Thursday, July 30, 2009

When life hands you lemons, make Maslenki!

We made the decision to bring our girls home at the end of February. In March, our facilitator submitted the application to the Ministry of Justice requesting the girls' files. In April we completed all of the necessary paperwork, background checks and interviews required for our homestudy update. At the beginning of May we learned that one of our girls was going to be adopted by another family. A few days later we identified and requested the files of two more little girls (in addition to the little girl who was still waiting). In mid-June, after waiting for several months to receive the final copy of our homestudy to submit to USCIS, we learned that several revisions would need to be made before the final copy could be issued. Another month passed with no news to report. On Saturday we finally learned that it is "M" (the older, healthy girl) who had found her forever family and that "D" (7 year-old with mild CP) was still availble (this was our gut feeling). On Tuesday I went to check the mail to find the final copy of our homestudy (along with several dossier documents) tucked inside the mailbox. I did a happy dance. On Wednesday I learned that our placing agency would need to review the homestudy one more time before they could issue the letter that needs to accompany the homestudy to USCIS with our I-800A application (stating that they had supervised the homestudy process). I screamed into my pillow.

More than five months after we started this process we are still waiting to receive our girls' files, still waiting for our final homestudy to be approved, still waiting to submit our I-800A and still waiting to begin our dossier (in comparison, our adoptions from Uzbekistan and Ukraine took 9 months and 5 months from start to finish). To say that this process has not been stressful would be a lie. There have been many days where it would have been easy to just throw in the towel and walk away. But we know that our little girls are waiting for us in Bulgaria and, although it has been difficult, we have decided to use this time that we have been blessed with to prepare ourselves for the girls' arrival.

Although we do not know WHO will be joining our family at this point, we do know that our girls will be older (7+) and that their language, culture, routines, traditions and cuisine will be deeply ingrained. The changes that will take place in our girls' lives when they join our family will be dramatic and, although they will be surrounded by a family who loves them dearly, it will quite likely be very traumatic as well. Imagine spending 7+ years in the same place, with the same people, the same foods, the same routine day in and day out and then suddenly being whisked half-way across the world to a place you have never seen, with people you do not know, speaking a language you cannot understand, with a new routine, unfamiliar foods and unfamiliar attention and affection. We want to make their transition into our family as smooth as we possibly can and so we have begun studying Bulgarian culture, learning the language and we have even begun to learn to make and serve Bulgarian food (I highly recommend the book, "Bulgarian Rhapsody; The Best of Balkan Cuisine," by Linda Joyce Forristal).

Today the kids and I made Maslenki (a jam-filled Bulgarian cookie). They were delightful and I have a strong suspicion that they will quickly become a favorite in our house. Most importantly, these delicious little cookies helped to take our minds off of the waiting and the stress and gave us something amazing to look forward to. . . . sharing love, laughter and scrumptious Bulgarian cookies with our girls' once they are home! So, when life hands you lemons. . . .make Maslenki!


3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup lard or butter
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
Your favorite jam

1. Beat the eggs well and then add the sugar; beat until light and foamy (about 5 minutes). Melt the lard/butter and when slightly cooled (so as not to cook the eggs), slowly add the lard/butter to the egg/sugar mixture. Add vanilla.

2. Combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add the flour mixture to the eggs and lard/butter to create a firm dough. Divide into 3 balls. Roll out each ball until it is 1/4 inch thick. With a small glass or cookie cutter (I used the ring from a baby bottle), cut circles. In half of the circles punch a 3/8 inch hole in the center (I used the cap from a Crayola marker).

3. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Remove and when completely cooled, spread the whole halves with jam (we used homemade strawberry jam). Top with the halves with holes. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

*Maslenki can be stored and enjoyed for up to a month (if they last that long!). The longer they are stored, the softer they become.