Saturday, October 16, 2010

Travelling Home!

Waiting in Sofia airport at 4:30 a.m. and lollipops for all take-off and landings.

Walking around Frankfurt airport for a 3 hour layover and falling asleep only a half hour before boarding.

Car ride home from the airport. No issues with the seatbelt. Yay!!!

Day 7, Day 8 and Day 9

Hanging around the apartment and the infamous door.

Views of Sofia from the top of the National Palace of Culture.

Hadjidraganov's Houses

Toy camera and toy phone were the best toys we brought.

Sashko loves shower time.

Day 5 and Day 6 in Bulgaria

Church of Sveti Sedmochislenitsi and Rotunda of Sveti Georgi

Sveta Nedela and Statue of St. Sofia

Mineral Baths and Party House

Yuzhen Park (South Park) with Mt. Vitosha

Zhenski Pazar (Market)

Trolley ride

Day 3 and Day 4 in Bulgaria

The National Palace of Culture

The Russian Church and Alexsandar Nevski Memorial Church

Margenitsa Restaurant


Pictures Day 1 and Day 2 in Bulgaria

Gotcha Day at St. Sofia Orphanage

Santor Pizza and Unforgettable Taxi ride

Playing in Yuzhen Park (South Park)

Monday, October 11, 2010

1 Week Home

We've now only just begun to settle into a "real life" routine. Aaron is self employed and being that there were no paid days off while we traveled, he returned to work first thing Monday morning. Jen went straight to work as the now mother of 5.

On two separate nights, early on in the week, we had invited different family members over to meet Sashko. Of course they were excited when he came to them and called them "lellya" and "cheecho"(aunt and uncle). Unfortunately, soon after they left Sashko would revert back to behaviors where we had experienced breakthrough.

Our immediate plan of action was to let all family know that for now we couldn't allow them to hold Sashko for any length of time. They would only be able to hug and kiss him and then send him to Mommy or Daddy quickly. This killed us since our family has been so supportive and has been anticipating his arrival as much as we have. However, we believe this short term boundary will produce long term joy for all.

Also, we stopped referring to family members using Bulgarian words. We had thought this would help him adjust to our family life. What we found was that it was actually hindering it. In the orphanage world "lellya" and "cheecho" are just nice people that pop in and out of your life and most of the time are easily manipulated into giving you what you want. Sashko is in a new reality now which will require new patterns of thinking and a new vocabulary.

By the end of the week other family visits and outings went much smoother.

Sashko adores his three older sisters, and they enjoy any opportunity they have to dote over him! Sashko thinks Tobin is pretty cool, and Tobin is being very patient with his new little brother. He doesn't quite understand why Sashko shows no interest in playing swords or army. Today Tobin gave him a long stick to use as a pretend spear and Sashko began to sweep with it. We are encouraging Tobin to keep trying and reminding him that Sashko never had an older brother to teach him these games.

Sashko loves calling Daddy on the phone at work and runs to the end of the porch when Aaron's truck pulls up at the end of the day. Obviously, Jen spends all day with him so Sashko is more attached to her, but Aaron will take whatever he can get and tries to be intentional with his time in the evenings to bond with Sashko. Aaron has found that he has to purposefully remind himself of this and be thankful for every small step in their relationship.

The first couple of nights bedtime was a battle, but now Sashko brushes his teeth , puts on pajamas and hops into bed without complaint. When we brought him home he was still waking up in the middle of the night. One morning we awoke around 4:30 a.m. to find Cora, Tobin, and Sashko at the foot of our bed. Sashko was fully dressed, had folded and put away his pajamas, and was now turning on lights, shaking and kissing his brother and sister to wake them up!

At first he would come to mommy and daddy's room at random times of the night. He eventually figured out that Mommy and Daddy were only going to put him back to bed. So then we began to find him sleeping on the floor of his sister's rooms. We're really not sure how we put an end to all this, except that we just told him in English as we put him to bed each night to stop doing it. He now sleeps through the night in his room with Tobin.

Fits are now few and far between. At mealtimes he now knows that in order to have a sip of his drink he needs to take a bite first. He was initially terrified by the dog and cat, now they don't even phase him. All in all he really is adjusting well. Better than we had expected. Thank you, Jesus!

We all love him so much and are truly thankful that he is now part of our family.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


All day Friday we were packing and getting everything set to travel the next morning. We visited the park one last time and joined our new friends for dinner. We arrived back at the apartment around 9:30pm, put Andrew down to bed and finished putting the last minute items in the bags. We crashed at 11:00 pm.

Our first flight from Sofia to Frankfurt was at 6am, so we needed to leave the apartment by 4:15am, which meant we would have to wake up at 3am. We woke Andrew up at 3:30am, fed him a light breakfast and we were out the door. He was only fearful stepping on to the plane but was fine with flying otherwise. In fact, he fell back asleep before we even took off from Sofia.

Andrew napped again for about a half hour during our 3 hour layover in Frankfurt. He napped twice during the 10 hour flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta. The only problems we had were when we told him "no" a couple of times and he would throw a fit. Unfortunately on a plane there is nowhere to take him when he behaves like this so we had to deal with him in our seats. All things considered, he really did alright. If you wake a 4 yr old child at 3:30 in the morning and stick him on a plane for 10 hours, you are most likely going to have some moments.

We landed in Atlanta and were greeted by family and friends. Andrew was a little stunned until he noticed his brother and sisters. Then we got a smile and some giggles. We seat belted him into our van with no problems and began the 1-1/2 hour drive home. We stopped along the way for a light dinner with the crowd from the airport. Tobin and Andrew had so much fun together.

All the kids fell asleep on the way home from dinner only to wake up as soon as we pulled into the garage at 11:30 pm. Andrew got a quick tour of the house and then it was time for pajamas and bed. We made Tobin wear matching pajamas so Andrew would want to wear some as well. We tucked all the older sibling in bed first, and then brought Tobin and Andrew into their room. We showed Andrew his bed but he said he didn't want to sleep there and immediately hopped into Tobin's bed and curled up next to him.

Our kids had us up at 8am, so we decided to head to church. Andrew was a bit shy but as the worship started he was clapping and bouncing to the music with a big smile on his face.

Here are some facts we haven't been able to share until now:

At the orphanage they called our son, Sashko, which is short for Aleksandar. His full name is Andrew-Aleksandar Thomas Santo, but for now we're just calling him Sashko.

He turned four this summer!

Sashko's special need is Hydrocephalus, better known as "water on the brain", which he had surgery for at 3months old. He has a shunt from his skull with a drainage tube into his stomach. Its all under the skin and doesn't seem to bother him. We may have to do replacement surgery in a couple of years as he out grows the current shunt.
He lived in St. Sofia orphanage in the capital city of Sofia, so both our trips were spent there.
We recommend:
Golden Rule Travel for booking our flights both trips over to Bulgaria.
Also, our agency is An Open Door Adoption Agency, Inc.