We are Ryan and Amy Jones. We have been married for 13 years, but we have known each other for 23. Ryan is a physical therapist and Amy is a part-time youth coordinator at our church. We have a 9 year old biological son, Carter. He is an energetic, silly, creative, 3rd grader! Our daughter, Emerson, is 3, and has been home from Bulgaria for 8 months. She is silly, stubborn, spirited, and the perfect fit to our crazy clan!
We spent years going through fertility treatments. We were blessed with Carter, but it was clear that another biological child was not part of the plan. We then pursued domestic adoption, but that never panned out, and after a few years, and a huge setback, we decided international adoption was the right path for us.
Bulgaria has a very stable program, and after domestic problems and setbacks, we knew we wanted a country whose program was straightforward. Having a young child at home, the ease of travel was also a huge positive.
We liked the professionalism, the assistance, the care and compassion, and knowledge that MLJ Adoptions always had. It just “felt right” when we talked to them.
I don’t know that we were very surprised throughout the adoption process. MLJ educated us and prepared us for what to expect, and that is almost textbook what our process was.
The first time we met our daughter was kind of surreal. Meeting her for the first time was kind of like jumping right in with both feet. There wasn’t an “introduction”. They brought her to a room and we instantly started playing and that was it….we were in love!
VESTA was wonderful! They arranged everything for us, gave us tips on where to eat, shop, where to go….everything! On our first trip, our translator was with us the whole week and she researched good places to eat, and even searched for a few “tourist” places we asked about. They truly went out of their way to take care of us! On our pick up trip, they took us to the zoo and offered to drive us to parks, or anywhere else we wanted to go. After our daughter screamed so loud at the zoo that she scared the animals, though, we decided to limit our “trips” out.
She is doing well after being home for 8 months. Her language is great! At about 4-6 months, she was almost on par with her peers. She is definitely working on a few transition behaviors, but settling very well. She is also 3, so some of her behavior is just her age too. She has attached well. She still struggles with sharing and does not like to be told no, but we are consistent and stand our ground. Food has been a little bit of an issue. She tries and eats almost anything, so at least there hasn’t been picky eating/refusing to eat. It took a few months for her to not be obsessed with food at all times. She still asks for it all the time, but is better at being told “not now.” She and my son do struggle, but they are BOTH adjusting to the other.
Since we’ve been home, we read The Connected Child, and that was great! The rest we have just talked about with others and LOTS of trial and error!
For families considering international adoption have patience, grace, be on the same page as your spouse, always be consistent….don’t say it if you aren’t prepared to follow through. When you are in country, it is all about survival….implement rules and routine once you get home!! Breathe!!