Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trip Journal: Day Five

This morning started with me being unable to sleep (again) and Maren wanting some extra sleep, so I took a walk around the city, window shopping for the girls and some other things. I came back to the room around 0815 and dragged Maren out of bed so we could head down for breakfast before we met up with Maria at 0915. While Maren ate some breakfast, I ran across the plaza and went to a photo shop where I had some photos printed from digitals I took during the first two days so the girls could add pictures of us to their photo books.

It has been a great day, we had so much fun. We showed up with gifts of hats, scarves and gloves which Valerie and I had picked out for them. We went shopping for clothes for Donka. We went to the store and the girls picked out some treats. We ate an early lunch of Nequik Cereal and then we went to a nail appointment for Donka and Maren. Pamela got her hair done at a salon. We went to a restaurant and ate a late lunch and then went back to the home and made paracord bracelets before taking Donka to Sambo. During Sambo we hung out with Pamela and played Uno. After Sambo we did a video call with Valerie and the kids and then said our goodbyes for the night. There are lots of new photos to share… enjoy.

In the meantime, I’m going to break the cycle for a minute here and get something off my chest…

We were supposed to be done adopting at 13 kids. I felt good about it, I knew it might happen again eventually but I did not plan on doing it again this soon. Valerie certainly wasn’t planning on adopting again this soon either.

So why are we adopting? Two years ago, I visited Jesse and Eli and I met Donka. From the first time I saw her there was something about her that spoke to me… I couldn’t shake the idea that I should ask about her, so I did. At the time, I was told she had family and was not available for adoption. Fine then… all things pushed aside I forgot about her. Fast forward 18 months and I’m sitting in my hotel room on a business trip in early March and for some reason I felt inspired to browse the “Bulgarian Waiting Children” group on Facebook. I can tell you I have browsed that group only one time… ever. It was that night. I scrolled down the page, looking at the waiting children… nothing particular in mind.

Then I saw her. It was Donka… and Pamela – a sister I never knew existed.  At that moment, I knew they were both part of our family. As surely as I knew that Maren, Lukas, Jacob were my own flesh and blood I knew these girls were part of our family, and that the prompting I had felt in Bulgaria was even stronger now than it was then. Their worth to me as a father was immediate and immeasurable.

Since that day, we have fought to make this adoption happen. We had delays with our homestudy and then the Bulgarian government denied our application to adopt and we nearly had to take the government of Bulgaria to court. Finally the Bulgarian government reversed its decision and opened up the way for us to proceed. We could have quit at any point. I could have ignored the pictures. We could have said “this is going to be too hard” or “this is going to be too expensive” or “we just can’t support more children”. The reality is this… If I had decided to take any of those alternate avenues, I see it as if it would be no different than if was turning my back on my own biological child. It is impossible for me to explain the depth of this belief to those who have not felt it for themselves, but for those who have, they know what I am talking about. The child that was meant to be part of the family. The child who needed to be part of not just any family, but this family, at this time.

I am sorry that Donka and Pamela were taken from their family at an early age when they were found wandering the street homeless. The fact that they are not my flesh and blood does not change my love for them and does not diminish their value to me as their father or as a member of this family. Valerie and I have been adopting from Bulgaria for almost a decade, and I have a love for the country, it’s history and all its people, especially those who do not have a voice of their own. I wish I could take the pain away, the nights of wondering why they didn’t have a family, and the years of waiting they had to endure which robbed them of their childhood and left them to fend for themselves against society. All that I can do now is tell them that I love them, and that their family loves them and that we will be here for them, now and forever through the good times and the bad, the easy and the hard.

Just as it says on the bracelets I gave to the girls this week “Family is where life begins and love never ends.”

Good night and God bless.

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