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!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

We Survived and New Photos

We went to Church this evening, as planned, and we survived without being struck by lightening! And, of all songs that are played in the Catholic Church, the first song they played at the Mass was "The Prayer (or "A Mother's Prayer"), which was the second of the three songs that I used in Gabriella's photo montage! Things that make you go hmmmm....!

When we got back from Church I had photos waiting in my e-mail inbox from Gabriella's foster family! These photos were taken on May 29th but they were sent to me today. Alejandra Gabriella, S.'s and D.'s baby, turned two months on the 29th, so they went out and celebrated with Gabriella and Evan, Gabriella's foster brother who is being adopted by another wonderful family. It looks like they were at a McDonald's Play Place, or a similar place.

Gabriella eating french fries (papas fritas) with Evan:
"I love french fries...!":"Yum!": "Gabriella, why won't you give me one?: "Okay, I guess I'll share!": "Hey, are you hiding any more of those?!":
Gabriella's famous head tilt...:
"It's fun in here!":

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We Are Clearly Getting Desperate

I have a strong faith and belief in God. However, I do not believe that I have to go to Church weekly to prove my faith. I believe that God can hear my prayers no matter where I am. I do like Church, though, when there is an exceptional Priest/Pastor who shares an inspiring sermon because I enjoy learning. My family has similar beliefs. My mom, though, is a scorned Catholic because of her years in Parochial school! So, getting her into Church is a bit more challenging than getting me into Church! She called this evening and asked me if I would go to Church with her weekly on Saturday evenings. She feels that an extra dose of structured prayer and holiness will help to get Gabriella home quicker! Too funny. I agreed because I am willing to try anything! If you hear a bolt of lightening, though, this Saturday evening you will know what it is!

I'm Back to Being Obesessed

There are thousands of families still in the same situation that Gabriella and I are in - waiting for PGN to approve and release our files. The current rumor is that PGN is going to interview every birth mother before releasing any files; however some people believe that they will release the "easy" files within the coming weeks as they complete interviewing the rest of the birth mothers. This process is full of rumors, though, and you never know which ones to believe. The scariest rumor came last week in which they said that PGN was offering money to birth mothers to take their babies back. I've also heard that the birth mothers are being put through a horrible ordeal at PGN; the interviews are very intense and the questions to the birth mothers are posed in a threatening way. What is true, what is false, and what is partially true? Who knows!

I am no longer calm - I am officially back to being obsessed. My obsession comes in waves - I get obsessed, full of worry and fear, then convince myself that it is out of my control and that everything will work out. Then I read more and hear more upsetting news and don't receive any new information on my case and then become obsessed again. But, the fact that, as I understand it, there has not been a single file released from PGN in over 3 weeks makes me crazy. I think about Gabriella constantly, I think about how she is being cared for and pray that nothing happens to her while she is out with the family in Guatemala, I wonder what is happening to my file, and I have to resist the urge to call my attorney's office every day.

At this point I am having to pay additional money for foster care because of the length of time Gabriella has been in foster care (which is in addition to the supplies I am buying for her because I need the peace of mind that she has everything she needs - formula, diapers, wipes, clothing, toys, snacks). Also, even though all cases started before December 31, 2007 were to be "grandfathered" in under the existing process, the process is changing; the requirement of a birth mother interview at PGN is one example of a major change that was never previously required. This adds the extra costs associated with coordinating a trip to the city for Gabriella's birth mother from six hours away. I believe the new, extra steps in the process that were not originally part of the adoption process are also going to add to my attorney bill. This adds insult to injury: "You're not getting your baby home anytime soon AND you need to pay more money because of it."

I stay focused on the fact that I have to get Gabriella home and continue to pray for sanity at some point in 2008!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Call to Gabriella's Foster Family

Gia and I spoke to N. this evening for the first time, officially, since my return from Guatemala. I spoke to her a couple of other times, just her and I, but the conversation is very difficult and not very productive since she doesn't speak English and my Spanish is extremely elementary. I certainly wish I studied harder during my five years of Spanish in school! N. feels very comfortable speaking with Gia and I, but doesn't feel as comfortable speaking to me through other translators.

N. said that when Gabriella returned to their home after leaving me she was very serious and did not smile or laugh like normal. N. said that Gabriella receives a lot of love from me when we are together and that she misses me when I leave. Whether that is true or not, it makes me feel good! She said that she quickly re-acclimated, though. Visit trips must be extremely confusing for Gabriella. A strange lady takes her from the only family she has ever know, keeps her in a strange hotel for a week with unfamiliar sounds and smells, she gets used to the strange lady, then the strange lady gives her back to her family. I cannot wait until the trip to Guatemala when I do not have to give her back and she can acclimate and bond once and finally.

N. said that Gabriella loves her walker. I had previously bought her a stationary activity center, but she loves being able to move around in the walker. N. said that now that Gabriella is mobile in the walker she reaches for everything and that magazines no longer stay on the coffee table!

N. said that Gabriella's cold is better but she still has a bit of a cough.

N. said that, like me, she has not heard anything about the PGN interview being rescheduled. I am praying that I will be able to post some good news about the PGN interview later this week.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Champion!

I got an e-mail last night from Gabriella's foster family. They say she is sleeping and playing well, so it sounds like her cold is better. Gabriella sometimes puts one arm up in the air. When she does this the family says, "Campeón!", which means Champion! So in the e-mail they said that, "as S. and her boyfriend D. say, Gabriella is always the champion!" They also said Gabriella sends her mother and family many kisses and hugs!

This is a photo of Gabriella with her foster sister, Gabriella. "The other" Gabriella is S.'s and D.'s baby and was named after my Gabriella. She looks like she tolerates my Gabriella's poking well!
It looks like she woke up just before this picture. So precious...!
Very serious and deep in thought...!
She loves grabbing for the camera!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Update From Gabriella's Foster Family

I received an e-mail today from Gabriella's foster family saying that Gabriella is feeling better, but that the family is sick now. They also sent me new photos. They said these photos were taken before Gabriella got sick.
She is teething very badly.
My little biker baby...! I almost had a heart attack when I first saw this picture because I thought she was on the bike alone, but there is a hand in the left side of the photo holding on to her...thank God!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Poor Baby Girl

I received these photos this evening from Gabriella's foster family. My poor baby girl looks so sick; her eyes are so heavy and she looks so uncomfortable. She saw the doctor this morning and the doctor said it is simply a cold. The doctor prescribed her 2 medications plus Acetaminophen. I am not quite sure what the medications are, though. I believe the names are Histatax and Prednicort. Let's pray that she gets through this quickly.

Gabriella is Sick

I received a call from N. this morning. Gabriella has a bad cold and fever, probably the same cold I had, and was up most of the night. N. is taking her to the doctor this morning. I could tell from the pictures that I received on Monday that she was getting sick because her eyes looked heavy. It is such a helpless feeling to be 2500 miles away and not be able to take care of your sick child. Please say a prayer that she can get over this sickness quickly.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Photos

I received these photos this evening from Gabriella's foster family. The first four pictures were taken at N.'s church and the final two at their home.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

PGN Update...It was ALMOST good news!

As I posted in a previous blog there is a new Attorney General and Sub Attorney General in PGN. We were expecting delays and changes in the PGN review process as a result of these new assignments. One of the major changes is that birth mothers have to be interviewed at PGN, with the baby and foster mother (even thought this is already completed during a step prior in the process at Family Court). It was not known whether all birth mothers would be interviewed, or just some. Even though I have not seen an official announcement, I believe all birth mothers are being interviewed. This is a really daunting task since there are thousands of cases in PGN. Also, there are some cases in which birth mothers can no longer be found. I have no idea what will happen in these cases.

On Friday, May 9th, the lawyer's daughter told me that cases that entered PGN in February were having their interviews that week. Based on this fact, I was estimating a delay of a few weeks to a month or more before an interview would be scheduled for Gabriella's case. BUT...I was told on Tuesday, May 13th that Gabriella's appointment was scheduled for the next day and that they would pick Gabriella up from the hotel the next morning for her interview! I was excited beyond belief. On Wednesday morning I got Gabriella ready in a special dress and dressed myself in a suit just in case they let me join them. Then I found out that the appointment was cancelled because the it was too short of a notice and her birth mother was not able to make it all the way to Guatemala City with such short notice. Another disappointment...

I am waiting for the appointment to be rescheduled and am praying that it happens soon. I, of course, will post any new advancements to this blog as they happen.

Fourth Visit Trip

I was able to visit Gabriella from Thursday, May 8 through Thursday, May 15! I spent my first full week with Gabriella, just her and I, completely alone, 24 hours a day! It was an excellent trip and another wonderful chance to bond with Gabriella. I feel so fortunate to have been able to visit so many times, but it never feels like enough time. It is always torturous and miserable to say goodbye (goodbye for now) to her and takes me a few days to begin to feel like myself again. I wish I could afford to live out there with her for the remainder of her time in Guatemala and "foster" her myself, but, unfortunately, that is just not financially feasible for me.

I had a terrible cold the whole week, but I had to fight through it! As my best friend, Daniela, said to me, "Welcome to motherhood!" I was nervous that Gabriella would catch the cold from me since she is rather susceptible to colds, but as of current, she is well, thank God.

Packing proved to be especially difficult this trip for a couple of reasons. First, I was traveling alone, so I couldn't use anybody else's packing space for my overflow. Also, as of May 1st travellers are only allowed one checked bag; a second checked bag now costs $25. I had to pack for a week for myself and Gabriella, take a two month supply of diapers and wipes for Gabriella, and take a small donation of shirts, sweatshirts, and toothbrushes for Mi Casa boy's orphanage. Needless to say, I had to pay the airline luggage overage fees!

I was able to celebrate my first Mother's Day with Gabriella - TWO times! Mother's Day in Guatemala is always celebrated on May 10th, so I had Mother's Day on Saturday, May 10th with the Guatemalans and on Sunday, May 11th with the Americans!

There is nothing more wonderful than watching Gabriella fall asleep and waking up with her! I watch her in amazement as she sleeps. She looks like a peaceful angel and I thank God that He has blessed me with such an amazing daughter.

When she wakes up in the morning I talk to her, she coos, and she touches my face. She usually looks completely opposite of the little angel who fell asleep next to me; she usually wakes up looking pretty wild! I love it!

Bath time is really fun as well. She has really enjoyed baths during the most recent two trips, much different from the first two times in which she screamed in the tub. I think she enjoys the freedom of having no clothes or diaper on and I love tickling her belly.

Gabriella LOVED the pool this time! She had not enjoyed the pool during the past three trips, but really had a blast in it this time! We swam just about every day of this trip. Her favorite thing was when I would hold her hands and spin her around in circles in the water. She laughed loudly each time!
Another reason why she enjoyed being in and around the pool is that there are lots of people and children to watch there. She is so nosy and curious! She LOVES men, so she really enjoyed watching the pool waiters and attendants. She loved the attention they gave her. They all would stop to talk to her and she would "flirt" back. Common names that they would call her are "muñeca," which means doll, or "linda", which means cute. It was the same way with the waiters in the restaurants! She would watch every waiter's every move, but only the male waiters! If she was whining or crying and a waiter came over, she would stiffen up with excitement, laugh, and follow him around the room with her eyes. She is too much. I am already working on choosing a lock to keep her locked in the house when she is a teenager!

Gabriella is not yet crawling, but wants to very badly! She does love using the baby walker, though. Since I was alone this trip, I borrowed a walker from the children's room to keep in my room for the week. If I had to shower or use the bathroom I would put her in the walker. At first the walker had to be in the bathroom with me because she would get scared if she couldn't see me, but by the end of the week she was okay not seeing me if she could hear me.

She enjoyed playing in the children's room and made another friend. She automatically goes for her friend's eyes and mouths! She is also still not good at sharing! I sure hope she is more kind to her foster brother, Evan!

Gabriella was a great eater this trip! Her favorite foods were cream of asparragus soup and saltines! She also ate ham, chicken, vegetables, fruits, and pasta. She still has her "choking" episodes where she would choke if she already had something in her mouth and didn't want more, if she didn't like what I was giving her, or if she was simply done eating. One day during lunchtime she had a piece of pasta in her mouth that she no longer wanted in there, so she had one of her fake choking episodes and made a big scene in the restaurant! Everybody looked and the waiters came running. She was fine and I knew she was fine; she is just a little stinker! :) She loved being in the high chair and she enjoyed being in the restaurant where she could watch all of the waiters and patrons.
I loved seeing her get excited about things. She would make her hands into fists and tighten up every muscle in her body and smile. It was awesome and hysterical to see. Gabriella was also teething badly. The tops of her shirts were often wet with drool and she was always looking for something to stick in her mouth to chew on.
On Wednesday, May 14th we were supposed to have our appointment at PGN with her birth mother. I dressed her in a special dress for the special occasion, but the appointment ended up being cancelled.
I have so much fun dressing her and putting bows in her hair. There are so many cute outfits to dress her in. Her hair is beautiful, shiny, wavy, and is a perfect length to put a little pony tail at the top of her head.
It was another wonderful week with my daughter, but bittersweet as usual since she is still not able to come home with me.

I chose to adopt from Guatemala because, being of Italian heritage, it was a culture that I could relate to and embrace. It is a culture of people who are community-centered and deeply appreciative of friendships and relationships. Their priorities are ones that I think Americans often lose sight of. They have deep traditions, have strong religous beliefs, and enjoy music, food, and socializing. In only four trips I have truly come to love Guatemala and its people, and feel like Guatemala is another home for me (now I have three homes - Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Guatemala!). I have friends there who will last a lifetime and another family (N.'s family) there. I am so excited to be able to embrace this country and culture with Gabriella.