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!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Photos

I received new photos. Gabriella has been sick again but it appears from these photos and the e-mail that I received from D. that she is doing better.

I received a call from N. on Saturday evening stating that Gabriella had a fever and that N. was taking her to the doctor. I called back a couple hours later to find out how she was. The doctor had said that Gabriella's ears and throat were inflamed, but not infected. Her fever apparently got worse over Saturday evening and Gabriella was up all night, so they brought her back to the doctor on Sunday. She had to get an antibiotic shot on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. They were also going to check Gabriella's urine to see if she had a urinary tract infection since there was not any other obvious reason for the fever. I spoke to N. on Monday evening and it sounded like Gabriella had already started felling better. I keep holding on to the fact that she will be home in about one month and I will be able to take her to our own pediatrician. I completed interviews with several local pediatricians and believe I chose a great one for her.

Below are the new photos. The first one is hysterical; I melted when I saw it. That smile kills me!

I am amazed by how long her hair is getting. I can't wait to bring her for her first haircut! From the looks of how quickly her hair seems to grow, it appears that we will be at the hairdresser often!

Monday, June 23, 2008

It's Official...I am OUT!

My file is truly out of PGN and my lawyer has picked it up! My mother and I will be visiting Gabriella on Thursday and staying for a week, so hopefully we will be able to see more progress while we are there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

We Are OUT Of PGN!

Yes! It is finally true and those magical words can finally pass my lips...We Are Out!

I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon that my mother accompanied me to. We had a plan to meet my grandfather for dinner following the appointment. As we were driving from the appointment to dinner I decided to call PGN to check on the status of my file. I had a feeling that good news was awaiting me and felt the need to call. The woman stated that my case was finalized! I had become so accustomed to hearing "Second Reviewer" every time I called PGN that my mind was automatically putting words into her mouth. As a matter of fact, that was the response I had gotten this morning when I called to inquire about my case. That fact coupled with her accent made it difficult for me to understand what she had said. When I kind of processed that she had said something different than "Second Reviewer" I said, "When?" and she replied, "Today," but she pronounced the "To" part of today more heavily, so I thought she was saying "Two Days." So I said, "Ok, it will be finalized in two days?" and she repeated "Today." And I said, "Oh, as in this day!." Then I finally got it....Gabriella's case was finalized! I thanked the woman, hung up the phone, and started screaming while my mother told my cousin Trisha who she had been talking to on the phone. From that time, until now, I have been on the phone sharing the exciting news.

The only thing, however, is that the lawyer has not yet picked the file up from PGN. I am celebrating, but will not be completely at ease until the file is in his hands. Even as I am writing this, it is so hard to believe. I am thinking, "Oh, God, I hope I didn't completely misunderstand what she was saying and I am really not out." or "Did she really say that, or am I making it up in my head?!"

Assuming I am not completely insane and Gabriella's file truly is finalized at PGN and assuming that there are no anomalies going forward, Gabriella should be home in approximately 1.5 months. The next step is for the adoption deed to be registered at the Civil Registrar in Mixco, Guatemala where Gabriella was born. Gabriella's birth mother will have to provide final approval for the adoption at that time. Once this is complete, I will be legally responsible for Gabriella. Then the attorney will request a second birth certificate listing me as Gabriella's legal parent. Gabriella's 2nd DNA test will also have to be completed and her US Passport will need to be issued. Once those things are complete I will receive an appointment from the US Embassy in Guatemala in order to complete the process.

This is a happy day. We are one step closer to having her home forever.

I received this photo this evening from Gabriella's foster family:

Please Pray for a PGN Out This Week

I spoke to my lawyer in Guatemala this morning. He said that PGN is actively releasing cases again and that 2 of his cases were released yesterday. He said that he may have more information for me this week about my case. I asked if he thought my case would be released this week and he repeated that he should have more information for me this week. He also said to check my e-mail often.

My mom has felt that our case would be released this week. I also got an e-mail from my friend Donna this morning stating that she has an overwhelming peacefulness and happiness about her today like something fantastic is going to happen. I pray that a PGN out is what her good feeling is about!

Gabriella should be home in about 1.5 months from the date her case is released from PGN. Gabriella's first birthday is on August 4th and she HAS to be home for her birthday. We are cutting it very close, but I will not lose hope.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New Photos

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It Appears PGN Is Releasing Cases

I was reading the adoption forums this evening and it appears that there were quite a few "Outs" from PGN today. I don't know how many, exactly, but it was encouraging to see cases being released. Let's pray that our case is released SOON as well.

New Photos

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

10 Month Photos

I received these new photos of Gabriella today. Her eyes look really heavy again, so I am praying that she is not getting another cold.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Birth Mother Interview Complete

Today marked the one year anniversary since I began the international adoption process. What a year it has been; probably the most emotional and trying year I have ever experienced. The joy I experience when I see her face, though, far outweighs the pain of the process.

Today was a torturous day waiting to speak to N. to hear how Gabriella's birth mother interview went, but after speaking to N. I feel relieved. N. said that the interview went well. The interview took 1.5 hours. The PGN authorities asked Gabriella's birth mother if she still wanted to proceed with the adoption and she said that she did want to proceed. They kept questioning both N. (Gabriella's foster mother) and R. (Gabriella's birth mother) about addresses and dates. All of the papers in Gabriella's file were reviewed and the answers that N. and R. gave were compared against the file. The reviewers said that all of the paperwork is in order and that they did not find any abnormalities in the paperwork or from the interview. N. said that everybody was treated with respect during the interview, which was extremely important to me.

Hearing about the reunion between Gabriella and her birth mother was quite emotional. R.'s eyes filled with tears when she saw Gabriella. She kept saying how beautiful Gabriella is. She asked Gabriella if she could hold her and she held her. R. thanked N. for taking care of Gabriella and for not putting Gabriella in an orphanage. She commented on how well Gabriella looks cared for. N. told R. about me and the home that Gabriella would be going to and N. thanked R. for me for coming all the way Guatemala City for the interview in order to complete the process. I pray that R. finds peace in her decision. I also pray that someday I am able to thank R. for making this unselfish decision to give Gabriella a better life.

The phone call with N. was pretty emotional, not only because of the subject, but because I think the interview brought the reality that Gabriella will soon be leaving them. N. broke down in tears a couple of times and it broke my heart. She and her family love Gabriella and Evan like their own children. Their hearts will break when Gabriella and Evan come home and my heart breaks for them for that. I promised N. that her and her family will always be a part of my family and I promised that we will stay in contact with them and they will witness Gabriella grow. I also promised that I would visit Guatemala with Gabriella.

On a lighter note, N. said that Gabriella now sticks her tongue out and laughs! She also said that D. said to Gabriella, "Father's Day is coming, what are you going to give me?" and he asked, "Are you going to give me kisses?" So D. taught Gabriella how to blow kisses, but she will only blow kisses to D.! It also sounds like Gabriella is a very good eater. She ate half of a Chile Relleno, or stuffed pepper! She also loves arroz con leche, rice with milk, which is essentially like a rice pudding.

The next step in the adoption process is to wait for Gabriella's file to be released from PGN; this is often referred to as an "out" in the adoption community. With the birth mother interview complete and, a file with no abnormalities (as far as I know), I believe we have met all of the criteria to be released. Please, please, please pray with me that we get an out from PGN soon.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Goosebumps!

I just received an e-mail from my friend Donna pointing out an amazing fact - "Do you realize that the interview on Monday will mark exactly one year from the time you began pursuing a foreign adoption?" One year ago, on June 9th, I began the process. WOW! I have goosebumps. Hopefully Monday will bring a great "anniversary present"! As she also pointed out, maybe this is a sign that the process has come full circle and that this is the beginning of the final stage to bring her home. Let's pray!

New Photo

Gabriella's foster family sent me this photo last night. They said that after her bath in the evening, Gabriella enjoys laying in Evan's stroller and falling asleep there!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Birth Mother Interview Re-Scheduled

N. called me to tell me that Gabriella's birth mother interview is re-scheduled at PGN for Monday morning at 10:00 AM! Let's pray that her birth mother can travel the long distance for it and that all goes well during the interview. N., Gabriella, and Gabriella's birth mother will meet for the interview. Gabriella's birth mother will be questioned about the choice she has made for the adoption of Gabriella by PGN authorities and whether she still wants to proceed with the adoption. I know how nervous I am about the interview, and I am not the one being questioned, so I pray that she has the strength she needs for the interview. I also pray that Gabriella's birth mother is treated with respect during the interview.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Studying the Details

I find myself sitting at the computer, staring at photos of Gabriella with a million thoughts running though my head - thoughts of love, amazement, awe, anticipation, excitement, happiness, and, unfortunately, some jealous thoughts; it is a selfish jealousy over the time others get to spend with her and time I am missing with her.

I study each of the photos and zoom in to see the detail. I sit in amazement over her beauty and innocence. To me, there are no more precious sights in the world than these: