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.
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.
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.
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.