Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just One Big Family Now

Well, it's official. Grace is ours!!! What a very long, amazing, emotional, happy, sad day all wrapped into one. We met at the orphanage at 7am to make the 3 1/2 hour drive to Blace which is where the adoption ceremony took place. We met around a table with Jasmina(our facilitator), Jasna(lawyer and translator), the director(who happens to be a relative of Grace's), the lawyer for the social center and the social worker. Documents were drawn up for the birth certificate and we had to verify the information was correct. We signed the papers, shook hands and that concluded the "ceremony". What happens next is really amazing. We drove to another town to get the birth certificate but this is also where the hospital is that Grace's 2 sisters have been at. Grace's mother wanted to meet us so we all met in a room at the hospital. Grace's mother and father and 2 sisters were there and we had a nice visit. It wasn't too emotional as Grace's mother had really prepared herself and did not cry. She is very thankful for us and is happy that Grace will be with us. We got to take some pictures and I gave her mother a bracelet "from Grace". Our goodbye's started to get teary but we had to leave in a hurry to go back to Blace to apply for the passport before the police station closed. I am so thankful we got to meet more of Grace's family and get photos. This experience is truely priceless as this NEVER happens with international adoptions. Very very few families ever meet anyone from the child's family much less stay in touch. We look forward to updating Grace's birthfamily over the years and they have access to our blog. We've made the decision to post a few pictures of her family. So...after the lengthy process of applying for the passport(old and slow computer equipment), Jon and I took everyone out for dinner at a nice restaurant for typical Serbian food. Grace's father joined us and surprised us by bringing the oldest sister who had been at school before. She is beautiful and a very good student and gifted in music. They brought a gift for Grace(a little gold cross pendant) and a gift for me(a little pair of gold hoop earrings with crystals). We had an enjoyable meal(these people LOVE meat!!!) and then went to the village where Grace's paternal grandparents live. They wanted to meet us too. How amazing is that? Grandma had lots of goodies for us to eat even though we only had about 15 min to visit. We also got to taste some of her homemade brandy. WOW did that warm me up inside. I think I actually breathed fire, lol!! Grandma and Grandpa are so adorable. The whole family has asked us to bring Grace back for a visit one day and Grandma wants us to stay with them. I love this family and feel like I've known them for years even though I can't understand a word that is spoken. Grandma sat down next to me and was asking us to take good care of her granddaughter. She broke down crying and could barely talk. Of course, I started bawling as well. I can't even imagine how hard this is for them. I won't even pretend to know how they feel. All I know is how much they love Grace and how much they will miss her. It was very nice to hear how much they like us and are happy that Grace is going home with a family that will love her unconditionally and help her reach her fullest potential. They all loved seeing pictures of us with our other kids and asking us questions about them. The last few minutes of our day were the hardest for me as we had to say our goodbyes. We all just kept hugging and kissing and then hugging some more. Grandma and I cried and so did Grandpa. I think a few others were as well but I couldn't see anymore as I started sobbing as I got in the car. By the way I was carrying on, you'd never have guessed I just got a new daughter and whole new extended family. I will cherish these moments forever and look at our photos often. Grace Nadja Maples is one blessed little girl to have "1" whole big family that loves her very much and we are so blessed to have had this time with her birth family to be able to share this with her one day.

Social workers from Blace

Grace's Birth-Mother and baby sister

Everyone but the oldest sister and Grace

Etno Kuca Gedzo Resturant in Blace where we had a celebration lunch

Mixed Grill dinner; veal, sausage, pork and cheese filled meatballs

Lamb, potatoes, bread, and cabbage

Treats at Grace's birth-Grandparents house
This is how they have water, with jellied Strawberries and Turkish candy

And then the Hazelnut Brandy with Grandma!

Jasmina and Jasna

Saying goodbye for now.

10 comments:

THE CAMPBELL FAMILY said...

Congrat's Maples Family!!!
Oh my how blessed the Maples family is. You are so so blessed to meet Grace's birth family. That will give them so much peace,knowing she will be cared and loved .. Grace is so beautiful !! We have loved following your adoption journey.
Bless you all!!

The Campbell Family

ashleypmo said...

What a blessing! I'm so happy for you, and that you were able to give Grace's family the comfort and assurance of knowing what a wonderful family she's become a part of!

Jodi said...

Wow, you are so lucky to have these memories with them! What an experience.

Jodi Lewandoski
Adopting Hunter

Mary said...

Sarah,
WOW! What a terrific day. I know it is hard for you with all of the tears, but I can't imagine a more loving gift you have given to Grace AND her birth family.
Bless your whole, big, spread out clan!
Mary and Jim Stolz

soontobemomof9 said...

hazelnut brandy? YUM... and those cookies, and the food... I think I would like this place.

What a miracle, that they were able to meet their Graces family! What a miracle that God connected you to Grace, a woman who would embrace adn respect her first family!

A holiday miracle... a true heartwarming story. Not to be cliche, but this could be Hallmark channel special!

The Mac's House said...

Wow, incredibly awesome! The pics tell such a story in themselves. Teary eyed here as I read thru your story of meetings with your new "extended family". How wonderful I bet that you will be able to get recipes and all sorts of wonderful new insight thru them. Truly awesome!

The brandy sounds yummy and the treats, oh they must have been good.

Most of all Welcome Grace and a huge congratulations to the Maples family.

"Teri"

June Berger said...

Of course I was bawling too, just reading it made me cry. How blessed you all are, to have a child that loved!! She is a blessed child. Congratulations on your new daughter!!! I'm so glad the family has peace with Gracie's new family.

Mommy and Peepers said...

Congrats!!! What a beautiful, emotional day. I have tears. hugs and blessings.

Amy L said...

Okay Sarah,
I am in tears for this family but also happy tears for you. Congratulations! What a Blessed day today was for you. Grace's birth family probably never thought that they would see this day.:) I'm in awe of God's Glory!!
Amy

Envyshope said...

You are so very blessed! I cannot stop tearing up reading this post. I pray for all the happiness and joy in Heaven and on Earth for your families.