Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 2 Visit with "Max"

Today we spent the entire day with “Max” again. It turns out that now that the other children know he has a family adopting him, there is a little bit of jealousy and some arguments took place last night after we left him in the orphanage. Including him, there are three children in the process of being adopted, out of 22 total children in the group. The director says that almost all of them are registered for International Adoption but that it’s just so hard to find families for older children….even though most of them have no serious special needs. She said she is encouraged though, because she has never had three children all being adopted at once, and she’s hopeful that this will be a trend she continues seeing. Max is probably the weakest and most needy in the group. Some of the others are used to picking on him, and I guess now they aren’t happy that he’s leaving and they aren’t. It probably doesn’t help him that he’s the teacher’s pet. Norman and I noticed today that his teacher babies him a LOT. Puts his gloves, hat, and jacket on for him; went to the sink with him to help him wash his hands, fastened his shoes for him, etc. He is perfectly capable of doing these things on his own…his near blindness does make things more challenging but he can be independent if forced. I found myself doing the same as his teacher—fastening his seatbelt, putting on his hat, etc. and then I had to stop myself and tell him to do the things on his own.

Norman and I can’t even tell which eye he sees out of because it never looks like he’s looking directly at you. We asked him some questions about his vision and it was clear he did not want to speak about it. He gets teased at school and at the orphanage, being called the Bulgarian equivalent of “blindy” so it seems he wants this disability to go away and not be noticed. His eye doctor says he may be able to get a surgery to help the vision but he isn’t sure. And he doesn’t have the equipment necessary for assessing Max’s full visual needs. The director said we could get him a new pair of glasses but that the old ones are easily fixable and that it appears he cannot see well out of them—he would always take them off when he needed to write or read. Perhaps they only help with seeing far away objects. She thinks the eye doctor here isn’t capable of giving him an accurate prescription. So I guess we wait until we bring him home to get him fully assessed. Of course we will be praying for him. We had meant to pray over him today but the time flew by and we dropped him back at the orphanage forgetting to do so. Tomorrow we will pray over his eyes and will let him know that we will continue praying for God to restore his vision.

We had a nice talk with Max over lunch about showing mercy and forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it. Apparently he was very possessive over the few items we had left with him yesterday and he wouldn’t take them out of his bag to show the other children. This of course made them angry and they started calling him names. He says he was afraid they would try to steal his things, and his teacher concurred that that could possibly happen, and she seemed to be siding with him, which probably wasn’t a good thing. We explained how they must feel not having a family and how curious they must be to see his new car and the game, etc. We also told him that it might be nice to leave some of the stuff behind when he comes to the U.S. because he can always get those things again and it would be a blessing to his orphanage mates. But he answered, “Why should I leave them my things when they’ve insulted me so much? They don’t deserve to have them.” So we asked him, “Do you know the story of Jesus?” And he said yes, he knew a little. We told him, “Jesus was beaten and killed for no reason at all, yet he forgave the ones who abused him even though none of them deserved his forgiveness. This is what God calls showing mercy. And God is the one who allowed you to find a family. This is a big blessing from him. He wants you to show mercy and forgive the same way Jesus did.” This seemed to convince him (at least for the time being :) and he said that he could leave many of his toys behind but that he wouldn’t leave his stuffed cat or his stuffed dog because he sleeps with those every night, which of course we told him was just fine.

Today was freeeeezing cold outside and snowy. We had to walk a long distance to get Max’s visa photo taken and he was very cold—walking in absolute silence—we could tell he was really suffering (though he did not complain). When we got in the photo place and were helping him take off his jacket (yes, I know he can do it by himself, lol) we noticed the zipper was completely falling apart, and the jacket was very thin. So after the photo we walked around the shops looking for a new winter coat. He was soooo happy with the thick navy blue coat we bought for him. For a typical American child, getting a new coat wouldn’t be a big deal, but for Max it was so exciting. He hugged us both so hard and said, “Thank you Daddy! Thank you Mama!” all the while smiling from ear to ear! Oh, back to the photo….can you believe that the woman taking his picture was complaining that he couldn’t get his eyes straight? She kept trying to get him to “straighten his eyes” but our facilitator told her that he couldn’t and to just take the photo as he was. She didn’t seem pleased.

During lunch, Max kept singing along to all of the Bulgarian songs that were being played over the radio. We were glad to see that he really has great pitch (If you’re musical then you know how painful it is to listen to someone singing off pitch—even if it’s your own child….sorry, but it’s true!).

Max is going to learn English very quickly. He was repeating everything we said today, trying to learn as many new words as possible. And he loves his new English name….we will be calling him Steven, a name that sounds very close to his Bulgarian name. (I guess I should have just called him that in my blogs but everyone is now used to “Max” and it might get confusing with an extra name thrown in there!) Today when I called him by his given name, he corrected me and told me to call him Steven. I explained to him, completely in English, and with the help of some hand gestures, that we were moving to a new hotel room because last night the music was too noisy and we had trouble sleeping, and I was surprised to see that a few minutes later he told our facilitator how stupid it was for them to be playing the music so loud last night and that now we had to go through the trouble of changing rooms. So we are definitely communicating. His director said she is going to have an English tutor work with him twice a week to prepare him for coming to the U.S. It only costs about $8 per hour so she will arrange for us to pay up front and the teacher will start coming after Christmas. She is a wonderful director and does this with all the children who are being adopted. If you know of anyone who might be interested in an older child…around 12 to 16, this would be a wonderful orphanage to adopt from.

Before lunch we took Max to an indoor playground with some fun things to do like jump on the trampoline, slide into a plastic ball pit, play basketball, bowl with plastic pins, etc. It was the first time he was ever there and he was pretty excited. I went under and started throwing some plastic balls at him just to have a little fun and he started throwing them back at me but very hard (all the while laughing and having a blast). I had to tell him to do it softer but at first he just couldn’t regulate how hard he was throwing them at me. One ball got me in the mouth at point blank range, leaving me with a slightly fat lip. But then he realized how much it hurt and he started throwing much more gently. Same thing happened when a younger girl entered the playground. At first he was a bit too rough with her but after a while of getting to know her and having us explain that she is a lady and he must be careful with her, etc. he was more gentle. I don’t believe he has any experience playing with younger children. He’s one of the smaller ones in his orphanage so I don’t think he ever really has to show physical restraint. And for someone soooo skinny, he sure is strong! We were amazed at all he could do with his visual impairment. He throws a ball accurately, catches, runs around, etc. He seems to have much more trouble with focusing on little things like letters, and this is why his reading is a good deal below grade level.

Tomorrow we will spend only a couple of hours with him in the morning because we need to travel back to Sofia to sign all of the official documents in front of a notary. Then we try to go to bed early because we must be at the airport on Thursday morning at 6AM—flight leaves at 8AM and we get in to JFK around 2PM (short flight, huh? Lol) We are very excited to see our children who we left behind, but at the same time sad to be leaving these three little boys behind now. We’ve had a whirlwind of a trip….traveled all over the place, and spent as much quality time as possible with our boys. Now it’s time to get back to normal life and prepare ourselves and our children for the new additions to our family. Praying God will prepare all of us and teach us the things we need to learn before we bring them home.

Once again, if you are willing to help us financially with these adoptions, we have a tax-deductible page set up HERE. Any amount gets us closer to what we still owe to redeem these three lives. (Please also pray for us that we will be approved for some of the grants we applied for.) Adoption is redemption. It’s no different from how Christ redeemed us. He gave up a lot to bring us into his family….left his heavenly throne to take on the form of a man, allowed men to brutally beat and kill him, and went through a separation with God himself…..all to pay the price for our salvation. Now we are adopted into his family….sons and daughters of God. We were not perfect or that “lovely” but God wanted us anyway. We didn’t deserve God’s grace but he gave it to us anyway. When we really recognize the awesomeness of this fact….how we are seated together with Christ and joint heirs with him….how can we not in turn do the same for another life….a precious child whose dream is to have a family. Whatever we do unto the least of all, we do it unto him! God bless you.

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