Now that I'm home and all is complete with Eliot, there's some 'behind the scenes' type stuff that occured there at the end that we didn't feel comfortable sharing at the time. We wanted to get home and be 100% done with everything before we shared this part of our story.
After getting submitted back into PGN the very beginning of May I met with a group of lawyers called Adoption Supervisors of Guatemala. They are a third party that has a vast legal knowledge of how the adoption world works, especially in PGN. They have great relationships with all the people in PGN and are comfortable going in and representing cases when original lawyers are not. After meeting with them and sharing information on my case with them they agreed that something didn't sound right. I had stopped getting any answers from our original lawyer and my agency was stuck with only what the lawyer offered, which wasn't anything. It was getting shadier by the minute.
AS (adoption supervisors) can be hired for two levels of involvement. (yes, that word was 'hired' which means extra $$$) The first level is just facts. They go into PGN, look at your actual file and give you all the details. All the dates of submission, kickouts and what each kickout was for. After that they meet with you and give you a recommendation of whether or not they can help your case. Several of my friends had hired them since being in Guatemala and they were all at home, even the messiest cases. Contrary to popular belief, everything they do is legal. Russ and I prayed about it and the only thing that was holding us back was the money. We stood in agreement that when money is the only thing stopping us, we will go ahead with a decision and trust that the Lord will provide. (Sidenote: This doesn't apply to decisions like brand new cars, big TV's or fancy shoes, just the important stuff that we feel led to pursue.) We couldn't inform anyone about this publicly because typcially lawyers and sometimes agencies get extremely offended at the thought of families hiring a third party to finish the job that they can't. Our agency knew about it and was supportive. Our lawyer was not aware of it so we needed to be cautious. He still held a lot of power over our case.
So, after being back in PGN for just a few days, we hired them. Right off the bat they were able to move our case along just because they went in to ask about it. PGN processes THOUSANDS of cases a year so you can imagine the stacks of paperwork. So, when someone is physically going into the building to look at a case, it gets moved instead of just sitting in an enormous pile until someone widdles away at the stack. AS estimated that just that one move saved us at least a week. In PGN there are 3 major desks that approve the file but the actual manilla folder of 200+ papers moves through many desks. The chances of it sitting somewhere for a little while are pretty much 100%. If you hire AS for the second half, they go into PGN and keep asking about your case. They also meet with the first 2 out of 3 people holding their powerful ink pens to discuss your case.
As our case was moving desk to desk, our AS lawyer got a rare opportunity. Having been back in PGN only 3 weeks, we'd already been approved from 2 out of the 3 people. AS went into PGN one day to check up on things and the third person in the powerful line-up (He who shall not be named...) was available and willing to hear about our case. He signed it that day and the next day we were at the 'window' for pick-up. This saved us another couple weeks. At the time of our case going in, the average approved case was taking a around 10 weeks to be released. We were approved and out in just 3 weeks and 2 days. We were over-the-top blessed that AS's intervention saved us about 7 weeks. I'm pretty sure that under his lawyer-ish 'powersuit', our AS lawyer wears a cape of some sort.
Meanwhile our facilitator got banned from the US Embassy (she didn't do a whole lot anyway) and our coordinator quit her job to pursue grad school. The only two people connecting us to our lawyer were now out of the picture. God couldn't have brought AS along at a more perfect time.
Russ and I met with the AS staff several times throughout the process. I was impressed each time with their committment to professionalism and their care for each case. Many times I would ask a question about a friend's case and fully expect them to say "Have them give us a call" so that they could make them clients but every single time they would give me several action steps for that person to take. They truly blessed us and restored my belief in the idea that there are some people in the Guatemalan adoption process that actually care about the kids. They communicated to us a completely opposite view of what PGN was really like, not some horrible group of people sitting around trying to think of ways to delay everyone. Yes, PGN has it's issues but it's not the evil adoption-hating monster we were led to believe that it was. Also, one of the directors lived in Sunset Hills in St. Louis for years and our AS lawyer usually heads to STL about once a year. Small world? Blows my mind, really.
All of this happened so fast that we hadn't figured out a way to pay them. They were very gracious and patient and willing to help our case in the mean time. During Russ's last visit we were in the park meeting friends when my phone rang. This friend from home called me every so often so I didn't think anything of it and answered it. She casually mentioned that someone had just left the church office after dropping off a check for us. This person had just felt compelled to send us some "spending money". The check was for more than enough to cover the entire extra expense. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. We could not have been more surprised. After hanging up and telling the group of friends standing there, we all starting praying right there in the park and praising God for His provisions. He just rocks my face straight off sometimes. I'm surprised I still have a face, to be quite honest.