Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The hardest thing I have had to do

I have had to jump through some pretty big hoops to get to the point of bringing Grace home. Some, like the parenting and CPR classes and the fire inspection of my home were things that every parent should do. Others were just plain bizarre like submitting to psychological testing and writing a heterosexuality statement. I did them all willingly because I knew they were just formalities and each one brought me one step closer to Grace. But tonight, I did the hardest task so far...installing the car seat. Really, this was a nightmare that took me at least 2 hours and I am STILL not confident that it is installed correctly. I did it over and over. (All in 30 degree temperature and the light of one lightbulb in the garage.) I kept going back to the instruction book and my car owner's manual. I even highlighted parts I thought were important. After two hours and multiple attempts, it feels secure, but, who knows? I had heard the police or fire departments will check it for you once it is in the car. Not in my city. Or any of the surrounding areas. When you call they just say, "We don't do that anymore." So I thought the Nissan dealership might be able to help. No. No one there seems to know how to do it correctly or at least they don't seem to want to commit. I can understand. After all, it is a big deal to install a car seat - someone is going to put their baby in it and trust that it will keep her safe. There has to be a huge liability issue. But, wow. Talk about feeling vulnerable. If I did it correctly - great. She will ride safely and in comfort until it is time to change it to facing forward. (I hope she doesn't grow too fast!) And, there would be great satisfaction in knowing that I accomplished this on my own. But the truth is, you never know if it is not installed correctly until there is an accident and a tragedy I can't even allow myself to think about. So, from March 11th on, every time I strap her into the seat, I will say a little prayer that she will be safe and that we will get to our destination without any problems.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I love snow days!

The good news is, we have another snow day today. The bad news is that I was already awake and out of the shower when I found out. So I can't go back to sleep now. But I am a big fan of naps, so you know there will be one coming later this afternoon. Snow days are so is like found time. I had so much to get done today at work, but now I can actually type the teacher observations I have been postponing for the last week. Well, let's be fair...I will probably type ONE of them.

Since I am awake I thought I would post something I haven't shared with anyone to date. Part of the adoption process included completing a Foreign Dossier. It is a series of documents about me and my life, including the social worker's report, financial information, and what the agency called a "Kodak moment". I had to create a one page photo collage to include with my paperwork. The most critical part of it was that the Guatemalan officials needed to see the exterior and every room in my house. So this is the 8 1/2" X 11", 2-sided "Kodak moment" I submitted.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pretty in PINK

We finally have "PINK" - our electronic pink slip from the US Embassy with that all important date of our visa interview appointment. It is set for March 7th at 7:15 in the morning. I couldn't be happier...and excited...and (as my friend who is also adopting said yesterday) "so nervous I could throw up"! But it is a good nervous.

That's all I have time for now. I have to go accomplish some of the 25 things on my "to do" list!

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Juliet

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says the following to Romeo:
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet...

reminding us that WHO a person is matters more than what they are called. I had the same experience with Grace on Saturday. I received the first document where she officially and legally had my last name! (Okay, that is pretty cool!) It was the DNA results from the lab and it was great to see her picture (a Polaroid of her sitting up like a big girl in the waiting room) and know that it is now just a matter of weeks until she will be home forever. The DNA confirmed that she is the same person they tested in June - it was a 100% identical match.

It doesn't matter what she is called - Grace, her birth name, my last name, another last name - I know she is that same little girl I fell in love with from a picture and a video almost 9 months ago. I didn't need the DNA results to tell me that!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's a Match!

It's no surprise that Grace's second DNA sample matched the first one taken last June. The results were confirmed by LabCorp in North Carolina today and the hard copy of the report is on its way back to the US Embassy in Guatemala. My agency says, once the embassy receives the DNA confirmation, it takes about 72 business hours to issue a PINK slip - the notification of my embassy appointment to finalize the US portion of Grace's adoption and entrance into the United States.

Since Monday is a holiday, we should hear from the Embassy by the end of next week and are looking at the beginning of March for a travel date.

Things are moving fast now, but I am ready to go get my little girl!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Favorite Foto Friday

This is a picture of the new friends we made on our first visit trip in September.
From left to right the cuties are:
Luke - going home to Twinsburg, Ohio
Alaina - going home to Michigan
Grace - (just look at that hair!)
Emma - going home to Pittsburg, PA
Elizabeth - going home to Florida
Mya - already home in Twinsburg, Ohio (she and Luke will be siblings!)
Jordan - already home in Houston, Texas

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

DNA on its way!

When you have been involved in a process as long at this (16 months so far!) policies and procedures are bound to change to improve the overall system. For example one thing that changed is the requirement of a 2nd DNA test on children relinquished for adoption.

"Effective August 6, 2007, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala will require a second DNA test, to verify that the adopted child for whom an immigrant visa is being requested is the same child matched at the beginning of the adoption process with the birth parent. The Embassy is taking this step in response to concerns about the unregulated adoption process in that country."

Unlike the first DNA test which verified that the mother giving Grace up for adoption was actually her birth mother, this one verifies that Grace is the same baby that was relinquished by the birth mother in the first DNA test.

My agency has notified me that my lawyer has presented the finalized paper work to the US Embassy in Guatemala, and they have given their authorization for the DNA test to be performed. In Guatemalan adoption circles this step is known as ORANGE because the authorization is supposedly written on an orange piece of paper.

I have received pictures all along and there is no question that there was no "baby switching" in our case. Take a look....what do you think?
3 days old
4 1/2 months old
6 months old

Monday, February 4, 2008

Baby steps

My agency called today to set up a "travel appointment". This is actually just a 30 minute phone call where they go through the specific details for the pick-up trip and assist me with the government forms I need to complete before the trip. This is good news! Every day brings us one baby step closer to Grace!