The Play-by-Play of the Trip Home -by Kevin

Hate to wake this guy, but we need to catch a plane.  Our first flight is from Sofia, Bulgaria to Frankfurt, Germany.  Bags are checked, made it through security and passport control. Thanks to security for moving us to the front of the line. Passport control had all kinds of questions like, “where is the mother, is she Bulgarian”. She didn’t like my answers of “at home in the US, and no she is not Bulgarian”. Needless to say she wanted to see some additional paperwork but finally let us through.


First flight down. He did pretty well. I gave him the window seat. He fell asleep on me for about 45 min. We are chilling out waiting to board our next flight in about 1 hour 45 min. I have to say that I am not a big fan of the Frankfurt Airport.

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Got a late start out of Frankfurt. Sat on plane for a little over two hours before taking off. We left about an hour and thirty minutes late. Will see what happens. This little guy isn’t phased. Wifi over the ocean, what will be next.10363637_10204210809613594_4009691450957035316_n

The good news is you can say hello to the newest American Levi Ergin Swinigan. Bad news, I think we are missing our next flight.

This kid is amazing. As of now I am on a standby to STL @ 8:05. Chances are not good. If no standby, then 9pm to Springfield, IL. I will get this kid to his mom somehow tonight.
We have boarding passes for a flight that leaves in 30 min to Springfield, IL. Levi still doing well – good thing he has his thumb. Heather and a friend are picking us up. Thanks for all the other offers. Heather at least got to see all the dance recital and will get to see Levi today, so it all worked out. Thanks for following and the prayers. And the in words of the famous poet Ozzy Osbourne “Mama I’m Coming Home”. By the way, I’ve been up for 25 hours.
We made it to Springfield!  This guys has a big smile while waiting for his mommy.
 Levi and mommy FINALLY reunited!
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Thanks to our good friend, Will, we all made it safely back to St. Louis.  So good to be home.

Finding a Temporary Normal -by Kevin

June 3

Today we did not have any meetings or appointments so Levi and I spent most of the day at the hotel. We did venture out and took a walk for a couple of miles in the stroller. Sidewalks here are not stroller friendly. We made a few stops at different stores. It was funny to watch Levi’s face as he took in all of the sites, sounds, and smells. Out next appointment is Thursday, so we will likely have more of the same tomorrow. He is a very good eater, and he also sleeps well. He slept through the night and has taken 2.5/3 hour naps each day. If he is ever fussy, it usually involves food, which you could say that about most of us Swinigans. I am either too slow getting it to him, or he is not a fan of what I have picked for him to eat. If all else fails, the kid loves bananas. He loves to make funny faces and sounds, and I am usually too late to get the good ones on video. Here is one short clip while I was trying to feed him a snack this afternoon.

June 4

So I think I learned my lesson on where to post things so that everyone can see them. Sorry for the technical difficulties. Maybe one day this Facebook thing will start to work right and really take off…..or maybe it was user error. Anyway, like I said, no meeting scheduled for today so we headed out to the mall….me and all the other moms with strollers.

A few things I learned today besides not going to the mall right before noon when many stores close for an hour:

1. I am out of practice with all this baby stuff. When leaving the hotel this morning for the mall, I remembered the kid, the stroller, but forgot the backpack (diaper bag). Luckily, I had one diaper stashed away in the stroller from the other day. We made it work. Shhhhh, whatever you do don’t tell Heather.

2. A cabbie may try to ignore you when you walk up pushing a baby stroller, but if you open the door and insist that you can make it all fit, he will roll his eyes and let you put the stroller in the front seat. He earned a nice tip for his good deed.

3. When you pack lite for an international trip and plan to do laundry in the bathtub, having a balcony to dry your clothes on is great, until you forget about them and it starts raining. Sure hope my pants dry before my appointment at the US Embassy tomorrow. Not sure I want to roll in there in a pair of shorts!

Here are a few random pics. You may notice a trend in a lot of the pictures the last couple of days of these multi colored linking rings. He loves those things.

This first picture is us getting ready to leave the hotel. The second is another napping picture. The third picture is him kissing his sisters in the picture book we made of them. He did this to their pictures on our first trip in January as well. He also tries to attack the iPad when we FaceTime with them.

Well that is all I have time for because I need to go blow dry my pants!

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June 5

On our way to the Embassy with passport in hand and dry pants, just in case anyone was wondering. My pants not his.  The next picture is our driver/translator, Dimiter.


So our field trip today was rather uneventful, which if you are going someplace where everyone is really serious and there is lots of security, you want it to be rather uneventful. You are required to turn your cell phone off and turn it in to the guards, and you get it back as you leave. Hypothetically speaking someone may have snapped a photo of the building as they were leaving, thinking this one will be a good one for Facebook later. Well, let me just tell you, you will not be seeing that picture, because when that someone got back to their hotel and was going through the pictures, there is this lovely sign in that shot (that someone did not see), that says “Visitors are not to take photos while on diplomatic property”. Whoops, my bad.

I do need to give major credit to our attorney over here. He totally prepared me for what to expect as we went through each step of the process. So now everything has been approved, I am just waiting on the last few official documents to be delivered tomorrow evening so we can leave Saturday morning.

Here are four pictures from today:

The first is a picture of Levi and I with our translator/driver, Dimiter. We will not see him again, so I had the people at the hotel take a picture of us. He has been great. He was our driver/translator in January as well, and I can not say enough good things about him.

The second picture is Levi at dinner. Can you guess what he had? He was really not that messy, I just gave him an extra big bite because I thought it would make for a better picture.

The third picture is of our dinner tonight at the hotel restaurant. This one is for Dewayne, who harassed me in one of my first post saying that rather just knowing where I was eating, he wanted to see a picture of my food. Well here you go D. By the way, it was excellent!

The last picture is of my room. There is nothing special about the picture, other than the fact that the hotel staff is awesome. When I leave my room during the day, this place looks like a tornado came through. We are a couple of dudes staying in a hotel room, by ourselves, what do you expect. Towels, toys, glasses, etc., left everywhere. It’s like the movie The Hangover, except without the drugs, and alcohol, and the women, and the gambling, or Mike Tyson….actually is it nothing like The Hangover, except the part where Alan carries the baby around on his chest. I did that earlier this week and neither of us enjoyed it at all.  Anyway, this is what I come back to each day, everything is its place, toys neatly organized on the bed.

Thanks for reading and giving me a chance to not go crazy while we wait to get back and see Heather and the girls!


June 6

A really nice day in Sophia today so we went for a little walk.  We at lunch by this fountain. Starting to pack soon. That feels good.

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So thank you all for joining us on this journey so far. It has been an amazing ride and I am sure that God has great things in store for us going forward. I have received many kudos of the past week or so for taking this trip, but I have to tell you that the one who deserves the kudos and who is the true rock star in our house is Heather.

You see, God placed this desire on her heart well before he placed it on mine (or I just did a better job is ignoring it at first). Sure we had talked about adoption as a way to grow our family for years, but in my mind it was always a domestic adoption. But an international adoption, of a special needs child, no way, not in a million years. But, through lots of prayer, God working on our hearts, and talking between us and with other adoptive parents and other special needs parents, it began to feel like something we were called to do.

I have to admit, at times through this process, on Sundays, it felt like God was talking directly to us through Pastor Terry. We would sometimes leave looking at each other shaking our heads wondering why was he looking at us the whole sermon, was there no one else in there?

Even though it took us all awhile to get on the same page and then to get all the paperwork, etc. done, God’s timing is perfect and that is why I am sitting in Sophia right now, and getting ready to board a plan in less than 12 hours.

The first picture is Levi and I with our attorney in Bulgaria. Please pray for these people. They do amazing work connecting these kids with families and putting up with all of the legal changes along the way.

The second picture was taken at dinner tonight. These are two other families that are currently on their first trip, Barry and Shelly Ray and Colleen Novit. They will both be in country for two weeks because they both are adopting 2 kids from different regions of the country.

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