Veranda at Bora Park Hotel where we ate our breakfast
The outside part of the pool area at Bora Park.
The entry way at the Center. I loved all the children's springy artwork.
The grounds at the Center
Here's our Abby-girl at long last. We last saw her on February 18. Director in the background.Discussing details
Abby with some of the workers. I'm pretty sure the white-haired lady is the one who threw the water across the road. Villi is the one taking the picture.
More of Abby's well-wishers. Veni is the one in the striped shirt.
Mariann, Director Aleksiev, Toni and Abby.
Villi, me, Kevin, Mariann, Director Aleksiev in back; Toni and Abby in front.
Abby laying on Kevin's lap on the way from Pavlikeni back to Sofia.In our motel room in Sofia. The first time we are really alone with her.
Abby and Daddy
I was trying to get a family shot in the motel mirrored-elevator!!
Many pictures of me are courtesy of a certain camera-loving little girl through Kevin likes to get up-close goofy shots, too. I will not entertain you with all of them.
Our lunch: Abby had chicken soup (she didn't like it); Kevin had spicy Hungarian goulash, I had tomato. Abby also had bites of a salad with white creamy stuff and cooked peppers. I think the waiter called it something like Snow White.
I have a feeling Kevin is responsible for this photo
And Abby for this one. Smile.
Abby chose this outfit to wear. Behind is her fold-out bed.
Here's me unpacking . . .
. . . and Kevin napping
Lovely shot of our feet. I had to include this one because it cracks me up.
Harried but happy.
This was quite a day. We started with the usual breakfast at Bora Park Hotel except this time there were 2 slices of boiled egg in place of one slice of cheese. Chuckle. And it was out on the veranda--very pleasant and beautiful.
We were supposed to be at the Center by 8:30 (and I think we were awfully close) but when we arrived Toni was told they were having "discussion"--maybe about Abby's departure, I don't know. Anyway, I think it was at least 9 am when the director came out to shake our hands. I truly like and admire this man. We all headed into the same room where we had played before. Before long Abby came in. She looked so little. She was dressed in a blue summer top, blue shorts and pink Velcro sandals. I just couldn't stop kissing the top of her head.
The director checked our passports, went over official documents with Toni, read through a long list of documents they are sending with us. We got x-rays, EEG reports, CT scans and her medication for epilepsy!! This will be a huge help to her doctors in the U.S. We also discussed the use of our donation and specified that we would really like it to be used for something that will last a long time, in honor of Abby. Before we stepped outside the director spoke personally to Kevin and I, saying that "Steffy" is a special little girl and asking us to take good care of her. We earnestly promised we would. We are the first to adopt from this place, by the way. I do sincerely hope we will not be the last.
The psychologist suggested that we let Abby wear her own clothes for several days to avoid further shock of new textures, new feel, etc. Good grief! They sent her away with several bags and a box of stuff (unlike some establishments which would send their little ones off in nothing but their birthday suit) which I later discovered to be not only clothes, but nearly all of the toys we'd left with Abby plus many, many gifts still in gift bags which had been given to our daughter at a going-away party--several mementos of Bulgaria in general and others of her city in particular, religious pictures, books and plaques, games and toys, special pictures of Villi and Veni who helped care for her, a cup, pictures she had drawn, etc. So nice to know she is so loved. To be honest, I did wonder how in the world we were going to get all of that stuff home in our suitcases.
I want to share this next part of the story very delicately because I am well aware of the adoption triad--child, birth family, adoptive family--and know that adoption, which brings me such joy can at the same time bring pain and sorrow to another family, even though parental rights have been voluntarily and legally severed. When we got outside there were several adults waiting out near the car to see Abby off. There were lots of hugs and good wishes. Abby was given a long-stemmed artificial red rose, a small Bulgarian flag, a postcard of Bulgaria and a religious emblem. I was videoing it as a keepsake for Abby when all of a sudden Toni said, "Joy, we need to leave immediately." I could tell from her tone of voice she was dead serious. I suspected it had something to do with a member of her biological family who was expected to come sometime that day. I had no idea that person was actually there and had asked Abby where she was going ("to America") and why. At Toni's direction, Kevin and I got into the car with Abby between us, rolled up the window, locked the door and left. In spite of our sudden departure, one of the ladies met us out at the street to throw a glass of water in front of the car and shout a special phrase. This is a Bulgarian custom for good luck that I'd read about.
Abby was crying. She is especially attached to Villi. Toni was reminding me how normal this is. I was telling Toni about foster kids who walked in/walked out of our house with no emotion at all. Abby's way is much healthier. It shows she can attach. Bless her heart. I handed her some tissues and was patting her, saying, "It's OK. It's OK." I know she can't understand my words. I wonder if my touch is even comforting but maybe at least my voice tone is soothing. Abby was telling Toni she is afraid we won't understand her tears. After awhile she laid her head against Kevin's shoulder.
At our usual rest stop on the way back to Sofia, Marty bought her a pastry--light, delicate flaky bread that has cream cheese and butter. To me it tastes kind of salty. I don't remember what they called it. Abby did share some with me a little later.
In Sofia we stopped at DiDi's. She is a relative of Toni's and a nurse so she is particularly able to translate the medical reports and will go with us to the medical appointment on Thursday at 10:30. For those not familiar with international adoption, this appointment is necessary before the adopted child can get a visa to enter the U.S. She will also try to get a doctor to write a prescription for the Trileptal so we will have plenty to hold us until we can see the neurologist in the States. They reminded me that Trileptal needs to be given as ordered and not stopped suddenly. Smile.
Marty then drove us to the passport office. He went to exchange dollars into leva (we'd been using left-over leva until then) while Toni's mother walked us into the office. (Way too many stairs for Toni's wheelchair.) It was a long rather narrow room with about 20 little rooms (many seemed booth-size) along the sides and lots of people waiting in between. Toni's Mom was only keeping an eye on two of the rooms and in my kindergarten Bulgarian phonics I could make out that the door on those 2 rooms specified biometrics as well as passport. Finally it was Abby's turn. When she sat down for the picture apparently she wasn't even visible in the camera so she had to stand and try to keep her head in the circle. The photo didn't really do her justice.
We got dropped off at the Hotel Budapest , unpacked at least part of my stuff and Abby's clothes from my suitcase. We went down to lunch in the hotel restaurant for soups, salads. Back to the room for more unpacking.
I thought it was kind of funny that Abby picked one of our outfits to wear: sparkly black leggings and a pink long-sleeve shirt with butterflies. She tried on the pink/white tennies we'd brought but they are decidedly too big. The pink clogs are the same size but more adjustable since they have Velcro straps across the heel. I was kind of surprised she chose to wear them anyway, rather than her sandals which fit so much better. One good thing about our clogs is they have closed toes. I think this feature helped protect Abby from scarring herself up on the long walk down town. She has a very pronounced limp and besides that, the sidewalks are . . . . well, "uneven" is putting it very diplomatically. So it's slow-going and a LOT of work for her.
We ate at McDonalds. I felt so bad because she needed to use the "toiletna" The men's room was on the same level as our table but I went to spy out the ladies' room. I found it and motioned for Abby to follow and she fell flat on the floor down the little steps between levels (like 3 shallow stairs) She kept rubbing her stomach but I didn't see a visible injury. I don't actually know which part she smacked. (Later note: over the course of the days we spent in Sofia, Abby fell several times. Her right foot drags slightly, her balance isn't the greatest, she is very near-sighted and also has strabismus which probably really messes up her depth perception.) Kevin had been holding her hand as we walked on the sidewalks. I felt horrible that I let her fall.
Anyway . . . Abby had a hamburger Happy Meal. Her prize was a figure of Kung Fu Panda's dad (the noodle-making goose) that was actually a game--his plastic 'plate of noodles' was attached by a string. The goal was to swing the noodles in such a way that you could catch them on his head. Kevin, of course, played with it as we walked along the street on the way back to the Hotel. It was quite dark by then. We stopped on the way and purchased some ice cream which we ate in the Hotel lobby. I was surprised that Abby only ate 2/3 of hers.
She fell asleep without any problems at all--I sure from sheer emotional and physical exhaustion.
I didn't sleep too well. It was too hot in the room so I opened the windows. Then it was too loud with all the traffic. Finally I just turned up the fan speed on the A/C. Why didn't I think of that earlier?
Yes, indeed, it was quite a day.