Three weeks ago, I was getting ready to head to Bulgaria to meet our little boy for a second time, to welcome him to our family. And I was terrified that he would not remember me. We had a good easy flight and settled into a great apartment in Sofia. I went with my mom, a trip, I never dreamed she and I would get to do together. The day after we arrived they picked us up early in the morning to make the drive to our son's orphanage. The orphanage is about three and a half hours away. The drive was easy but long waiting again to see what he would think when he saw me again. I had packed a banana, since last fall when we saw him, every day we brought a banana. When they brought him in the room he cried and I reached out for him. He sat on my lap with tears. They said, it is your mommy. And he stopped. He looked at me and reached for something. I thought maybe one of the toys I brought? No, he was reaching for the backpack. It was a different backpack, but a backpack was what I brought a banana in every day last fall. He got off my lap and reached for the backpack. I pulled a banana out, and he signed, "more." We had taught him that last time we spent with him. HE REMEMBERED!!!! He eagerly ate that banana like he had never eaten in his life. And then we left, and I honestly do not think he has looked back.
Has it been what we expected? Kind of. Has it been hard? At times, yes. But honestly, he is kind of the dream child. My mom and I often would just look at eachother kind of amazed at how amazing he is. He spent the week and a half there eating, and eating and eating some more. He has gained over three pounds in the two weeks we have spent with him. He likes to eat and sleep and then go. After eating, he gets his shoes and climbs in the stroller and wants to go. There is a world he has been waiting to see and it is time. He then eats some more and walks to his crib for a nap. He then eats some more, gets in the stroller and wants to go. Then back to eat some more and sleep. That was what the days looked like. And he did not care where we went. So we went on a walking tour of Sofia, visited old churches, souvenir shopped, met other families on pick up trips and went on adventures to find the nearest Starbucks. We walked to the park and watched kids play. For now, that is mostly what he does, watch.
Our plane ride home was long. The entire trip was twenty one hours. He slept one hour of that. Bozhidar does not watch T.V. or show any interest in any electronics. So for twenty hours he just sat and watched and ate when we gave him food. He did not complain, he was patient. Our stop in Houston and immigration was horrible. They were on a power trip and gave me a very hard time. Thanks to an amazing man who helped us through the airport though, we still made our flight with four minutes to spare. There was a lot of running. Bozhidar laughed with glee as we raced through the airport, even nineteen hours after traveling. We boarded the plane and the flight attendant greeted us. He asked how old Bozhidar was, this is the question I dread the most. He is seven. They ask me to repeat it usually because there is no way he should be SEVEN? I explained he really was. The man came back several times. And finally near the end of the flight came and gave me his email address. He said, "I am really moved by this little boy, I want to know how he does. Can you email me in a few months and just let me know?"
And that is Bozhidar. A perspective changer.
Because here at home, the things I left that were hard are still hard. But there is a little boy who lived in an orphanage and never had a mom to hold him and siblings to kiss him more times than he could bear. He never had a dad's strong arms carry him. He for whatever reason has not been fed. His teeth are rotten. He is seven and weighed twenty pounds. There is nothing fairy tale about his life. But when you meet him, his smile and joy that lights his face will make you smile. He is sweet and outgoing and funny and FULL OF LIFE. It is kind of like he was just waiting for this moment, his moment. And life and joy exude when it does not make sense to be joyful, when life has not been easy. And whatever is hard here is given perspective.
The first days and weeks spent together we saw some of his nervous, self stimulation wane. He rocked all the time when we picked him up, but by the end of our time in Sofia it was no where near as often. Some of that picked up again surrounded by four very full of life children, but it has started to fall off again. He does not stuff food in his mouth because he knows it will not be taken from him. He does not sit straight up on my lap. He lets me hold him and collapses in my arms. Last night and today as I asked if he was ready for bed he leaned into my arms, completely comfortable in my lap and slept. He has never had a mom hold him as he fell asleep and now, he knows, I am his mom and my arms are exactly where he belongs.
I am blessed and thankful
We are very fond of eachother and his family adores him. He spent hours yesterday just watching Nathan work. And today he braved the pool, laughing as Verity splashed him. Everyone who meets him is struck by his sweetness. He has quickly learned that Anya and Karis will meet his needs. And that Verity is his sister, she does not care who he is she is not going to let anyone push her around and he has learned to push back, if she is in his spot he pushes her right out. They are instant siblings :) David adores his brother. He has waited so long for another boy.