My name is Viara, and my story begins when my biological "momo" decided to drop me off at the orphanage in Pobeda, Bulgaria. A couple years later she dropped off my little brother, Meico. I lived there until I was seven, when I was moved to another orphanage in Bulgaria.
Living in the orphanage makes a kid do things that a lot of my friends in the United States never had to think about. For example, one time Meico was late for supper, which meant that he was sent to bed without anything to eat. I felt bad for him, so I stole some bread for him. I could have gotten in trouble, but my brother was more important.
We almost never rode in any vehicles. Sometimes we would sneak onto a horse-drawn wagon to get a fun ride. When we rode the bus on a field trip to the Black Sea, we got sick and threw up. The adults knew it would make us sick, though, because they were prepared with buckets.
It's different being raised in an orphanage. We didn't have a mom or a dad to take care of us--just the ladies who were paid to take care of all the kids there. They didn't have the time to care for us the way your parents would care for you--there were way too many kids and too many responsibilities to take time for any of us. Imagine if someone had lice at your school. The school nurse would check your hair and see if you had any. In the orphanage, if someone had lice, they just shaved everyone's head. It isn't that they didn't care about you, it's that they cared for you as quickly as possible.
Some missionaries from America came and invited the orphanage to view "The Jesus Film" in the theater. It was the first time I had ever heard about Jesus, but I didn't know if it was real or just another movie. (We learned a lot more about Jesus when we watched it again in America and began to learn about him.)
The adults at the orphanage told us that we were going to be adopted. A man called Doc and a woman named Hollen started making us make videos to send to these Americans called "Mommy" and "Daddy." He told us to say a bunch of stuff in English, which was kind of hard. English is nothing like Bulgarian. We made several videos, and we waited a long time.
After a while, our American parents sent us backpacks with clothes, candy, and pictures. We were really excited to get them, because we'd never had gifts before or anything that was really our own. We wore our new outfits once and never saw them again. I used my candy to bribe other kids to eat the food I didn't like. Some of the bigger boys took Meico's backpack away from him.
One day when I was nine, we were taken out of our after school program to go meet our American parents for the first time. It was exciting and scary, too. Some of the older kids had told us that Americans adopted kids so they could cut our hearts out. The director of the orphanage argued with the people from the adoption agency because he didn't want us to leave. Our new parents spoke a few words of Bulgarian. We didn't know any English. Meico's teacher cried to see him go.
Once the papers were signed, we went with our new family to wait in the hotel until we were able to leave the country. We were happy to be with our new family. We had never experienced the love of a family before--we didn't even know what it was! After a couple of days, we were allowed to leave the country and begin a new chapter in our lives in America.