Monday, December 10, 2012

Our First Visit with "Tyler"

Well, we finally made it here after several months of paperwork, prayer, and waiting! We flew from Newark to Frankfurt on Saturday evening, and then onto Sofia Sunday morning. Our driver picked us up at the airport around 4 and brought us to a nice apartment, where we freshened up and then headed to a little grocery store to buy some dinner. We were up early Monday morning (today) to meet our facilitators, Petco and Deliana, who are so nice and helpful. Together we took a seven hour drive to visit the first orphanage where "Tyler" lives (Tyler is his agency name and not the name he will have once he's adopted).      

We had no idea what to expect—how he would take to us, if we would be able to communicate with him, how helpful the director would be, etc. But from the moment we met the director, all went very smoothly. She is a very warm, friendly woman and really speaks highly of Tyler. She went over his medical condition and told us pretty much what we already knew. That he has a serious heart defect and that when he was much younger he could have had surgery to correct the problem but now it is too late. She said that he is managing his condition well with the help of medication, but that there are no guarantees for the future. She also said that his severe cleft palate was never corrected because no doctor wanted to take the risk of putting him under general anesthesia to do the surgery. Therefore he tries so hard to speak, but most of what he says is intelligible because he can’t pronounce most consonants. She said that she knows the U.S. has the very best medical care and that having the cleft palate surgery should be no problem. He also has a missing ear canal, which will need to be surgically corrected when he gets here.

After speaking with the director, they brought Tyler in. He was tinier than he looked to me in the pictures. When he first entered, the director asked him to share a poem with us and he obliged. You could tell he was trying so hard to make the words sound right, but all you could hear were the vowels. And he seems to know that he can’t say words correctly—I think that’s why he doesn't talk much, unless someone asks him a question. He was very inquisitive, wanting to explore the room and picking up toys to play with. He studies the toys and figures out what the buttons and switches for. He seemed very independent and comfortable, just going from toy to toy, doing his own thing. A couple of times he found a candy and then showed it to us and smiled a sly smile while looking at the director to see if she would notice. Kind of like, “look what I found—do you think she’ll let me eat it?” But he quickly gave it back when the director told him he had to wait. The director told us that Tyler is very smart and understands everything and knows how to say everything—only that his physical condition prevents him from excelling in speech. She also says he is a very good boy and plays well with all the children.

Next they brought us to a visiting room filled with toys, and again, he went from toy to toy, figuring out how to use them. We brought him a little Thomas train set and tracks to play with and he liked sticking all the pieces to the back of the self propelling engine. He also drew a little bit, did a sticker page, and built an "airplane" with some blocks. The way we communicated with him was....whatever we wanted to say to him we asked Deliana how to say it, and she would tell us, and then we would say it to him. We tried not to ask him a lot of questions that would require an answer that wasn’t already obvious because we didn’t want him to feel frustrated that we didn’t understand him. So we acted like we understood everything he said. At first he wasn’t that interested in us and took more of an interest in the toys, but as the visit continued he slowly became more friendly.

The last place we went together was a very large play room with some cars and swings and a slide, etc. He really liked being in there—especially driving the car around. I was surprised that he didn’t get tired sooner, with his low oxygen level, but he just kept going and going. After a while I sat him on my lap and was playing with a little stuffed cat that he was carrying around, and he laughed and laughed--a little reserved laugh but it was sweet. He’s a very reserved little guy, pretty independent, emotionally stable, calm, determined, and unfortunately locked in a world in which he can’t communicate but so easily could if just given the chance. I literally cannot wait to get him to the cardiologist so he can look him over and then refer us for his necessary surgeries. That is going to be life changing for him!!!

Towards the end of our visit, Tyler willingly smiled for some pictures with us and was fine with us holding him and giving him hugs and kisses. His caregiver came to get him and she told him to say goodbye to us and he did, then she told him to blow kisses and he did. We told him (with the help of our facilitator) that we will see him tomorrow and he said it back to us. Tomorrow we are in for a treat as we get to watch him in a Christmas play practice with the rest of his group. Then we’ll spend more time visiting with him alone, leave for lunch, and come back after nap time (his, not ours, lol!) for another visit. I was surprised how long the visits are—about three hours each time. When we visit with the older two boys in a few days they will even miss school so that they can spend the time with us. I was not expecting so much accommodation to our schedule—but we’re really thankful for it.

Please join with us in prayer for Tyler that the Lord will make his heart strong and increase his oxygen level to 100%. Pray that we can bring him home quickly to get him the surgeries he needs and pray that the Lord would provide the rest of the funds we need to complete this adoption. Because we requested Tyler after the other two boys, we didn’t get the normal discounted rate for an additional child. So this adoption is costing us about $13,000 more than what we had originally expected. If you would like to help be a part of bringing Tyler into our family, you can make a tax deductible donation HERE   We promise to continue keeping you updated with how he's doing long after we bring him and our other boys home. Thank you so much for being a part of this journey with us!

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