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, July 30, 2008

Process Update

I got an update this morning from my lawyer. They said that at this moment my documents are in translation, on Monday they are sending them to passport, and on Tuesday they will remit them to the US Embassy to get the approval for the second DNA test.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

There Is Officially a New Draper!

WE RECEIVED GABRIELLA'S NEW BIRTH CERTIFICATE TODAY! Gabriella's last name was officially changed to Draper and I am officially listed as her parent! Oh, Happy Day!

Gabriella's name right now is Astrid Mariela Draper and will be changed one more time to Gabriella Astrid Draper after I re-adopt her here in the United States.

The next step will be applying for Gabriella's passport. This step supposedly takes one week, but I am finally learning not to believe the time lines I am told!

This is a portion of Gabriella's birth certificate:

Call to Gabriella's Foster Family

I spoke to N. this evening about planning a birthday party for Gabriella. Evan's birthday party was yesterday and N. said that Gabriella had a great time. Gabriella enjoyed the cake and hitting the piƱata. N. said that they will be sending me photos from the party, but have not done so yet because they are having a blackout and do not have electricity.

N. said that Gabriella is trying to walk and tries to back herself off of the bed now. N. put Gabriella on the phone and Gabriella was laughing and babbling. I think she recognized my voice.

N. said that last week when they had to bring Gabriella to the lawyer's office for photos they followed the same routine that they normally follow prior to dropping her off to me when I visit - they took an early morning bath, got dressed up, etc. So Gabriella must have thought that she was leaving N.'s home and coming to me and she got very quiet and sad. When they arrived back home Gabriella's mood became happier. When I heard this I got really sad, because I realize how much Gabriella is aware of and how confused she must be. My heart breaks for her confusion. I cannot wait for her to be home so that she can have consistency and stability.

Happy 1st Birthday Evan!

Today is Gabriella's foster brother's, Evan's, first birthday. He is being adopted by a wonderful family - Sue, Nate, and Ella (Gabriella). My heart breaks for Evan's family today and I know how much they must be struggling to get through the day. My thoughts and prayers go out to them. I certainly can relate, because next Monday is Gabriella's first birthday and I can foresee the miserable day that I will be having. It is a draining, empty feeling to miss so many of your baby's firsts - but missing his/her first birthday is icing on the cake.

Happy Birthday Evan!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Birth Certificate Update

I have not been able to confirm whether or not the attorney has received Gabriella's birth certificate. I am hoping to have an answer on Monday. This birth certificate has been consuming my mind, emotions, and thoughts. I have come to terms with the fact that I will not be able to relax until I have a date for our Embassy appointment. Hopefully I will have good news to report on Monday.

New Photos from Gabriella's Foster Family

12 Month Photos

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No Birth Certificate Still

Today was the day that I was told we would have Gabriella's birth certificate, but the lawyer does not have it. They said that it is approved but waiting for a signature. They said they would have it on Thursday and would apply for the passport on Friday. Who knows what to believe. I told them I would call again on Thursday to check on it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Photos from Gabriella's Foster Family

It is amazing how much she has changed since I saw her last. Her hair has gotten so long!

Friday, July 18, 2008

More Birth Certificate Drama

I called my lawyer's office today to get an update on Gabriella's birth certificate. More bad news... Her file was kicked-out for three "mistakes" that need to be corrected - extremely irrelevant, nit-picky, ridiculous "mistakes", if I may add. The "mistakes" are as follows:
  1. A notary, who has a hyphenated last name, was missing a hyphen in the spelling of his name on one form.
  2. They claimed that the date the adoption process began was missing on one paper/form. The date was actually there, but they want it to be written like a title on the paper/form.
  3. It said "notary" next to a social worker's name. Since the social worker is not a lawyer, the title "notary" has to be changed to "social worker."

UNBELIEVABLE, right?! So, a baby who is loved more than life itself, is delayed again, even if only by a few days, from uniting with her forever family, for nonsensical reasons. It makes absolutely no sense to me. The sadder thing, though, is that there are hundreds of kids waiting to unite with their forever families but are being delayed, much longer than Gabriella has been delayed, for stupid reasons just like these. It is down-right pathetic and sad.

The lawyer promised that the file would be corrected and re-submitted on Monday and he promised that we would have our birth certificate on Tuesday. I pray this is the case. I worry, though, especially after reading another post on an adoption forum yesterday that another family finally got their Mixco birth certificate after waiting for 6.5 MONTHS!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gabriella's Car Seat

I am very anxious about driving since my car accident and I am particularly anxious about driving with Gabriella. I spent a long time researching car seats and read all of the safety reviews prior to choosing one. My sister and brother purchased a Britax for Gabriella. I went to the fire department today to have it installed since some of the firemen are certified car seat technicians. He was giving me some safety tips about confining items that could become projectile during an accident and not attaching a mirror or other items to the seat for the same reason, among other tips. While the fireman was giving me the safety tips I broke into tears. I had to apologize and explained that I had been in a bad car accident and Gabriella is so fragile and precious to me and the thought of a potential accident with her just really freaks me out. I am going to have to quickly get over this fear.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

How Can We Make a Difference

During our visits to Guatemala we witness so much poverty and have seen many sad sights - homeless adults, children living in the streets with their moms, children begging for money, handicapped people walking on their arms, dilapidated homes, among many other sad sights. These are some of the same sights that I have witnessed while on vacation visiting other poor countries, like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico. I am impacted by these sad sights and feel so fortunate to have been born and raised in the United States in an environment where all of my needs were amply provided for. Seeing these sights makes me feel so spoiled and selfish, but for this reason I always try to do whatever small things I can to try to help.

During my last visit to Guatemala, though, I saw a little boy and another sibling group whose faces have stuck in my head. In particular, there was a little girl named Anna whose eyes tugged at my heart and I cannot get the vision of her sad eyes looking at me out of my head.

The first little boy we saw was while driving home from dinner one evening. It was probably around 9:00 PM; it was dark outside. He looked around ten years old. His face was painted like a clown, I believe he was juggling, and he was begging for money from passing by cars. We stopped so that my mother and I could give him money. I felt so sad that this little boy was out so late, by himself, in a dangerous city and having to beg for money probably so he and his family could eat. He probably did not go to school. What could I do for him at that moment in time beside give him money? I still can't answer that question, but there has to be more that I could have done.

The next experience was while mom, Gabriella, and I walked across the street from the hotel with another adoptive mother and her little boy. We went to some shops to shop for souvenirs and then we went to Domino's Pizza for lunch. The Domino's Pizza had some tables set up outside on the sidewalk which is where we sat to eat. While we were eating we saw a teenaged girl with her two little siblings - a little boy named Jose, probably around 9 years old and a little girl named Anna, probably around 7 years old. They were walking the streets selling "dulces" or sweets, homemade traditional Guatemalan candies. I communicated with them with the little Spanish that I know. They lived in zone 5 in the city. Just to give you an idea, the Westin Hotel where we stay is in zone 10. Zone 10 is known to be the safest zone in the city. They lived at home with eleven siblings. I asked if they went to school and they said no. School in Guatemala is free, but families are required to pay a registration fee, buy a school uniform, books, backpack, and shoes. There are many children in Guatemala who would like to attend school but cannot afford to attend. Jose and Anna needed about 1000 Quetzals each or approximately $135 to attend, but could not afford it. My immediate thought was to give Jose and Anna the money they needed for school right then, but I had no way of knowing how the money would truly be spent. I also considered bringing them to the grocery store to purchase groceries for them, but the logistics of doing so seemed too risky with Gabriella. We purchased them a pizza and water and gave them money. That was all that we could do to help them and we felt so bad. Anna's eyes tugged at my heart. I kept thinking how I wished I could adopt her as well.

I am not quite sure why these particular children have stuck in my head when I have already seen many others in the same types of situations. I can still picture Anna's eyes and keep wondering what more I could have done to help. If you are reading this blog, you are probably like me. We are sitting in a comfortable chair, behind a not-so-cheap computer, with a full belly and a nice roof over our heads. We have to remember to be thankful for our at-time-backwards-but-for-the-most-part-awesome country that we live in. We have to remember to be thankful for our fortunate lives that God has blessed us with. And, we have to try to make a difference and help those less fortunate in whatever ways we can.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Gabriella's Post-Trip Update

Gia and I spoke to N. this evening. She said that Gabriella cried after my mother and I left and that she would not let anybody hold her except for D., not even N.! When D. would leave for work, he would have to sneak out so that Gabriella would not see him leave. Gabriella would then look out the window for him throughout the day. N. said that Gabriella is more content now and said that Gabriella is allowing other people to hold her now. My heart breaks for her. She really needs to be home now and in a consistent setting. It is just not fair to her.

N. said that Gabriella feels jealous when people pay attention to Alejandra Gabriella, S.'s and D.'s baby, so they always address Gabriella first so that she does not feel as jealous. S. said that she hopes I do not adopt another baby because Gabriella will be jealous! I assured them that I was not anxious to feel the stress that I've experienced during this process again anytime soon! As thankful as I am to have Gabriella in my life and as much as I think adoption is such a miracle, I certainly need time to recuperate from this one!

Gabriella has a bit of a cold again. N. said that it has been really cool and rainy in Guatemala and that is probably why she has the cold. I am especially anxious to get her here and have her seen by her pediatrician to figure out why she gets so many colds, though.

Gabriella is wearing her 18 month clothes now. The 12 month clothes fit in the length but are too tight around her arms and thighs! (another trait that Mommy and Gabby have in common!)

N. said that she looks at both Gabriella and Evan and cannot believe how much they've changed and grown in one year. N. said that she was happy that she and her family would be able to celebrate their first birthdays with both of them. (I certainly did not tell her that I was as jealous as can be!)

Mixco Birth Certificate Information

I belong to several Guatemalan adoption newsgroups and forums and one of these groups is specific to people waiting for Mixco birth certificates. An adoptive mother posted to the newsgroup today that she and a friend of hers received their Mixco birth certificates on Tuesday. She had waited FIVE months for her birth certificate and her friend had waited SIX months! Let's pray that my lawyer will really be able to get mine by the end of next week.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Birth Certificate Saga Continued...

I spoke to the lawyer's office and found out that they had submitted the petition for the new birth certificate to Mixco on Monday, July 7th, not Friday, July 4th like I thought. Why the delay from the time I was released from PGN (June 18th), I have no idea. Most cases have birth certificate petitions very shortly after release from PGN. But, I digress! The file was essentially kicked-out from the Mixco civil registry because it was missing a form. The lawyer completed the missing form and the petition was resubmitted with the form yesterday, July 9th. As for timing, Mixco birth certificates are taking, at a minimum, one month to receive. I am assured, though, they they will have Gabriella's birth certificate by next Friday. Let's pray.

Birth Certificate "Update"

So I received an e-mail from my adoption agency late last night stating that the attorney's office "submitted the petition for the new birth certificate to Mixco today" (Mixco, Guatemala is where Gabriella was born and that is where her birth certificate is coming from). TODAY?! The office told me it was submitted last week. Who is telling the truth, who has their facts straight, who do I believe? These have been the questions throughout this entire process. Needless to say, I will be calling the attorney's office today to try to get a straight answer. The agency's e-mail also said that "they" (who they are, I am not quite sure - the attorney's office or other Guatemalan adoption professionals?) "are saying 30 days to receive the new birth certificate but there are reports that Mixco could take longer." Mixco has a reputation for taking a very long time for birth certificates. I am aware of some cases that have taken months, some have been waiting since January, but I was assured by the attorney's office that this would not be the case for Gabriella's birth certificate. I guess we'll see and all I can do is make phone calls and pray.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Photos from Gabriella's Foster Family

This photo should be in the dictionary under the entry for "chilling out"! I love the relaxed demeanor, the arm holding up her head, and the leg propped up on her foster sister!:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Birth Certificate Update

As I stated in my post on Monday, last week when I was in Guatemala I was told that the attorney was going to apply for Gabriella's new birth certificate this past Friday, July 4th. I called the attorney's office today to verify that he had, in fact, applied for the birth certificate and the response was positive; they applied for her birth certificate last Friday! They are expecting it to take about one week to receive the new birth certificate, so I asked them if it would be okay if I call them again Friday to get an update on whether or not they received the birth certificate, and they said it was okay for me to call back on Friday. I will post any new news as soon as I receive it.

New Photos from Gabriella's Foster Family

Gabriella with S.'s and D.'s baby, Alejandra Gabriela:

Monday, July 7, 2008

Update on the Process

Gabriella's adoption decree has been issued and Gabriella is legally my child.

So, you may be wondering, "What is left to complete before Gabriella can come home?" The following steps are remaining:
  1. Gabriella's birth certificate must be re-issued by the Civil Registry with Gabriella's first and middle birth names unchanged, but with my last name.
  2. The lawyer will then take the new birth certificate and apply for a passport and a passport will be issued.
  3. The Embassy will issue an "orange slip" allowing a second DNA test to be complete. The second DNA test will be completed to ensure that Gabriella is the same child from the beginning of the process, and that she was not "switched" with another baby.
  4. The lawyer will then take all the paperwork to the US Embassy, including the passport, Gabriella's dossier, the Family Court findings, the adoption decree, the DNA results, and all translations. The Embassy will issue an approval and the approval is on pink paper and is called a "pink slip". The pink slip will indicate the final Embassy appointment. When I receive this pink slip I know when I can go to pick Gabriella up to come home forever.

Last week when I was in Guatemala, I was told that the attorney was going to apply for Gabriella's new birth certificate this past Friday, July 4th. They were expecting it to take about one week to receive the new birth certificate.

I will continue to post updates as to what has been completed of these remaining items. We are getting close, though...!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

New Photos from Gabriella's Foster Family

2nd Set of Professional Photos

We had Gabriella's photos taken again during our visit by the hotel photographer. Gabby was very tired and was not really in the mood to smile. We had a lot of hotel staff around us trying to help us to get Gabriella to smile! We had people holding up flower arrangements, shaking keys at her, making high pitched noises, calling her name...you name it, we tried it! We managed to get some cute shots, though!
I was so excited that the photographer caught these two shots! When Gabriella gets excited she clenches her fists, tightens up, and her face turns red. It is hysterical to see, but I never have been able to capture it on camera.