Monday, October 3, 2011


I'm too tired to think of a more creative title. But I honestly can't imagine these first two days being any better than they were. I decided that I was going to be totally honest in my posts, even if things didn't go as well as I would have liked. I wanted people to know the real process, not just the rosy picture.
Well, its been all roses so far! So much so, that I am afraid of what will happen next, because my experience has been nothing but wonderful, and it can't keep being that good, can it??
My 3 flights to get here were great (well, with the exception of the girl 2 seats over from me puking twice on the way to Germany, and the second time, she didn't have a bag. Eew. Barf). Hardly any turbulence. Smooth sailing. I arrived, found all of my luggage, and breezed through passport control (they didn't even stamp my passport - boo!).

Well, thanks! I can't call them, but atleast I'll leave a blog and facebook posts :) Anyhow - then I was greeted by one of the most special people ever - Toni! Those of you who know her, I don't have to say any more. Those of you who don't, I will talk much more about Toni later. She's so great! Someone told me that it would be like meeting an old friend, and they were so right. We have never met, but I feel like I have known her forever!
I was so excited to be in beautiful Bulgaria - the oldest country in Europe. I couldn't wait to see the history of the country - the buildings, landscapes, everything! I was actually happy that we had a 2 hour car ride to our destination city, so I could take it all in. I was so happy when our first stop was......

Not! But, what trip is complete without it?? I don't feel like I ever left home! (I didn't eat there, but our driver did and I couldn't resist taking a picture!) But since then, I have gotten to see some of Bulgaria and the city I am staying in, and it is really beautiful. I will post some of those photos later.
Then more goodness keeps rolling in.
I received updated photos of the kids with my official paperwork (yay!). My bed is so comfortable. The cost is cheap. I have a great internet connection. I slept great. I woke up early for the first time in my entire life. I was nervous, but not crazy nervous. I didn't think I would function well today, but there were no emergency restroom stops (enough said).
Then it was time to go see the kids! The moment I have waited for for over a year! I was so excited. First, we went and saw the director. I found out that my kids were transferred in June from the institution they were in, to a small family-type group home that has 8 other children. This is huge. Great for their development and adjustment. It's part of the social reform the gov't is starting in order to get the kids out of the orphanages. The director, social worker, psychologist and other staff I met were GREAT! Like really, honestly, not-edited-for-blog great. I cannot say enough how well they are doing with the kids. They sat and talked with me for over an hour about the children. They even printed out an itinerary of our visits for the week! They took notes on everything I said about myself, so they could prepare the children for when they come home. We discussed medical issues, development, etc. I learned so much great info from them, you can really tell they have a genuine interest in the children. They were so great with me and such wonderful people. I really cannot say enough about them.
Then we drove a few minutes away to the group home where my children are. (As of right now, they still weren't told that I am "mama". They just know they have a visitor here for them.) When we pulled up, I looked and they were standing outside! When I got out of the van, I was pretty nervous.
I'll talk about each of the kids and the interactions that I had with both.
First we'll start with Sam.
Look at that face. Quiet, shy, calm little guy. I had read his medical reports and knew he had some delays. When I got this updated report, his vision/medical was worse than before, and his delays sounded more significant. I read stuff like "retinal detachment", "bilateral nystagmus", "language delay".  Pretty intimidating stuff.
I was certainly surprised when we walked up to the house and the first words I heard were from his little voice saying "Hello! Are you coming in? I'm a good boy. I have snot in my nose." LOL! He is hilarous! He talks SO MUCH and is quite the chatterbox! We laughed at him all day. He can also see more than originally thought (he does have significant vision issues, to include a partially detached retina, but he can see. He holds everything really close to his face.). The staff think that some of his delays are due to his orphanage not working with him, because they thought he couldn't see. But he can!  What a pistol.
And the thing that makes him even more cute is that he is so. very. small. He's 6 but honestly the size of a 2 or 3 year old.  This next photo will give you an idea of his size. Oh, and he was too busy talking to pose for the photo ;) He had been resting his little head on my shoulder and just as the photo was taken he started chatting away.
My 6 year old toddler. Acting like he owns the place. Oh, and calm? Uhh, not! He was everywhere and in to everything. Mom is going to need lots of coffee. Because he doesn't make good eye contact (because of his vision), it is difficult to tell that he is paying attention/understanding what is happening. But he does - he would pipe up with funny little sayings letting us know he knew exactly what was happening. He would laugh and smile AFTER every photo. When he was playing with play-doh, he made a *gasp* and a little squeal when he discovered each new thing the toys did. The report said that he couldn't concentrate for more than 5 minutes, but he sat there making play-doh spaghetti for atleast 30 minutes. Toni says he created commercial quantities :)
And Sofia. 
She is everything you would think she was by looking at her photo. Except alot older! She has grown so much! My first medical report showed her way below the growth curve. Well, she must have caught up because she is so tall and skinny. Definitely normal for her age now. When I came up to the gate, she waved and smiled at me. I gave her a little hug and she stood there leaning against me, fascinated by the carton of play-doh I had brought. She didn't say much, but smiled alot. We went into the house and immediately started playing with the play-doh. She was quiet but interacted with me no problem, she seemed to understand that I don't speak Bulgarian. She ate up all of the praise I gave her, even though it was in english. When she would create something, she would shyly show it to me, and I would say "Good job!" Her little face lit up each time. After a few minutes of that, she made her way into my lap.
She would take my arms and wrap them tightly around her.  She told me that she likes to cuddle. Did I mention these two days have been perfect? Just in case you forgot :) God is so good to me.
Ok, one last little story, then I"ll shut up and share more photos. Sorry this is so long. I won't wait two days next time! 
Soon after we started playing, the other kids in the group home came home from school. Talk about heart-wrenching. These kids are ALL beautiful, and they are older. They knew why I was there, and it wasn't for them. One girl in particular - oh my heart. She was 10 years old and oh so sweet. She has a knack for English you wouldn't believe. Anyhow. The kids walked in and started talking to us. They were so friendly and kept saying "America!" and referring to me. Then Sofia said "This is my mama and she lives in America. I'm going to live there." Toni's eyes got big and she said "did you hear that?" LOL. Nobody told her, but I guess she figured it out! We are going to officially tell them and show them the photo book I made for them soon. We were just so stunned by her response :) Of course I didn't complain. 

 Ok I'm beat! More tomorrow. Thanks for reading that all - tomorrow will be shorter I promise! Love from Bulgaria.


  1. Congratulations on making it! Your daughter looks a LOT like Jeane's little girl Gracie, at She is also from Bulgaria and Toni was their facilitator!

  2. Tears. Streaming. "God is so good to me." Oh indeed my precious friend! I am so so joyous for you & your precious Sam & Sofia!! I loved reading your post beautiful peaceful Mama! Such a testimony of this ordained for you all! Lifting you all in prayer. Keep us posted! I Love you all!

  3. Sister, I am just filled with happiness and joy for you. I am smiling and crying after reading this and seeing the pictures. Praise God for the blessings in your life. These two kids are just precious and beautiful! I am so excited to talk to you and I cannot wait to meet Sofia and Sam. So happy for you! Amazing moments - God is so good. Love and prayers!

  4. Wow, what a wonderful blog. You so deserve to have this happiness in your life and so do your children. If you need my help, please let me know.

  5. Oops, I wasn't sure how to post my name at the beginning but this is Timmons. :)I just used my Google account and now it works.

  6. Wow, Autumn!!! What a beautiful post and what charming children! It's amazing to hear all these details and see all these photos of your lovely children. May God continue to bless your week bunches and bunches. :)

  7. They are so precious! Thanks for sharing them with us :) Can't wait to hear about the rest of your visit. Blessings!

  8. They are so beautiful! I am so happy that this trip is going so well!! Toni and her family really do such a good job making the trip easy and enjoyable! I am looking forward to following all week.

  9. Ok, next time tell me to read before applying mascara! I am so thrilled that God has smoothed this transition. They are so beautiful and so snuggly already which is awesome. Geez, I don't even know what to say except that you are a shining light and I'm filled with Joy to watch your ride!

  10. Oh, I am SO SO SO incredibly happy for you!!!! They are beautiful and it sounds like they are doing very well.

  11. Wow, Autumn, what a great post!! Your kids are beautiful! I'm so glad you had a great first visit. I found that first visit very wonderful but emotionally exhausting. Sorry, I just feel like writing a whole bunch of exclamation marks--very happy for you! Keep writing!
    Joy McClain
    Please give Toni my love. Your post makes me hear her voice in my mind.