We drove to Lukovit first this this morning where Alayna's mother, grandmother and grandfather were waiting for us. Aside from Lily throwing a tantrum throughout most of the meeting, it was an incredible experience for all of us. Alayna's birth family is wonderful. They love her dearly and, although they are sad that she will be so far away, they are so happy to know that she will be loved and cared for and have the opportunity to reach her full potential. I was deeply touched when Alayna's grandmother took me in her arms and told me that, she had been blessed with two daughters and now she had three and when Alayna's mother kissed my cheeks and told me that I would forever be like her sister. It was an emotional meeting for us all and I will be forever grateful for the blessing of having these wonderful, loving people in my life (and Alayna's). What a truly incredible gift.
Mama Valerie, Mama DiDi (Dimitrina), Diado Mitko (grandpa), Baba Violeta (grandma) and Tatko Richard.
Alayna met with her birth family to say a final goodbye before we arrived this morning and her mother explained to her that she was blessed to have two mama's that love her and that today she would be going home with Mama Valerie and Tatko Richard so she was ready to go when we arrived. While we were meeting with her family. her caretakers were preparing her to leave. All of the children from the orphanage were playing outside when we arrived and were still out there when we left. As we walked to the car with Alayna, everyone followed us yelling "Goodbye" and "We'll miss you" (in Bulgarian of coure).
Alayna did fairly well as we drove away from the orphanage, but about 10 minutes in to our drive back to Sofia, she broke down and began to just sob. My heart ached for her as I watched her grieve the loss of her friends and family. She cried on and off for most of the trip home, but by the time we arrived in Sofia she was fine.
Before returning to the hotel we had to stop by the immigration office to apply for the girls passports. As soon as we left the car and walked into the building Lily began to wail (one thing we know for sure. . .there is absolutely nothing wrong with this girls lungs!!). She screamed and cried and kicked in my arms the entire time we were in the immigration office and she refused to be comforted. I can't wait to pull out her Bulgarian passport when she is a teenager and show all the boys what Lily looks like when she doesn't get her way :-) As soon as we left the building and got back into the car it was like nothing had ever happened. I think she has already given me a few gray hairs!
We spent a low key afternoon in the hotel room. Alayna enjoyed coloring, listening to Bulgarian children's songs on my iPod and talking to her aunt, uncle, brothers, sister and grandma via Skype. Richard and Alayna went downstairs and ordered pizza for dinner. I think this pizza will probably feed us all for the rest of the week, don't you?
I am very glad that I took the time to learn enough Bulgarian to be able to effectively communicate with the girls (and, of course, I continue to learn more each day as I talk to them). Alayna is a social butterfly and it has made bonding and attaching much easier because I understand what she needs/wants and can respond to those wants/needs without a lot of frustration caused by the language barrier. There have been a few times when I have not understood her (and I pretty sure she cussed me out in Bulgarian at one point), but for the most part, we have been able to communicate very effectively.
Alayna is an amazing girl. She gets around without a wheelchair VERY well (although the orphanage did allow us to take one with us (neat story about that later) she hasn't used it much). She absolutely LOVES the bath. She took two baths tonight and wanted to take a third, but we eventually talked her into waiting until tomorrow morning! She has also tried on just about every article of clothing (including every pair of socks and every pair of underwear) that we brought for her! She is destined to be a daddy's girl. She loves hanging out with her daddy and I am pretty sure the feeling is mutual. They have already developed a "secret handshake" (okay, it is just an "exploding" fist bump, but it is hilarious to watch). She seems to enjoy her mommy time as well, but for the most part, I am just the translator for her and her daddy (which is actually very good because Lily still needs a decent amount of my attention).
Both of the girls (and Richard) are now sleeping peacefully. Your thoughts and prayers were heard and we have been blessed with a truly amazing day! Tomorrow and Wednesday will be "down days" as we wait for the girls passports to be processed (they should be ready to pick up on Wednesday afternoon). We will make up for those low-key days on Thursday which we will spend at the polyclinic in the morning (in order for the girls to be issued Visa's, the US requires a medical exam) and the US Embassy in the afternoon. The visa's should be ready by Friday and our flight departs on Saturday morning at 6 am.
We are overjoyed to FINALLY have both of our beautiful girls with us and we cannot wait to get them home! Please continue to keep the girls in your prayers. They are doing well, but they still have a long road ahead of them as they process through all of these changes in their lives and transition into our family.