Monday, December 31, 2007

Update and Lots of Holiday Pics

Hi everyone! No new news from Guatemala. We are still waiting for pre-approval from the U.S. embassy. Our DNA results arrived at the embassy on Dec. 12, so we are on day 18 of our pre-approval wait. In the past few days I have seen some families on internet Guatemalan adoption forums receive pre-approval around day 40-45, so maybe the typical 60 day wait might be shortened a bit. Let's pray that it is waaaayyy shorter than 60 days so that we can get our case into PGN as soon as possible! Once we are in PGN, we have at least an 8 week wait and possibly more if we are kicked out of PGN for any reason.

We did book our flights and our hotel rooms for our trip to Guatmala in February. The boys are very excited! We are staying at a very nice hotel with a heated pool, so we'll probably just hang out poolside for most of the time. We hope to have Miranda with us at the hotel for most of our stay.

We have had a lot of holiday fun over the past week. Below are some pictures from a party Matt and I went to, from my birthday, and various Christmas pics!
My friends Gwen and Liza. I was just thinking... I have known them both for 13 years! And I still see them at least once a week!
My friend Rachel, the hostess for the party. Haven't known her that long, but wish I had. (The cake says Happy Birthday Jesus (and Michele).
Celebrating my birthday. Matt bought me tickets to go see Blast! at the Fox Theater next month. I'm super-excited! The boys waiting at the bottom of the basement stairs on Christmas morning! I worked and didn't get home until 6:45am. I was actually surprised because everyone was still sleeping! The boy cousins all got matching T-shirts from Uncle Brad and Aunt Allison.Max holding 4-month old cousin Lucy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

more pictures and updates

I met with Anne, our adoption coordinator, today. She told me more about her visit with Miranda and her foster family. She said that the foster grandmother has a big role in caring for Miranda and Anne could tell that both the foster mother and grandmother really deeply cared for her. Anne also told us that we are OUT of family court! That means that the social work interview and report is complete and we are just waiting for pre-approval from the U.S. Embassy, which has been taking up to 60 days for many families. So, now we wait some more! We are planning a visit to Guatemala City in February, so that gives us something to look forward to.

When Anne first met the foster mother back in November, she gave her two disposable cameras from us. The foster mother gave her one back this past week and I just had it developed today. In these pictures, Miranda is anywhere from 4-7 weeks old.
We sent her that striped outfit she is wearing! We sent her that outfit too!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New pictures!

Look at that smile! These new photos were taken last week, so she is around 7 weeks old. Our adoption coordinator said that Miranda is incredibly responsive and smiling a lot. Her foster mother said that she is going to see the pediatrician this month and we will get new measurements after that appointment. She is drinking 4 oz. every 3 hours. She goes to sleep at 9pm, wakes up for a bottle at midnight and then sleeps until 6am! Her foster mother said that when she wakes up, she smiles immediately. The foster mom has asked our permission to have her ears pierced, which is a very common thing in Guatemala for baby girls. When Miranda grows up she'll probably think it is pretty funny that I didn't get my ears pierced until I was 18!

I am meeting up with our adoption coordinator in a few days. She says she has a letter for me from the foster mother and one of the disposable cameras that I sent down for the foster mother to take pictures of Miranda. So, hopefully I will have more photos to show you soon!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Grandfathering Rumors-Pray!

Hi everyone. There are rumors circulating that the U.S. Department of State and the Guatemalan government are meeting to determine what the actual definition of "in process" means for cases that will continue under the old system. The new adoption law passed in Guatemala and goes into effect 1/1/08. In the past, "in process" has meant having a registered Power of Attorney for a specific child in Guatemala, which we have. Now, though, there is talk that "in process" is going to mean being in PGN, or the Guatemalan attorney general's office. We will not be ready to go into PGN until at least February, so we are praying that this will NOT be how they define "in process." Please pray with us over the next few days that our case will fit within the new definition of "in process." If our case does not meet the definition of "in process" then our case may be delayed for months or worst-case scenario not ever completed-something I just refuse to think about.
No update from our coordinator in Guatemala yet. She returns to St. Louis on Sunday and usually e-mails us on Monday or Tuesday with the update and pictures.

Monday, December 10, 2007

More cute girl things

Hello everyone. Our adoption coordinator left for Guatemala today and we sent down a big bag of clothes and gifts for Miranda and a bag of gifts for the foster mother and her family. We should have pictures and a medical update in about a week, which we will post for you all to see, of course! There is supposed to be a vote in the Guatemalan Congress tomorrow about the adoptions law. While everyone anticipates there will be a grandfather clause, tomorrow we will hopefully know more about the details of the grandfather clause. Will keep you posted!

All He Wants for Christmas...

Are his two front teeth!
Yesterday Mitchell lost his 2nd top tooth! He's pretty excited about it. This was the first tooth he lost at home--1st was at church, 2nd was at the water park in Florida, and his 3rd lost tooth was at school!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

DNA test done! (and no more Black Monday!)

We found out today that the DNA test was done yesterday, December 3. The DNA has to be shipped to a lab in the U.S. and we will hopefully find out the results by next week. Then the results are sent to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala and we begin the wait for pre-approval from the Embassy. The social work interview is scheduled for Thursday! Things are moving along!

For those of you who don't know, Matt and I have unfortunately come to call the 1st Monday in December "Black Monday." This is because for the past two years, we have received bad news on the first Monday in December---2 years ago, we received confirmation that we had miscarried our 7 week old baby. 1 year ago, we had an ultrasound and found out that our 16 week old baby's heart had stopped beating in the previous two weeks. So, "Black Monday" hasn't brought good news for us in 2 years. Thanks to God for the good news today.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Our adoption coordinator told us today that the facilitator in Guatemala is planning on having the DNA tests AND the Family Court interview on Monday! The Family Court interview involves the birth mother meeting with a Guatemalan social worker. Please pray that both of these go smoothly! We will keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cute Little Boy Conversation

Tonight I overheard this conversation between Mitchell and Max:
Mitchell: "I'm going to write a story about travelling around the world. Where should I go?"
Max: "Hell" (Yes, he really said this!)
Mitchell: "Hell isn't a place on earth."
Max: "Pizza Hut!"
Mitchell: "No, I mean like a Paris or South America."

No adoption news to post. Waiting to hear from our adoption coordinator about when the DNA test will be scheduled. In case you don't remember, the DNA test is a U.S. embassy requirement...DNA is taken from Miranda and her birth mother to prove that the birth mother didn't steal a baby and is fraudulently trying to give the baby up for adoption. If you have read any negative articles about babies being stolen from birth mothers in Guatemala, I can say that IF these stories are true, then the babies aren't being adopted by U.S. families. The U.S. is the only country with a DNA requirement...I believe.

Of course I'll post again when I hear any news.

Monday, November 19, 2007

She's 3 weeks old!

Here is Miranda at 3 weeks old!

Our adoption coordinator returned from Guatemala yesterday and e-mailed us new pictures today. She also gave us an update about Miranda and told us she met the foster mother and the foster grandmother (the foster mother's mom who lives with her!). According to the foster mother, "Miranda is a peaceful baby. At this time she is either drinking or sleeping. She only cries when she is hungry and is a happy little baby." She also told us that Miranda is drinking 3 oz. of formula every 3 hours. Our adoption coordinator said that both the foster mother and grandmother are "exceptionally gentle and sweet ladies." Our adoption coordinator will be visiting again in 3 1/2 weeks, so we'll get more pictures then! For now, here are a few more.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Truth

So, Mitchell's school is having Reading Week this week, with lots of special reading activities. One of the activities included "Wear a book day" The kids had a piece of paper shaped like a book cover. They had to write the title and description of their favorite book and then it had holes in it with string and they wore it around their neck. Last year, I think he did a "Magic Tree House" book, but this year he did the Bible! Here's what his book cover says:
Like 5,000 years there was this guy named Jesus
He had 12 followers.
They were matthew, mark, luke, john, judes, moses, paul.
While some of the facts are a bit off, I am so proud of him! Here's a picture, though you may not be able to see the detail.

Those of you who go to Rooftop will remember that while in college, Matt labeled his Bible with the words THE TRUTH on the cover. He talked about it in one of his sermons a few weeks ago...I guess Mitchell was listening!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Our adoption coordinator e-mailed from Guatemala today. She was able to see our daughter and hold her for about 30 minutes! She said she got lots of pictures and will e-mail them to us this weekend. She also met the foster mom and the foster mom's mom! She said the foster mom and her mother really like the name we've chosen, Miranda Ruth, and have been calling her by her name! We're really excited to get the pictures and will post some new pictures when we get them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cute girl clothes and Halloween

Our adoption coordinator is going to Guatemala tomorrrow and will be taking our Power of Attorney with her. This is the document that can get the ball rolling and we will hopefully have our DNA test done in the next few weeks. Anne is also taking down a few things for the baby that I have bought over the past few days...I just couldn't help myself! I also sent down a few clothing items that Mitchell or Max wore when they were infants. I thought it would be cute to get pictures of this baby wearing the same clothes that they wore. Here's a picture of what I sent this time. I mostly sent newborn-sized clothes, since she's so tiny. I have 0-3 month clothes that I'll send with our adoption coordinator next month. She will be seeing our baby this week in Guatemala and her foster mother and told me that she will bring us back a lot of pictures!

I have finally gotten around to downloading pictures, so here are some pictures from Halloween. Some friends from church had a party and we took the boys and had lots of fun. Trick or Treating, Cupcake decorating, Pumpkin Carving, lots and lots of good food and candy! The boys decided to be Ninjas this year. They had fun with Matt, going online and downloading "Ninja moves."

Friday, November 2, 2007

Our referral!

Here she is! This is our sweet little girl, born on 10/22/07. She is tiny, between the 5th and 15th percential for weight, length, and head circumference. We received photos and a limited medical record. "Su examen fisical y mental es normal." Translation: "Her physical and mental exam is normal." This is from the embassy pediatrician that will provide medical care to her while she is in Guatemala. We also received a few medical test results on her and the birth mom and even a photo of her birth mom.

So, we sent our power of attorney to Chicago today and hope to get it off to Guatemala next week. Everything is definitely still NOT set in stone...the nature of international adoption won't let us get too excited, yet. The DNA test and family court interviews in the next 4-6 weeks will be very revealing to us. Keep reading the blog for updates!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Adoption News

Exciting news today: We received our I-171h. This was a blessing from God, as our local USCIS office was saying to expect 6-8 weeks for processing. Well, we received ours in 5 weeks! Our adoption coordinator is traveling to Guatemala next week and will be taking all of our documents with her.
There is a lot up in the air right now regarding the future of adoptions in Guatemala. As of January 1, 2008 there will be many changes in effect. The Guatemalan Congress will be voting on an amendment in November to essentially "grandfather" all of the existing cases as of January 1. The grandfathered cases would then be completed under the current rules instead of the new rules and regulations. The U.S. Department of State, UNICEF, and the Joint Council on Adoption all favor a grandfather amendment. Please pray that the Guatemalan Congress will vote to include the grandfather amendment and that our adoption case would qualify as an in-process case as of Jan. 1, 2008.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What's Happening Now?

Lots of adoption stuff going on in the past few days:
  • had our documents certified by the Secretary of State on 9/20

  • sent our documents to the courier in Chicago via FedEx on 9/20

  • confirmation e-mail that our documents had been submitted to the consulate on 9/24

  • fingerprinted by the USCIS on 9/25

So, now we continue waiting! We're waiting for the documents to be returned to us from the consulate in Chicago and we are waiting for our I-171h from the USCIS. Our adoption coordinator is going to Guatemala during the third week of October and is planning on taking our dossier with her when she goes. A referral should hopefully come soon after our dossier gets to Guatemala!

Please be praying for us and for the baby girl that God has chosen for us!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Home study

We sent our home study to the USCIS yesterday. Our branch office in St. Louis is saying that it is taking them 6-8 weeks to process the I-600A form, which will give us permission to adopt a foreign-born orphan. We have heard of people receiving the clearance much sooner than 6-8 weeks, though. So, we could use your prayers! Specifically, that God would perform a miracle and help the USCIS branch office to move quickly!

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Day of School

No adoption news to share...we're still waiting for the final copy of our homestudy. But, the boys had their first day of school today! Max is in afternoon Kindergarten and Mitchell is in 2nd grade. Don't they look cute!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Water Balloons

Yesterday the boys really wanted me to buy balloons so they could do water balloons with Matt when he came home. It took me about 25 minutes to fill all the balloons up and less than 5 minutes for them to destroy them all! But...they had lots of fun! It started with a nice and calm water balloon toss, but ended with a water balloon war. I believe Matt was the winner...he seemed to get the technique of throwing the balloon near the boys feet. The boys would always throw the balloons right at Matt's chest and they would bounce right off and he'd throw the balloons back at the boys!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Adoption Process

I thought Iwould try to fill you in on the adoption process in Guatemala. This might help all of you as you follow us on our journey!

Homestudy--Interviewing with a social worker, gathering papers and information. This documentation is a requirement of the state of Missouri and the USCIS (formerly the INS).

The Dossier--This is the group of documents that ultimately goes to Guatemala to demonstrate to the authorities there that we are emotionally, financially, and physically prepared to be good parents. Creating the dossier involves gathering all the official clearances and background that has been notarized and certified by the state it originated in and then sending them to the Guatemalan Consulate to double-check the legality of the documents. From there, the dossier is sent to Guatemala and translated. The paperwork is a big step because Guatemala requires documents to be absolutely perfect. No staple holes, no illegible signatures, no creases in the paper...

The Referral--This is when we will see pictures of our new baby. We should receive a few pictures, results of medical testing and some basic information on the birth mother. Once we accept the referral, we will need to sign a power of attorney (POA) to let our attorney in Guatemala act on our behalf during the adoption process.

DNA test and family court--The next step is to set up the DNA test of both the baby and birth mother. This ensures that the mother who brought the baby to the attorney to be relinquished is the actual mother and the baby has not been illegally obtained. Once a match is received, the case will head to the Guatemala Family Court where a Guatemalan social worker will be assigned. The social worker will conduct interviews of the birth mother, foster mother, and anyone else they may need to interview. Then the social worker will write up the report and it is approved by a judge.

US Embassy pre-approval--During the time the case is in Family Court, we will be waiting for pre-approval from the U.S. Embassy to ensure that the baby we are adopting is adoptable according to U.S. requirements.

PGN--After Family Court and PA our case will move to the final stage, PGN (Procuradoria General del Nacion). This is basically the Guatemalan attorney general's office. The attorney general act much like the U.D. Department of Health and Human Services when it comes to adoptions in Guatemala. They are responsible for checking the legality of all the steps taken during the process and picking through all the documents with a fine-toothed comb. Ultimately, one man, Sr. Barrios, signs off on every single case. This tends to be the most unpredictable part, especially lately. Some people can go through PGN in less than two months, while some have taken 5 months or more. While in PGN, your case is seen by different levels of reviewers. These reviewers scrutinize the file and can give you a previo (also known as a KO-or kickout) for anything from missing a certain document, an illegible signature, a name mispelled. At times they have been known to give a previo for missing a document that is ACTUALLY NOT MISSING!! Then, the attorney has to go show them that the document is there, but it usually doesn't matter. When you receive a previo, your case is sent back to the bottom of the line and you usually start PGN all over again.

U.S.Embassy Approval--Once the case is approved and exits PGN, we will receive the new birth certificate and passport changed to reflect our last name. After that, all the documents are translated back to English and sent to the U.S. embassy for final approval. There is a 2nd DNA test done on the baby only, to confirm that it is the same baby from the initial DNA test. After the confirmation of the DNA test, we then wait for the "pink slip." that will tell us when to be at the U.S. embassy--usually within a few weeks. They have a short interview with us and then it is official! We pick up the visa the next day and once our feet hit the ground in the U.S., the baby will be an American citizen.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cardinals Game

Went to the Cardinals game this afternoon. Thanks to the Beckners for giving us the tickets! Matt was busy, so my mom, Donna, went with us. We had a great time and got to see Rick Ankiel hit two homeruns and make an awesome catch against the right field wall. Lots of fun!

Our new family blog

So I wanted to be able to keep everyone updated on the many adventures of the Herndon Family and thought a blog might be a good way to go about doing this. My hope is that this site will keep family and friends updated on what Mitchell and Maxwell are up to and also about what is going on with our adoption from Guatemala. What is going on with the adoption, you wonder? Well, we had our home study visit yesterday. We should receive the final copies in 7-10 days. We will then begin the lengthy process of getting the documents for our dossier certified by the Secretary of State and then authenticated by the Guatemalan consulate in Chicago. The dossier will then go to Guatemala to begin the translation process. In the meanwhile, we will be getting fingerprinted by the USCIS--formerly the INS--and will be awaiting our I-171h, which will give us approval to adopt a foreign orphan. The local USCIS office reports that current waiting times for the I-171h are 4-8 weeks.