Today's visits brought a mixture of emotions, the most prominent being frustration. The morning visits are always difficult because there are constantly people coming in and out of the room to"check on us" (we really don't need to be checked on. . .Lily doesn't speak much, instead she uses gestures and those are generally universal. . if she needs something, I recognize it and can help her, or she helps herself. . she is very independent). Whenever someone comes into the room to "check on us" she thinks it is time to go and, once she gets something in her head, she wants to follow through. She will start waiving goodbye and packing my bag and tries to head back to her group. Trying to convince her otherwise or distract her is a difficult task and it leaves us both a bit frustrated. This happened no less than 10 times during our 2 hour visit this morning.
The most frustrating interruption was when the head nurse came in. We met her yesterday and she informed us that she was Lily's favorite (doesn't think much of herself does she!?). Today she wanted to illustrate that point so she bounded into the room about halfway through the visit, grabbed Lily (we were in the middle of playing a game) and started tickling, hugging and kissing her. I immediately got the feeling that she was trying to prove that Lily liked her better than me and that she was happy here in the orphanage (though I tried to tell myself that she really just wanted me to see that Lily is well loved and cared for. . .that interpretation at least made me feel less frustrated in the moment). When I shared my feelings with Toni, she agreed that she had gotten the same vibe and I appreciated the validation.
The afternoon visit started wonderfully. Lily was very interactive and we were enjoying playing together. She LOVES to look out the window at the cars and this afternoon it was raining so there was even more excitement for her out the window. I picked her up to let her look out and she allowed me to hold her for about 30 minutes (she doesn't normally stay in one place that long, so I cherished the opportunity to snuggle her for awhile). While I held her she rested her head against my shoulder and we shared some kisses and snuggles. It was pure bliss! While we were standing at the window the head nurse walked into the building. She saw us and she waved. I had a feeling that we would be in for another visit and sure enough, 15 minutes before the visit was over she bounds into the room again, pulls Lily onto her lap and begins to hug and kiss her (Lily climbed down as soon as the opportunity presented itself). She started telling us all about how they take the kids to the zoo and the playground when the weather is nice and that, on their birthdays, they get to go to the bakery and eat sweets. Normally I would think that she was sharing this information so that we would know how wonderfully the kids are cared for (and I am VERY grateful that they are. . .that fact alone will make it easier for me to sleep at night knowing that Lily is so well loved and cared for while we wait to bring her home), but with this woman, it was obvious that she was trying to send the message that Lily was doing just fine right where she was and that she didn't need to be adopted. Very frustrating.
The orphange in Stara Zagora is WONDERFUL and the caregivers really do love these children ,BUT. . . it is still an orphanage and, even if the children there are wonderfully loved and cared for, at some point they will be sent to institutions or will age out of the system and then what?? An orphanage is an orphanage and it is no substitute for a loving and PERMANENT home and family.
It is obvious that this woman truly loves Lily and I am sure the thought of her leaving saddens her, but I hope that she will rejoice in knowing that Lily will be equally loved and cared for in our family and in knowing that her future is secure. Lily is an incredible little girl and it is obvious that she has already touched MANY hearts with her sweet, spunky spirit. I really do feel it a privilege to have the opportunity to be her mama.
Tomorrow morning will be my last visit with Lily before we head back to Sofia for the weekend. I am sad to go, but anxious to get started on the next phase of this process so that I can get her home. Before I left home, Maren and I made bears at Build-A-Bear for each of the girls that say "I love you," in Bulgarian and English. I will be leaving that with her (hopefully it will remain with HER) along with a picture album and I do hope that her caregivers will tell her often that mama will be back for her soon.
It has been a wonderful week and I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend and to getting to know Little Lady #2 next week!