Our life is nothing short of an adventure...

Wind in our hair and screams of delight but also unpredictable turns and unknown outcomes. We are a family of six; Dave, Susie, Nate, Jake, Sam, and Bella.

God has been faithful in our marriage and through the birth and blessings of our boys.

God has been faithful during our adoption journey and united Bella with us in May of 2008. We were privileged to visit with Bella's birth mother; therefore, Bella's family in Guatemala will always be dear to our hearts.

On October 16, 2008, Bella was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia. We are now battling the disease with 2 years and 3 months of treatment. We believe God will continue to be faithful!

Our family is committed to living life to the fullest...even on the hard days. Thank you for checking in and journeying with us!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Officially, Undeniably OURS!

We received word yesterday that our birth Mother signed the final declaration making Bella our legal daughter. Although this comes as a huge relief, it brought sadness as well. It could not have been easy to walk in to our orphanage and relinquish all rights to her daughter, but her heart is bigger, she wants a better life for her child....a life she has no way of giving her. We will forever keep this birth Mother in our hearts and prayers.

We were also registered with Mixco Civil Registry yesterday for Bella's new birth certificate that will change her last name to ours, it is step 8 of 10 in the process. In the average normal time ranges, we could expect to travel in 6 weeks or less to pick her up....and although their have been issues with this civil registry in releasing Birth Certificates, we believe God! And we know that "He has gone before us and paved the road smooth". We "will not fear" and we anticipate her homecoming very soon and on His perfectly appointed day. After we receive her Birth Certificate, 2nd DNA will be ordered and taken, the results are sent to the US Embassy in Guatemala and upon them receiving the results, they will issue us what's called a "Pink Slip" with a Visa Apt. That's when we get to book airline tickets to go and bring this baby girl HOME!!!

We are so blessed and favored by our Lord, we pray daily that our journey of adoption glorify's Him! Please speak life with us in that "Bella has her new Mixco Birth Certificate today with no Previews in the name of Jesus!"

Blessings to All

Friday, January 25, 2008

Prayer and Blessing for Mixco CR

Just asking all of you to continue praying for the loosing and casting down of corruption in Mixco Civil Regsitry, but also to add to your prayers blessings and provision to all workers in the Mixco Civil Registry and Minors Court. Most likely, the reason for the corruption is FEAR! With adoptions in Guatemala being on hold till US and Guat are Hague compliant, these workers are more likely than not being tainted with Devils lies that they will not be able to provide for their families. This is not God's will for them. Jesus told us to forgive others and bless them. So we "forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do". May you dear Lord bless these officials with prosperity and provision, and your Truths.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Praise God! We are PGN Approved!

I sit here at my computer posting in utter awe at God's perfect plan and answered prayer. Today, we received the official news that Bella is legally ours. We spent 10 weeks in the Guatemalan Courts called PGN, and not only did we receive it in record time, but we also had no kick outs or previews. Today we celebrate God's unmerited favor and grace, we are so blessed....

Our next step is that Birth Mom will sign off within the next 3 days and we will be registered with Mixco Civil Registry for her new birth certificate which will read her new given name! This Birth Certificate is a must in order for her Guatemala Passport and US Visa to be issued. At this time, the facts are that Mixco Civil Registry is corrupt and have been withholding Birth Certificates for 3.5 months now for the sake of extra $ which is not only unethical, but illegal. Generally speaking, Birth Certificates are issued in 2 weeks or less, the normal time frame from PGN approval to children coming home is 4-6 weeks, thus, this corruption is holding children from being united with their families. HOWEVER! These are only the facts, the truth is that God is bigger than all of this and His glory will be revealed. We ask that you join with us in prayer in the victory of casting down the corruption. Below is the prayer that several of us families are praying and believing God for. Like Abraham, we will not "consider our body" but stand firm in our faith.

But today, we Praise you Lord for what you have done and what you are doing. Thank you for "going before us and paving the road smooth". All the glory goes to you!

Prayer: Gracious Father, for the sake of Your most holy Name, everything You have is ours. You have given us, in Christ, every spiritual blessing for the purpose of the coming of Your Kingdom. We have been given authority over ALL the power of the enemy. Our weapons, faith/love, the Name, the Blood, and the Word, are mighty for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds. O Praise Him! In the Name of Jesus, that is above every name, I wield the sword of the Spirit that is sharper than any other and penetrates to the core. In the mighty Name of Jesus, the enemies' power at Mixco Civil Registry in Guatamala is broken. In the soverign Name of Jesus the stronghold of corruption is overthrown, destroyed and led away in public triumph, defeated, despoiled and captive to the obedience of Christ to the glory of God the Father. O praise you Jesus, Bless Your most Holy Name, You are glorious Lord, may men see and acknowledge your glory. Thank you that our faith overcomes the world. Thank you that You are a rewarder of those who believe. I praise you most wonderful LORD, in the Name of my precious Jesus, Amen

Josh 9:12-14, Eph 1:20, Eph 2:6-23, 2Cor 10:4,, Lk 10:19, Heb 4:12, 1Jn 5:4, Eph 6:11-18, Lk 15:31, Eph 1:3, Co 2:l5

Monday, January 21, 2008

Our response to Dateline

Many of you will have seen the segment on Guatemalan Adoptions Sunday evening on Dateline. I wanted to post my thoughts with you as well.

Although the segment did a fine job reporting some of the corruption that goes on in International Adoption, they failed to report the whole story, spending only 5 minutes of a 60 minute segment to report that the majority of adoptions are legal and ethical. They forgot to mention that 80% of Guatemala lives in severe poverty and that children used to roam the streets alone, trying to survive, before adoptions. They failed to interview hundreds of legal and moral private agency's, attorney's, facilitators, foster families, birth Mothers and adoptive families. I appreciate their good intension, for the most part they did a good thing, my frustration is that the media almost ALWAYS reports only one side of the story, and many times on speculation, instilling fear, doubt and worry to the general public.

Here's what I want you to know about Guatemala Adoptions through our experience:

YES! Corruption is real in Guatemala. Their are attorneys, facilitators, foster families, etc, that are using a system for their own financial gain. There are also employees within the Guat Government system using their power for their own financial gain....Dateline didn't investigate that, I certainly wish they did for those of us families now who are currently experiencing that form of corruption while in the process to bring our children home. However, the overall adoption program in Guatemala is GOOD! Thousands of children who would be roaming the streets of Guatemala, living in the dumps, dying on roads, are now home with Forever Families in many different parts of the world, the majority do come home to the US. Our daughter will be one of them.

Adoption? Why are we adopting? We have 3 biological boys, why not have your own? This is a question we here a lot, and it always shocks me. Yet I know that they have not had the same calling on their life that we have, God has not laid that on their heart, and so I say to myself "Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do".

In January of 2006, a seed was planted in my heart to adopt. I don't recall that moment when I thought about it, but I do recall the time spent on researching adoptions, countries, interviewing agencies, etc and the whole time thinking..."What are we doing? We have not done babies in 7 years, my boys are all in school now, I have time now to focus on my career, we can travel more, start over with a baby?" By May 2006, my husband and I attended an informational meeting with our now current adoption agency and on the way home in the car, we decided we were going to adopt a baby girl from Guatemala.

We were very careful in our choice of agencies as we were very well aware of the corruption in Guatemala, baby snatching, paying birth Mom's for their child, etc. and we wanted no part of that. That is directly from the pit of hell and we were not going to go down that road. Yes, we paid a higher price to make sure that did not happen, but its been worth every penny.

What many of you don't know about our agency is that they treat the whole scenario and person. They do not just care for orphans and uniting them with a forever family, but they also treat the Birth Mom. Our agency has a home specifically for the care of the Birth Mothers during their time of pregnancy. They give them a beautiful home with their own bed, feed them, provide for all their medical needs, provide them with counseling before and after the adoption, teach them skills so that they can find jobs when returning home, give them spiritual guidance and bible studies, they treat them with love, dignity and respect. What they do not do is "pay" these woman for their babies, the woman CHOOSE adoption for their child because they have no way to provide for them. All of these Mothers are single, some very young 12.13. 14 years of age. They do not have family support or even a job to care for themselves much less a child. The birth mothers of this program are allowed to choose the family for their child based on a photo album and birth mother letter the adoptive families prepare a head of time. They have a say in their child's life, they are empowered and ultimately at complete peace with their decision for their child.

We had the privilege of meeting our birth mother when visiting our daughter in September and it was absolutely the most humbling experience I have ever had. She is only 20, lives in poverish conditions and she told us that her family will not support her with this baby and that the Dad is only 18 and still lives with his parents. She was afraid and very sad. But by the end of the visit, one hour in length, we were laughing and looking at pictures together, sharing stories of our lives and what this little girl will receive in her life with us. In the end, I held our Birth Mother in my arms and we wept together. Easy....oh no, nothing about leaving this child in our arms was easy for her, but she's a Mother, and she wanted what's best for her daughter....and she just couldn't provide for it. Fortunately for our Birth Mother, our agency offers a program where we can send continuous updates, photos, letters, etc. to our birth mother through the agency. The birth Mother may return to the agency at any time to see if their has been any correspondence from the adoptive family and they will give those items to her. Of course we will be doing that at least once a year, hoping to do so twice. In addition, birth mothers of our agency also receive continuous counseling after the birth of their child and through out their lives should they need it. Our agency's programs also houses the Mothers after they deliver for up to 6 weeks after so that they can recover from the birth. This is one of the GOOD stories I wish dateline would have written on.

My husband, myself and my children can honestly say that we will NEVER be the same again after this experience. We have experienced the absolute center of God's heart. To hold a child in your arms that did not come from your physical womb and feel that same absolute unconditional love you have for your biological children is totally the love of God. I pray every day that God will give me the words to describe this experience, but I still struggle to find them, yet I am living it. And if you ever have the opportunity to talk with us, you will see it in our eye's, our body motions, our smiles. Although sweet Bella is still not physically home with us, she is very much a part of our lives.

We ask you to please pray for all the children and birth mothers of Guatemala. There are hundreds of children still stuck in a corrupted adoption system trying to get home to their forever families, these birth mothers have already re-relinquished their rights. There are also hundreds of babies being born every day, toddlers and young children who will be wandering the streets because their is no new system in place to take on these children. Guatemala does not have Government run programs to provide for the large number of orphaned children. US and Guatemala must become Hague compliant immediately, there are children at stake. We pray daily that the strong hold of corruption will be broken and that God will be victorious!

I posted a picture of one of the many bedrooms provided for the birth mothers of our agency. Every family has the opportunity of visiting this home when traveling to Guatemala to meet their child.

As always, thank you for checking in on us. God Bless!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

4.5 month Update!!!

Our Bella girl is growing, but only in weight! We received our update today, she is now 15 lbs and 24" long. So she's my "little chunk"! Cant wait to kiss her cheeks. Everyday we get closer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Still Waiting......................

It will be 9 weeks tomorrow that we have been in the Guatemalan Court System called PGN. We expect to get news of our approval any day. The wait for the official news is hard at times, but we are confident that God has answered our prayer and we believe that Bella is Approved with PGN. Upon approval, our birth Mother will sign final declaration and Bella will legally be our daughter.

We should receive new photos next week as well as the medical update report, however, the camera's at our private orphanage were stolen during the Christmas season and there may be a delay in photos. No worries, were heading to Guatemala soon to bring Bella home...

Please keep our process in your prayers and all the families in Guatemala who are also waiting to bring their children home. Especially our good friends the VanZantens, Culps and Buwalda's. We all have girls at the same orphanage.

Blessings to all, thank you for checking in on us. We will have amazing news very soon.

Friday, January 4, 2008

More Changes and Prayer Needed!

"As I've mentioned in previous posts, the Guatemalan Congress voted to require Hague compliance for all international adoptions effective January 1, 2008. Our original concern (back in September 07) of whether or not our case would be allowed to finish under the effective law at the time we started the process was alleviated when an appropriate grandfather clause was approved by the Guatemalan Congress December 21st.

However, Hague compliance in Guatemala requires that all cases, even those protected by the grandfather clause, be registered with the Central Authority on Adoptions within 30 days of January 1, 2008. While this doesn't sound like a difficult or unreasonable requirement, THERE IS NO CENTRAL AUTHORITY ON ADOPTIONS. Cases are now required to register with an entity that does not exist. It has not yet been created.
PGN, the current approval authority of adoptions has stopped processing cases until they are registered with the Central Authority. The Joint Council on International Children's Services posted this statement today":

January 4, 2008
Joint Council can confirm that PGN is no longer processing adoption cases with the exception of those that have already been approved. All other aspects of adoption processing have been stopped.
This is a result of the new adoption law requiring the registration of cases with the Central Authority prior to cases being reinitiated. Joint Council continues to advocate for a position solution to the situation.

We are blessed to say that we are now 7 weeks in PGN and Praise God....NO PREVIEWS! It is our understanding that all adoptions PGN approved with no previews will not be required to register with this yet to be "Central Authority". We believe with all our heart, soul and minds that God has answered our prayers and Bella is PGN Approved today. But we ask for your continued prayer and support, not only for us, but for the 1000's of families stuck in this situation. Although the changes being made in Guatemala are for the best in the long run, it is hard on those of us that are going through the transition. As you know, it has been almost daily changes since we received our referral of Bella in September.

Your prayers are felt and we remain strong in the one who promised to "finish the good work He has started".