Please meet Brian and Susanne Crotty and their gorgeous twins Cian and Lila! The Crotty family adopted two children through the MLJ Adoptions’ Bulgaria program.
From Infertility to Adoption We always felt very strongly about having children and a family. We just weren’t able to go about the “normal” way! We sadly lost our first baby, and we were unable to have any more biological children. We had always said if we couldn’t have children biologically, we would adopt, but we weren’t sure how to make that happen when we were actually faced with infertility in 2011.
Embarking on our Adoption Journey My friend and hairdresser recommended MLJ Adoptions to us, so we began to look into the agency. We both felt very at home with MLJ Adoptions, so that is why we chose them. We decided on international adoption because we had already suffered so much heartbreak that we didn’t want to attempt domestic adoption. We felt “why do that when there are so many children in the world who have no one? We could be their someone!” We just fell in love with the pictures of the kids from Bulgaria! Plus we felt Bulgaria was a very safe country to adopt from.
Thrilled to Receive Our Referral Twins!! How awesome!! We wanted a boy and a girl, and they were under two years old too! We were open to many, many special needs, as that would help speed up our match and referral process. We were told they were healthy, but the medical reports still gave a lot of information that seemed a little scary. I am a nurse and Brian is an EMT, and sometimes you know WAY too much as a health care provider! We did not take the reports to a doctor or specialist because we felt very strongly that our children would be okay, and they are. They were born with syphilis, but they were treated immediately with the proper medication at birth and beyond. We were beyond thrilled when we met our kids that they were both extremely healthy and happy kids. They both checked out at our family doctor that they are healthy, and they are not in need of any therapy at this time. Such a blessing!
Wait, Wait and Then Wait Some More The length of time you wait and the very large amount of paperwork was the biggest surprise about international adoption! Everyone will tell you how long the wait will be when you adopt internationally, but you don’t really understand it until you are in the actual WAITING period! We were fingerprinted so many times, we lost count!
Experiencing Our Children’s Homeland We could go on and on about our experience in Bulgaria! It was awesome! Bulgaria is a very beautiful country, and we were able to visit in the winter and summer to see our twins. Our first trip was a bit crazy because of weather. Falling snow almost canceled our morning visit with the kiddos. They do not really clear the roads in Bulgaria, and there are a lot of hills to climb up and down. Tzveta, our guide, was a bit apprehensive about driving, but Brian volunteered to do so. He was loving it! Now he can say he’s driven in four different countries. We absolutely loved our Vesta guides while we were in Bulgaria. They really made our experience in country very special and very smooth. We traveled three hours outside of Sofia, the capital, to see our kids in their orphanage. Our kids were in such a beautiful and clean place. The staff was very friendly and they clearly cared about our twins.
An Emotional First It’s difficult to express how we felt when we first got to meet Cian and Lila. We were so overjoyed! We were able to spend about an hour in the morning and a few more in the afternoon with them. They were very calm with us, friendly, not afraid of us at all. Cian was a little more shy around Brian, but he has never been around a male caregiver, much less one with a beard! By the end of our afternoon with them, Cian was on my lap and Lila on Brian’s! Lila babbled on and on to us. Cian throws the ball with his left hand! Much like his new mommy!
Something Special They were just so beautiful and sweet, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were. These were our kids!! Finally!! We were told by the staff at the orphanage that after just the first day, our kids’ attitudes had changed with the other children. They knew they were special, that something was happening to them. We remember the staff asking us if we wanted Cian and Lila, and we were like, of course! We had thought of them as our kids the minute we opened the email to see their pictures! On the first trip, we were able to feed them a meal and a snack, see where they slept and played, and just play and interact with Cian and Lila. We will always cherish those memories of our first days with the twins.
Loving, Caring Caregivers We were able to tour the orphanage, see where the kids sleep, eat, and bathe. They sleep on little beds, low to the ground. The caregivers call them by their new names, and they teach them some English. The caregivers all have said what a beautiful family we make, and we have to agree! We have been so impressed by the caregivers and everyone else at the orphanage. It’s amazing to us how much these women love and care for these children. You can see it so clearly.
Reunited On our second trip to Bulgaria to bring Cian and Lila home, we were amazed at how much they had grown in just a few months! When we reached the orphanage, Cian came right up to me and Lila to Brian! And they remembered us! The staff told us that Lila did not sleep well the night before we arrived because Mommy and Daddy were coming. Our hearts melted! We spent a week in country, and it all went pretty smoothly until Lila decided to cut four teeth. Our poor baby girl was such a trooper, though!
Three Flights to Home The plane ride home was interesting. Our first of three flights was almost two hours long, and they both did surprisingly well. Cian sat like a big boy in his own seat for most of the flight. The second flight was nearly ten hours, and that was a bit rougher, but the kids still did well. No Benadryl required! Entering the U.S. in Washington D.C. was pretty awesome. We lucked out and a really easygoing customs officer checked us through. I think he enjoyed that part of his job! And both kids slept on the last flight home to Indy.
Settling In It seems like Cian and Lila have always been a part of our family. The first week was a little difficult, but now we are all doing great! The kids love our two dogs. They love to play with their cousins and the rest of the kids in the family. And our family and friends absolutely ADORE our kids!! But these two kids make it easy. We are just so very blessed. They eat well, sleep well, and they love their mommy and daddy! We are just so lucky!!
Advice for Other Adoptive Families You will need lots of patience for this process. Be prepared to tighten up your budget to help fund your adoption, but also be creative in ways to raise money for it too. Talk to Camie (Camie Schuiteman, MLJ’s Financial Resources Coordinator). Be open to many possibilities! You will be surprised what God has in store for you. We love these two children more than we ever thought possible. They complete us and our family.
A Special Story About Your Adoption I was told a long time ago that we would have boy/girl twins one day. I really didn’t believe the girl who told me that, I just thought it was a little crazy. And look at us now! The first time they called us mama and daddy was a very special day. The support we have received from friends, family, and co-workers during our adoption process and since we have brought Cian and Lila home has been so wonderful. And we cannot forget the MLJ Adoptions’ staff. You all are awesome!!
Families interested in adopting from Bulgaria may contact us for more information. Bulgaria is a signatory to the Hague Convention, meaning the international adoption process is likely to be more stable and predictable. MLJ Adoptions will be hosting an information session about adopting from Eastern Europe this Saturday at 10:00am. Prospective adoptive parents will have the opportunity to speak with the Crotty family as well as the Eplion family. RSVP here.