I have always wanted to be a wife and mom. Even as a child, it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. Get married and have babies. God has blessed me so abundantly by allowing me to be wife to the best hubby in the world and mommy to 4 precious children that I carried in my body. But today He has overflowed my cup by giving me the privilege of being mami to 3 more precious children that I carried in my heart. Today the judge signed our final legal paperwork, called Sentencia (sentencing), stating that Luisa, Jhonatan, and Cindy are ours- forever.
So many people have made comments about how we are "doing such a good thing" by adopting the kids. But, truthfully, we feel so honored and humbled by this privilege. It has nothing to do with us at all. Our lives are not our own, but they belong to Christ. Every single part of this journey has been ALL GOD. He is the One who is allowing us to have this precious gift. He orchestrated each minute detail. So all the glory today goes to HIM, not us. Every ounce of joy we feel today is because of His goodness and sovereignty.
It was an eventful day, so let me start at the beginning...
First thing this morning I was able to get in contact with our attorney, Nora, and learned that we shouldn't have any trouble with the name issue. The Minor Defender wouldn't allow us to change the kids middle names like we had planned, which is fine. We can do it in the States. But, I was worried because their visas for the US are listed as their new names. She said everything will be fine...praying she is correct!
The kids played around the apartment until 11am. The girls found 2 phones in a drawer and have had a blast pretending they are calling each other. They really like pretending, which I love to watch!
At 11am both Glorias picked us up to go to Parque Explora. It is like an aquarium and science center in one. Frankly, after you've been to the Baltimore Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center, these were pretty lame, but the chicos had never been to either before so they absolutely LOVED all of it. They ooo'd and ahh'd over every single fish and reptile! There were some unusual animals that I'd never seen before. My favorite was a starfish that was white with bright red outlining from the Mediterranean Sea. The chicos loved the turtles the most, I think. They said they had a turtle in their first foster home as a pet. And then they loved the frogs, which must be plentiful in the country area of their second foster home. It is kind of weird to see a bunch of animals from the Amazon region and know that they are only about a 2-3 hour drive south of us and we could see them in person! I would have loved to go to the Amazon, but it is not safe, we are told. Too many guerrillas along the roads.
They also have some science center type exhibits, which entertained the kids for a long time. It is all interactive so they were running from station to station. These outings are soooo completely foreign to the chicos that they go a little crazy experiencing them. It is like they can't focus and it is all too much stimulation. It's seems like they feel the need to experience everything all at the same second or they will never be able to again- which makes sense knowing their past. Going home to the States should be very interesting...oh, boy! Lots of NEW experiences!
We knew we didn't want to have a crazy cafeteria lunch experience again, so we opted to not get lunch at the Parque Explora, but instead drove to Ovieda mall for Archie's Pizza. I'd heard about this place before on other blogs. They give the kids their own piece of dough for them to form into a pizza and then they bake it right then for them. Sounds fun!
At Archie's Pizza we were right in the middle of trying to order with the waitress (and find tables to fit all of us-a little chaos!) when Brent got a phone call from Nora! We had been hoping for a call all day! He handed the phone to Gloria to work out the details. They wanted both parents to come and sign, but NO KIDS! How they expected that to happen, I have no idea, but I have to say I am soooo thankful for our guide, Gloria who said she would stay with all the kids! She kept them ALL at the pizza restaurant while we raced to the courthouse! I was so worried that the kids would misbehave for her, but she said, other than logistics of taking kids to the bathroom, all went fine! Whew! They made their pizzas and then the waitress entertained them with balloons and coloring.
Unfortunately, we had not remembered to carry around all the cash we needed with us (for LOTS of copies of birth certificates, and other documents) so we had to race back to the apartment to grab the money, then park at the Exito, grab a taxi (parking is difficult a the courthouse) to the courthouse. Of course, traffic was horrible since everyone was heading back into work from their siesta (hour long lunch break).
Once there, we found Nora where she explained all the details again. She is phenomenal. She is the most thorough and organized person I've ever met. AND she talks SLOW so we can understand her! LOL! We had thought that since they requested both parents (often they just ask for one) that the judge would be talking to us. But when we arrived we just walked up to a counter and signed our names on one piece of paper. That's it! SO ANTICLIMACTIC! She had explained that the last section of the document is the most important where it says that for now and forever the children will belong to us. Well, I lost it again. Tears... Poor Nora! I think I've cried every time I've met with her! Thankfully she is so understanding and each time says it is good to cry and go ahead! LOL! Love her!
We sat and discussed some other legal issues and asked some questions about their history and then we were off again- in a taxi to Gloria's car and back to the apartment. Gloria brought all the kids home (brave woman!) in her car. Once inside, I poured juice (drinkable yogurt- a treat) for the kids and we all celebrated. I google translated... "Today is a very special day for all of us. Today the judge said that you are our children forever!" Then we all clanged glasses and squealed!
Jonathan and Cindy were super excited. When we asked Luisa if she was excited she got a solemn look on her face and said No. Uh, oh. We braced for the worst. I gently asked why she was not happy. She said she didn't want a family. But then as soon as she said it, she burst out laughing and screamed, "SI! MUY EMOTIONADA!" (Yes! I'm very excited!) She was totally playing us! She is such the drama queen! Silly girl! She about gave me a heart attack! I tickled her to the ground and told her I was her mami forever and she couldn't have another one! She giggled and giggled. She loves the attention.
Before anyone got restless, we headed to the pool for a little while. We were able to meet our friends, the Masons, and share our great news! Hopefully they will only be a day or two behind us with their Sentencia. Once the thunder started we headed home and had pizza and a movie to relax. It had been a long day and everyone needed to chill! After baths, we all had a treat that Brent had picked up at the store. It is a container of sweet caramel called Arequipe, that you can spread on crackers or Queso Blanco. Or just eat off the spoon like some of them did!
So, that ends our very special day when our family became whole!
The one question everyone is emailing me is... When are you coming home???
Well, we're still not sure, BUT it will be sooner than we had planned!
Tomorrow, Nora is going to ICBF to get a copy of the kids' file and her associate is going to each of the three notary offices to try to get their new birth certificates with our last name on it. We are hoping all that paperwork can be done in one day.
In Colombia, everyone over the age of 7 has to have an identification card. So Luisa has one, but she now has to go to the ID office and get a new one with her new last name. She has to sign the new name so hopefully she'll do ok! She's been practicing! She'll either do that tomorrow afternoon or Thursday morning. Then hopefully, Thursday we will be able to get them their Colombian passports with their new name. It is supposed to only take an hour or two!
THEN, we are free to book our airfare to fly to Bogota. So we'll fly sometime over the weekend, I guess.
Once in Bogota, we will still have to do all the National ICBF paperwork, and US Embassy doctor visit and Visa issuance before we come home. Some say it only takes 3 days, others say it takes 5 days. So we'll see...
Since the chicos are legally ours, it is fine for us to open our Picassa photo album to the public! Finally, you can see pics of them if you haven't already! Blogger is super frustrating to load pics to, so I'm putting the link here so you can see them. Enjoy!