Before we traveled to Eastern Europe, I was terrified to go.
Many people had told me so many things about the Country in general, the people, the cities I was traveling to, and many other aspects of my expected trip.
I heard things like... there is smoke everywhere, there are dogs everywhere (I am allergic), people there do not smile, nobody speaks English, the water will make you sick, the cab drivers will rip you off, the hotels are disgusting, the orphanage is filthy, the workers in the orphanage do not care about the kids, the food is so different there and many many more things.
Most of these things were not even close to accurate. I was so terrified so no reason. I packed my breathing machine, tons of medicines, tons of foods and so many things.
The flights were not nearly as bad as I thought (this was my first time leaving the Country).
I mean 24+ hours in airports was rough, but I was actually able to sleep on the 8+ hour flight.
When we arrived at the airport customs was no big deal, and our driver was waiting there for us.
He drove us to a place to exchange money then he took us to our hotel.
The hotel was amazing. Everyone there spoke English and they were very accommodating.
We did not eat dinner that night because we were pretty exhausted, but when we went down for breakfast in the morning, I was pleasantly surprised. They had fresh fruit, toast with jam, yogurt, eggs, bacon, croissants, juice, milk, water and coffee. It was all very tasty and very "American".
We walked around the Capitol and found many people that were very friendly and some even spoke English. We found a KFC and Dunkin doughnuts. Dad just had to eat some KFC, but I decided to try some Pizza. I walked into the restaurant and they spoke English as well. I was very pleased. The food was great and we had a ton of fun. We went back to the hotel and met up with 4 American families that were also there. 2 of these 4 families would be going with us to the same city and I was pretty excited about that.
On Sunday we woke up and walked to the bus station (which was awful since we had all of our luggage and the roads and not great there), and we boarded the bus to Adam's city. The bus ride was very nice. There were only about 13 people on a huge bus. When we arrived in the city, we had to take 2 cabs to the hotel because we had so much luggage. They could not take us directly to the hotel because the hotel was in the middle of the city center which only allows pedestrians. We walked over to the hotel and went inside. They did not have elevators. We only chose this hotel because we were told that the other main hotel in this city was horrible. We lugged our 6 bags up 2 flights of stairs. I instantly started having an asthma attack from the smoke. This is the first time that the smoke had bothered me since being in the Country. I lugged my bags up 2 more flights of stairs only to discover that the room was so smoke filled that I could not breathe. My guide instantly went tot a different hotel (the one we were told was awful) and got us rooms. We lugged all of our bags back down the stairs and across the way to the other hotel. It was WAY nicer and I was surprised people had said not to stay there. It was old and a little run down, but we are in a foreign Country.... what do people expect??
It was also nice because both of the other families in that city were staying there also. We found a great restaurant and ended up eating there for almost every meal during our 5 day stay in Adam's city. Cabs were right outside of the hotel, so it was easy to catch a cab to the orphanage.
Monday morning at 8:30 we hoped in a cab and were on our way to see Adam for the very first time. We pulled up to the orphanage and the first thing I noticed were swings outside. The outside of the building was a little run down and I was very nervous walking inside. I was expecting the odor to be horrible and the place to be filthy. I was very pleasantly surprised. It smelled very clean and was nicely decorated with pictures of the children and pictures that had been colored. There were couches in the lobby where we sat and waited for our guide to get the social worker. Workers buzzed past us and many even smiled at us. The social worker came out and she was a gorgeous young woman who was very sweet. They took us in the elevator and up to the 5th floor of the orphanage where they took us into a very nice play room. Again I was very surprised that they has such a nice area for me to meet my son. We were all alone in the room.... My dad, my guide and me. We were told we could take all the pictures and videos we wanted, but that we could not share them. They were for our private use only. A few minutes later (it felt like forever to me though) Adam was wheeled in by his Grandma (not his real grandma, but they have a grandma program at his orphanage). Again I was pleasantly surprised because I was told he did not have one. I looked down at my son who I had longed to hold for so long. Surprisingly I did not pick him up right away. I did not know how he would respond to being held, so I knelt down next to him and spoke to him as I cried softly. I told him the I loved him and that I was his mama. He smiled at me and my heart melted!!! After a few minutes that also felt like forever, I asked if I could pick him up. I did and my sweet six year old son snuggled into me barely the size of a 6 month old. His head under my chin and his tiny body barely reaching to my waist. It was truly love at first sight. We were bonded and nobody could ever take that away!! We sat and snuggled for a long time. Then I pulled him away to star into his eyes and I was again pleasantly surprised when he seemed to be staring back into mine. You see, I was told he was blind and could not see. After the days passed it was obvious that he could see as he rather enjoyed staring into the eyes of his mama and would smile when he would see me. Please don't get me wrong his vision is seriously impaired, but he saw me and I am pretty sure he loved me. We were lucky and had about 30 mins to ourselves before the other 2 families arrived. They came in and ooohed and ahhhhed over Adam while they waited for their 2 sons to be brought in. It was another magical moment watching these 2 amazing families getting to meet their sons for the first time. Some people asked if I was upset to be sharing our visitation room with others and I can honestly answer no. I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to spend time with these 2 amazing couples and their sons. They are my family know and their 2 boys will be forever on my heart.
About an hour after our visit began it was time for Adam's Gma to come in and feed him. He eats 5 times a day. She came in and he knew it was time to eat.... actually about 10 minutes before 10 he started sucking on his tongue and getting a little fussy. He definitely knew it was time. She explained through our translator how he is now eating from a spoon, how often he eats and what he was eating. He eats 2 stage 3 jars of baby food around 6am, then a bowl full of yogurt with powder at 10am (it was like yogurt with baby cereal in it), then at 1 he eats another stage 3 jar, then 5 he eats yogurt, then at 9 he eats another stage 3 jar. WAY more than what I was told he eats. I was very impressed and his new diet shows because he has been gaining weight. I was told he is gaining 100 grams per week.
His Gma was so nice and even told us about the worker who stayed with him during his shunt surgery last year. They said prior to his shunt surgery he was like a new born baby.... he just laid there and did nothing. Since his surgery, he has started to make progress with being able to be propped in an upright position, eating from a spoon and he can almost roll over except his poor head is too heavy. I got to meet his Gma and the worker who stayed with him. She calls herself his orphanage mama which made me smile because you could see she loved him. The visit ended quickly and it was time to leave. I was surprisingly ready to rest because the visit was emotionally exhausting. It was 11am and we were told to be back at 3:30 pm.
We got back to the orphanage just before 3:30 and they evening worker brought him in. She carried him in and he instantly snuggled right into me. I was a little shocked because my son was wearing pink Peppa the pig pajamas. My dad thought it was great since he loves pink, but hubby did not love it :) He was so adorable and just wanted to snuggle with me almost the entire time. I enjoyed every second. They came in at 5pm to take him, so he could eat. I missed him the second the took him. I could not wait for 9am the next day. I was so tired that I was actually able to sleep. We got back around 8:45 the next morning and my sweet baby was in the same outfit as the day before, but that is ok.... he recognized me and he smiled the second he heard my voice. Each day he got more and more comfortable with me. I got the feed him 4 times, we learned he loved music toys, he loves his Gma and 2 of the workers, he loves to make spitting noises and he is very smart. My translator would ask him where his mama was and he would look right at me and smile. She would ask him to smile and he would. We got him to where he would just laugh and laugh and everyone just loved it. His Gma and all the workers were so surprised that he attached so well. We spoke with the director of the orphanage and she is very kind. We got to speak with the doctor and he said that Adam is very healthy aside from his vision and hydrocephalus. The psycologist said he is doing very well since he recently got a Gma and she was very impressed that he was attaching so well.
The week with Adam seemed to fly by and before I knew it, it was Friday morning. Before they even brought him in, I was in tears. It was a very hard visit knowing that in just 2 hours, I would have to say goodbye until I am able to return and get him. As the Gma came in to get him, I could not stop the tears and neither could my dad. We loved this little man more than anyone could imagine. She told me not to cry and promised to take good care of him until I got back. She is a very kind lady. When I set Adam in his stroller he looked up at me and started crying. He had not done this before.... he knew!!
I felt awful that he was crying and as she wheeled him out, I felt like someone was ripping my heart out.
I did not have much time to focus on leaving Adam because we were scheduled to meet Matthias in a city 2 hours away in just 4 hours. We got in the cab and rode back to the hotel, we gathered our items, checked out, ate lunch then caught a cab to the bus station. When the bus arrived we were in shock!! It was not a bus it was a 15 passenger van. There were like 25 people waiting to board. Our guide insured we got on even though there was no room for our luggage. We ended up having to put it in the isles of the van and we all had to sit separately.... The ride was awful, but I will tell you more in the next post!!!!