Friday, July 30, 2010

Allow me to be frank. . . .

Today was an emotionally exhausting day for everyone. As much as I would like to report that Alexis walked back to her group with an understanding smile on her face and Lily walked out of that orphanage never to look back, that is just not how things went down today. Let's face it, adoption is rarely all sunshine and roses. Fortunately, we understood that when we signed up!

We were able to visit with Alexis for about an hour this morning. I knew from the moment that she walked into the room that this visit would be different. While she normally runs down the hall yelling our names and burst into the room and into our arms, today she simply walked into the room, stopped and stared at us. She absolutely knew what would be happening today and she was not at all happy about it. For the most part, she kept her distance from us today and throughout the visit she would ask us again and again why we were taking Lily and when we would be taking her. We were able to catch a small glimpse of the vibrant, feisty girl who has stolen our hearts when we gave her the teddy bear we made for her (it says "I love you" in Bulgarian and English). She LOVED it and sat and pushed the button over and over again while repeating the words.

Alexis with her bear

Mommy, Alexis and bear preparing to say a temporary goodbye

At the end of our visit Toni, the psychologist and the doctor all explained to her again that we would be leaving but that we would be back for her soon. We then gave her huge hugs and kisses and said goodbye. Oh, how it broke my heart to watch her walk away.

Once Alexis had returned to her group it was time for Lily to say goodbye. Her clothes had been changed, documents has been signed and gifts had been given. The psychologist walked her out to the car, kissed her cheeks and handed her off to me. We waved goodbye, climbed into the car and watched the orphanage fade into the distance. Lily was a little scared at first, but as she drank in everything around her, she relaxed and soon she was laughing and playing with her daddy.


Lily finally got to ride in a car. . . .she LOVED it!

We stopped at McDonalds on the way back to Sofia and learned that she REALLY enjoys fries. It was actually a relief to see her eat because, in the 10 days that I have spent with her, I have never seen her take a bite of anything that was offered.

Yummy french fries

We arrived in Sofia around 3:o0 and checked into our hotel. As soon as we were in our room and Lily realized we would be staying she began to panic. She ran to the window and then to the door and she opened it to leave. When we explained to her that we would be staying here she began what would be a 3-hour melt down complete with kicking, screaming, and crying. For three hours, one of us always had to be by the door so that she couldn't get out. For three hours she raged and grieved. She even packed her bags to leave (filled a grocery bag with her clothes, shoes, photo album and bear) and tried to drag our bags to the door as well. Fortunately, she allowed us to try to comfort and love her as she experienced the first waves of grief and loss that are often felt in adoption. We comforted and loved, but we also allowed her space.

When she was finally done, she crawled up into the bed with me, lay down and asked me to cover her with the blanket I had brought for her. She was absolutely exhausted, emotionally and physically. As she settled in she began to do what adoptive parents know as the "orphanage rock" (a self-soothing, full-body rock). I placed my hand gently on her arm, gave her her teddy bear and she stopped. I can't wait to get her home so that I can rock her every day and teach her that she no longer needs to rely only upon herself for comfort. Right before she drifted off to sleep she looked up at me and I smiled at her. She smiled back at me and then reached down and pushed the button on her bear and I heard my own voice say "I love you" in Bulgarian and English. It was just what I needed at the end of a very long day.

I am VERY glad that we will have a few days to focus our undivided attention on Lily before we pick up Alayna on Monday. This transition is going to be difficult for her and the grief and loss that she is feeling runs very deep.

Right now she is sleeping peacefully in our bed, just a few feet away. It is so surreal to finally have her with us after such a long journey. She is an incredible little lady and we are very blessed to have her as our daughter. As you can see, the "end" of this journey is really only the beginning. All of our girls have a long road ahead of them, but we are so very grateful to be able to bring them into our home, take them into our arms and show them the unconditional love of a family and of their Father in Heaven.


Cammie Heflin said...

She is so beautiful, I'm sure she is scared and so confused. You guys are fantastic and doing an amazing job with your girls! Praying things are smoother with Alayna and that gorgeous voice!

Manda said...

Poor little darling. This has got to be so confusing for her. Just wait until she gets to the States! Bless her heart. You all and you're sweet little girls will be in our prayers. Much love!

Arizona mom to eight said...

You had to be so happy to have your head hit the pillow , goodness, neither of our girls reacted that way when we had our gotcha days, Kara was curious and checked out the room, and Amanda just accepted being where we were, I wonder if having a cognitive disability makes that much different. Not to say that they were not scared or sad, they likely were both.

I know you will be glad to get both girls home so the can begin to adjust to their new lives. How soon will you return to bring Alexis home?

We are so happy for you, congratulations to her and you on her very special gotcha day!

Barry, Donna, and Tam said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! My heart goes out to her.

Mom 2 six said...

I completely understand where you are at (We adopted a 7 year old boy) he reaction will forever be etched in my memory. But as you already know there is no place like home and a family. You have such beautiful girls - just got to take all the hard steps to get them home. Can't wait for that day when all of you are together -and at home in the USA.

soontobemomof9 said...

Oh Lilly, my heart just aches with yours! But sweetie, you are in for a lifetime of JOY!

Valerie, you have to be so emotionally exhausted! Up, down, Up, down, up.... it wears on you huh?!

Enjoy your one on one time with little Lily, and I can't wait to see Alayna in your arms for good!

You are in my prayers!

Grandma DD said...

Whew, what a day! Thanks for telling it like it is. I really feel for dear little Alexis -- glad that Lilly could act out her grief rather than just keeping it all inside -- I'm sure it frayed your nerves, but you understood it for what it was. I appreciate the photos as well. Did you get the two from - from my Ohio stop over?

Tamara's Mommy said...

I've been following your journey for some time. We adopted from The Republic of Georgia in 08. Your daughters are beautiful.
What an emotionally stressful day for you all. And yet everything seems to be just right. Lily will be fine. You're doing a wonderful job with her. She will come around. Continue to enjoy your little girl. I'm sure it's a very scary thing for her to go through. Our daughter was 3-1/2 .. now 5-1/2. She just recently confessed to being scared during the whole transition. Now she laughs about it. seriously she does. Lily will laugh too. Hang in there and just love her with all your heart. ;o)

Hevel said...

I vividly remember I had a very similar reaction the first night I was to stay with my new family.

There is a lot of loss - a loss of everything you have been your entire life - in being adopted. It is traumatic, but it can be the beginning of something great and wonderful.

Mazel tov on having her forever now!

Tiana said...

Serious amounts of love vibes sending you over the land and ocean to get to you all. Thank you for sharing your roller coaster with us. It makes it so real. Prayers from our home to yours.

Difference2This1 said...

You truly are in such a roller coaster of emotion and experience. It is a blessing to read it and pray for each one of these children as they deal with the changes, the goodbyes, etc. It will be amazing when all three are finally home with your family.

Palmer Family said...

We love you all and hope things are getting easier.