I honestly couldn't have asked for a better day!
I am so excited to share that we received Preapproval today from the US Embassy in Guatemala. This is absolutely fantastic! We expected it around the 18th of October- so 23 days was incredibly fast and a welcomed surprise. I came home from the shower around 6:45 and opened my inbox. I was slowly reading through the 10 or so emails-- and there it was! To put it mildly, I was shocked! Needless to say, both of the dogs thought I was crazy as I was screaming with sheer joy as I ran to find the phone to call Rich! This is wonderful. It means that the US has approved us to move into the final stage of the adoption which is called- PGN. PGN is the body within Guatemala which approves adoptions. Some families get approved in 2 weeks and others in 6 months. You just never know. Our attorney seems to average around 12-14 weeks- but I'm told he's done better. We'll see what magic he can work for us...and...hopefully we'll be in PGN this week. This news just made our weekend and upcoming trip, too! It will feel so good visiting Nathan knowing we're in PGN.
Secondly, my first shower was a blast. Did I mention I have the best neighbors? Cathy and Joan- thank you so very much for all your efforts. The spread these ladies put out for us was amazing. My friend Cathy made a Noah's Ark cake from scratch which was delicious-- and almost too pretty to eat. We received some really nice gifts from our neighbors which I know the little guy will get lots of use out of. He got his first car- a walking jeep-- I can just see him out in the yard with it next summer! :-)
Here are a couple pics from today. Check out the yummy desserts, too.
My friend Cathy and I...
September 29, 2007
I honestly couldn't have asked for a better day!
September 28, 2007
Today, we received a couple tidbits of uplifting news in light of the recent developments. First, the DOS updated their statement to include this:
At this time, over 3000 applications for adoption from Guatemala are in process with USCIS or the Guatemala government. The U.S. government is asking the Government of Guatemala to allow such cases, now pending, to proceed to completion without additional requirements.
Secondly, we have a contact down in Guatemala who I emailed regarding his thoughts on this. He is a very reputable attorney and has been so helpful to us. He has been working on Guatemalan adoptions for some time. He is not an attorney facilitating adoptions but rather assists families if they have concerns with their own attorney, or even just questions in general. He is from Guatemala but speaks perfect English. Here's what he said in his email tonight:
"Don’t worry about it. We talked to officials in Guatemala and also in the US about it.I think they went a little bit too far when they say current cases might be affected. According to the Guatemalan Constitution which rules all the legislation, a case that started under certain regulation has to finish by law under that legislation. The new laws (adoption law and Hague) can only be applied when they become effective to cases started after that happened. Anyway, we’ll keep you updated on anything new. Hope you get the preapproval soon!"
I was very encouraged by both of these statements. We hope more news will come forward as October begins.
Finally, tomorrow is my 1st baby shower! I am so excited. I have truly wonderful neighbors and they have gone to so much effort to organize an 'all neighborhood' shower. I really appreciate what they have done and I am looking so forward to enjoying it! Fall is in the air today. The sun is setting and the air has a welcoming crisp tinge. The leaves are quickly falling. I'm wishing you all a wonderful weekend! And-- I'm counting down the days til' I leave for Guatemala- 6 days and we'll be back at our second home- the Marriott in GC. :-)
Posted by Emily at 6:22 PM
September 27, 2007
Well, I wish I had sat down to post more positive news. But, there have been some very unnerving events that have recently unfolded on the Guatemalan adoption front. I think it's important to talk about them as they could mean major changes in the adoption front going forward- including our journey to Nathan. I'll do my best to give you the cliff notes here. Disclaimer too-- I am NOT an expert on the subject. :-)
For many years, both the United States and Guatemala have indicated that they will become Hague Accredited which basically means adoptions within Guatemala will be processed according to the Hague standards. Of course, this could be very good for Guatemalan adoptions as it would create more organization. However, it is yet to be determined what Hague procedures are or mean to those in process. More recently, the United Stated has indicated that it will initiate the Hague on Janaury 1st of 2008- which will make it effective sometime around April 1st of 2008. Up until recently, it had also been the consensus that Guatemala would also become Hague ready at this time as well. However, just this week there was a statement released by the US Department of State which indicated that, according to Guatemala President Berger, Guatemala would become Hague ready on January 1st 2008! You get where I am going with this?! That would mean that adoptions would stop until the United States was Hague ready, apparently slated for April of 2008. Once the US adopts the Hague, then Guatemala would open its NEW (can't wait to see what that is!) system to the US and adoptions would reopen. There is one pointed question in all of this: what happens to all of the in-process cases? To all of the families that began their adoption prior to 12/31/07? Well, that's where the news gets very concerning. According to multiple sources, the Guatemalan government is saying that effective 12/31/07- ALL adoptions from the US will end if the US is not Hague ready and Guatemala is. This means that they will not honor any type of grandfather clause. Of course, upon reading this Rich and I became very concerned. We have read every article out there and are trying to take it all as it comes. We knew this wasn't going to be an easy process and we are certainly seeing that even clearer now. If adoptions halt, there could be major delays in the process. As if there weren't any already?
So, what does this all mean? Well, I have attached some information below for you to read. It's late and I couldn't possibly recapture all the details. The JCICS post really does a nice job of outlining the issues. There are a few things to consider: Guatemala is currently in the process of an election and President Berger will be out on 1/14. He is major anti-adoption so he probably wants to exert his power before leaving. Secondly, there are 2 bills before Congress to pass the Hague-and they are not expected to be heard in Congress in GC until November. There is a chance that the implementation of the Hague will be delayed in Guatemala until April. Our agency seems to think this will happen as the attorney's and ADA will fight this to the bitter end through the courts in Guatemala. It is also virtually impossible that Guatemala will be Hague ready when they plan to implement the Hague on January 1st of 2008. They currently have NO standards in place for processing under this new system. Very scary.
I post this article only to inform. Rich and I are closely monitoring the events as they unfold and we are highly confident that the adoption community will stand together to overcome this. If Guatemala halts adoptions, that would leave 5000 referred children-- who have already been macthed with loving adoptive families-- with an uncertain future. It really shakes me to think that would include Nathan.
I am quickly learning that part of going through an international adoption is accepting that which you can not control. I always have to remind myself too...the greatest things in life come from taking great risks and putting forth tremendous effort...our reward at the end will only be that much sweeter. Change is coming...but let's hope it holds off until April 1st and allows for a provision to grandfather all in process cases. Let's all hope...
Here's the information:
Guatemala 5000-- Call to Action
Posted by Emily at 10:48 PM
September 23, 2007
This weekend I find myself a little "down" about the adoption. So far, there have been good days and bad days and I have been able to find a good balance. Tonight though, I am finding the wait a bit harder. I will never lose sight of the gold at the end of this rainbow...but sometimes I must concede that I am saddened by the distance....and the endless waiting.
So, tonight, I will have to make do with looking at some pics and thinking about all the good times to come. Sweet dreams to all...
Posted by Emily at 1:18 AM
September 20, 2007
Ok, those of you who follow my blog know that I have a secret blog pal. Kind of like a pen pal only you don't reveal your name, etc. She has really spoiled me with gifts! A while back she sent me some beautiful things from Mayan Traditions and just yesterday she sent me a perfect blue Disney blanket which I am planning on saving for Nathan when he comes home. I have the best SBP!
So....she keeps leaving me hints as to her 'secret identity'. At first, the lead trail was stone cold but slowly over the past week I have been thinking more and more and I have some ideas. She gave me a clue that she lives in the mid-west and that we have bumped into one another on another adoption board before. She said I had even seen pictures of her son before? This one really got me. I don't like secrets so it's killing me. But, she seems really good at keeping them-- she's not leaking any clues! Putting the 'mystery' aside-- it is so great to have the opportunity to pal up with other people who are going through the same 'topsy turvy' process that we call International Adoption. So- a big shout out to my SBP- so glad we're able to chat -- even if it is secretly! :-) As my FTIA pal "N" said on her blog recently, this process is not for the faint of heart.
Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention one last thing. Some of you my have recently listened to an NPR piece on All Things Considered on Guatemalan Adoptions. And, if you haven't -- don't bother. It's terrible and completely misleading. It is so disturbing to me that a reputable reporting source like NPR would broadcast such false information and distort that information in a way that is clearly sensationalizing. I was really disappointed in this broadcast. So much so that I've sent a letter expressing my disappointment....
Posted by Emily at 9:09 PM
September 19, 2007
Yes- this is the philosophy of life on Paradise Island. I have to admit: it was beautiful to be able to live the life of the Bahamnians for just 3 days. If only life were that easy..... then the dream was over and I returned to life in suburban Pennsylvania!
Loved spending time with my family and we all had an amazing time. The weather was absolutely perfect everyday-- 90's and sunny. My sister and I went on the lazy river ride (2 miles) about 17 times the whole trip and we would have gone another 17 if we could have. I somehow managed to convince her to go on "the Drop". You'd think the name would give it away, right?! They said it was "easy" but I thought she was going to lose it when the guy in front of us dropped straight down on his tube at about 40 miles per hour. Thankfully we made it through but she was not a happy camper- sorry M! :-)
We ate great food, got terrible 1st day sunburns, and soaked up all the sights that Paradise Island has to offer. There were a ton of people on vacation there from Guatemala and Mexico so it was a treat to see all the little ones in the family. Needless to say, we'll be going again next year and little Nate will be with us! He's gonna love it. We'll have him a water rat before the trip is over!
And-- drum roll please-- I'm proud to announce that I did not use the internet ONCE while in Paradise-- a whopping 4 days! Rich was especially proud since he's already suggested I attend computer internet addiction classes. Just kidding, of course!
Well, the adoption is on cruise control right now. Waiting for that coveted preapproval from the United States Embassy. It's frustrating that they make you wait so long. I understand the files need to be scrutinized-- but come on-- this is the United State- the free nation for all free nations....you'd think they would have enough staff to do this properly in a couple weeks. Ugghhh!
I'll be talking with Maria tomorrow night so I will get an update on how the little guy is doing. Hard to believe we'll be with him in 2 weeks.
Some pics from PARADISE....
Our condo for the week...
My sister and I...
My dad and sister...
Posted by Emily at 8:57 PM
September 13, 2007
I know many of you can easily fill in that blank! But, no, I am not headed to Guatemala tomorrow. My family takes a vacation every year and we planned this a while ago. I had to cut my stay short to a long weekend but I am still looking forward to time at the beach. We are now in a holding pattern with the adoption and we probably won't hear anythying until the third week of October at the earliest. So, I will enjoy spending time with my family and try really hard to drink one too many margarita's by the beach. :-)
Here's where I'll be! Adios and see you next week!
The Atlantis Resort...
Posted by Emily at 10:04 PM
September 11, 2007
Holy Cow-- we got Family Court Approval!
I just got home and to my wonderful surprise- found the email from our coordinator! Our file was approved by Family Court today! WOW- that was really fast-- only 5 weeks! I am still completely surprised that it happened this quickly. This is wonderful news because it means our file is ready to go to PGN-- as soon as we get that PA! When we met with our attorney he said he would submit us to PGN the same week we got PA. What a relief to know all we are waiting for is that precious US Embassy Preapproval.
It seemed back in mid August that 2 months had passed without any news and now we are all set to enter PGN with one exception which we should have by November 1st-- or sooner! It continues to give us hope as we wait through this tremendously trying process.
All for this little guy, too.... (we're getting closer!!)
Posted by Emily at 8:40 PM
September 10, 2007
YAY- thank goodness and what a relief-- we received our DNA match today (99.997!)! We are so thankful and relieved to officially know we have moved on to waiting for Preapproval. I have to admit....waiting this weekend for that to come was difficult...but now it's arrived and we are moved on!
It came today and we both were SO nervous to open it. This news definetely makes our week and gives us the assurance we needed to know that our Journey to Nate will continue. Now, back to impatiently waiting for PA...on day # 4! :-)
Posted by Emily at 12:32 PM
September 8, 2007
Ok, we have been anxiously waiting to report that match! But it hasn't come to us yet! The lab said it would take 3-5 days from Tuesday of this week. ****However, we confirmed that the Embassy in Guatemala received our results on 9/6! YAY- that means that we can start the countdown for Pre-approval from 9/6! We talked with our agency and they *seemed* to indicate that the lab would call them if their wasn't a match or if there was some type of a problem with the match not being strong enough. So- we feel pretty confident that we are home FREE and officially have 2 days waiting for PA under our belt! PA--for those not aware- is the United States Embassy in Gutemala pre-approving us to complete our adoption. This is generally taking 8 weeks. Some receive sooner, but we're just being realistic and expecting an 8 week wait. That means we're expecting pre-approval by November 1st! Once we obtain this approval, we can move into the final (and most uncertain) phase of the adoption. It's nicely called "PGN"....but I've seen some other not so nice names for it. It can be brutal and is so inconsistent. Once you are approved in PGN, there is about a 4-5 week wait and then we'll get to bring Nathan home! We pray that he'll be home soon....but it is unknown until we get out of PGN. Anyway, for today we're celebrating the fact that the Embassy received our results and we're waiting for PA! :-) Oh, and Nathan's 4 month Birthday!
Posted by Emily at 3:11 PM
September 5, 2007
We're here- we arrived back home safe and sound. We had a very uneventful trip home. We were a little concerned when we saw Hurricane Felix but yesterday when we were coming home it appeared that Felix was little threat to Guatemala. Boy- did we have an amazing trip! Our little guy did so well.... he slept a SOLID 7-8 hours every night. He had a little cold but it was minor and he seemed to be losing it completely by the time we gave him back to Maria. He was happy to see Maria. She has a way about her that is really fitting to young children. She is a very optimistic and bright person and has a great tone to her voice. She loves him so very much and that was reflected well in his development. He trys to hold his bottle himself and holds rattles and can sit up unassisted for longer periods. He also can lift his head about 90 degress when laying on his stomach. He loves making eye contact and is always concerned about where Mom or Dad have gone while the other one is feeding him. And, of course, he's absolutely adorable to top it all off! If we came to one conclusion while we were visiting it was that he is well taken care of and he is absolutely perfect for us.
We had an amazing time in Antigua. For anyone reading who has considered visting while on a trip down there, GO! You won't regret it. We felt completely safe and the sights are too good to miss. We stayed at the Marriott and have decided we will stay there on every visit and probably some of the pick up trip. They are so accomodating and it's very accessible. There isn't anything they won't do for you. We ate a Tre Fratelli and Hacienda Real- both are very good. We also found the Italian restaurant at the hotel to be pretty good (room service!). We went to the Centro Mall to buy Nathan a crib. Maria didn't have one and we felt it was time for him to start sleeping in one to get ready for his transition home. The mall was very nice and had everything an American mall would.
Rich and I feel so fortunate to have had the time with Nathaniel. Truly, the visiting is what helps me get through this process. While financially difficult at times, it is SO worth it. When we started this process back in February of this year, I never in a million years would have guessed or imagined how challenging this process will be. Having said that, I know we'll get through it and he'll be home before we know it!
I'm headed back down in 4 weeks! My mom is coming this time and she is very excited to meet the 1st grandson of the family. :-)
Here are some more pics from the visit:
Posted by Emily at 10:28 PM
September 2, 2007
Hola! As you can see, we arrived safely in Guatemala. We are having a fabulous time. Nathaniel is such a happy baby and we enjoy every second with him. As I expected, Rich is a natural in the 'daddy' role! Yesterday we had lunch with our foster mom, Maria. We couldn't ask for a better foster mom- Nate truly adores her. We had a lovely lunch and talked about her family and about Nathan. We spent time in our room in the afternoon bonding with Nathan and taking LOTS of pics and video. Last night we went to a great restaurant in the City- Hacienda Real- highly recommend it- very baby friendly, too. Today we went to the old city of Antigua! Wow- was I impressed with the old architecture. We went with Alfredo and Claudia who give tours regularly and they really know what they are doing. We have some great pics to post when we return. We went with another family who is adopting a little girl with our agency-- we all had a really great time. We went to Casa Santo Domingo for lunch which is an incredibly old hotel in Antigua and the food was amazing.
Tonight we are eating in and spending time in our room with Nathan. All in all, he is doing really well. He is a TRUE peanut- just under 12lbs but has nearly tripled his birth weight. He is growing really well and eats beautifully. He has lost most of his hair and he has lenghthened quite a bit. He's long and very lean. We agree he needs more "tummy time" but recognize this is definetely a cultural piece we're going to have to accept. He holds his head up but only for short periods unassisted. We know this will come in time. Maria holds him all the time-- and boy- did we learn that last night. :-) He did pretty well for his first night with us since I visited in July. He was up until 1am (only wanting to be held!) but then went to sleep until 8am. He was just a happy baby today in Antigua and we are elated that he got to see Antigua at such a young age. Although he won't remember it, we will forever have that memory to share with him. More to post about Antigua when we return. Also, I think it's worth mentioning that despite the upcoming Guatemalan elections, we have felt very safe leaving the hotel with a safe driver.
Oh, I almost forgot- we got to meet our attorney last night. He was very nice. He gave us some insight into his process and where he sees our case progressing time wise. Very interesting and we were glad to have had the opportunity. It came completely unexpected as another family with this attorney was meeting him and invited us to speak with him as well.
Not sure what is on the agenda for tomorrow but spending quality time with the little guy is first and foremost, of course. :-) The weather here has been around 70's with some sun and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Really comfortable...
Will definetely post more when we return home on Wednesday! Hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend!
Posted by Emily at 9:14 PM