Thursday, December 22, 2005
December 5, 2005 - We awoke early and headed out the airport. This was it, we were going to get our son. We knew that later that day - we would finally hold him in our arms. You could tell we were excited because we actually left the house a little earlier than we had planned. We got to the airport early and it was mobbed! The lines moved swiftly and before we knew it, we were standing in front of our new best friend, Robert. Apparently the idiot at US Air who originally took our miles reservation only held the reservation - she didn't book the ticket. After a little work from our friend, we were headed to security.We got through security with enough time to grab some breakfast to bring onto the plane with us. We were held up a bit due to weather in North Carolina. By the time we reached Guatemala, we were already about an hour later than expected. We went through customs (it was a breeze) we headed over to get our luggage. The conveyer belt was broken so they started unloading by hand. These guys were incredible - lifting the bags like they din't weight a thing. After about 40 minutes, we learned that they had put out all of the luggage from our flight. Turns out our bags were still in North Carolina. Luckily we packed a bag with an extra set of clothes for me, Marc and Dylan so we weren't too concerned.While in line we met a lovely Guatemalan couple. They were horrified that belt was broken and our bags were lost and felt like it was an embarassment to them personally as Guatemalans. They were so kind and offered us a ride to the hotel. We declined only because we saw the shuttle to our hotel. NOTE TO PARENTS GOING TO PICK UP THEIR CHILD: Always pack a change of clothes for yourself, your SO & your child in your carry on luggage. Also pack some extra diapers for the baby, PJ's, etc. This way if your bags get lost, you are covered. The Westin in Guatmala is fantastic! The have a floor just for families with a little family room with a sofa, toys for the kids, a microwave, a sink and a bottle purifier. When parents have left overs (food, formula, diapers, etc.) it is left in the cabinets. I thought it was pretty funny that there wre a few bottles of wine too!We had gotten to the hotel too late for the attorney's office to bring Dylan to us so we had to wait till 11:00 a.m. the next day. We went out to eat outside the hotel at Taco Inn (very tasty for those of you going), had a few beers and went to bed. December 6, 2005 - Marc and I are normally early risers so we decided to explore the area around the hotel and went for a long walk. We had breakfast and waited for 11:00 a.m. to roll around. And we waited and we waited and finally emailed the agency at 11:30 that we were getting worried. Apparently our attorney was behind schedule and would be by at 2:00 p.m. with Dylan and his foster Mom. AAACCCKK So we waited and waited and at 2:00 p.m. our phone rang. It was RM (the attorney) and she was in the lobby with our boy. We ran down to the lobby and we knew him on sight. He was even more beautiful than his photos. He smiled when he saw us and we just melted! Neither of us cried - I think we were in shock that this day was finally here. We met his wonderful foster mom. Unfortunately, his foster dad couldn't join us. They gave us a small photo album and you could really tell how much they loved him. She even called us in the hotel the next day to check on him. The rest of the day we just got to know our boy. How he likes to be held, how he likes us to hold his bottle, etc. He showed us how he makes rasberries and how much he likes it when we make them on his belly and neck and toes. We were told that the Westin had strollers that you could borrow (leave a $5 deposit that you would get back when you return the stroller). What we hadn't counted on is them running out of them. We ended up carrying him everywhere and he sat on our laps when we ate. I actually learned to eat right handed! December 7, 2005 - Embassy time! Our appointment was at 7:45 a.m. so M & her son (M works for our attorney) picked us up at 7:00 a.m. along with another family and took us to the Embassy. After going through security we were brought into a room. M told us that we would hear our names called and that we were number 10 in line. Just go to room 8 and she would wait for us there. After about 40 minutes our name was called. We went into room 8 which was really tiny. Like a brook closet with 2 chairs and a big window. We were sworn in and asked a bunch of basic questions. The lady behind the glass stamped our paperwork and told us we would be called to window 5 in a little while. We went back into the room and waited. About 30 minutes later we were called to the window and told to sign a few documents and we were done. We could pick up the visa on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Actually, the attorney's office picks it up so we were pretty much done w/the Embassy. We were not able to leave the hotel because we had no identification for Dylan as the Embassy keeps his passport and they don't want us to leave the hotel w/out his identification. We just hung out and relaxed and got to know each other, had dinner in the Italian Restaurant in the hotel. The chef came out and introduced himself and wished us well. Then a couple sat down across from us and we chatted about Guatemala and the adoption. It was lovely. After dinner we just went back to the room and went to bed. Dylan gets up once or twice during the night for his bottle but then goes right back to sleep. December 8, 2005 - After breakfast, M's son, C picked us and another couple up and took us to a craft market near the airport. I guess with C with us, there was no concerns about being stopped with the babies and being asked for ID. We shopped for some things to take home for Dylan. We got a little puppet, some material to be made into a Tallis for him and a hand woven sling to carry him in (that we couldn't use because the dye was rubbing off on both of us). He brought us back to the hotel and told us that either he or his mom would be back w/our Visa's. We just hung out in our room until 4:00 when they called us with the Visas. We were done. All we needed to do now was wait till Saturday for our flight. We had dinner at the buffet restaurant in the hotel and... you guessed it... went to bed. Deceber 9, 2005 - We had the whole day to ourselves with nothing to do but enjoy ourselves. At this point we still didn't have a stroller and our backs were sore from carrying him so we went to the mall 3 blocks from the hotel, went to the department store and bought a stroller. It's a Graco and it was perfect! We walked around the area surrounding the hotel. When we got back to the hotel, it was sunny and warm so we headed off to the pool. Dylan enjoyed it but as soon as we got into the pool, the sun went behind the clouds so we had to bring him out. He feel asleep in his stroller so we were able to just relax by the pool for a while. That night we went out again to the Tacotento (sp?) restaurant down the street from the hotel for dinner. It was wonderful because Dylan was able to hang out in his stroller while we ate. Then it was back to the hotel to rest up for our trip the next day.December 10, 2005 - up early with Dylan. We packed up, ate breakfast and then called to the bellman to get our bags. We ran into the woman we had met in the Italian Restaurant again and she was telling us how wonderful Dylan is (um, duh!). Anyway, she went on to tell us that she had met a gay couple who had adopted and wasn't that horrible! We explained that we knew several gay couples who have adopted and feel it is a wonderful thing. Man, she took off like a bat out of hell! On to the airport we went and, after a slight delay in checking in (when we arranged for Dylan to come home - we gave the name "Dylan" instead of his birth name which is on the passport), we went to our terminal. The stroller proved to be invaluable - we were able to put some of our luggage in the basket under the seat. While waiting we met a couple who had just visited with their son. The wife was very teary while looking at Dylan. She explained that she had gotten her referral when her son was 2 days old. They hadn't wanted to do a visit trip but since it was his first birthday (yes, you read that right) they felt it was the right thing to do. The poor woman was in tears and my heart was breaking for her. It's all about her agency - they refuse to answer her questions as to what is going on and when her or her husband push things she is told that if they don't keep their mouth shut they will lose their referral and will never be able to adopt from Guatemala again. So very sad. We were very fortunate in that the woman checking us in at the airport decided to book us so that we had an isle and a window seat and the seat in between us was empty. This was wonderful because Dylan managed to fall asleep just after take off. We were able to lay him down across the seat which made for a very comfortable trip for the tree of us. Of course Dylan decided, after he woke up, to have the most toxic diaper known to man. When I was getting out of my seat in order to change him he tipped over in the seat and scratched his face. I was so upset with myself. He didn't even wimper. I have to say that the changing table in the bathroom was perfect. Just wide enough and long enough that I didn't have to worry about him falling over (he likes to grab his toes and roll onto his side when I change his diaper). As we were landing in Charlotte, the pilot came over the loudspeaker and reminded the passengers that cameras and recording devices were not allowed in customs and, if anyone was caught using them, they would be confiscated. He then said (dryly) "Welcome to America". All of the Americans on the flight got a good laugh out of that. We were very unsure of what happens next. We knew that we had to give this package to customs but we weren't sure where. Basically, when you go through regular customs, there are two lines, one for Americans and the other for "others". We were told to go to the "others" line. We were called up to the customs agent and a supervisor was walking by and mentioned that she hadn't seen any adoption kids come through. I laughed and said that we have one here. She wished us many blessings. The customs agent processed us and took our paperwork and told us to go through to the next area. The security guard in the next spot was a real asshole. He wanted some blue card that the customs agent took from us. We explained that we didn't have it - that she had taken it with the rest of our documents. He kept insisting that we had it till finally he just waved us through and told us we needed to go over to immigration (most people just passed straight through - we had to go to the area to the left). We met with a lovely guard there who asked us to leave our luggage and wait in a room - he said they'd come and get us. Another family (who was in line behind us at customs with 4 kids) joined us in the room. They were Guatemalan but there was a problem with one of their son's visas. We chatted, I changed Dylan into his pj's and, after about 10 minutes a guard came in and handed us Dylan's passport and welcomed us all to America. Then came the dash.. we had to recheck our luggage and run through the airport (thank Gd for the stroller) to make our flight. Turns out we had the time wrong and we had enough time to grab a bite to eat and call a few family members to let them know we were in.We jumped on the next flight and he fussed a bit (bitch in th neat seat was giving us dirty looks - I told Marc I was tempted to let him cry for the entire flight). He fell asleep right before takeoff and then woke up right before landing. We were home. We got our luggage, hopped on the shuttle, got our car (Marc played Tetris with the luggage - and did an amazing job) and came home. It was an incredible experience. I definately want to go back to Guatemala and travel around the country. The people were so very kind to us. We really didn't experience any of the anti-adoption sentiment that we hear so much about. There was one woman at the hotel who was giving us very dirty looks but that could also be because we didn't have him all bundled up (he hates being hot). Now we are home, safe and sound, Dylan is rolling around on the living room floor making rasberries at the cats as they walk by. I don't think I've ever been so happy!