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Guatemala Adoption

Our story of Adoption From Guatemala. p.4

We really cherish the time that we spent with Yeimi and Thelma. Before we left, we asked them if it would be okay if we prayed with them. Jenny and I took their hand hands and prayed. . I thanked God for them and prayed blessings on their family. I thanked the Lord for the fact that even though we’re from different parts of the world, different cultures and speak different languages, our families will forever be connected through this precious little boy. I also I promised the Lord, with them as witnesses, that we would strive to raise Andrew in a way that would be pleasing to Him.

Again, Elia translated as we prayed. It was another awesome moment. When we finished, we said good-bye and went back to our room.

What an unbelievable day!

By now it was about time to go to dinner. So we once again hooked up with Bill and Carmen. We found a wonderful Italian restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. We enjoyed good food and good company before retiring for the evening.

U.S. Embassy day
The next day was U.S. Embassy day. We were told be be in the lobby and ready to go by 7:30 a.m. Alfonso and Elia were waiting for us in the lobby. It was then that we met the other AGCI couple that was adopting that weekend, Rick and Deb Stehle from North Carolina.

We all piled in to a minivan and then it was off to the embassy. One of the strange aspects of our trip was the fact that car seats are not required, or even available. It was a strange feeling to be holding our babies on our laps as we traveled through town.

The embassy is not far from the hotel. Upon arrival, we met up with Pablo (he works for Hannah’s Hope). Pablo arrived at the embassy at about 6 a.m. in order to hold a place for us in line. We went in and then sat down and waited for our names be called for what they call and exit interview.

The interview as a piece of cake. We signed a couple of documents after swearing that everything on them was true. The lady congratulated us and that was it (or so we thought—more to come on that). She told us that Andrew’s visa would be ready at 3:15 and that either we or a representative from our agency could come pick it up.

Alfonso had already made arrangements for Vera (another worker at Hannah’s Hope) to pick up each family’s documents at 3:15.

We were done with embassy stuff by 10:30 and all three families were driven back to the hotel. We enjoyed lunch at the hotel with our new friends and then we went back to our room to rest.

Shopping in Guatemala City
The other two couples had their birthmother meeting scheduled for the afternoon. We, on the other hand, were finished for the day. Jenny called Elia to ask if it would be okay to head out to shop for souvenirs and to ask for a suggestion on where to go. Elia recommended a place near the hotel.

We headed out at about 3:00. We happened across some wonderful gift shops. It was fun trying to communicate with the proprietors of each shop. And boy do they like to bargain! Each time I asked how much something cost, they would show me a number on their calculator and then, before I could even ask, they’d lower the price. Several of them would say things like, “Special price for you, my friend.” It was fun…and we found some good stuff. We thought that Bill and Carmen might enjoy shopping with us, so we headed back to the hotel to find them.

Bad news
When we got back, we could find no one. We walked around the hotel lobby for a few minutes before spotting the other two families coming in the front door.

“Hey, guys! We found a great place to…” Bill interrupted us with, “Do you guys know what’s going on?”

What is he talking about? He could tell by the looks on our faces that we were clueless.

“You don’t know what’s going on, do you?” someone said.

Our hearts sank. Something was obviously wrong. We were thinking the worst until Bill said, “It nothing bad.” We needed to hear that.

Vera came rushing in behind them, trying to explain that they all had been frantically looking for us. Here’s why:

When Vera went to the U.S. Embassy at 3:15, they would not release the visas. They cited some “new rule,” requiring the families to return and sign one more document. This was all new to everyone involved. Vera tried to plead her case but when it was obvious that embassy personnel would not budge on the requirement, she high-tailed it to the hotel to find us. The other two families were meeting with their birthmothers so she found them right away, but where are the Bunns? Nobody could find us. We all had to get back to the embassy by 4 p.m. or risk having to stay an extra day. Well, since we were nowhere to be found (shopping away!, completely oblivious to what was going on), Vera took the other two families to the embassy to have them sign. They made it in time and experienced no other problems. For us, however, it was another story. Vera told us that we would probably have to stay and extra day. She was concerned that the embassy would not issue more visas until 3:00 p.m. the next day—bad news for us considering our flight back to the U.S. was leaving at 9:35 a.m.

A thousand thoughts were racing through our heads. What would we do? How much will it cost us to stay longer? Will the airline work with us? Is there another flight later? What are we going to do???

Alfonso showed up, completely aware of our situation. Someone suggested that we go to the embassy and try the “side door” for Americans who have emergencies. We hopped in the car and hurried to over to try it.

We arrived at about 5:05 p.m. (knowing fully that the embassy closed at 5). Alfonso rang the buzzer at the gate. A voice came replied. I don’t know exactly what was being said but I do know that there was some serious Spanish flying around. A few moments later, the guard door opened. The only things I could understand were the Spanish words for “impossible” and “tomorrow.” We knew this was not a good sign.
Alfonso confirmed our fear that we would not be able to get anything done until the next day. Had we been there before 5, we may have been able to receive help. But we weren’t, so it was on to plan B.

Plan B
Jenny and I were so impressed (and forever grateful) at how the good folks from Hannah’s Hope put every resource they had into action on our behalf.

They had one of their attorneys on the phone with embassy people that night. They contacted Delta to check on our options, and they established a plan for us to try to make the 9:35 a.m. flight (the only daily flight Delta offers out of Guatemala).

We barely slept a wink that night. We prayed, wondered and worried. We got up around 5:30 a.m. and began packing. We checked out at 6:15 and met Elia in the lobby at 6:30. She hurried us over to the embassy where Alfonso had been holding a place in line (the first place in line). Jenny asked Elia if she got much sleep that night and she replied, “No, mostly I was on my knees for you.” Can you believe that? What a wonderful, godly woman is Elia.

We were the first ones inside the embassy at 7 a.m. Now all we could do was wait. We were told that the department that we needed would not open until 8 a.m. So all we could do is sit and wait. In the meantime, Alfonso had taken our luggage to the airport in an effort to accomplish as much as he could without us. We were told that for international flights, you should arrive at the airport 3 hours in advance of departure time. Obviously there was no way for us to accomplish this. However, Alfonso made a good case for us with airline officials and Delta committed to getting us on the 9:35 plane as long as we arrived no later than 8:35. We knew we’d be cutting it close.

A window in the embassy opened at 7:30. The person working there was already well aware of our predicament. She brought the paperwork and we signed the necessary form. Wow!, we thought. We’re ahead of schedule. The worker told us that she’d go right away to try to get the forms stamped and approved. I thought we were done! But, alas, we were not. More waiting. 25 minutes later she was back. It was now 7:55 and we raced out of the embassy and into a car that was waiting for us. Lucas was our driver…and boy oh boy…well, the good news is, that we made it! God made a way for us. We completed check-in and baggage checks (and there are a lot!) by 8:20. Finally we could relax! Thank you Jesus!

The flight home
We found Bill and Carmen waiting, hoping we would make it. They were great friends to us, praying for us, crying with us, hoping for us. Jenny and I feel certain that they will be great friends for years to come. In fact, we’re already making plans to hook up with them this summer at the AGCI family picnic in Louisville, KY.

The flight home had 10 babies on board. The Lord blessed us with an extra seat for Andrew. Upon arriving in Atlanta, I welcomed Andrew to the U.S.A. Don’t think I’m a big softie, but I even cried a little. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so thankful to be an American. I just felt so incredibly blessed.
We enjoyed one last meal with Bill and Carmen in Atlanta before boarding the our connecting flight to Columbus.

Upon arrival we were greeted by a great group of friends and, of course, Natalie and Naomi (our daughters). Andrew was the star of the show. And the girls can’t get enough of him.

Things have gone very well since Andrew’s arrival. He is very pleasant and content most of the time. He’s adjusting very well. The very best part is when Andrew smiles when Daddy comes home from work. How cool is that?

UPDATE: Andrew is growing like a wild man. He turned two in June. He's the greatest! He keeps us hopping--and entertained. In January, we'll celebrate Andrew's 2nd "Gotcha Day"--a celebration marking the day we welcomed him into our family. Andrew is learning new things all the time. And he always has something to say.

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