I've sat down several times to post an update but have just had too many things going on. I left Thursday morning to drive to Chicago (4 hours) to catch a flight to Guatemala. I arrived in Guatemala at 11pm Thursday night. My hearing was Friday morning at 10am. Mayra's husband was having some medical procedures done Friday so her brother picked me up to take me to the hearing and her sister went to be my interpreter. I took my camera because I knew Nola would be there and I was looking forward to getting pictures. Of course, when we went through security, they took my camera away and locked it in a cabinet. They told me cameras were not allowed in the court. I should have known but the fact never crossed my mind. We went on up the stairs and when I got to the top, I saw my little Nola. I squatted down as she turned around and saw me. I held out my arms and said Yo su mami (that was my best attempt at "I'm your mommy" in Spanish). She came running to me, wrapped her little arms around me and held on tight! What a beautiful feeling! I instantly started crying. I'm talking boo hoo crying. I'm not sure how long we held on to each other but when I looked up from our little embrace, everyone who was looking on was crying too!
Mayra's sister went to the desk and asked permission for me to come in to the hearing and in a few minutes, the clerk came back and said the judge gave permission. I was completely surprised, thrilled and nervous at the same time. Nola and I sat down to wait until we were called into court. I took a little doll for Nola and I pulled it out of my bag. She grabbed hold of it and loved it. I don't know if she'll actually be able to keep it for her own once she's back at the hogar but at least she knows momma gave it to her. I also had a little package of cookies from my flight that I had saved so I pulled those out and she scarfed them down.
Then it was time to go into the hearing. The hogar assistant took Nola from me before we went in. We all took our seats around the table and waited for the judge. After checking who was present, the judge instructed each one to speak in short sentences so my interpreter could interpret for me (another total surprise). Each person around the table took turns delivering their report and soon it was my turn to speak. I wasn't at all prepared so I spoke from my heart. I told the judge from the moment I heard Nola's name, I loved her and even though the paperwork didn't say so, she is my daughter in my heart. I told her our entire family loves her and wants her to come home. I said I know there was some problem with the paperwork but that we had done everything we were instructed to do and neither we nor Nola had anything to do with that problem and shouldn't be punished for it. I said even though the hogar was doing their best to care for her, Nola needs a family to care for her and love her. She needs a mommy and a daddy to love her and that Mark and I are ready for her to come home so we can be a family. I also asked for her to be moved back to a foster home until our process was finished so she could receive the attention she needs. Of course, I cried through my little speech but I did the best I could. The last one to speak was the PGN representative. She reported that they found the birth mother who was listed in the paperwork. The woman denied having a baby and the PGN took her word for it. There was no DNA test done for proof. It was just accepted as fact. The judge accepted each persons report and was ready to make her ruling. She said since the woman who is listed as Nola's birth mother was not, in fact, the birth mother, the birth mother's cedula was not going to be accepted as part of the process. And since they established that the woman who was listed as Nola's birth mother was not her true birth mother, that voided Nola's birth certificate. Nola's birth certificate was also not able to be accepted as part of the process. Since every other document in the process was based on the those two documents, the judge said she was going to have to declare the entire file of notarial documents invalid. She ordered that a new birth certificate be drawn up for Nola listing parents as unknown. The more she talked the harder it was for me to hold back the tears and soon it was impossible. She declared Nola adoptable. That sounds like good news but Nola is now adoptable by any Guatemalan family. Currently, there are not procedures in place for International adoptions to process in Guatemala. She also said the CNA will now oversee Nola's adoption and the CNA will be in charge of choosing the family for Nola.................more tears. The judge asked if there were any arguments (legal arguments) and since there were none, the judge dismissed us. We walked out into a waiting area to wait for the judges official to type up a summary of the hearing and give each of us a copy. While we were waiting the orphanage director came to me and said she was sorry but that since CNA is now in charge of Nola and they are a government agency, she could not allow us to take pictures of Nola...............uncontrollable boo hoo tears! About that time my lawyer came up to me and said he needed his money. The man, who I don't care much for anyway, picked the wrong time to talk to me about money. I went off on him! In a very loud voice I let him know if he cared for our little girl even half as much as he cared about his money, we might not be in the place we were in. I told him he was not to speak to me of money again. Just so you know, we have an agency who is supposed to deal with such matters and he knows that. Anyway he walked away from me and left me alone. He probably thinks I'm a crazy American woman but really what he thinks of me doesn't concern me in the least. After that little episode, I was called into a room with the PGN representative and the door was locked behind us. She told me she overheard the lawyer asking me for money at the last hearing, which he did. She told me my lawyer knew what the outcome of the hearing was going to be and he knew after the judge ruled on my case I wouldn't need him anymore. That was why he was so anxious to get his money. If our case gets accepted in CNA, we won't need a lawyer. The PGN official instructed me not to pay the lawyer another penny. She then told me to go to CNA and talk to them and make them aware of our relationship with Nola. Then the judge's official gave my interpreter a paper with the name of an organization who is helping families in the situation that we are in. I could feel God throwing me a lifeline. We left the room and the CNA representative came up to me and told me to make an appointment as soon as possible with the CNA and go speak with them about our case and our relationship with Nola. She said "no guarantees" but she obviously thinks it could help us...........more hope! We went back to the waiting area and the orphanage director came and whispered that when we get outside, we can take pictures. She got permission from the CNA rep. Again, I felt God giving me a little boost. We finally received the copies of the hearing proceedings and my passport (which they took to make copies of) and we were ready to leave. I got my camera back on my way out and I had a very few minutes to take pictures because I was already running late for my flight home.
Mayra is going to the CNA for me Monday and trying to get an appointment for the time when we are back down there with the church (which is just three weeks from now). I'll be going prepared with a new little photo ablum full of pictures of us with Nola. I'm going to make sure they understand, I'm not giving up. I'm looking at this as a bump in the very long road to adopt our little Nola.