Well, yesterday I got a chance to go into the city w/ a couple of other moms. We went to PriceSmart, a guatemalan chain owned by Sams/Walmart. Strangely, it was the most I've felt like home since I've been here. It was so encouraging to see Eliot sitting in a shopping cart as I tool through the store looking at brands from home. Then just outside the store, there was a Payless. I happen to be in that odd place in life where seeing a Payless Shoe Store is like having coffee w/ an old friend from high school. To celebrate feeling normal, I bought a pair of bright red flats.
Upon coming home, I got the news that our case got another previo. A quick review: previo means kick-out. This is bad, very bad. It means the Guatemalan government finds something unsatisfiying about our paperwork. This brings our total to 7. Most cases receive 1-2 if any at all. We're pretty sure we now hold the record. Russ and I are asking a million questions of our agency and our lawyer but there's only so much that will do. They are hoping to be able to get us back into PGN early next week but after that the average wait to hear anything is 4-8 weeks. Our hope of getting Eliot home before his birthday seems like a joke.
So, how do people deal w/ devasting news when there's a baby to take care of? Can I lay in bed all day and mope? Yeah right. Can I grasp at retail therapy? Not when there's formula and diapers to buy and a limited budget. Can I yell and throw things? Not when there's a sleeping baby in the same room. Oddly, I put on my red shoes and cry. A lot. Can I at least pretend this isn't happening and that I'll be putting Eliot in a shopping cart at the Sam's behind my house like it's a day of running errands?
This seems to be a never ending cycle. Kickout, followed by a fixed file returned to PGN, the reviewer on our case is hopeful and pushes it through, the lawer and facilitator get hopeful and tell us that things look good, I send home half of my things in anticipation that I won't need them because I'm coming home, I buy a huge pack of diapers thinking that this will probably be the last pack I buy in Guatemala, I dress cute each morning assuming that I'll get a special call today and pictures will be taken, and then the unthinkable happens.
This one seems to especially sting for the fact that major milestones are in line for Eliot. The milestones will still happen, just in Guatemala and probably w/o Russ. How do people do this?
On that note, by the way, those of you around Russ, please allow him some space at this time. It's easy for me to take space being that I live in Central America but Russ doesn't have that. He is busy w/ his band right now, which is a blessing. However, he will be back in STL soon.
One comfort is my suite mate, Sharon. Her case is still worse than mine, surprisingly. To hear her story go to http://txparamedic.spaces.live.com/. While the majority of our friends will be gone within the month, Sharon and Bella will still be here. Chances are high that they'll be here when we leave, even. Please send encouragments her way if you stop by her site. She thinks I'm having a Dorothy complex w/ the red shoes but she made me french toast for breakfast anyway.
"What can we do?" is the question asked the most at this point. We'll let you know soon, after we gather our thoughts and finish processing what this means for our lives.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I guess I'm just posting to give you something to read that confirms your suspicions. We haven't heard any news yet but are expecting it any day now. We're more than ready for the day that we don't wake up asking the question, "Is today the day?!" To be honest, each day that passes makes the next one harder. It seems that the closer you get to what you want, the further it feels. It also doesn't help that today marks 5 months being in Guatemala!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...(do people still say that? did they ever?) Eliot is almost over his chicken pox! He is such a good baby when it comes to being sick. He's as silly as ever and actually popped out two more teeth in the past week! He's pulling himself up as much as allowed around the house and is obsessed with trying to stand on his own.
Again, thank you for the emails of encouragement and your prayers! I'll update again as soon as we hear anything!
Thursday, April 19, 2007
No, this blog entry isn't about lettuce. Although, I can't wait to eat salads w/o praying for safety...
Okay, so in the last couple days I've been talking w/ my Guatemalan adoption facilitator about our case quite a bit. She has been very encouraging that we should here good news about PGN VERY SOON! I've been trying to hold out on blogging until then, but that could be awhile still. She has also been a little more up front w/ me about our case. Here's where the Iceberg part comes into play.
During this whole process I've not had a moment where we weren't bathed in prayer, and yet, from my perspective it seemed as though the process just kept getting worse. That created quite an uncomfortable amount of dissonance for me. For example, if God hears the prayers of his people then he must be either ignoring the hundreds of pleas or he's doing this on purpose/allowing it happen and get worse. Again, that's a tricky place to sit and wait. Well, the new perspective that I've come to after the past few conversations w/ our facilitator have aligned some of these festering questions. Apparently up until a few weeks ago, there was a very large chance that our case could have gone into 'investigation' here in Guatemala. The minimum amount of time a case stays in investigation is 6 months. It's one of the worst things that can happen to a case. Even after the six months, there's an undetermined amount of time before you are allowed to take your child home. So, here's my point. While I thought God was being passive, he was actually aggressively keeping us from a significantly worse situation. It's the Iceberg thing, where our perspective of it from the top of the water isn't even close to the enormity of the actual size. I don't think I've ever been so thankful for anything before in my life.
So, all that to say: Keep praying!! It's working!!! Hopefully w/in the next week I'll be blogging away about getting out of PGN and getting passports, etc. !!! Eliot's first birthday is May 16th and I would LOVE to be home to celebrate that!
(This picture was taken at a friend's first birthday party yesterday! Eliot was about 3 minutes away from his naptime!)
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Well, Russ left yesterday morning. I've gotten a few emails saying things like, "how are you now that Russ is gone?" or "I prayed for you all day, knowing Russ was leaving." So, how am I? Well, frankly, it sucks that he left. However, one thing I've learned in being the only care-giver to my child is that a cranky mom creates a cranky baby. So, my choices are to wallow in my self-pity and deal w/ Senor Fussypants or take on a new perspective. So, here's the new perspective: I'm over-the-top blessed. How freaking great is my husband? How amazing was it that he got to come down here for another week? How awesome was it for he and for Eliot? I'm (we're) so blessed! Am I tempted to get caught up in the self-pity, absolutely. That's where I realize that all those prayers, the ones I know about and the ones that are kept private, have come into play. A couple people have mentioned, whether they were supposed to or not, that they have a "shift" covered of when to pray for me. Apparently there was a sign-up sheet of some sort passed around by a certain Marge Marge asking people to take shifts of each day to commit to pray for us. Some people are even committed to fasting! What an amazing cloud of blessings surrounding us each day! We are being prayed for around the clock, day in and day out. On top of that miracle, I keep getting random emails that all start the same, "you don't know me but ___ has been keeping me updated on what's going on and I just wanted you to know that I've been praying for you and so has my..." It really hasn't stopped flowing! I can honestly say I've NEVER been lifted in prayer this much ever before.
Some Eliot updates: During the week that Russ was here, Eliot made some great strides. He seemed to develop a little bit more each day. He learned to high-five, how to say "yep" and nod his head yes, how to pull himself up all by himself, and he even finally cut his first tooth. While these may seem small and non-monumental to you, they're a big deal for a little guy who hasn't really been doing anything new in weeks. It just makes me wonder how fast he'll develop once we're together all as a family for real, not just visits. I think that's why he won't crawl, he's protesting until we're a family unit!
Some Case Updates: We're now at the 6 week mark of being back in PGN. Most cases get approved w/in 6-8 weeks of being back in, so we could hear any day now. They're a little behind because of Holy Week, but it's getting close. Once we get that approval, Eliot is ours as far as Guatemala is concerned. After that, it's just a matter of weeks while we take care of all the immigration stuff for the US Embassy in order to bring him home w/ out climbing a wall from Mexico.
Sorry if this ended up being on the heavy side of "God is so good", I kinda can't help it.
Monday, April 9, 2007
OK, I guess it's my turn. She insisted I write something on her blog. And I probably won't be doing this often, because let's be honest: most of you see me all the time. However, Katie thought some of you might wanna read a couple quick thoughts from my perspective, so here goes...
Right now I'm sitting on the patio on the roof of Katie's apartment at over 6,000 ft. above sea level, at the foot of an enormous volcano, Agua. We've come to call it Mt. Doom though, because we're nerdy, and it looks like a dragon should live there. It's a sunny day (it's ALWAYS a sunny day here), and Eliot is sitting at my feet talking on his new cell from that Lisa put in his first Easter basket. Although Katie and I are pretty sure he just said, "Hi dada," it's obvious that he's talking to Bob Seibel, because all he's saying into the phone is "bob bob bob." The fajitas from my birthday lunch are still happily sitting in my belly and the sound of busy Latin America is all around. All that to say, pretty stinking cool place to write a blog entry. So what the heck do I write about?
It's my birthday. I'm not saying that because I want a present. I'm saying it because my birthday is April 9, which means Katie has celebrated Christmas, New Year's, her birthday, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and now my birthday, all right here in Antigua. Unbelievable. Many of you often ask me, "so how long has she been down there?" Well, she's missed the entire baseball offseason, college bowl games, the NFL playoffs, Super Bowl and March Madness. She was here for Spring Training and Opening Day. Get it? 4 1/2 months.
Although this may seem like complaining, here's what I'm driving at... you're reading this because you love Katie Mohr and care what's going on in her world. So if I wanted you to read something in her blog right now it would be this: I wish you guys could understand Katie's life down here. And I wish you could see how amazing she is.
Katie estimates that if she came home within the next month that she would probably have about 700 pictures from her trip. And if you looked at every one and heard the story behind it I'm convinced you wouldn't get it. Talk to any of the other 4 women that have visited her here and you'll see. They could talk for hours and still feel like they're at a loss for words, that somehow they just can't explain what it's like. This may give you a glimpse, though: Katie knows this town as well as anyone. She knows dozens of American foster moms down here (and their baby's names). She has a church where they know her and Eliot. Shop owners and waiters know her and Eliot. During the Easter parades we kept running into people who knew her and Eliot. Today in the town square a little merchant girl and her mother came up and she and Katie just started chatting like old friends. Beth said Katie had locals asking her for directions. Her cell phone rings all the time. It's pretty bazarre. She's in a foreign country, a crazy culture, speaking a foreign language, being a first-time mom... a SINGLE mom. And she's amazing at it all. And she just went downstairs to bake me a birthday cake as if we're just chilling at our house. Yup, she's made quite a life down here. This is a tiny, tiny snapshot. I wish I could describe it.
I guess I needed to write this mostly for myself; so I can look at this and remember how proud I am of her. It really is amazing. With all the things that there are to complain about, as difficult as this process has been, with setbacks in the adoption, and having not seen anything or anyone familiar for almost 5 months now, she's embraced this situation and taken it head-on. Yes, it's been very hard. She can't even look at the dogs on web cam without crying. But if you could see the day to day strength that the Lord has graced her with you'd be blown away. I don't think very many people could do this. I really don't think many people could do this and still stand firm in their faith (and yell at their husband for not reading his Bible today). And you should see her with this little guy. Man, does he love her to death (maybe that's for a different blog). I don't even think she realizes it all, but one thing is certain: The Lord is carrying her. I wish you could all see what I see down here.
Sorry I'm so long-winded.
When you pray for Katie Mohr, don't feel sorry for her. Yes, please pray that she and El will come home soon. Pray for continued strength and encouragement. Pray for her heart, which faces hard questions and misses friends, family and church. But also thank God for the way that He has carried her through the toughest season of her life in such a way that myself and the other women who have seen her in action down here just stand in awe. Maybe someday you can all come down with us on a family vacation and Katie can show you around....
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Well, Easter is over! I still can't believe I'm still here for this major holiday! A friend of mine sent me an email today noting that I'd been here for all the big ones! It's been interesting to say the least! Holy Week here is nuts! Good Friday is the biggest day of the year. All the locals told us to get up early to see all the carpets. They spent all night creating these amazing carpets and when we got out at 6:00 a.m., it seemed we were the last people to get out. The streets were packed!!! There were carpets everywhere we looked and the procession was the biggest one yet. It was a really cool experience, especially since Russ was here to see it w/ us.
We got to have our first Easter together! We put Eliot in a cute little outfit and went to church. We had the traditional Easter meal afterwards of quesadillas and a cheese burger. Then we came back to the house and gave Eliot his first Easter basket. How fun is this part of parenting??? When we gave Eliot his stocking at Christmas, he was still not strong enough to even sit up by himself so taking a stocking apart was not an option but now he's stronger and very interested in new toys, so this was fun! He just made us laugh, silly little man!
Ever since Russ got here, Eliot's little personality is coming out even more! He's getting so much closer to crawling, is much more interested in walking, is copying everything Russ does and is sillier than he's ever been. They have been getting in trouble together, too! There's been several times that Eliot was supposed to be going to sleep or eating his food and refuses to because Dad is so funny. It doesn't matter if Russ is actually doing something fun or not, Eliot just thinks he's funny.
What a blessing that Russ is here. I can't imagine what life will be like once Eliot and I actually get to come home. I absolutely love being Eliot's mom but there's just something about when we're together as a family. It just fits. I'm overwhelmed and so blessed by this time w/ Russ. A huge thank you to those of you who chipped in to send him down here for his birthday!
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Russ was supposed to come on Monday but came today to surprise us!!! I was standing outside watching people put together one of the traditional carpets and someone came up behind me and wrapped their arms around me. There was definitely a moment that I was a little nervous until I recognized those arms!!!! Hurray! It's so great to have him here! He gets to stay for a full week now instead of just 3 days! The Lord is so good! Eliot was a little unsure for a few minutes but warmed up to Russ w/ in no time! After he woke up from his nap he even reached for Russ and cuddled on his neck. After we got home and got Russ settled a bit, he had Eliot giggling and being silly. I love all being together, it's so fun to see Eliot and Russ interacting! Again, the Lord is so good!
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
So, today while putting Eliot to sleep for a nap, my mind was at the place of disbelief that Easter is this week and I'm still in Guatemala. I can remember the day that I booked my ticket to come down last November. I remember thinking, "I'm really doing this!". I also remember telling people that day that I finally booked my ticket and the common response was, "Well, how long do you think you'll be there?" and my response was primarily "as long as it takes" and quickly followed by "hopefully we'll be home before Christmas." I must have meant Christmas of 07! =)
The most common question I get now is "How are you doing?" (not in a Joey Tribioni sort of way...). That is a tricky question for me. Most days I'm great! I'm w/ Eliot. I'm not only w/ him but he knows me as mom. I've surrounded myself w/ good friends here and keep in pretty good contact w/ home through emailing and even webcaming to see the dogs and Russ! However, I can honestly say that this has been the hardest experience of my life. It's hard to follow up years of rough infertility w/ a "troubled adoption" as we're called. I have never had my faith tested to this degree before. I have learned that at this point, my faith is too weak to fully trust the Lord at all times and too strong to ignore His soverienty. That's a tricky place to be when you're trying to survive motherhood for the first time, not to mention in a developing country. God is doing a powerful thing and I'm not even sure to what degree. There's some crazy reason that this is all happening that makes 100% sense to the Lord and some day it will to me too. While Eliot and I sit in this somewhat-tropical waiting room, I feel as though I get to flip through some magazine full of blessings in my 'real' life. I can say that this experience has grown my marriage, my friendships in the states, created new friendships, bonded Eliot and I, and stretched my faith.
Some of you know the verse in the Psalms that reads, "you knit me together in my mother's womb." Since meeting Eliot back in July, that verse has stuck out in my head. Obviously, Eliot wasn't knit in my womb but I know the Lord was knitting him together in my heart. Other than the ridiculously beautiful skin, he's a Mohr through and through. It's also quite sweet that Eliot has a birthmark in the shape of a heart on his jawline (see above pic). It's a cute little visual reminder to me of how the Lord created him so perfectly to fit into our family.
Monday, April 2, 2007
For Antigua, Guatemala Holy Week is the biggest time of the year. Knowing how big and crazy Christmas was, I was doubtful that this season could be bigger but little did I know. Everyone takes the week off, except for the vendors of course. ( Everyone including all adoption offices and PGN. ) All during the season of Lent there are processions each weekend w/ huge floats being carried by people and crazy amounts of incense. Each float is enormous and requires 80-100 men to carry it together. There's fireworks pretty much every day (big surprise). They also spend hours creating these things called "carpets" out of flowers and sawdust. Most of them are created out on the street but some are tucked inside churches. They are elaborate designs that look like oriental rugs but are made for a temporary purpose and then gone w/in hours of being created. The processions/parades can last all day where they just walk solemnly around town w/ a band and the group carrying the float gets to walk over the carpets, which of course, destroys them. Then a street crew comes by and sweeps all the saw dust into a truck. Last weekend we saw a carpet that was getting started around 1 in the afternoon and we stopped by close to dinner time and it was about half done. They said that the procession was coming by around 11:30p.m. and they should be done w/ the carpet around 11:00. The carpets are their version of "the red carpet" and are made w/ so much hard work and to perfection so that they are pure for the procession. Antigua is famous for these processions and the carpets especially. Because of that, Antigua has gotten extremely crowded over the past month! You know I've been here too long when I start getting crabby that so many tourists are here! Yikes!!
Sunday, April 1, 2007
There are many moments that my attitude about having to be 'stuck' here could be compared to a childhood tantrum. But each day I think of the alternative. I would be missing out on all of Eliot's little quarks during this time of his life while waiting for the Guatemalan government. The reason Russ and I felt led to send me here was so that we wouldn't keep missing those things, little or big. It seems to be the days that I'm the most frustrated w/ our paperwork process that Eliot does something new and cute, and I, his mom, get to see it first! I'm the one who gets to see his fishy face, his half-eye when he eats something sour. I'm the one who gets to wipe the massive drool off my chin because he's learning to 'kiss', the one to see his little hands shake from excitement because he pulled himself up to a standing position. Not to mention the two new arrivals (his first two teeth) that have made him so fussy all day! I'm the one, not some lady in Guatemala City.
If you've kept up w/ my entries, you know that this past week and a half, we had Nana here. Now, everyone knows how babies are w/ Grandmas. The only other person that I've seen Eliot take to so quickly was Russ. Eliot was giving Nana kisses and sitting in her lap before we even made it into Antigua from the airport. However, there were several times that even the super-nana powers of comfort or touch weren't what Eliot wanted. He wanted his mom, me! I think of what most adoptive parents have to do to bring their child home, usually after meeting their child for only a couple of days. If we would have done that (which was our original plan) rather than send me here to live for an extended amount of time and Russ to visit as often as possible, Eliot wouldn't have really known me as his security/comfort. He wouldn't have spent months learning that hiding in my neck and pulling on my hair will help him fall asleep.
There's all kinds of examples of his cuteness that I could share but naptime is almost over. I can't wait until you each get to see the little man for yourselves!!