Wednesday, February 28, 2007

An update

Well, I am still very unclear as to what is going on in Guatemala. Pretty much everyone is. The ADA (the Guatemalan Adoption Defense) has posted this on their website:

The ADA has been very intrumental in protecting adoption rights in Guatemala. They were VERY active in overturning the hault on adoptions in Guatemala in 2003. The ADA has a copy of the protocol and I have read it. From what I can see it doesn't say anything too inflamatory, but the ADA is saying the protocol WILL stop in process adoptions. I do have confidence that the ADA knows what they are talking about, but a lot of things do not add up to me.

Supposidly, this protocol will be read tomorrow. If it is read no one knows what that means. Does that mean it will be implemented immediately? If so, that means President Berger is implementing it illegally. Guatemalan law states, issue like this, have to go through congress and be voted on (just like here).

Actually I could go on and on about this, but the bottom line is that no body knows what is going on. I hate having to be reactive and not proactive! I have e-mailed the DOS (Dept. of State), but there's nothing else for me to do but pray.

We leave tomorrow for our Carribean vacation. And then I am going directly to Guatemala after that. I am so excited about both trips, but things are feeling tainted right now.

Well, that is all I have right now.......

I will try and update if I here anything tomorrow before we go.


Monday, February 26, 2007

I think our suspitions are being confirmed........

Well, normally I don't like to post things on my blog that haven't been confirmed by someone that knows (like the DOS or a well known website), but I do think something big is going on. The word is that there has been a March 1st deadline set for people to get their Power of Attorney (POA) to Guatemala and that Guatemala will not accept any more POA's after this. Now, we have our POA for both kids, it is one of the first steps in the process, but what I am hearing is that since no more POA's will be allowed, not more adoptions will be processed (for what period of time?) I am also hearing, which is probably more disturbing to me personally, that the Protocol of Good Practices is indeed being announced March 2 (Friday). These two announcements have not been confirmed, but somehow I just really feel they are true, especially the first one.

How does this affect us? Well, the March 1st dealine woudn't affect us, just hundreds if not thousands of other kids out there that need a good home. The "Protocol" has the highest potential to hurt us. If it is the same as it was before than there will be SERIOUS changes in the adoption process. The earlier protocol wants to switch all children over to state run orphanages and centralize all of the adoptions over one goverment entity. One many levels this is bad for the children involved. If the implemetation of this protocol is immediate, than we will, at the least, be seeing serious delays and Gideon would be ripped from the foster mom he loves and thrown into an orphanage. I really don't know the full ramifications of what this protocol will do, no one does.

I will love for you all to pray for us. I am so tired of the unrest and uncertainty. I just want to know what is in store for us and then deal with that knowledge. I guess I just don't understand why we all have to be just reactive to everything. Why don't we know anything until after it happens? Anyways, we covet your prayers!


Friday, February 23, 2007

New Pictures of Annie

Finally I got pictures of Annie! I expected the pictures (and video) like days ago and it did not come. Then, I was coming home yesterday and I realized I had a bunch packages and mail on our front porch (our mailbox is down). Well, there it was. So.... She is very sober in her pictures, I guess she was getting ready for her nap.

I think she is just so gorgeous! (of course) She is 17 lbs, which is the same weight as Gideon (who is 3 months younger). They say she really enjoys playing with other kids, I guess that is a very good thing!


New Department of State News

Here's a link to the newest statement from the DOS

Ummm, not exactly what I wanted to read. I kind of feel like I am on a roller coaster with this adoption. It is not always a fun ride. I don't think that this statement is anything detramental to our case, per se, but it does seem we will experiance a slow down with our pre-approval (PA), which we are waiting on right now, and our pink slip (after we get out of PGN). I pray that is the only effect we will feel.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Today we got pictures and a video of Gideon. We also got the most recent stats on him. He is 17 lbs already! He has no teeth and he is rolling over. He sleeps through the night although his foster mom says he wakes at 5:00 (at least that is 6:00 our time). He eats bananas and cereal and he is reported to be a very happy baby!

Here are a couple pictures!

Better News From the Department of State

Now this looks better...

Well, it appears that the meeting scheduled today to present the "Protocol of Good Practice" has been postponed. Here is the link (scroll to the bottom).

No one knows if it will be rescheduled or when it will be rescheduled. I have found out today that it does seem that President Berger is trying to go around the governmental branches with this proposal. This isn't 100% clear, but an article written in the local paper seems to say this.

Really though, we can only speculate what is going to happen. I do have a strong suspition that we have not heard the end of this. Guatemala claims they are trying to become Hague compliant, which is good, but I just wonder how many children are going to have to be displaced in the process. I also wonder how many bogus protocols this anti-adoption president is going to put in place under the guise of becoming Hague Compliant.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

The good and the bad.......

Good news first. Annie's DNA was taken Feb. 5th and Gideon's social worker interview with the birthmom was done then also. These are both good steps in our process! I am still waiting on pictures and a video, but I am told they are in the mail.

Now some potential bad news. Guatemala is possibly going to enact a "Protocol of Good Practice." This sounds good, right? Well, not really. To enact this would mean major changes for the current adoption process. Here's what the ADA (the Association Defenders of Adoption) has to say about this protocol:

Statement Of ASSOCIATION DEFENDERS OF ADOPTION -ADA - regarding the intentions of President Oscar Berge to “legislate” a “Code of Good Practices”.

On January 29th, 2007, the Guatemalan newspapers Prensa Libre and Siglo Veintiuno published the interview made to the Vice President Eduardo Stein, regarding the intentions of the Executive to enact a Code of Good Practices, to toughen up the adoption process, “to avoid the commercialization of children”. While the government does not care for the welfare of the children whose parents cannot support them, it feels entitled to violate the Constitution and abuse its powers, making up rules that will only hinder an uphill road that is the only way out for those children. With the support of the Attorney General, who has claimed that “adoptions are a thorn on his side”, that “his life would be so much easier if adoptions were forbidden”, and that “he plans to keep delaying the cases for an average of at least three months” they are getting ready to implement the UNICEF proposal, same that for the last fifteen years has made its way into Congress but has failed to become a law, due to the several violations to the Constitution that it has.
The changes would be radical. The Secretary of Social Welfare, a very useless institution that is unable to run orphanages or to keep children in foster care, will be the one who would authorize the private orphanages and the children would be admitted only if a judge orders it. That would prevent private foster care and would make it very difficult for the private homes for children to take children in, unless they are sided with that Secretary. The list of obstacles is long and difficult. The result would be abandonment and abuse for those children, because nobody would finish an adoption in those terms.
Several times during the past year, Berger has tried to pass this “code” or “protocol”. He has also promised the Department of State of the United States, that he would not do anything to hinder adoptions. He even has denied the very existence of the “protocol of good practices” and his attempts to reinstate the Hague Convention, in order to make adoptions impossible.
Every time the government is questioned about its delay in performing their official duties, they argue that they “lack the staff, or the means, or the equipment to do it”. It is easy to understand that the system they plan to impose, even if it were well meant, is doomed to fail, for those very same reasons. The measure has an explanation: time is running short and the 176 million quetzals that UNICEF offered Berger in exchange of changing the adoption laws are a powerful incentive to set aside the Constitution, usurping the legislative powers of Congress and committing several felonies in the process.

As you can see, this would NOT be a good thing. We were told yesterday by the DOS (US Dept. of State) that this "meeting" on Friday had been cancelled, it was a good thing. But then, late yesterday afternoon, the DOS posted this statement on their website:

February 14, 2007
Guatemala Plans to Announce Protocol of Good Practices on February 16, 2007
The government of Guatemala has invited the U.S. Embassy to attend a ceremony publicly announcing a “Protocol of Good Practices” on adoption on Friday, February 16. As details of the implementation of the Protocol become available we will provide updated information.
Rumors that the U.S. Embassy is no longer accepting adoption cases are not correct. The U.S. Embassy continues to process adoption cases as stipulated under U.S. law and procedures.
The U.S. government supports efforts by the Guatemalan government to increase protection of children and parents and a smooth transition to implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption for Guatemala.

This totally contradicts what they had said early. We have all been urged to call the DOS and plead that they do not allow in process adoptions to be affected.

I am trying to remain cool about all this. From what I hear, about every 3 months or so something like this comes up and then blows over. I pray this is the case here. I also pray that if this indeed does become enacted that it will not affect us. Nobody seems to know the what the ramafications of this would to adoptions in process. I know the DOS has shown a vested interest in keeping in process adoptions going in the past. Part of me cannot imagine that Guatemala would set something in place that would totally mess us those of us in process, especially with the exterior pressures they are getting are pretty strong. But, they pretty much halted things back in 2003, so they could very well do it again. Another positive thing in our favor is that President Bush is heading to Guatemala next month. I seriously doubt that the Guatemalan government wants to cause a major adoption uproar weeks before the US President visits. But hey, what do I know.......

Anyways, I will update my blog if there's any new info to be given. And your prayers would be appreciated!


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A little bump in the road......

We found out over the weekend that our adoption facilitator was arrested. The facilitator is not a part of our agency, but she does contract with our agency (any many other agencies) and acts as a mediator between our agency and our attorney. It is unclear right now what the full ramifications of this will be. She was actually the facilitator for both Annie and Gideon. Our agency has assured us that they have taken the necessary steps to "fix" this and our cases will not be affected. I do trust our agency, I just hope that adoption realm in Guatemala doesn't get worse than it already is. This arrest has become big news with rumors flying everywhere. It is not a good thing. ICK! Why did it have to be our facilitator???


February 13th, 2007

On Saturday we received Gideon's paperwork of his DNA match! It was great to see that on paper. He was matched with his birhtmom by 99.97%. Here is what the US Dept. of State says about the DNA testing and why it is important.

"Problems occur when U.S. citizens are encouraged to adopt children who do not meet the U.S. immigration definition of “orphan.” In some cases, these children may have been obtained by illegal means, perhaps even stolen. The DHS/USCIS office at the U.S. Embassy requires DNA testing in all cases where an identifiable birth mother is alleged to have released the child, because the use of a false birth mother to release “her child” is the usual method chosen by unscrupulous operators to create a paper trail for an illegally obtained child. Occasionally DHS/USCIS must also interview and investigate the birth mother. These problematic cases are further complicated by the high incidence of corruption and civil document fraud in Guatemala. The U.S. Embassy has the legal responsibility to approve I-600 petitions and issue visas only in accordance with U.S. law and to ensure that U.S. citizens do not adopt stolen or otherwise illegally obtained children."

To me, seeing that match just takes a worry off my mind. For some reason, DNA has been one of the most scary parts of this process for me. I don't know where Annie is at with her DNA. I know it has been charged and I would assume it has been taken, but that has not been confirmed.

I would like to say here that while I was elated to get Gideon's DNA, it was a bit sad also. His birthmother had to actually be there with Gideon and got it taken at the same time. I got a copy of all the paperwork, saw her signature...... I don't know, my heart breaks for her. I don't know her situation or what brought her to this place, but it seems a little worng for me to get so excited about something that no doubt is very painful to someone else.


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Just a Small Update

I found out yesterday that Annie's DNA test was was charged to our CC. I don't normally get excited about CC charges, but hey, at least we are making progress!


Monday, February 5, 2007

Our Current Family

Ok, last blog for the day. Trust me, I will not always be this diligent (or obsessive) with writing!

I just wanted to share a picture of Leah, Logan and Madeline from Christmas

New Names

Oh yeah, I want to let everyone know Ana and Jose's new names:

Ana Maria will pretty much keep her name. We will probably change the spelling of her first name to "Anna" after my middle name (Ann). We plan to call her "Annie." We thought long and hard about Ana's name and what to change it to, finally, we decided that we think her name is wonderful just as it is. It just seems to fit her.

Jose Alexander will be named Gideon Alexander. Gideon is a name we have liked for a while now and I really like the biblical story that goes along with it.

We really love both kids' names. We love the idea of keeping their Guatemalan middle names while giving them a little bit "us" if you will.


Where we are at in the process.

Now to get you up to speed on where we are at in all this. Well, here is what our official timeline looks like:

11-13-06 Saw our little boy for the first time
11-14-06 Started updating our homestudy
11-15-06 Got approved to adopt Jose and sent in our I600a
11-30-06 Saw our little girl for the first time
12-1-06 Got approved to adopt Ana Maria
12-5-06 Fingerprints done and dossier complete!
12-13-06 I 171H Approval!!!
1-17-07 Jose's DNA authorized and charged
1-22-07 (the week of) Jose's DNA taken
2-2-07 Ana has DNA authorization

We are waiting now for Ana's DNA to actually be done, which honestly worries me a bit. She will be seeing her birthmom and getting her picture taken with her. I just try not to think about it too much. We will get a letter in the mail for both kids with the DNA results and the picture of the baby and the birthmom.

Our agency is in Guatemala as I type. They are visiting the babies and getting updated pictures and videos. We were able to send a gallon bag for each child filled with goodies for them. We also sent a gift for Jose's foster mother and Ana's caregivers. FYI, Ana is in a hogar, not foster care like Jose. A hogar is like a small orphanage. I have heard VERY good things about her hogar and I am confident she is getting great care.

I plan on taking a visit trip March 13th to the 16th to see both kids. Chrissy (my sister) is going to be coming with me and we our bringing Maddie (our youngest). This trip to Guatemala is going to piggy back on our family vacation with Ryan's family. So, I will fly half the way home with Ryan and the family and then Maddie and I will meet Chrissy in Houston and fly the rest of the way to Guatemala together. I am sooooo excited to meet the kids, but I am a little nervous about orchestrating everything. Jose will be with us in the hotel the whole time, which is great. Ana may or may not stay with us, depending on how she seems to handle leaving the hogar. I don't want to totally stress her out.

Well, that's about it for now!


Our New Babies

So, without further ado, here are our babies:

Here is Ana Maria's referral picture, DOB May 9, 2006:

Here's Jose Alexander's referral picture, DOB August 1, 2006:

The kiddos are 6 months (Ana) and and 3 months (Jose) in these pictures. Here is an updated picture of Jose that I just got a couple weeks ago. He is 5 months old.

Ok, it does not get much cuter than these two. Can you love a picture?

The Guatemalan Process

Ok, I am no expert in the Guatemalan Adoption process, but here is the low down, according to my research:

First you have to complete your dossier (which includes your homestudy) and get your I 171H. Once this is done everything is sent over to Guatemala and translated. Most people will get a referral once all this paperwork is in Guatemala, but since we picked our children from a photolisting, we had a referral before our paperpwork was completed. After a referral is found, a Power of Attorney (POA) is sent to Guatemala to allow your referral's attorney to represent you. Once your POA is registered in Guatemala your/your referral's attorney enters you into Family Court and requests DNA authorization from the US Embassy. DNA is required to be done on both the birthmother and the child, to be sure that they are indeed biologically mother and child. In Family Court a social worker is assigned and that social worker reviews all the paperwork, interviews the birthmother and visits the child. The social worker then approves (almost always) the adoption. Meanwhile, the DNA should be done and the results sent to the US Embassy. The Embassy pre-approves the adoption and the case is sent to the Guatemalan Attorney General's office, referred to as PGN (or even better known as the pit of despair). PGN can break even the most sturdy of adoptees. Your case is very closely scrutinized there and it often times knocked out for the most ridiculous reason. So, PGN can, at best, be very unpredictable and scary. Once we do get out of PGN, the birthmother signs off (for the 4th and final time) on the adoption and our attorney signs off on the adoption decree. Then the child becomes legally ours. Before we can travel for pick up though a new birth certificate has to be issued and submitted for a Guatemalan passport. Once the passport is issued, that, along with all our other paperwork is submitted to the US Embassy. The Embassy will then authorize the child's visa and give you a "pink slip" with the authorization on it. That pink slip is like a "go" light. We can then travel on our pick up trip.

Whew! I know that is a lot to take in, but I just want everyone to know the process so that when I tell you which step we are at, you will understand where that is in the grand scheme of things.


Beginning Post

Welcome to my blog. I decided to start a blog because we are adopting and I want to be able to easily update my family and friends. I might also include an occasional update of regular family life.

First off, let me introduce myself and my family. My name is Julie and I am 30 years old. I have been married for 10 years to my sweetie Ryan, who is also 30. Ryan works at his family owned business, Colepak, and I stay at home with our 3 kiddos. Leah just turned 9 and is in 3rd grade. Logan is 6 1/2 and is in 1st grade and Madeline is almost 15 months. We homeschool the two oldest. We are a family who love God and each other.

Now that you know a little more about me the next topic I should cover is to answer the question "why are we adopting?" The easy answer to that is "we want more children." Ryan and I have always hoped to have a larger family. After we gave birth to Logan we thought we were well on our way. But, God had other plans. It took over 4 years and a lot of heartache (including a failed adoption to Russia) before we were able to add another child to our family. As blessed as we are, we don't feel like our family is complete with 3. Adoption is something that has been on our hearts for years now. Back when we started our adoption process for Russia (3 1/2 years ago), it was a relatively easy decision for us to make. Ryan and I both knew we could love an adopted child as much as we loved our bio ones and we were willing to put the extra effort into adding a child/children to our family. We feel the same way now. I will say though, that while wanting to grow our family is our main reason for adopting, there are a host of other reasons for us to bring an adopted child/children into our home. To me, adoption is one way to extend God's love to someone else. There are so many children around the world that need a family. God desperately loves those children and I am thrilled that our family can have a part showing a child who God is and how much He cares about them. I also love what our current children will have the opportunity to learn throughout this adoption. Maybe they will understand selflessness an unconditional love a little better when this process in complete.

"Why Guatemala," is probably the next reasonable question to answer. Having children already at home had to be a main consideration when chosing a country. Guatemala is a relatively short flight (compared to Russia at least), they stay in country is relatively short and there is flexibility when it comes to Ryan and I traveling. Another top reason we chose Guatemala is because the children are typically healthy and have great care (usually foster care). To be honset I don't really know much about the Guatemalan culture, but I am excited to learn!

Well, I think this post is long enough. I will add in a little bit about our process thus far. I will also add pictures of our beautiful referrals!!!