Monday, January 21, 2008

Still Here!

I'm still here, in case you were wondering! I can't believe it's been over a week since my last post, I guess I was just taking a bit of a hiatus from the computer, we were becoming far too intimate, spending more time together than even Greg and I! It's been an interesting week. On one hand I've been walking on clouds, just thinking about how close we are getting to bringing Ana home. I've been working on her room (I'll post pictures when it's complete) and I completed a baby sweater I had been working on for her (my first garment, I'm so pleased! pics of that soon as well). I've been searching for the perfect coming home outfit, and making lists of all the things we'll need for our trip. It's very exciting and I feel a little bit like I've been nesting. At the same time, I've been following not only the latest news on Guatemalan adoptions, but there have been two tragic stories on blogs that I follow that have been weighing heavily on my mind. So to catch you up on what's been going on in my brain...

First and foremost two of the blogs I follow could really use our thoughts and prayers. Will and Aileen (Adopting Ariana) were in the process of adopting Ariana from Guatemala and actually had not long ago returned from a visit trip to meet her. They received the call no parent should ever have to endure last week. Their precious Ariana had contracted pneumonia and had passed away. I cannot imagine the pain this couple is in, and ask that you think of them and offer up a prayer for them to find peace with the loss of this little girl they loved so much. I'm also asking for your thoughts for the Goff family (Journey to Caylee). They have endured a horrific family tragedy this weekend as a family member in Florida was kidnapped and murdered. Please keep them in your prayers as well.

As far as Guatemalan adoptions are concerned, it seems like things for the Central Authority have plugged along nicely this past week. New people were appointed, and the process for registration was announced, this means all cases that were waiting to be submitted or resubmitted will soon be allowed to do so. It seems like cases are continuing to come out of PGN, I'm still waiting for my friend Debbie (World of Weeks) to get out. She just came back from a second visit trip, go take a look at her site, her daughter Lili is adorable! The country also welcomed their new president Alvaro Colom, inaugurated last Monday. The last thing I'd like to mention is the recent press about adoptions from Guatemala. It seems like bad press seems to constantly surround the process. I don't wear rose colored glasses, and I am aware that there are shady adoptions that do happen (they actually happen everywhere!), but the majority are done ethically. There was a piece on Dateline last night about Guatemala adoption. I completely spaced the time, and missed the show, but hear it largely focused on the horror stories. If you are interested in a well balanced view of the Guatemala adoption process, a great site to visit is

Now to mention my continuing absolute addiction to Nate, Tricia and Gwyneth's story that has truly made me stop in my tracks and really think about my own beliefs. I've long been just kind of not fully there when it comes to religion. I have always believed in God, I believe there is a plan for all of us, and a reason for everything that happens. I live my life basically just trying to be a kind and generous person, but I haven't really spoken to God in a long time and I'll admit to being a special occasion only church goer. Since I have read their story, it is constantly on my mind. Everything looks a little different, I don't know how to explain it. All I can say is that I feel myself evolving, and it is a good thing. If you haven't read their story yet, I highly recommend it. You will be amazed, you will be enlightened, you will be touched, I guarantee it.

So no, we haven't dropped off the edge of the planet, we are indeed still here...lot's going on, but difficult to put it all to words. More to come soon, I promise!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Request for Prayer

I have never met Nate and Tricia, but I spent a good long time getting to know their story last night, an amazing story of love, strength and immeasurable faith. Tricia has cystic fibrosis, and was preparing for a double lung transplant when they discovered that she was pregnant with their first child. The couple without doubt chose to give this child life, knowing that Tricia's life could be endangered as it carried many risks for her and would remove her from the transplant list. Tricia made it to 24 weeks gestation before the doctors delivered the tiny baby via c-section just this past Tuesday, they named her Gwyneth Rose, she weighed a mere 1 lb, 6 oz! This family asked that their story be shared, and that prayers be asked for. The miracle of prayer has been so evident throughout the past couple weeks as Tricia prepared to bring their baby into the world. Please pray for this family, for Tricia to become well enough to receive her transplant and for baby Gwyneth to continue to grow stronger. If you don't believe in the power of prayer, read their story ( It just might change your mind!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Guess What?

We got the call about half an hour ago,
our approved file is in our attorney's hands!
I can breathe now...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Still on Standby...

Well, we didn't get conformation of our out today. It's a little discouraging, and a little nerve wracking (did I misunderstand Laura at PGN?). We'll just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings. I e-mailed our coordinator to ask what the steps are after we are officially out of PGN, and if she knew if the town Ana's birth certificate is coming from is having any delays in issuing amended birth certificates (there are some people having a really hard time getting birth certificates from some areas). If you are curious about what the next steps are for us (assuming we are indeed out of PGN) here's what our coordinator had to say:
I spoke to Greg today and told him that Dinora would call me immediately
when your case comes out of the PGN. She checks daily and I am in
constant communication with her. Quetzaltenango does not appear to delay
the issuance of amended birth certificates. Most families travel
approximately two months after their case is approved by the PGN. These
are the steps after a case is approved by the PGN:

6. After the PGN gives written consent to the adoption, the birth mother
and the attorney representing the adoptive family will sign the adoption
decree, thus making the child's adoption legally complete under
Guatemalan law.

7. The adoption decree is registered at the Civil Registry (town/city
hall) where the child was born. This same Civil Registry issues the
child's new birth certificate with the surnames of the adoptive
parent(s). The birth certificate will state the child's original first
names followed by the adoptive family's surnames (paternal surname
followed by maternal surname, if applicable).

8. Once the amended birth certificate is obtained, the attorney applies
for the child's Guatemalan passport. A second DNA of the child only will
also take place at this time and the laboratory will send the embassy
the results directly. After reviewing all information in the case, the
Embassy will issue the "pink slip", which is an invitation for the
family to travel to Guatemala. The "pink slip" will list an appointment
for the adoptive parents to appear at the Embassy for issuance of the
child's American visa. Wide Horizons strongly recommends that families
do not travel until the "pink slip" has been issued, as the Embassy will
only meet with adoptive parents by appointment.

9. The representative takes the child to a U.S. Embassy-approved
pediatrician for a medical examination. This step is usually handled by
the representative just prior to the family's arrival in Guatemala.
However, in some cases, the adoptive family will accompany the child to
this appointment.

10. Adoptive family and child(ren) are interviewed by U.S. Embassy
consular officer in order to receive the child's visa to enter the
United States. For each child, families must bring with them their
completed I-600 form, Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, copies of last
year's tax forms with a notarized statement, a recent pay stub as
verification of employment, and a vaccination waiver. The consular
officer will give the adoptive family a sealed envelope containing the
adoption legal papers - this envelope must remain sealed and is to be
submitted to the immigration officer in the US at the family's point of
entry.   The immigration officer will retain this packet.
Lastly, there was some good news to come out of Guatemala today regarding the Central Authority. The location of the CA is now known. The procedure for registering has yet to be announced but it's a step in the right direction. Seems like they are making good effort to get these in process cases registered and processed through the system!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Unofficially OUT!!

I spent the past few days completely, totally glued to my computer. I think my computer is just about to tell me the "refresh" key is broken. Last week, I was very anxious about what was going to happen being the first few days after the first of the year. Then yesterday and today I was anxiously awaiting information regarding the JCICS statement about PGN halting the processing of cases (which I must say still hasn't been announced!). Well, I saw a couple people get out yesterday and today, two of them were submitted about a week after we were. I decided I just couldn't wait any more and decided to call PGN again to see if there was any new information. I was disconnected 4 times in a row. Frustrated, I decided I would give it one more try. Well, this time I got right through to Laura and her answer to my usual question was "Congratulations, I have that you have been approved!". "Approved?! Really?! Oh my goodness, thank you!", was all I could get out. I called our agency and talked to our coordinator. She said that our attorney checks with PGN once, sometimes twice a day and that when she talked to her this morning she had not been told that we were out. So she e-mailed her this afternoon and hopefully tomorrow we will receive conformation that we are indeed OUT!! So for now I am considering us unofficially out!

In other good news, I'm going to be an auntie!! I got a call from my brother and sister-in-law last Thursday letting us know that they are expecting their first child. I am so excited for them! Ian was so ecstatic when we told him the news, the exchange went a little like this:

"Ian you are going to have a cousin!"
"Really?! Yaaaaay!!" (all in a very loud manner!)
"I know who's belly the baby is going to come out of."
"You do? Who's?"
"Auntie Amy's, 'cause babies come out of girls' bellies. If the baby comes out of Uncle Steve's belly, that would be.......wierd!"
"Yes Ian, I imagine it would be"

We have thus far avoided the "how did the baby get in there question", but I'm preparing myself for it! He was so cute about it though. He's also been cute about thinking about our getting closer to going to pick up Ana. He and my sister are going next week to get the required shots for the trip. Now when we were going to visit, he was adamant that there would be no shots for him. But in the few months since then, he has come to realize that getting the shots means getting to go to pick Ana up and he is now actually excited about getting them! He told me today he can't wait to go see Ana, and he's going to hold her and kiss her. I'm so sure he has absolutely no clue what's in store for him over the next year, but I'm glad he's so happy to meet her. So despite the anxiety and chaos these past days have brought some very good things have surfaced. I continue to keep my body parts crossed though until I know that our file is in our attorney's hot little hands! Then I'll really feel like I can breathe a little easier!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Pushed to the Limit

You ever feel like you just can't take any more? Today I think I just about hit my breaking point. Seriously, this process is like one emotional step forward and three steps back. The optimism I was feeling less than 24 hours ago is clouded now. So here's the scoop. There were 5 or 6 cases I heard of that got out of PGN yesterday. That was exciting to me. Rumors and speculation are flying about the forums this week though and are now causing me to wonder were these cases approved before the New Year and are just getting reported now?

Here's what I know:

1. Yesterday it was reported that there was a sign on the window at PGN saying no new cases (including cases to be resubmitted after a previo) would be accepted.

2. There has been speculation on the forums I follow that no new cases will be approved after today, and then it will be a 2-3 week period before they resume approvals. This is presumably because all cases under the new law in order to be grandfathered must be registered with the Central Authority (that does not yet exist of course).

3. Today reported the following:

"Joint Council can confirm that PGN is no longer processing adoption cases with the exception of those that have already been approved. All other aspects of adoption processing have been stopped.

This is a result of the new adoption law requiring the registration of cases with the Central Authority prior to cases being reinitiated. Joint Council continues to advocate for a position solution to the situation."

4. Guatadopt posted their interpretation a little while ago:

"We are getting mixed information but our ground forces are trying to clarify the reality of the statement. At this time, we believe (based on the information) that PGN is not accepting new cases but they are continuing to process cases. Under the new law, they are in a questionable position because the law states that all cases must be registered with the Central know, the one that does not exist yet. So, I believe that the translation is that they are still working on cases, but there may not be any "approvals" until this has been ironed out.

We are pushing for a solution regarding the Central Authority. But remember, that you have a new administration turnover. So, current folks will be leaving on the 14th of this month. So, it is very possible that nothing will be resolved until the new administration is "in" UNLESS, the current administration establishes this Central Authority and comes up with some mechanism to handle registration under the new law."

5. After a couple hours of trying this morning, we were finally able to get through to PGN to check on our case. We are still awaiting signature, and were told that they are still working on the end of October cases. She said that we should hear by the end of next week.

So, what does it all mean? I have no flipping clue any more. I'd like to believe that Laura (the nice woman we speak to when we call PGN) would know if cases are continuing to be processed. According to the new law, in order for a case to be grandfathered, they need to register with the Central Authority by January 30th. If we would naturally have gotten out of PGN before then, do we still need to be registered? Do we need to wait until the CA is established to register before our cases can proceed? Maybe they will continue to process cases through, but just can't issue formal approvals until the CA is in place? Ahhhhhhhhhh!!

So the way I see it is this; best case, we get out next week. Worst case, we get a previo and can't be resubmitted until the Central Authority is in place. Another horrible scenario is that they indeed are not issuing approvals until the CA is in place and we are put on hold until that time. But remember; cases expecting grandfathering are supposed to be registered with the Central Authority by January 30th, but as I remember it, there was a 60 day time period (from when the law went into effect on December 31st) in which the CA would need to be implemented. What happens if it is not up and running by January 30th? Are we all then not eligible for the grandfathering?

I guess all we can do is wait.....again.....

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Feeling Optimistic Tonight...

Well folks, things appear to be moving. More than half of the day I felt like things in the PGN were still at a complete standstill. In fact, I had actually heard rumors that cases were not being processed at all until they could be registered with the Central Authority (remember that entity I mentioned a while back? The one that needs to be developed within thirty days of the implementation of the new adoption law? The one that all in process cases were supposed to register with? Yet the one that doesn't exist?). Well it all changed late this afternoon when 5 people reported their "outs", to say I was relieved was an understatement. These past two weeks (though wonderful holiday wise) have been excruciating! When nothing is happening to move you forward in your adoption case, it's just an awful feeling! Yesterday I had been hoping to see the "outs" start coming and they didn't, and then another almost whole day of no news but lots of speculation was just about to push me over the edge. Seeing people getting out (Congrats Kathy over at Journey to Caylee!) was what I needed tonight! The people getting out were submitted the very end of October, so hopefully we are soon! We're calling tomorrow so check back for what we find out! Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy Six Months Baby Girl!

Yes, two posts in one day. Our farewell to 2007 was dreadfully long so I wouldn't blame you for skipping over it. After all, lots of it you have read already as it happened. At any rate, I wanted to make mention that our little girl turned 6 months old today. Can you believe that? Half of her first year is gone. I am very anxious about what these next few weeks will bring in the Guatemalan adoption front. Not only for our case (please, please, please let us be getting out of PGN!) but as of yesterday, the new adoptions law has become effective so I will be undoubtedly tied to the computer scouring for new information (what's new right? I'd definitely not get a "satisfactory" in "uses time wisely" if I were to be issued a report card these days!). I'll also be hoping to see all those end of October submits released from PGN (it's been super hard not having any movement in PGN these last couple weeks!). Mr. Barrios comes back from his vacation tomorrow and I'm hoping to see a flood of approvals this week. Hopefully we will be one of them! Anyways, happy six months little one, we miss you so very much and are hoping your next six months are mostly spent with us!

Goodbye 2007

What a year it has been for our family! It's amazing how one year can bring so much change, I am certainly not the same person I was this time last year. We've been on an absolute roller coaster and after a gut wrenching course of twists and turns it has indeed delivered us safely to where we are today. Here's a little peek at what 2007 looked like for us.

In January we were brand new to the adoption scene. We mailed in our application right after Christmas, and were eagerly awaiting the instruction packet that would guide us through the formal application process with the agency. We were excited, anxious, but so relieved that we had finally veered off the infertility road and were making our way towards adoption. We had no idea the ride we were in for! On January 23, we had our first home study meeting, and met our social worker for the first time. He was quite the character, and immediately put us at ease with the process, a nice way to start!

February brings many birthdays in our family. My new brother-in-law Michael kicks it off on the 2nd and then my mum, sister-in-law Amy, and sister Michelle all fall over the 15, 16 and 17th (weird huh?). Michelle and Amy were born a day apart, in the same hospital, here we are 30 years later and Amy is married to my brother. Yes, I did say 30, both Michelle and Amy turned 30 this year, and we celebrated with a combined birthday at our house. Lots of fun! We had our 2nd and 3rd meetings for our home study as well this month. In our third meeting, the home visit, our social worker met Ian and instigated what is now fondly known as "the booger incident", remember that? If not, read this post under the February 20th heading, I can look back on it and laugh now.

March is a bit of a blur I'll admit. End of February into March we were kind of crazy working on our dossier for the Guatemalan adoption...paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork! We were also working on Michelle's wedding invitations, and preparations for her shower, so it was a very busy month!

April was busy as well! We had last minute preparations for Michelle's April 14th bridal shower, and then the shower itself! It was a wonderful day, and we were able to pull off a surprise for Michelle right up until the last day when she started to suspect something. Well, at least she came looking beautiful! We told her we were going to work on the place cards for her wedding, she could have shown up in sweats and a baseball hat...I'm thinking that would not have been her first apparel choice for her bridal shower! Later in the month, we had our fingerprinting appointments for our I-600A application (this is for the advance processing for immigration of a child adopted outside the country), that was an experience! Then at the very end of the month we were presented with the opportunity for a domestic match. We were so excited, yet completely freaking out as the baby was due right around my sister's wedding, and I was the matron of honor!

May was a very bumpy month. Over the span of four days we were brought from the unbelievable high of watching my sister get married to the absolute excitement of hearing the baby we were matched with was born the very next morning, the anxiety of traveling to Connecticut to meet him, the instant love and connection we felt with this little one day old infant (we were going to call him Max), the contentment and excitement we felt all that night and the next morning, and then the crushing blow of learning the birth mother had changed her mind. Driving home that day we felt so empty. The vacant infant car seat, the piles of freshly laundered baby clothing, the empty bassinet, they were all reminders of what we almost had. It was a very difficult couple weeks for us. Not only did we lose this child we had started to consider our own, we had been derailed from completing our dossier for Guatemala and were set back about a month. We channeled all our disappointment and frustration into completing our dossier. Our social worker advised that we take some time to grieve but we were just aching to keep going, we had already lost enough time getting to our baby!

June was very nice, I have to say. We watched our little boy graduate from kindergarten, as well as perform in his very first piano recital. I couldn't believe how grown up he was getting! We also completed our dossier and got it submitted amidst it all, we were finally on the waiting list for Guatemala! It was such a relief to have gotten that far! We were looking forward to a great summer!

July started with a trip to visit some very good friends out in upstate New York. We had such a good time just hanging out with them, doing all sorts of fun things including tie dying, a trip to one of the beautiful Ithaca waterfalls, and a trip to the zoo. Little did we know that on that first day of July while we were enjoying a visit to the zoo a little girl named Ana was born in Guatemala. That little girl would soon change our lives! Ana shares her birthday month with her daddy, we celebrated Greg's birthday with a party at home still oblivious that our daughter had been born.

In August we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Greg couldn't get the actual day off, but was able to get the day before. We decided to go mini golfing, and about a quarter way through the course received the phone call we had been so anxiously awaiting. Our social worker announced "It's a girl!". We had been matched with Ana, and if we could get to his office soon we could see her pictures. Greg's mom just happened to be in the area and picked up Ian for us so we could hurry to meet with the social worker. We were so anxious and excited making that drive, what would she look like? When the pictures were presented to us, there was this amazing feeling of contentment. I'm sure I didn't hear a word said to us, I just stared at that little face the entire time. We had found our daughter! The summer is kind of a blur, but I know that at some point Ian learned to ride a bike, to swim without floaties again (because he was doing it the summer before, he just forgot he could do it!), learned to tie his shoes and started to really sound out words (in fact, he is pretty much reading now, when he wants to that is, sounding out lots of different things and surprising us every day...our days of spelling things to each other to hide information from Ian are pretty much over!) A wonderful month it was, but not without it's lows. We sadly lost one of our beloved cats Sophie that same month. We miss her very much.

September brought a new year of school (another year of kindergarten just because of his age), and Ian's first time on the school bus (far more difficult for me than him!). We passed our first milestone with the receipt of Ana's DNA results, and with that we got our first glimpse of Ana's birth mother. Our first baby turned six years old which was celebrated over a marathon birthday weekend, I still can't believe he's actually six! And we got our first feeling for how bumpy the ride on the Guatemalan adoption roller coaster is. We made plans for our trip to visit Ana under the uncertainty brought on by announcements made by the US Department of State that adoptions from Guatemala may cease to be processed after the first of the year. A very scary time for any one involved in an adoption from Guatemala!

October brought yet another bumpy month. We started the month by receiving Ana's visa pre-approval from the US Embassy, yet another milestone completed! Two days later we were boarding a plane to meet our daughter, we would spend five glorious days with her. This little three month old with the black sticky up hair and a smile to brighten any one's day burned a place in my heart the moment I saw her. Our time with her was amazing but it was clouded with the news we had just heard days before. There was a lot of information flying around about the statements being made regarding the future of Guatemalan adoptions. We were so committed to this little girl, and we were hearing reports that we may not be allowed to complete her adoption. It would have been hard enough to say good bye to her without the rumors, but leaving Ana there in Guatemala with so much unknown was undoubtedly the hardest thing I've ever had to do. And during all the adoption business, our little monkey lost his very first tooth receiving 5 gold coins from the tooth fairy! He dressed as a mad scientist for Halloween and had a blast trick-or-treating. It was a nice way to end the month!

On to November, an interesting month! Greg and I spent a good portion of the month feeling lousy. We believe we caught the bug Ana was fighting while we were visiting. After all the testing (remember the couples' night in the emergency room?) we believe we were battling a form of mono (wouldn't that make a great VISA commercial? Airfare to Guatemala $$$, Hotel for 5 days $$$, catching mono from your 3 month old daughter, priceless...). It was miserable, and Greg got strep on top of it. Anyways, life continued. We watched as Guatemala elected a new president, and entered PGN, the final big hurdle of the adoption process. We endured more ups and downs regarding the implementation of new adoption law in Guatemala, a literal roller coaster day to day (sometimes hour to hour!) that I dealt with by indulging in bouts of retail therapy. We celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving, and shortly after, my 33 birthday. We spent the end of the month getting Christmas decorations up, and enjoying some family time. I love that time of year!

And that brings us to December. We started a new tradition this year, a new way to count down to Christmas. Each day, well almost every day (we ran into some issues getting an activity in every day), anyways, the plan was that each day we would have a new activity to do. These activities were written on tags and numbered so that each day Ian got to take a new tag off the tree. I really enjoyed this idea and am hoping to continue it for years to come. It gave us time every day to do something special together, isn't that what's best about this season? On top of our daily activities, we had Greg's brother come in from Alaska which was a special event. He hadn't been home in quite a while so it was really nice to have him home. We also got to see Ian sing in his very first school Christmas concert, a very cute show! And then there was the whole tooth extraction fiasco, not a high point, but it did result in my witnessing a prescription for ice cream for the first time ever! We held on tight as our case eased it's way through the PGN and are hoping to hear some news this week regarding where we stand. We celebrated a wonderful Christmas with our family and spent last night with my sister and her husband and my mum and dad. Ian stayed awake to see the New Year come in and had a glass of "champagne" (sparkling cider of course) to celebrate the occasion. He outlasted some of the adults, right Shelle, mum and dad?

As I look back over the year, it's really amazing to see where we've been. It has truly been a year of extreme ups and downs. For all the bumps along the road though, I am happy with where the year brought us. We end 2007 with many life lessons learned, and surrounded by the love and unending support of our families and of our friends, many of whom we have gathered through our adoption journey. I am very excited to begin 2008, after all, I truly believe this is the year we officially become a family of four! But I know regardless of where 2008 brings us that we are truly, amazingly blessed. So goodbye 2007, you were interesting to say the least and hello 2008, what do you have in store for us? Bring it on!