Monday, August 11, 2014

Richard Here: Day One, Visit One - Hey, Is That My Sailor?

I'll preface this by saying that I'm still a bit tired... but functional. After six hours of sleep last night I got up and going around 0800 with plenty of time to aimlessly wander the streets of Ruse before my breakfast appointment with Yavor at 0930.  The hotel I'm in is nice and pretty standard for what we've seen on our prior trips. Most importantly, the A/C and Internet both work very well. The A/C is for my benefit but the Internet is mostly for my lovely wife who has repeatedly and somewhat nervously reminded me to take lots of pictures... as if I was going to forget or something?

But I digress...

I walked the streets of Ruse this morning and enjoyed the cool morning air. The first thing I did was walk down to the Danube River and take it all in. I took some pictures of it but I wasn't in a very picturesque area of the shoreline so they don't do it justice. I'll take better pictures tomorrow - I promise.  I wandered eastward along the river and enjoyed seeing the shopkeepers opening up their small shops for the day, complete with the old ladies using their old fashioned brooms to sweep off the sidewalk. But you don't really care about my walk, do you? You want to hear about the boy...

Say hello to Gabriel Bojidar Rieben. Everyone has a special story about the first moment they laid eyes on their adopted child, and this is mine:

Yavor and I were driving around the streets of Ruse looking for the social services office, and a parking spot that wouldn't result in us getting towed. We turned down a street and there he was... sitting in his stroller along the street, dressed like a sailor and accompanied by a grandmotherly woman who was wearing a matching outfit. There he was, 10 feet away from me. I told Yavor I was pretty darn sure that was him and Yavor asked the lady (who we now know is his foster-grandmother) if his name was "Boji" as he's known and in fact it was... her face lit up, his face lit up and he exclaimed "tate" in excitement. He has only known about us for a week and knew nothing until today about what his life would be like with us, however he is a fortunate child - not because we're bringing him home, but because he's had a foster mother who has really done everything she can to help him.

Here is the short bio of Boji (what I know is far more than this since his foster mother has actually been with him since he was 2 months old):

His bio-parents still live in the area and are known to his foster mother, his bio-mother is an accomplished accountant and his bio-father is a policeman. It is believed that his bio-mother had an infection during her eighth month of pregnancy and he was born early. He spent some time in an incubator as well. His birth family turned him over (he was their second child, so he has at least one birth sibling) as this is unfortunately normal in this culture.

After making marginal progress in the orphanage, his foster mother (who is the physical therapist at the orphanage) took him home 1.5 years ago and has been caring for him since then. He receives constant physical therapy due to her professional training. He also goes to formal occupational therapy and speech therapy on a regular basis, and even does physical training in a pool every week. Normally I would laugh at being told this, but in this case it is obvious that he receives excellent care. Case in point: When he left the orphanage he weighed just 15Kg, but in the year since then he has packed on the weight and now weighs a whopping 25Kg - the kid is seriously heavy... like really... deceptively heavy. He speaks in full sentences and expresses emotion in usual manners and although he does have some mild self-soothing mannerisms I'm told he sleeps well. When his foster-mother is at work he is cared for by his grandmother, so he has actually been away from an institution for almost 1.5 years - and therefore has few institutional behaviors that were readily overt. He does not walk independently (he used to walk before regressing after a surgery in 2012) but the condition of his ankle joints (very tight) is probably the issue since he is literally walking on his toes. His FM says that he hates to use a walker or a stander because as he says "other kids don't use them" so he appears to have motivation to improve. The best quote of the day came when I asked if he got along other children... his FM responded: "Yes, he gets along with other kids but he prefers the girls".... Yeah, I think he'll fit in just fine.

I'll be seeing him twice a day and we'll be visiting his therapy sessions where his therapists also speak English (so I'll be taking video). Will be also meeting at his home and should be able to Skype home from their apartment. I promise lots of photos and some videos as well.

In other news, I'm enjoying Bulgarian food and I'm keeping a rule that I try one new thing at every meal and I don't eat anything I could have at home (except for Fanta which is my staple drink on adoption trips). I'll post photos on facebook of less news-worthy items.

Now for the pictures...
Boji is sad that we're leaving. But he's also hot and tired after an exciting morning. This is in front of his apartment building.

Boji and his FM, FGM, and his social workers outside of the social services office.

Boji likes to swing and he enjoys going to the outdoor kids parties they have in the park every weekend. He has also been to movies and the circus and movies (he likes Rio)

That is one big, toothless grin. He lost his first teeth at 5y.o., after he had left the orphanage.

Another shot with his FM and FGM


Carolina said...

He's so cute! :)

Carolina said...

He's so cute! :)

Jill Pierce said...

What a cutie! I think he will fit right in.

Yvonne said...

Great update!! I'm jealous you get to enjoy Bulgarian cuisine this week! We ate at Happy most of the week in Ruse! There was a Irish pub by the river that had great food that we ate at for lunch... :).

Michelle Buhler said...

He is adorable. His legs look a lot like Carolina's, but it is obvious that he gets much better therapy. I wonder if he knee walks? Regardless, he is clearly well cared for and very cute!

Anonymous said...

We prayed so much for this kiddo! So happy to see this update!