Monday, November 21, 2016

Meeting Little Miss

I’ve wanted to write an update ever since we got back from our trip to meet Little Miss over two months ago. Between jetlag, unpacking from our move, scrambling to get documents together for the next step, and finding out that I’m pregnant (YAY!!!), I haven’t had much time to put words together in coherent sentences. More than that, I haven’t had much time to really process what we experienced thoroughly enough to share. I’m still processing, but I know lots of people are eager to hear about our little girl, so I want to at least give a quick update.

Travel to and from Bulgaria was smooth and the flights were uneventful. We arrived in country on a Saturday and we were blessed to be able to worship with the church in Sofia on Sunday – They send their greetings and blessings to the church in the U.S.!

We rented a car in Sofia and on Monday we drove the three hours to the town where our girl currently resides. It was Joshua’s first time driving in a foreign country and he did an admirable job, especially since it was a day or two before we figured out how to get the international maps on our GPS to work! After we finally got that figured out, it was pretty easy to find our way around. They drive on the same side of the road as we do, so that made it much more simple.

Chicken, mashed potatoes, and dill pickles in white sauce
Our three little boys did awesome the whole time. They were cheerful even after 27 hours of traveling, they were adventurous about trying new foods, they had the hotel staff wrapped around their fingers, and they even learned a little Bulgarian. I definitely recommend taking your bio kids with you on both trips if at all possible! Yes, it was more expensive. Yes, it was more exhausting. But having them experience our daughter’s homeland, letting them see and understand where she is coming from, having them there to help break the ice, and allowing Little Miss to interact with her brothers in her own environment before throwing her into theirs was absolutely priceless. Keeping the boys close to us through this whole process has helped them prepare for the transition without feeling lost in the craziness. I think a lot of times in the adoption world we are so focused on doing everything we can to help the adopted child feel secure and attached that we forget that our biological children need that same security. I am so glad we took them!

Thanks to blessings from generous friends, my mom was able to travel with us. She was absolutely invaluable. She stayed with the boys at the hotel during our visits with Little Miss until they were allowed to meet her. She was also a useful source of information; she had done lots of reading about what foods we should try and what sights we should see in the little bit of time we had to explore. We are so thankful for Mom, and for the generous donors who paid for her to join us!

We stayed in a hotel in Town ‘X’ for five days. Each morning Joshua and I met up with our translator and headed to the orphanage to visit Little Miss. We were allowed two hours with her in the morning and two hours with her in the afternoon.

On our first visit we met with some of the staff before meeting Little Miss. They gave us important information about her condition and about her personality. Partway through our conversation I glanced out the doorway and saw two little feet poking around the corner. In a breathtaking moment, our little girl was pushed into the room in her stroller, her thick, dark hair framing her sweet face. There she was, all smiles and giggles. Seeing her for the first time was surreal. Had we really, finally, gotten to this point? After all the years of waiting and praying and fighting for her? Were we really meeting our daughter?

Joshua got to hold her first (stinker!). She was hesitant and sat very stiffly. It wasn’t until she discovered a sticker on Joshua’s shirt that our oldest had stuck on earlier that morning that she started to relax. She loves stickers. She made great eye contact, showed concern when her favorite staff member left the room, and was cautiously interested in interacting with us – all very good signs. She has the best little giggly girl laugh and scrunches up her nose when she smiles. She loves all things pretty and her nurses described her as being very much a girly girl. She also loves all kinds of music, dancing, and singing. She’ll fit right in around here!

We spent most of our visits outside at the playground swinging or taking walks around the grounds. She very much enjoyed the attention and the extra opportunities to be outside. On days when the weather was bad, we played in a room off to the side of her ward. Playing inside gave us a great chance to see how mobile she is. Her ability to move around is impressive! She has myelomeningocele (“severe spina bifida”) and is paralyzed from the waist down, but she is stubbornly determined to get herself wherever she wants to go. It was encouraging to see how well she has adapted and how creative she is at coming up with ways to overcome challenges.

A Flower from a Brother to His Sister
The boys and Mom all got to meet Little Miss briefly Tuesday afternoon, but she was sick that day and extremely fussy, so they didn’t stay long. Their first introduction was a bit chaotic and not the best, but the boys were happy to finally meet their sister and Mom was thrilled to meet her first granddaughter. On the following visits, we took one boy at a time to play with her, and that went really well. Our oldest taught her how to blow bubbles, our middle son doted on her (he’s our most nurturing child), and Little Miss and our youngest boy had a blast mimicking each other’s every sound. We all got to go as a family to see her Friday morning for our very last visit. It was so good to be together as a whole family laughing, playing, and singing. Even the Stomach Bug was present, though we didn’t know it at the time :).

We flew out early Saturday morning. We were boarding our plane and Joshua tapped his wedding ring against a pole, a sound Little Miss had found fascinating during our visits, and it finally hit me that we were leaving our daughter behind for an unknown length of time. How do you walk away from your child and leave her halfway around the world? It’s a stupid system. There’s got to be a better way of getting these kids into homes more quickly and less traumatically. Law requires that we meet the child we intend to adopt in person before officially accepting the match. It’s supposed to ensure that parents really know what they’re getting themselves into and that they are serious about accepting this child into their family for life. But all Little Miss knows is that she was told that this man and lady who came to see her every day for a week are going to be her new Mama and Papa; and her new Mama and Papa left her. Can we get more traumatic for a child who has already suffered so much loss??

But what can you do? It’s sure better than leaving her in an institution for the rest of her life. So, you work with the broken system and hope and pray that God provides healing for the wounds created by people who have no idea what they are doing to these kids. And you pray for a better system.

Now that we are home, we wait for a few more pieces of paper to be signed. Because of our move, we had to update our home study, and that has caused a delay in our i-800 approval. But, as soon as we get our immigration approval (Any day now?? Miscommunication within USCIS has caused more delays…), we can get Article 5 signed and then they will set a court date for making Little Miss legally ours!! At that point we will be able to share more information and PICTURES!!!

We are still doing a little bit of fundraising to finish paying for our adoption. We currently need $750 to pay the balance of our new home study fee, and then all we have left to pay is travel expenses for Trip Two! If you would like to make a donation online, you can go to

I am still in awe of how God has provided for every step of the way and how, through you, our dear friends, He has made it possible to fund an adoption that seemed so far out of reach just three years ago. Your donations mean the world to us, and we can’t wait to share the news that the little girl you helped bring home is safe in our arms!

Please continue to pray for us; for patience, for peace, and especially that we can finish the process as quickly as possible and bring our baby HOME!