Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Two weeks!! Two weeks!!

That's right, two weeks from today, we leave for Guatemala!!!!! I cannot wait to see my little boy again! I simply cannot wait! Gabriel gets to meet his first set of grandparents too! Can you blame me for being excited?

Monday, June 25, 2007

DNA Results are in!

Yeah!!!! I got the DNA results in the mail today! Gabriel and his birth mother are 99.95% a match! This is *great* news!!!!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Gabriel's June Social Visit

We received pictures last night from Gabriel's June social visit. This is where all the foster moms get together in one location with the baby they are caring for and the FM manager of our agency takes pictures of all the babies. We normally receive these pictures around the 22nd/23rd of each month. In that last picture, I can't help but notice that he does look like me in a way. As a child and even to this day, I do this squinting thing with my eyes that Gabriel is doing in this picture. My mom used to say that if I kept doing that, I would get wrinkles. My hair also stood up straight like that. I will find a baby picture of me and scan it.
Isn't he adorable??

Thursday, June 21, 2007

One month ago today

A month ago today we had to give Gabriel back. It was honestly the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I find myself incredibly sad today and missing him so much. I knew this process was going to be difficult, but some days it simply feels unbearable - to the point where it hurts to even breathe. My office has seven framed pictures of Gabriel and he's on my desktop at home and at work, but it's not enough. I just need him here with us. Maybe then my heart won't hurt so much. Deep breath before I start to cry again...

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Our family court interviews have been successfully completed! Now we wait for a judge in family court to authorize our case to exit family court and we also wait for pre-approval from the U. S. Embassy. Exit from FC is about 6 weeks from the day DNA was collected (June 4th). PA is about 8-9 weeks from DNA day. So patiently we wait news on both those items.

But today is a VERY good day!

If you don't understand the terminology in this post, see post titled Adoption Process from June 11th.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Surprise Visit pictures of our little man

Once a month the foster mother manager in Guatemala visits all the babies and does what is called a surprise visit. She comes unannounced to every foster mom's house and makes sure the baby she is caring for is doing well, her house is tidy, she has enough formula, etc. We get these updates every month. Here are the pictures from her June visit. Isn't he precious??

My all-time favorite picture

I was going through pictures we have of Gabriel and can't believe I forgot to post this one earlier. Here was the first moment I ever held Gabriel. I believe the picture speaks for itself. I can assure you that time stood still for that very moment and all became right with the world and in my heart. We went from a family of two to a family of three,

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I'm missing you very much tonight, Gabriel. I'm waiting for Greg to get home from a work function and I can't help but be sad without you. It's so hard to be patient and that is the name of this game right now. I can't wait to see you in less than a month and give you lots of hugs and kisses. I hope you're doing well and please know that I pray for you every night and ask God that he allow you to come home to us very, very soon. We can't wait to have you here with us for good. And we also hope you like dogs! We have a couple of those waiting back here in Florida for you! Sleep well tonight and may God bless you.

Clothes for Gabriel (POA trip)

I realize this post would have been better somewhere towards the bottom, but I wanted to share all the clothes we took for him when we went down in May. I bought him a lot of 0-3 month onesies/outfits, but he was swimming in most of those! I just didn't want to take two many newborn items and then have him outgrow them too quickly.

We also took a bunch of baby toys, a bumbo, a sling, a diaper bag, tons of blankets, booties, hats, socks, bottles, wipes, diapers, etc! We had three huge green duffle bags packed with stuff for little G. Everything we took down, we left with our foster mom. These are all items we will not receive in return and she will use for the next baby she fosters after Gabriel.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Our agency is awesome

Within less than an hour, we had an update from inside Guatemala City of the situation after the earthquake. Not a day goes by that we do not give thanks for having found such an amazing agency that has their clients best interest always in mind. All agencies are not the same.

Update from FTC - Earthquake

Hi, all.

Colleen called a few minutes ago to let us know that the earthquake did not seem to have much of an impact in Guatemala City. She asked us to assure everyone that in the city where the babies are, the quake was a "little bit of a shake," and nothing more.

We will update you if we learn anything more.



GUATEMALA CITY - A strong earthquake shook Guatemala on Wednesday, U.S. seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries. The magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck at 2:29 p.m. local time (3:29 p.m. EDT) and was centered 70 miles southwest of Guatemala City off the Pacific coast, according to the U.S. Geological Firefighters in Guatemala City said they had no immediate reports of injury or damage. The quake was felt in neighboring El Salvador.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Questions not to ask adopting parents...

Since we started our adoption process, Greg and I have been asked some real crazy questions. It's amazing what some people will either say or ask you. I truly believe some people do not have a filter from their brain to their mouth. The questions below are proof of that.

Here are a couple of statements or questions NOT to ask adopting parents:

Why isn't he/she home yet?

My answer to this is simply, you will know when Gabriel is home when we tell you. This is a long journey and we are keeping our list of updated people very short. This is another reason why I thought this blog would be a great way to keep everyone updated without having to repeat ourselves so many times during this journey. It can be quite tiresome.

Why is it taking so long?

See question #1.

Why don't you want a white baby?

No comment.

How much is this costing you?

I normally tell people that I have a mortgage on my house that is much higher than what this adoption is costing us and at the end of the day, that child is ours. the house isn't.

Why don't you want a blond haired/blue eyed child?

For those that know Greg and I, you know very well that I would not biologically be able to give birth to a blond haired/blue eyed child, so why would I go out of my way to adopt one?

The Adoption Process

Below is an explanation of the adoption process. It's a two part process - US first, then Guatemalan. We first chose an agency, then had our home study done. This is a meeting where social workers come to your home and conduct a 5.5 hour interview with you and your family discussing anything about you that you can possibly imagine. After that you begin to put together your dossier which is a large amount of paperwork that the US requests for you to be able to adopt. This process is most often referred to as the paperchase. The U.S. portion of the process takes approximately 1 - 3 months. The Guatemalan portion of the process is currently taking approximately 6 - 8 months.
Please note that the information in blue is bolded because that is where we currently are in the process.

Here is a general description of the process:

Child is born.

Birth is registered at Civil Registry and a birth certificate is issued.

Birth mother signs over custody to a lawyer and authorizes the lawyer to pursue adoption plans for the child; child enters foster care (usually) or sometimes orphanage or children's home

Child is taken to a pediatrician for basic physical and (for newborns) usually for first immunizations, if these steps were not done prior to relinquishment.

Birthmother also sees a doctor to make sure she is fine and may have blood tests done at this time, if they haven't been done prior to the birth of the child.

You receive a referral with child's and birth mother's names, basic physical information, and usually a photo and results of screening blood tests for syphilis, hepatitis and HIV. Our agency does even more testing.

You accept the referral and sign a Power of Attorney (POA) to authorize the lawyer in Guatemala to act on your behalf during the adoption process. Under Guatemalan law the same lawyer may represent the birth mother's and child's interests and your interests during the adoption. Some agencies use separate lawyers for adoptive parents, most don't.

Your POA is registered in Guatemala.

The lawyer submits all the documents in the case to Family Court, and petitions the Family Court to assign a social worker to investigate the case.

The lawyer requests authorization from the US Embassy to have DNA testing performed on the birth mother and child to confirm that they are indeed biologically mother and child. DNA testing is done with supervision and a photo of the birth mother with the child is taken at the testing site to ascertain their identities.

Family Court social worker reviews your dossier, interviews the birth mother, sees the child in foster care or orphanage, and (almost always) approves the adoption. The social worker writes a several page report summarizing the facts of the case and attesting to the reasons that the birth mother cannot care for the child. The birth mother signs consent for adoption for second time.

Meanwhile the DNA test should have been performed, cleared, and submitted to the Embassy with your dossier for review and approval by the Embassy. The case cannot take the next step after Family Court until the Embassy DNA approval has been issued. This is a safeguard to prevent a situation in which a child is legally adopted under Guatemalan law, but not eligible for immigration under US law. A third consent by the birth mother is signed during the DNA process.

The lawyer then submits a petition for approval of the adoption case to a notarial officer of the Attorney General's office (Procuraduria General de la NaciĆ³n or PGN). (A Notary in Guatemala is an attorney with additional powers, not simply someone who certifies signatures as in the US.)

Notary in PGN reviews all the documents (often requesting that some be re-done because of minor spelling errors, expired notary seals, etc.) and almost always approves the adoption. PGN may at their discretion investigate aspects of the case if they wish and as a result of that and other variations, time in this step (as in many steps) can vary widely.

PGN issues its approval for the adoption to proceed.

The lawyer then meets the birth mother for the 4th and final sign-off.

The adoption decree is then written and issued by the lawyer and the child is legally now the child of the adoptive family.

A new birth certificate is then issued by the Civil Registry with the child's first and middle names unchanged, but with the names of the adoptive parent(s).

Lawyer takes new birth certificate and applies for a Guatemalan passport (although the child is adopted by US parents, he or she is still a Guatemalan citizen).

All documents are translated into English by certified translators, as required by US INS regulations. The following steps discuss what happens before travel to the U.S.:
Passport is issued.

Child gets a visa photo done.

Lawyer takes all the paperwork back to the Embassy, including the passport, your dossier, the Family Court findings, the adoption decree, the DNA results, all translations, and the visa photos, and requests approval for an orphan visa to enter the US.

Embassy authorizes visa. This approval is on pink paper and is called the "pink slip". It is usually issued a day or two after submission of the documents.

Child gets an exit physical by an Embassy-approved doctor (to make sure the child doesn't have unrecognized handicapping conditions or infectious diseases). Note that this exam used to require prior embassy approval, but can now be done any time after the passport is issued, without prior approval of the embassy.

You are told your case is complete and you travel to Guatemala (many people travel sooner but this is the "official" time when travel is recommended).

The lawyer completes required INS and State Department forms for visa issuance and includes them in the document package along with the results from the exit physical.

The child will be with you no matter where you go from this time forward.

You -- often but not always accompanined by the lawyer or someone from their staff -- bring your child and all the papers back to the Embassy early one morning (Monday - Thursday only, no visas are issued on Fridays), pay the visa fees, present the I-600 and I-864 forms, show your tax returns for the past 3 years (including W-2s and 1099s, plus currrent letters of employment or recent pay stubs) to prove you can support the child, and come back later that afternoon for your visa and sealed packet of documents. Do not open the sealed packet!

Then you can go home. On arrival you must to submit the sealed packet to INS at your first point of entry into the US.

If both parents have traveled to Guatemala to see their child before it is time for the child to go home with the adoptive parents (which we have), when the child comes to America, he/she will automatically be a U.S. citizen.

Information from

Countdown begins....31 days

A month from today we will be traveling to Guatemala to visit Gabriel! We cannot wait to see him again and share the experience with my parents. We will most definitely take a ton of pictures!! He will be a little over two months by then!!! Six days over, to be exact.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Guatemala Ultrasound

I couldn't help but post this. Someone shared this picture with me and it was too cute to pass up.
Adoptive parents say our children didn't grow under our hearts, but inside them and it couldn't be any truer.

What's in a name??

Well, we knew from pretty early on that if we had a boy, his name would be Gabriel. It's a very strong name and traditional. Two factors that were very important to both Greg and I. The meaning behind Gabriel is "messenger of God". Alexander came about during the time of his referral. We were not decided on his middle name, but when I found out that was the middle name given to him, I fell in love with it. Alexander means "defender of men". What a combination and it rolls of the tongue very well in Spanish - Gabriel Alejandro.

Gabriel's Heritage (on Greg's side)

Here are the flags that represent Gabriel's heritage on Greg's side of the family. He will be quite the international citizen.

Top to Bottom: Austria, Ireland, Germany and USA.

Gabriel's Heritage (on my side)

Here are all the flags that represent Gabriel and on my side once he finally comes home. I say this because as soon as he touches American soil, he becomes an American citizen. We have quite the international background/heritage.
(Top to Bottom) - Guatemala, Cuba, Colombia, Spain and USA.

Volcano Agua...

Here is the picture of one of Guatemala's 33 volcanoes. It's called Volcano Agua. Kind of ironic and amusing that it is called Volcano "Water" since what comes out of a volcano is hot molten lava. Here is more information on their volcanoes and tours if you are ever there and this interests you.

This picture was taken from room 635 at the Westin Hotel where we stay when we visit little G. But I did not take this picture. A friend of mine from our agency shared it with me.

Mazatenango - Where Gabriel was born....

Here are some pictures that some friends of our let us use for our blog. They visited Mazatenango while fostering their son. Gabriel was most likely born at this hospital. I can't imagine there is another big hospital in this small town.

Mazatenango Pictures...

Here are some pictures of Mazatenango that we were given to by our friends. The first one is the business district, followed by the outside of one of their Catholic churches, then the inside of the same church and the final picture is of their busiest intersection. You will see more pictures above of the hospital that I assume little Gabriel was born in. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Before I was a Mom...

A dear friend of mine shared this with me right after we got the referral. It's funny how all my life I never really thought I wanted to be a mom or even if I was cut out for such a difficult role. All that has changed - FOREVER. I live and breathe for this precious gift from God and all things that seemed so incredibly important to me no longer are. Bringing him home is our number one priority.

Before I was a Mom,
I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed.
I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.

Before I was a Mom,
I cleaned my house each day.
I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom
I had never been puked on.Pooped on. Spit on. Chewed on. Pottied on.
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.

Before I was a Mom,
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much love or so much pain.

Before I was a Mom,
I never knew I would love being a Mom.
— Author unknown.

Some of my favorite pictures...

I took a lot of pictures while we were in Guatemala and wanted to share some of my favorites. We miss Gabriel very much and pray daily that he will be with us very soon. Our hearts are sad without him. Can you blame us? Look how sweet and adorable that little face is.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Referral Day

I can say without a doubt that this was one of the *HAPPIEST* days of my life - EVER. I put it up there with my wedding, graduating from college, etc. It was a biggie!

Wednesday, May 9th began like any other day. We were waiting to hear if my Colombian birth certificate was going to be accepted by Guatemala or not. Evidently the person who signed the document wasn't the same person that had their name typed under the line, so....we were basically looking at another 2 months of waiting to get a new birth certificate when my office phone rang at 4:30pm. Normally, I'm packing up my stuff to go by 4:29pm, but Wednesdays we normally go to church for dinner at 5pm, so I was waiting around. We were in the process of hiring a new admin at work so when the phone rang, I honestly thought it was one of the candidates calling me back to schedule an interview. Instead it was my case manager, T, who said it's T calling and I swear it took me like three seconds for it to click as to who was even calling.

She said she had good news! When she told me my birth certificate had been accepted, I started to cry. I couldn't believe it! Our prayers had worked! I was so overjoyed!!!! My case manager then said, wow, if you are THAT happy about this, wait until I tell you about HIM! At that point, I started screaming "we're having a boy??????" She went on to tell me ALL about him, etc and that she would be sending pictures of him. But that "he was as cute as all get out".

At this point, I ran to my boss' office and told him I would be right back. I grabbed my cell and keys and raced to Greg's office. His staff tried to make small talk with me and I basically blew them off as I ran down the hallway and exclaimed to him "we are having a boy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I then proceeded to cry like a little baby!! Typical Maria fashion! I checked my email from Greg's office and there were his pictures. We were IN LOVE immediately! We then called our parents and went to church for dinner. The rest of the day we were in a major daze as you can well imagine.


Adoption is very near and dear to my heart. Some of you reading this blog may not know this but I was adopted from Colombia almost 30 years ago. After suffering three miscarriages, I knew in my heart that I wanted to become a mom via adoption and there was no other way to go about doing so than Internationally. After much research we decided to sign with For This Child ( and we cannot be happier with them. They are absolutely amazing and we could not have asked for a better agency. This journey is very long, but well worth the days of being sad, scared, excited, happy, scared again, etc. We knew when we signed our contract that this was not going to be an easy ride, but we wanted to be parents and it didn't matter how long or how hard of a road we would have to endure. The paperchasing was a nightmare that I honestly thought would never end, but one day in February 2007, it actually did. The 12th to be precise. By March 7th, we had our I-171H and then we fast forward to May 9th at 4:30pm when my case manager, T, called to tell me that we had been referred a baby boy!!! I will post more about that day later. It's worthy of its own post.

This journey for me is a little different than for most because I am basically watching my life come full circle. I am witnessing Gabriel's birth mother put her son up for adoption in hopes that he will have a better life. Almost thirty years ago, my birth mother did the same for me. Some days when I think about it, it is too much for me to handle. I personally cannot imagine loving a child, a baby, so much that I can give them up for someone else to raise and love. The pain has to be one like no other, but the fact that she loves him so much to do this for him, speaks volumes to me about her love for him. She will *always* have a special place in my heart and one day when little G is big, I will tell him all about her and her ultimate sacrifice.

Let me share some more pictures....

We went for our (POA) power of attorney trip - May 17th - 22nd and it was a fabulous trip! We had such an amazing time! But leaving him behind was seriously one of the hardest things I've ever done and I consider myself a pretty strong individual! Here are some pictures of him with us in Guatemala. He was two weeks old here.

Gabriel having his DNA test done

Where do I start??

Ok, so I originally thought I would blog on another site, but find this one a bit easier to work with. Ok, so where are we in the process...we just found out today that our DNA was done on little G a.k.a. Gabriel Alejandro, the light of our eyes. He was referred to us on May 9th at 4:30pm! And we went down for POA (power of attorney) a week later! He is absolutely the cutest, most adorable, lovable, huggable, scrumptious little guy. I consider him our little piece of heaven because he truly is that. I cannot even explain the love I have for him already.