A Bulgarian Adoption Story by Tanna Roush
Timothy and I (Tanna) have been married for 24 years and have three biological children (ages 21, 18, & 13). We completed our first two adoptions from China in December 2013 (boys, currently ages 12 & 11). We returned to China in June 2016 to adopt our daughter (currently age 9) and in July 2017 to adopt another daughter (also now age 9). In June 2018, we were granted custody of a 2-week-old baby in our state, and we completed his adoption 14 months later (currently age 5). So, we already had a full house when we heard about Bulgaria’s Down syndrome program through CCAI and jumped in with both feet to begin our home study in May of 2021.
Why we chose the Bulgaria adoption program
We chose Bulgaria because their adoption program is very large-family friendly, has relatively short travel requirements, and has a very active Down syndrome special needs program. Our last Chinese adoption was for a child with Down syndrome, and we were very interested in giving a home to another child with this special need. We loved working with CCAI for our Chinese adoptions and trusted them completely to bring home our child from Eastern Europe.
The Bulgaria register inscribed our dossier on December 2, 2021. On May 27, 2022, we got the call we had been waiting for. We received the referral of a beautiful 15-month-old baby girl with giant brown eyes and sandy blond hair in the cutest pigtails! We were immediately smitten with our future daughter (whom we named Scout Valentina) and couldn’t wait to have her in our arms.
Going to Bulgaria to meet our sweet daughter!
On July 2, 2022, we boarded a plane to Sofia, Bulgaria. We spent one night in the capital city before driving 3 hours through the sunflower fields to an orphanage in Stara Zagora on the morning of July 4 to meet our new daughter. Pictures did not do justice to just how precious she was. Through our guide, we could ask questions of the orphanage workers and doctors who had cared for Scout in the 16 months she had been in their care. She was incredibly tiny (about 12 lbs.) but in good overall health.
We spent as much time as possible with Scout in her orphanage over the next five mornings: playing, cuddling, walking the orphanage grounds (where we saw a wild hedgehog!), and getting to know our new daughter. In the afternoons, we relaxed over long lunches with our guide, learning all about Bulgarian heritage, politics, and traditions. All too quickly, it was time to return to Sofia to catch our July 10 flight back to Atlanta. Leaving Scout in the care of her orphanage until we could return for her (after passing court) was by far the most challenging part of our 18-month adoption process. But the orphanage workers quickly reminded us that we would be back SOON to start forever with our new daughter.
Heading back to Bulgaria to get our daughter!
We received news on October 11, 2022, that we had passed the Bulgarian court and that Scout was officially our daughter. It was time to celebrate and start making return travel plans! On November 18, 2022, we flew to Sofia once more, and three days later, we drove once again to Stara Zagora with our guide to pick up our new daughter. As with our Chinese adoptions, this was a bittersweet day. We knew that adoption was Scout’s best chance at living a healthy life, but it’s hard to take a child away from the only home and culture they have ever known. Bulgaria is a beautiful country with a rich heritage, but orphanages are no place for children.
The moment Scout’s nanny passed her to us for the final time was one of the top moments of our entire lives. We returned to Sofia that afternoon and spent the next eight days in a beautiful Airbnb, exploring the city, eating delicious food, and finalizing the paperwork needed for Scout to leave her homeland. Compared to China, getting around in Sofia as Americans was effortless. The people were kind, and the trip was one Timothy, and I will never forget!
Finally home as a forever family!
We flew home from Bulgaria on November 30 to begin our life as a family of 11. Scout adjusted incredibly well to her eight new brothers and sisters, and they very quickly fell in love with our new tiny bundle of joy. She turned two on Valentine’s Day and is an incredibly easy toddler, although we have been through some health challenges with her over the past ten months.
Scout will only drink from bottles and will not accept pureed or solid foods. She also aspirates thin liquids and has a feeding tube surgically placed in her stomach to help with nutrition. Scout had emergency surgery and a 12-day hospital stay right after her birthday, and she will be having her tonsils and adenoids out later this month to help with her sleep apnea. But Scout is now 22 lbs., has learned to walk, and is a JOY to everyone she meets.
We are so glad that we took the leap of faith to adopt from Bulgaria with CCAI!