Thursday, January 10, 2013


Hello, everyone, I'm ready to start crying as I type up this post. They were both in bed and I had kissed them good night. Before falling asleep, Maximilian started saying, "Catherine, . . ." so as to go over the family members' names. He listed Catherine, one of the twins (cannot remember which one), and Thomas. Therefore I gave him the full list of all their siblings waiting for them at home: Catherine, Gerard, Warren, Thomas, Nicholas, and Stephen. Out of his own initiative, he added someone else--someone who gave so very much of herself for each and all of the adoptions to come true--and yet someone who won't be physically there at the time of their homecoming: "Gramma." I didn't need any clearer vocalization. I will have to find someone to interpret for me the explanation that Grandma is in Heaven, and is hugging and kissing them from Above. Given that without someone to interpret for me I was unable to explain anything, I pretended not to listen--and he insisted, 'Momma--"Gramma"!' I know that my Mom is hugging them from her place next to God. I know that exactly in the same way she did it for me when I was a child and actually all my life, she is carefully and lovingly watching every single movement for them not to get hurt. She is bringing them home, the same as in 2008 when the U.S. Consulate in Port-au-Prince gave us some unwarranted trouble, before any politician arrived to do anything, my Dad's intervention from Above brought Thomas and Nicholas home. God bless, Lillian

Fourth Day: Everything Got Done!

Yes, it's true: medicals were done and the visa interview was done! And the boys also seem to have a stronger sense of belonging. Philip may run around, and if unattended for just a moment would get lost. He may be very cuddly with everyone. He may make me feel somewhat uncomfortable with that. Yet, on the other hand, there is no doubt that he feels he belongs in hotel room 507 or anywhere else with Maximilian and me. He is trying to talk too. Let's pray that he will get the same speech pathologist Nicholas has. Both of them have an enormous amount of determination, and that will certainly help. Today he tried to whisper something in my ear. Even if the words were unitelligible, it means the meaning is there. Actually, he could have had perfect articulation and I wouldn't have been able to understand either. The language barrier is an undeniable challenge. At one point, while waiting for the interview with the vice-consul, he said, "Ma." No, I'm not delusional: he did say it. Anyway, even though expressive language is impaired due to articulation challenges, obviously receptive language is totally fine. He tries to help with everything as well--and knows perfectly well what he wants, and when and how to do it. For instance, he prepares the chair for Maximilian, not only in the right position, but also takes care to remove any eventual crumb from the cushion. At the clinic where they had their medicals they had an inflatable frog, and Philip made it leap in exactly the same way in which a real life frog would leap. Maximilian appears to have an incredible ability to learn a new language, and his vocablulary is increasing dramatically. The doctor who examined him for his immigration medical told me he is very intelligent--and obviously he is. At one point I felt a little jealous after seeing that he likes to hold hands not just with me but also with other people, such as Dani, who is Toni's cousin, the adoptive mom with whom I had left him on Tuesday morning in order to go to buy a few items, and some very kind hotel employees. Yet, when thinking about it, that only shows his desperate need for affection, his desperate need to be taken care of, to be given personal attention, to be nurtured, to be loved. Also, whether or not she should, Dani told him I had told her I was jealous, and he immediately held my hand. He also said he wanted to go back to the hotel--and I can see and feel that there is no doubt in his mind that he is my son. He looks forward to going home. He keeps on thanking me for everything--even when I do something for Philip. This evening, as I was doing for Philip something that would be inelegant to explain more in detail, Maximilian kept on telling me, "Thank you, thank you." Thy also hug each other and share well. Quite often Maximilian likes to say "no" in a little capricious manner, pouting his lips--but then in less than three seconds he smiles and says, "yes" or "O.K." Moreover, I didn't get any scratches, any bites, any blows, or any kind of physical aggression at all. This evening they were happy that all the paperwork was done. There is a bedtime anecdote that deserves a separate post. Even though it's way past bedtime for me, I do need to write about that. I have to. God bless, Lillian Godone-Maresca

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Third Day with Maximian and Philip

Hello, everyone, I'll try to be brief because except for some sleep periods at the desk and a short time in bed at the beginning of the night so as to encourage them to fall asleep as well, I didn't get much rest yet. Despite driving me crazy all day, it's undeniable that Philip is really cute--and very grateful as well. If he gets a new toy, even a small one, or even a new piece of clothing, he gives me a hug and a kiss. In the morning he hit Maximilian on his face for no apparent reason. He was not angry, and I think he was just trying to do a prank. Nevertheless, my point is that as soon as Maximilian started crying, Philip immediately blew him a kiss and went to hug him. They share well. Also, if one does not want one of the most desirable items, instead of just putting it aside, offers it to his brother. The things they are the most are the remote for the T.V. in the room, the i-Pad, which I try not to give them all the time anyway, or a helicopter that lights up, moves, and makes sounds. Actually, they no longer seemed to be as interested in the helicopter as they used to be. Philip appears to be a T.V. technician. He likes to unplug both the set and the cable, and to plug them back. God is on top of everything, taking care of everything, and watching over each one of His children. This morning one of the hotel employees gave Philip a very small toy car. It was a very, very small miniature. He had never taken anything to his mouth before, and I didn't see anything wrong with that very little car. He was really restless, and one of the housekeepers volunteered to come with us to the room. Together with her, he approached the window, and opened the movable upper panel. In a matter of a few seconds, the little new toy had plummeted down onto the street. It was so very small that nobody even thought about looking for it. Well, in the afternoon Philip found in one of the two suitcases a travel dominoes set that I intended to keep for the trip back home. The pieces were smaller than expected. Instantly, Philip reached out for one piece and took it to his mouth. I got it out without any resistance from him, though. But then--he immediately grabbed another one and stuck it into his mouth as well. The same as with the first one, he didn't oppose my efforts to remove it--and did not even complain when I got all the pieces and put them on the top shelf of the wardrobe. The good thing is that it is obvious that he knew he was doing something wrong. He just wanted to do it as a prank anyway. It was not that he did it as a natural behavior such as in babyhood, but in a much more conscious and elaborate manner, as a purposeful action in order to get even more attention. Nevertheless, independently of that, Who had made Philip's hand open and drop his toy when at the window? That little car could have caused a tragedy--but Someone made Philip drop it before anything happened. There is a very nice Bulgarian T.V. series about a family obviously in the high end where the members seem to care for each other and deal with any issues in a very harmonious way. Stephen used to watch it all the time, and even with the language barrier I was able to grasp a very uplifting way of dealing with some life situations. When looking for an appropriate channel for the boys, one of the hotel employees got that series and commented that it was a very good one. Well, yesterday's episode was about the elder mother's passing with her grown-up daughter calling her, "Momma!" and crying by her bed, keeping on calling her even when the mother could no longer respond. Evidently that was far from being what I needed to watch. There is more I'd like to add, but cannot do it at this point. I'll hit the "publish" button all the same, though. God bless, Lillian

My Very Own Unsung Heroes

Hello, everyone, This morning (it's 3:45 a.m. local time) Toni's cousin and brother are picking us up at 10:30 in order to go for the children's medicals, and then at 2:30 p.m. we have the appointment at the Consulate for their visas. While all this gets done, at home Catherine, Gerard, and Warren are taking care of absolutely everything, starting with their younger brothers, despite being sick with a nasty stomach flu. Yes, the three of them are sick--and yet they keep on doing everything that needs to be done. A couple of days ago Catherine was running a fever above 102. Warren apparently switched from his ear infection to the stomach flu. He and Catherine got sick first, and Gerard soon followed as well. This afternoon I had a missed call on my cell phone that because of the number it came from had concerned me a little. I knew the number sounded familiar and yet couldn't really identify it. Well, as I called Gerard's cell phone a moment after I got the answer--without even asking the question. Catherine had gone to pick up Thomas and Nicholas from school because the school nurse had called to say that both of them looked sick. That had been the call I had received. The school knew that I'd be in Bulgaria this week, but still someone had dialed my number all the same. Stephen is the only one who didn't get it yet. Maximilian and Philip may not have a very pleasant start-up time at home if their first new home experience ends up being getting a nasty stomach flu.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Second Day with Maximilian and Philip

Hello, everybody, I was scared how a big buffet breakfast with Philip would turn out to be--and yet it was a total success!!! No broken dishes, no messes, and no running around. Needless to say, some table manners will have to be corrected, but there is time for that. I must thank Mandy, the other mom who is here with her new son, for taking care of both Maximilian and Philip while I went to get all my "cover up" items, besides more diapers and a couple of things. I also found a wireless store, entered, and they were kind enough to call Verizon in U.S. for me so that I could explain to them that the global capability of my unit had not been enabled. She was really brave to take care of her new son plus two more, plus her son who is traveling with her. It took me really long, and also gor disoriented on my way back. Mandy had taken them down to the restaurant, and had had a brilliant idea--one that I wondered how I had failed to come up with before. Instead of selecting any table, she had gone for one against the wall, and had made Philip go on the inside. And it did work that time--but by dinner time Philip had easily found the way out. He would keep on passing over the back to the seat to the empty table that came next--and from there would run away in his desperate attempts to ride the elevator. It is not that he wants to get away and disappear. It is not that he doesn't want to be with me. It is simply that the elevator fascinates him! Exactly the very same thing happened with the door of the room. The first night I had been proud of my brilliant idea of asking at the front desk for help in order to pass a sofa from the back of the room to the front so as to place it right in front of the door. Given that the space is limited, in order to use the door the sofa needs to be moved sideways completely--and it's heavy. In order to lift it on top of the beds the male hotel employee had needed to accept my help because he was not able to pick it up by himself. Well, towards the end of the morning Philip had become totally proficient in sofa moving. Although I'm talking about dragging it on the floor to the side, I had deemed he wouldn't be able to do it--but I was totally mistaken. I had thought that a few things that needed to be out of reach would be safe on the top shelf of the armoir, higher than the bar with the hangers. Well, those things might be relatively safe--but in order to reach the ones on the other side of the armoir, at the same height but above other shelves, Philip would try to climb on the lower shelves. Given that the armoir is not ion-built, he could have made it tip over and crash him. Yet there is something very good to say not only about his comprehension but also about his reasonableness. At my request, one of the cleaning ladies explained to him that a box with some small things inside that I had placed on the top shelf above the bar with the hangers did not have any little toys for any little boys in Bulgaria, but just a few little ornamental souvenirs for some big people in the United States. After such explanation Philip stop driving me crazy asking for such box. Maximilian is very determined to do without the language barrier. In order to learn since the very frist day he has been repeating what I say to him. His pronunciation is perfect. He already knows, and correctly uses, at least two words and two full sentences. The words are 'bed' and 'wheelchair,' so as to indicate where he wants to be. The two full sentences are, "I love you so much," and "I'm ticklish." Obviously, I don't have the least idea about how he learned this second sentence. LOL. Oooops!!! My nose seems to be growing---like Pinocchio's did every time he told a lie. The way in which the two of them interact with each other is clear testimony of how very good both of them are. Whenever Philip really wants something, such as this i-Pad or the T.V. remote, Maximilian spontaneously hands it in to him so as to calm him down. But then, a moment after, having had a chance to really calm down, Philip would get some remorse and equally spontaneously would return the item in question to his brother. All of you must forgive me for being unable to post pix yet. I took one that is truly worth one thousand words--and even more. I had asked them to hug their new stuffed friends for a picture: a monkey for Maximilian and a smalll Winnie the Pooh for Philip--but they did even better than that" with one hand they hugged their stuffed animals--and with the other they hugged each other as well!!! After having had an excellent day, giving smiles to everyone, and after having tickled me and gotten tickled a moment before, at one point at bedtime Maximilian's expression unexpectedly started to change. For the very first time he took my hand away from his face. He did it very gently, very softly, though--as if he didn't really want to do it but felt he had to. Yet, as I told him that I loved him, he replied by saying exactly those very same words to me. A moment later, though, his sudden saddened look turned into sobbing. I decided to call Toni on the little cell phone that she gives to each one oif her clients and ask her to talk to Maximilian and then let me know what the problem was. As I suspected, Maximilian told Toni that he missed the children at the orphanage, and the caretakers too. Far from deeming that a negative episode, it was a truly positive one. A child who is capable to miss a lot is also capable of loving a lot. And I have no doubts at all about how very much he loves me. There was a very strong connection between Maximilian and me from the very moment I saw him back in August 2910 when I was on my first trip for Stephen, having taken in my carry-on luggage my commitment letters for Philip and for him. Unanimously we all had fallen in love with two two little boys instantly--from the very first day we had seen them in the pictures that came with their written profiles. Even at that very moment when his soul seemed to be torn apart, after talking to Toni he responded to my reassurance of love by repeating with a broken voice the very same thing: aubicheme-te. I do apologize for my very poor phonetic spelling. He would also repeat one more time, "I love you." I pulled his blanket higher and encouraged him to fall asleep.

A Brief Reflection About the Need for International Adoptions

Hello, everyone, After whispoering my request for a diet coke and waiting at the door for it so as to make sure I ddin't wake up anyone, I feel energized enough to include this post before going onto my second day with Maximilian and Philip. First of all, it looks like except for Putin, everyione in Eastern Europe deplores, decries, and denounces the ban on Russian adoptions from U.S. Before take-off of my flight from Washington-Dulles to Vienna from where I'd connect to Sofia, my fellow passanger happened to be wiping her tears as she was talking on her childfren--the same as I was trying not to cry while talking with mine. Her reason for her trip to Europe was not a happy one, though, because it was related to the health status of a close family member--although, let's pray, with good chances for full recovery. Although with no links to Russia and not personally affected by the issues around rhe Russian adoptions, she was really upset at the ban. She told me she was origianlly Romanian of Hungarian descent, and that having growjn-up in a Communist regime she couldn't tolerate that things like that kept on happening and that children kept on suffering. She also told me something that I was not aware of" that Putin had had connections to the KGB. Independently of that, looking at Maximilian and Philip, there is another argument I'd like to add. There is no doubt that, the same as Stephen, they were in an excellent orphanage, where they were cared for, given appropriate medical attention, and spared any questionable type of punishment. It is only too obvious that none of them is scared of any adult doing anything wrong to them because it had not happened before. Ywt, the same as Stephen used to be, Maximilian and Philip are really small for their ages. What does that mean? It means that even very good intentions, financial constraints prevent them from providing the children with all the nutrients they need for proper physical development. They seem to know the children. They celebrate the kids' birthdays. From time to time they take some of the children to the beach, to ride horses, or to some other field trip, including some instances of overnight stay. The place is clean. Nevertheless, it looks like finances stand in the middle of proper nutrition. Besides, what about the children's spiritual and emotional needs? On my first trip the director had told me that, except for celebrating the religious holidays, they cannot give any faith formation to the children because they don't have funding for that. From an emotional perspective, neither Maximilian nor Philip used to wear diapers or pull-ups at the orphanage. I had taken some pull-ups with me, though, thinking only about the flights back home. I'm paranoid about public bathroooms, and simply cannot bear the idea of my sons coming in physical contact with a public toilet bowl. The protections that can be placed on the seat are not enough for me. In my opinion, if due to height or to any physical challenges or behavioral issues it cannot be done without any contact at all, it cannot be done at all. That was the only reason why I had taken a few pull-ups with me. Well, both of them wanted the pull-ups as children typically want candy. Why? Because they wanted mom to do what had never been done for them by a mother before. They wanted that experience. And---that's not something that children simply want. It's something that children need. Then the questiin is obvious: why to deprive innocent children in Russia of something that otherwise they can have? Besides, it is a universal legal principle that no law can be applied retroactively in order to deny or diminish any beenfit already granted or in process of being granted. What about the adoptions in prograss? what about those families? What about those children? As my fellow passenger on my flight across the Atlantic said, "Little ones who were already abandoned once will believe they are being abandoned again." Catherine had expressed that concern before as she had invited all of us to pray together for those familieas and those kids. And--I don't think anyone needs to be a psychologist (or almost one) to figure out that.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My first day with Maximilian and Philip--written after my second day

Hello, everyone,
I must apologize for the empty post that I published yesterday night. Definitely I seemed to have been jinxed all the night. While at the computer I was trying to be really quiet in order to avoid waking up Philip. It had looked like he'd never fall asleep--until he finally did. The very good thing is that even though he was giving me some trouble, he would not go to bed without kissing me good night.

I was on my second or third paragraph of my intended post when I fell asleep--only to wake up at about 12"44 a.m. with the impact of my face hitting against the edge of the small cabinet that hides the even smaller refrigerator that contains the mini-bar items. Such cabinet is at the side of the desk, and compared to it, is shorter but more protruding. So, as I was falling lifelessly to the floor as I was sound asleep, the side of my mouth hit the edge of the cabinet. I'm certainly not a teenager, and I since I don't wear make-up I don't seem to take too much care of my appearance, but the truth is that I  care much more than I should.>
Well, in addition to the half-empty tube of collagen cream I had brought with me, in the morning I ended up buying two other facial creams and an ointment to see which one would work better as a cover-up--and for the first time in many years would buy also a lipstick. Actually, I have not been wearing cosmetics since the family expanded and the finances shrank.  But, given that I have really thin lips, with some lipstick I could easily disguise the swelling on one side--and the creams would cover the darker area around.

Actually, I did deserve that little incident because of all the times when I used to complain because my Mom, instead of sleeping, would keep calling me on her cell phone to make sure I had not fallen asleep and had not smashed my head on the floor. Even amidst her shortness of breath, her pain, and her thirst, she would still call me one week before leaving this earth. And--I don't even dare type this because some of you may think that I "lost it" completely . . . but I will type it all the same. Yesterday night it was more than a bump. The impact against the edge of the cabinet had cause an actual cut--yes, a bleeding cut. I felt miserable thinking that at the time when finally I'd be able to show off my two new sons I'd need to hide my face. As I've been doing all my life, I asked my Mom for help. I was also concerned about a permanent scar. In the course of the day, as the swelling went down, the cut closed completely, leaving almost no visible signs.  It's no more than a little hematoma that can be covered with the cream.

Despite the bump, yesterday night I kept on writing my post, and arrived ti write a long one. Then I encountered a little technical problem, and as I tried to solve it, obviously I must have pressed the wrong option because the whole post vanished into thin air.

Maximilian and Philip were very happy to see me. Philip would run up to me and hug me. The same as before, Maximilian does not just hug with his arms and kiss with his lips. He also hugs and kisses with that deeply loving look that he puts in all his expressions of affection. It's really a look that goes from heart to heart.

He thanked me for the wheelchair that at the request of the orphanage director I had brought for him--even though it was not even a new one. It is actually a rather old one, and will be replaced relatively soon by a much better, brand new, and fully covered one. He would thank me for everything I gave him and for every very small thing I would do for him. He would call me "Momma," and seemed to love the sound of it--the same as I loved hearing him say it. At one point in the afternoon when at the hotel already, he would say something about 'momma' and about 'thank you.' I don't think he said it in full words, and there is a language barrier anyway. Yet, the meaning was clear. It was obvious that he was thanking me for something much deeper than the little thing I had just done for him. I don't even remember what it was--because there was absolutely unusual or extraordinary about it at all. So, even though he would not understand me, I replied with something that summarized the way in which all of us have been feeling from the very beginning, something that has made us find it difficult to emphasize how very much they needed us--because we also knew how very much we needed them. They did need to be home--but on the other hand we also did need them home. So, my reply to his thankfulness was, "Thank you for being my son." Philip is a very cute, cuddly little boy who happens to be a very curious, adventurous, fearless explorer as well. He climbs on everything, jumps up on everything, rides everything, tries everything, operates everything, opens up everything, closes down everything, plugs in everything, unplugs everything, picks up everything, moves everything around--and also makes every effort to put everything back in place. When determined to do something, he very much dislikes to be told not to do it. Yet, he's just playful, willing to do pranks. He's not aggressive or oppositional at all. I must confess I wished I could tie him up--if that didn't constitute child abuse. He's very cute, though, and very affectionate. And he is really smart too. I have a lot more to write, but will end this post here because I don't want the same thing to happen tonight--neither one of them. I don't want to get another bump or to lose another post. It's 12"54 a.m. now, and as soon as I publish this post I'm calling the reception desk to order a diet coke. In any event I took my precautions. Next to me there is a small fluffy stuffed monkey that I brought for Maximilian so as to replace the much bigger and fluffier one I had brought for him two years ago when I picked up Stephen in December 2010. As you may have already imnagined, that little monkey is cushioning the edge of the cabinet--just in case I fall asleep and fall down again.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Post I Can Finally Write

Hello, everyone,
I still have the feeling that it's not happening for real. Isn't it just a dream? I'm here, in Sofia, typing in my hotel room, and still find it difficult to believe that tomorrow Toni's brother and one of her twin cousins will pick me up at 7:00 a.m. in order to go to Lukovit--and that from then on Maximilian and Philip will be with us once and for all--and forever!!! For those of you who may not know it, Toni is Antonyia Vladimirova, our amazing Bulgarian attorney.

First of all I want to apologize to everyone because there will be no pictures until I get back home. Please don't laugh at me but without the twins or Catherine to help me I'm at a total loss. I'm having a hard time even using my i-Pad. At home I use my old, old-fashioned, almost obsolete regular PC.  I had to knock at the door of Mandy's room one floor down and get her help in order to be able to login into my Google account and be able to post this. Most of you know who I'm talking about. Mandy is another mom who is here with one of her kids picking up her newest son. Both she and I are mothers of eight now.

So, there will be pix--and lots of them. You know me, and the photos are my favorite way of bragging--one in which I can do it without openly using words.

I'll take the liberty of quoting one of you who once posted on a Yahoo group that when in the process of adopting "God had worked a fish and loaves miracle in their [our] bank account."  Yes, it does happen. I can give testimony to that. It had happened before and keeps on happening. For anyone who may be considering the possibility of adopting, or of adopting again, please don't hesitate: go ahead and take the plunge!!! God will help. He always does.  Between last week and this one I got two payments from clients that allowed me not only to take care of some necessary payments but also to buy, and even get a little carried away with, what I needed for the trip and the homecoming. And, to crown the blessing, I didn't have to spend much time on legal matters because, with the exception of a couple of phone calls and a couple of things sent by e-mail, all the work was handled by a friend in San Diego County who made it a life mission to help the under-represented and underserved in their struggles. My mind wouldn't have been focused enough to do more. Like in the movies, the second payment was collected by this lady on Thursday evening from multiple applicants for the same legal benefit who paid a small amount each, and I got a deposit into my account on Friday morning.

So, after finishing a few other things, the shopping spree started on Friday, the day before leaving, in the late afternoon. I left Walmart for the end because it's the one that closes the last. I can't wait to see sweaters and pants, winter coats and gloves move!!! No, I didn't go crazy with the excitement--or should I say not completely? Soon the winter clothes will be moving as they'll be on two adorable little boys who will make them move. I can't wait to see the smiles on their faces. I hope they will smile, won't they? I hope they will love me as much as they both loved me for sure when I was on my first trip for them last May.

We had a bed for Philip, but not for Maximilian. Well, I bought one in a rush on Friday. Catherine and the twins will put the frame together before the homecoming.

Needless to say, except for a very rushed nap at the beginning of the night, I made it almost around the clock. I'm used to doing that, anyway--but that's how I didn't even want to look at myself in the mirror. I'm not claiming to be young--but I looked even older than I really am. I was horrified--because I did look horrible! Now I don't know whether to attribute the miraculous change back to normal to the Bulgarian air--or to my sleep throughout almost the entire time of all three connecting flights: from Boston to Washington-Dulles, from Washington-Dulles to Vienna, and from Vienna to Sofia.

While getting ready for the trip I felt very strongly how very much I miss my Mom. She gave so much of herself for this to happen, for all my adoptions to happen--and she won't be physically on this earth at the time of Maximilian and Philip's homecoming. I composed myself and kept on working on getting ready . . . and got enthusiastic upon realization that some items I had bought looked even nicer at home than they did at the store. But then I happened to find at the bottom of a drawer a very nice card I had bought for my mom--and then had misplaced it and have never arrived to give to her--and never will. It read, "I'm proud to be your daughter." Well, I'm crying now--and don't want to get scared  again of how I look. I will stop here. The big news is for tomorrow!!! Thank you all, and God bless.


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