Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ho Ho Ho

Little Pea's First Christmas!!

We are having such an incredible time! Eli is such a happy boy and soooo much fun!! He is making us laugh and melting our hearts. Yesterday we spent the afternoon lounging by the pool with several other FTIA families and then some of us went to a fantastic restaurant for dinner. Today we went to the Zoo, a large handicraft market, and we got to tour the clinic where Eli was born. How awesome is that?!?!?! It has certainly been an amazing week and we are so incredibly happy!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

He's crawling!!!

Oh my gosh!! Eli crawled for the first time today. I was crying tears of joy that we got to have this experience all to ourselves!! Yay!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

We made it!! Quick update (little pea is sleeping, but needs frequent reassuring back rubs!). WOW!! Eli is SO big and he has so much hair!! He is no longer our little pea, but rather our chunky monkey! He was all smiles when his foster mom handed him over to us. Ohhhh, heart melting!! We are amazed at how much he has changed! He is so active, very alert, and is on the verge of crawling. He even stood up today with mom's assistance. It is so wonderful to see how well he is developing. Hopefully, we can all get a much needed good nights rest tonight and possibly hit the pool tomorrow. Yes, it is beautiful here!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Back in!!

We are back in PGN as of yesterday! Our attorney FINALLY picked up our file yesterday and also resubmitted us yesterday. We were KO'd for the birth mother's birth certificate again. For the first previo, our attorney had to get a new witness to sign the birth certificate and the witness signed with a fingerprint, which is very common in Guatemala due to the high illiteracy rate. Well, for the 2nd previo, PGN wanted to know why the witness signed with a fingrprint. Hmmmm...... Good grief! How frustrating! But, at least we were resubmitted very quickly!! Now, let's hope and pray for a miracle that we get a speedy approval.

We received Eli's updated measurements yesterday and he is up to 19lbs. I really should have kept up with my exercise routine!

Eeeeeeeeeck!!!! We are sooooo excited to be spending Eli's first Christmas together as a family AND in Guatemala. YAY!!!! I can't wait to get my hands on our little pea!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thank you

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! This has been an extremely difficult week for us as we went from expecting approval to, yet, another delay in bringing our little pea home. In fact, my supervisor asked me today if I was okay (I had not shared the news with her, yet) and she said, "you seem crabby." Ha! Was it that obvious?!?! Your kind words, prayers, "plans", faith in miracles, and shared tears mean the world to us. As heartbroken as we are right now, we are comforted by all of the love and support surrounding us. We are so blessed.

We are still waiting to hear from our attorney as to the reason for this second kickout. Hopefully we will have more information tomorrow. In the meantime, I still can't believe we will be in Guatemala on TUESDAY!!!! We changed our flight to earlier in the day so we can spend most of Christmas Day in Guatemala. Lots to do until then!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Too good to be true

I just had this nagging feeling so I called PGN again today. We were informed today that our case was KICKED OUT on 12/14, one day AFTER we were told we were waiting for approval. Talk about a punch in the gut. How does this happen??? Needless to say we are so disappointed. But, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. We are waiting to hear back from our agency to find out what the problem is this time. All we can do is hope and pray it is an easy and quick fix so we are resubmitted soon. So, we are just going to focus on getting ready to love our sweet little pea next week.

So, what does one do with the news of a kick out?? Margaritas and beer, of course!!

The day started with heartbreaking news, but ended with a celebration! My dear friends and coworkers threw us a baby shower this evening and it was just what we needed. I will post more pics on that later (Yes, it just wasn't my day. The batteries ran out on our camara so my friend Becky had to take over!). Thank you to all of my friends for helping us get through a tough day by celebrating Eli.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Could it be true??????

We called PGN again today and............we are waiting to be signed for APPROVAL!!!! Eeeekkk!!! I asked the woman if we were waiting to be signed for a previo or approval. I initially thought she said previo so I said "previo?" She said "No, no, no. Approval." Could it be???? Could our sweet little pea actually be coming home soon??? Hopefully, the information we received is TRUE and we are on our way OUT. It certainly is not over until we receive that stamp of approval and Senor Barrios could choose to kick us out himself, though it does not happen often. I have no idea how long we have been on Barrios' desk so it could be at least another week before we hear anything. We will definitely be calling again at least one more time before our trip. Dear Santa............

We also spoke with Eli's foster mom tonight. He has two teeth and is up to 19lbs!!! Wow!! She said he loves the walker and maneuvers himself all over the place. He is eating cereal and table food. No wonder he is up to 19lbs! We also got to hear our little pea cooing, babbling, and laughing. Oh boy. We were crying our eyes out. Marta, as always, told us how smart he is and that he is getting big like his papi. Hee hee!! She reassured us that Eli is happy, healthy, and smiles whenever he hears our voices on the tapes we left. She is so caring and sweet. Marta and her family will always be a part of our family.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Check it out

We have received so many compliments on our little pea's valance both on and off line.

"How do they know how to do that? "

"Very impressive! Those are beautiful!"

"Window treatments? Like something out of a very expensive kids' bedding catalog. Awesome job!"

"I am SO jealous! You have an AWESOME brother and brother-in-law!"

Yes, I do have an AWESOME bro and bro-in-law! And, they know how to do this because they actually are professionals. They have been making custom window treatments for several years now and recently made their business "official." They are incredibly creative and gifted.

So, if you are in need of some adorable, custom made window treatments, crib skirts, pillows, etc for the nursery or anywhere else in your home or office, check out their website. Their website is still under construction, but feel free to give my bro a call or e-mail for more information.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


One year ago today....we mailed our application to FTIA.

8 months ago today...I sent a prayer with a traveling adopting mom who organized a worldwide prayer/meditation called The Journey to Find a Home Meditation. Families from all over the world sent her photos of their Guatemala children, prayers, poems, meditations, and more. People gathered at a specified time to mediate and pray for all of the children and families waiting to be united forever. At that time, we were still on the waiting list and anxiously waiting for that call. This is the prayer I sent to be included in the meditation:

I am so inspired by the world wide meditation/prayer. I just imagine these huge arms enveloping all of our children and adopting families.

I would like to add one more prayer. I waited until the last minute just in case we received a referral before you left! But....we're still waiting!! So, I would like to pray for our child's birthmother as she makes probably the most difficult decision of her life. I hope that she finds peace in her heart knowing that her child is already loved.

I sent that prayer on April 11...8 months ago today...the day our son was born.

7 months ago today...Eli came into our lives

2 weeks from today...we will be on our way to Guatemala to see our sweet boy again.

Papi holding Eli for the first time
Mami holding Eli for the first time

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sewing frenzy!!

My brother and I worked on the valance for Eli's room this weekend. I cannot take credit for ANY of it! Oh wait, I cut some fabric and covered some buttons. Does that count for anything? My brother and brother-in-law are the masters behind it all!


The MASTER at work

Next....the crib skirt

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Still IN

We broke down and called PGN today. I have been sooo nervous about calling just because I did not want to hear any bad news! Well, we are still in! We are with the second reviewer right now. Our plan is to call again right before our trip to check our status. Come on PGN!! It's the giving season!! Give us a BIG FAT O-U-T!!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Nursery Sneak Peek

Oh, the pictures don't do these fabrics justice!! The nursery transformation is underway........

Monday, December 3, 2007

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by Beth. A little bit about it goes!

4 jobs I have had:

waitress (got me through college!)
guardian advocate for people with disabilities
case manager for people with disabilities

4 movies I've watched more than once:

The Christmas Story
Dead Poet's Society
Harry Potter movies
Bourne Identity

4 shows I watch faithfully:

Grey's Anatomy
The Office

4 places I have vacationed:

Smoky Mountains (one of my favorite places!!)
Grand Canyon
Edisto Island, SC
Arches National Park

4 Favorite Foods:

Anything with black beans
Pizza with artichoke hearts and mushrooms
homemade chex mix (pretty much all I eat between T-day & Christmas)

4 Places I'd rather be:

There's only one place I'd rather be right now...GUATEMALA!!

4 Hobbies I have:

hiking (though, not too many opportunities in NW Ohio!)
bargain hunting!!

Okay....I tag Nicole. You're it!

Friday, November 30, 2007


As much as I love picture day, these pictures hit me hard tonight. Jason, too. I am growing very tired of watching my baby boy grow through pictures. It's just one of those blaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh moments. I want him home.

Fav Foto Friday

It's picture day!!!! Oh, I was sooo hoping we would get pictures today. I don't think Eli was having a very good day!! He looks so different in these pictures. And, look at all the drool on his face. Do you think he's teething?!?! Even with a grimace and slobber all over his chin, he is simply perfect!! Hang tight, Eli. Mommy and daddy are coming soon!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Season for giving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! We have so much to be thankful for this year. We spent our Thanksgiving with the Shank side of the family in Pennsylvania. Jason's mom is a fabulous cook so we are always spoiled with incredible food and we leave with our bellies stuffed!! I love it!! Unfortunately, I topped off the Thanksgiving weekend with the stomach flu. This seems to be a trend in our household. Jason was sick last year at Thanksgiving and I was sick the year before that. We seem to be alternating years. So, guess who's turn it is next year????? The worst part of it all...I had to cancel our baby shower coordinated by my coworkers (and awesome friends!!). :( Oh well, it has been rescheduled and I am going this time whether I am throwing up or not!! Hee hee!!

Since this is the season for giving, I would like to suggest an incredible gift idea sponsered by a nonprofit called Mayan Families (check out their website). They are doing wonderful things for the people of Guatemala. One of their annual projects includes sponsoring Guatemalan families with a Christmas Tamale Basket. This enables many families, who otherwise could not afford it, the opportunity to celebrate a traditional Christmas. When I think back to all of my wonderful memories of Christmas and my family's special traditions, I realize how much these traditions have not only brought my family closer together but also define who we are. Tradition is often the foundation of a strong family and a strong culture. Imagine your life without them. As insignficant as a Tamale basket may seem, it may mean the world to a family in Guatemala who otherwise has nothing. It may help bring them together for one evening as a family, light up the eyes of a child, and alleviate the stress of everyday life, if even for a moment. That means the world. What a great thing!! Check it out!!

Christmas Tamale Baskets

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Everyone's doing it

Have you elfed yourself?? I laughed hysterically when Beth and her family did it. I just had to jump in on the holiday fun. Check us out!! Hee hee!!

The Shank Elfs

Growth Spurt!!!

Our Little Pea is certainly sprouting!! We received updated measurements today and these were probably taken within the last 2-3 weeks.

Weight: 16lbs 14oz
Length: 26.7"
Head Circumference: 16.7"

Eli gained almost 3lbs from last month!! I have a hunch that maybe, just maybe, he may have started eating cereal and other baby food. Ya think?? He is almost in the 50th percentile for weight, around the 70th percentile for length, and the 25th percentile for head circumference. My coworkers and friends like to affectionately refer to him as gordito and I think they are on to something! We had better take a lot of Bengay on our next visit trip. Ha!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fav Foto Friday

This photo was taken the evening we received "the call" about Eli on May 11, 2007. I love this picture because we were sooo happy and excited and full of love for a son we had not even met, yet. Just thinking of that day still brings tears of joy. Our lives changed forever!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Guess who's back in PGN????

The face of pure joy!
YEA!!!!!!!! We just found out our case was resubmitted to PGN on 11/07/07. So, we already have a whole week behind us!! Now, let's hope for a QUICK approval!! Happy, happy day

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


EDIT: The number is up to EIGHT!!! All of the families we went to Antigua with back in August are OUT! CONGRATS!!! As my friend, Beth's husband said, this means 8 less files on someone's desk!! There's more room for the rest of us now!

Seven, yes you heard me right, SEVEN families from our agency were approved by PGN today. WOW!!! That is incredible!! The PGN floodgates are open so.....LET US BACK IN!!!! We gotta get in to get back OUT!

Please, please....I want to go home!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We did it!!

We finally registered!! Thanks to our dear friend, Sally, we made it through the Babies 'R' Us maze. Sally provided much need advice and mediation. Hee hee! Thanks, Sal!! The one thing that made me smile the most was one simple question on the registry application: Are you adopting? YES!!! Honestly, that made my heart sing. Though, when we went to Target and said we needed to register, the saleswoman said "wedding?" I suppose we don't look like the "typical" expecting parents. That's okay, I was too excited looking at the baby Christmas socks and picturing them on Eli's little feet to be annoyed with the sales woman.

I am also feeling this sudden urgency to get Eli's room done. We have been putting it off for a awhile, but it is time to create a space for Our Little Pea.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Look at these cuties!!

This is Eli and his foster sister, Baby F. They are 10 days apart and have been sharing a crib for the past six months. They are practically twins! We met Baby F's parents and her 2 big brothers through our agency and we spent our visit trip together in August. Baby F's family was with us when we met Our Little Pea for the first time, we all ate dinner together with our foster mom and her family, and we spent several afternoons loving on our babies by the pool. Pure joy! They are a beautiful family and it has been a blessing getting to know them while we go through this process together. They live around Cincinnati so Eli and Baby F will have plenty of opportunities to reconnect when they come home.

And.......we just found out that Baby F IS COMING HOME!!!!!!! Her case was approved by PGN last Friday!!!! We are so happy!! Congratulations!!! We look forward to many more photo ops like these in the future. Much love to your family as you embark on the next chapter of this amazing journey.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fun, Fun, Fun

Enough politics for right now. I am tired of it! Moving onto something fun: REGISTERING!!!

Yes, we are finally ready to register and move forward and envision our lives with Eli HOME. With all of the uncertainties over the past couple of months, we have been emotionally drained, anxious, and overwhelmed. Some days simply felt unbearable and there was no energy left to think about gifts, paint color, or diaper genies. But, the cloud has been slowly lifting over the past couple of weeks. It is time for a shift. We are moving forward with faith that Our Little Pea is coming home soon and we need to get ready! I finally got around to putting my monster to-do list on paper, so it's official. There is no going back when it's written on paper! Plus, there is great satisfaction in crossing items off the list!

So back to the have 3 days to tell us the "MUST HAVE" baby items! Share with us your favorite, can't live without, baby item! Come on, the clock is ticking until we enter the vast world of Babies 'R' Us!!

Doin' the happy dance!!!

Great news from Guatemala today!! Now, before I spill the beans let me just say this still needs to be approved by congress. But, this seems to be the most promising news we have heard in awhile!

Here is the posting from

Guatemalan papers are reporting that committees of Congress met yesterday on the adoption law. This was NOT the vote on the ammendments. But based on these reports, Guatemala will postpone implementing the Hague until April 1, 2008 in order to better coincide with the US's likely ratification date. Interestingly, one paper quotes US Consul General John Lowell as saying this is unnecessary. (what is this all about???? shameful, just shameful)

In addition, one paper is reporting that the Ortega Law's effective date will be bumped back to April 1 as well. One story also mentions that one ammendment to be voted on is to permit singles to adopt.

Is that a sigh of relief I hear?

Here is the posting on the JCICS website:

We can now report that members of the Guatemalan Congress, including numerous party chiefs, have submitted a new legislative proposal which:

- Includes a strong ‘grandfather’ clause
- Designates April 30, 2008 as the effective implementation date of the Convention
- Allocates $5 million Quetzales ($650,000 USD) for the creation of the Central Authority
- Allocates a percentage of the total government budget for child welfare services
- Creates a new government entity to act as the Central Authority in Guatemala
- Provides for private non-profit accredited entities to provide services to children
- Allows single potential adoptive parents to apply for adoption
- Creates a functional process by which children can find a permanent, safe and loving family.

The new legislation is scheduled to be introduced to Congress early next week. In line with our mission of advocating for the right of each child to a permanent family, Joint Council will continue to work with our colleagues in Guatemala towards a positive and child centric implementation of the Convention.

So, what does this all mean??? If the implementation date is pushed back to April, then all current adoptions will continue under the current system without any fear of new requirements or a suspension of adoptions. We have been terribly worried and anxious about what will happen if PGN does not approve our case by the end of the year. We will not need to worry about this if the implementation date is postponed. What an incredible relief. Oh my gosh, what an incredible relief.

The JCICS posting sounds like congress will be reviewing and voting on a NEW adoption law proposal as outlined above and it appears to be MUCH better than the current adoption law, called the Ortega Law. Absolutely incredible. One of the newspapers actually quoted a Guatemalan congressman referencing the signed letters from the US congress. Awesome.

Something as simple and easy as writing a letter, sending an e-mail, and making a phone call is making a significant difference in the lives of thousands of children. As usual, we have to wait some more to see how congress votes, but this is VERY, VERY promising.

Now.....if we can just get back into PGN! Several families from our agency were approved by PGN this week and I am sure there are more to come. It appears as if the floodgates have cracked open a bit. We need to get back in so we can ride the wave back out for good!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Grass Roots efforts are far reaching

Great, great news on the Guatemala5000 Call to Action Campaign regarding the status of adoptions. Our letters, faxes, and phone calls had a tremendous impact. Thank you!! I am very proud to say that both Ohio Senators (George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown) and our local Representative (Jim Jordan) signed the letters referenced below. In fact, Jim Jordan called us personally (not his aide!) to inform us he was signing the letters. I posted the letters on the side bar. Click to see if your congressman signed.

Also, the Guatemalan Congress is scheduled to debate the adoption law and all of the proposed amendments tomorrow. It is not known if they will actually vote tomorrow. We just have to wait and see! If it is anything like the US Congress, this could take awhile!

Here is the latest update posted on the Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) website:

Through our collective efforts, the Guatemala 5000 Initiative has resulted in 203 Members of the United States Congress supporting the completion of all in-process adoptions via their signature on letters being sent today, October 31, 2007 to Guatemalan President Oscar Berger, UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman and UNICEF Guatemala Director Manuel Manrique. The 203 Senators and Representatives represent the largest number in the 22 year history of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and the first time the Coalition has addressed UNICEF.

Joint Council thanks the thousands of adoptive families and their friends who made calls, sent faxes and emailed their Congressional representatives. We also extend our considerable appreciation for the efforts of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute for their tireless efforts, to the National Council for Adoption for their support and to the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Coalition, Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator Norm Coleman, Congressman James Oberstar and Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite for their vital leadership.

It is our continued hope that these letters will result in the development of a legal, transparent and expeditious process by which the thousands of children currently in Guatemalan orphanages and foster-care will find their permanent, safe and loving family.

As we have stated many times, Joint Council will continue our advocacy on behalf of the Guatemalan children until each child needing a family has found one.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fav Foto Friday Part Two!!

It's picture day!!! Yay!! Eli is 6 months old in these pictures. His hair is definitely getting thicker and could those cheeks be anymore kissable???!!

Fav Foto Friday


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dia de Todos Santos

Happy Dia de Todos Santos!! Today is one of Guatemala's most important holidays, All Saints Day (also called Day of the Dead). It is marked by processions and festivals mixing both Mayan and Catholic traditions. Most activities and celebrations are held in cemeteries, where people decorate gravesites and celebrate those who have passed away. The village of Santiago Sacatepequez, less than an hour from Guatemala city, has an amazing tradition of flying elaborate kites. At the village cemetery, locals fly huge brilliantly colored kites, representing souls rising to heaven. These are not your every day kites. They are very carefully constructed with cloth, ribbons, and various traditional Mayan and Catholic symbols. Notes are attached to the strings of the kites and carry messages to the dead and to God. What a beautiful way to honor those who have gone before us. Aren't these kites amazing?!?!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007



Previo Progress

Okay, another quick update! Our attorney thinks that the birth certificate is just a bad copy. So, one of his staff is going to the civil registry on Friday to get a new copy. Geez, let's hope it is that simple! Let's also hope that he gets us resubmitted to PGN on Friday because PGN is closed on Monday due to the presidential elections. COME ON!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Previo Update

We finally received an answer today! Apparently, our file was kicked out of PGN because there is a signature missing on the birth mother's birth certificate. I looked at the copy we have and there are two lines for signatures. There is a definite signature on one line and a questionable signature on the second line. I'm not sure why this matters, but....PGN has the power to ask for a new one. Our attorney said this should be a quick fix, but he did not specify when he expects our file to be resubmitted to PGN. We hope to get that answer by the end of the week. So, what do we do? You guessed it!! Wait.........

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fav Foto Friday

Hee hee!! These are a couple of photos from the first disposable camera we got back from Eli's foster mom when we were in Guatemala. Notice the adorable couple in the picture Eli is holding?!?! Ha!! We sent that picture with our care package back in June. Too funny!! Oh, a special note to the Westsylvanian's lurking...we did not, I repeat, did not send down the outfit he is wearing. :)

Eli's foster mom is playing dress-up with with some of the items we sent in our care package!! The hat, shoes, snuggly blanket, and of course the picture of that adorable couple. Hee hee

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Budding Artist

Eli's first refrigerator art!! This card was included with our disposable camera. Isn't this the cutest thing??!! We love it!!