Once again I didn’t have a great way to do this day by day. Plus I was (and still am) super busy with Jude. So here is a day by day on our pick-up trip.
Day 1: Friday June 13, 2014
Friday the 13th. Of course. As you can imagine by last day at work was interesting. Things got more interesting when 56 minutes after I got home for the day I got an email notification that our flight the following day from Boston to London had been suddenly cancelled. FOR NO REASON! AHHHHHHHHH! So after some frantic calling to British Airways the only solution they could offer was to be at Logan first thing in the morning (Saturday) to see if we could get an alternative flight to London and still catch our Sofia connection. Essentially they said there was nothing they could do over the phone. Double AHHHH! So I finished packing in a rush at at 9:40 PM in an epic downpour I left my home. Almost a full day earlier than I had expected I would and Mum, Dad and I started our way south on I-95 to Logan Airport praying we would find a way to Europe the next day.
Day 2/3: Saturday June 14, 2014 & Sunday June 15, 2014
We arrived at Logan around 1:30 AM and since no one was at the British Airways desk (and it wasn’t expected to open until 5) we decided to try and nap in our minivan. In central parking. Yeah. It didn’t work. It was so noisy I think I fell asleep for 45 minutes from utter exhaustion but that was it. We didn’t have to worry about waking up at 5. We were already up and on our way to terminal E. That is where we met Rima. Rima was WONDERFUL. Rima somehow managed to get us standby tickets for the 8:00 AM flight to London so we checked our stuff and went through security. But wouldn’t you know it. EVERY SINGLE PERSON showed up for that flight. So we went back downstairs where amazing Rima had already rebooked us. She knew how important it was to get to Sofia by Sunday evening so she rebooked us on Turkish Airlines whish would get us into Sofia at 9PM (a few hours later than orginally planned, but still Sunday). And she got us a hotel room for the day since the flight didn’t leave until 11:45 PM. And she gave us meal vouchers. That woman saved my sanity.
So after food, a nap, a shower, and a goodbye visit from my aunt Bonnie (who was supposed to drive us down and came to collect our minivan) we were on our way to Logan again. This time to Istanbul. A place I never had any desire to go until that very moment as I knew Istanbul would get me to my baby.
The flight to Istanbul was great. Turkish Airlines was great. The food was great. I slept. The ride was smooth and about 10 hours later we touched down in Turkey where it was HOT and CRAZY! It was also already 5 PM there due to the time change. We had 3 hours in Istanbul before our little 1.5 hour flight to Sofia and I pretty much saw everything there ever was to see and that time including a grwon man pulling a pink plastic elephant suitcase. Oh yes I did! After a short 30 minute delay we finally took off for Sofia and at 9:30 we landed and met our guide for the next week and a half: Mariana. Mariana was lovely and got us directly to our apartment in central Sofia on Gurko Street where we checked in just before 11. And settled in to try and rest for the next day.
Day 4: Monday June 16, 2014 Pickup Day
I barely slept. I finally tried to sleep around 1:30, but was up again around 5. I was just to excited and ready to go. Mariana was picking us up at 8 and we were scheduled to meet everyone in Hisarya at 10. I was very nervous and jittery and remeber thinking how slow those hours passed. It was a very long ride out to Hisarya and I remembered the landmarks from back in December. A certain gas station. A certain abandoned building. Pretty soon we approached the ancient Roman wall that surrounds the city then took that left up the street near the bus station.
Then we were there.
Then we were in the building.
Then we were in the room. The visit room from 6 months ago.
Everyone was there. Including Jude. Jude recognized me. She wasn’t afraid of me this time. We sat and visited with the foster family for about an hour. Jude’s foster brothers were there and wanted me to have things to give her when she was older. Mariana read it to me while I was there and later translated the letters they wrote so I can read them to her as she grows up.
Then the time had come. I was finally going to be able to take her home. I gave the foster family some privacy to let them say their goodbyes and when they were ready Jude’s foster mother came and put her in the car and we left.
And yes, Jude was very upset about this for about 20 minutes. Then she slept the rest of the way to Sofia. And she has been essentially fine ever since.
When we got to Sofia we went to the passport office direct and got Jude’s passport done. By this time she was quite clingy to myself, and I wasn’t about to let her down. So we got the passports out of the way and then went back to the apartment to she could chill and have a snack.
Afterwards we had to get some groceries. We had gotten in so late the night before we hadn’t been able to do anything. Well, wouldn’t yyou know it: Jude was a trooper. She went along with us to the local Billa and did pretty fine given everything that had happened that day. That night we had spaghetti with pasta sauce (we had advance notice that she LOVED tomato anything) and she ate it right up.
The only real issue of the day came at bathtime/bedtime. We had been told earlier in the day that Jude had “fever and spots” the prior week. When we undressed her what we saw was unquestionably Chickenpox. She was quite itchy, but we had packed everything so we put it on after bath which was essentially a screaming session that took both me and Mum to handle her. Getting her to fall asleep took my Dad, but between the 3 of us we pulled it off and she slept through the night.
Day 5/6: Tuesday June 17/Wednesday June 18, 2014
We chilled. Walked around Sofia. We knew things needed to ept low key for the first few days so we didn’t stray long or far from the apartment, however our apartment was so centrally located we could still see a bunch on these small mini trips out. One one trip out we managed to see the Alexander Nevsky cathedral and Jude slept in the Ergo baby carrier the whole time we were there. On Wednesday evening we decided to try Jude in a restaurant for the first time (Happy grill) and wouldn’t you know it: of course she did fine. By Weddnesday night baths were improving. She would cry in protest, but she would walk willing to the bathroom and help me get the stuff for the bath, take off her own shoes etc.
Day 7: Thursday June 19, 2014
This was the day we had to do Jude’s medical appointment. We left at 8 to go to the clinic. We got right in and went to the Pediatrics department which was basically an exam room where Jude protested about everything the whole time. We learned that Jude weighed 22 lbs and that I weighed 143. A 4 pound weight loss since Saturday for me! Then (because we had opted for the TB blood test) we went downstairs to the lab. Although Jude cried the lab techs were professional and got Jude on the first stick. 90 minutes after leaving we were back at the apartment and Jude was a happy giggling toddler once again.
This was also the day that if there was any doubt that Jude had had the Chickenpox when we picked her up on Monday, there was none anymore as I had come down with Shingles by the end of the day. Despite all the challenges we had 1 victory. This was the first night Jude let me put her to bed (vs. her Papa).
Day 8/9: Friday June 20/Saturday June 21, 2014
Again we spent these days mostly doing a lot of sightseeing around central Sofia. No specific agenda. Each day got better and better.
Day 10: Sunday June 22, 2014
By now we were all a bit stir crazy from the hustle and bustle of the city. I don’t live in a large city and am used to being able to get out into the country in about 5 minutes. Not the case in Sofia. So we hailed a taxi on the street (I have read many things about not doing this, but we NEVER had an issue) and went out to the Boyana church for the day. walking aroudn the yard and little village area, although it is still in Sofia was a nice break from the city center and we enjoyed being able to see something again so old that we just don’t have that in America. Jude enjoyed seeing other small children around and being able to go “hands-free” for a few minutes outside.
Day 11: Monday June 23, 2014
This was the day of our embassy appointment. I found out early that morning that Jude’s TB test had come back negative (yeah). So we were very relieved at that. At 2:00 I once again met Mariana for what would become an afternoon adventure all around Sofia.
We arrived at the emabssy at 2:30. Which is on the outskirts of Sofia. Made it through security, across the manicured lawn. Into the actual embassy and Mariana goes up to the window. For a LOOOOONNNNGGG time. When she comes back it seems that there is an issue with Jude’s visa that was never addressed by my placing agency so it needs to be fixed before they will give her her visa. AHHHH. So we need to go back to the NGO office and contact my placing agency. So we leave. Drive back across Sofia and try contacting the placing agency. But get nowhere (you’ll find out why later). So Mariana, who is an attorney, and I decide to fix the issues ourselves. And do. Then we drive back across Sofia to the embassy. Back through security. Back across the lawn (where the same guy is STILL watering the tigerlillies! Why don’t I have that job?) where we finally get our interview. Then back out and back to the apartment (at 5:30). Jude’s exhausted. I’m frustrated and exahusted. But thankfully, we did it.
Day 12: Tuesday June 24, 2014
We decided to go to the Sofia Zoo. Best decision ever. We got up early. Hailed another taxi and speant nearly the entire day there. Jude and my Mum absolutely adored the animals. I had heard stores that the Zoo is run down and the animals are not well cared for. I would dispute this. There are certainly areas of the zoo in need of repair, but the animals are obviously high priority and I loved being able to get so close to them. Something that no American Zoo would ever allow.
We left around 3 as I had a meeting with Mariana at a cafe near the apartment to collect Jude’s visa. And I got it. With 1 issue. ZThere appeared to be a spelling mistake (perhaps) in one area, but Mariana couldn’t call to check on it until the following morning. So we spent the night on pins and needles
Day 13: Wednesday June 25, 2014
Early in the mornign we got the good news that Jude’s visa was fine (embassy had simply run out of room to spell her entire name), so we were good to go home the following day. During naptime, my Dad watched Jude and Mum and I went out to find a better internet connection to I could check us into our flight the next day. We decided to sit at a resaurant and have some dessert to celebrate. While there I got an email that our placing agency: One World Adoption Services had decided to close effective immediately!
I was pretty sure at that point that there was nothing that anyone could do to stop us from coming home (even the fact that we technically no longer had an adoption agency) but I needed to check since we still needed to clear immigration in Boston. Thankfully I was correct. And am I ever glad that we have stuck with Happy Family NGO throughout the closure of now 2 adoption agencies. That is the only way this ever would have worked.
Day 14/15: Thursday June 26/Friday June 27, 2014
We got up early after packing the day before to leave. Cleaned the apartment and checked out at 10:30 for our 2:30 flight. Our NGO had arraged transportation to the airport for us. We got the airport and THANK ALL THE STARS IN THE UNIVERSE. All the flights happened exactly as they were scheduled. We checked in for our flights at the British Airways desk. Our bags were checked all the way to Boston. The British Airways crew let me bring the Diono Radian R120 on board (but only because Jude was under 3). Through passport control #1, Then Security, At passpaot control #2 they asked to see Jude’s Birth certificate and adoption decree but once I produced it they only glanced at it quickly before letting us through. We pokd around the airport a bit before it was time to board.
Then it happened.
The epic flipout.
Jude DID NOT want to get on the airplane.
And how did she let me know this? Across a language barrier? At the age of 2?
She bit me.
Point taken, young one; however I am bigger than you and WE ARE GETTING ON THE AIRPLANE.
Well, she didn’t scream on takeoff or on landing. But she pretty much, scream cried, or fussed the other 3.5 hours from Sofia to London. And when we landed at Heathrow I seriously considered just becoming a Brithish citizen and moving there.
But I didn’t. As soon as she got off the plane she was much better, and we all took a break and walked around a little.
She didn’t fuss when we boarded the 2nd flight to Boston, and it was WAY easier. she watched Frozen, she listened to a little Paul Oakenfold, she ate, she slept some, but most imprtantly: She didn’t scream. And she didn’t bite me again.
We landed in Boston at 8:30. Made it through the line at immigration by 9:30 (and down to the dreaded office). But we made it out of the office and hour later and Jude was finally in the USA and finally a US citizen and my sister was there to meet us with our minivan.
We made it home to Maine just after 2:00 AM. The grin on Jude’s face as I walked her into the house and showed her around is something that I will never forget. She was so excited about everything that she wouldn’t settle down until 4:30 for a nap. She woke again at 7:30 so we decided to unpack until her doctor’s appointment just afternoon.
Late that afternoon there was just 1 more family member to introduce her to. The most important one. The person who Jude will undoubtedly be closest too as she grows. And how did it go?
Judge for Yourself.