Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Our Guatemala Adoption

At some point in our lives we decided that we had room in our hearts for another child. We had four biological children at the time, three of them living at home. We did the usual searches trying to decide which country to adopt from. In some cases we were limited because we already had children. In the end we chose Guatemala. At first we were like many other families and wanted a baby. However, after starting the long paperwork process we decided that we would try to adopt an older child. This led us to the referral of our daughter Joselin.

We were told that she was 7 years old and her mother had relinquished her. This was good because Sarah was 9 at the time and we did not want to twin her with a new child. We had completed all our paperwork and now we got to wait and wait and wait. During the process adoptions stopped in Guatemala and started back up. It seemed like forever to us but when I see how long some other countries are I realize that it wasn't that long. We sent down packages and talked with her on the phone.

Finally, on Sept 2003 we got the call that we could go and pick up Joselin. We took the kids and travelled to Guatemala City to the hogar that Joselin was staying in. I can't begin to describe the feelings you have when you have been anticipating the day you get to hug your child.

We did have some surprises. A big one was that Joselin was not 8 now as we thought but more like 10 or 11. This put her just a little older then Sarah and has actually caused issues for years. We were able to meet with her biological mother and get pictures which is a benefit for Joselin.

Joselin's story and adaption to our family is a long one that I have written about elsewhere. It is not all happily ever after, nor is it a nightmare. We are still struggling today to help her overcome the trauma of her first 10 years. It is hard, there is not a quick and easy fix, it takes time. She came at the age of 10 with no education and only speaking Spanish. Today she is literate in both languages but is still quite a bit behind her peers educationally. She has issues with learning how to live within a family. She told me that she wanted a family for a long time and then once she got one she didn't know what to do with it. She doesn't trust men and it has hampered her relationship with her dad. She says that for a long time she struggled because she was racist and we were white. We have dealt with lying, stealing, manipulation, anger, boy issues and just about anything else adoption related you can think about. However, she is loved and does love. She realized that I was actually her mom the day I stood up to her bullier face to face and she feared for my safety.

Her biological mother told her to go back to Guatemala when she was 16 years old and to support her. We didn't know that until she told me years later. Her mother gave her up for adoption but then didn't give her the tools to accept it.

In February she moved in with a family friend in another state. This was a very hard decision for us. Regular school has just gotten too difficult for her and she wanted to quit. She is with our friend persuing an alternate GED program that they have available for 16 year olds. Amazing how different states have different age requirements for GED programs.

We still hope and pray for healing for Joselin. We hope that one day she will be able to move forward and learn acceptance, that perhaps she can let go of some of the anger. There is hope because she has learned to love, to accept me as mom.


  1. wow. wow. WOW !

    What a story. So do you know what her true age is now ? That must really be tough, to not know something like that.

    I would imagine that many people think that adoption has stories that start with a fun plane ride and the rest is riding off in to the sunset. The reality is more like you are adopting KIDS so anything could happen, just like anything could happen with bio kids. The thing that makes moms like you rock, is that you are were willing to step in when no one else did.

    As for your daughter, we all fall off the path sometimes, shes young, she'll figure it out :)

  2. We are not quite sure of her age. She is either 17 or 18 right now. When we legally adopted her in the US we were able to add two years to her age but we know that she was actually older. In her culture she would already be providing for her family with a baby on her hip.

    I struggled with telling this story because so many folks think that all adopted kids are so grateful and they do so well or they are so bad that they become a danger. Our daughter is neither of those, she is real with struggles to overcome. I wanted to give a real look at the adoption issue without giving every last detail. This is her story as well and I am sure she wouldn't want everything shared.

    Yes, bios can be a challenge as well! I have lived that as well.

    I do know that Joselin is in a better place in life because of her adoption. She has an education, she has a family to rely on, she has experienced healthy family relationships, she has an opportunity to be successful in life. I pray that she is taking this time away from the family to grow and accomplish what she needs to live a good life.

    I appreciate your positive comments.

  3. i have really enjoyed reading your blog this morning. what amazing stories. thank you for opening your heart and your home

  4. This must have certainly been difficult for you to write but I thank you for such honesty! All these kids should be so grateful to have a Mother as yourself!