Saturday, April 21, 2007

It just keeps getting better!!!!

I am so excited to report that we now how pre-approval again for Annie and Gideon!!! I can hardly believe it!

My agency called this morning and said we have it and she was forwarding it to our attornies as we speak! I cannot tell you how excited I am about this! Our director said that they got 14 cases approved today. All had been held up unneccesarily because of the Mary Bonn thing. I am just amazed it happened so quickly. Nothing goes that quick in this process!

I thought you'd like to see what the actual e-mail looks like:

Name of child / Nombre del menor: Ana Maria Cardona
A pre-approval was issued for the above-listed adoption case. You may pick up this
pre-approval at Window #10 at your earliest convenience. You must bring a copy of
this notification.
Reminder: Adopting parents should not travel to Guatemala prior to issuance of the pink slip
by the Consular Section, in order to avoid unnecessary expenses. Travel before pink slip
issuance will not be considered an emergency and final documents will be processed as
This office will not be giving priority to other cases over those who have complied with this
The Consular Section has implemented an Appointment System for the Immigrant Visa.
Please do not travel until you have received your appointment date and time.
La pre-aprobación correspondiente al caso de adopción que esta mencionado arriba
fue emitida. Puede recoger esta pre-aprobación en la Ventanilla #10. Deberá presentar
una copia de esta notificación.
Recordatorio: Los Padres Adoptivos no deberán viajar a Guatemala antes de que la Sección
Consular expida la hoja rosada, para evitar gastos innecesarios. El hecho de viajar antes de
que se haya expedido la hoja rosada no se considerará una emergencia y los documentos
finales se tramitarán de manera regular.
Esta oficina no le dará prioridad a otros casos sobre los que sí hayan cumplido con este
La Sección Consular ha implementado un Sistema de Citas para la Visa de Inmigrante. Por
favor, no viaje hasta que haya recibido la fecha y hora de su cita.
Sincerely, / Atentamente,
Adoptions Unit
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
American Embassy - Guatemala
Unit 3334
APO AA34024
Fax 011 (502) 2331-4342

Praise God! We should be in to PGN by the end of the week!


Friday, April 20, 2007

Finally a little good news!

I got a call from the director of our agency this morning, which was odd in and of itself because she is an hour behind us and she called at 8:30 our time. Anyways, she actually talked in person to Joseph Roma at the US Embassy in Guatemala. I can't remember exactly what Mr. Roma's title is, but I do know that he is the one in the know there about this situation and was exactly who she needed to talk to. This is a very big thing in and of itself. Up to that point, she had gotten zero response from the embassy, despite huge efforts.

She said they talked for like 20 minutes. In summary, Mr. Roma confirmed that all cases from our agency were indeed being "red flagged." I guess this was done somewhat in response to our director's public support of Mary Bonn. Not a support of what she did, but public support of her as a friend. Anyways, Mr. Roma said that the "ban" on our agency is being lifted. The red flags will be gone....woohoo! He said that each case (I guess referring to the ones being held) will still be looked at, but not under any increased scrutiny because of our agency.

So, it's not like we have our pre-approval again, but this is a very good thing! I know our cases will be fine when looked at and I now have confidence they will be moved through. Maybe even by the end of April??? Dare to dream, eh?

Our agency director had a peace in her voice that I have not heard in a couple months. I know this has been very trying for her also. It makes me feel better knowing that she feels things are better.

So, this has been huge for boosting my moral. I got an updated picture of Gideon last week and barely looked at it. The poor guy was bawling in every picture anyways, but......still adorable of course. Also, we get to send care pakages again because our director is going back to Guatemala April 28 (we will get updated pictures/medicals also). I finally feel like filling up my allotted ziploc bags for the kids!

I still hate that we are being delayed and I hate that the process still has a while for us, but I will take this good news and run with it. Now, if Guatemala can just stay stable enough until they come home.

Thank you for praying for us and please keep 'em coming, we still have a long way to go!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What I am hearing....

Well, not a lot, but I thought I'd share. I have heard from 2 different sources now that the US Embassy will have completed ALL investigations but the end of April. Neither of my sources have been official, so I guess I just need to take it for what it is worth. Maybe a little hope, although I think it seems a little bit of wishful thinking. I guess we shall see....


Monday, April 16, 2007

Agency E-mail

I got this e-mail from my agency today:

Dear Families:

In early February I wrote to you letting you know that AFJ severed ties with Mary Bonn as she was arrested for harboring an illegal alien. AFJ has not worked with Mary since then, but has since connected with translators and experienced staff in Guatemala and the US.

At the time of Mary's arrest, I was quite confident that as AFJ has always had a stellar reputation and has NEVER been part of or have condoned any illegal or unethical acts, that we would not be affected by any investigations regarding Guatemalan Adoptions. AFJ uses Embassy approved attorneys and I have not known any of them to have done anything illegal. Furthermore, I am under the understanding that it remains that Mary Bonn was charged with this one charge and no others. I contacted her attorney and he confirmed this for me.

The US State Department has promised more scrutiny on Guatemalan Adoption cases. It is becoming evident that they are possibly honing in on agencies linked to people of interest. What has happened is that the US Embassy in Guatemala is investigating and or reviewing many AFJ's (and several other agencies) cases. . This is very frustrating to me as I know how important having your cases finish in a timely manner is to all of you. However, I am not concerned that the investigation will uncover anything unethical or illegal, I am concerned that it will add unnecessary time to the cases.

I, as the director of AFJ, have been trying to contact anyone who will help get the embassy moving through these cases. I have contacted politicians, people in Washington DC and I have written to and left phone messages for several people at the Embassy in Guatemala. I will go to the Embassy the first week of May and see if I can do anything to move them along faster. As I feel as though I am making headway, I want to ask all of you to contact your Senators and US Congressional reps and ask them to contact the US Embassy on your behalf for information about your cases. Please include your names, the child's full birth name and the name of the birth mother. As I research this and talk to other adoption professionals and political allies, I am told that historically, political pressure will get the Embassy effectively moving along so any cases they are wanting to scrutinize will get scrutinized and not be set on a pile WAITING to be looked at. So please contact your politicians and contact them often.

At this point, the cases that are being reviewed or investigated are at the pre approval stage. Some pre approvals have not come and some were revoked (meaning when the attorney went to pick up pre approval, the embassy would not give them to the attorney). Some have gone through fine. I have two at pink slip stage that have been waiting longer than normal. However, I have had three families go on pick up trips in the past few weeks. If you received a pre approval after March 2 or so, please email me and I will double check the status of it. I have talked to most of you whom I know have been affected. I am constantly being told that they cannot comment on the investigation issue. I cannot tell if that is the investigations of the cases or any other investigation. I am trying to get some clarity with the help of the politicians. I was told by Jill Larsen, Office of Children's Issues for International Adoption in Washington DC, that they are actively investigating.

If your DNA has been sent to the embassy and it has been 45 days, please email the embassy and inquire about your pre approval. Include your full names, baby's full name and birth mother name. Once you hear back from the embassy, please contact your politicians.

I can not express enough my own dismay and concern for this situation and I know it is difficult for all those who are being affected. It is disheartening to have other people's actions affect so many. I want you all to know that when I decided to open this agency, it was to make sure people had an open and transparent adoption experience. I solicited dozens of references on Mary Bonn. They were glowing. I knew the attorneys were all embassy approved. MANY of my clients are people who came to me for their second or third adoptions and would work with no other person than Mary.

I stand behind my commitment to run an agency with honor and integrity. I have learned that their are a lot of people who make allegations based on rumors. I would like to make it very clear to all of you that A Family Journey is in excellent standing with Minnesota Department of Human Services. You can contact Mical Peterson at or 651-296-3768. She is in licensing and oversees AFJ's license.

Furthermore, I want to make it clear that I have not been any part of any investigation. I have not been contacted by any government authority. If I were, I would only and always be truthful as I have nothing to hide.

Please contact your politicians. If you need to find out who they are, please google them. If you obtain contact information, please send it to me and I will send it to families in your state. Go ahead and solicit other family members to contact them as well. The more people they hear from, the more likely they will step up and help. Contact information for MN Senators follows this email as does a link to find the US Representative for your area.

I am sincerely sorry that your cases may be affected by the ongoing investigations. Please email me or call me to touch base and ask questions. If I do not hear from you, I will try to touch base with you soon. I am heading to Guatemala on April 28th. I will see your referrals and talk with your attorneys. I am doing as much as I can to help this situation.

I had a dream to help find loving families for the orphaned children from my own children's birth country. I also wanted to raise money for the needy orphaned children who will never get to leave Guatemala. I intend to follow this dream..... regardless of the road blocks.

Thank you all and I look forward to talking with each of you.

I know our agency is good and on the up and up, but I can't help but feel a little bitter toward them right now.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Things are not good right now.....

I am going to make this brief, but I got a call from my agency last Friday stating that both Annie's and Gideon's Pre-approvals were being sent to investigation. Our agency had no additional information.

I will spare you the details, but over the last few days I have found out that this is due to our agency's association with Mary Bonn. In essence, we have been red flagged by association. The US Embassy has made it very clear (via e-mail) that they will not discuss why we were put into review or when we could get out. They almost treated us like we were the ones that had done something wrong.

After talking to many different sources, there is no way to know how long this could take, but the best estimate is months. There's a whole ugly situation going on here. Everyone in the Guatemalan adoption realm have pity on us poor souls caught up in the "Mary Bonn" thing. Pity does me no good.

I do not appreciate being treated like a criminal that is on a need to know basis by my OWN embassy. Not only that, I seriously doubt that adoptions even have months to even be open on the Guatemalan side.

Ryan and I do not know what to do at this point. All is not necessarily lost, but this is a very bad situation.

We do intend to contact our local political offices. They are the only ones that can even hope to get a response from the Embassy.

SOrry to be so sporatic. I am just not feeling very optimistic right now.

Please pray for us. Hopefully this will be a fading thing.