A sincere thank you for continuing the journey and sharing with others… YOU are helping make a difference….
The continuation of my story….
A disclaimer …. I am NOT the most detailed person in the universe.. the paperwork, oh my the paperwork!
Americans for International Aid & Adoption (AIAA) sent paperwork that needed to be completed- home studies, letters of reference, etc. There were certain things that had to be sent to a government agency within a certain time or it would cause another portion to expire . (I was fingerprinted 3x as the background check was only good for 10 days and it would expire before I could get something else to another government agency). Can we say not detail oriented??
The paperwork was being completed in my spare time and so it took me longer than others.. (Not detailed!) HOWEVER, the good news is that at the end of all of this, I found there were companies that would coordinate and do all of this for you. (guess I didn’t do my research on that one)
Side note: There is a GREAT story coming up called “our trip to Washington DC.” So watch for it.. (things really do come full circle in life!)
It’s now March of 1999 and it’s time to go to Bulgaria and meet my son!
(Jason Janeer is his American name).
The first trip to Bulgaria:
We went from Atlanta to Vienna to Sofia, Bulgaria. I was a little apprehensive going to Bulgaria– not knowing fully what to expect. But it was a journey…… some women go through their journey as a pregnancy while others go through a journey like this…. whatever the journey– it’s an important one!
At 5’9″- I felt like a GIANT walking through the airport in Sofia. Bulgarians are olive color to light dark skin color, dark hair and they all seemed to be about 5″5″ and under….. (I know this isn’t true but it felt like it– is this how NBA players feel?)
We cleared customs, whew! (I guess I am doing this!) The adoption agency in Bulgaria had arranged a driver to take us to the hotel. The only English he knew was “My name is Charlie.” So, we were putting our faith in Charlie.
He took us for quite a ride in his yellow Opel- narrow and winding streets, weaving in and out of traffic. We double parked at a money exchange and Charlie and I went to exchange money. During this time a Bulgarian cop came up to the window of the car and tried talking to my parents. (We found out later that he wanted my parents to move the car). But for a few minutes, I thought they were going to jail! Charlie intervened– thank goodness!
The next day.. We met Mina who was our interpreter. A lovely young lady who was studying at the university. (We remain in contact with her today). We were then off for a 5 hour drive to Silistra- where the orphanage was located. A little nervous was an understatement. There were 118 kids less than 4 years old in this orphanage. Would I recognize him from the photo and video that I had seen? What if he didn’t take to me? The “what if” game began in my head….
Walking into the orphanage…
(Thump, thump– I could feel my heart beating through my chest….)
“What if I don’t recognize him…. wouldn’t it be embarrassing if they had to show me which one he was… what if he didn’t want anything to do with me?”
Open door……. scan the room..… immediately 10 kids came running to us like we were rock stars! Jumping up and down and hanging all over us. Scan the room.. where is he? Then … eye contact……. there he was…. MY SON!
We sat down and basically had a kid on each knee and the others just talking to us a mile a minute. They all looked alike same haircut (no time for pigtails) and the Dr (who ran the orphanage) didn’t care what clothes they were wearing- boys with pink pants, etc. What he cared about was their well-being. However, one child stood back.. polite and a little shy………yes, that would be Jason. I tried to pull him into the “group” but the other kids were just so excited about seeing us that his nature was to be reserved and put other people first. (one of his best qualities to this day!)
That is when the Doctor (through our interpreter) took Jason out of the room to allow him to get comfortable with us. He had a huge FROWN on his face as he was surrounded by 6 adults. (my parents, Charlie, Mina, the Dr and myself —in case you were wondering.)
Jason was the 8th child of his biological parents. They had kept 3 of the children but were unable to care for the others and adopted them out. She kept Jason (Janerr) for 17 days as she tried to care for him but was unable. (What a courageous woman! )
We were given the opportunity to play with Jason. It took him about 45 minutes to warm up… but he did.. (whew.. I guess he approved of me too!)
We were invited back the next morning to be with him at breakfast time. We had about an hour with him before we had to catch a plane. He instantly knew who we were the next morning- he greeted us with a smile.
After breakfast, we had to leave. When we got ready to leave the ladies from the orphanage pointed to me and said “mama.” Jason ran up and grabbed me around the legs. (Wow- the bond was already there.) I had to leave before I grabbed him and ran out of the building.
…… but as we were walking out of the orphanage – one of the nurses began talking to him in Bulgarian, as we turned around- he started blowing us kisses. I will be back soon son, I promise.
Since I had “approved him” the adoption process started in the court system in Sofia. It would be a few short months and I could bring him home. Did I say “short?” No- it would become the longest 4 months ever!
Why 4 months?
The petition goes to the Ministry of Health and The Ministry of Justice. Each department must approve. It then goes to Justice who will file for a revised birth certificate with my name and Jason Janeer. At the same time, they will apply for a US passport and Visa for him. (getting closer!)
On a side note: After arriving back in the US—a war broke out in Kosovo, Yugoslavia.. roughly 250 miles away…………………. “Oh my!”
NEXT UP: … the journey home….