Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gettin' Ready

Well, between my mom and I , we have enough clothes for thirteen little boys in Guatemala. My mission this weekend is to get his bag packed. I am also creating a scrapbook for the foster family to keep. It is fun working on it... I'll see if I can take some photos of it and post them in a few days.

Geoffrey and I are going to an Old Time Music Festival tomorrow. He has been practicing his banjo all day...I think he may enter the competition. That will be fun. I'll let you know how that turns out!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Disposable Cameras

Well, I think I told you guys that on our first visit trip we left several cameras with the foster family. We wanted to have pictures to show Jonas of the time he spent with Gloria, Marco and Tommy. We got three full rolls back and I have narrowed them down to the cutest ones!! There are a couple shots with other people in them that we do not know... I will get their identities on this trip. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Mom and I went shopping yesterday looking for PJ's for the boy. At several different times I became overhwhelmed with sadness. I saw the tiny clothes and longed for all that I have missed; his first smile, the first time he babbled...sigh. I know that isn't going to matter once he gets home...but this is the hard part, the ache inside that no one can see.

I am so looking forward to this next trip...I am thrilled that mom gets to meet Jonas.

Friday, March 23, 2007

...and some more

A big ol' thank you to Grandpa Adams for sending us some dough. The trip is 3/4 of the way paid for. I am sooooooooo grateful to everyone for their support.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

...and some more

Big shout outs today go to Wilma and David Lee (Geoffrey's step-grandparents out in Wisconsin), Jennie & Phil Hissom and Dan and Julie (I have no idea who they are...but their post mark is from Ft. Collins so they must be friends with Margie, Vince and AJ). Identify yourselves people!!

I am SOOOOOOOO Overwhelmed with the response we are getting. The trip is about 50% funded now. AMAZING

Thank you thank you thank you!!! xoxoxo

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

....and receive some more

Gotta send a (correctly spelled) shout out to Paul, Kristin and Riley Jeanne for stopping by during American Idol to contribute to the "go see Jonas' fund". For those of you that don't know, Paul and Kristin are our newest (and coolest) friends, they just had a baby...Riley Jeanne who is the newest (and coolest) baby girl I know. Thanks guys!

Now we are up to date

So, now all the posts bring us to today. We are still in PGN, we are planning our next visit trip April 6-11th. Jonas turns one April 9th and we will have a fiesta! We do have more pictures to share. At the first visit trip we left three disposable cameras with the foster family. In the next day or so I will post some of the pictures from those cameras.

Pictures from Trip #2

Here I am working on Jonas' disguise and seeing
if he thinks the forged plane ticket will work.
It's so cool how comfortable he is with his daddy.

This boy is so happy..just being with us.

Yeah!!!!!!! We're not at the pool anymore!!

Yup, my mom was there too!

Hmmm, I'm not so sure about least my dad's here.

Oh yeah..its all about trying to stand up.

Visit Trip #2

Much more comfortable this time...knew what to expect, wasn't scared at all. Great trip, wonderful weather. This time Jonas was very, very active...he didn't want to be still at all. He was so much fun. Geoffrey and I were a hysterical mess when we gave him back this time..even the foster family was crying. They even said, "we hope you can bring him home soon". They are so great.

Highlights from this trip:
  • Baby smiling and holding out his arms to me when we first saw him
  • Swimming with the baby
  • Watching him try to stand
  • Listening to him bababababa...dadadadadada

More update photos

10 months: he's so stinkin cute! Gotta go for another visit!
9 months...what a face. Lets remember
these pictures are being taken in a doctors office...

Well, we didn't get update photos in December..which was 8 months. The doctor was on holiday so we had to wait until January to get the next update..that was awful.

The waiting is the hardest part

Ok, so I really thought after the visit trip that I would be able to focus more, and begin to trust that things are moving along. HA! More distracted, more desperate for him to be home...the one good thing was meeting his foster family. They were so wonderful, and clearly love him very much. Tommy, the 12 year old is really bonded to the baby...he loves to play with him.

The next part of the process were something called, Kick Outs. Yes, they are what they sound like. We got "Kicked Out" of PGN. This means something was spelled wrong or they didn't like the way something was signed..or someone peed in their wheaties and they were taking it out on us. (sad, but true). The consequence of a kick out is varied. Sometimes there is a document to be signed..then notarized, certified and legalized. This takes weeks to accomplish, then you get resubmitted to PGN and go back to the bottom of the pile. We have been kicked out three times now. So..we are sitting in PGN..waiting to get OUT..which means the end of the Guatemalan process and onto the embassy issuing our visa so we can bring him home...

In the meantime we got a couple more updates.

Pictures from visit trip #1

This is the building where our file is stuck. Please send love and light
to all who work here and encourage them to
get our file OUT OF THERE!!!
This is at the artisian market. This woman was using something called a backstrap loom. We spoke with her at length and bought two beautiful table runners from her.

Happy daddy and sick baby. excellent bonding tool.

This is the first time Geoffrey held Jonas.
Despite Geoffrey's bad haircut,
this was a beautiful moment!.

Here we are with Jonas and his foster family, Marco, Gloria and Tommy

Visit Trip #1

So, we took our first trip to Guatemala over Thanksgiving this year. I was so scared...I had never been out of the country and just really didn't know what to expect. We took lots of pictures and three hours of video. Come on by, we'd be glad to pop some popcorn and watch the movies!

Notable events of visit trip one include:
  • Meeting the foster family
  • Meeting Jonas..duh
  • The baby got sick with a fever of 104 the first night we had him
  • Geoffrey got food poisioning
  • Falling in love with my son
  • Seeing smoke coming out of a volcano
  • Touring the artisian market and buying handmade treasures

We had a great time and we were really glad we chose to go. Alot of families that adopt don't go for a visit as they are afraid of the pain of leaving the child behind. I was more affected by the pain of being so far we went.


I found this picture and wanted to share it. One of the coolest things about Guatemala are the textiles. I learned that the spanish "overlords" ordered the different villages to create special patterns so they could tell the people from different villages apart. We bought a blanket last time we were there that had a patch from each village...amazing!


Mom's going to Guatemala with me!!! We booked her flight and went today to apply for her passport. She's scratching and kicking but she's still coming! I'm so excited.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ask and you shall receive

So.. as many of you reading know...I sent out a plea for help getting my butt down to Guatemala for Jonas' first birthday. I am overhwhelmed at the response. I feel so blessed to have so many people supporting this adoption. I can't wait to tell Jonas about all of you and how much you helped us.

The first big shout out goes to Matt Posey... Matt generously offered his credit card number for me to buy the plane ticket. WOOO HOOO! That's half of the expense. So far, Mary and Larry, Shannon and Margie, Vince and AJ have offered help too. Their cashola will to to helping me pay for the hotel room and meals. I have to stay in Guatemala City...which is full of 4 and 5 star hotels..the hotel I have reserved is $127.00 a nite..pricey but worth it for the safety and security. This is the hotel we stayed at during our last visit trip.

Well, I'm off to pick my mom up from the airport...she's coming back from Maryland tonight. I am trying to convince her to come with me to Guate...we'll see how it goes!

Visit Trip # 1

I really need to go to bed!! This is so fun. I will post about our first visit trip in the next day or so. Good night

Update photos

7 months: DNA is a match..lets go visit!

6 months: DNA Authorization approved..waiting for results

5 months: Ok, I'm ready to go get him now.

4 months: aww man..give me those cheeks

3 months: Oh yeah..he's a keeper

2 months: What a cutie with those big brown eyes

1 month: This was an exciting one..we learned he had dimples!!

Updates , POA and DNA

After we accepted the baby's referral, we had to sign a power of attorney. We had to wait for the document to be drawn up in Guatemala...ship to us..we sign, get notarized, certified and legalized and back down to Guate. We then wait to enter Family Court and to get DNA authorization. All of this took ALOT of time.

DNA is a stressful part of the process. This is when the birthmom and baby see each other for the first time since the birth. Statistically speaking, if the mom is going to change her mind, this is when she does it. DNA is a requirement of the US government. Once there is a DNA match, the child is granted "pre approval" for a visa. This part of the process triggers other, bigger parts of the process..but most importantly it means you can go visit the child.

So, the next phase is called, "waiting for updates". We received a medical update and about 10 or twelve pictures once per month. My whole life revolved around getting these emails. They came between the 9th and 11th of the month. Its tough watching your kid grow up in pictures.

The face of an Angel

So here he was...the first thing I said was "what a beautiful head..its so..round". Mindy asked if we wanted to accept the referral. It was tough not just saying yes...I needed to speak with Geoffrey first. I called him right away and emailed him the picture. "That's my son", he said. And away we went.

The referral

May 3rd 2006 I got an email from our adoption agency. The name of our agency, as I said before, is Adopt an Angel. The subject line of the email was " Angel". The body of the email said this:

"Hi Kecia,

I am sending you the picture of baby angel . He is ready and available for placement. Would you like to be considered for him. We are close enough on your paperwork to do the match. When I saw him i thought you might be interested. He is so adorable. Let me know what you think and we can do the match. Call me right away on this one. Thanks, Mindy"

I thought they just referred to all the babies as "Angel". Then I opened the email and it said this:

"Mindy, meet Angel! He is such a doll! Let me know what the family thinks. Lisa"

followed by this note from the doctor:

"This morning I had the opportunity to meet Angel Josue, he was born on 04/09 at a town Chiquimula, at this moment there is no further information available as to the pregnancy or delivery nor I am aware of an pastmedical or family history that I can share with you. The caregiver does share with me that she has not noticed any abnormality in the time that this littleone has been under her care. Upon evaluation today I found little Angel Josue in good health with no obvious abnormalities, his weight is 6 lbs 13 oz, length of 46.4 cms and head circumference of 34.8 cms. "

His name was Angel..and I was in love

The process

This is a list of the steps in the adoption process...I will be referring to these steps along the way.

Note: Some steps may overlap or happen out of order, but this gives the general sequence.
Referral and Adoption Procedures

*Dossier is sent to Guatemala to be translated.
*Child is born.
*Birth is registered at Civil Registry and a birth certificate is issued.
*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
*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.
*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.
*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.
*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.
*Your POA is registered in Guatemala.
*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.
*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.
*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.
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.
*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.)
*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.
*PGN issues its approval for the adoption to proceed.
*The lawyer then meets the birth mother for the 4th and final sign-off.
*The adoption decree is then written and issued by the lawyer and the child is legally now the child of the adoptive family.
*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).
*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).
*All documents are translated into English by certified translators, as required by US INS regulations.
*Visa Issuance and Travel Procedures

* Passport is issued.
*Child gets a visa photo done.
*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.
*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.
*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.
*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).

Homestudy/Dossier prep

Geoffrey and I decided to adopt from Guatemala after lots and lots of research. Our first step was to have a homestudy completed. We chose Adopt an Angel as the agency to complete our homestudy. Now folks, a homestudy is an intense process, first off G and I were given an assignment to write autobiographies. That took us several weeks to complete... then we had to CLEAN THE HOUSE. Our home had never been so clean and orderly..and probably won't ever be that way again. I swear, I refolded my underware twenty times and organized my linen closet. The social worker came to the house January 21, 1006. She came in, we spoke for about an hour...she asked to see where the baby's room would be and left. She barely left the couch...I was relieved and pissed at the same time.

So after the interview, it was time to start collecting documents for our dossier. Here is a modified list for your viewing pleasure:

Certified Copies (Issued by Government agency):Birth Certificate Marriage Certificate
Notorized Documentation (must be dated same day as document date)
Record Background check (from Local Police department)
Health Letter for both
Employment letter
Name affidavits
Pestigos (Referal letter from 2 friends)

Seems simple enough, right? WRONG. First of all, there are required medical tests that you have to get a doctor to order. Then you have to draw the blood...wait for the results...and then get a doctor to agree to write a letter about the results and say you are "fit" to be a parent. THEN you have to get each piece of paper..(the above mentioned list) do you get a document signed by your doctor notarized? Glad you have to find a traveling notary. Make the appointment with the doctor...bring the notary with you yaddah yaddah yaddah. THEN after all the documents are notarized...and you have made sure everyone's signature can be read, things are spelled and dated correctly and your notary's commission doesn't expire for at least a can send all the documents to the secretary of state for certification. Certification basically means they are validating that the notary is kosher. THEN after you get those back from the SOS you have to send them on to the Consulate of Guatemala for legalization. Tired yet? Well, its super fun when your friend who is writing you a reccomendation letter gets her letter then send it off for certification and the notary is no registered...grrrr...then you have to tell said friend that she needs to redo letter, find new...legit notary and send it all back to me.

Did I mention having to get fingerprinted by USCIS? Yeah, gotta do that too. Fill out an I-600, request and appointment..wait weeks and weeks for your fingerprinting appointment...then weeks and weeks for your clearance. Then when you have finished all of that your agency calls to say there is a new form and you have to do all the notary stuff all over again! Whoo hoo! It took me from the end of January to May 5th to complete our Dossier.

The plan

The plan here is to document our journey to Jonas. I am gathering pictures and information from the begining of our process. I think its important to tell our story. We will also use this space to update everyone on how we are doing once he comes home. Boy, that will be fun!