My son Paco (not his real name) is 10 years old and has needlessly spent his childhood in 5 different orphanages. He was only 2 months old when I started his adoption in 2007, and I have been waiting and fighting to bring him home every day since then.Ours is one of the last remaining cases initiated before Guatemalan adoptions closed in 2008. Paco needs to come home, and I need your help!
I first saw his picture on a website for waiting children in June of 2007. Something about him spoke directly to my heart. I contacted the agency then traveled to meet him and start the adoption in July. He has been my son from that moment on. I believed we would be home by Christmas.
My application was officially accepted by both the Guatemalan and U.S. governments in December. The process slowed as new laws were enacted in January of 2008, but my case was duly registered under the new law, and my time with Paco was literally a dream come true. By his first birthday in May we were fully bonded as mother and son.
But what started as a temporary suspension soon became a shutdown. Paco's original orphanage fell under investigation and shortly after that, he was taken from me and the only home he had ever known and placed in a home for troubled teenagers. We became mired in years of investigations, hearings, appeals, reinvestigations and delay.
Guatemalan officials have repeatedly cleared my adoption of all fraud, anomaly or crime. Returning Paco to his biological family would create officially documented risks for him. And when he was finally granted his legal right to be heard in 2016, he made his wishes for me to be his mother and to go with me (“now, in her car!”) as clear as any 9-year-old child possibly could. Yet we remain stuck.
I have made over 40 trips to Guatemala and spent over half of the past 10 years there to maintain our bond and advocate for him. I continue to run my own small Dallas-based business as best I can. We have been blessed with extraordinary support from family and friends, and I believe we are finally nearing the end of our wait. This has been a long hard road.
Paco is my son and I would do it all over again for him starting tomorrow if necessary.
But my expenses for the adoption have now exceeded 10 times the total original projected costs. After 10 years, I am asking for your help to continue fighting for him and to complete our legal adoption so he can come home with me as soon as possible.
When I celebrated Paco's first birthday with him in May of 2008, he was a happy, healthy and developmentally “on-target” baby. But 15 days later he was arbitrarily taken from me and the only home he had ever known and spent the night with strangers. I can only imagine his fear and confusion. I immediately made the decision to stay and do whatever was required to protect him.
Almost one year later, the first judge to hear our case transferred him to a more appropriate orphanage for children. Since then he has been shuffled from one home to the next, including the same state-run facility where 41 girls died in a tragic orphanage fire earlier this year. Thankfully for us, in 2013 a new judge ordered him transferred to the very good, small private orphanage (run by a U.S.-based 501c3) where he remains today. But it is not the same as being part of a permanent family.
Many dedicated and courageous Guatemalan caregivers and advocates have done more than their part to nurture and protect him, and I will be forever grateful. But every day we are delayed is another day he spends outside the security of my care and belonging to a safe and loving forever family. He doesn't really understand why we cannot just go home, and it breaks my heart to leave him at the end of every visit. It is more important now than ever for me to visit him as often as I am allowed, and to continue to advocate for the completion of our case.
Paco is a smart, funny, thoughtful and responsible child, capable of compassion and mischief. From the time he was a baby, he has been remarkably good-natured (but not shy about speaking up for what he wants, or when someone else has not “followed the rules”). He is sensitive and generous with others, often sharing whatever I give him with his buddies. He loves soccer and Star Wars, enjoys building things with Legos, and has an amazing eye for detail. He recently used my phone to make a short movie complete with sound, narration, and special effects!
He works hard and does well in school, and actually enjoys helping his caregivers with chores. When he was smaller, he would happily stand on a chair and wash dishes with me. He is very imaginative, will play any game we can come up with, and listens carefully to my stories about when he was a baby, asking questions to understand. He speaks some English but prefers Spanish and is very patient with mine. I have told him he is my best Spanish teacher, and overheard him explaining this to his “brothers” at the orphanage. He knows I am his “mami,” that I love him, and that I will never abandon him.
The time I’ve spent with him in Guatemala has been essential to ensure his care and protection, maintain our bond, comply with the legal process, and work with my outstanding and ethical Guatemalan attorneys and translators, none of whom have charged me “full fare" to help complete the adoption. I know they are doing this for Paco's sake.
My mother and sister both traveled to meet and bond with him when he was a baby. My mother is older now and the trip to Guatemala has become too difficult for her. My niece was 10 years old when I started the adoption, “over the moon” about her new cousin and babysitting for him. Today she has two years left at university. But earlier this year she stated she is still determined to babysit when we get home. I think he will be thrilled (at least for a few more years). My extended family and friends remain eager to welcome him home. We are all missing critical years we should be bonding and making memories together while he is young.
But I would make every decision the same way again if given the choice because I love him more than my life, and because he is a precious human child who deserves the protection of a safe and loving permanent family. Even though this has taken longer than I could have imagined and tested me in every way, Paco remains the best blessing I have ever received. Every day I thank God with a glad heart for the privilege of being his mother.
We won our most recent appeal earlier this year, and are waiting for the case to be returned to the lower court for a final hearing, allowing us to complete the rest of the process. This will take several months if all goes well.
The director of Paco's first orphanage was recently cleared of all charges resulting from the investigation that initially derailed our case in 2008. Paco's case was never associated with those charges in any way, and has been officially cleared since 2009.
People ask me every day how much longer, and I would give anything to be able to give them an answer. But I know I am where I am supposed to be. He is worth it, and I will continue to do whatever is required until he is safely home with me.
I need your help with the remaining costs of the adoption including Paco's orphanage care, my trips and visa renewals, my (discounted) lodging and transportation in Guatemala, legal and translation fees, the administrative process to complete the adoption through both Guatemalan and U.S. authorities, final documents and fees for his passport and visa, and our plane tickets home when the adoption is complete.
I have grappled with the difficult decision to ask for assistance from family, friends, and even strangers. I have always worked hard, and would much prefer giving rather than asking others for help. But as a mother there is nothing I will not do for my child, and that includes asking for financial assistance to get this done.
Every time I have prayed for guidance over the past 10 years, God has made a way even when there was no way. I remain strong and certain in the knowledge that I am meant to be here for him and to be his mother. For now that means doing everything required to provide for his care and to get him safely home. I promised him when he was a baby that I would take care of him and keep coming back until I could bring him home. With God’s help and your support, that is exactly what I intend to do.
Your generosity in any amount will help more than you can imagine, and I am truly grateful!