Bulgarian Adoptive Families Reunion 2011
Hueston Woods, Cincinnati, OH
The first annual “Bulgarian Adoptive Families Reunion” was organized and brought to completion under the guidance of one of TOL’s adoptive mom’s, Yvonne Villemure and her wonderful friend Viviane Martini (currently adopting with Hopscotch Agency ). The reunion was a success with 74 total attendees, 26 were Bulgarian adoptees! There were brothers, sisters, moms, dads and even an aunt and a grandma. The committee reported that families traveled from Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and California to enjoy the balmy 105 degrees weather a Hueston Woods Park in Cincinnati, OH. The weather did not get in the way of families enjoying the event, all the park had to offer and to request this be an annual event. Several of the families were past and present clients of TOL and it was wonderful for our TOL Bulgarian Coordinator, Kay Montes, to witness how those children TOL has brought from Bulgaria over the years have grown and matured since arriving home with their new families. Kay attended the reunion with her family including their three Bulgarian born
The most wonderful element of this event was that the focus was on the family, not just the children who have been adopted from Bulgaria. This event concentrated its efforts on exposing the children to the Bulgarian cultural as a family. The reunion committee organized many children and adult activities for the entire family to participate in, such as bubbles, beads, crafts, writing Cyrillic letters, scavenger hunts, singing, dancing, making s’ mores, and sharing several meals together. The Saturday night potluck brought several authentic Bulgarian dishes, and local Cincinnati Bulgarians taught the Horo dance, singing Bulgarian children’s songs, gave a power point presentation about the history of Bulgaria, and taught the children Cyrillic lettering and how to write their names in Bulgarian. Many new friendships were made and a definite sense of pride in knowing that ‘those kids look like me’ could be heard throughout the weekend. Each child went home with a beautiful new T-shirt with a great Bulgarian map on the front and room for each child to add their own artistic skills.
Families in process to adopt from Bulgaria were able to connect with families who have brought children home, families recently home were able to connect with those home for a few years, Bulgarian children made connections with others that are their same age, families who have recently arrived home were able to get ideas from other families and share what they have learned. A rare insight was shared by an adult adoptee who told her story of adoption and her journey to Bulgaria as an adult, families had an environment to share their triumphs, victories and frustrations with other families. Most admirable
was seeing that all the children were given a safe environment in which to play hard and make lifetime friendships.
Our deep thanks to Yvonne and Viviane; the food was amazing, the activities well planned, the t-shirts are a wonderful reminder of a tremendous weekend together. Thanks for the memories and new friendships; photos to be shared in the near future. Next year’s Reunion location to be announced.