Friday, June 11, 2010

Update on Olivia

First of all, Bryan & I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and prayers for Olivia and our family. They have truly meant a lot. The past few days have been surreal as you might imagine.

We arrived home late Thursday night. Bryan and I both had a rough time as the plane left the ground in Guatemala. There are just so many unanswered questions and such a feeling of helplessness.

We were given the name and address of the orphanage on Wednesday and before we left Thursday, we searched online to see if we could find it. We did find a place by the same name, but it didn't seem to be in the right town where we were told it was. This place was run by an American Christian couple who have been taking in Guatemala's needy children, including special needs children since 1997. After reading their webpage, we so hoped that's where she was taken.

This morning, when I checked our emails, another adoptive mom, told me that she knew of this place and the people who run it. She said this was a very good place and that we could email them directly. So that's what I did! I emailed the lady and asked if Olivia had been brought there on Wednesday afternoon and if so, how was she? A few hours later, I got a response saying that indeed Olivia was there and that she was doing well. We were so relieved to know she is being well taken care of! We're still unbelievably upset that she was taken away from her loving foster family and what effects that will have on her, but at least we know she's in a safe and good place for now.

We're hoping we can communicate with her through the director. We asked her to tell Olivia that we love her very much and she agreed to let her know. We're just going to lay low for awhile until we find out how much contact we are allowed to have.

It's a little bit of comforting news in what has been a very upsetting last few days. A dear friend of mine told me about this song she had heard that spoke directly to her heart and thought it would minister to us as well. I listened, and it did.

This was the last picture taken of our family, just before we left for court on Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hearing Results

Our hearts are very heavy tonight. We did not get the news we were praying for at our hearing today.

The lady who says she's Olivia's biological grandmother and her husband were there. I had made a photo album of our entire history with Olivia and Beyla, our attorney showed it to them before the hearing. They seemed quite moved when they saw all that we have done with her.

When it was time for the hearing, the grandmother as well as Olivia, Brenda, (her foster Mom) and the attorneys went in. Meanwhile, our translator, Mirna was talking to the grandfather who was in the waiting room with us. She advocated for us big time, and at one point he asked if he and his wife decided not to adopt, would they be able to keep in contact with Olivia through us and wanted to know where we lived and what it was like.

After about 40 minutes, we saw a man come in with a white lab coat carrying a small cooler. We were told that there was a possibility that the judge would order a DNA test of Olivia and the grandmother and that's what this man was there for. 10 to 15 minutes later, everyone emerged from the hearing room and we were ushered out into the street to talk.

Beyla told us that they were going to get DNA samples and upon the results of the test, the judge would either let the grandparents adopt her if it's positive, or if it's negative, declare her abandoned and we would still be in the picture. The results will take anywhere from 15 days to 3 months.

Now for the worst part. The judge ordered Olivia go directly to an orphanage and not be able to go back home with her foster family that she's lived with for past 2 1/2 years of her life.

We were able to have lunch with her and then just after 3:30, people from the orphanage came and pulled her out of her foster father's arms crying and reaching for him and put her into the back of a car and drove off. We were right there at the car and it was one of the most heart wrenching moments of our lives. She was so scared and confused. We're still numb. Please pray for her. She couldn't take any belongings and can't have any contact with anyone she knows. Absolutely inhumane.

Beyla made an appeal to the judge to allow her to go back with her foster family, but we don't know what he'll decide. It would be the absolute best thing right now.

The judge set the deciding hearing for Sept. 9th. We're not required to be there. Hopefully we'll get the DNA results before then. If the results come back negative, then we're back in the race. And even if they come back as a match, the grandparents may decide to relinquish their rights. Allowing us to move forward. The grandmother herself, told the judge that she didn't know for sure if she was the biological grandmother, so there are doubts even in her mind. We'll just have to keep waiting.

We know God has a plan and a reason for all of this. We can handle the waiting, we just pray for Olivia that God would comfort her and give her peace in the next 3 months.

There still is hope, but we are also realistic in that we may have seen her for the last time today.

We head for home in the morning with an enormous "?" and a profound sadness for our little girl.

Our other little girl has had a very, very bad 10th birthday today. She misses her sister.

We welcome each and every prayer.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Our Court hearing is tomorrow morning. Our adoption could potentially end dead in it's tracks.

We need a miracle and we're asking to pray specifically for God to intervene and allow Olivia to come home to us.

We'll update when we can.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday, Monday!

Today was another slow-paced day here in lovely Guatemala City. The weather was beautiful and very warm. We did more walking and shopping and eating and game-playing and ride-riding. The girls are getting along SO well!

Tomorrow is our appointment with the Consul General at the U.S. Embassy. Not sure what we can expect from her, but at least she'll meet us, hear our story and hopefully remember us when the time comes for our case to come before her.

Later in the afternoon, we have a pre-hearing meeting with our attorney. Hopefully we'll feel a little more prepared after we talk with her.

This is what we've woken up to the past two mornings. What is it with kids and forts?!

This is a roller coaster they just built in one of the malls.

Isn't the ponytail in the wrong place?

Everybody loves a Frosty!

Pacaya today......a little steamy.

A pile of volcanic sand and lots more already bagged.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Some Pictures From Our Trip So Far

Today, we slept in, lazed around, had a nice lunch, shopped some, got stuck in the mall during a heavy rain shower, and just had a very low-key day. Here are some pictures from yesterday and today.

Pacaya, behaving herself.

Volcanic sand on the window sill.

Enjoying some breakfast.

Sun setting on Guatemala for today.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

We've Arrived!

We touched down in Guatemala about an hour after we were scheduled to due to some luggage delay in Atlanta and arrived at the hotel about 1:30. For some reason in Atlanta, we were bumped up to first class seats! So sitting on the runway for an extra hour, didn't really seem so bad! (The hot towels and fancy filet mignon lunch complete with dense chocolate cheesecake for dessert didn't hurt either!)

Flying over and into Guatemala, we tried to see what the volcano/storm damage was. Of what we could see out the window, the rivers were muddy and there were areas on some of the mountainsides where the ground washed away, but we couldn't really see any extensive damage where we were looking. Pacaya (the offending volcano) seen from the hotel today, is quiet.

The clean-up effort in the city is still going on, but I must say, they've done a wonderful job. There are piles of black volcanic sand (not ash) on the sides of the streets that they're putting into bags and hauling off. And we've been told that that big sinkhole that we've all seen pictures of? Is small compared to the one they had last year in the same area! Really??!!

Olivia's foster family brought her to us shortly after 5:00 and said that the trip in from their home which normally takes about 45 minutes, took them 2 hours due to washed out bridges and bad road conditions.

Olivia is awesome! She charged towards me full speed when they entered the hotel lobby. We were talking to Mirna and all of a sudden there she was. I'll tell ya, that does a mommy's heart good!

We don't have anything scheduled for tomorrow, so we'll just take it easy. We have an appointment at the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday morning and of course Wednesday morning is our much anticipated hearing.

So stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

An Angry Volcano + a Tropical Storm + a Surreal Sinkhole = ... a Date with the Judge!

This past week has been a stressful one to say the least.

As time has been growing closer to June 9th, our Court date, the realities of what may or may not be decided by the judge that day have been weighing on my mind. Couple that with the last minute projects I've created for myself that
must be done before we leave. (I've always worked best under a modest amount of pressure........)

Last Wednesday, 10 days before our departure, I find out that my dear brother is in the hospital ICU in very serious condition. Now all my focus is on him and praying for his recovery.

Two days later on Friday, I'm watching the morning news and see that our "favorite" Guatemalan volcano, Pacaya, the one that we see from our hotel, has erupted. What?!! People have been evacuated, the airport is shut down and there's 2 inches of ash everywhere. Knowing that Olivia lives relatively close to Pacaya, I immediately emailed her foster family to make sure they were all safe.

Then Saturday the first tropical storm of the season pounds Guatemala with as much rain in several hours as they would normally get in a year. Oh my word!
How is my child?!
Where is my child?!
What's going on???!

After spending the weekend visiting my brother and seeing that he is much better and on the mend, we return home Sunday night to find an email from Olivia's foster family, saying that they are all okay and safe. Praise the Lord on both counts!

Monday, we see pictures of the sinkhole in Guatemala City. Have you
seen the sinkhole? Absolutely surreal.

Now we're thinking...... with all this turmoil all at once in this small Central American country, are we still going to be able to go as scheduled? Should we go? Will our hearing be postponed? If so, for how long this time? Will this set our case back even more?

We've been trying to get answers to all these questions for days now and thanks to our wonderful friend and translator, Mirna, we now know that our hearing is indeed still on for Wednesday! With 2 1/2 days to spare before we leave!

We'll be off bright and early Saturday morning and will send updates as often as we can. Please pray for safe travels, safety while we're there, that the judge allows us to finally go ahead with Olivia's adoption and for all the people of Guatemala who are struggling right now. Thanks!