We finally got to meet our boy today! He is amazing and there is a lot I wanted to share from today. But, it's after midnight here and I'm not sure I have the ability to put all of thoughts, feelings, emotions etc. from today into adequate words. So, instead I am just going to run it down Q&A style based off comments, messages, etc. that we've been asked.
Was he excited to see you/Does he know that you're his family.
He does not know yet that we are his family. Up until today I was hoping that he did know beforehand, but we very quickly realized that easing into this revelation is the best way to go. We knew beforehand that Ian was considered shy and that he has a hard time talking to new people. And, well he's 8 and has spent most of his life in an orphanage. Even if he's wanted a family the idea of suddenly having one and then having them thrust on you all at once would be a lot for anyone to handle. So, we are glad to have a day or so to spend time with him just getting to know him and letting him get comfortable around us.
He was shy at first, preferring to speak to the social worker that he obviously feels very comfortable with and his teacher. Eventually though he did interact with us, we had taken a few toys and play things with us and he played with us though always keeping an eye on the SW. We left the orphanage with our guide and his SW to go to a nearby park and he walked ahead with me a little ways then would run back to walk beside her.
Like most 8 year old boys he loves all things electronic, from trying out every app on my phone, even the coupon and shopping ones, to taking pictures with our camera, this is when we were able to interact with him the most. The hardest part for me was that I just wanted to touch him! But, I knew that I should give him space and time to get used to me. But, when letting him play my phone I could cover his hands with mine, move his fingers to show him how to work a game, just be close to him and he didn't seem to mind, didn't pull away so we took that as a positive sign!
Where are all the pictures?!
I mentioned that he loved the camera? He took lots of great shots of the park, the birds, a dog, his toy, etc. then figured out how to take selfies and took at least a dozen of those! Each time he immediately wanted to see the picture and quickly figured out which button did that. He wanted to push every button and knob on the camera, and he did...including the one to delete all the pictures from the memory card! And, of course soon after that he got bored with the camera so all I have from today is a side shot of him, a shot of our guide Yavor and two of pigeons :) I promise to do better the next 4 days.
He looks tall, is he tall?
Very :) He and Nicholas may only be about 6 weeks apart in age but Ian is much closer to the height of the average 10 year old. You may recall that he has a condition called Marfans syndrome and this is one of the traits of Marfans. He also has really long fingers, longer than mine already!
Does he talk?
Yes, and very well from what we could tell :)
Does he speak English?
Does he understand English?
Not that I could tell. His SW spoke English and our guide was with us as well. In the beginning it was kind of awkward. We couldn't understand him, he looked confused every time we talked. But, it got better. When we were playing my phone together I was sitting beside him and I would say something, usually something pretty short and simple, and the SW or our guide would translate. At first Ian would look to the person doing the translating every time I spoke, but eventually he kept his attention on what we were doing and just listened to the translation and would nod or say something back and someone would translate it for us.
We've been trying to learn some simple Bulgarian phrases but we'll see how that goes :)
Is he staying with you/how much time do you have with him every day?
No, he is not allowed to stay with us. We have 4 hours each day with him. But, they are very gracious at his group home and are allowing us to take him out, with our guide and his Social Worker. Today we just went to a nearby park. Tomorrow we plan to visit a castle and another day they talked about going to the mall and going bowling! 4 hours a day doesn't seem like a lot of time and part of me wishes it was more. But, to him I'm sure it seems like a lot of time to spend with these strange people who speak a strange language. Although we're sure, like any 8 year old boy would be, he is happy to be allowed to stay home from school and get to play.
So you're not bringing him home with you?! When will you bring him home?
No, I wish with all my heart that we were. But, we knew when we started this process that his country requires two trips. Though I admit, knowing that on an intellectual level for the last 13 months was a lot easier than it's been since the reality of what that means started setting in about a week before we left to come here. But, we're praying that we will make some headway into beginning the bonding process before we leave, that he will trust that we will be back, and that the last part of the process will go smoothly and quickly.
The 'usual' time frame between first trip and pick up trip is 4-6 months. We're praying that we hit all of our snags in the beginning of this process and that we won't run on the long end of things!
Are you disappointed that he wasn't more excited to see you?
Not at all. For those who have never walked this road it probably seems like we should be. But, honestly we had no expectations for today, this week, or of him. We're thrilled that he didn't seem upset by our presence and that he did interact with us. From the outside looking in today may have seemed a little anti-climatic, but, I promise we couldn't be more thrilled!
Our boy is adorable, he's going to be a heartbreaker! He is sweet and sensitive but also all boy. When we were outside he found snow and made snowballs to throw at his SW, he tried to jump in every puddle on the ground. He took great pleasure in kicking his Daddy's butt at the tabletop soccer game we brought and laughed delightedly every time the little rubber wallclimber guy we brought got stuck to the ceiling. And, honestly those are the kind of every day moments we all want with our kids. Affection, hugs and kisses, they'll come in time.
Don't forget, we loved him when all we had was a handful of pictures and a few pages of information. Seeing him today for the first time took my breath away and my heart just melted. It may have been different from the first time I saw Nicholas, but the joy was the same.
Please continue to cover our family in your prayers!