Thursday, January 31, 2008

A room of her own

I stayed up until midnight last night hanging butterflies.
I think a little princess is going to live here.
But right now Daisy is enjoying it.
It almost seems like she is watching
and waiting for Grace to arrive.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cotton Candy

Grace's room reminds me of cotton candy. (As soon as the furniture is delivered tomorrow, I will post some pictures.) It is all girly, soft pinks and greens. The light filters through the window blinds and green sheer curtains in the front of the house, which faces north. When I open the door it is like stepping into one those machines that makes sweet, fluffy spun cotton candy.

Thanks to Nana and Big Daddy, Grace has a colorful floral rug and furniture from the new GenAmerica line. It is a deep merlot-colored wood with brushed metal handles on the dressers. I love the how the crib is classic and traditional but contemporary at the same time. I remember having my bedroom furniture for such a long time. It ended up getting painted a few times to match my changing taste as I grew up. It was sturdy and lasted for years. Those are some of the things I was hoping for when we chose these pieces.
I am still deciding on accessories (shelves, pictures for the walls, fabric butterflies that hang from the ceiling), but you get the idea.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Nature vs. Nurture

I have a photo of Grace and her birthmother taken about one month after she was born when they did their DNA tests. In the picture, Grace is looking up and I wonder if she recognizes the woman who cared enough to make a plan for the rest of Grace's life.

In honor of the woman who allowed me to be the person Grace will call "Mother", I want to share this poem....

Once there were two women
Who never knew each other;
One you do not remember,
The other you call "Mother."

Two different lives
Shaped to make you one;
One became your guiding star,
The other became your sun.

The first one gave you life,
And the second taught you to live it;
The first gave you a need for love,
The second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality,
The other gave you a name;
One gave you talent,
The other gave you aim.

One gave you emotions,
The other calmed your fears;
One saw your first sweet smile,
The other dried your tears.

One sought for you a home
That she could not provide;
The other prayed for a child
And her hope was not denied.

And now you ask me
Through your tears ...
The age old question,
Unanswered through the years.

Heredity or environment ...
Which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling, neither,
Just two different kinds of love!

~ Author Unknown ~

Friday, January 25, 2008

Favorite Foto Friday

Sometimes we have "Crazy Daisy" (yes, she thinks the furniture is her personal jungle gym!).

And sometimes we have "Lazy Daisy".

She plays hard and sleeps hard. Just too cute for words....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Grace is REALLY mine!

Okay, so I am only a mom on paper, but it still feels pretty good! The birthmother signed off for the last time and at that moment, Grace became my daughter. I could move to Guatemala now and she would be mine! That's pretty cool...and tempting.... This doesn't change our timeline. But it is a relief to know this step is complete and we are moving along. It shouldn't be long now!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Happy 8 months, Grace!

Grace is 8 months old today. It is hard to believe 2 months have passed since we last saw her. With any luck, she will be home very soon!

Monday, January 21, 2008

No tools required

I spent part of my afternoon setting up this Pack 'n Play for Grace and am now a fan of Graco. They have it all ready where the pieces and parts just click together. The hardest part is deciphering the illustrations in the assembly guide. I would much rather have written directions, but I guess then they would need to write it in three languages (they do this for the safety information and warnings) and the booklet would be more like a telephone book instead of a pamphlet. I finally got it all together and, feeling pretty proud of myself, decided to put it "out of the way" in another room until we need it. No good. It didn't fit through the doorway! I got out the tape measure and thought I might be able to get it through on its side. Nope. Didn't work. THEN, I realized (duh!) it is portable! Didn't I just say they make it so it all snaps together? Yep. I took it apart, moved it to its temporary home, and snapped it back together.

See, Mom and Dad, that college education didn't go to waste!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Favorite Foto Friday

Grace and her Big Daddy (that's what the grandchildren call my father) tap out a tune on the table in the restaurant in the hotel.

This photograph isn't going to win any awards. But it isn't the photo that makes this one of my favorites. It was what was going on that makes it great. Big Daddy tapped the table and Grace watched carefully and tried to mimic what he was doing. Of course at six months old she couldn't possibly imitate him, but she sure was trying!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The final countdown begins

We have a couple of months to go before Grace comes home, but after being in this process for over 15 months, 2 months seems like a short amount of time. A lot has to happen post-PGN to make the adoption legal in both Guatemala and the United States and so Grace can enter the country with US citizenship. Here are some of them:
  • My attorney will contact Grace's birthmother and she signs off on the adoption for the fourth and final time.
  • He then applies with the Civil Registry in Mixco for Grace’s new birth certificate with me listed as her mother.
  • My dossier and the other adoption-related documents are translated back into English for the US Embassy reviewers.
  • The lawyer applies for Grace’s passport. Although Grace is legally mine when her birthmother signed the last documents, she is still a Guatemalan citizen. So she will need a Guatemalan passport to travel to the United States. She will receive an IR-3 visa because we visited her before completion of the adoption, which according to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, will give her automatic U.S. citizenship when she first enters the United States. That means when the plane's wheels touch down in Houston, Grace will be a U.S. citizen!
  • My attorney submits all the paperwork to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala.
  • The U.S. Embassy gives authorization for the 2nd DNA test to be drawn on Grace. This DNA sample is compared with the first sample drawn back in June 2007 to assure the baby has not been switched. The DNA authorization is known as ‘ORANGE’, since it’s written on an orange slip of paper.
  • My credit card is charged for the 2nd DNA test, the DNA sample is collected and sent to the lab in North Carolina for comparison with the first DNA sample. The lab then sends its analysis of the DNA comparison back to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala.
  • A final medical exam is done on Grace by the US Embassy doctors.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala reviews the adoption documents and issues ‘PINK' (the pink slip, which is now not even "pink" anymore since it is done electronically.)
  • The "e-PINK" includes a date for Grace's visa appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. This occurs about a week to 10 days after the "e-PINK" is issued.
At that point I can make travel arrangements to go get Grace and bring her home! You can see, though, that even if everyone involved is quick and efficient it still takes about 8 weeks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Does this mean I am in labor?

I called PGN this morning. After two days of calling a total of 12 times and listening to Celine Dion on hold, Laura picked up. She said our file was approved on Friday, January 11th and it is waiting for my attorney to pick up. That means we are OUT of PGN! My agency is calling their contacts in Guatemala and, hopefully, they will have the file in their hands today.

Adios Senor Barrios!

I love you not only for what you are....

...but for what I am when I am with you.

After much prompting from my friends who say it is time I put myself in the blog, here are some of my favorite pictures with Grace.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tragedy in Guatemala City

Guatemala City is a sprawling metropolis with high rise office and apartment buildings, restaurants, stores, and international banks and businesses. It is comprised of 22 Zones. The oldest area and the historical city center is in Zone 1 with newer areas growing outward from there. Grace and her foster family live in an apartment building in Zone 21. The main business area where the US Embassy, Citicorp, and the bigger hotels are located is Zone 10. There is a lot of volcanic activity in Guatemala and you can see the mountains and volcanoes surrounding the city in these pictures.

With a history of seismic activity under the city is not uncommon for residents to feel and hear the earth rumbling. But, I was shocked to find out that a giant sinkhole (over 300 feet deep) swallowed homes and killed at least two teenagers and one adult early Friday, January 11th in one of the older, poorer areas of Guatemala City. The disaster has been reported in the news (see MSNBC story) and apparently was caused by a clogged sewer main. There were recently rains in the area, and residents in the area had been feeling tremors for weeks. The city had even planned investigations and was considering a controlled explosion to clear the pipe, but it was too late.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A shower and a reality check

On Friday, my friends at work held a baby shower for me. I was overwhelmed and thrilled that so many people attended. Grace and I received so many thoughtful, creative, and generous gifts! And...with dozens of educators in the room, you can imagine how many books are now filling up her bookcase. There were even several in Spanish!

The reality of all this really hit me on Friday morning as I was driving to work. I have to admit, I panicked a little as all of a sudden it became REAL! Oh, sure, we still have months ahead of us (hopefully not too many - come on Barrios, we need your signature!) but after 15 months of paperwork, phone calls, interviews, red tape, trips to Guatemala, and WAITING, we are in the home stretch. Now I have the baby gear in the house and I have started to decorate Grace's room. All I need is Grace to come home!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Clowning Around

Why are some people afraid of clowns? Maybe it is because parents teach their children to stay away from strangers and what could be more strange than an adult dressed up in funny clothes, outrageously colorful makeup, and enormous shoes? I have never had this issue, but I know plenty of adults and kids who do.

So, when we saw this clown at the Clarion Suites Hotel in Guatemala City, my first thought was, "What luck! That will make a great picture!" but in the back of my mind I was really wondering how Grace would react to her first clown. We had no idea why he was there (it was a First Communion celebration) but I quickly asked him in Spanish if he would take a picture with Grace. And, this was the one and only shot we took. I think it is pretty good.

Grace is a curious baby, but she also seems cautious. It is almost as if her mind is evaluating everything she sees. She is not sure what to make of some things, but she also doesn't hesitate to experience them. I wonder what she is thinking and what she will remember.

When I look at this it reminds me of a birthday party my parents had for me when I turned, I think, 3 years old. The circus theme party was held in my grandparents basement and (as always) my parents outdid themselves with real Barnum and Bailey posters, cool invitations, goodie bags, and games. I was wearing a navy blue and white sailor dress and had a white bow in my hair. At some point during the party my father left and a little while later a clown came to entertain the kids. I am told that when I looked at him I said, "You have the same color eyes as my Daddy." What you don't know is that my dad has these amazing light green eyes. I didn't know it was him inside the clown costume, but it is pretty cool that I made that connection!

Friday, January 4, 2008

8 weeks and still waiting...

Today marks 8 weeks that our case has been in PGN. That is the time when most people start looking for an "OUT", a PGN decree, which states that the Guatemalan government has approved the adoption. I called PGN today hoping for good news. Laura (see photo) unfortunately couldn't give me any. She did say that they are a little behind schedule due to the holidays and that Barrios is in the process of reviewing and signing cases that were submitted at the end of October. This was confirmed by my agency who said they are getting PGN decrees for their clients who went in around October 29th and 30th. We entered PGN on November 9th so it looks like at least another week to 10 days before I can inquire again. Patience, patience...

Just look at that can I wait any longer?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sweet dreams

Do you ever wonder what babies and animals dream about? With Summer it was probably swimming or chasing rabbits and squirrels. Luckily, she never caught one in real life...although she did have three bunnies cornered in our garage once!

What could Grace be dreaming about? Grace looks so peaceful in these pictures. I hope all her dreams are good ones!My favorite time of the day when we visited Grace was when she woke up in the morning. She would just open her eyes and look around at the new day and her new surroundings in the hotel. Grace was such a good baby. She entertained herself by stretching, babbling, and playing with her hands and feet. She didn't cry and just waited until one of us came to get her - which wasn't long since we all wanted to play with her!