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!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Embassy Day!

Today was Embassy Day and all went well, thank God. The evening prior, our friend, Victor, shared a story with us about a family that he had brought to the Embassy that day for their final Embassy appointment. The family's fingerprints had expired. The family had not known this and nobody had contacted them to let them know, so their Visa was rejected. They we planning to take their baby home this week, like us, but instead had to leave the baby behind and travel back to the US to redo their fingerprints. How devastating. Apparently they had caused a large scene at the Embassy and can understand because I can only imagine how traumatic this was for them. I was petrified from the moment I heard that story until the moment the Embassy official said, "Congratulations"! I was so afraid that something would be wrong with our file.

We woke up at 5:00 AM local time to begin getting ready. I had to wake Gabby up at 5:30 AM. She was less than thrilled to be woken and even more displeased when I put her in the bathtub. We dressed in coordinated mint green desses and went to breakfast. The lawyer's wife picked us up in the hotel lobby at 6:45 AM and we headed to the Embassy. It was very emotional approaching the Embassy and my eyes immediately filled with tears. Maybe I am too senstive and overthink things, but seeing all of the Guatemalan citizens waiting in lines outside of the Embassy trying to get Visas really effected me. That, though, is a different philosophical discussion for another time! We went through security and had one of Gabriella's toys confiscated because it made noises - beeping sounds, doorbell sounds, etc. Then we sat in a room on folding chairs and waited. There were 21 families with appointments today, we were lucky number 13! The lawyer's wife had all of the documents that I had been stressing about. She presented them to the main window with my Visa fee. I was third in line in the second group of families that was called into Door #10. Gabriella and I went into the room alone. The Embassy official had me initial some changes they made to some of the mistakes I had made in filling out one of the forms. Then she asked me for my passport. She asked me when the first time I had met "Astrid" was. I stated December 17th and asked if she wanted a sheet of paper that I had prepared listing all of my visits. She said she did not want it that she just needed to check my entry dates on my passport. She then said that that was all she needed from me, to go back to the waiting area and wait for my name to be called so that I could sign some forms. When we left the room my mother saw us and literally yelled, "YOU'RE DONE?!" Everybody looked and if I could have crawled under a chair I would have! The lawyer's wife expected that I would have been done at that moment and got a bit nervous when I wasn't so she asked around and we realized it was okay. Then, after more waiting, we were called to window #8. The Embassy official asked for my passport and asked me the same question, "When was the first time you met 'Astrid'?" I then signed a bunch of documents and seriously have no idea what I was signing; I could have been signing away my home and I didn't care. Then the Embassy officiall asked me to hold up my right hand and asked if all of the information that I provided was true and accurate. He then gave me a receipt and a form and said to come back tomorrow at 3:30 to pick up Gabriella's Visa and said "Congratulations". I immediately started crying. I kissed and kissed Gabriella and told her how excited I was to be her mommy. We then left the Embassy and as we were walking down the sidewalk back to the car I was still whispering in her ear and then said "We are done!" and she started to clap...seriously! Unbelievable! We then went back to the hotel. We arrived back at 11:00 AM. The lawyer's wife gave us all of the original documents and then we went to the room and napped for two hours!

There was lots of waiting at the Embassy and Gabriella did as well as any toddler would do after waiting for hours in the same room without too much to do. She napped for a bit, I walked her around a bit, and she ate crackers...she LOVES to eat! She lights up like a Christmas tree when she sees food and makes noises of excitment. She fits right in with me!

As for the earlier part of the week, things have been great. Gabriella came to us at 4:00 on Saturday. We had an emotional goodbye with Norma, Sandy, and Daniel (I am now revealing their names because the the fear of any risks are obviously now gone) and Gabriella was very unsure of us at first. She cried a bit throughout the night, but then was very content from Sunday morning on. We had dinner on Sunday night with Norma, Sandy, and Daniel. It was an extremely emotional night in which they walked us through Gabriella's whole history. It was a very special time and I got most of it on videotape and will be able to share them with Gabriella in the future.

I have never laughed out loud so much in my life as I had over these past few days with her. She is hysterical and amazing and do not know what I did to deserve such a special child as my daughter.

I have, of course, been taking photos but will be posting them at another time.

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