This past weekend Andrew and I had the great privilege of attending a Bulgaria Adoptive Families Reunion. It was wonderful! The only way I could have enjoyed it more was if I had a referral picture to show off or perhaps if I had some beautiful olive-skinned children with us whom I called my son(s) or daughter(s)! I am not sure the total number of families at the reunion but I think I counted over twenty families from at least ten different states! There were families with adopted children only, with biological children and adopted children, families who in process to adopt for the first time or the second or third time, large families and small families. But we were all united by the adoption of children from Bulgaria! It was wonderful to sit around a camp fire or a table and converse with people who understood. These parents understood the paperwork, the waiting, the emotional roller coaster. It was great also to be joining a support network of people who will understand us after the adoption is complete and we are facing the challenges of parenting children who lived the first years of their life in an orphanage and who don't speak English yet.
Other highlights of the weekend included eating Shopska salad and other Bulgarian food, seeing referral pictures of famies' kids they would soon be bringing home, hearing traditional Bulgarian music and learning some of the culture.
I would love to share lots of pictures from the weekend, but for the privacy of the families at the reunion, I will not be sharing them on a public blog like this. Instead, I will print the pictures and stick them in my scrapbook!
One of the best parts of the weekend was seeing all the children! There were children everywhere. Beautiful children with dark eyes, olive skin, and dark hair. Beautiful children with lighter skin and hair. All so beautiful. There were little toddlers and preschool age children, and lots of elementary school age children and teenagers. The children were all playing together: groups of teenagers skate boarding or hanging out, little children riding bikes or scooters, medium sized children tossing water balloons back and forth. Some children home as little as 6 months ago, and some children home for 8+ years. Some of the children this weekend knew each other in their orphanage before being adopted! How amazing that they get to see each other again! Seeing these kids made our adoption seem real! On the other side of all our paperwork and waiting and saving funds are real children who will join are family!
I want to bring our kids to the reunion every summer because I know how meaningful and important and fun it will be for them. Sometimes children who have been adopted can feel different than the other children they may be surrounded by in their school, church, or community. They need to be able to be with other children who have a similar background and who look like them. Other moms shared these stories. (Names omitted for privacy.)
We had an amazing weekend meeting other families who have shared the same Bulgaria adoption journey. (Our son) met other amazing, inspiring kids who looked like him and have been through similar experiences. (My husband) and I met other wonderful parents who have shared the roller coaster of international adoption. We wondered if (our son) got anything out of it because it was stressful for him at times and them he told us he liked it because "he made new friends and saw that he's not the only kid with a disability who gets adopted." That made this mom's heart smile!
-from a mom at the reunion
The reunion has finally become therapeutic for (my son). He enjoyed himself, and found some degree of healing to his heart. For those (parents) who having been making the event part of their children's life from the beginning off their American life know how wonderful this is for them.
-from another mom at the reunion