Today we really had the chance to be with the kids for an extended time! We were so nervous over breakfast about what the day had in store. We knew today would be a good day to really see how the kids responded with us and also give us a chance to learn more about them and challenges they are facing in their development, not to mention more about their likes and dislikes! We left the hotel about 8:45 and made it to the orphanage at a little after nine. The social worker met us at the front and then showed us to the family room. Shortly after she brought the kids up to the visitation room!
We had a paper bag with a collection of different toys we brought to entertain (and entice) them for the morning. Antoaneta wasted no time in picking out a BIG bag of foam 'wood-faux' blocks. She sat down on Myra's lap (as usual!) while Petar crawled on Joe's. Both started methodically picking out a couple blocks at a time until Petar decided it was time to pick up the whole bag and dump them on the floor. At this point we heard, for I think the first time, a noise of excitement from Antoaneta! Antoaneta entertained herself for awhile stacking blocks (and taking them away) in Myra's hand. Peter made all sorts of happy noises playing with Joe, especially when Joe brought out these textured bouncy balls we had for them to play with! We continued to find Antoaneta very serious-faced and needing a bit of interaction to get a smile out of her – but, we are new and unknown people so we were just happy she seemed content being in our laps and playing! Petar is primarily just a happy little guy and seems to enjoy attention from anyone, although he crawled mostly towards Joe!
At one point we decided to do the ‘kid swap’ and Joe carried Antoaneta around for a bit and put her at eye level with some more toys that we up on a shelf. She found one toy that played a song when the button was pushed. The song is now forever engrained in our heads considering the number times she handed it back and said ‘again’ in Bulgarian.
The social worker brought some coats to the room and said we could take them outside for a bit if we wanted. About 10:45am we decided it was time to venture out. We walked to the outside playground and tried a see-saw-type toy that did NOT elicit any positive reaction. Next up our bag of tricks was to blow some bubbles we brought. Joe tried and tried to get them to enjoy blowing, chasing, or even looking at the bubbles to no avail. We thought those were going to be a major hit! They seemed generally scared to be outside with us and the sun seemed to both Petar’s eyes a bit. For one more attempt Joe blew up a beach ball and we tried throwing/kicking it around. Again…nothing. When they do use the playground it is generally with a larger group of children and being out there alone may have made them a bit uneasy. Then we realized that going back inside was the best choice.
We went into one of the playrooms and they seemed to be familiar with this place because they were instantly much happier. Petar especially loved it when he would push himself on a 'car' and Joe would 'get him' and tickle him. Antoaneta had DEFINITE opinions of which indoor swing was okay and which one was not (the blue one for some reason was NOT an option and she made that known). At one point Antoaneta saw a caregiver who was with two other boys giving them some crackers. She quickly hustled over in her direction looking for the food! She had part of a cracker and came back to Myra but unfortunately she dropped it on the floor. Before she could muster up too much a meltdown Joe quickly got the goldfish from our bag and just one of those seemed to do the trick (you could tell by her face it was definitely a new taste though). She also really enjoyed a push around the playroom a few times by Joe in the BIG car. Joe tried to push Petar on the swing for a bit but when he tried to take him out, it was taking a bit too long and the screams and tears started flowing. Luckily after only a few seconds he was back on his plastic car smiling and zooming around the room.
We went back up to the play room about 11:45am because they would be bringing their lunch to the family room today and allowing us to feed them. That was an interesting experience. Myra was feeding Petar and besides making a COMPLETE mess out of him he was doing okay. Antoaneta on the other hand was not having any of the tactics Joe was trying and was NOT happy. With each attempt to feed her the bread or rice she would grunt and turn her head away. Shortly after our coordinator realized what was happening and said 'Oh, the SOUP is first, then the main course and dessert'. PLUS they do not eat the soup with a spoon, they just drink it right from the bowl. Apparently routine REALLY matters to her! Even once we established the routine, it was still clear she preferred to be fed by a female. So again, we did a quick ‘kid swap’ and Joe switched over to Petar and Myra fed Antoaneta the rest of her lunch. Petar scarfed down just about all of his but Antoaneta, being a bit unsure about the surroundings and people feeding her, stopped a bit sooner. Again being a girl after Joes heart, she got up from the table and started picking up the blocks (and every other toy in the room) and putting them in the bag the blocks came in. She does like her organization!
Before she could finish, the kids were whisked quickly away for their nap at which time we headed out with so much more on our minds then the day before. We all (us, our coordinator Rosi and the Italian family & coordinator) headed out for lunch (we didn't realize how hungry we were!).
After lunch (at about 2pm) we had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves. We used this time to relax at a coffee shop watching the videos and looking at the pictures we took that day. We also took a walk around Varna. We really like this city and made sure to take lots of pictures to share with the kids some day!
The Spanish restaurant was calling our name for dinner and gave us a chance to discuss our decision on names for the kids (not to be revealed quite yet) over some Tapas and beer!
Only TWO more days left with the kids! Watching them leave the room and go over to the tiny elevator each day is hard. Not knowing where they are going, who is taking care of them, what they are doing, etc. is very difficult. We’ve only been able to see small parts of the orphanage (directors office, lobby playroom, and small family visitation room). Other than the hallways the rest is a bit of a mystery.
P.S. For those who don't already know we cannot share with you any pictures of the kids. Until all the paperwork is done and the court proceedings completed (so, about 3-5 months after our 1st trip) we are not allowed to share these publicly due to strict privacy laws in Bulgaria to protect the children's rights. After all, until that happens, they are not legally our children. We respect this wholly and won't do anything to jeopardize our adoption! Just think of this as our 'expecting' period where you don't get to see the kids until the official 'birth'!