Thursday, September 30, 2004


A few weeks ago, we thought we were on the verge of traveling to Guatemala to bring Kevin home. For various reasons, that didn't work out. Neither did each day or few days in between then and now when we thought, "This time is it!" Now that we know we're leaving in 2 days (that's the day after tomorrow, for crying out loud!) I can't get very excited.

I thought I was just depressed that we weren't going sooner this week. Then I thought I must have a subconscious thought that things won't work out. Then I wondered if maybe I'm stuffing my feelings down inside so that I can function this week while working and finalizing important details of our trip.

I believe I have the answer now and it's none of the above. I think my excitement level peaked through those other weeks when I thought we were going. Now I have no excitement energy left for the real thing.

Granted, the knots that have started growing in my stomach during the first few hours of my last day at work for awhile are proof that I do have emotions and that I'm going to be hyper about the trip, but I wonder if it won't be more of a nervous anxiety about the details rather than pure excitement of meeting and bringing Kevin home. Well, either way, I'm due for a migraine afterward - my head is an equal-opportunity stress thermometer - good stress, bad stress... it's all stress.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

We really are leaving this time

We're leaving for Guatemala in 3 days! This Saturday, 10/2, we'll head to Guatemala City and we'll return to Maryland on Wednesday, 10/6. That's a longer-than-necessary trip because we're having work done on our house next Tuesday and Wednesday and this way we won't be returning in the middle of it.

We plan to go to the Embassy on Monday to get Kevin's visa. The rest of the time we'll be laughing and smiling and playing and... well, there will probably also be lots of crying, maybe some screaming, and all that jazz. But, it will all be worthwhile and we're looking forward to it. We're packed and ready to go except for a couple of small errands to do at the last minute.

Monday, September 27, 2004


Yesterday afternoon, the thought crossed my mind that maybe Kevin wouldn't need the bed rail that we bought for him. Or that maybe he'll just need it to feel safe, more closed-in.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night a fraction of a second before crashing into the floor. I rolled off the bed in my sleep.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

He's been our son for 21 days

It turns out we were waiting for Kevin's birth certificate. The attorney had to apply to the Civil Registry in Kevin's birth city to have a new birth certificate issued with our last name as his and with our names listed as his parents. Apparently, this took a week longer than the attorney expected. He finally received it yesterday. I thought that meant he'd be able to apply for our pink slip to travel but, no, it just means that now he has all of the papers ready for translation. I have no idea how long that takes. I decided not to ask.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

When are we leaving? (Part 2)

See Part 1 here. To make a long story short... We don't know when we're leaving!

Don't tell our agency, but I already booked our flights. They're unrestricted tickets so that we can change them without penalty. And we will have to change them, but maybe only the return date. That depends on what we hear today, which could be the same as we've heard for the past few days - "Any day now! We just need this one paper to come through!" Grrr....

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Serial Dream

For the past few nights, I've had dreams of our trip to meet Kevin. Each night the dream goes a little farther and last night's took me all the way to meeting Kevin and a little beyond! I woke up excited and peaceful (vs. excited and anxious or nervous) because the meeting went smoothly and Kevin took to us fairly quickly, at least enough to seem comfortable with us. After the meeting, the dream moved to a short time after and we were in another location. Kevin was in a separate room from us and we heard a thud and then he screamed. I ran in and saw he had pinched his hand in something and my brain registered that there was nothing I could do for him because he'd just have a bruise. Then I realized that I could give him a hug! So I held him and rocked him and his tears subsided and I felt like the luckiest woman alive to have him in my arms and to be able to soothe him. I eventually handed him over to Andy's lap and he got some snuggle time, too.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The I's Have It

This morning I stepped outside to survey the damage from the remnant of Hurricane Ivan. It's only a nameless storm now, packing winds describable as a strong breeze. There are no tree limbs down in our yard and the electricity is still on. The rain stopped falling sometime early this morning.

To the folks south of us, this nameless storm spawned a flurry of tornadoes. In Central and Northern Virginia and a few areas in Maryland there were multiple tornadoes yesterday afternoon and evening. It was scary as we watched the radar maps on the TV to see the many pockets of strong storms with torrential rains and seeing how many of them had circular air patterns that could easily turn into more tornadoes. Peoples' homes are devastated.

Last year on this day, I stepped outside to survey the damage from Hurricane Isabel, who was a tropical storm when she blew through our area. She left a mess here. We had tree limbs down, no electricity for 5 days (that was a new experience for me), and folks on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries suffered serious flooding.

How many events indicate a pattern? I'm not sure that 2 is enough - so here's hoping that next year's storm during the 3rd week of September isn't Ingrid, Ivana, Ira, or Ian.

P.S. As I prepare to post this message, our lights are flickering and the rain has begun falling again.

Friday, September 17, 2004

I Don't Have A Crystal Meth Lab In My Basement (in case Wal-Mart is wondering)

I went to Wal-Mart last night to pick up some supplies for our trip to Guatemala. I also needed to get some medicine for Andy who has a cold brewing in his head. We really don't want to be sick for our trip.

I got 2 packs of daytime cold relief, a pack of nighttime cold relief, a bottle of Mucinex for myself (which I previously wrote about), and a bottle of children's decongestant for Kevin. The cashier got a message when the bottle of children's medicine scanned. She tried it again, read the message more completely, and then set the bottle to the side. She told me my total amount due. I asked what happened to the medicine. She said she couldn't sell it to me. "Why not?" "Because it's against federal law." "But it was on your shelf. What is illegal about it?" She replied that I can't buy more than 3 cold medicine products at one time. She handed me the bottle and said that I could go to another register and buy it there. I paid for my purchases and told her to keep the bottle of children's decongestant, wondering whether I had bought too many different kinds of medication or too many boxes total?

I found out on the Web today that there is a federal law against purchasing a certain amount of products containing pseudoephedrine at one time. This is supposed to curb the home-brewing of crystal methamphetamine. I also found this comment in an article in the Des Moines Register:

Congress in 1996 passed the Methamphetamine Control Act, requiring retailers to keep records and report on anyone buying a certain amount of pseudoephedrine. To avoid paperwork, many retailers set their own limits on the number of packages that can be purchased at a time. Some have cash registers programmed to notify clerks when the limit is passed.

I must've crossed Wal-Mart's threshold in the number of boxes of medications containing pseudoephedrine (Mucinex doesn't contain it.) I guess I should've just gotten a bigger box of the daytime cold relief instead of 2 smaller boxes and then I could've purchased the children's medication, too. And then I'd be able to make even more crystal meth.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

When are we leaving?

The lawyer told our agency that our "pink slip" (which gives us permission to visit the Embassy to get Kevin's visa) will be requested Friday or Monday. This means that we will likely travel to Guatemala next Wednesday (if the slip is requested tomorrow) or Saturday (if the slip is requested on Monday.) Yeehaw!

P.S. We'll find out Friday evening whether the pink slip was requested or not so that's when we'll know what day to make our airline reservations for.

My favorite picture of Kevin so far. He's such a cutie! Posted by Hello

This is our son, Kevin, with his foster mother. August 2004 Posted by Hello

That's our little guy in the blue fleece jacket. He apparently likes lollipops! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The hope on my wrist

I'm wearing a bracelet that I purchased from the Watoto Children's Choir on Sunday. It is beaded with a leather backing. It doesn't match my clothes, but I chose it because it has orange beads in it, which remind me of the bright-colored clothing that the kids and adults of Watoto wore when they came to our church.

I found out from Watoto's website that the jewelry and dolls they sell are made by the women of the Masai tribe in Kenya. Wow... the bracelet touching my wrist was touched by African women in their homeland. Buying this offers them support. And it serves as a reminder to me to pray for them and for the children of Watoto whose parents have died from AIDS.

This bracelet may not match my clothes, but it serves a far greater purpose than fashion.

Happy Independence Day, Central America!

Today is Independence Day in Central America, including Guatemala, where Kevin is. To our adoption process, this means that all of the offices are closed for the day and no business will be transacted. To our hearts, this means that our son will be celebrating with his fellow countrymen, steeped in his birth culture. We wish we could be there to join the celebration, but this year finds us on our home soil, trying to save our vacation days. Perhaps another year we will travel to Guatemala to celebrate a holiday or two. In the meantime, we'll make due with celebrating our son's birth country in our country.

I pray that our lives reflect a constant celebration of our own cultures and those around the world. We are, after all, each of us human and we share more common threads than differences.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Watoto Children's Choir

We had the privilege at church this morning to welcome the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda, Africa. The children of Watoto Child Care are orphans of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. They sing and dance in praise of Jesus and were such a joy to watch and meet.

Check out their website for more info:

Friday, September 10, 2004

Attaching, Bonding, Loving, Hating

On one of the large Guatemala adoption email lists, I've read stories in the past couple of days of parents adopting toddlers (rather than infants, which is much more often the case in that country) and there are some very difficult situations going on out there. This doesn't surprise me as I've read quite a bit of literature on the issues related to attachment in adoptions. Granted, attachment issues exist in biological relationships as well, but difficult or missing attachments are far more prevalent in adoptive relationships and that is what affects us, so that is what I'm concerned with.

We have to be prepared (or at least not be surprised) for Kevin to hate us - to kick and scream and cry because he is with us. I'm not suggesting that I know what's going to happen, but we should be prepared for the worst. Much of the screaming and fighting in this circumstance is from grief. This is clearly expected as the child is being pulled away from the people, smells, sights, and sounds that he is familiar with. In the pictures that we've seen of Kevin, he appears very happy and in love with his foster mother. I can bet that he'll be devastated to leave her.

Now consider a child who has had multiple caregivers in their short life. They may bond with the latest caregiver by learning to rely on that person for their needs - food, shelter, hugs, etc. It's possible, though, that the child will not actually attach to the caregiver on a deep level because the child has learned (unconsciously but realistically, nonetheless) that caregivers eventually leave. There is a much deeper sense of trust that is necessary for true, healthy, and complete attachment to occur. Often children in this situation will test the limits of the relationship. After a certain amount of time in a new home, the child will stop acting as if on a "honeymoon" and will act out to test the relationship. All previous caregivers have left, why won't this one? The adopted child may have an extended period of testing during which s/he has to learn to fully and completely trust the new parents not to leave.

Attachment isn't about a simple bond of knowing how to behave with someone in order to have needs met. Nor is it about what a child remembers on a conscious level from their first years of life - it's about the learned behaviors that can be ingrained in a person without the person having the capacity to realize what was learned.

I go back and forth between hoping that all will be perfect when we meet Kevin to being very worried at the possibility of him being distraught by our presence and his foster mother's absence. I can't begin to guess where on the spectrum Kevin's behavior will fall, but I do know that we will be up against forces we've not seen before. I expect that only other parents know how it is to see your child suffering in grief or to not be able to trust on a deep level. We'll be members of that group soon enough.

Legal Parentage

It's hard to believe, but we are officially, legally Kevin's parents. The final adoption decree was signed by the Guatemalan court and picked up by our lawyer yesterday. According to Guatemalan and US law, we are Kevin's parents! That's pretty heavy stuff. And pretty weird considering that we've never met the child.

It will take up to 2 weeks for the attorney to gather up all of the papers (new birth certificate, passport, etc.) that need to be submitted to the US Embassy in Guatemala City so that we can go there and get Kevin's visa. It is likely that we'll travel the weekend of Sept 25th and stay for a few days, probably going to the Embassy early that week. We found out yesterday that we can go to Guatemala before Embassy Day and have Kevin with us. We just can't leave the country because he won't have traveling papers. We won't go so early that we use up much of our vacation time because we'd like to use as much of that at home as possible. That way the 3 of us will be together as long as possible fitting into our new routine.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I have the coolest husband

I know, you're all thinking, "No, *I* have the coolest husband" (or maybe, "I *am* the coolest husband"). But I have the coolest husband for me. And I'm sure you have (are) the coolest husband for you (your wife.)

I tease Andy for being creative and artistic and thoughtful, but only because we know that we're very different in those aspects. There are times, like last night, that I really appreciate his creative ways.

He developed a "contemplative evening" for our bible study group. Instead of sharing how our weeks went and then discussing something that we all read, we spent time in contemplation. Andy set up 7 stations around our house with guidelines of things to think about. Most, if not all, of us enjoyed the time in various ways. For some it was nice to be alone and quiet, for others it was nice to hear from God, and for others it was a chance to deeply reflect on the state of their life.

I think it was obvious to all that Andy worked hard to set up space and time to maximize the possibility of an encounter with God. And I think it was obvious that God was in that space and time.

Thanks, Andy. Thanks, God.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

In the past few years, what has God given you?

This question was posed to us in our bible study group last week.

God gave me silence. Not my own, but His. I know that some people think that He's always near and always talking to us but that we do things to push him away or not listen. I believe that's often the case but not always.

Recently, I've heard God again. He didn't come back quietly or slowly, He just returned to His conversation with me as if no time had passed since the last time He spoke to me. I don't know why that's the case, nor am I clear as to why He was silent. I thought I knew before, but that understanding doesn't jive with how and when He came back.

Either way, I'm happy to hear Him again and to feel His presence.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Praying Friends

Our bible study group read and discussed an excerpt from St. Francis of Assisi's writings in which he mentioned a decision that he had trouble making, so he enlisted the help of two of his good friends, Claire and someone else (sorry, I don't have the book with me to jog my memory.) He asked them to pray about the matter and said that he'd act upon whatever answers God told them. And he did! We discussed what a bold move that was to rely on what God told other people to make a life-changing decision. Most (maybe all?) of us had never done that before.

I have my own Claire story. My friends Karin and Magy are planning a shower for me and they couldn't start working on it until we had the DNA results. After the test, the threat of the adoption falling through decreases dramatically. So, Karin and Magy talked through figuring out a date to hold the shower. The first available for both of them to be there was October 23rd. I thought that was cutting it close to when we'd travel, so we tried to come up with an alternate plan. That didn't work out, so we decided to stick with Oct 23rd with the caveat that it could be rescheduled if we got called to travel at that time.

Then another snafu came up - that weekend is my grandmother's 100th birthday. I surely don't want my party to compete with celebrating her! Magy said that we shouldn't stress anyone out, especially my family, so we'll work with whatever we have. A call to my aunt and the decision to work around the shower settled us back to Oct 23rd. In the meantime, Magy said, "I was praying about the date of this shower this morning and then I suddenly realized that Kevin's going to be here for it anyway, so why rush?" Funny thing... I felt the same way that morning, but I didn't trust myself. Hearing Magy say that she heard from God was an entirely different deal. I thought of Claire and St. Francis and tucked the thought away. Then we got the call yesterday and I called Claire - I mean, Magy - on the phone and told her the news!

God's Timing isn't always about having to wait longer

We were expecting to get a status update next week to find out whether our case has moved out of Family Court yet and into the PGN. Instead, we received a phone call yesterday telling us that our case has been approved by the PGN!

Today or monday, our lawyer will receive the final adoption decree (which makes Kevin legally our child) and then it takes about 2 weeks to take care of some other paperwork, such as getting Kevin's new birth certificate with us as his parents and our last name as his and his Guatemalan passport for traveling. After that, the lawyer applies for our pink slip which denotes that we're allowed to go to the Embassy in Guatemala. It takes 48 hours for the pink slip to be issued (not including Friday, Saturday, Sunday.) When we are notified that the pink slip has been requested, then we'll make our travel plans for a few days later based on when the pink slip is likely to be issued. Our coordinaor told us to expect with 95% certainty that we'll be traveling in 3-4 weeks.