get it.” It is usually when he is getting something so I am gonna give him that point. He understand everything we say. We did learn some BG phrases for basic instructions which we still use along-with their English counterpart.
He does not say “Momma,” or “Daddy” yet in connection to us. He knows who we are though. If he is told to give something to “daddy” he will give it to G. He simply doesn’t call us by those names yet.
EMOTIONAL RESPONSES: We are blessed that he was very loved and adored by his caregivers. We have only noticed typical toddler behavior with regards to tantrums and/or defiance. When we were in BG we had several instances where, when told no, he would throw himself down on the floor and bang his head on it. The first few times I picked him up quietly and put him in the crib in his room and made him lay down. I never said anything to him. That worked. He realized he wasn’t getting the attention he wanted from the negative behavior so he stopped. He has only does that once since we brought him home. BTW my bio kids tried this stuff.
Sometimes when he knows he has done something that he should not do...like throw all of my folded clothes all over the room while my back is turned...he will give this “head down-eyes out the top of the head-pooty lip” look. When I explain to him why he should not have done what he did, he then comes up to you and digs his head in-between your legs and hugs. G and I think this is his, “I’m sorry.”
He does have something called Breath Holding Spells. We learned this only a week after being home. He had one, passed out cold, freaked us out, and we ended up at the ER thinking he had a seizure. Long story for another post. He has not had a second one...yet.
We are trying the “make a big deal about it when he hurts himself thing” right now. He looks at us like we’re cray-cray. Sometime he comes to us after he bumps his head or falls but usually he just gets back up and goes on with life. I know the adoption “experts” say to make a big deal about it because, I’m assuming, the idea is that he wasn’t given attention at the orphanage when he hurt himself. Not sure if this is accurate in his case. He was overly babied the times we saw. So that is a work in progress.
MOTION: In BG we traveled mainly by car for all the appointments. I brought children’s dramamine with me and gave him a half of one 30 min before I knew we would be driving anywhere. He was fine with the dramamine. Same with the trip home. No stomach upsets on the dramamine. He did not like the carseat, of course, when we first came home. But, within a week he was fine with it. He likes The Wonder Pets (God help me!) so I make sure that is playing while we drive and he is good to go. He jabbers most car rides either trying to tell us something or to tell The Wonder Pets, not sure yet.
He likes the stroller. We are walking to and from the park all the time. He doesn’t have any problems with that.
PLAYING: He plays constantly. He loves balls. He even sleeps with his mini soccer ball. G has big plans for this kid and they all involve Premier League Soccer. He would rather kick a ball on the field than play at the park. And this is really cool park. It has everything a kid could want. Nope, not him. Just give him a ball. He enjoys blocks and stacking things. He also likes this game called, “Grab Momma’s Coffee.” That’s not my favorite game. He walks and runs easily by himself. He is learning to climb stairs right now and it’s amazing how far he has come in just a few weeks. It’s no wonder he sleeps like he does.
SLEEP: So I said before but he naps for about 3 hours in the middle of the day. He wakes up between 6:30 and 7 and then goes back down for his nap around 10:30 or 11. He then goes to bed around 7 or 7:30. He woke up in the middle of the night for the first 2 nights in the US. After that, he was on our time-zone. He does not want to be held anymore. He did for the first week or so of being home. He loved falling asleep on G’s chest. Now he likes to lay down and play with his stuffed animals for a few minutes. He has an adorable bedtime routine, If I do say so myself. He has to have his bed arranged just-so. He has two blankets, and 3 stuffed animals. They all have to be in certain spots before he will get comfortable. So he will move them around in his bed until he is satisfied they are right where they should be. He also has a Woo-Bear, a battery-operated, womb-sound-maker-thingy. Both of our girls used it and now he has to have it turn on and turned up before he will get settled. (Lily named it Woo-Bear many years ago) If he wakes in the middle of the night all you have to do it turn Woo-Bear back on and he is golden.
So...back to the trip.
Monday came along and we went back to the doctor for her to check his TB skin test. She signed off on the paperwork and we went back to the apartment to hang out for the remainder of the day.
Tuesday we had no appointments but G’s flight was arriving later in the day. The translator picked him up at the airport around 2 and by the time Sam awoke from his nap, daddy was there. He ran right to G. Go figure. He took to G very quickly so I was able to take a breather for the first time in a week. G put him to bed that night very easily.
Wednesday we had no appointments until the afternoon so we walked around the city for a bit before heading to the US Embassy for the Exit Visa Appointment. It took a good 2 hours so be prepared. Luckily their are toys there for the kids to play with as well as a huge garden to walk about in. We crossed paths with another adoptive family as we were coming in through security. They were headed out and assured us it was painless.
Thursday, again no appointments, but we had friends from Romania who drove down late that night to spend the day with us Friday.
Friday, we received all the paperwork to exit the country along with his passport. We could officially leave BG which was a huge relief. We spent the day with our Romanian friends doing the “tourist” thing.
Saturday we spent the morning packing up and getting ready to head out. Sam did not like the look of packing. He was very confused why all the bags were being packed. He particularly did not like that all 4 of his balls where going in the big suitcase and he could not play with them. The translator picked us up at noon and we headed to the airport. No problems getting through check-in and security. We brought Sam’s stroller and only each carried a backpack and G’s carry-on. So glad we brought the stroller, especially in London where we needed to get around quickly to make it through security and to our connecting gate very quickly.
Sam’s first flight was fine. He turned 2 end of July so he had his own seat between us. He was fine during take-off and then he enjoyed a snack and beverage while we had our adult beverage (wink, wink). He fell asleep in G’s arms pretty soon after that. He slept for the remainder of the flight to London.
We made it through the mess that is Heathrow, and boarded the next flight. He did basically the same thing on that flight. He ate then started fussing a little so G held him until he fell asleep. We were able to lay him down between us and he slept the entire length of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The last 4 hours of the flight were “busier” but he still did a great job. He didn’t scream or cry too much, just fussed and whined occasionally. He was very tired by the time we got to Dulles.
We apparently timed it perfectly with immigration. We walked right through to the officer, who then directed us to his supervisor who quickly opened our document packet and went through the papers. They sent us next to declarations were we had to “present” our son. They looked at us and laughed us on. I should mention that Samuel smiled at everyone we came in contact with.
We then had to take the shuttle to the car park. He enjoyed riding on the bus. He had no idea what to think of the carseat the first time we put him in it. Luckily he was so tired he didn’t put up much of a fight.
We came home to a lovely door sign and a banner designed by the girls, (helped by my aunt and dad ;)
It was beyond wonderful to be home with our son. The trip was relatively easy and everything went according to plan. It was long (12 days from start to finish) but painless.
It was all still surreal. It is really JUST setting in that he is HOME and OURS.