Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post-Trip Update

Gia and I spoke to Gabriella's foster family yesterday. We had called them on Christmas day to wish them a Merry Christmas, but the family was at Church. N. stated that Gabriella was very "serious" when she returned to the house following our visit, but is back to acting like herself. N. also said that Gabriella is wanting to sit up more and sit outside and look around at things. I think our visit further jump-started her development and curiosity for new things which is wonderful.

The holiday was very hard for me, but I kept reminding myself that she should be home in a few months and that this would be the only Christmas that I would have to spend without her. Gabriella received lots of Christmas presents, too, which made her feel more present to me.

Gabriella's Christmas Presents:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It Was So Hard Saying Goodbye (Goodbye For Now)

Mom and I are back home in the States now. The week flew by and I didn't get a chance to post about our third and final days with Gabriella.

We had another laid back day on Thursday - Eating, napping, and playing! Instead of getting Gabriella on a schedule, mom and I simply adjusted to her schedule! Her favorite toy was the activity playmat. She would lay under the toys on the bed and coo and talk and reach for the toys.

We also took Gabriella to the "family room" in the hotel where adoptive families congregate with their children. Gabriella tried a new toy there and played in it for a little bit until she got fussy. This photo puts into perspective what a little peanut she is!:We went to the pool for a short while and I tried to bring Gabriella in again, but the water was too cold for her.

We savored the evening with Gabriella knowing that it would be the final evening of the trip. We dressed her up in her Christmas dress, mom gave her a little bracelet, and we went to dinner. It was a bittersweet evening.

On Friday morning we were very sad to have to say goodbye to Gabriella and spent much of the morning crying. When N. and S. walked in Gabriella recognized them and lit up! That made me feel some relief. I told N. what a wonderful job they are doing and how thankful that they are taking such good care of her and loving her so much. N. said that they love Gabriella. As hard as it was leaving her, it would have been impossible to leave if I wasn't positive of the care and attention she is receiving in her foster home.

We already loved Gabriella prior to this trip, but we have fallen even more in love. We are already planning and anticipating visit trip 2!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Our Second Day in Guatemala

Yesterday Gabriella "napped" from about noon to 4:00 PM and then fell asleep again while we were at dinner! Mom and I were positive that she would be up all night...not the case! She fell asleep around 9:45 PM and slept all the way through until 6:00 AM! She woke up for an hour, we played for about an hour and a half and then she fell asleep for another two hours!
We woke up at 9:30 AM from a call from the attorney's office that we had a meeting with the attorney and that someone from the office would be at the hotel at 10:30 to pick us up. We jumped up into action and were down to breakfast by 10:00 AM.
The streets of Guatemala are pretty insane - lots of traffic, lots of fast driving, and lots of pedestrians crossing in front of cars. We passed by a market on our way which was pretty cool to see. Gabriella slept the whole way.
The attorney, his wife who picked us up, and his daughter who works in the office are all very nice and thoughtful. The attorney shared what has happened in our case so far and shared the forthcoming timeline. Gabriella should definitely be home by March! Even though I want her to come home with us on Friday, that was wonderful news to hear!
While in the attorney's office we realized that Gabriella has her first tooth! She is not even 5 months yet - she will be 5 months on January 4th.
Gabriella has really seemed to bond with me. She also has seemed to make a lot of progress developmentally in the past couple of days - she reaches for toys now, she is sitting up better now, and she stands with me holding her and supporting her. Again, I am thankful for the great start her foster mother has given her.
We spent a little time playing dress up today!:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We're Here and We're In Love!

The day began very early yesterday morning as we embarked on our first visit trip to Guatemala. My father drove my mother and I and a couple tons of luggage to Logan Airport at 5:00 AM. This is what packing looks like for one person and one baby for four nights (mom had one additional suitcase and one additional carry-on bag):
When we got to the airport, Christine, a lady who my mom used to work with, checked us in! What luck! I had three overweight bags and avoided the $300 overweight baggage charge! Plus, she was able to upgrade us to first class for free for our return trip home.

We had a layover in Charlotte, NC. We were supposed to land in Terminal B and had to get our connecting flight in Terminal D. We were worried about the long trek and making it to the gate on time; but miraculously that was all solved when the pilot made the announcement that we had a gate change and would be landing in Terminal D!

While at the Charlotte airport we met a lady who was also on her way to Guatemala, but to pick up her baby to take her home. Mom instantly started crying and began working on a plan for getting the attorney's office to speed things up to get Gabriella home sooner.

We were about a half hour delayed leaving Charlotte. The flight from Charlotte to Guatemala was pretty uneventful but anxiety-provoking due to the stress from the anticipation of getting there. We landed at 3:00 PM local time and were supposed to meet the baby at 4:00, so as soon as we landed I called the attorney's office to let them know we were running a bit late.

Prior to the trip, I had arranged for a driver, Victor, to pick us up at the airport. I figured that would be the safest option, I didn't know how reliable the airport shuttle would be, and I didn't know how mom and I would handle all of those bags on our own! Victor spent two years of high school in Kentucky, so his English is very good. Victor works with a lot of adopting families - he drives them places, gives them tours, etc.

The hotel was only about three miles from the airport, but took us about 45 minutes to get there due to the traffic getting out of the airport garage and the traffic in the city. That was the most anxious part of the whole trip because it was approaching 4:30 and I knew the baby would be waiting for us! I tried my best to remain calm, though, and Victor gave us some insight into the country and culture of Guatemala. One interesting thing that he told us is that the reason why Guatemalans to not like Americans adopting their babies is because they think we take their babies for their organs! How crazy! But Victor says that he takes every opportunity to educate these people and shares how loved these babies are.

When we arrived at the hotel I worked with bellhop to get our bags unloaded, all the while knowing that my baby was there in the lobby. We walked in and my mom spotted her instantly. N. handed Gabriella to me and my heart melted. I kissed Gabriella first then N., S., and N.'s husband. Gabriella was bundled up like a newborn and the poor thing was sweating underneath all of the layers! Guatemalans are very conservative with their babies and are very cautious about them getting cold! They gave lots of instruction about how often she eats, how often she sleeps, the nose drops that she needs because she has been congested, and the face cream that they use on her cheeks! I was completely overwhelmed and afraid I would forget everything, but figured I would figure it out as I went along! I handed the baby to mom and N.'s husband commented on how calm Gabriella was with her! Mom held the baby while I opened my suitcases in the hotel lobby and removed contents to send home with N. I had some gifts for N. and her family. Also, I brought 160 jars of baby food and 5 cans of rice cereal and knew I would only need a little for the four nights. I also had tons of toys and clothes that I would need to send home with her on Friday, so I figured I would send as much food home as possible so that she had less to take home on Friday.

After N., her family, and the coordinator from the attorney's office left, we checked into the hotel and went straight to the room. We laid Gabriella on the bed and talked to her and played with her. She was cooing and smiling and acted pretty relaxed. I took out some of the toys that I brought for her and we played with her.
She went to sleep around 10:00 PM and woke up around 3:00 AM. I fed her, changed her diaper and she fell back to sleep until around 7:00 AM. After she woke up we played with her for a bit and then I bathed her. That was quite an experience! I kept apologizing to her and telling her that I am still learning! She seemed to enjoy the bath and the time following her bath when I was putting lotion on her. I think she enjoys being naked - probably because she is always bundled up to the max!
We went to breakfast and then sat out by the pool where she napped in my arms!
After she woke up, I put her in her bathing suit and took her to the pool. I sat her on my lap in the kiddie pool and she was enjoying it until a big kid ran through the pool and splashed her. She immediately started crying and I had to take her out.

She is laying in the bed right now with my mom while I update this blog.

She is not very fond, yet, of the camera. The flash shocks her, so her eyes are wide open in many of the pictures I take of her!

She LOVES sitting in the stroller that we brought for her. She loves looking around and seeing what is going on. There is so much activity in this hotel - probably much more activity than she has ever experienced. We are staying at the Westin Camino Real in Guatemala City. The hotel is very nice and there are a lot of adoptive families here with their babies.

Gabriella also loves watching television! When the TV is on she looks toward it and is mesmerized. I brought a portable DVD player with some Baby Einstein DVDs and she loves watching it.

Gabriella responds to her name - especially to Gabby!

I can tell that she is very loved in her foster home and gets lots of attention. She loves attention and loves being held. She fusses a bit, but for the most part is very happy. The more time I spend with her, the more difficult it will be to leave on Friday. But I am so thankful for the time I get to spend with my daughter and the time my mom gets to spend with her granddaughter.

I will post more as the week goes on.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

DNA Authorization Received

I found out today that we have received DNA Authorization. This authorizes the DNA testing of Gabriella and Gabriella's birth mother. We are hoping that the Social Worker Interview of Gabriella's birther mother will be scheduled next week. The DNA test and Social Worker Interview will occur on the same day.

The time during the DNA test could be the last time that Gabriella's mother will see Gabriella. I pray that Gabriella's birth mother feels confident that she is making a decision that is the best decision for Gabriella. I also pray that she realizes that the decision that she is making is one made out of love. Finally, I pray that she has wonderful friends and family, as I do, to support her during this time.

Guatemala Adoption Law Approved

The following was published today by the Associated Press. This is the news I have been praying and waiting for.

GUATEMALA (AP) — Guatemalan legislators approved a new law Tuesday to tighten adoptions, while allowing pending adoptions — mostly to U.S. couples — to go through without meeting the stricter requirements. The legislation had upset thousands of would-be parents who had invested their savings to adopt a child from Guatemala, which is second only to China in sending adoptive children to the United States. Many feared thousands of children would be left in limboHowever, the law approved by Congress stipulates that pending adoptions, some 3,700 children already matched with prospective parents, will be allowed to move forward without being subject to the new rules. It requires the signature of President Oscar Berger.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Burning of the Devil (Quema del Diablo)

Today is Burning of the Devil (Quema del Diablo) day in Guatemala. Every December 7th, to initiate the holiday season, Guatemalans drag old household items, waste paper, clothing and every other combustible thing out in front of their houses and set it all afire to represent burning the devil and to purify their households for the holy weeks ahead.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Guess Who's Going to Guatemala...FINALLY!

My mother and I will be heading to Guatemala on December 17 and returning on December 21! I am on Cloud 9 right now with excitement and anticipation. I cannot wait to squeeze her and kiss her and enjoy her for four days!