Sunday, September 30, 2007

Some hope

Whew, what a crazy time it is right now! We are relieved to read that the US Dept of State updated their frightening announcement to say...

"At this time over 3000 applications for adoption from Guatemala are in process at this time with USCIS or the Guatemalan government. The U.S. government is asking the government of Guatemala to allow such cases, currently pending, to proceed to completion without additional requirements."

Hopefully, the US DOS is doing the right thing and not just trying to appease the angry mob at their doorstep! I believe they are making some sort of effort because the US Embassy issued many preapprovals yesterday. Many of my fellow blogger pals received preapproval after only waiting 22-29 days. Just to give you some perspective, we waited 63 days. So, this is definitely a step in the right direction and gives hope to many families. Even so, many agencies are organizing and placing a lot of pressure on both the US and Guatemalan government to allow in process cases to be approved under the current system. Check out the following site for more info on what you can do to help.

In the meantime, we continue to hold onto hope that we will be approved by PGN by 12/31/07. My obsessive compulsive side hit hyper speed last night as I poured over our attorney's PGN timelines. Cases with our attorney appear to average 11-18 weeks in PGN. There are 13 weeks and 5 days from the date we were submitted until the end of the year (I wasn't kidding about the obsessiveness! Ha!) So, it is certainly possible that we can be approved by the end of the year. Now, our attorney really has no control over what happens in PGN. The PGN reviewers have complete control over our case and can request that a document be redone for any reason. All our attorney can do is act quickly if something needs corrected. We are holding on tight to hope right now!!

For all of our non-Guatepadres reading, I know you are wondering when Eli will come home once our case is approved by PGN. There are several more steps once our case is approved by PGN so it will be an additional 4-8 weeks after PGN approval before Eli will be able to come home.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What a week!

Wow...the past week has been an unbelievable roller coaster. As you know, we were informed about an error on Eli's birth certificate that would take 2-3 months to correct. Our attorney would not submit us to PGN until this was corrected. We were just heartbroken and tried to process the idea that Eli will most likely not be home until spring. Many, many tears ensued because we just could not stand the idea of not seeing Our Little Pea again until spring. We have been feeling completely helpless. So, we decided the one thing we can do is to pack our bags and go visit Eli again. Today we booked our flights and made our hotel reservations for 12/25-12/31. What a huge spirit lifter!!! We are so excited!!Two hours after booking our trip, our coordinator calls me to inform us that...........

WE ARE IN PGN!!!!!!!

Geez!! Amazing how everything can change in an instant!! Our attorney submitted our file yesterday. At this point, we don't know if Eli's birth certificate has been fixed and we hope to get a response from our attorney within the week regarding this question. So, it was either fixed very quickly or our attorney decided to submit us anyway given the other very alarming news that rocked the Guatemalan Adoption world this week. So, please send lots of love and positive, happy thoughts to the PGN reviewers so that they approve our adoption before 12/31/07.

Please Help

As you can imagine, international adoption is plagued with politics. I have intentionally avoided this topic on the blog as it can be very depressing and complicated and my objective was to stay focused on the joy of our journey. Well, I should have known this topic was unavoidable and now it has become extremely urgent. This week, the president of Guatemala announced that any adoptions not approved by 12/31/07 will not be processed under the current system and possibly even stopped. Now, this could change because this action is unconstitutional and violates the Hague Convention. However, it does not mean that he won't try and it could cause significant delays or even a temporary shutdown. Our agency anticipates that the start date of any new legislation will be pushed back to spring. But, there is no guarantee. The situation in Guatemala has been very unstable for a few months now, but we have been given reassurance all along by both the US and Guatemalan Governments that any adoption in process before any changes in law/procedures would be grandfathered in under the old laws. The US Department of State issued an announcement this week as well and basically said to all of us adopting parents "sorry about your luck, but you are on your own with this one." So, these announcements have created a huge panic in the adoption world and in our house as well. The situation is very complicated and I cannot go into all of it now, but it is a very critical time for our voices to be heard on the matter. You can read more about the situation on many of my blogger friend's sites listed on the right hand side and on the following sites:

The MOST important thing you can do right now is to sign the following petition urging the US to support legislation in Guatemala that protects the future of Guatemalan children. It takes a few minutes of your time and there are thousands of Guatemalan children at risk. Thank you for supporting all of us in this process.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

8 Years Ago Today....

Jason and I were married in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I can't believe it's been 8 years already!! Happy Anniversary to us!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I have a secret......

...a Secret Blog Pal, that is. What?? Who knew such a thing existed??!! Not me!! Being an amateur blogger, I had no idea what this vast blogger world had to offer! So, what is a Secret Blogger Pal, you ask? Well, it is sort of like a Secret Santa or pen pal amongst the adoption blogger community. The idea behind Secret Blogger Pals is to provide support and encouragement to one another as we venture through this crazy adoption journey together.

So...I hate to brag, but....I have the BEST secret blogger pal EVER!!! She has been spoiling me (actually Eli) with wonderful gifts and, most importantly, has provided so much support and encouragement. She is just wonderful and very special.

B - Your thoughtfulness, support, and heartfelt messages have touched me deeply. Thank you!!

This is the first gift Eli received from my Secret Blog Pal. It is a wonderful book on being a kid and has photos of children from all over the world. No matter what the culture or the language, the climate or the customs, kids will be kids. And to be a kid means...getting kisses, having fun, and making friends that last forever and ever.

The second gift is this beautiful CD of lullabies from around the world.

The third gift arrived on a day that I needed a reminder to stay optimistic. How perfect! This is a little t-shirt for Eli. I can't wait to put it on him!

This latest gift is another wonderful book reflecting some of the things we value the most. Every day all over the world, children are laughing and crying, playing and learning, eating and sleeping. They may not look the same. They may not speak the same language. And their lives may be quite different. But inside, they are just like you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Back on the Wagon

Well, we were very sad last night. We cried, drowned our sorrows in margaritas, and moped about the house a little bit. I have a feeling that their will be many margaritas in the coming months. :) *Jen - We predicted we would need lots of liquid courage!* But, we are back on the wagon! Granted, the wagon is not moving right now, but...we are hopeful that this birth certificate thing will be fixed quickly. This journey has been incredibly wonderful and amazing, but it is HARD!! We knew in our heads it would be hard, but no one could have prepared our hearts for this roller coaster ride. But, Eli is worth this wait and we are in this until the end. He will come home.

So, my "quote of the week" arrived in my inbox today and it was just what I needed right now.

You need only choose... then keep choosing as many times as necessary.

That is all you need do. And it is certainly something you can do.

Then as you continue to choose, everything is yours.

-Vernon Howard

Last night I needed to be sad and somehow figure out how to process the possibility that Eli may not come home until spring. It's so difficult knowing there is nothing we can do to fix this and bring Eli home. It is easy to feel helpless. But, I do have some choices. Today I am choosing to be hopeful and choosing to trust that the universe's timing is perfect. I may not understand why and it may not feel fair that we may have to wait longer for our son to come home, but I need to trust that there is a greater purpose for this timing.

As for tomorrow, I don't know what I will choose.....perhaps more margaritas!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bump in the road

Well, it's a very sad night in the Shank household. We received news today that there is a mistake on Eli's birth certificate and it will take 2-3 months to make the correction. Our attorney discovered the error before submitting us to PGN. It's great that he caught it before the reviewers, but.......we are so heartbroken with this news. We were hoping to be OUT of PGN in 2-3 months. So, I wasn't kidding when I said Guatemalan adoptions are unpredictable! All we can do at this point is hope that it gets fixed quickly and that we catch a break once we are finally submitted to PGN.

On a lighter note, our Signature HomeStyles party was a HUGE success!! We don't have the final amount that will be donated to our adoption fund, but it is at least $600!! So, despite some bad news today, we have much to be thankful for.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Where to begin??? HELP!!

So, I guess we need to register for our baby shower soon, at least that's what everyone is telling us. You would think I would be excited about this, but today it feels like a daunting task. Adoption is hard and, right now, it is very hard. Registering for gifts just feels so trivial when I am just aching for Eli to come home. Now, don't get me wrong, I certainly like to do my share of shopping and I have quickly discovered the fun of shopping for a child, my child. Just right now, all I care about is him coming home. The rest is just stuff.

Even so, I realize we do need at least a few things. :) With this in mind, we need some help with this baby registry thing. Where is the best place to register (online and physical store)? Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of options in our area. At least we don't have many options that we like. So, please, please give us some suggestions of fun baby stores, at least do it for Eli's sake! Otherwise, he may come home to a cardboard box for a crib. Ha! Actually, we have the crib part taken care of thanks to Jason's sister, but that is about it. So, please give us suggestions!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


We received a wonderful update today: We have approval from Family Court as of 9/6. Yea!! We are so happy and relieved. We are officially ready to enter the final review phase: PGN. Many adopting parents claim that PGN is the hardest phase because there is no predictable timeline. PGN goes by many names that I probably could be censored for writing :), but it is most respectfully compared to the Attorney General's office. Once we are submitted to PGN, our file is randomly assigned to a reviewer who is responsible for making sure our file meets all of the requirements of Guatemalan Law. Seems pretty simple and straighforward, eh? Well, you would think so, all depends on who reviews the file and how he/she interprets the law. Some families have been approved by PGN within 5 days while other families are stuck in PGN for months with no end in sight. The "average" timeline (and I use average very loosely) is 8-12 weeks. We hope to be submitted very soon. We are trying to stay very positive and send good "APPROVAL" vibes to the PGN gods and goddesses. The wait is getting very difficult and we miss our little pea terribly!! WE WANT HIM HOME!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Pre-approval, but not without a catch!

We finally received pre-approval from the US Embassy!! Woohoo!! This is a huge step required for our adoption to move to the final approval stage. We actually received approval on Sunday, but the embassy screwed up my e-mail address and we never received the notice. Our adoption coordinator caught it (she rocks!!) and called us today to give us the good news. She forwarded the notice and, as I was reading this coveted document, I noticed that Eli's birth name is wrong! Good grief!! So, I had to call our coordinator back and let her know. Hopefully it can be remedied fast!!

Monday, September 3, 2007


We are having another fundraiser for our adoption fund. As I mentioned in a previous post, we met a woman at our garage sale who is a consultant for Signature HomeStyles. She generously offered to donate all of her proceeds if I hosted a home party. Wow! I am continuously humbled by the generosity of others throughout our adoption process. So, I am hosting a Signature Homestyles Party at our house on 9/8 at 2:00pm. If you live nearby, you are invited to attend and spend a couple of hours socializing. Even though this is a fundraiser, there is no obligation to buy if you come to the party. I would still love to see you! If you are unable to attend the party, but are interested in seeing what products are available you can browse the website. If you see something you like, shoot me an e-mail at ! In order for us to get credit, you must place your order through me and not the website. Thanks a lot and happy shopping!!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Go Tribe!!!

Jason and I went to the Cleveland Indians game last night and were so privileged to sit a few seats down from the famous Tribe "drummer!" For Tribe fans, he is a cultural icon! He has been coming to almost every home game for over 20 years and beats his drum to get the fans going. They even made a bobblehead in his honor! And, to top it all off, Kenny Lofton threw a ball from left field and nailed the drum. Now, the drummer sits in the highest row in the bleachers and was holding his drum up as a target for Kenny. Apparently, this is a little game between the two of them. Pretty cool!! It was an awesome game and we are ready for the WORLD SERIES!!! Okay, I know that is a little premature, but a girl can dream, right??!!