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?!?!