Thursday, August 12, 2010

After My Seventh Visit

Hello, everyone,
I have excellent news! When asked him again if he really liked Kevin so much, better than Stephen, this morning he said he liked both--so he'll be Stephen Kevin Godone-Maresca. 

Most importantly, twice yesterday and again today, he would throw his arms around my shoulders, and we'd remain like that, hugging each other, lost in time and space, with everyone else keeping silent and motionless in the room.

At one point, he was on my lap, and I said that I'd like to grab him, put him in Toni's van, and then on a plane, and take him home. Toni translated that for him, and he asked me, "Why don't you do it?" I explained to him that if I did, the police would stop me, and then I would not be allowed to get the papers officially stating that I am his mom. I clarified for him that forever I was his mom and he was my son forever, but still wanted to have a paper officially showing that.

Moreover, he is very polite. When after being on my lap for a while he wanted to go back to his chair because his back hurt, he told me, "Sorry, Mom."

I'm afraid the orphanage will get flooded tomorrow when my last visit comes to an end. I will cry, and cry--and cry. Yet, what what makes me feel better is the thought that in a couple of days it won't be just me, but all of us crying out of emotion and holding on to our faith as we storm the Heavens for our Stephen to be home before Christmas Eve.

Actually, this is an eighth-visit picture--but couldn't resist posting that handsome thinking expression.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

After My Fifth Visit

Totally boyish and full of life
A little more about Plamen: he is decisive, temperamental, and a leader among the kids. Yet, it is obvious that he is sensitive and has a heart. He manages his wheelchair very well and very fast, and when with the other children he gets with it too close to the edge of the steps that lead to the front entrance. For the next few months until he's home, we're all going to have nightmares about those steps.

On a different thought, even without the use of his legs, he's so articulate, so nimble, and so vivacious that you tend to forget he's in a wheelchair.

At one point during the course of the visit, Plamen (or should I start calling him Kevin?) said that visits were over five days so that we could get used to each other, but then I'd leave, and when I came back, we'd need to get used to each other again. I assured him that we'd be thinking about him every day and praying to have him home, and that Catherine, Gerard, and Warren loved him the same--even without having seen him in person. As I repeated that we'd never forget about him, I touched the back of his right hand, and he got my hand and held it in his. We kept like that, holding hands--and then another little hand tried to reach out for mine.

That was Illiyan's left hand, as his wheelchair was parked right beside Plamen's in the room. For a priceless moment, we kept like that, each one of my hands holding one of their hands. Yes, Toni had spoken with the director, and she had brought Illiyan into the room as well. That boy is really adorable also. He's shy, but smart. He can give very intelligent answers, is loving and lovable, and has a smile that comes right our of his heart--and yet, except for when he smiles, his look tends to be very sad.

Illiyan's movements are more limited than Plamen's. He does have some control over his hands, though, and with consistent occupational and physical therapy a lot may be achieved.

Plamen agreed to give Illliyan a Spiderman puzzle that was too easy for him, and Illiyan kept on holding it, as if in disbelief that it could be for him. When the director thought about taking him out of the room, Illiyan said something that got forever imprinted in my heart: that if he needed to go, he was ready to go, but if he could stay, he'd rather stay.

Tears come to my eyes as I write this. I wish Illiyan could know that, independently of paperwork, home study, immigration approval, red tape, and visa issues, he already has not only a mom, but an entire family, with a Grandma, an older sister, and older brothers ready and willing not to leave one stone unturned to get him and Philip home as well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

After Four Visits

Doesn't he have a wonderful smile?
That little boy is really incredible!!! Toni kept on saying that, if we think that he lived in an orphanage all his life, his personality and mental development are amazing, astonishing, unprecedented, unbelievable, extraordinary! From the very first visit he calls me "momma," and says that he loves me very much. He is full of life, and everything around him sparkles. He's extremely intelligent. When I was unsuccessfully trying to make my laptop work (my applied IQ is much lower than my verbal one), he said he could not help "because it's not my computer."

Yesterday he asked Toni again when he'd be able to go home, and she again explained to him about the paperwork that needed to be processed. I also told him that two different governments had to do their part each. On my second visit he had already wanted to know if he could be home by Christmas. Yesterday he advised me to take a coat when coming back in winter to pick him up because otherwise I'd be cold.

The most touching part was when he asked if once he goes home it'd be forever. I hugged him, and assured him, "Forever, forever!" And Toni needed to give me some tissue.

Another very moving moment was when he won at a game, and cried out, "I won!" while throwing his arms around me.
Hugging mommy

As for his new name, we wanted Joseph, Steven, or Lawrence --but the little one has a mind of his own, and he himself came up with his new name: he likes Kevin. I'm not sure of his middle name yet--but he'll be Kevin Godone-Maresca.

At home my kids and my mom cannot wait to have him with us, and my e-mails bring tears to their eyes--as when they told my mom that she's already "baba" (I'm writing it phonetically). I have a big carry-on bag. Why can't I just smuggle him in it right now?

God bless everyone.
No words needed

Monday, August 9, 2010

Right After First Visit

He loved th Narnia set--and acted as a real super-hero!
Hello, everyone,
I couldn't be more excited!!! Plamen is simply adorable!!! His smile is priceless--and he gives it only when it has a meaning. . . and, after the first few minutes, he started smiling at me, and even moved closer to me!!! Catherine had selected two stuffed dogs for him, and one of them was my first gift--and he loved the dog. He asked the director if he could tell the other children he'd be going home--and that shows that he's considerate, obedient, and smart.Due to the language barrier, I cannot understand what he says, but Toni told me that his grammar is perfect--and it does sound perfect and self-assured. He wanted to know whether he'd be able to see one of his former playmates who had gone home to his new family in U.S. some time ago. Needless to say, that shows that he does form solid attachments. He's very intelligent, very articulate, very sensitive yet self-confident, and super expressive.

We're going to be praying so, so hard to have him home before Christmas!!!!

It's time for my second visit, and don't want to be late. I need to meet Toni downstairs, in the lobby.

Thanks for following our wonderful journey. Even with all the strain of this constant emotional roller coaster, it's totally worth it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Big News

Hello, everyone--and thank you for following our news.

Actually, I do have BIG news!!! First of all, today, August 8, 2010, I'm typing from Sofia. Yes, yes, yes!!! Tomorrow morning I'm going to meet our new little one. Everything was hectic, with so very much to do and such limited time to get all done. Yet, everyone wanted to take care of something and help with something. A couple of days ago we had done a video of all of us, all greeting Plamen and talking to him, telling him how we feel about him. Catherine went out of her mind making it perfect, and also editing other videos she had from the Wild Animal Park,  from her last visit with St. Michael's Young Adults back in May, and from Disneyland, from when we had been there all together one week before. (BTW, if interested in Disneyland pix, you can pay a look at the post before this one.)

Given that I had been told there would be no internet connection in the room where the visits normally take place, Catherine did everything possible and impossible to get those movies on the new laptop's desktop. She had a really hard time with that, but was very determined to do it. Also, she had been the one going from shop to shop looking for presents for Plamen, for the orphanage director, the psychologist, and the two social workers. And, far from deeming her voluntarily undertaken job finished with the purchase of the gifts, she went ahead and did much more than expected--and, actually, much more than necessary. She also bought gift boxes with different colors and patterns, and even took care of matching each box with the colors of the presents.

Warren did a wonderful job with the artwork for a little something for Toni from the bottom of our hearts. We'll be thankful to her for life, and we found a way of just showing her our endless gratitude: a framed picture, including two photos of all of us, Plamen's photo, and a few words telling her thank you forever, from all of us. Besides, Warren looked up the Bulgarian translation for all the sentences in our family book--the one to be given to our little boy.

Gerard's role was not less important, as he spent all the time taking care of Thomas and Nicholas, and being ready to do whatever might be needed--from coming up with some info from the computer to doing the trash.

My mom helped in everything, and prayed all the time. Only her prayers got the child book plus another photobook of our family delivered on time by UPS overnight on the very last day--just on time to put them in one of my carry-on bags. Fortunately, from the day before we already knew from an e-mail from Costco Photo Center that the books had been shipped.

And now the big news!!! Together with all the presents, the child book, and some more photos and documents on our family that as an overly proud mom I cannot avoid to show, some other extremely important papers traveled with me, to be hand delivered to Toni: the commitment to adopt Illiyan and Philip--following Plamen's adoption, of course.

The week of July 19 had been a very anxiety provoking one. Common sense would have said to wait until being to Bulgaria, try to see the new prospective adoptees, and commit to them once back home. But our hearts were shouting out something different. We did not need more to commit. We already knew everything that needed to be known. Illiyan is in a wheelchair, the same as Plamen. Yet, in his case, it's not due to spina bifida, but to c.p.  He is 7 years old, and seven months younger than Plamen. Philip is 5, and his problems with his gross motor skills are not really significant. Although not entirely stable, he does walk, and can even go up and down the stairs by holding on to the handrail.

Despite Victoria's request for some sort of pre-approval from Heartsent, the home study agency, that was not possible. The social worker who wrote the wonderful home study is just a contract worker, with no decision-making power in the agency. Sybil, our amazing case manager, was leaving that very same week for a new position with an adoption advocacy organization. Heartsent's director, whom we have never met in person, said that it'd be against their policy to start a new home study until after six months following Plamen's homecoming. Yet, I assured Victoria that our family met all the requirements for the adoption of two additional children after Plamen, that we would not leave one stone unturned to bring them home, and that I had a plan of action already. Toni did help a lot, and Victoria agreed. From all of us, thank you, Toni, thank you, Victoria, and thank you, Carla, for trusting us. 

From now I intend to start gathering letters of support for the two further adoptions from many authoritative sources, including psychologists, medical doctors, priests, educators, and different other people, all with a title to their names. As for priests, I can get over twenty letters if needed--and possibly even a letter from a bishop.

I do understand that mostly these days, with all the negative publicity on older child adoptions, agencies are always scared of eventual disruptions--but, even without ever having met us, Heartsent's director had already heard of, and was impressed with, the extraordinary amount of volunteer work my children do. She had only positive things to say about us. Of course, even with proof, it's difficult to believe the true degree of commitment my older children have towards my younger ones--the ones home and the ones to come. Even if, let's say, Plamen, Illiyan, and Philip were home, and I got into an accident and died only one month after their homecoming, Catherine would do everything possible and more to keep the family together--and, at 13 or 14, Gerard and Warren would beg her to let them have part-time jobs to help. From now, all three of them claim it as a privilege to take Nicholas home one day if he is not able to live on his own. This is a family where everyone will do everything to make things work out--and that's not my own merit, but my kids'. Anyway, just in case I cannot convince Heartsent's director to speed up the new home study, I have some other alternative plans. Let's see. We are uplifted by our prayers, with my mom spending in prayer most of her days, and the prayers of my dad and my grandparents helping us from above, the same as they did in the past, when they helped bring Thomas and Nicholas home to us. 

My battery is low. I'm going to sleep, ready for a BIG day tomorrow.

Thanks everyone for your interest in our story.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Disneyland, 07/28/10 - Pix

If pictures are really worth one thousand words. . .

I'll let the pix do the talking!


Back to TOP