Well I think I gave most of the important details yesterday, so today I'll focus on what I've been up to rather than simply talk about Gabriel (Gabe). I continue to post pictures to Facebook but I'll include a couple favorites in each blog post. If you are interested in seeing VIDEOS of Gabe, you need to contact Valerie and request to be added to our "super-secret adoption videos Facebook group". I do not group-jack my friends on Facebook so I'm not going to add anyone unless I am specifically contacted by people I actually know (Facebook-friends-thrice-removed don't count).
So yesterday afternoon was another good visit with Gabe and his foster-mother (FM) and foster grandmother (FGM). We met in the park (the same one you can see pictures of on Facebook) and we sat down for a while and I asked his FM some questions that Valerie had sent me so that Valerie can begin to prepare for his transition in a few months. I recorded the discussions and sent them to Valerie for her to review later. Overall we're starting to get a better idea of how Gabe progressed through his years, why he ended up in foster care, and the progress he's made since leaving an institution. All of the normal stereotypes were present including the fact that before foster care Gabe was non-verbal for the most part and spoke in single words with a vocabulary of less than 15 words. 1.5 years later he speaks in full sentences, even knows a bit of English and has a more appropriate vocabulary. Additionally, before foster care Gabe was 102cm tall and was 15kg. 1.5 years later he is 112 cm tall and 25kg... that's an impressive growth rate, and shows how much institutionalization stunts the growth of children, but physically and emotionally. Gabe still has his challenges, but at least he's been equipped to handle them much better by people who obviously care for him and have done a lot for him.
Today was a nice (but very hot ) day and we met in the park again, this time with his FGM only since his FM is at work during the day. We took a walk for about 45 minutes, and Gabe offered to buy me a coffee or tea but told me that he only drinks coffee for kids (cocoa with milk) - I declined his offer but bought a round of drinks including a nice cold Fanta for me. After our drink break we walked over to his physical therapy appointment where I got to spend the time watching him as he did his therapy with the help of a physical therapist. I took lots of videos for Val to see and asked them some questions but for the most part I stayed in the background as he worked with the therapists. Following therapy I walked Gabe and his FGM home and then said goodbye. Gabe is sad to see me go, but is also happy to see me come back.
For lunch I called up the missionaries in Ruse and we went for a late lunch at "Happy" which is a Bulgarian chain of restaurants. I had some tasty cheese wrapped in bacon as well as fries with feta and an "orangade" drink that was refreshing on a hot day. Later I think I'll try to find myself a nice big ice cream cone.
Here are some pictures: