Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Strike 2.

M. did not show for the meeting today. We are more convinced than ever that she is who we think she is. She's afraid and because she doesn't know Beyla, she doesn't trust her.

Beyla said they will give it a few days and then go to the family and friends in person to try to approach her from that angle.

We'll update as soon as we know something.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another New Development......

We just received this email from our agency director, Lymaris~

"I just spoke to Beyla. Indeed they called M. from a different phone # and she answered. Beyla explained that if she does not collaborate, she would ask the judge to summon her and her family, and that now we know where her family and some other friends and relatives live... She expressed she was scared and she thought Beyla wanted her to go to jail. She once again stated she has never had a daughter and that now she had to live with this shame because her family was told about this and it is not true. Beyla told her why she needed her with as much detail as she could without wanting to scare her, and that in order to clear her name she needs to come and help Beyla out with the info because all we had was her documents etc... She agreed to come to the park in Vi**an***a tomorrow to meet at 1pm. Praying this time she makes it but Beyla says she seemed persuaded. This is all so dramatic and incredible! I will keep you posted and will be praying..."

That's the latest. Please pray that M. shows up and that Beyla can get her to cooperate. We'll let you know........

The Latest.

After two years of failed attempts to find Olivia's birth family, last Tuesday the investigators found Olivia's maternal grandfather after only 2 days of searching. Although the grandfather was shocked at what the investigators shared with him about his daughter and her relinquishing a child two years ago, he told them he would try to get in touch with his daughter and in turn get her in touch with the investigators.

Later that day, our attorney Beyla spoke on the phone with Olivia's birthmother!
Yes, she has been found! (I don't want to disclose her name, so I'll refer to her as M.) However....... she denied that she was Olivia's bmom! Beyla convinced her that she should come into her office the next day and clear this whole thing up. She agreed. The meeting was all set up for Wed. morning. It was arranged that M. would take the bus from her town to a park where Beyla would pick her up and drive her to the office. M. never showed up. Beyla and her investigators tried calling both M. and her father the rest of that day, but they had turned off their phones.

They tried again on Thursday with the same result. We're praying that M. didn't flee again. She's been elusive for the past two years and our concern is that she's taken off and is in hiding again.

Everyone involved with our case is quite confident she is the right person, combined with the fact that if she had nothing to hide, there would have been no reason for her to skip out on the meeting. The concensus is that she is very scared. Her family apparently was not aware she had a daughter that she put up for adoption and we don't know what kind of relationship she has with her father. At the time of Olivia's relinquishement, she had four children, two older than Olivia and a 4 month-old baby girl. The baby was in the hospital at the time suffering from malnutrition. M. now claims she only has two children, so my guess is that she relinquished the baby girl at some point as well, or the baby may even have died. If that's the case, that she gave up two children, she has a big burden to bear. My heart
truly goes out to her.

The investigators said they met someone who knows the family well and through this person they will continue to try to access the family and gain their trust.

Our prayer now is that M. thinks very seriously about her situation and decides to come forward and cooperate. She needs to realize this is the best thing for her child.

Olivia's abandonment/adoptability hearing is in six weeks. It would be such a blessing if M. would cooperate and then show up to the hearing. If she would do what's required of her, our adoption would be finished under the old process and we could have Olivia home by year's end. Then we wouldn't have to go through the CNA and wait for who knows how long.

Tomorrow, Tuesday is an important day for our case as well. The document we signed for Beyla while we were in Guatemala, will go before the judge and he will decide if she can become our mandatory attorney. Hopefully he'll take into consideration what she's been able to accomplish in the last week. Please pray he decides in her favor.

Again, we'll update when we hear something.
Thanks again for everyone's prayers and encouragement!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A New Development ~ Asking For Prayer!

We received an email from Lymaris, our agency director this afternoon telling us she had received word from our attorney, Beyla that her investigators have been in contact with Olivia's birth mother's father (Olivia's maternal grandfather). Apparently the reason she disappeared was that no one in her family knew anything about her having children let alone relinquishing any of them for adoption and was in fear they would find out (at the time she relinquished Olivia, she had four children). Needless to say, the father was quite upset about this. The investigators explained the situation to him and he agreed to try to reach out to his daughter. Beyla is waiting to hear back from the father hopefully later today.

Please pray with us that the birth mother comes forward and now that "the cat is out of the bag", will be willing to complete this process she started two years ago and do the right thing for her child.

I will update again when we hear something more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And Now, the Rest of the Story.....

Monday was such a wonderful day and when it was time for bed, Olivia got right into bed with Emily and slept soundly straight through the night!

Tuesday morning we had to get dressed up for our meeting with Mr. Jaime Tecu, an attorney who is a real important guy at the CNA. Our appointment was at 9:00 and we expected our attorney, Beyla to pick us up from the hotel at 8:00. Well, as we've now learned, Guatemalan "time" is a little different than U.S. time! 8:00 in U.S. terms means you'll be picked up at 8:00 or very close to it. In Guatemala, 8:00 apparently means 8:45! Beyla and her husband picked us up in their Toyota Yaris and got us to the CNA so we were in Mr. Tecu's office at 9:00 a.m. sharp!

The meeting itself was really just to show him that 'we're here, we're serious, this is our family and when you get our case remember what you see here today'. We asked some questions about what to expect later on, but his response was to just wait and see how our hearing in June turns out and we'll go from there. He took a few notes, we took a few notes, that was about it. A cool thing happened about 15 minutes into the meeting though, we experienced our first earthquake!!! Apparently a 4.4. Bryan and I didn't know what had just happened and we looked at the other folks in the room and their faces showed the tiniest bit of alarm, it had been an earthquake! They weren't terribly phased though, they get about 100 a year down there. We thought it was pretty neat though! When that happened, the girls were next door in a playroom and then Mr. Tecu went to get them. When Olivia walked into the room, she came right over to me, jumped up on my lap and gave me a kiss! I was so glad he saw that! Maybe with the unsolicited affection Olivia showed towards me and the earthquake, he'll remember us!

After the meeting, Beyla, her husband, Mirna, Bryan, Emily, Olivia and I drove back to the hotel in the Toyota Yaris. That's 5 adults and 2 children in a tiny car....I haven't mentioned how they drive down there....anyway we got there safely and were told that Beyla and Mirna would be back at 1:00 to take us out to lunch and have a meeting with Beyla and go over a document she needed us to sign.

1:00 became 3:30, again "Guatemalan time" and we went to Pizza Hut for lunch. The girls enjoyed their pizza and played on the "playland" they had there for the kids while we ate and went over the document. Afterward, Beyla treated us to Guatemalan ice cream, not bad!

Beyla took us back to our hotel and we said goodbye to her there. She is a wonderful Christian lady and I truly believe she will do everything in her power for us. We authorized she and her huband, (he is in the media, newpaper and TV and has his own investigation service) to do an exhaustive search for Olivia's birthmother. They have had great success in the past finding these women who have been missing for years at a time. They feel that the previous searches that have been conducted on our case, were not done sufficiently. Beyla told us that the absolute best case scenario for us is that the birthmother be found. If she's found within the next few months, we could potentially have Olivia home by the end of this year and the case would be completed under the old system that we started with. If she's not found, the case will have to go to the CNA and will take much longer. Please pray with us, that this woman is found...soon.

Brenda, Olivia's foster mom, told us that our 2nd hearing (to determine Olivia's "adoptability") is on June 7th, (that's a Sunday, so I'm not sure if they hold court on Sunday, or she meant the 2nd or something) and she will be there alone with Olivia and would like us to be there with her. We planned to be anyway, but it will be determined by the document that we signed at Pizza Hut, if we will be allowed into the courtroom for the hearing. The document has to be approved by the judge to allow Beyla to be our Mandatory attorney and not the previous attorney, Mr. Gallo who took Olivia to her first hearing. If he approves Beyla, then we'll be able to attend.

Anyway, back to our trip! When we returned to the hotel, we decided we should go swimming in "la piscina". The water was not as warm as we would have liked and poor little Olivia's teeth chattered a bit, but we had fun splashing around.

The girls played beautifully together. They colored, played with Barbies, drew pictures, played dress-up, blew bubbles, watched movies and had a great time. Emily proved to be a very good "big sister"! Olivia is very kind and likes to share. She has great manners and is quite independent. She's just a joy!

Wednesday was our only full day to do whatever we wanted, so we slept in a little, had a wonderful breakfast from the Royale Floor lounge right next door to us that had incredible Continental breakfasts and free drinks and snacks all throughout the day. The girls got baths, well actually showers, there was no bathtub. We set out to visit all three malls within shouting distance from the hotel. We did lots of walking, took in some of the local flavor, ate lunch at Burger King and finally about 4:00 or so, after the big carousel ride, Olivia could go no more and fell asleep on Bryan's shoulder. We took her back to the room and she slept for another good hour. We had planned to go back out for dinner at Pollo Campero, but Bry went and brought dinner back to the room. Have I mentioned Pollo Campero??? (pronounced POY-oh Com-Pedr-oh). This is our new favorite place to eat...anywhere! Awesome fried chicken! Colonel Sanders has nothing on this place! I guess they have several stores here in the U.S., but of course no where around here! Maybe we'll open a franchise.

After we ate, I begrudgingly decided I should get our things packed so I wouldn't have to deal with it in the morning. The foster family was supposed to arrive to pick up Olivia between 8:00 and 9:00. As I was packing, the girls were drawing and coloring, at one point, Olivia came up and handed me a piece of paper she had just "written" on. She looked at me and proceeded to tell me that she had written "Te amo mucho, Mama Susan"! (I love you very much, Mama Susan). She then proceeded to make one for Papa Bryan too. Our hearts absolutely melted!

We put the girls to bed that night about 8:45, but because of Olivia's afternoon siesta, she wasn't ready to go to sleep. Bryan and I were in the bathroom/sink area with all of our camera equipment and our Kodak Easyshare printer trying to print out pictures of our time together to put in a little album for Olivia to take home with her. For the next half hour to 45 minutes we heard giggling and talking coming from the girls bed. I wanted them to go to sleep so they wouldn't know what we were up to, but at the same time, just hearing them enjoyng each other like sisters should, was priceless. Emily told us later that Olivia kept telling her that she loved her and fell asleep with her arm draped over Emily!

Thursday morning we got up around 6:00, Olivia slept a little later, I already had most of ours and Olivia's things packed and ready to go, all we had to do was have breakfast, get cleaned up and dressed and wait till 8-ish for the family to show. Our translator Mirna had told the family to come at 8:00 knowing that would mean at least 9:00 considering they had about a 45-minute drive from their home and of course, allowing for "Guatemala time"! Our doorbell rings at 7:05, it's the family! Olivia had just woken up and Bryan had just brought in our breakfast from next door so they graciously volunteered to wait in the lobby till we were done. We also wanted to wait for Mirna to get there to translate as she was due to arrive at 8:00.

So about 8:15, Bry went down to the lobby to bring them back up. We had a lovely time, they're such a beautiful and warm family. When it was about time to say good-bye, we asked to have a few minutes alone with Olivia. I had given her a bear from "Build-A-Bear" and put a recording of Bryan's, Emily's and my voices telling her we loved her whenever she pressed the flower on the bear's foot. We also gave her the photo album. We prayed with her and then took her out in the hall where the family was waiting. We said adios in the lobby. She didn't cry this time either, but we told her we would be back soon. The three of us held back the tears till they were out of sight.

We got home Thursday night at 11:15 p.m. our time.We can't wait to go back. We miss this special little girl who instantly wrapped herself around each one of our hearts.

Friday, April 10, 2009

We're Back & On Cloud 9!

Our trip was amazing! We arrived in Guatemala City around noon their time on Monday and got to our hotel with about an hour or so to spare before Olivia's arrival at 2:00. Our interpreter, Mirna called from the lobby around 1:30 and said she had spoken to Olivia's foster family and they were on their way, but would be arriving a little later than 2:00. That gave us time to get to know Mirna and her daughter Jasmine as they showed us around and helped us order our lunch from McDonald's! Mirna got another call saying it would be another half hour or so before they got there so we stopped at the bank to exchange some American dollars into Guatemalan Quetzales. We approached the front door of the hotel about 3:00 where I could see Olivia and the entire family (8 to 10 people!) waiting in the lobby. I was very tentative on exactly how to approach her. I felt the best thing to do was to take the cues from her and not overwhelm her. Well she saw me and made a beeline straight for me with arms outstretched yelling "Mama Susan, Mama Susan!" and gave me the biggest hug! She went to Bryan next, "Papa Bryan!" and then to Emily, "Hermana (sister) Emily!" Wow! WE ended up being the ones who were overwhelmed! She latched on to us like she'd known us all her life.

We all went up to our room, I think there were about 15 of us, if I remember correctly. We talked for awhile and after about 20 minutes, it was time for the family to leave. Brenda, Olivia's foster Mom wanted us to distract her with a toy so she'd be occupied when they left. Emily and Olivia were playing with bubbles, they all left, she said goodbye to them and acted like THEY had just dropped by for a visit! Not one tear or one mention of her foster family the whole time we were together!

We are just amazed at how quickly she bonded with us, we couldn't have asked for a better first meeting! I must say, I have never met a more loving, affectionate, sweet child. Even though we didn't understand each other a lot of the time, she always flashed her beautiful smile and was ready to give each of us a big hug and a kiss. She is really a special little girl. We are blessed to be in her life.

I'll write more about the rest of the week later and post more pictures.

We're very thankful for everyone's prayers. We know God prepared Olivia for our meeting and because of many things we experienced this week, we know He will help us see this adoption through to the end. . . . how ever long it takes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Olivia, Here We Come!!!

Monday morning we leave for Guatemala to finally meet Olivia! Our plane arrives in Guatemala City at 11:30 a.m. their time, (1:30 p.m. EDT) and we're told she'll be brought to our hotel around 2:00 p.m. We're getting very excited and a little anxious about this first meeting!

We have a meeting with our attorney at the CNA Tuesday morning with an official there to hopefully determine what they will be requiring of us once our case is turned over to them in June. Both Emily and Olivia will be going along so they can see us all together as a happy family.

There's a good possibility that we will be traveling down there again in June for our 2nd hearing before the judge. We hope to learn more about that on this trip.

Emily's looking forward to her 2nd plane ride, (she doesn't remember her first when she came home from China 8 years ago. As I recall, she was the only one of us who slept during that 20-hour trip, I wish the plane had had bassinets for grown-ups!)

We will return this Thursday night with lots of stories and pictures to share. Stay tuned!