Visit Number One
I have never been a traveling person, for I like feeling completely comfortable in my own little home circle. However, after receiving referrals from Guatemala, two precious baby boys both born in February, 2006, I was anxious to become a traveler. My previously unused passport wanted that Guatemala stamp badly. I am a teacher, so leaving my class for a week in May or June, just as the year was about to end and SOL tests are being administered, did not seem feasible. Sadly and anxiously, I realized meeting my boys was going to have to wait until school was over for the year. One more wait in this long process of waits to endure! During those weeks of wanting to cuddle my boys, I read everything I could find about traveling to Guatemala and about the country itself. I took a Spanish class because I wanted to be able to attempt communication with the foster moms. I struggled to learn at least a few relevant words, and phrases. I do mean struggled!! I picked up more that I had realized though for I was able to communicate enough to feel comfortable with the foster moms. The Spanish class turned out to be a really beneficial use of the time!! Finally school was out and the next day I, full of excitement and anticipation, was on a plane to see my boys.
I flew out of Dulles to Houston for a layover to catch the next flight. There were such thunderstorms in Houston and to the south that my layover turned into 6 hours. Would I never get to the country where my babies lay sleeping not even knowing that “mommy” was on the way? I was feeling very anxious, very nervous when I noticed through the window of the plane where I had been sitting over 2 hours, a beautiful rainbow and the late afternoon sun shining through the clouds. A sign?!! I took it as a sign from God reassuring me this visit to Guatemala to meet Eric and Alex would go well…and it did!
I arrived in the airport in Guatemala City at 1:30PM. The airport was basically deserted. There was a hallway that looked like a maze, turning every few feet. It led into the customs area. The customs officials on duty late that night worked efficiently and had friendly smiles. As soon as I got through customs I turned left to go out to the front of the terminal to look for the Marriott shuttle. It was pulling away from the airport but a helpful security guard noticed my anxiety, and stopped the shuttle for me. I learned that this Marriott shuttle does run day and night every half hour from the airport to the Marriott in the city. The trip to the hotel was only about 15 minutes. The Marriott itself looks like and is run like any American hotel. Most of the helpful, pleasant staff spoke English fairly well. I did not need to change my dollars to Quetzales. I found I did not really need cash for I could put everything I needed to buy at the Marriott on Visa. I shopped for gifts for loved ones at home and for the babies’ formula and diapers in the hotel gift shops. The prices were reasonable. The two gift shops did not have baby clothing except for 2 or 3 native dress articles which were great to bring home as heritage pieces. There was a McDonalds next door but I never actually saw it. I heard there was an open air market close by and a mall if you turned left at the corner. However I did not go out of the front door of the hotel for I had the babies with me all the time. The Marriott, as well as the other buildings in this wealthier section of the city, is behind a thick, high wall with armed guards on the gate.
At was after 2:00PM by the time I, in the shuttle, went by those armed guards at the Marriott. There are no bellboys on duty during the night. The driver of the shuttle kindly hung around to make sure I was checked in and took my luggage to the room for me. He said I look tired!! I had been traveling since 8:00AM that morning! I WAS tired but full of happy anticipation for I was finally going to hold, hug, kiss the cheeks of my boys this very day!! The expected arrivals were to be around 9:00 AM. I had been warned that the babies might arrive later than 9:00 for Guatemalans don’t feel the clock should run their lives as we Americans do. The Marriott has several areas with chairs and sofas arranged for just such meetings. I chose the one right in front of the doors so when the foster moms came in the door I would see them as soon as possible. I was thankful that just before I left for Guatemala, pictures of my boys had come, each with their foster mother, so I had an idea of what each would look like and of course, I knew I would recognize each of my boys!! I was there at 9:00 with a book to read while I waited, but of course I could not concentrate on one written word. I just looked around at all the other families waiting for their child or walking around with their child. There were so many visiting families in the hotel, at least 20. Babies were in every direction you might turn. I thought that was an extraordinary amount of visiting families but later found out from a Marriott employee that this was a slow week for American soldiers occupied one floor.
I did not have to wait long for I saw a foster mom walk in the door and knew the baby she held was Eric. OH the JOY!!!! Can one describe the feelings a mom has the first time her eyes actually see the child she has been loving through monthly pictures for the last 4 months? I already felt this little boy was a huge part of my family, of my heart!! She smiled as I said his name and handed him to me. All I could manage was trying for deep breaths, trying to be calm so as not to overwhelm Eric. Thank you, foster mom! Thank you, birth mom! Thank you, God!! He is truly a beautiful, sweet little bundle. He is so healthy looking. He did not cry when she handed him to me. I am blessed…..and as the week went swiftly by I felt more and more thankful and blessed to be given the opportunity to nurture and love this boy.
Just as I was getting my happy tears under control, I recognize foster mom and Alex as she walked in the door. There was my precious baby Alex. Can life get any sweeter? This little petite, precious Alex… my son to be…..a brother to be!! He, too, was calm, and did not cry when I cuddled him. I am truly doubly blessed and realize every aspect, every particle of how wonderful these 2 baby boys are.…how sweet my life is!! Did I say that I feel SO blessed? Forgive the repetitive words but there are NO words adequate to describe the deep feelings I have for these babies and the life we will lead together, when they truly become members of my family in presence. They are members of my family already in spirit and in heart.
The week flew past. If I wanted to walk one of the boys as he slept, I did. If I wanted to just sit and cuddle one or both, I did. I took advantage of every moment to LOVE my boys. I wanted each of them to remember somewhere in their little consciousness that I am mommy and I love you!! You might wonder how I managed with the two. It was not a problem for when Eric slept, Alex was awake and Alex slept, Eric was awake! I was loving on one or the other every minute ALL week!!! Both were such good sleepers. Each would begin to fuss a bit for his bottle and go to sleep while drinking it. Both turned over during the week…a milestone to share with me?!! Thank you, babies! I have many wonderful pictures of our time together during this heart-fulfilling week.
During the week in the Marriott, I got a chance to talk to other families visiting their child. We would pass in the restaurant or lobby and comment on the beautiful babies. A couple of adopting moms were staying there as they fostered their babies themselves. I felt sad and a bit envious to be honest that I could not stay there to foster Eric and Alex myself. However, that is just not an option for me nor was it for most of the families visiting. The focus of each adopting mom and dad was bringing their baby home as soon as possible. We all enviously looked at those that were there to pick up. I met at least 3 families that were taking their baby back to the US. It was at least encouraging to know that these few had gotten completely though the process.
The foster moms of Eric and Alex had been fostering the boys since the first week of their birth. I could tell that both of the foster moms lovingly cared for the boys’ needs. Both had tears in their eyes as they left them with me on Monday. However, they both let me know that they were happy for us and felt good about leaving the boys with me. I assured them both that I would take good care of the boys and that I appreciated the love for I could see they had for the child in their care. On Friday they both were too prompt for my liking to pick them up. However, they sat with me, graciously giving me time to cuddle each and say my “see you soon” for I could not say “goodbye”.
Leaving on that plane after my visit was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I thought about Eric and Alex down below me as I flew out of Guatemala City. When would each be on the plane with me? It is hard not to wish life away…. the months that will have to pass before the adoption is approved and I can go get those precious little ones that I feel are so much a part of my heart and soul. I feel I am their mommy and I am in the US. I feel they are my sons but they are in Guatemala. How many months will pass before my heart does not feel scattered?
I will continue to pray that these boys will come to be with me sometime in the winter. I won’t set an actual timeline month for the disappointment of hitting the end of the timeline without the boys would be too painful and disappointing. This winter..I pray!
Meanwhile, I am fortunate for I have been able to book another visit to be with Eric and Alex for a week in August. This non-traveling person has become a seasoned traveling adopting mom!!
The final chapter
September 2006, home with both boys 7 months from referrals: Whatever twist of fate let led me to Little Miracles and such a dedicated group! Thank you for always communicating, for always making me feel special. You told me my babies were waiting for me, and they were!!
The staff in Guatemala were so very helpful and attentive. Even after I was brought the packets for exiting, he said to keep his cell and call him for any reason, night or day…for we stayed 2 more days! I appreciated his being available, even after we were technically finished. He was always kind and helpful. The staff was wonderful.
I am still half in disbelief that I actually have Alex and Eric with me at home!!!! They are both so precious…such sweetness in their snuggles, such cute (but very different) personalities. I feel such love; such protectiveness and this week we have all been working on adjusting to all the new environment, people and emotions. How long will this feeling last of such thankfulness and gratefulness and AWE that I have Eric and Alex home?? This feeling that I have been granted a wonderful gift…2 wonderful gifts!!! Maybe these feelings will last forever! I have one friend who says I am just suffering with sleep deprivation…well, I have not had much sleep!
I am just so lucky, so happy to have these TWO “Little Miracles”!