Friday, April 23, 2010

Emotional Rollercoaster

Today was a marathon of a day complete with an emotional rollercoaster.

We took the midnight train to Dnep and is was actually really comfortable and cozy. Hector and I had a private room and we settled in right away. I wasn't able to sleep however...and haven't really since the beginning of this week. I'm running on adrenaline and fumes. Too many thoughts inside my head! Eventually I'm going to crash and I think I might have today.

We arrived at 7am and we were immediately met at the platform by our facilitator Marina. We literally hit the ground running and didn't stop until 6pm!

I can't even begin to tell you all the places we went today and the people we met with and the papers that were written up and signed. So many things happened today as well as checking into our apartment, going grocery shopping and of course the much anticipated visit to the orphanage.

We went to Sofia's orphanage around 8:30am and after meeting with a few of the staff we were immediately taken to her "groupa". She was just moved into this new groupa about 2 days ago and the director of the orphanage was explaining how the staff cried when she left. Apparently, Sofia was a favorite of theirs and they were sad to see her moved into a new wing.

We were told that Sofia is very happy and healthy and a very easy baby. We followed a few of the staff into the reception area of Sofia's groupa and within a few seconds they brought her out for us to meet her.

She was dressed in a brown velvet dress with tights. I was immediately struck with how much she's changed and how different she looked in person than in her photo. The photo I have memorized. All this time I thought Sofia had blue eyes and brown hair but her eyes have turned hazel and her hair is much lighter...almost a light auburn color or a dark stawberry blonde color. She is also BIG!! She is chubby and round...she is well fed! She felt very solid and sturdy in my arms. She immediately smiled when I held her and within a few minutes was giggling when I spoke to her. Her hair is still growing out from her last "buzz" cut and it's growing straight out! I put on a few handknit hats that I had in a bag next to me and she looked adorable in them.

I noticed right away that she has 4 new teeth...two on top and two on bottom. They are pearly white and perfectly straight. She was chewing constantly on her hands to I grabbed a vibrating teething toy from my bag and she loved it. She wasn't shocked or alarmed by the vibration. She just seemed to enjoy and be calmed by it.

Hector took a few photos and then held her for literally a minute before she slightly lunged for me so I wasn't able to get a photo of him. We didn't even think to get one of the three of us. It was a bit of an awkward visit because we only got 10 minutes and 5 staff people were watching us and waiting for us to make a decision. You see, we had to decide right then and there if we wanted her. Hector and I said yes immediately.

We didn't have time to snuggle or cuddle and the visit was brief. I was a bundle of nerves and had anticipated the moment for so long and I'm not sure what I was expecting but I didn't feel an immediate connection with Sofia and it broke my heart. I think I was trying to soak her up...memorize know that moment when they put your newborn in your arms and you just want to get to know them? That's exactly how I felt. And just like with two out of the three of my biological babies, our first meeting was brief before they whisked her out of my arms. Before we knew it, we were off to do the next task of the day.

We will get to visit her twice a day for two hours at a time starting tomorrow Saturday. I think that this weekend will be crucial for our bonding. We will also get to take her outside and get some fresh air and some sun. Sofia has never been outside before. She has spent her entire life in a crib. She cannot sit up, she cannot stand, she can barely roll over and she can inch around on her belly to reach for toys. We also found out in her chart that she is completely healthy and that her oval window has closed. Her parents were NOT alcoholics or drug addicts so she has a completely healthy blood test as well. She rarely if ever gets sick and the only ailment she has is occasional excema on her cheeks which the orphanage staff is trying to determine the cause with dietary changes. They really do care about her and she has had many doctor exams and specialists have even seen her to rule out any health concerns they might have had from her diagnosis of Down syndrome.

We spent the rest of the day going NONSTOP and when we got back to our apartment it was an 11 hour day of events. To say that I was exhausted would be an understatement. By the time we were finishing up our last task of the day, I was in tears, hiding them behind my sunglasses.

I kept thinking to myself...what on earth are we doing halfway across the world? How did we end up here in this very foreign city, completely alone just the two of us (and our wonderful and extremely hard working facilitator Marina), searching for a baby we don't even know and about to change our lives drastically. Hector took this very blind leap of faith with me and I have to was the FIRST day I EVER had doubts or questioned what we were doing. It has to be the exhaustion, the stress, the anticipation, the brief and stressful meeting with Sofia and the warning from our facilitator that NO ONE here cares about us or what we are doing. Sofia simply doesn't matter to them, therefore we don't matter and without Marina fighting for us this would be a losing battle. So many, emotional, physical to get to where we are today. It's no wonder adoption (especially international special needs adoption) is not for everyone. This journey is NOT easy.

This process is far from being over. We need to wait 7 days before a judge will even look at our case in this region. We also need the prosecutor to accept our file without asking for more documents. We pray that she sees all that she needs or we will be out paper chasing again. After 7 days of our file at the judge's office, we will wait for a court date (hopefully sooner than later!) In our region, our judge is known for multiple court dates. We pray for only one court date. After court, the 10 day wait begins. We pray he or she considers waiving it. So many things left to pray for still.

So I came home and found myself curled up in a ball on the bed and in tears. Hector and I talked and we both feel scared and unsure and at this point we are relying on God to help guide us and support us through this journey. We also could not be doing this without our friends and family cheering us on, following our journey and praying for us constantly I miss my boys like crazy. I ache for them and all I want to do is be home with them right now. I couldn't help but think what on earth are we doing here? Why am I not home with my beautiful boys?

But then we remind ourselves, we are saving a little girl. A baby girl who has no one and is even more alone in this world. If we don't fight for her, no one will and she deserves a chance at life. A baby girl who will be our daughter.

So I wipe my tears and look at the pictures of her innocent face and know that we must march on and finish what we started. She deserves it.



  1. She is beautiful, Jen! Thinking of you! I don't even want to imagine how hard it is to be away from your boys... :( Praying that God will continue to encourage you and will strenghten you for the "battle".

    (love Sofia's adorable little hats!)


  2. You have been exhausted in very aspect right now, emotionally, physically, etc.; a good solid night of sleep will do you good!!! Hang in there!! :-)

  3. She is beautiful, Jen! Thinking of you! I don't even want to imagine how hard it is for you to be away from your boys... :( Praying that God will continue to encourage you and will strengthen you for the "battle".

    (love Sofia's sweet little hats!)


  4. She is just so beautiful. Hang in there, it will be all over soon, and I am sure you won't ever look back. You are very brave and I am in awe of you and your family. The sun will rise, and the sun will set, and before you know it you will be home with your boys, who are probably being spoilt rotten! Sending you love, strength and best wishes :)

  5. I know exactly how you feel! I felt MUCH the same way.
    I just shared this with another adoptive mom because she felt much the same way too-

    Things didn't go 'quite' as we had thought when we met Artiom...he was different than I had expected in many ways.

    So, in a way it doesn't help to have the preconcieved notions about what they are like, because obviously, much of it is made up in our own minds.

    But once you get to 'know' the child, they do become yours, and you sort of forget about the way you 'thought' they were going to be...because you start falling in love with who they are!

    I know it's stressful and you question your own sanity at times, but lack of sleep can do that to you!

    She is beautiful. She will feel like your daughter in no time at all, and you will be the only mama she has ever known.

    Enjoy this wonderful time in your life..

    The most stressful part is over :)

  6. she is beautiful! and you are tired. dont forget that bonding is a process and what you are feeling is normal. been through 5 adoptions myself. you fall in love with a picture...and that picture drives you through the process and then you meet your child and thats when you get to go on the adventure of learning to know your child. one day at a time. next thing you know..youre in love... i once heard that its similiar to an arranged marriage. hang in there. hugs, rachel hagemeyer

  7. These are absolutely adorable! Stay strong and we are all here for you!!

  8. Jen and Hector,

    Diego, Jakob and I are looking at your blog right now, and Diego wants to say,

    "Hi, my name is Diego.I love that you're my baby sister."

    With a grin from ear to ear he said. "She's cute!!!! "

    Just thought that would bring a smile to your faces. We are here and can't wait to meet beautiful little Sofia.

  9. She is wearing the dress we gave them!!! We gave them 2 dresses as a trade for the dress Zoya was wearing when we met her! How funny :)

    The beginning is always like this. I haven't heard anyone feel any different. It will get better...not easier...but you will know what to expect and it won't be so "fish out of water-ish." The place you are at is way nicer than the other one so that is a good start! Marina is FABULOUS as I"m sure you already noticed! The visits get tough as there isn't much to do...but ask them if you can take her outside for a walk.

    Can't wait to hear how it goes! Such great pictures :)

  10. As if I wasn't crying enough by the time I reached the pics- my daughter wore the same dress today! Any way a child comes into your lives is an emotional one. Your family is doing an amazing thing. Safe travels.

  11. Oh my gosh she is SO adorable and apparently getting cuter by the minute!! You've made it such a long way, all on God's calling and provision. He will take you the rest of the way including providing the bonding that you so desire. 10 minutes is not enough time for true attachment in any circumstance!! I will continue keeping you in my prayers and include prayers for the emotional strain that this journey includes. Adoption is a miracle and God has a very good track record with those!! - Megan Fera

  12. Aww, Jen. I am sorry it was such a hectic/emotional/rollercoaster of a day. I think your feelings are only natural and I believe relying in God to help you through it is wise.

    She is a beautiful girl and everything that has happened thus far has happened for a reason. Remember that.

    Thinking of you.


  13. [[[[HUGS]]]] It is SO emotional. exhausting. and there was so much anticipation... just trust in your hearts. i look at those pictures of the two of you together - and I see the same sincere joy and love that I see when you hold Joaquin. Or Teo or Diego. Give yourself a chance to catch your breath and just "be" in the moment of where you are.

    Your boys are well loved and we are looking out for them... it's not easy for you, but know that everything is fine on this end :)

    I have so much to say... but I'll leave it at this: I'm here for you any time of day or night. And I love you.

  14. Jennifer and Hector, She is beautiful! Just remember though this time,you are saving this little girl. Look forward to hearing about the journey.
    Kim & Tom Baumann, Adopting Vanya #11

  15. I am just a lurker from a friend's blog (who is also adopting from the Ukraine in a month through RR) but I am also an adoptive mom. I have travelled far from the comforts of home and left my children to save a little life too. And, even though I had fought for this child for over a year, I pretty much went blank too, when my daighter was handed over to me. You are a wise woman to recognize the signs of fatigue and stress and sleep depravation. I just wanted to encourage you to just take your adoption at your own pace. Each one is a unique and beautiful miracle, even if you're not feeling that it is every minute.Sophia is beautiful and looks well cared for ...praise God for that. Best wishes for some rest and bonding time over the weekend.

  16. Your last photo shown here says it all. She is looking at you as her mother. And you are. It's going to be a wild ride. That smile from her speaks volumes. Sending prayers.

  17. What a beautiful daughter you have! I am so happy for you guys and know God will mount you on Eagle's wings and carry you through the process. I think adoption is like falling in love slowly and magically. It is like no other experience and so very sweet. Just wait and see, it is like falling in love for the first time and having all those nervous feelings and doubts too. It is such a God thing, put your faith in him and allow Sophia to steal your heart! It is one of the most beautiful and profound experiences I have ever had and I know you will be so blessed by your little girl! I can't wait to meet her and hear all about your journey.

  18. Oh you poor thing. It all seems so wonderful and beautiful to those of us sitting in the comfort of our homes. But I guess that living it is a whole different thing. I have no doubt that you will feel better after getting some rest and have time for everything to sink in but I have to apologize for my ignorance in assuming that everything about this process is easy. Those who will be adopting in the future will be so thankful for your honesty so that they don't enter into it with false expectations either. Sofia is simply beautiful and God wants her with your family but that doesn't mean that it will be easy...nothing worthwhile ever is. Praying that your time with her tomorrow will be much more enjoyable. Thanks so much for the photos. I love each one of them.

  19. What a cutie! You a tired and in a foreign country- everything will fall into place. Doubts are normal. Congratulations on your sweet daughter!!

  20. Sofia is beeeeeeautiful!!! Don't give up...keep pressing forward. Satan wants you to feel defeated but you aren't. God brought you this far, he will continue to walk with you!! Keep on praying and keep the faith!

  21. Oh, she is just Beautiful! And, I think she looks like her Mommy! Hang in there! Just as you compared the brief time you had with two of your boys and the time you had with IS very similar. When you were pregnant you wondered about who this child would resemble, what their personality would be like...and with each day that passed you came to think of "who" that little person WAS. You planned their birth and their nursery. You bought baby clothes and ALL of the many things that such a tiny person actually NEEDS. (Amazing, huh?!!) And, then the "Big Day" comes! And, You thought you were prepared! In reality, it's never what you imagined it to be. And, after lots of pain and tears and being literally finally meet your new child. Is that child "What and Who" you had imagined for nine months? Things are not totally Blissful during those first few days/weeks/months. Your entire life changes and you learn that this wee human depends on you for EVERYTHING...for their very Life! And, despite the sleepless nights and weariness that ensues, you find yourself FALLING.IN.LOVE.
    It's kind of like you are in Labor right now. You are exhausted. Your in pain (not physically, but emotionally) and it's too late for that good ol' epidural! You've got Daddy by your side...encouraging You. His heart aches to see you in pain. But, he is there. And, God is there. Right beside you...walking you through this difficult part of your labor. And, you're little girl comes. She is NOT the baby you had expected. The bond is not there. But, it WILL come! As you get to know her and figure out this Precious Daughter that the Lord has Blessed you will FALL.IN.LOVE. And, her very Life depends on You.
    I will be Praying for You and Hector. And, for Miss Sofia. That that bond will form quickly. That you will have Peace in your Heart. That He will grant you everything you need during this time away from your sons. And, very soon you will all be together again with a new Baby Sister for them. Take care, My Friends! Hugs from Minnesota ~ Jo

  22. In tears as I read this. I am praying so hard for you guys.

    Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

  23. Oh Jennifer - thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I have been praying for you guys and will continue to. I'm sure it is the craziest roller coaster you have ever experienced.

    Hang in there!

    "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Gal 6:9

    "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

  24. Wow, just wow. I am so impressed with your ability to write this down so eloquently. I think all you are feeling is absolutely normal. I am so glad you have a good facilitator. I am praying that your judge will make quick decisions, that all goes smoothly from here on out. Keep strong, and I so hope you finally got a little bit of sleep. HUGS!!!

  25. shei s absolutely beautiful prayers are with you all

  26. Jen:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write your update. You truly have a bunch of us who are your biggest cheerleaders praying for you and your family! I hope you get some sleep. You and Hector are saving that beautiful little girl! I hope the time there goes smoothly and quickly so you can all be home together!
    Love, Diana

  27. That last photo captures joy as one rarely is able to witness. May God continue to bless your journey toward bringing Sofia home.

  28. Jen, she's beautiful. It won't be long before you don't know how you lived without her. :) Thanks for all the updates. It means a lot to those of us who will follow you.

  29. I have been anticipating this post! Congratulations! My heart is full seeing Sofia in your arms. I appreciate your honesty. We are praying about adopting Brian from orphanage 23. Your journey is inspiring.

  30. Praying for you! She is adorable....without words..but lots of tears. Exhaustion is very difficult. You will settle in...and fall crazy in love!!!!

  31. Jen - Thank you so much for your honesty. I do not know much about adoption - but would think that what you are feeling is part of the journey. Getting to know Sofia and fall in love with her will be a process. Allow yourself to feel the huge range of emotions that come along with welcoming a child into your family. I believe so strongly that the bond will form between you and your little girl - just give yourself time. Thinking of you and sending you so much love! You really are saving this beautiful childs life.

  32. Your honesty is beautiful. Hang in there and don't give up. It's completely normal to be going through these emotions. Always remember that a Mommy has to take care of herself in order to take care of her babies. ;)

    There will come that moment when you know and feel that this was what you were meant to do. Thinking of you...

  33. I believe the dress is 18 month size! What a big little girl :) It might be 12 months, but I'm almost positive its 18 months. Don't worry you will see that dress at least 8 more time haha. You can check the tag, the size is in there in American LOL. Can't wait to see more pictures of your little beauty. We definitely NEVER saw her while we were there!! Hope you are feeling better today, I know it must be terribly hard being away from your boys.

  34. Hoping you got a good night's sleep last night. That first few days are so exhausting. It was hard to read this, because I am sure I know exactly how you were feeling when you wrote it. We've just been on the Emotional Rollercoaster...and the ride doesn't end for weeks. But the highs wouldn't be as high without the lows. They are both necessary in life, and in this process.

    Jen, Sofia looks like she was made to be in your arms. She is a perfect, beautiful little soul who now has the chance to live a life full of love.

    When you wonder what on earth you are doing half way around the world, think of how deserving little Sofia is...of opportunity, of love...OF LIFE. You and Hector and the boys are giving her life back to her.

    Hang in there, friend. I am here whenever you need an ear or a shoulder!

    You guys are doing great! Strap on your helmets tight--you are warriors for a little one with no voice of her own. One foot in front of the other...

    I am betting you will feel more and more bonded to Sofia with every moment you spend together.

    She is a fighter. Match her spirit and you will both soar.

  35. I can't imagine how emotional it must be to be going through what you are. I hope to adopt one day so I really love hearing your feelings on all of these things. Thanks for sharing. You have so many people cheering you on, and I'm sure that once you get home with your daughter and settle in you will be able to sort out all of your feelings and get to know your daughter. I can't imagine you can form a deep bond in 15 minutes. We are praying for you on your journey!

  36. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly.
    I remember the night before one of my babies was born thinking, "What are we doing??? Our life is just fine right now, and we are getting ready to completely turn it upside down." It's not like I could change anything or go back, it was just an overwhelming feeling...and then the baby came...and it was completely overwhelming, and everyone loved Baby....and the brothers and sisters were so glad that we had Baby to love! And life was good, very good.
    I have been following your story, and God's hand is all over it! But you have had a time, and not much time to rest or take that time, and know that even though you are jumping off a cliff....God is giving you WINGS! And those little ones at home are okay, loving the time and attention they are getting...and ready to welcome their baby home!
    Thanks again for sharing so much from your heart.

  37. Worry when you charge forward with reckless abandon, not when your brain is saying--did they switch babies on me!??

    My two youngest had very rapid change in hair color from birth to two yrs too, starting at a brown so dark you swore it was black almost to sofias color now and Benji started at Sofias color now and is lil bleach blonde surfer boy at 19 months. But the difference for my daughter was huge!!

    But my eldest had the spikey hair, you can do zip with it but love it until it grows long enough to fall--I loved it!! But she might not be ripping the hats off as quick, what great exercise for her...

    The marvel of the Internet, I wondered hmm did I read the boys comment before you? You are not ruining their lives by your absence but enriching their already overflowing souls forever.

    Can't wait to crash the nor cal ds meet Sofia day that's brewing around here!

  38. Wow Jen she is a doll! What a cutie pie! We cannot wait to meet her. I am absolutely hooked on this blog right now. I could not wait to log on this morning to see how the meeting went. Things will get easier. You will bond with her more and more every visit. Continue to be strong and we will keep praying for a swift, smooth process and safe (and fast)journey home!

  39. This too shall pass... (and oh yeah, she is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!) :)
    God Bless...

  40. Sending love and strength to a mother who has both in spades.

    Thinking of you here at home.

  41. Thinking of you!
    I can't get her sweet little face off of my mind!
    Stay strong and kiss that little face as much as you can!

  42. she is absolutely beautiful!! so happy the visit went better today :) Congrats!

  43. She is soooo perfectly beautiful... I am praying here for you guys and praying that God sustains you all through this process.

  44. Congratulations! You are one lucky family. You have another angel to love and be loved by. It might not seem like this right now, but I look at you in awe and admiration. Like you have won the lottery, but better. Sophia has a beautiful smile!! You have a child that is going to open many doors and blessing to you and your family. God will be there for you, keep the faith remembering that and you will often see the light as you go along this journey together. I think Sophia is going to teach you and others a lot of wonderful things. We are so excited for you and I hope I will get to meet her soon (as well as you). I hope you will let us join in on those sweet Sophia cuddles :) We wish you all the best of luck!!

  45. such a beautifully written post and i cannot even imagine the exhaustion and emotional roller coaster you guys are going through! the pictures are just beautiful!!!! sofia could not be more of a doll baby and i just cannot thank you both enough for saving her life!!!!!! looking forward to more pictures and updates :) thinking of you and praying for you!!!

  46. She is so beautiful. I can only imagine the many, complicated emotions you are experiencing right now. This little girl will be your daughter so soon and I'm sure it will be as if she always was. Bless all of you.