Friday, July 28, 2006

Paper Chase Continues

Such a busy, busy week! With the pictures and the interview and we also got to assemble a care package and send it to the boys. Each child could receive whatever we could squeeze into a 1 gallon size zip loc bag. We were able to send a few outfits, a toy for each of them, a letter to the foster mother and a self-addressed envelope in the hopes she will write back. We also sent the foster mother a St. Christopher’s medal necklace in honor of Austin and Logan.

Gary and I also had to deal with quite a paper chase this week. We sent in a form (I600A, Petition to Adopt an Orphan) back in early June and should have heard back within 2-4 weeks. We were nervous because our check had not been cashed in 7 weeks and that, to us, meant our paperwork might have been lost. As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to get a live person on the phone or to get any specific information about your case on the phone. At my wits end, I was in tears. Luckily, I married a Knight in Shining Armor. Gary took a day off from work and drove to Norfolk to see if he could reach a resolution. I thought it was a futile effort. But Gary’s slow perseverance and patience paid off. He refiled our paperwork that day – nothing short of a miracle AND he secured us a fingerprinting appointment for 2 two days later! My hero!!

So, all that’s behind us and we’re pluggin’ on, each day bringing us closer to meeting our little angels. We are now waiting on new pictures and video to arrive sometime around Aug 17th. We’ll try and get them posted before our cruise which we leave for Aug 19th! We are also still waiting on DNA testing which once completed will allow Gary and I finally travel to Guatemala for an extended visit. Yippee!

Thursday, July 27, 2006



TWINSIGHTS: Tell us a bit about your path to becoming twin parents.

DONNA: I was one of those girls who always played house and dreamed of being a mother. In my high school year book, in response to the question, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I responded, “Married with at least 2 children and another on the way.” Well, 27 came and went – no husband, no kids. 30 came and went – no husband, no kids. Finally when I was 34, I married my prince, Gary, and lo and behold, he even brought me two children, Mason (a brand new 14-year older) and Evan (a thriving 11 year old)! God has always made me wait for things in life, but when He delivers, he always seems to bless me more than I can imagine.

So, I can’t quite say that I was surprised to find out that after 3 years of trying to conceive, going through infertility treatments, surgeries and more, that we would be getting not just one highly sought after baby, but TWO!! I had known my “risks” of multiples was high with infertility treatment, but never thought adoption would bring me those same results!

TWINSIGHTS: Was there a particular aspect of adopting more than one that made your decision “easy”?

DONNA: The decision to adopt, in general, was an easy one for Gary and I. Once that decision was made, we faced a whole new realm of questions – what type of adoption? domestic? International? Older child? As with our infertility treatments, we relied on prayer and God’s guidance to make the right decisions. We would go one way, that door would close and God would open up another. So, after about 3 or 4 wrongs turns, we ended up in the Guatemala program! Again, we trusted God, we did not specify or request, “girl” or “boy” in our application, we simply said, let Him bring us the child that is supposed to be in our family. And He works His power in a wonderful way – our social worker, Lisa happened to be in Guatemala touring the facilities the very day twin boys arrived and she was immediately washed over with a sense of our names as a match. Lisa remembered that, as fate would have it, our immigration application “just happened” to go through with the number “2” in the “How many children are you requesting to adopt?” field. It was an “error” Gary and I both saw, but neither bothered fixing (since we wanted 1 and 2 was more than 1, we figured we were covered and just left it alone).

So, late in the afternoon on June 2, as Gary tells the story, he got to call me, in a role reversal he relished, with the “We’re pregnant” news. He said we had pictures on e-mail of referrals (not just of the twins, but of a baby girl, too) if we wanted to accept one of the referrals. And like any good Mom when she finds out she’s expecting, I flew into a tyrant! I was very upset that things had not happened the way I had planned them to. I was in a panic! We weren’t supposed to get “the call” for another 4-6 weeks. I wasn’t ready. Our paperwork wasn’t ready! And what was I supposed to do if we didn’t accept one of these referrals – continue to look at a bunch of pictures of babies and say, “Oh, no thank you. That one’s too round” or “That one is not quite what we were looking for. Do you have something in a smaller size?” Or any one of the other crazy responses that were going through my head. I make light of it now, but I paced my house for a good hour until Gary finally came home and we could look at the pictures together. My stomach was churning. I had previously had a conversation with another adoptive Mom and told her I was worried about “seeing your child” for the first time on a computer screen. Oh, and did I mention we had to let the agency know by that night if we wanted to accept either of the referrals?

So, here goes - this is the very first attachment we opened:

DONNA: And the world stood still. It was like the breath was knocked out of me and at the very same instant being filled with something else, “These are our children,” I immediately thought. Gary and I spoke not a word and continued to open pictures. There was a picture of a precious little girl and I thought, “How beautiful!” And at the same time, “She’s someone else’s, she’s not ours.”

But, Gary had two boys, What if he really wanted the baby girl? And how selfish of me to want two babies. Shouldn’t they go to someone else who can better meet their needs or better yet, afford them? I mean it’s not like Payless Shoes, Buy One, Get One! - We would have to finance two full adoptions. Could our already depleted pockets afford this?

We made small talk as we continued to open all of the pictures and flip back and forth between them, commenting on how beautiful and how small and how cute all the children were. After about 15 minutes, I finally said, “Okay, right off, first thought – not worrying or thinking about anything, what’s your first instinct?” To my delight, Gary simply said, “The boys.”

So to get back to your question - Was it easy to decide? In our hearts – YES, and that’s what we finally went with. Despite feeling selfish, despite not knowing where the money was going to come from, despite all the unkowns, we went back to our roots, we had allowed God to bring us our children and this is what He brought us.

TWINSIGHTS:Tell me a bit about your twin anticipation….what is your family’s twin expectancy like?

DONNA: [Son] Evan was home with us when we got the pictures that night. When he heard “twins,” his first words were, “Twins? We are NOT getting twins. We can barely handle one new baby in this house. There’s no way we can take care of TWO! Do you know how much work that’s gonna be?” And like children at a pet store, Gary and I are whining, “But we WAAAAANT two!!! “ He’s bought into it now, though and is very excited. Although he still worries… “Two, how am I ever gonna teach two boys how to play basketball?”

Mason has been a big brother once and is looking forward to doing it again. He hands-down refuses to participate in any diaper changing events, but is looking forward to spending time with the boys doing much more fun (and cleaner) activities.

TWINSIGHTS: How has your extended family responded to the news of “two on the way”?

DONNA: The more the merrier! Everyone is very excited about their arrival. Grandpa Taylor (Gary’s Dad) has re-finished and re-safeterized the Taylor family crib and was planning on bringing it to Virginia from Maine. He’s unsure of whether he needs to find another crib or maybe, as he states, “Well, I guess they could just sleep end to end, huh?”

And Grandma Barbie (my mom) is about ready to jump out of her skin waiting for the twins to get here. She’s already purchased us two strollers (one for her, one for us) and two infant seats. We got a great deal from another mom of older twins!

Aunts, Uncles, and cousins galore are all eagerly anticipating updates and the final arrival of the boys.

TWINSIGHTS: What has been the most challenging aspect of awaiting your twins’ arrival?

DONNA: Yes. ;-) I mean, that’s it – the waiting!! While adoption (over additional fertility treatment options) gives us a more definite end result of baby(ies) in arms, there’s no real timeline. We have about 6 hurdles to clear from the start of the process to the finish. Each step (or hurdle) can take anywhere from 2-18 weeks. We’ve passed through about 2 of the hurdles so far. We strongly believe what you think about, you bring about. So, we’ve just set a date of December 19th and said that’s when the twins will be here. And we know twins come early, so….

It’s also really hard to watch your children grow up without you. We know that they are being well cared for by a foster mother. And we have heard so many wonderful stories about how the Guatemalan culture dotes on and takes pride in caring for their babies. From all the pictures we’ve seen and from other adoptive stories we have heard, we know that to be true and that’s what we’re holding on to.

That’s also why I enjoyed reading your book, Twinspiration. I can follow step by step what the pregnancy must have been like for the birth mother and also experience the first 5-6 months of Austin and Logan’s life even though I cannot be there in person.

TWINSIGHTS: What has been the most rewarding?

DONNA: Getting pictures and updates!! We have already assembled a baby album and we even have a video we can watch. I carry the mini brag books and the video with me (I can play it on the computer) and look at or watch them all day long. We are also SO fortunate in that the particular lawyer we have in Guatemala uses a doctor that sends pictures and medical reports after every monthly check-up – so, about every 4 weeks, we get new pictures! Which we quickly post on our website. That way, all of our many friends and family members can stay up to date with the latest news!

TWINSIGHTS: When will you get to meet your twosome?

DONNA: We are currently waiting on that hurdle, hurdle #3 is DNA testing. The US government requires that the birth mother come in and have a DNA test performed to match her to the children. Years ago, there were claims that babies were being stolen to “sell” to the US for adoption. This is the US’s response to ensure that all babies who come into the US are doing so with their birth parents permission. At that time, the birth mother comes in and both her and the children will go through DNA testing. Hopefully, on that day, we’ll get more information on her and/or her family. Hopefully, we’ll also get a picture taken with her holding the boys. Having that picture will mean so much to Austin and Logan when they’re older.

Once the DNA test is performed, we are free to travel to Guatemala and meet the children! While in the country, we will get full custody of the boys – they will stay with us the whole time! Unfortunately, as much joy as the thought of visiting them brings, it is quickly dashed with the thought of leaving them again. However, we have been told by many adoptive parents that this trip is an amazing journey – we’ll get to take pictures of us with the boys at an early age, we’ll get to start the bonding process, we’ll get to see their country so that we can tell them all about it later, etc. We’re hoping that trip will take place in early September. Then, we come home and wait for the final “Go” trip. On that final trip, we will take Mason and Evan with us and pick up the boys. They are really excited about that!

TWINSIGHTS: How are you (can you?) preparing for their arrival?

DONNA: Well, we just sent off our first care package to the twins. We can only send what will fit in a one gallon size zip loc bag (one bag per baby)! That’s not much, but we managed to fit in a few outfits, a blanket, a toy, a note and gift for the foster mother, a camera for her to take more pictures of the boys and a few bibs.

We’ll also need all of own supplies for when we visit and care for the boys – so we’ll need to purchase some bottles, formula, clothing, diapers etc.

It is a little hard to register or stock up on supplies here because we just don’t know quite what age or what size the boys will be when they arrive. That’s another waiting game until we find out, we’re sitting on our hands waiting, just waiting.

TWINSIGHTS: Would you tell us how you selected the boys' names?

DONNA: Austin was born Cristofer Josue (pronounced ho-swey) and Logan was born Cristofer Alexander. Both being named “Cristofer” seemed weird to us, too. But I was informed “Cristofer” is much like “Mary” as in “Mary Elizabeth, Mary Kate, Mary Ann” etc. In previous conversations, Gary and I had originally decided that we would like to keep some of the Guatemalan name and combine it with an additional American name. From the beginning, Gary liked keeping “Cristofer” as a middle name for both of them. I was slower to buy into that, but once I read the origins of “Christopher,” I loved the idea!

“Christopher” means “bearing Christ inside” and comes from St. Christopher, the patron Saint of travelers. As legend goes, St. Christopher was a mighty and strong warrior who carried travelers across the river and one day he carried a baby across to safety, and that baby was baby Christ.

We loved it! So, we named our boys Austin Cristofer and Logan Cristofer, keeping the traditional Guatemalan spelling of Christopher.

TWINSIGHTS: We'd love to hear any additional details about your experience/decisions/anticipation that you'd be willing to share....

DONNA: Well, people have asked us lots of questions. Like, why does it take so long (to get them here)? And the answer is, it’s just government, it’s forms, it’s paperwork. And I don’t think that we fully appreciate the efficiency of our government (And I’ll debate that myself with our recent Immigration form debacle!), but other governments just don’t have timelines and deadlines or even an established sense of order for processing forms. Some applications go in first and sit forever, or get denied for any random reason. Others go in and get processed in two weeks with no problem. So, we’re just not paying attention to any of that – to where our paperwork is and how long it’s been there. God has done pretty well so far, so we’ll just let Him continue doing what He does and we’ll be waiting by the sidelines ready to jump in and do what we need to in order to bring Austin and Logan home safely and quickly!

Secondly, folks ask us, “Why did the birth mother give the boys up for adoption?” Answer to that question is, we might never know. We are told most adoptions in Guatemala happen simply because of the poverty. There is no welfare system in Guatemala, no social services, no back-up plan, etc. But our heart goes out to any mother (or father) who, for whatever reason cannot care for her child(ren). My hearts breaks just imagining the turmoil of it. What a brave and unselfish woman who will let her child go, knowing that’s the greatest gift she can give them, letting them go. As often as I think of my joy and celebration, I mourn her loss and pain.

Oh, and we were right about the little baby girl. She did belong to another family. Another family we already knew! They have 4 sons and were looking for their daughter in Guatemala. We exchanged e-mails a few weeks later and found out that they had accepted the referral of that same beautiful little girl, Mira, who will be living right here in the area close to Austin and Logan! Yippee!

What an incredible honor it was to "e-interview" this "expecting/awaiting" twin Mama.

If you would like to share a word of support, encouragement, or congratulations to Donna and her handsome (and growing even more so!) family, please feel free to e-mail me here at Twinsights ---and I'll see to it she receives your greetings.

Thank you Donna for your candid responses and for embracing your new role with such love and enthusiasm.

We anxiously await some photos of you getting some REAL embraces from those sweet little boys.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More pictures arrive! Check out them out in the Photo Album section. We are so impressed with how well both boys seem to be doing. They look wonderful – well fed and well taken care of. Not to mention, we think they are incredibly handsome and adorable!

Here we are at a little over 3 months old! We've grown up a little - Austin weighs 12 pounds and Logan is at 11 pounds.
We are wearing outfits that Mom and Dad picked out for us. Perfect fit!

All of our new clothes and new blankets smell just like our new home because Mom and Dad bought them a while back and have been sleeping with them ever since. This will really help us when we get to meet them for the first time in person!

Have you figured out who's who yet?
Logan is on the left and Austin, making his favorite facial expression is on the right.

And here we are at a distance! Next time Mommy is just sending us onesies -
that way everyone can see our toesies!

Lots going on all around us!

BIG stretch!!

Logan gives us a smile!!

And Austin gives us another one of his infamous Popeye looks!!

A litte smile from Austin!

United we stand!

Bye-Bye!! See ya next time!!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 20th

Written in my journal:

Horrible day – I feel like nothing is moving. No word on the I600A – Wed 1800 number, told to call 757 number 8:30 – 10:30 Friday am. Called, first time 26 minute wait, hung up on. Called back, told write or visit, make appointment – can’t make an appointment!

Hung up, cried, and frustrated – horror stories on the web about PGN – I had been ignoring, but heard new stories about DNA testing delays. Also, big e-mail going around about Focus on Adoption Group.

6-8 week time frame for pictures and video turned into 10-12 weeks, got first pictures June 2nd, won’t get more until Aug 20 – that’s excruciating!!

Need to write Foster Mother a letter. Need to write Austin and Logan. Need to update website.

Read where others had I171H before even sending dossier off – knew we should have waited, but then wouldn’t have Austin and Logan.

Lisa – was great – took charge, gave instructions, took action - soothed and consoled. Says things are moving in Guatemala and that I171H won’t hold things up. Promised me a baby – and to hold on tight to that thought.  Which SUCKS because THESE are my babies!

Looked at my time line – July 20th – family court….;-) things moving on.

Horrible cable day, lost phone, lost e-mail, more long phone calls.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Letter to Foster Mom

This is what I wrote up and had translated and then sent with the care package....of course, I don't think the family ever got it.  Just my two cents.

Dear Foster Mother –

Words cannot begin to express my gratitude and love for you. I think of you and your family every day and Thank God for the wonderful things that you are doing caring for Cristofer Josue and Cristofer Alexander. We (my family) also pray for C. Alex and C. Josue’s birth mother and family. I wish there was a way to tell her I think of her pain and sorrow. I wish there was a way to let her know, to ease her pain, to let her know that her boys will be so incredibly loved, that we will embrace their Guatemala heritage and that we will return many times so that they’ll always know where they came from.

My husband and I are so in love with C. Alex and C. Josue. We look at their pictures all day long. We cannot wait to meet them. We have included pictures of our family, me, my husband, Gary, our oldest son, Mason and Evan.

We have also included a camera and would appreciate it if you could take pictures of the boys to document this part of their lives. Pictures with you and the boys and anyone else in your family. We know it cannot be easy to love and raise a child (or children) knowing you have to let them go. And we want to make sure you stay a part of the boys lives.

It is also our pleasure to include a necklace that we picked out for you – a St. Christofer’s medal, in honor of Cristofer Alexander and Cristofer Josue. We hope that you like it.

I am looking forward to meeting you and hugging you and thanking you for all that you do. Please let me know if there is anything that we can do or bring to help you. We plan on visiting, if possible before the final adoption trip.

I would love to hear from you if you have the time. I know you are busy and may not be able to. But I have enclosed a self-addressed envelope to make it easier for you. You can just write in Spanish and I will have it translated. I would love to hear all about you and your family and your thoughts on C. Alex and C. Josue.

I speak a little Spanish, but am looking forward to learning it better. We will see how much I improve!

God Bless,

Questions – These are questions that we ask so that we can “fill” in questions Cristofer Alexander and Cristofer Josue may ask later in life.

Do you know where (what hospital) the boys were born?

Do you know anything about their birth parents or their family?

When did you first receive the boys? What were your first impressions – what can we tell them later in life?

What can we tell the boys about their lives now? How many people are in your family that they live with? Does anyone in particular play with them?

What can we tell the boys about you? Have you had other foster children?
Do you want to stay in any kind of contact with us? Letters, pictures?
Any fond memories, special comments about Cristofer Josue?
Any fond memories, special comments about Cristofer Alexander?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More pictures arrive! Check out them out in the Photo Album section. We are so impressed with how well both boys seem to be doing. They look wonderful – well fed and well taken care of. Not to mention, we think they are incredibly handsome and adorable!

Monday, July 10, 2006

First twin purchase!

Yea!! We found a great deal on 2 strollers and 2 car seats from another Mom of twins. They are in amazingly beautiful condition, like brand new! Grandma Barbie generously purchased them for us and is storing them in her attic.

Also, We went to dinner with friends and were introduced to another family that adopted 3 siblings from El Savadore and one from Guatemala. It was SO wonderful to meet and sit with them and enjoy hearing their adoption stories!