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, September 2, 2009

One Year Ago Today...

One year ago today we had our US Embassy Appointment in Guatemala and completed the FINAL step for Gabriella's adoption!

It was the FINAL step but I was paranoid that something would go wrong. We had heard of a family who had had their Embassy appointment the day before us. The family's fingerprints had expired and they did not know, so their Visa was rejected. They we planning to take their baby home that week just like us, but instead had to leave the baby behind and travel back to the US to redo their fingerprints. I was petrified that something like that would happen to us.

In preparing for the Embassy appointment I brought two copies of my dossier (the adoption paperwork packet) and two copies of every paper that ever passed my hands through the entire process. I kept one copy in my suitcase and one copy with me; I needed a backup in case something happened to one of the sets of copies! I had printed out every single US form that I could have potentially needed at the Embassy. I had three copies of each! There were all sorts of rules about which forms needed to be signed in front of the Embassy employee and which forms needed to be notarized. So, I brought one filled out with no signature, one filled out with a signature, and one filled out with a signature and notarized! There was a fee due at the Embassy, I believe it was around $400, and it had to be paid in "new, crisp" twenties. So, before the trip I had gone to the bank and spent about an hour with the bank teller going through their drawer of twenties picking out the newest crispest looking twenties! I couldn't believe how patient the teller was, but I think she sensed my anxiety and knew the importance of what I was doing!

This was another day so filled with emotion. I remember approaching the Embassy and breaking down in tears. They were tears of complete happiness because I was so thrilled that we were finally here. They were also tears of "guilt". There were at least one hundred Guatemalans lined up outside of the Embassy. It was such an emotional sight that I cannot accurately describe with words. They were there to get a Visa in hopes of a better life in the US. More than likely they would not be granted the Visa and would not have a chance at the opportunities they were seeking. I felt badly that I was "lucky" enough to have been born where I was; I have been presented with so many more opportunities than these people just based on where I was born and it didn't seem fair. They were now looking for these same opportunities. I was so anticipatory for the new life Gabriella would have with me in the US.

We had to wake up very early the morning of the Embassy appointment. I remember having to wake Gabriella up out of a sound sleep and then bathe her! I wanted her to be PERFECT for the appointment! Gabriella and I went to the Embassy with my mother and Evelyn, my lawyer's wife. While at the Embassy there were 21 families with appointments that day waiting with us and we were number 13. It was so hot and a long wait and I had to keep Gabriella occupied while we waited. I remained in a very nervous,uptight state the entire time. After paying the fee there were essentially two interviews, one in a small, closed office and the second at a window, similar to a bank's teller window. We did not know the process, we just went with the flow. Gabriella and I went into the closed office by ourselves for the first interview. When we left the office my mother saw us, thought that was all we had to do, and literally yelled, "YOU'RE DONE?!" I remember I was so embarrassed because everybody looked, but knew my mother was excited. After the second interview at the window, the Embassy worker handed me a receipt and a form and said to come back tomorrow at 3:30 PM to pick up Gabriella's Visa and said "Congratulations". I immediately burst into tears. 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 literally started to clap! What an AMAZING day!

These photos were taken in the hotel room just before we left to go to the US Embassy in Guatemala.:

I love you to the moon and back baby girl! I am such a lucky mommy!

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