Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Family

Before a mutiny occurs due to the demands of a family pic - Here it is!!

We'll get some more, I promise!

Check Out My Feet

I've included a pic that shows her feet as per a request from Sares! And sorry, Jeri, no shoes. Can you believe I didn't bring any?? They'd probably be huge on her like everything else. Mommy brought lots of cute outfits that just swallow her up! As you can see, even the smallest diapers are big too. But, if she keeps sucking down the formula, that should change soon.

Good Morning Sunshine!

She loves her bath!

Well, we all survived another night! Gabriella seemed to be much more comfortable last night and didn't have trouble going to sleep. She went to sleep about 10:15 and slept until 2:30, had a bottle and then back to bed until 6:30. She woke up so happy and active this morning(at left). She's been awake more today than she has been so far.

Daddy got inaugarated and got peed on! And he drew the lucky number yesterday and got the poopy diaper on his watch.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A visit in Antigua

While we were in Antigua, we met up with Marie and Steve from Maine who are adopting from the same agency. They are in Antigua fostering their sweet little one born not long after Gabriella. We met them at the Hotel Antigua which opens the pool to the public on Sundays. What a gorgeous place belied by the plain wall surrounding it from the street. Inside those walls is a lush landscape and an enormous pool.

The Daily Dose - Tuesday

Last night was a bit trying as we had a hard time getting Gabriella to sleep. She was quite upset and inconsolable for about an hour but Ferdy finally got her calmed and to sleep around 12:15am. I'm sure the strange surroundings and these new people left in charge were a bit much for her. She slept until almost 5:00am, had a bottle and diaper change and went back to sleep.

Mommy and daddy were tired and didn't wake up until 9:00am!! She was still sleeping until I woke her. She was quite happy when she woke up. Breakfast is only served until 10:00, so we had to scramble to feed her and get down there before they shut down. Tomorrow we'll need to get up a little earlier, that's for sure.

We chilled by the pool for a while until it got cloudy and breezy and then we came back to the room for the afternoon. Ferdy went out to get some lunch and supplies and mommy and Gabriella spent some time napping.

Enjoy the pics!

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Day in the Life

Here are a couple more pictures we took today. She really enjoyed some play time with daddy. She had some tummy time too and is doing a good job lifting her head up.

At Last!

OK... So, the post you've all been waiting for! We left Antigua at 8:00 am and were in Guatemala City by 9:00 am. We checked in to the hotel and around 10:20 am, the foster mother coordinator called us down to meet our daughter. I could hardly keep it together going down in the elevator. The moment I'd been waiting for, at last!

Can you tell she is going to be Daddy's little girl?

She was hungry, so I got to feed her a bottle. Man, can she suck down the formula in no time flat!

It's only been a matter of hours but so far she is a pretty happy, content baby except when her diaper needs changing or she is hungry. Boy, she let us know when it was time for another bottle!

It has been quite a day to day the least. I just can't believe this beautiful baby will be ours very soon. We've been just staring at her the entire afternoon, taking in every expression. She likes to stick her tongue out!

La Antigua

Hola from Guatemala! We arrived Saturday afternoon. After quite the zoo to get our bags and meet our driver, we were on our way to Antigua, about an hour away. Here are a couple of pictures of Antigua.

The one at top is an old Monastery that was mostly destroyed by earthquakes. Antigua used to be the capital of Guatemala before they finally got tired of rebuilding it after earthquakes kept destroying it. It was then moved to Guatemala City.

Below right is a picture of the lap pool at the hotel we stayed at. I don't think anyone actually uses it. We had dinner at one of the tables just to the left. We were afraid we were going to end up in the pool with one wrong move!

This is an old Cathedral.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

We're on our way!

Well, it's just after 4:00 am and we're leaving for the airport in about 10 minutes for the trip that will forever change our lives. I probably won't be able to post again until Monday, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Adopt Proud

A fellow adoptive parent using the same agency as mine has started a venture that is pretty cool. Instead of trying to cleverly paraphrase the intent, I'll just post from the website:

Adopt Proud was born out of a desire to spark conversation. To, through the use of one simple word, trigger lively discussions both about adoption and about family. At Adopt Proud we believe that only through redefining the concept of family will all in need of a home finally find one.

So, check out the website:

I'm certainly proud to be adopting and not because I think it's some noble thing to do, but because I am proud I will be known as mom to a wonderful, beautiful child. I will be proud to watch her grow and blossom into whatever she dreams possible. And I am also proud to be adopted myself. People who know me already know that fact, but my cyberspace friends likely don't(though some do). It was always something I felt made me a special person. I remember as a child working it into conversations with classmates,friends,etc. very early on. It was something that not many other kids got to claim rights to and that was pretty darn cool in my books.

My shirt was delivered last week - pretty cool. I think I'll wear it the day I go to register for my baby shower(thank you Sares and my other AWESOME!!! friends who are putting it together). At least then I won't get strange looks putting together a registry without a pregnant belly (though all the eating I've done since I quit my job is certainly working towards one that might be mistaken for early pregnancy!).

Friday, May 19, 2006


We received the DNA results from the lab today and it is a 99.87% match. So, one more milestone.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Legacy of an Adopted Child

So, today being Mother's Day and all, I'm feeling a little sentimental. I ran across this poem on an adoption website. The author is stated as unknown, so I can't give the credit to whom it is due. Someday, I will be able to share this with Gabriella and the experiences will be real and not just dreams of mine as of today.

Once there were two women who never knew each other.One you do not remember, the other you call Mother.

Two different lives shaped to make you one.One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it.The first gave you a need for love. The second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality. The other gave you a name.One gave you a talent. The other gave you aim.

One gave you emotions. The other calmed your fears.One saw your first sweet smile. The other dried your tears.

One sought for you a home that she could not provide.The other prayed for a child and her hope was not denied.

And now you ask me, through your tears,the age-old question unanswered through the years.Heredity or environment, which are you a product of?Neither, my darling. Neither. Just two different kinds of Love.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I just love updates

I just got an email update from a visit from our agency to the foster mom that took place May 2. So, these pictures are from a couple of days before the last ones posted, but they're new to me!
Her foster mom says Gabriella is drinking 2oz of formula every 2 hrs and that she is sleeping in her crib(yeah!!) usually by 10 PM - waking at 4 AM and 7:30 AM for a bottle. WOW! That sounds pretty good to me! She says she has no problems with gas or colic.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Family Court

I received another email updating us that we entered Family Court on Friday, May 5. The interviews should take place over the next couple of weeks. Preapproval from the U.S. Embassy usually happens about 6-7 weeks after the DNA collection.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Little Pink Poodle

We received an update today from Gabriella's latest dr. appt on Friday. She is now up to 6lbs 15oz!!! It is so good to see her keep gaining weight. Her foster mom reports that she is spending more and more time awake, appears to listen when spoken to and can lift her chin up when she's on her stomach.

Here are a couple of the pictures. She's already changed so much in just a month. The outfit is one I sent in one of her care packages, so at least I know she got them.

It's so nice to see her eyes open so much this time!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Red Tape

So many people ask why it is going to take so long for Gabriella to be able to come home. I thought it might be helpful to list the steps in the process. That way as I refer to these terms along the way, you'll have some idea of what the heck I'm talking about.

1. Dossier is sent to Guatemala to be translated.

2. Child is born.

3. Birth is registered at Civil Registry and a birth certificate is issued.

4. Birth mother signs over custody to a lawyer and authorizes the lawyer to pursue adoption plans for the child; child enters foster care (usually) or sometimes orphanage or children's home

5.Child is taken to a pediatrician for basic physical and (for newborns) usually for first immunizations, if these steps were not done prior to relinquishment.

6.Birthmother also sees a doctor to make sure she is fine and may have blood tests done at this time, if they haven't been done prior to the birth of the child.

7. You receive a referral with child's and birth mother's names, basic physical info, and usually a photo and results of screening blood tests for syphilis, hepatitis and HIV.

8. You accept referral and sign a Power of Attorney (POA) to authorize the lawyer in Guatemala to act on your behalf during the adoption process. Under Guatemalan law the same lawyer may represent the birth mother's and child's interests and your interests during the adoption. Some agencies use separate lawyers for adoptive parents, most don't.

9. Your POA is registered in Guatemala.

10. The lawyer submits all the documents in the case to Family Court, and petitions the Family Court to assign a social worker to investigate the case.

11. The lawyer requests authorization from the US Embassy to have DNA testing performed on the birth mother and child to confirm that they are indeed biologically mother and child. DNA testing is done with supervision and a photo of the birth mother with the child is taken at the testing site to ascertain their identities.

12. Family Court social worker reviews your dossier, interviews the birth mother, sees the child in foster care or orphanage, and (almost always) approves the adoption. The social worker writes a several page report summarizing the facts of the case and attesting to the reasons that the birth mother cannot care for the child. The birth mother signs consent for adoption for second time.

13. Meanwhile the DNA test should have been performed, cleared, and submitted to the Embassy with your dossier for review and approval by the Embassy. The case cannot take the next step after Family Court until the Embassy DNA approval has been issued. This is a safeguard to prevent a situation in which a child is legally adopted under Guatemalan law, but not eligible for immigration under US law. A third consent by the birth mother is signed during the DNA process.

14. The lawyer then submits a petition for approval of the adoption case to a notarial officer of the Attorney General?s office (Procuraduria General de la NaciĆ³n or PGN). (A Notary in Guatemala is an attorney with additional powers, not simply someone who certifies signatures as in the US.)

15. Notary in PGN reviews all the documents (often requesting that some be re-done because of minor spelling errors, expired notary seals, etc.) and almost always approves the adoption. The PGN may at their discretion investigate aspects of the case if they wish and as a result of that and other variations, time in this step (as in many steps) can vary widely.

16. PGN issues its approval for the adoption to proceed.

17. The lawyer then meets the birth mother for the 4th and final sign-off.

18. The adoption decree is then written and issued by the lawyer and the child is legally now the child of the adoptive family.

19. A new birth certificate is then issued by the Civil Registry with the child?s first and middle names unchanged, but with the names of the adoptive parent(s).

20. Lawyer takes new birth certificate and applies for a Guatemalan passport (although the child is adopted by US parents, he or she is still a Guatemalan citizen).

21. All documents are translated into English by certified translators, as required by US INS regulations.

Then..... for the final stages:

1. Passport is issued.

2. Child gets a visa photo done.

3. Lawyer takes all the paperwork back to the Embassy, including the passport, your dossier, the Family Court findings, the adoption decree, the DNA results, all translations, and the visa photos, and requests approval for an orphan visa to enter the US.

4. Embassy authorizes visa. This approval is on pink paper and is called the "pink slip". It is usually issued a day or two after submission of the documents.

5. Child gets an exit physical by an Embassy-approved doctor (to make sure the child doesn't have unrecognized handicapping conditions or infectious diseases). Note that this exam used to require prior embassy approval, but can now be done any time after the passport is issued, without prior approval of the embassy.

6. You are told your case is complete and you travel to Guatemala (many people travel sooner but this is the "official" time when travel is recommended).

7. The lawyer completes required INS and State Department forms for visa issuance and includes them in the document package along with the results from the exit physical.

8. You -- often but not always accompanined by the lawyer or someone from their staff -- bring your child and all the papers back to the Embassy early one morning (Monday - Thursday only, no visas are issued on Fridays), pay the visa fees, present the I-600 and I-864 forms (fill these out well ahead!), show your tax returns for the past 3 years (including W-2s and 1099s, plus currrent letters of employment or recent pay stubs) to prove you can support the child, and come back later that afternoon for your visa and sealed packet of documents.

9. Then you can go home. On arrival you must to submit the sealed packet to INS at your first point of entry into the US.

PHEW... That's a lot of steps!!! We are basically at steps 10 & 11, though we haven't gotten official word that we are in Family Court. But, often you are in for a bit before you get an update confirming the date you entered. I am hoping we are already in.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Guatemala Bound!!!!

We're going to see Gabriella!!! We are going to visit Guatemala from May 27 - June 4. Since the baby drop-offs are only done during the week, we will stay in a beautiful little charming town called Antigua Saturday and Sunday. Then, on Monday May 29, we'll get to meet our daughter for the first time!

I can't tell you the emotions I feel - they range from excitement to fear! I somehow have to be ready to care for a tiny little baby within the next 3 weeks!

We're planning on taking a laptop and the hotel has wireless internet, so I'll hopefully be able to post while we're there and keep everyone up-to-date.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Historic Day

OK, OK .. just a play on words. Yesterday, mom and I went to St. Augustine for the day. The weather was absolutely fabulous! We walked around the shops, had lunch at The Columbia(yum) and then went to check out the beach.

We had such a nice time!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Friday April 28, the DNA test was done!! It was definitely bittersweet to read that email. It contained information about her birthmother's background and pictures of Gabriella and her birthmother.

When asked if she had a message for Blanca (remember that is what she named her), she replied "I am giving you to your new family - so they can give you everything that I cannot. I will not take away this opportunity. I give you my love. "

Oh my.... nothing like bringing tears running down my face!! We give her our love for this opportunity to raise a beautiful little girl and watch her become a woman.

Here is a picture of her with her foster mom getting her thumb print.