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.