We woke up early that Friday morning. Really early. Roberto was to pick us up at 10am. In Guatemalan time, that means between 10 and 11.
We waited and waited and finally called him. He stated he needed to take the boys to have their US Embassy examinations done. We were stunned that hadn't been done beforehand, but we didn't have much of a choice. He said he'd be done around 3 and would call us.
4 o'clock rolled around and we called again. No answer. We continued to call and finally received a call back stating he was done, just leaving the hospital with the boys, and would bring them to us. WHAT?! Ok fine, but that's weird. I guess we don't get back to the orphange, say goodbye and THANK YOU, and give our gifts in person. Fine. As long as we get AJ...As long as we get AJ.
At 5:45pm his car finally pulled around. We saw one of the nineras get out of the car and walk around the side. That told me that had dropped off one of the boys already. Then the other ninera got out with AJ. She carried him into the hotel with the other ninera and Roberto following her. I could barely concentrate. He was sleeping. He was tiny. Still. Roberto greeted us, gave us a giant folder and a giant envelope, and literally said, "Good Luck, Have a Nice Life." The ninera handed AJ to me and asked me if I wanted the blanket he was in. I declined. Why I remember that...Guatemalan's tend to dress their children in layers, warm layers, even when its 90-100 degrees outside. Roberto started to leave, rather abruptly, and we stopped him, saying we had gifts for him, the nineras, especially Sylvia-AJ's caregiver, and some other things. He said something swiftly to the nineras about the gifts and Sylvia, and left.
And there we were. In the dark-quiet lobby of our hotel, with this little boy. Who was now FOREVER OURS. For the first time in this whole process, I panicked. He was ours. We would be boarding a plane with him in a few days, and actually taking him home. Surreal. A wonderful family from Ireland saw us in our early forever moments with AJ and said (in his awesome Irish accent), "Is this him? AH, congratulations. I'll leave you be, this is a special time." And it was. We eventually pulled ourselves off the couch and took AJ upstairs. We stripped him down to his onesie. He woke up and gave us the sweetest grin. We fed him a bottle and a half (that he chugged)and put him on his Quilt of Love for the very first time. ****As I am writing this, I've been plowing through a box of tissues. As I write, I view the pictures in our "Pick-Up" trip folder on the computer. I think I've stayed away from these pictures (& most of all the videos) just for this very reason. I don't ever want to feel these emotions again. Yet I am, as I am writing I am thinking: How on earth could this have happened? How did no one know? How did we not know? How could they lie to us or just not see all of this? He can't hear me so why was I talking to him? Would it have been different if we knew? Could we have gotten him sooner? Now I watch the videos and see things that we didn't see then. What blinds me now is what I didn't see then. What blinded me then is what I can't see now. All these memories we had thought would be so perfect, are now so heartbreaking. And to think, it was only the beginning....****
We spent Saturday and Sunday bonding with our son and visiting with other families. When we first booked our trip, we were disappointed we've have to spend an extra two days in Guatemala. AJ was once again, SICK. Stuffy, congested, had a runny nose and a fever. He adjusted well to the "American" formula we had brought along and we figured out he still had not been given solids. Grr. He's not holding his bottle-thats strange since they prop them early on. Hm. The bald spot on the back of his head had gotten much larger, including a small oval-shaped area that was scar tissue. He stared at his hands. He banged his head in his crib. He was still a thumb sucker-how cute. He wasn't sitting up-at all. Hm...he's not responding to us all the time. Maybe he just ignores loud sounds since he's used to the orphange being loud. Yeah, thats it. Well see when we get home.
Early Monday morning we met with our translator/coordinator for our US Embassy appointment in our hotel lobby. He checked over our paperwork and walked us over to the Embassy.
It is an odd feeling watching Guatemalans look at you as you are entering the US Embassy with one of their own. It was not a hostile environment at all, but I can imagine there is some grief associated with seeing 50+ children and their new adoptive families enter the US Embassy each day. Think DMV. Busy. With lots of babies. That, in a nutshell, is the US Embassy.
Our translator/coordinator was wonderful. He lead us through each of the steps, most of which were waiting! We were told that the US Embassy doctor's report stated developmental delays. DUH. He was a premie, he's an orphange baby. Yeah, yeah, its all in place for when he gets home. AJ fell asleep shortly after we arrived and slept through the entire 4 hours we were there. He was officially ours in the eyes of the US. One of us had to return to the Embassy the next day to pick-up AJ's VISA.
We walked back to the hotel and put him down for a nap. I remember the outfit I put him in for the big day. It was a 3 month outfit that was big on him (at 13 months old), but we managed to make it fit. He looked like a little golfer. When he woke up we took him outside in the courtyard. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. We hung out with fellow families and watched AJ touch grass for the very first time.
The next afternoon we again, hung out with fellow adoptive families and waited for the "Dads" to come back from the Embassy with the VISAs. All went well. It was official-AJ could leave Guatemala and enter the US!
We went back to our room and started packing for our flight out the next morning, making sure not to forgot our precious cargo! That Wednesday morning I was wound very tight. I didn't even realize it till I had a near meltdown when suddenly AJ didn't like the Snuggli. We said our goodbyes and loaded into our regular taxi. We started driving and our taxi guy, congratulated us. (Guatemalan's do not use car seats, so AJ was on my lap) When we turned off of the main drag to take his shortcut to the airport, I began to cry. I felt joy. I felt pain. I felt guilt. I felt relief. I felt it all. Here we were taking this little baby away from everything he is supposed to know as life. Here we are fulfilling our dreams. We pulled up to the airport and received the typical "stares" from the locals and quickly made our way to the check-in counter. We tried to get an upgrade to First Class, no luck.
We boarded the plane by way of a new jetway that had glass walls. I started to cry again. I snapped a picture of Jer & AJ on the plane before we took off, cause I just didn't know what the flight would be like with a baby on board.
He was fine, after he decided to have a blow-out diaper as we went up. That fasten-seat belt sign could not go "off" fast enough! I was so worried about keeping him quiet. FYI, you can't hear diddly on a plane. Nevertheless, you can hear things as you descend. AJ screamed the entire descent, while the flight attendance said, "Oh, you can give them a bottle (Um, yeah, he didn't want it) or give them these drops." (Um, no pharmacy on board and I'm sorry, I"m doing the best I can). Needless to say, we deplaned and I was once again wound tight. AJ even whimpered as we rode down the escalators in the airport. I think his ears were still trying to adjust. We made our way to the line for customs/immigration and then sat in a very warm room while everyone went ahead of us and Jeremy's cousin is calling to find out where in blazes we are. We were given the go-ahead and met Jeremy's cousin and his family downstairs. AJ's 2nd cousin was so sweet...she gave us a glow-worm for AJ. This was the first time we heard, "He's so little."
As we drove back to their house, I was super stressed. It was noted and suddenly we arrived home to pizza and margaritas-the latter of which was my request! We were welcomed with a cute basket packed with baby items and a pack n' play set up for AJ.
Hello USA...Hello Texas!
We had a nice laid back evening, letting AJ roll around on his Quilt of Love and sitting outside enjoying the one another. We realized he was sicker than we thought. He most likely had an infection that was now trying to work its way out. I began to get nervous about the plane ride home. That night AJ woke twice to eat. I woke up automatically, just before he did. Weird. I fed him and found myself restless. I wandered into the den and watched TV for a while. I just could not shake this odd feeling I had....