I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams
You are here each day with me, at least that is how it seems.

I know you wonder where we are.....what' s taking us so long,
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.

Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind .

May God hold you in his hand until I can be with you,
I promise you, my darling , I 'm doing all that I can do.

Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.

-Author unknown

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Wendy's first PAP's

No - it's not a Pap smear! Gosh guys! Don't you know the lingo by now?! :) hee,hee.

PAP stands for Prospective Adoptive Parents. Why am I talking about Wendy's first PAP's? Did you even know that she had another family wanting to adopt her? Let me back up.

We knew that Wendy ended up at Casa Bernabe because she had been placed for adoption at some point before she was 15 months old, but her birth mom never showed up for the DNA testing. That's all we knew. We speculated on some things, but we never really had concrete info, as CB didn't really know. All during the adoption I was dying to find out more history on her first 15 months of life - who wanted to adopt her? What really happened? Did the previous PAPs name her from birth, or did she live with her mom/family for awhile? We just knew nothing. I know that Wendy will have questions when she gets older, so I really wanted to find out. However, I really didn't want to do any "digging" until our adoption was complete. Now that it is, I wanted to start trying to look for her previous PAPs. I wasn't sure if I would even find them as it's been a few years, and I wasn't 100% sure they would want to be found or would be happy to know we adopted her. I didn't want to bring up the heartbreaking feelings they must have felt when they lost Wendy's adoption. I didn't even know what the circumstances were - if they had decided not to try to adopt her when she became an abandonment case, or if they had fought to keep her, and what happened. Anyways . . . .all this to say - God hears our cries!

I had not even started looking yet, when, last Thursday, a woman named Kelly who I had become friends with from my agency (through our adoptions and similar life/family situations) said she had seen a post on an adoption forum of someone looking for the family that adopted a "Wendy" recently. Through a series of emails between my friend and this person, and then that person and another (3rd) woman - the 3rd woman's info got passed back to me as the possible previous PAP for our Wendy!!! (did I just confuse you??) She was 99% sure after seeing this blog (sent to her by the second lady, who got it from my friend!). The 3rd lady sent me her name and number . . . . and don't you know I called her immediately!!! I left a message and she called me right back. WOW!! God is sooo cool!! After quickly comparing some info - we realized that our little Wendy was the same Wendy that she and her family had tried to adopt in 2005 when Wendy was 1!!! I was in shock that God totally led her to me in such a quick way (and a big THANK YOU to my friend Kelly for making the connections!!!!!!!!)! AND . . . . this woman is a woman after my own heart!!! She saved all sorts of pics and info on Wendy . . . which she so graciously is passing on to us!!! What a woman! God bless her!!! We talked for about an hour on the phone, and she sent me several emails of info, and will be sending me some CD's with pics &/or videos too!! Wow! I can't wait! It was such a pleasure to talk with her, hear about her daughter they ended up bringing home last year, and how this has been such a blessing to her, as it brings closure to her and her family. They loved Wendy and were so worried that she had been sent to a gov't orphanage and wouldn't get out of there. They were so happy to know that she was well cared for and loved at Casa Bernabe (we are too!!!)!

So - here's what I learned - Evidentaly Wendy was placed for adoption when she was 1 and that's when this family got her referral. They were totally in love with her! Can you see why?After a few months, however, Wendy's birth mom came and took Wendy back. This was devastating news to this family (can you imagine?)! They accepted another referral, but after that one fell through too (can you feel their pain?) they were told that Wendy was back, but that she would be an abandonment case (as her mom was no longer in the picture) and did they want to continue? . . . . Of course they did!!! So they did everything they were supposed to . . . filed papers, wrote letters, sent pictures, etc. And despite it all - the "abandonment decree" was denied (NOW can you feel their pain?!). Who knows for what reason the judge denied it - but as both the previous adoptive mom and I said - "It was meant to be"! We are thrilled that we were able to adopt Wendy as she truly fits into our family perfectly and is a true West, and the other family has adopted a BEAUTIFUL little girl that fits perfectly into their family! Isn't God good??!!

Well, as you can see - I was on cloud 9 last Thursday - and feel so blessed to have had my prayers answered so quickly and easily!! We still don't know anything about her 1st year of life, but we assume she was living with her mom &/or her family. We do have more info on her mom's age, grandparents names, and some early medical info (from 1 year till the orphanage) - and that's a blessing.

God bless you all today! May God answer the cries of your heart and bless you above and beyond what you could ever imagine!!!

Lori :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

No mas Wendy . . . Katie Giraffe!

Yes folks - our 3 year old has decided that she no longer wants to be called Wendy . . . . her name is now . . . Katie Giraffe! Or Katie Monkey-girl, or Sugar-booger, or . . . . . . basically anything silly! :) She's a goof-ball! But we love her still!!! :) hee,hee.

Yesterday I took her to Walmart and she got to ride in the shopping cart for the first time. She LOVED it! She just laughed and giggled whenever I turned, and especially when we went in the bumpy parking lot! I think it was tickling her butt!!! She couldn't stop laughing!

We are enjoying watching her experience her "firsts" - first time sleeping in her bed, first time pooping in her bed (diarrhea! Yuck!), first time putting toilet paper in the toilet (instead of the trash can like in Guatemala), first time not having to wear her "zapatos" (shoes) all day in the house, first time having to watch her siblings go to school and she had to stay home (there were tears involved with that), first time fishing with daddy and eating most of the hotdogs (bait), and many more! She's having to learn a lot of new things - or new ways of doing things. Today she wanted to clear my breakfast bowl and plate. I had eaten a half of a grapefruit. She decided to try to flush it down the toilet. I guess she figured, since you put TP in there, you must put other things too - like grapefruit rinds. :) hee,hee. I had the fun job of fishing it out. Thankfully there was nothing else in there to fish it out of! Yuck.

Well - just wanted to let you know that Wendy (Katie Giraffe) is doing well! She fits right in and acts as if she has been here a long time. She takes her naps well (no arguing at all - she even WANTS to take them!!), sleeps well, eats well, and loves playing with her siblings! Thank you guys for all your prayers for her and us! They have truly worked. Keep them up! I know this honeymoon phase will wear off some after awhile - but I hope it's still just as good around here then!

Lori :)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

We're home!

Wow! Are we really home with our little girl? It just doesn't seem real sometimes, yet at other times it seems like she's been here awhile. She really is doing well. I know it's just the "honeymoon" season still, but I hope that after that's over, we will all continue to do well. You know we are praying through it all! And God has been sooooo faithful to answer so many of our prayers! We are blessed!

We left Guatemala around 1pm (3pm VA time) - and Wendy LOVED the plane ride!!! She was sooo excited to get on the plane (which she talked about for 3 days before) - that she was hoping up and down at the gate saying "El Avion! El Avion! El Avion!" and talking to everyone (saying Hola, etc). She excitedly pointed out all the other airplanes and "carros" (cars), and when we took off she was all smiles! There was a slight "dip" at one point, and she LOVED it! Her mouth was wide open in a huge smile! But within 10 minutes she was asleep! It was close to her naptime and we had had alot of excitement that day! I was surprised she could sleep with the high-pitched, ear-piercing screaming coming from the baby behind me! I felt sorry for that couple! Ouch!
Wendy did well on the rest of the flight to Atlanta - and on the flight home. We fed her some Ben and Jerry's ice cream (God is so good to bless me with putting a B&J's right next to our gate!!! PTL!), and it wound her up! She was, again, bouncing down the jetway, and talking/rambling on and on and on in spanish - and I'm not sure it was even real sentences - but just a bunch of random Spanish words. I could understand a few of them. :) We finally put on a movie for her and Meg, and she settled down some for the rest of the flight.

We flew in late last night, about 10:30pm, and didn't get home till close to midnight (and we had a wonderful sign waiting for us at home!)We had such wonderful friends meet us at the airport to welcome Wendy home! Thank you so much guys! It meant alot! Even though Wendy seemed quiet last night, meeting everyone, I tell you what - that girl can talk!!! :) Just you wait till she gets settled in! And her giggle cracks me up! I love hearing it! In the parking garage at the airport, Jeremy buckled Wendy into her carseat, and she started crying - probably because she was tired, but more than likely because she has never ridden in a car seat before (that I know of). She settled down quickly, and before we knew it Jacob was making her laugh! The kids all learned the Spanish word for crazy - and was asking her if each of her family members were "loco". She would laugh and say "si" or "no". At first all the boys were loco and the girls were not, and then she switched it - except daddy was always loco (and he is! :) hee,hee.). We came home, and the boys excitedly showed her some things in the house, and where her room was. She went up to her bed and said "Wendy cama!" (Wendy's bed). We got ready for bed, and when I asked "Who wants to pray first?", it was a tie between Jacob's "ME!" and Wendy's "YO!" :) How cute! Jacob said that Wendy could pray first "since she was the youngest". She said her prayers in Spanish, thanking God for each of her family members. That just tickled my heart! We had prayed together on Thursday night in Guatemala, and I was trying to help her pray in Spanish, and she stopped me saying "No Mami! Yo puedo!" (No mommy. I can!). She's definitely 3!! Her favorite things to say are (in Spanish, of course) - I want . . . I don't want . . . and I can (do it)! :) She is also a total ham - just like her big brother Jacob! She just fits in perfectly.
As I sit and write this, she is content in her bed - and even yelled out "Good-Night!" to me and Jeremy when we were in the room. :) She'll be speaking circles around us in English before we know it!

In Atlanta, at Immigration, I noticed that the other adoptive families didn't have their last names doubled on their paperwork like ours (West West). The Immigration official said that her Certificate of Citizenship would be sent to us with her name as it is on the paperwork - Wendy Elizabeth West West. I asked if there was any way to change that first, and he was going to try - as they had to fix a mistake on our address too. We'll see. We will probably have to change things anyways if we add Kathryn into her name.

Well - it's getting late, and I am exhausted. I got most of the laundry done today, and visited with my mom & dad, a couple friends, and my brother and his wife (and my adorable niece!). I've got about 10 syllabus' to read and sign for the kids' schooling, and groceries to buy, and a party to attend to tomorrow (along with church too!). So - I better get some sleep myself. I will try to upload more pics and post them when I can. Be patient with me, but check back to see them!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for all your prayers and support along this WHOLE journey!!! I can't believe this 18 month pregnancy is finally over (except for the post-placement stuff - visits and paperwork)!!! I love my little girl, and I think she enjoys being here with us so far. She's even been able to go play with Meghan at our neighbor's house. They have a little 4 year old girl who also speaks Spanish. We've been blessed with 2 sets of Spanish speaking neighbors!!! God is good!!

Blessings to you all!

Lori :)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wendy Elizabeth West West

Yes - that's what it says on her passport and visa - Wendy Elizabeth West West. :) When they called her name (Wendy West) to pick up the visa on Wed, she just smiled a big smile! :) They put the mom's and dad's last names on the birth certificate, passport and visa. Strange - I know. Let me back up though, as I haven't had internet access since Monday.

Monday night the staff prayed over us as a family - a blessing on Wendy, the adoption and our family in general. It was all in Spanish - but I think that's what they were praying. It sounded wonderful anyways. :)

We kept Wendy with us in our dorm room Monday night, as she had cried the day before when we took her back to her house. I'm glad she wanted to sleep with us. However, like most 3 year olds, when daddy said "It's time for bed!" she started to cry. We immediately prayed for her, and Meghan prayed against the spirit of fear that might be bothering Wendy. . . . and Wendy immediately stopped crying!! :) PTL! I was starting to think "why did we decide to bring her up here when we have to get up at 5 am tomorrow? I'm not going to get any sleep?" (selfish thoughts - I know - but that's what first went through my head as I knew it would be a looooong day on Tuesday). She slept great - only once did she moan a little in her sleep (and Meg responded in her sleep - "Yes - It's ok."). And somehow in the middle of the night they switched places in bed (they were sharing a double bed). :) But she didn't fall out of bed! This was her first time in a big bed (she had been in a crib still).

So Tuesday's appt went well - about 2 1/2 hours sitting in the embassy - with about 1 1/2 minutes of interviews. :) OK - maybe 5 minutes total - between 2 interviews. :) But we were approved for an IR3 visa (meaning she will come to the US as a US citizen)! :) Whoo-hoo!

We had to come back on Wednesday to pick up the visa and the yellow envelope that we can NOT open!! We are to give it to immigration in the US.

The rest of Tuesday we went to Burger King and then the beautiful zoo in Guatemala City!

Jeremy read a small sign in B.K. that said last month they only had a "40% infestation." :) Of what - I'm not sure?? I don't want to know. :)

The zoo was absolutely gorgeous, and our day was the same - sunny skies ALL day till we got back to the orphanage!!! God answered my prayers. We went with Wendy's housedad and his 3 girls, as well as the couple from Florida that I had met online, who were visiting their soon-to-be-adopted son Juanito (who came too).

Wendy and Meghan both loved the zoo! Wendy's favorite animal was the pink Flamingo

and Meghan like the Tapir (that seemed to like her too!).

At the end of our zoo tour, J got a banana split, Meg and Wendy got fruit bars (popsicles) and I got a wonderful Chocobanano!! Yum! That hit the spot on such a sunny day!

Tues night, Wendy cried again when we said it was almost time for bed, but because I was sitting in the dining room talking with the couple from Florida, I just held her, and she eventually fell asleep in my arms. She's a good snuggler! She did fall out of bed that night, but I had put pillows by the bed this time. :)

Wednesday Antonio took us to the Children's Museum and out for lunch at Pollo Campero before we went to the embassy.

We tried to go see a Star Wars Museum (of course!) - but it was closed. Both Antonio and Jeremy LOVE Star Wars (if you didn't already know)! There was a Lego room at the Children's Museum - and it had an R2D2 in it! :)

After the embassy we went to the church of some friends of ours, and they took us down to Antigua to spend the night with them. Their house, and Antigua are just beautiful. I wish we could have stayed in Antigua all week instead!! Very peaceful! Wendy cried again when she was going upstairs to our room with our friends (and I was tagging along behind) and she just wanted to snuggle and cry. She was exhausted (only a 10 minute nap that day), and in a strange place. We just rocked in a rocking chair and I prayed over her - again rebuking & binding any spirits of fear, sadness, etc that shouldn't be there, and again - she stopped crying right away. (noticing a trend here?) We snuggled a little, then I laid her down next to Meghan on a mattress by our bed. She stared at me for awhile, and then at Meghan, and then fell asleep within about 10 minutes. Yeah! :) She slept through the night fine and woke up happy! :)

Today we had breakfast on the porch, and then spent a couple hours sightseeing. We saw the ruins in Antigua via horse and carriage (VERY bumpy!!!),

went in an old convent,

and then went to the Market (not long enough though - only 45 minutes. I could be there for hours!), and to eat lunch at a beautiful coffee plantation!!!

Just breathtaking! I think this has convinced Jeremy that he could move here now! :) hee,hee.

The down side of this trip has been Wendy's diarrhea (yuck!) and Meghan vomiting last night (double yuck!). Wendy just caught something the other kids had in her house - it started the day before we got here. Meghan - ?? - she probably just ate something not too good for her (I hope that's all it was). She hasn't eaten much today, so we'll see.

OK - well I've written long enough I think! :) I had to catch on up the week's events though. Tonight we are going back to the church in Guatemala City (right by the airport) and will stay there in an apartment. Tomorrow J will help our friends with some technical (audio/visual/computer) stuff before we head to the airport around 11am for our 1pm flight. And then we will be home around 10:15 pm (I think that was the time). Yeah!!!! Home for good!

Thank you all for your prayers! It was a beautiful day in Antigua today - when it was originally supposed to be raining and miserable from a hurricane. We only got a slight drizzle all day yesterday - actually less rain than we had earlier in the week! So Felix was a bust here! PTL!!!

God bless you all! Pray for our safe return! See you on Friday (for those that are meeting us)!!

Lori, Jeremy, Meghan and Wendy!

Monday, September 03, 2007

"Hey Mami . . . " What? "Hola!" :)

Yes - we are here! And yes - Hurricane Felix is a Cat 5!!! Yikes. :) We are still praying it to move further north so as to not his us at all. We'll see. More than likely we will be touring Antigua in the rain on Thursday. :) Anyways . . . that' s not the important info . . . .

We arrived here safe and sound . . . a little tired . . . but excited. Well, J shouldn't have been tired . . . he slept the whole trip down (except to wake up to eat lunch). He then took a 2 hour nap yesterday and slept 11 hours last night (and another shorter nap today!). But - I can't blame him - I've been just as tired . . .but I'm not as sound a sleeper as he is. I've been too excited to sleep much.

It's the rainy season here, so in true rainy season fashion - it rained all day off and on yesterday. Today was better - beautiful this morning - but rainy in the afternoon.

OK, OK - enough about weather Lori! :) As for our Wendy girl . . . :)

She came up to see us with her housedad Antonio (and his two girls) and she looked beautiful! She seemed a bit shy at first, but still came to my arms and then Jeremy's without a problem. It wasn't too long after that that Wendy and Meghan were playing and giggling and having a blast together! Meghan is a GREAT big sister to Wendy and Wendy seems to love hanging out with Meghan. Yeah! :) Last night they chased each other around the dining room playing tag and giggling all the time! At one point Wendy came up to me and said "Hey Mami" What? I asked. "Hola!" she said with a smirk. :) She then went to Jeremy and did the same. So I did it right back to her! She laughed. When we first landed in GT, Meghan said "I think I want to go home already". But after playing with Wendy for less than an hour - she changed her mind! Plus there has been a couple puppies around to entertain Meghan too. :) She loves animals!

Right now I have a snuggling girl (Wendy) on my lap (she got a little over-emotional about something someone said to her here - so she needed some loving) - so I'm going to cut this short. You know I can write a book! :)

Pray that our appointment at the embassy goes well tomorrow. 8 am GT time (10 am VA time). We are hoping for good weather so that we can go to the zoo and possible Children's museum afterwards. I hope so.

Last night we took Wendy down to her house after hanging out with us all day up near our dorm room, and she was not happy about having to sleep back in her house! She cried and wanted to sleep with us! :) We had her sleep down there (as it was pouring rain at that time), but we will have her in our room tonight. She even took a nap in our room today. It makes me so happy to see that she is WANTING to be with us and seems to be attaching to us quite well. I know we have a long road ahead of us . . . but so far so good. :) Not hitting, biting, screaming, etc. :)

Here are a few pics of our day today.

Blessings to you all. I'm not sure if I'll get to post again or not. The internet is sketchy here, plus I have to ask one of Wendy's caretakers to borrow their computer.

See you friday!
Lori & Jeremy and Meghan & Wendy! :)

ps - This is what we got for dinner last night (and again tonight - frozen though)! Jeremy was excited . . . till we tasted the pizza. :( Oh well. After dinner the girls had a blast giggling and running around chasing each other!!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

And now a Hurricane! What an adventure!

Yes - it's 4am - the day we leave - and I'm here typing to you guys! :) I must love you all . . . either that or I'm addicted to the computer! :) The truth be told - I slept horrible these last two nights. . . . . I'm waaayyy tooo excited! :) Hmmm . . . wonder why?!
Well - I hope I've packed enough (1/2 of my suitcase is snacks! Better than orphanage food!). And whatever didn't get done will just have to wait. I'm a bit sad we didn't leave on Friday like originally planned, to be able to go a see Tikal or Lake Atitilan . . . . but that's ok. Now we might have a Hurricane instead! :) What fun. Take a look . . .

Actually - just since last night around 9pm - it has shifted more north. Keep praying it does more of that - and slows waaaay down so it doesn't get to Guatemala till Saturday! We leave on Friday, and on Thursday I had planned on seeing Antigua! Hmmm. . . . What is God trying to tell me? Not to sightsee? :)

Oops - gotta go! I've got 25 mintues to dry my hair and finish packing the last minute items!

God bless you all! Keep us in your prayers.

Wendy . . .Here we come!! - Oh, we got to talk to her some last night (she mainly just listens) - but we heard her tell someone near her "esta mi mami y papi". :) That just warms my heart! :)

Lori :)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

1 more day!

I dreamed last night that we arrived at Casa Bernabe, and Jeremy picked up Wendy. She looked sad and scared. :( That's not the dream I wanted - but it could very well be a reality. We are coming to take her away from everything she has ever known for the last 2 years. It's her home. That's her family. Though, her family has changed some over the 2 years, especially this last year with some of her "friends" being adopted or having to move on to the next house (for 3-5 year olds). At 3 1/2, she's the last remaining "old" kid around. She enjoys helping out with the little ones (20 of them!)- being very motherly, and even helps out with the laundry from time to time (she can teach her older siblings here!). It will definitely be an adjustment for her coming here and being "the baby" of the house again. I hope she likes it. :) I think she will. So - my dream may really reflect my fear of her getting upset about leaving, more so than being prophetic about what will happen. Of course - every mom and dad wants an "Annie" reunion/welcome - with your child excitedly running into your arms - so excited to finally have a Forever Family. But that's not always the case. They may be excited by the thought of it - but once their Mom and Dad materialize in front of them - reality sets in - and the reactions range from timidity - to screaming or crying for hours; quietly going - to biting, kicking, hitting, and even peeing on the mom and dad (yes - that really did happen to a friend of ours!). We prepare for the worst, but pray for the best. We were pleasantly surprised in April when we visited, as Wendy spoke to us right away and didn't seem afraid at all. She was VERY good with us the whole week, and was actually a bit sad when we were not around - asking "?Donde esta mami y papi?" - Where is mommy and daddy? :) That's a good sign! So . . . . I am praying for a joyful reunion. I know that the caretakers have been preparing her to come here - talking to her most everyday about it - using the photo books we sent. When they ask her who is coming to get her soon, she says "Mami, Papi y Meghan"! :) And we will be coming . . . TOMORROW!!!! I can't believe that day is already here!!!! PTL!! It's exciting, but scary at the same time.
All the same feelings & thoughts you get before adding another child to the family start to flood your mind . . . . am I ready for another one? Will I be able to handle 5 kids? Have I done everything here I need to before she comes? What will it be like when she's here? How will the kids adjust? What do I need to be prepared to encounter or deal with (sibling jealousy? attachment or adjustment issues? etc)? Will Wendy get frustrated trying to communicate with us (with her little bit of English and our little bit of Spanish)? How quickly will she learn English? . . . . . . . . . . (you get the picture!). Deep down though - I know it will all work out as this was ALL God's plan to begin with! So, if we stick with His plan and ways and continue to seek HIM above (and about) all things - then we will make it! :) PTL!

Well - it's back to packing and spending some time with my kids here before we leave bright and early tomorrow morning! I know I've said this a million times over the last 18 months . . . but . . .Thank you all for all your prayers, encouragement and support during this fantastic adventure!! We REALLY appreciate it and needed it!! Keep praying - as we will still need your prayers. Here are our requests:

1. Safe and FUN trip to pick up Wendy! That we will actually be able to get off CB's campus several times to do fun things with Wendy and Meghan (I am NOT going to be stuck there again this time!!)
2. Easy adjustment for Wendy and our kids here. That Wendy will attach to Jeremy and I quickly and in a healthy way.
3. Easy adjustment for Jeremy and I as the parents of 5 kids - esp. with a crazy school schedule this fall! Why didn't I just homeschool them?? :)
4. The remaining finances for the adoption and travel.

Thanks so much guys! God bless you today!

Lori :)