Sofia was an orphan with Down syndrome in Eastern Europe and now has a forever family.
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Calm After the Storm

Written by Hector...

Today was a beautiful spring day, the sun was out and we got to take Sofia out in the sun for the first time. She got to wear her new pink polka dot coat, and those ugly blue ski pants. (P.S. Sarah and Sean if you are reading this I'm sure you will relate!) She had to be so bundled up it was hard to hold her. Here it is very old fashioned and the "babushkas" put so many layers and hats covering ears on the kids just to go outside and's 70 degrees out today!

We had two great visits with her today and Jen and I already feel so much better about Sofia and I believe that the bonding is starting to happen.

Yesterday was a very long difficult day, one that I won't ever forget. I remember having these kind of feelings before, an indescribable sense of loneliness and helplessness. The train ride to Dnipropetrovsk was very surreal, I thought about my mom a lot. She loves trains, trains have a very special place in our family since my grandfather was a train engineer and he died in a train crash when she was very little. On our way over to the orphanage with Marina I kept thinking that it all felt like we were in a movie, crossing the Dnieper river, the contrast of the city against this very poor part of town with its unkept buildings and streets full of potholes and the foreign looking signs all over.

When we arrived in Ukraine a few days ago, I had already had my moment of panic. I was homesick, missing my boys to death and the anticipation of meeting this baby which I knew nothing about. I didn't say anything to Jen because I didn't want her to feed off my thoughts and only one is allowed to go crazy at a time. That night I couldn't sleep and I kept praying for God to give me clarity, to remind me we are doing His work and that our three boys will learn so much from this experience. I, too, was on a personal emotional roller coaster ride.

After meeting Sofia yesterday, the anxiety was overwhelming. I could sense that Jen was a little bit disappointed and that broke my heart. It was hard to see it because she has been the power source of this entire journey and every time I would have doubts, she was there to settle my heart. But yesterday we both felt out of place, it was one of those moments were everything is out of balance. I think it was important to realize how difficult this process is and to bond and hold each other's hand and let the emotions come out.

Yesterday during the head nurse visit, they gave us a rundown of Sofia's medical history. That was a moment of clarity for me. The nurse told us that Sofia has never had a visitor in her whole life. It made me so sad to think that this little baby has no one other than the people that work here. It makes me so happy that, even thought she doesn't know it yet, her life is about to change forever.

Today we had two GREAT visits and I can't wait to take this baby home to a place where SO many people already love her and will always come to visit her!


  1. Thank you both for being so real with your feelings. I think it's important for all of us in the adoption journey to not "sugar coat" things that might lead others to even a more severe sense of loneliness if all isn't rainbows and sunshine along their path. :)

    She is an absolute doll and I can see how you both are falling in love with her--especially those cheeks!!!

    Beautiful photos!!!

  2. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jen and Hector. Both brought tears to my eyes. The idea that no one had ever walked through those gates to come visit Sofia until her Mommy and Daddy came breaks my heart. God is smiling at you for changing sweet Sofia's life.

  3. So glad for a better day. Thank you for being so real. I think you speak for a lot of dads out there. My husband travelled to China to pick up our 10 month old and I stayed at the homefront with the others. When Olivia was handed over to him, his overall impression and emotion was one of loneliness. It had nothing to do with our baby...just fallout from the process. Now, 7 years later, we could not put the amount of joy that this child has brought to us in words. Ironic, isn't it? Sophia will bring joy and laughter to your family too. She gains a wonderful family, but her family gains more blessing than they can imagine!

  4. Congratulations! I'm so happy to read this update! She's beautiful and you could just see the bonding taking place in these great pictures!
    It's only going to get better! :)

  5. Oh that made me cry :) She is so lovely, and I'm so glad you have had a better day today. Love the pink by the way- definitely her colour!

  6. I can totally relate to those feelings!

    I'm just glad the sun came out today for you :)

    My little boy was in the orphanage for 5 1/2 yrs without a single visitor :(

  7. Hooray for new days and moments of clarity :). Sofia is absolutely beautiful and you two are her angels. You are an amazing family with a special story to share. I am so thrilled to be part of your journey. We are all moving toward the light...

  8. Every time Mark and I read your entry we cry. We've been there and know all the emotions and feelings you are going through. What a journey. One you (and many other people) will never forget. To save a precious life!
    Blessings to you,
    Hansina Mickschl

  9. Oh I wondered if you guys had made it to Ukraine! Your daughter is just such a cutie-pie. You're right, there are so many emotions involved-especially when you are so tired and so far from the familiar. Thanks both of you for being so honest.

  10. Thanks Hector for sharing your thoughts. You and Jen are going through such an amazing experience with so many emotions all at once. You were both operating on adrenaline and lack of sleep. The pictures are precious and it was nice to see her in both of your arms. The sunshine will be great for her. May God continue to be with you during this process and know that prayers and thoughts abound from thousands of miles away.

  11. Thanks for the beautifully written post, Hector. So glad the day was much sunnier (in more ways than one)! :)

    Great photos, too!

    Little Miss Sofia is so very sweet! Hoping for another wonderful day for you tomorrow!

    Prayers for your whole family!


  12. Look at that chunk of love!!! Yes, the blue ski pants, UGH! Oh I can't wait for you to get home already!!! Long road ahead but the reward is great. What size do you think she is wearing? Did you bring those pink clothes? So cute!

  13. Thank you so much, Hector, for a father's eye view of adoption. To think that you and Jen were Sofia's first visitors makes me so sad. She is beautiful. She looks like she belongs with you.


  14. Awesome, I can't think of what to say, first to your post Hector and Jennifer, and then to the pictures. What's the saying, "A picture tells a thousand words", or something like that. Well, you can feel the love looking at the pictures. And to see Sofia and Jennifer playing, and realizing that no one has probably ever played with her like that before is heartbreaking.
    Keep the posts coming, and please keep the pictures coming. Be home soon, safe and 3 of you. :-))

  15. These photos made me cry. She is SUCH a little chub muffin, I just want to eat her up.

  16. You all are going to be more than fine. Looking forward to more family photos once you get that adorable little girl home. :)

  17. I am so in love with your precious baby girl! Sofia is so blessed to have finally met her forever parents! Praying for y'all!

  18. Keep up the good fight...she is precious. Thank God you guys are there on her behalf. Such a blessing! :-) Praying for you here. :-)

  19. I love reading your thoughts, Hector. This is a journey for the two of you as parents, but individually as well. I'm sure the bonding will continue to grow into love. My goodness, all you two had was a simple, sweet photo of Sofia and of course, babies change and mature. She has really matured into a beautiful girl and I'm thrilled that you were able to take her outside. All your friends are smiling and Grandma must be smiling, too, Jen. What a gift you are to her!

  20. I can't express what is in my heart as I am reading your journey. I can only imagine the emotions you must be feeling....the happiness, fear, questioning it all. Your honesty is pure. I barely know you, but I am praying for you and thinking of you! I am truly inspired by you. May He comfort you and give you all the strength you need.

  21. Sofia is so precious and beautiful...thanks for sharing your blog with us --we're happy to get to share in your journey and we will pray for you!!

  22. Hector, I'm so happy you had that moment of clarity! I'm sure you guys have heard it over and over again, but I truly believe that Sofia is the perfect gift for your family and your family to her. She is amazingly beautiful and I am so blessed by just knowing your family. You are an amazing family! All six of you!

  23. Thank you for sharing so honestly, Hector. I would imagine so much of this seems surreal - like an out of body experience. It hurts my heart to think that this precious girl has never had a visitor. And may never have, had it not been for you and your family. She is already loved by so many - many of us who may never actually meet her in person but will always hold her close in our hearts. I hope that each day brings even more clarity, more peace and more feelings of bonding with your beautiful daughter.

  24. It has been inspiring to follow your journey. I'm sure you miss your boys like crazy, but they are blessed to have such amazing parents to look up to and learn from. Stay strong, it sounds like she is well worth it! And so cute too!

  25. I appreciate, more than I can articulate, your honesty in this journey.
    I am SO inspired by you both - thank you - from the bottom of my heart.
    I will continue thinking of you. Hang in there, guys...

    Sofia is so, so beautiful, btw...


  26. you are doing the right thing! :) God bless you, your boys, and beautiful Sofia. i feel so happy for her to have you both are AMAZING!!!

  27. Very nice post Hector. Great to see you both moving forward and gaining your strength and wisdom after the long initial journey. I think it would have been much more difficult for Lisa and I if we didn't have the weekend in Kiev to adjust and rest before the train ride and crazy day. Like I said when we met, you need to get beyond the surface of Ukraine to see the beauty. That includes little Sophia.

    It was great to have met you on our way out and we wish you continued success in your journey. You both are both where you belong on this day.

    -Chris P.

  28. My husband and I brought our daughter home from China just over two years ago but reading your blog makes it feel like it was yesterday. Being homesick, wanting to be home with your children, feeling alone, questioning what you are doing half way around the world. Thank you for your honesty. I wish I would have heard more "real" stories prior to our journey. Perhaps things might have gone a little smoother.
    I was filled with questions, fear, and every other negative feeling one could have a few days before we traveled. I hid these things from everyone except from my husband who had to deal with me for the two weeks. We traveled alone without a familiar face anywhere. When we met our daughter the entire experience wasn't what I expected. It wasn't what I wanted. Where was the instant love? Why wasn't my motherly instict kicking in? Why didn't I want to be with this child? Why wasn't my story like all those I had heard about? You know, where they hand you your child and you fall madly in love with them? What I really wanted was to have nothing to do with her because all I wanted what was familiar to me, what I knew. She wasn't familiar. All that information that we had been given over the last year was false. She was different than what they said. She looked different, she couldn't do what they said she could, she wouldn't eat food let alone a bottle. I didn't know how I going to parent her?
    Two years later we are still working on the bonding thing. It has come leaps and bounds though and I can't imagine not having her part of our family. BUT we still have a long road a head of us. I thought I was alone but more and more mothers are speaking up. They aren't fluffing up their stories. Finally, the truth is emerging that this journey is tough.
    So with that said, hang in there. Sometimes I wish I could make the journey again just to make it right. To enjoy and savor that time rather than crying because of the lack of familiarity. I have wondered why those two weeks, why this journey, has been as difficult as it has several times over the years. I wish more people would have been real with me and maybe I wouldn't have set myself up for a fairy tale experience. Satan took hold of those hidden things and dug them in making me feel worse and making the process even harder. I have felt like a failure as a mom at times. But I continue to lift my hands to the Lord asking for guidance and grace.
    God has had his hand in the process from the beginning. It was clear the first time we met with our agency and I have story after story showing how clearly He has been present. I believe that she was hand picked by Him for our family. The perfect daughter for me.
    Blessings on your travels. I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers.

  29. Hector, I love that you are involved. Writing on the blog, supporting your wife and family, and showing strength when your wife is exhausted, questioning, and not the rock you have always known her to be. That is what relationships and parenting is all about. To be strong when or where the other is weak and therefore you are strengthen together. You have an amazing family. I think this is part of the journey. You guys are in a wonderful thing together and your wife probably needed to feel your support. I know that will strengthen her and was important for her to see and for you to feel you can be that for her too. There are lots of things in life people can be fearful about, it's normal for anyone to feel fear when they are about to do something great. Just remember, the opposite of fear is FAITH. So when the natural fear creeps in, remember your faith and that is what lead you to this beautiful little girl. Your family has a lot to offer and I believe whatever you give comes back 10 fold. So keep giving and nurturing this beautiful little family you have that is growing. You have amazing people to love and be surrounded by. Lucky you! You are blessed richly in love. May God continue to bless your little family!!

  30. I have heard this same thing from so many adopting families. We haven't adopted yet, but I really appreciate parents being so honest about not bonding immediately. I think you may have just comforted a lot more families out there who are going through the same thing. In time, it will be fun to read your blog and watch you "fall in love" with this beautiful little girl God has given you the privilege to parent!


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