TOMORROW, August 7th, our LSS international adoption program scouts Konnie Gregg and Sonya Thompson are off to Bulgaria! Following is the third part of the pre-trip series, which is “to be continued…” by the travelers themselves. To catch up on the story so far, see the previous posts, Adoption Travelogue Part I and Part 2.
From the beginning … In 2008, using funds from the Olle Foundation (a family foundation set up by a former international adoptive family), LSS began exploring the possibility of developing another inter-country adoption program. After considering several countries, in March, 2009, an opportunity came knocking at LSS’s door. We were introduced to Martin Konov by the former executive director of the Lutheran Adoption and Foster Care Alliance. Martin lives in Pennsylvania and works as the director of children’s services for Interac, Inc., where he oversees a large program for children with special needs. He is also a doctoral candidate at Temple University. Martin’s roots are in Bulgaria, and he has had personal experience with the Bulgarian orphanages. He immigrated to the U.S. as an adult and has lived in the United States for more than 20 years.
Martin facilitated international adoptions of Bulgarian children before the Bulgarian government clamped down. A moratorium was instituted on all international adoptions until the country could bring its adoption laws into compliance with the new regulations prescribed by the Hague Convention on International Adoption.
Bulgaria has now re-opened its doors to international adoption. The country’s current laws require that any organization involved in adoption be accredited by the Ministry of Justice. New Beginning Association, the Bulgarian agency that we would partner with, became accredited to provide international adoption services with the United States in March, 2010.
The Republic of Bulgaria is a small country in South Eastern Europe occupied by 7.4 million people. It borders Turkey and Greece to the south, Macedonia and Serbia to the west, Romania to the north, and the Black Sea to the east. Most Bulgarian families choose to have only one child; consequently, adoption is not a common practice, although the government is trying to encourage domestic adoption by its citizens. Bulgaria has a rich and tumultuous history. Founded in 681 A.D., it was an independent and prosperous kingdom for several centuries. It was part of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. In September of 1944, the country was occupied by Soviet troops and became part of the Communist Block; however, in 1989, democratic change began. The first multi-party elections since World War II were held in 1990. Today, Bulgaria is a democratic state.
Bulgaria has over 2,600 children residing in government-run orphanages. Many of these children are eligible for adoption. The majority of these children are over the age of two. Boys, girls, and sibling groups are available. Most of the children are of Gypsy or Turkish descent. Many have special needs that vary from minor to significant. These are beautiful children who deserve to have a family to call their own.
What an exciting journey Sonya and Konnie are about to take! Pack your bag and travel along with them…