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Saturday, July 29, 2006

DNA On Its Way!

Things have been busy busy busy in our lives lately. So busy that I haven't had a chance to give the latest update!

I got a temporary promotion at work which means lots more responsibility and a little more money. It also means lots more hours that I have to spend at work. After putting in 12 hours on Tuesday, I was rather spent but stumbled into our home office to check my email. Around 4:45 our case worker had sent us an update! I am accustomed to checking my email every couple of minutes and started kicking myself immediately that I hadn't had time to check it for hours and there had been an email about our adoption in there.

Our file had been resubmitted to PGN with the updated medical report on July 12th. I am quite happy about this even though I know it will get kicked out again because the DNA was not finished. I am just slightly confused as to why the information is so late getting to us. On July 17th we got an email telling us that our file had been kicked out the first time and that it would be resubmitted "by the end of the week". However, our file had already been resubmitted by the time we got the email. PGN is supposed to have a file reviewed and some sort of verdict about whether it is accepted or there are previos (errors) with it within three business days. The two big complaints about PGN are that they go way over their three day time limit and they kick things out for previos that they seem to make up on the spot.

The big news is that something is brewing with our DNA. We don't quite know what yet. Our case worker sent us a form that she wanted us to fill out and fax back ASAP, within the hour if possible. As I mentioned the email was sent at 4:45. I didn't look at the email until after 9:30. I begged Greg with what energy I had left in me to take me back to work yet again. He convinced me I should just go to bed and fax it in first thing in the morning since no one would be looking at it or doing anything with it at 9:30 at night. Of course I didn't sleep at all and got to the office close to 6:30 the next morning to fax it in.

The form was credit card information for the lab that will be performing the DNA test so the lab can charge us for the test. As far as we were told, as of Tuesday we didn't have the DNA authorization. There was some bit of paperwork that needed to be redone because it had expired (which tends to happen when the DNA authorization was supposed to be done MONTHS ago). That paperwork was to be redone any minute and as soon as it was, they wanted to have our credit card information on file to move on with the test. Greg checked his credit card statement online on Wednesday and it had already been charged for the cost of the test. Unfortunately this doesn't mean much. Apparently we pay, then the DNA kit is delivered to the doctor to perform the test, and then the test is actually scheduled to be done. I just keep trying to remind myself that every step, no matter how minor, is a step closer to getting Marcus home.

And now I must be stepping out. I have to head back to work... on a Saturday evening. It is all for Marcus though! Any extra money I make from these extra hours is going right towards bringing him home to us.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Where We Are

We just received our latest update. It was packed full of information but, as usual, I still feel like nothing has been accomplished. As for the DNA authorization, still nothing. Not even news about why it is we have gotten nowhere with this. My best conclusion is that the authorization must be submitted out of the US Embassy and it is pretty well-known among the adoption community that the US Embassy in Guatemala does not function as it should. (For more information on this read the blog below titled Hello Friends and Family.) Our case worker said that she hopes to have information next week on how the DNA authorization is coming along.

The good news is that despite the holdup with the DNA authorization, things are moving along as best as they can. Our file was submitted to PGN and has been kicked out already. PGN is the Guatemalan court. Our file must be approved by PGN in order for our adoption to be completed. Basically getting approval from PGN is a huge sigh of relief and the last major step of the adoption. As I stated, our file was kicked out. This is quite typical. Files are usually kicked out a numerous times for numerous reasons pertaining to deficiencies in the paperwork. Some of these deficiencies are major (parts of paperwork missing) and other are trivial. Our file got kicked out requesting updated medical information for Marcus. Our case worker informed us that this medical report will hopefully be obtained and our file resubmitted by the end of the week (which means more information and pictures for us!).

Our file will get kicked out again because at this point our file is not complete. We are still missing our pre-approval, which is the document that is obtained from a successful DNA match. The attorneys that work with our agency feel that they should submit the file without the DNA pre-approval so that any other deficiencies are caught early on and once the file is submitted with the pre-approval there will (hopefully) be minimal problems. Of course there is really no way of knowing how many times we will get kicked out of PGN or how much paperwork we will have to resubmit.

That is where we are.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Wishful Thinking

Despite my total silliness yesterday, what has really gotten me through this week was a statement from our case worker. She said that we should expect to get a case update this week. I have been patient. I have been waiting. And I have only been checking my email every 6 minutes instead of every 5 minutes like usual. As you can imagine, I was rather excited to see an email from our case worker bright and early this morning. That was until I read it. She will be out of the office today through the weekend. Looks like we won't be getting update this week.

But now I have Monday to look forward to for potential news!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wildest Dream

I have discovered the need of certain survival mechanisms to make it through the adoption process. Most of them are quite silly and ridiculous, but would you really expect anything less from me? One such mechanism is calculating how many more months we need to save money to be able to afford to adopt a little brother or sister for Marcus. I know, silly. Particularly because Marcus isn't even home yet. However, it gives me some incentive to get me to come to work everyday, and makes me feel better about the time I am going to be at work instead of at home with Marcus. Only eight more months to have enough money! (Okay, so that will only work if we can get free trips to Guatemala to visit and pick up Marcus because I didn't bother to factor that part in.)

Yesterday while watching Oprah, I had this sudden flash of a daydream. I have let it materialize into a wild fantasy which of course I had to write out in great detail. Laugh if you want. But then sit back and admit that you all have these crazy fantasies too, you just aren't brave enough to write them out and post them on the internet. Only someone as silly and ridiculous as me would do something like that. So here it is:

There I was, lying on my couch, watching Oprah and the doorbell rings. A little irritated that I have to miss part of the show I make my way to do the door. I cant believe what I see. Standing there is Oprah with her filming crew! I start to cry because that is just what I do. Then I hug her. She asks me what I am doing and I tell her that I was watching Oprah! Then she tells me that someone informed her that I have a slight infatuation with Africa and elephants and she wants to see my collection. I give her a quick tour, saying little because I am so nervous and the cameras are rolling (and my hair is a mess!). Then Oprah tells me that she wants to make my dream come true and she has arranged to fly me to Africa for a safari to actually see elephants in the wild like I have always dreamed of. I have 20 minutes to pack. Because my mind always thinks way too logically I tell her I cant go without Greg. Then, getting off the Wildest Dreams bus comes Greg. He knew all about it! However, I tell her I cant go and just leave Peyote, my dog. Then Amanda comes off the bus! Oprah had picked her up and she agreed to watch Peyote while I take this trip. The packing frenzy begins and Greg and I are running around like crazy, throwing things into suitcases while Oprah barks at us, telling us things we cant forget to pack. "You have shorts? Throw in something a little dressy in case! Got sunscreen? Should probably put in a bathing suit too. Go go go!!" We all get on the bus - Oprah, film crew, Greg, Amanda, and Peyote. We make a stop to drop off Amanda and Peyote. Then we are off to the airport to get on Oprah's private plane. It is then that it hits me. I cant just go. I have a job! But my mind is put at ease because Oprah tells me that her producers contacted the HR department and arranged for me to take some time off work. But wait! I was supposed to meet up with Val in a few hours to go to Brian's. I call Val. "Umm... Val... Yeah... I am not going to be able to make it tonight... I am so sorry... But you are not going to believe what is happening. I am going to Africa! ...yeah... really! I am sitting here next to - you aren't going to believe this - next to Oprah! She came to my house and now we are on the way to the airport to catch a plane to Africa for a safari!!... No I couldn't make this up... Here, let me put Oprah on the phone." Oprah talks to Val for a few minutes and when she hangs up I realize I need to call my parents! Oprah tells me to hold off a bit, we are almost to the airport and I can call them when we are in the air. Could this really be happening? I look at Greg and he is just smiling seeing me so happy.

We get to the airport, drive right up to Oprah's plane, and quickly we all get out of Wildest Dreams bus and make our way onto the plane. (Of course the plane is draped with a banner that says, "Welcome to your Wildest Dream, Annie".) I have never been on such a luxurious plane. The seats are huge, leather with more leg room then I have in my own family room. We take our seats and instantly people are at our sides offering drinks, snacks, or even a meal if we are that hungry. I cant even think, let alone eat! The excitement starts to subside, just slightly, and I remember to breathe again. The plane begins to move, starts to taxi its way out to the runway, and in no time we are in the air and on our way. And that is about the time when everything changes yet again.

Oprah approaches Greg and me and explains that she is really sorry, but she lied. We are actually not going to Africa because she knows that that is really not my Wildest Dream. My Wildest Dream is something so much simpler yet something so much more dear to my heart than anything else in the world. I look at Greg for some clarification but he looks as dumbfounded as I am. He says he thought we were going to Africa. That is what he was told. Oprah says that no, we are going somewhere completely different. We are going to Guatemala to complete the adoption of our son Marcus.

My heart stops.

I am able to take one big cleansing breath and when I let it out, it comes out in a huge sob of joy that I never knew could have existed.

The rest of the flight is a blur. I cry. I laugh. I call my parents and Greg call his. I worry. We aren't ready! We hadn't packed any of this things!

don't worry, Oprah says. Everything is being taken care of. When we arrive we will be showered with clothing and diapers and anything else that we might need for our stay. And as we spoke, yet another crew of Oprah's people were at our house, unloading all the things we had registered for, assembling what needed assembled, and preparing the nursery so we could just come home with Marcus and enjoy being a family. The tears start again but I know that none of what I am feeling would even be comparable to the moment when Marcus is placed in our arms.

We touch down in Guatemala and take another bus together to the hotel where we are be staying. Like an instinct that only a mother could have, as soon I walk into the lobby my eyes move towards the woman that is holding my son. I just know it is her. And I know it is him. He is placed in my arms. I thought I was out of tears but there they are again. I am filled with love that I never imagined could exist. Greg and I hold on to each other and to Marcus and know that we would never let go.

But the story doesn't stop there. Oprah introduces us to our interpreter and we get to talk to the foster mom for a bit. Oprah tells us of the plans that she has arranged during our stay in Guatemala. The following day we have to go to court to make the adoption official. We have several days to just hang out and get to know each other and one day of site-seeing around Guatemala. And then we will return. Then she announces even more good news. She is giving Marcus a full scholarship to any college he wants to attend in the years ahead of his bright and fulfilling future. I felt surrounded by love and riches but really only had one thing to thank Oprah for. I hug her and thank her for making my wildest dream come true - I am a mother.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Staying Sane

I have come to realize that staying sane during this process is a complete impossibility. Today I am okay. Most days I can't even think straight. I try not to think too much about the adoption but that is the only thing on my mind. Last week I was really sad, so sad that I couldn't even write about it. I didn't really want people asking me questions, talking about the adoption, telling me that I could talk to them, which is exactly what I am sure everyone who reads this would have said. I would have done the same thing to a friend going through it all. I just wanted it to pass and knew that it would. No one has any idea what it is like unless they have been through it. And even if they have been through it I don't know if there are really any words that would make it better. I have faith that Marcus is getting great care, that he is being well loved and well feed. However, my heart aches to know that someone else is doing those things when I think it should be Greg and me.

No more news. We are still waiting for the DNA authorization. I can't think about it much because it will only make me mad. Someone on a message board I was reading said that you can't really compare your adoption to anyone else's because everyone's is different. That doesn't keep me from doing it though. On the one message board the girl fretted and complained about her DNA authorization taking forever. She had the test authorized and completed in 9 weeks. This is week 10 for us and we haven't even gotten the authorization. Our case worker said we should have case updates this week and already I am imagining my relief when I see the test has been authorized, at least I hope I see that.

Greg and I have been involved in tons of activities to help keep our insanity at a mild level. Here are a few of the highlights:

1) I have been reading this incredible book, Born in Our Hearts. I recommend it to anyone who has ever been touched by adoption. It is a collection of short essays written from every aspect of adoption - parents, adoptees, birth mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of adopted siblings, grandparents... It is so easy to read since each essay is only a couple of pages. It is filled with miracles, heartaches, and joy. In one essay I read over the weekend, the author mentioned that she didn't choose adoption, but like most parents of adopted children will tell you, adoption choose them. When I think back to all the influences in my life that have lead me down this road, I truly believe that. It was the best decision I didn't have to make!

2) Greg and I took a trip to Babies R Us to test drive a couple of strollers. I have been in love with this one particular stroller for awhile and I think we are going to go with it. It was mostly fun seeing Greg look at each stroller, talking about babies, and being excited about something that didn't involve computers or Steelers.

3) We bought a couple sets of crib sheets and a dust ruffle. The only sheets that I liked were at Babies R Us and they were pretty much the only thing on my registry there. I figured we should just pick them up and eliminate the registry there. (My other registries are at Target and Wal-Mart, since I know all of you want to buy Marcus things!) I told Greg that all we need now is a crib... and a car seat and diapers and wipes... and a baby.

4) I have been making a Life Book. I think I might have mentioned it before. Basically it is a scrapbook for Marcus that tells the story of how he came to us. It is a lot of work but I cant wait for it to be done and he gets to see it. I don't know if it will truly ever be done though. I may just continue to add things to it as he grows and achieves things.

5) Greg and I might take a trip to Kennywood this week. I told him we better go because this is likely our last chance to ride all the roller coasters until we throw up until Marcus is at least as big as Jeeters. Besides, there is nothing like Potato Patch Fries and being nauseous to make you excited about your expanding family.

6) Greg painted the drawers for the dresser that is going to be in Marcus's room. It was a wood finish and he is going to paint the whole thing white to match the rest of the furniture (that we don't have yet).


Monday, July 03, 2006

Case Update! New Pictures! And a name!

I have been getting pretty good at keeping secrets. It has now been 10 days since we got new medical information and pictures and I haven't mentioned it! I was getting rather depressed, just knowing that our little boy was growing and changing so much and we couldn't even get pictures to document his changes. Then there they were. Things must have gotten held up at the pediatrician office in Guatemala because two Friday's ago we got medical reports and pictures for both May and June. I cried when I saw the email, before I even opened it. I was just so relieved and excited.

Everything looks good. Perhaps I am biased, but I really don't know how someone could look at his picture and not fall in love with those big brown eyes and those cute cheeks. The doctor's report said that he is growing and gaining weight well (in Guatemala, they tend to have fat babies). He is up to 13.7 lbs and 22 inches long.

We waited to share this information because we wanted to surprise our families with it first. We had a belated Father's Day celebration yesterday. Both dads got one of the new framed pictures. I also planned an art project. I have discovered lately that a nursery isn't a nursery unless the child's name is spelled out on the wall. Several of the family members helped to paint a letter. When we were all done we put the letters together to spell out his name. And what will that name be?


We are naming our son Marcus Enrique. (Enrique was the name his birth parents gave him.) If you want to see all his new pictures and the art project, check them out at http://www.gkline.com/photos/?album=Marcus%20Pics%201