Wednesday, August 30, 2006
We just found out that our DNA is a match!! This is great news. Our agency says that it will be at least 30 days (to get pre-approval) before we go into PGN. I'm assuming that during this time Family Court will be done. I think I finally understand that Family Court is when the Birth and Foster Mothers are interviewed and a social worker looks over our home study. Then a report is written recommending the adoption. After that it's PGN, and there's really no way to know how long that will take. This picture was taken at the end of our visit trip earlier this month. Our baby was 3 months old. She's so beautiful. We really miss her! I hope everyone is enjoying the first signs of Fall. Thanks for checking in! ~Heather
Saturday, August 26, 2006
We are so excited!! We found out Wednesday that we finally received authorization from the US Embassy in Guatemala City to do the DNA test on baby Damaris and her birth mother. This test verifies the relationship between baby and birth mother and insures that babies are not being stolen and put up for adoption illegally. Then, last night (Friday), we got an email from our agency letting us know that the test was performed yesterday on both our baby and her birth mother!!! We are so excited!! We figured that once we had authorization it could take a month or so to get the birth mother into the city for the test. After waiting for authorization for over two months, I feel like maybe we're back on track with our timing. I'm so happy! Now we just need to get a positive DNA match which should come in 7-10 days. Of course, I'm constantly reminding myself that the birth mother could change her mind at any point. The DNA testing time is a common time for that to happen because the birth mother sees the baby and takes a picture with her. Although we would have a grieving process if that were to happen, we would find consolation in that our baby would surely have a very rich life with her birth family in beautiful Guatemala. But we would miss her terribly! We'll just have to trust that everything will work out exactly as it's supposed to. The next steps after the DNA results are the birth mother has an interview with a social worker and then Family Court. I'm still rather fuzzy on what exactly is involved in Family Court, but I'll learn. Then our paperwork is submitted again to the US Embassy (Ugh!) where we will likely wait up to a month for preapproval to enter the final court, PGN. My understanding is that in PGN all of our paperwork is scrutinized and gone through with a fine toothed comb. If any errors are found we'll receive a "previo" at which point our paperwork will be returned to our lawyer to be fixed. Once ammended it can be resubmitted to be looked over again. This part of the process can be rather exhausting and take anywhere from 3 weeks (very rare) all the way up to 6 months (also very rare). Currently PGN is taking 6-8 weeks. After that we wait 3-4 weeks for a new birth certificate (with our names!) to be issued and for our final appointment at the Embassy to be scheduled. Then we can bring her home!!! At this point we are just so happy to see any sign of forward progress, and the DNA test is a major check mark. I just hope that we can keep up some of this momentum.
I'm looking into taking the kids down to live in Antigua and foster our baby for a couple of months once we are in PGN. I think it would be an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us. We'll keep you posted! Thanks for checking in. ~Heather
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Dave and I just got back from visiting our darling little girl. She is 3 months old and weighs 12 lbs now. We had an absolutely amazing time with her in Guatemala. We arrived on Thursday Aug. 10 at 10:30 AM. I was surprisingly emotional about meeting her. Would she like us? Would we be able to take care of her? Would she cry the whole time we had her? We didn't know what to expect. We checked into the Marriott and right away we spotted a family in the lobby returning their baby to their foster mother. They were all emotional, and I was instantly brought to tears myself. They were a darling family with 3 biological kids the same ages as ours, and they were adopting their fourth, a little girl, just like us. We had lunch, and Dave tried out the gym while I tried to rest with very little success (I was so excited). At about 3:15 we went down to the lobby to wait for our baby and her foster mother. As soon as I saw Mary (the foster mother) walk through the lobby doors I knew it was her. I approached her and asked if the baby she was carrying was Damaris. She told me that it was and peeled back her blanket so I could see her beautiful, sleeping face. I was in complete awe. I think I stood there for a full minute with my hand over my mouth. She was so much more beautiful than in her pictures, and she had a full head of flowing black hair. I was speechless. Finally, I remembered my manners and introduced Dave and myself to Mary and Taty ( the translator). We invited them up to the baby lounge on the third floor where we would be able to talk and get to know each other. By the time we got to the elevator I could stand it no longer, and I asked to hold my baby girl. As soon as she was placed in my arms I was completely overcome with love for her. It was very similar to the first time I held each of my older kids right after they were born. I couldn't stop looking at her, and the world around us didn't seem to exist. I just wanted to look over every square inch of her and smell her and count her tiny fingers and toes. She was so, so beautiful.
After we met with Mary and Taty, the three of us spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other in our room. She took to us so well, and Dave and I were surprised (and relieved) that caring for a 3 month old came back to us rather easily (like riding a bike they say). She nursed like a pro, latching on easily and even taking the Lact-Aid with little hesitation. Dave and I were amazed that she nursed so well, just like the rest of our kids; like she'd been born to us. She absolutely loved to nurse, and by the end of our trip she was preferring the breast to the bottle. I am so grateful that she got at least 4 days of Mommy Milk, and even more grateful that we had that priceless bonding time. Hopefully, she'll still be interested in nursing when I go back in October. She's at that sweet age where she smiles when smiled at, and coos, and mirrors peoples' faces. I didn't waste any time breaking out the hair bows and putting her in one of my favorite outfits from when Evie was that age (glad I saved some of those!). We ventured out for dinner and to call the kids, and she rode around in the sling like she'd been there since she was born. We were very happy. She slept well, only waking a couple of times to eat.
The next day we headed for Antigua where we spent the rest of our trip. We stayed at the Casa Santo Domingo which is absolutely beautiful. It is built around the ruins of a 17th century monastery, and the grounds are amazing. I loved being back in Antigua and getting to show Dave around one of my favorite little towns. It really hasn't changed much in the 10 years since I was there last, and it is so much more beautiful than I had remembered. At first I kept our little nena (that's what Guatemalans call their baby girls) under wraps while we were out and about because I wasn't sure how the locals felt about foreign families adopting their babies. It quickly became apparent that most people were perfectly accepting and, of course, they were absolutely smitten with her. Even Guatemalans commented on how much hair she had and how beautiful she was. She happily cruised around all day in the sling with her darling little face peeking out watching people passing by. She is such an easy going, sweet baby girl. We never had to leave a restaurant or hurry back to the hotel for a nap. If she was tired she fell asleep in the sling, and she was perfectly content taking her bottle at room temperature. After four days we had a hard time remembering life without her.
Sunday came soon enough, although Dave and I both felt like we'd been there at least a week. I was so sad packing our baby's things on Sunday morning, and I tried to get all of my tears out of the way before we met with our foster mother. Our driver got lost on the way to Mary's house, but I was glad for a few extra moments with my baby girl. I think returning her to her foster family's house was very helpful to us in making the transition easier. It was really great to see where she lives and to meet the rest of her foster family. They had missed her so much and were so happy to see her. It was very sweet to see how much they love her. She has a foster sister, Jessie-18, a foster brother-20, and a foster grandma, Angela. She also has a little foster brother who was born 2 days before her, Hugo Alexander, who Mary is also taking care of while he waits to be adopted. Returning her to such a love-filled home was not a sad occasion, and I didn't shed a single tear. She is very well cared for and completely adored. We are so thankful to have no concerns for her well-being.
One of our goals for the weekend was to figure out our baby's name. Although we tried with all our might we could not make a name stick. We both agreed that Alora just didn't suit her. Mari was better, and Soleil also suited her nicely. We're considering Mari Soleil or Soleil Damaris. We also like Gabriella Damaris, but Gabriella is becoming rather popular. We just aren't ready to say for sure one way or the other. I think we might have to take a poll. We'll keep you all posted on DNA. Thank you so much for checking in on us, and please continue to keep us in your thoughts. ~Heather