My Family

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Second round!

We had a great thanksgiving with trips to Kenton and Boardman to see family. We left my Mom's early Sunday morning so we could get back and get some stuff done at the house. We are definitely getting there! The second round of paperwork arrived the Friday after Thanksgiving and we having been working to complete the required tasks. So far we have been cleaning and preparing for the Fire Inspection which has been freaking us out. We went ahead and scheduled it for next Tuesday and I think we will both feel relieved when that is over and done with. The inspector that I met when I turned in the request was really nice and the things they ask you to do are not unreasonable. Tuesday night we were able to complete 7 out of the 9 things so it shouldn't be too bad with the entire weekend to finish the list up.

In addition we scheduled our physicals for the 11th. I have all the reference letters out and my employer letter back. I expect that by the 11th I should be able to mail everything for the home study in. Then we will be the interviewing stage which may not take that long. Hopefully by the end of January the homestudy will be close to completed.

With the latest packet came our I-600A, which is the form you send to immigration notifying them of your intent to adopt. As part of the form you send in your expected leave date to meet and bring home your child, while we are sure it is optimistic our agency wrote in an expected leave date of May 22! We both freaked a little to think it could even be that soon. It was unexpected - - but certainly motivating. To think that in 6 months we could bringing home baby James was more than we could have hoped for. Here's to crossing our fingers that our paperwork is filled out correctly, our fire inspection is perfect and 6 months can be turned into a reality.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bucks Win!
Bri and Todd hangin' and enjoying the huge Bucks win!
Ummm... Cookie! Julian enjoys a snack during the game.
Todd and Adam. Bucks are #1!

We had a great time at Todd and Amy's watching the game. There was much screaming and jumping around. It is funny how the boys have changed. Not too long ago the boys would burst into tears whenever a play was made and the yelling began. This game the boys joined in. Conditioning has worked! Julian is quite the climber. He definitely needs a jungle gym. He was amazing, climbing onto the little play table, attempting to climb over the baby gate... You name it and he attempted to climb it. He tripped at one point and was rewarded with a bloody nose! Poor fella tried to be brave - and was successful for awhile - but the nose kept getting in the way. After he bonked it about the third time he went down and missed the fourth quarter. Adam did great showing off his tumbling skills. We read books and played with the soccer ball and he jumped around showing us his log roll and forward tumble. Too cute! And he is turning into quite the talker.

Anyway, Brian was exhausted after the emotional rollercoaster of the game. We came home and watched a little of the Cal vs. USC game and then called it a night.

I was successful for the first day of habit breaking and have made it through the morning of the second... Wonder how Josh is doing since he had decided his day one would be today.

Here's to healthier living!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Packets in!

The first packet was finally mailed in yesterday. Brian has a list running of all the things left to do in the house, and surprisingly it isn't bad. He switched out the water heater and has touched up a bunch of the paint. He installed a door to the attic and a banister. He finished the downstairs bathroom repairs and ordered fire escape ladders - bottom line, he has been a machine!

I have done a lot of cleaning and we got the new recliner so we were able to move furniture upstairs. I was a toughy and managed to help him carry up the love seat so we didn't have to ask our neighbor for help. I think it is looking really good.

I decided that when I sent in the first packet I would have to quit a bad habit of mine. Today has been the first day and I am not doing too bad. I am starting to feel a little grouchy though through the morning I didn't notice that so much. It is amazing how many times I can think of it in an hour. A lot of the posted information to help quitters says to keep yourself busy for 7 minutes and the craving should pass. Well, it seems every 7 minutes I have to find something to keep myself busy with! I know it is just the first day and it will get easier... But goodness this stinks. One of the things I never should have started. Such is life.

Today is the big game and we are going to our friend Todd's. I will have the boys, Adam and Julian, to play with. Maybe I will take my camera... Go Bucks!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

This is a long one...

We attended our first international adoption class last night at Children's and received some interesting information...that kept me up all night. If you are going to be reading the copied article below please keep reading into the following posting. You're in for a long read, but I thought both the article and the response from the webmaster at were worth showing. My heart stopped last night during the seminar's converation and I thought maybe we had chosen incorrectly. After reading the article, and gathering some information from other websites I still feel confident in our decision. There are issues - I would not want to deny that in any way, shape or form. But at the same time, if the agency you are working with is reputable and established in the country than I do think a good situation can exist.

Guatemala System Is Scrutinized as Americans Rush In to Adopt

GUATEMALA CITY — There are business hotels and tourist hotels, and then there is the Guatemala City Marriott. Catering to American couples seeking to adopt, it is a baby hotel of sorts, as the crush of strollers, the cry of infants and the emotional scenes that play out regularly in the lobby testify.

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” shouted a woman from Kansas the other day as she scooped a little girl she hoped to adopt from the arms of her foster mother and held her up toward the chandelier. “You’re just the cutest little thing.”

Not far away, a woman from Texas was beaming at another soon-to-be adopted girl near the reception desk and comparing notes with an Illinois couple, who had just picked up their new chubby-cheeked, black-haired son.

Guatemala, where nearly one in every 100 children is adopted by an American family, ranks third behind much larger nations, China and Russia, when it comes to providing babies to American couples.

The pace of adoptions and the fact that mothers here, unlike in other places, are sometimes paid for their babies have brought increasing concern and the prospect of new regulation that may significantly reduce the number of Guatemalan babies bound for the United States next year, or end it altogether.

Critics of the adoption system here — privately run and uniquely streamlined — say it has turned this country of 12 million people into a virtual baby farm that supplies infants as if they were a commodity. The United States is the No. 1 destination.

While the overall demand for international adoptions has increased over the last decade, adoption from Guatemala has outpaced many other nations. From 1995 to 2005, American families adopted 18,298 Guatemalan babies, with the figure rising nearly every year. Though most families are undoubtedly unaware of the practices here, foreign governments and international watchdogs, like Unicef, have long been scrutinizing Guatemala’s adoption system.

In other countries, adoptive parents are sought out for abandoned children. In Guatemala, children are frequently sought out for foreign parents seeking to adopt and given up by their birth mothers to baby brokers who may pay from a few hundred dollars to $2,000 for a baby, according to interviews with mothers and experts.

Most babies that find their way to America are conceived in the countryside. Some of the birth mothers have brought shame on the family by becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Others are married but had affairs after their husbands emigrated to the United States. Inevitably, the pregnancies were not planned.

Poverty is a way of life in these villages, and infant mortality, at 36 per 1,000 births in 2002, is among the highest in the hemisphere.

Those children who survive have a rough start, with almost half of them chronically malnourished. Guatemala’s adoption system is run not by judges, courts and bureaucrats — as in most other nations — but by some 500 private lawyers and notaries, who hire baby brokers and maintain networks of pediatricians and foster mothers to tend children awaiting adoption. They form a powerful and well-heeled lobby.

“We’re rescuing these children from death,” said Susana Luarca Saracho, one of the country’s busiest adoption lawyers, who has fought for years to keep the current system in place.

“Here, we don’t live — we survive,” she said. “Which would a child prefer, to grow up in misery or to go to the United States, where there is everything?”

To adopt any foreign child, Americans must clear numerous bureaucratic hurdles in the United States, including approval by the Department of Homeland Security. Often, in the baby’s home country, the adoptive parents must make several court appearances.

In Guatemala, the required paperwork can often be handled in one visit, with newly constituted families sometimes spending less than a week in a Guatemala City hotel before leaving for the United States. So many adoptive parents pass through the Marriott — hundreds per year, employees say — that diapers, wet wipes and formula are available in the gift shop, next to the postcards and Guatemalan curios.

“Everyone who goes to a hotel here sees the scene: North Americans meeting with Guatemalan children,” said Manuel Manrique, Unicef’s representative in Guatemala. “Most people think, ‘How great that those children are going to have a better life.’ But they don’t know how the system is working. This has become a business instead of a social service.”

The adoptive parents are often so emotionally involved in the process that they do not adequately investigate the inner workings of this country’s system, adoption advocates acknowledge. The American couples at the Marriott were reluctant to talk or give their names.

“There is sometimes a great deal of naïveté on the part of adoptive parents,” said Susan Soon-keum Cox, a vice president at Holt International Children’s Services, an American nonprofit agency that works in Guatemala and elsewhere, and who was herself adopted from Korea by Americans in 1956. “It’s don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The system is not without controversy in Guatemala. Josefina Arellano Andrino is in charge of the government department that signs off on all adoptions but, for now, is permitted to halt only those involving false paperwork or outright fraud. She relishes the prospect of additional oversight.

“Babies are being sold, and we have to stop it,” she said. “What’s happening to our culture that we don’t take care of our children?”

Alarmed to see so many foreign adoptions in Guatemala, members of the Council of Central American Human Rights Attorneys, who were meeting at the Marriott in August, issued a statement questioning whether the country’s system “converts the child into an object, like a piece of merchandise.”

Key to that business are jaladoras, as the baby brokers are called locally. They ply the Guatemalan countryside looking for pregnant women and girls in a fix. Adoption is presented as the perfect answer, one that will leave the child with a wealthy family and the mother better off as well, by paying for her medical bills and providing some direct money surreptitiously.

Although most countries forbid paying mothers who put up their children for adoption, it occurs regularly here, an open secret that mothers are told to deny if anyone asks.

“They gave me some money,” a 12-year-old mother acknowledged on condition of anonymity in an interview in October at a government office when asked if she had been compensated for giving up her baby. “I don’t know how much. They gave my father some money, too.”

Her father, interviewed separately, denied he had received anything. The payments strike many in the adoption world here as a form of benevolence. Some American couples say that if they are going to pay $25,000 to $30,000 for an adopted child — which they routinely do in the fees that go to American adoption agencies, Guatemalan lawyers and others involved in the system — shouldn’t the birth mother get something?

The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions has an answer. Guatemala’s president, Óscar Berger, signed the treaty in 2002, and after years of legal challenges the nation’s Constitutional Court ruled definitively this year that the country must abide by it.

The treaty states that international adoptions should come only after a loving home, preferably with the child’s relatives, is sought in country. It also aims “to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children” and limits payments to “only costs and expenses, including reasonable professional fees.”

Several signing countries, including Canada, Germany and Britain, already restrict Guatemalan adoptions because of apparent breaches. The United States has said it plans to join the convention next year. At that point, officials say, Washington intends to stop approving adoptions from countries that do not meet the treaty’s standards.

“Guatemala is the principal concern that we have,” said Catherine Barry, a deputy assistant secretary of state for consular affairs.

Baby brokers tread carefully as they seek pregnant women in the countryside, where many villagers believe what is apparently a rural myth that there is an active market overseas for children as organ donors.

A few months back, in a village outside the provincial town of Nahuala, two women and a man went house to house selling baby slings, pieces of cloth used to carry infants across the back. It was a ruse, neighbors recounted, to find out who would give birth soon.

The traveling salespeople talked one young woman in the hillside village of Xolnahuola into giving up her baby. She was single and despondent and they offered her about $750, the villagers said.

When the three returned as the pregnant woman’s term neared its end, her parents, who opposed giving up the child, alerted neighbors, who gathered angrily at the scene. The two women’s hair was forcibly cut off, a traditional form of Mayan justice meant to shame offenders. The baby brokers were taken away by the authorities and later released.

In early October, villagers in Ixtahuacán killed one person with machetes, captured another 12 and set fire to five cars when fear spread that a gang of child snatchers was in the area. The police said it remained unclear whether the outsiders had actually been looking for children.

Ms. Luarca, the adoption lawyer, said such episodes have nothing to do with the children she handles, who come from poor mothers who cannot afford to raise them and who give them up willingly without payment.

“We’re not a criminal organization,” she said of Guatemala’s adoption lawyers. “What we are doing is a good thing. At this moment in time it is the only way out for these children. I look forward to the time when they can grow up well here.”

In her opinion, though, that time has not arrived. New regulations will “create a bureaucratic labyrinth,” she says, and she continues to lobby lawmakers to preserve the current system.

Around the corner from her office, Ms. Luarca runs an adoption home, clean, orderly and with attentive nannies roaming among the rooms.

With the prospect of tighter rules, business is surging. Seventy children are there, the older ones in miniature bunks and the many babies wrapped in blankets in cribs.

They came from mothers not unlike a teenager who was encountered at a government office, signing away her baby to a Pennsylvania couple, and a bit melancholy to be doing so. She and her baby, like all birth mothers and their children, must have their DNA tested for the American Embassy to approve the adoption.

“I hope she has a nice family and lives a happy life,” said the 17-year-old mother, who would not give her name. Fidgeting as she spoke, she said she hoped that her daughter, Antonietta, would return one day to visit her and that the adoptive parents would keep the newborn’s name.

Both prospects, those involved in the process say, are unlikely.

Published: November 5, 2006 New York Times

Reply - - sent in to author of article and published on
written by the webmaster of

I am also disheartened to hear the rhetoric which is meant to de-personalize the children and families involved in a Guatemala adoption. The audio interview was also conducted with Mr. Lacey which was rather offensive.

Bill (Biglist) posted these statistics from the CIA World Factbook. I think they speak volumes to what is really going on in Guatemala.

1 out of 100 children are adopted to US families.
5 will not make it to their 5th birthday
16 will be born with low birth weight
22 will never see the inside of a school
28 will never learn how to read and write
54 will grow up in extreme poverty and malnourished
74 will never make it to the 7th grade
84 will need to travel over an hour to reach a health care facility

I would also add....
0 receive government sponsored assistance
0 receive grants from UNICEF for education
0 will be benefit from Government adoption programs
A nearly unnoticeable fraction will be adopted domestically by middle and upperclass families. This will not change despite how many children are prevented from leaving the country.

The focus for several years has been to shame the Guatemalan government for the number of children leaving the country. So the changes proposed by adoption critics have been aimed primarily at limiting the number of adoptions of children who will leave the country not solving the statistics above! The primary reasons for birth mother's choosing an adoption plan are poverty related. So if poverty was more of a priority, then the adoption "market" would diminish. Its hard for me to believe that birth mothers are so cavalier with accepting money for their children when the shame and the consequences are so extreme in Guatemala. If it is happening, then it is sheer desperation.

During the attempted Hague implementation of 2003, adoptions came to a grinding halt. The government was not accountable to the children's welfare...Thousands of cases were delayed casually for no decernable reason. It was not in an effort to improve or crack down on unethical activity; it was CLEARLY to STALL adoptions. Workable reform recognizes the child's welfare in the process...and this has not been addressed in current nor previous proposals supported by so called Human Rights organizations like UNICEF.

The use of offensive wording like "Baby Factory" is typical lingo used by organizations like UNICEF, press organizations and government organizations to de-personalize each child and the circumstances surrounding their adoption (who remembers Bruce Harris and the baby with the barcode?). It is unnecessary and degrading. I will go a step further and say that it is borderline racist...Why? Because, folks that use this terminology to describe children have not acknowledged their rights as human beings. Adoptive parents do not view their children as exports from Guatemala...they are human beings that need to be fed, loved and cared for. Furthermore, several large "human rights" organizations believe that a child is better off dying in their country than being adopted into a loving home. I wonder how many of the poor would agree...(Yes, I recently saw a commercial which insinuated this on none-other than Cartoon Network...a station that my daughter USED to watch).

The "Hague" does not address the welfare of the child. It does not mandate that a child is given a family nor whether the child is fed and taken care of. Those little facts are swept under the rug once restrictions keep the children from leaving the country. It neglects the birthmother's opinion for the child's best interest...and it does not condemn prolonged institutionalization which is clearly damaging to children and their chances of growing up in loving families.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Matt's Married!

Kristin, Chris, Jenn, Katie, Mat, Adam and Brian enjoying ourselves at Matt's lovely wedding. Unfortunately, Cami and Danielle, Adam and Matt's wives weren't close enough to us to be grabbed for the picture... But an almost complete crew!

The Hawkins/Barlup/Greene crew was finally reunited. We all made the trek to Hopwood, PA to see our stepbrother Matt married. We had so much fun telling stories. We reminisiced about our sibiling vacation (which we, of course swore we were going to take every year and only actually took that one year!). I cannot believe it was almost 6 years ago. We were telling stories from the trip and other events and I cannot believe how much I had forgotten. We traveled - rather spur of the moment - from Ohio to Ocean City and up into Delaware. It was great and the stories included Matt's Huey Lewis shirt getting bombed by the sea gulls, waking up to Matt and Adam raiding our hotel room with cap guns and little boy cowboy hats, my barfing after numerous rides on the Ocean City roller coaster, our trip up the tower at the state park in the middle of the night (it was completely pitch black and Katie bonked her head into the concrete so hard it echoed)... It was so great to be together. We promised once it warmed up enough for camping we would all meet in Hocking Hills for a weekend (or, yes maybe even make it as far as recreating our sibling trip. Matt swore he would even buy another VW Bus to accommodate us all, but I am thinking with spouses it might be time to upgrade).

Brian commented that we all obviously missed each other. Throughout the wedding we all kept gravitating back to each other. We have been around each other, but not very often. The last time we all saw each other was probably my wedding three years ago. Unfortunately, at my wedding we didn't get to spend as much time talking. It was so nice of Matt to take time from his day to spend with all of us.

His new wife Danielle is beautiful and seems just as fun and sweet as I would expect anyone who was marrying Matt to be. Sense of humor is definitely required to keep up with that boy!

I hope we are able to get together over this summer. I would love for our children to have a close relationship with Matt and Adam. They are such important people in my life, even if we don't talk every day. And I hope that our children are luck enough to have such a close and positive relationship with their siblings as I have with mine...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Haunted house picture!

This picture was taken in September at my brother Chris' wedding. Looking fancy!

We have spent the last several days filling out paperwork and working in the house. I am proud of us for getting the packet together so quickly. There are still a couple of papers that need signed, or corrected, but over all we've got the first packet finished!

Even better our passports arrived! We had called our Moms to order new birth certificates and I will admit I have been freaking out a little about the fact we didn't have our passports or our birth certificates, but both our now here and very early! This means we should be able to send in the next packet early next week.

Today we are leaving for my brother Mat's wedding. We will spend tonight in Boardman while Dad is here and keeps the dogs. When we get home tomorrow Brian wants to work in the house, mostly on the downstairs bathroom. Once the bathroom is finished we'll send in the packet. I have been warning everyone that there will be a Barlup cleaning party. I have been going through each room and "de-junking." I figure once I get the layer of clutter out of the way all we need to do is sweep and dust. Brian laughed at me for cleaning out the kitchen cabinets - they're not going to be looking in my kitchen cabinets - but I figured we had all kinds of stuff we didn't need and we might as well start making room. I already feel a lot better and I am only half done.

Work has been tough the last couple of days. Just busy and slightly stressful. Such is the life, I guess. Overall, my job is great and I love it, so I really don't have anything to complain about. I work with some of the best people around... Caring, committed, funny and generous. I know I am very lucky. One or two bad days doesn't make for a bad job. But I am glad to have Mat's wedding to give me a long weekend. I feel like I am already being pulled at both ends. I want to make sure I am getting all of the adoption stuff done quickly and correctly, I want to clean my house, than I need to be at work and ready to go instead of thinking about how many copies I need to make of this or that, or how I should rearrange the living room furniture.

I knew it was going to get complicated and I am sure it will all work out. I am just glad for a little break where I don't have to think about either situation for a minute.

We had a great weekend last weekend. Traci, Jason, Brian and I went to the Mansfield Correctional Institute - - big, old, scary prison where they have a haunted house. It was so much fun.

Then Traci and I spent Sunday with our friends, Angela and Shayla, at Boo at the Zoo. I have pictures of both but for some reason it isn't letting me attach any more pictures. I will try to add them in another posting. We have been able to see the Thomas' pretty regularly. They suffered - we all suffered - a huge loss lately. Being with them, I hope has been good for them, because I know it has been good for me. Their daughter, Christi, suffered from neuroblastoma cancer and was taken from them recently. Christi passed away on the tenth anniversary of my college friend Tony's death. Such a sad day. Anyway, the Thomas' are brave, strong and the perfect parents. Upon first meeting them, I knew the kind of parent I wanted to be. More about Christi and the Thomas' at Keep them in your prayers.

I will let everyone know when I get the first packet sent in - - and I will let everyone know when cleaning day is :)