We picked him up on Monday, April 7th. They told us that he had missed us very much. I had worried (just a bit!) about how he would receive us since it had been hard for him when we left. My prayer this past 5 months had been that God would be his comfort and he would know that we were coming back as soon as we could. It was so amazing to see that shy smile again! We could tell that he was a little bit anxious but he did SO well as we left the only home he has known for his entire seven years.
It is hard to put into words what we have experienced this past week and a half. He has amazed us beyond what we could have even imagined. He is brave, smart (super smart), funny, adventurous, sensitive, and sweet. What we had been told about his personality was confirmed for us today at our Bulgarian agency. We met with them to get our final paperwork and they marveled at the changes in him. They have visited him in his orphanage several times and they said each time he was very quiet, withdrawn, and shy. They had never heard him speak. Today they saw a smiling, laughing boy who has a lot to say! God's grace is SO evident in Eli! What he has endured in his body and spirit is enough to have given him every reason to completely retreat into himself. God has protected him. Although, by all accounts, he would not engage with other adults he came in contact with at his orphanage, including the workers, he has opened himself up to us. What an amazing honor and privilege to be witnesses to his transformation!
It is hard to get a non-blurry picture since he rarely sits still!!
He wore this mask on his head all day!
He is SO very smart! He can already count to 10, say the ABC's to K, name eye, ear, nose, mouth, cheek, chin, and ear, and 5 different animals! He can repeat in near perfect English any word we say. He has immensely enjoyed the floor to ceiling mirrors in our apartment and sits at them watching himself talk and play for hours! Our Bulgarian attendant has listened to him talk (he talks, and talks, and talks) and told us that it is not Bulgarian. He is speaking in a language all his own!
He can be overcome with sadness and when he is it is absolutely heartbreaking! Nighttime is hard for him. If he doesn't happen to fall asleep in the course of watching a movie or on his own....if it is obvious it is bedtime and we are all laying down he breaks down and can sob for hours. He is also very anxious when either Keith or I leave the apartment. He is happy and content when Keith, Hayden, and I are all where we should be....and that is "home"! Otherwise he is happy, engaged, and it is amazing to watch him explore his world. He is doing that with passion!
First time falling asleep in Mommy's arms.
Going head to head with Daddy.
I can only imagine that Susanna is looking down with happiness at Eli and is celebrating with us that we are now a family! It is bittersweet.....we wish she was here with us.....but we are so very grateful that God has brought Eli into our lives. Watch out world!