FAMILY STORIES Island Coast International Adoptions and International Families, Inc will publish stories that we receive with the permission from the writer. The stories reflect the journey the individual family traveled to bring their adopted child home. Enjoy this touching section!
Hi: I started looking to adopt a baby about 4 years ago. I started looking locally and to my surprise there are no babies. I first worked with obstetricians and time after time potentially adoptable babies were aborted. I did get lucky with one baby and after birth discovered the child was severely brain damaged. Another baby that I bonded with locally and was going to adopt from a foster home fell through and the entire incident broke my heart. The 13 year old mother changed her mind and wanted to continue seeing her baby once a week for 30 minutes visits. The 30 year old grandmother was not interested in caring for the child and the baby had been placed into foster care because of failure to thrive at six weeks when the pediatrician discovered that the 13 year old mother wasn't feeding the infant. Anyway, the welfare dept could not under law tell the grandmother or mother about me?????? The mom plans on continuing to visit once a week until her baby is six years old and then might take her back. This adorable little baby girl tore my heart out. Then I started working with Catholic Charities. They informed me they had adopted 4 children over 9 years. That was a dead end. At this point I decided the US was not the place to find a child for adoption. China became an option but I really could not travel to China and spend two to three weeks learning their culture. I then researched and found out Guatemala has no waiting period. I started working with a big agency in Minnesota. I got my hopes up and was so excited until I got the info that they just decided to drop their program in Guatemala for girls. I was devastated. I started working with the welfare dept again and they told me they had hundreds of children needing homes. They mailed me their info to find the most heart wrenching cases of abused battered and mentally disturbed children needing placement. I already have a six year old and the welfare dept states many of these children are aggressive and can not be left alone with other children. I was sick! After I cried, after I got over being angry, and after I quit feeling sorry for myself. I found Island Coast International Adoption Agency. At first I was extremely unsure and felt I was going to be set up for a big heart break again. This was NOT the case but the exact opposite. In February 2001 when I first emailed them they had a 2 month old healthy baby girl available. On June 24th I got her and she is the light of my life!!!! If you want your prayers to be answered trust and contact Island Coast International. I traveled to pick up the baby and have nothing but the highest regard for them and their people. I was treated with the best red carpet treatment in Guatemala. I can not thank them enough!!!!! Their follow up has been incredible. Their help through the confusing maze of paperwork, The US embassy visit in Guatemala, the VISAs acquisition etc etc etc was professional and very fast and they were there with me through the entire process. They are the best. Contact me any time and I will be glad to give you more info. Do not give up there is a happy, healthy baby waiting. You just have to find the right people to help you. If only I had found Island Coast four years ago I would probably have three adopted children by now. Paula Abrinko
My Adoption Story
My husband and I waited to get married until we finished our college educations. We both wanted a Masters Degree so we could obtain better jobs. He was a college football coach and I was a nurse. We finished our degrees at 25 years of age and married the next year. We only practiced birth control for one year and then figured it was in the Lord's hands. After the first few years of not conceiving, we thought that we just weren't together enough at the right times for conception to take place. My husband traveled a lot and we weren't home together that often. After seven years of no babies, we figured we had better take a look and see if something was wrong. We had a bunch of tests done and sure enough there was something substantially wrong. We did fertility treatments for two years and finally determined it just wasn't safe to do any more. We were mentally, physically and financially exhausted. We knew, going into fertility treatments, that if they failed we would adopt. We gave ourselves two months off after infertility treatments ended and then looked for an adoption agency. We lived in Pennsylvania at the time and were fortunate to have several agencies with an hour from our home. When we began our adoption process we thought about China (for all the obvious reasons) but we ended up going to Guatemala. We really loved the Spanish culture and wanted a Spanish little girl in our lives. We were fortunate to meet several children who were adopted from Guatemala and we fell in love with them immediately. Our local Pennsylvania agency used an agency out of Florida as their international connection. Both agencies were great. They helped us with everything. The best thing about both agencies is that they both had adopted children. They new what we were going through and they were bound and determined to make our process a pleasant one. They certainly succeeded, as we are halfway through with the paperwork for our second daughter from Guatemala. When we lived in Pennsylvania we used Heart to Heart Adoption agency in Bellefonte (Central PA) and the international agency was Island Coast International Adoptions. We now live in NY and are using an agency in the Manhattan (Jewish Child Care Association) and the same international agency (Island Coast International). Many of the agencies in NY could get us children from Guatemala, however we had such a good experience with our international agency that we did not want to change. When we went to Guatemala for our first daughter, we realized the benefit of using a reputable agency. There were so many adoptive parents there that were stuck in Guatemala with no child. They had used facilitators or lawyers and somewhere someone forgot one or two pieces of critical paperwork. So these parents went to Guatemala thinking everything was done and they found themselves staying many more days/weeks than planned and sometimes having to get back home without their child. Island Coast International Adoptions would not let us travel until everything was complete. When we arrived in Guatemala, the adoption worker met us at the airport. She transported us to our hotel and made arrangements to meet the foster parents, our child and our lawyer that night. We got the baby that night. The next day, the adoption worker picked us up and took us to the US Embassy and helped us with all the paperwork. We left there and she took us around town, to the villages, and where ever we wanted to go. The next day we went back home. Everyone I spoke with that used this agency had the same experience. We absolutely loved our adoption worker from Guatemala. She was a real angel (in the biblical sense). It is hard to explain how unbelievable our experience was. I will treasure it always. My husband and I are so looking forward to our next trip to Guatemala when we can hold our second little girl in our arms. We got pictures of our daughter every two months until we could go get her. She was seen by the doctor every two months and as needed. She was taken care of by a lovely couple whose children were already grown. She was well taken care of and was a very happy baby. We all cried when she was given to us. It was a bitter-sweet day. Our adoption memories will be with us, just as birth parents deliveries are with them. I hope anyone reading our story will have great success with whatever agency you choose and my husband or I would be more than willing to discuss any part of our process with anyone interested. There is a special support system among adoptive parents and once you become one, you will understand what I mean.
Michelle and Nick Polk Rye NY email@example.com Hi, I'm writing to let you know how completely pleased and satisfied I was with the service provided by Island Coast International Adoptions and Victoria Pyjek in the recent (November 2001) adoption of my son, Simon, who is from Poland. I had previously done an independent adoption in Poland, so I appreciated the logistical support provided by ICIA. Vicki coordinated matters that I had to coordinate myself last time, such as getting my dossier certified and translated. The referral process was straightforward yet at the same time sensitively handled. I received medical and social information about children who met the description of the type of child I was looking for. From the point of my decision to pursue adopting Simon, Vicki worked to move the process forward as expeditiously as possible-to get my son home! The translator and other staff who worked with my case on-site in Poland were highly competent and supportive. The accommodations provided were more than I had hoped for. And communication with Vicki was always timely, completely forthright, and sympathetic to my needs and concerns. Moreover, I feel she advocated for me with the Polish adoption authorities, so that my age (47) and the fact that I am single never became obstacles in the adoption process. Also important was that the service provided by ICIA was affordable. Simon (who celebrated his fourth birthday shortly after the adoption) has orthopedic special needs. In spite of these, he is extremely healthy and active, and is developing well. He's a very happy and loving child, who is adjusting well to our family. He is thrilled to have a "Mamusia" and we are thrilled to have him! I would be glad to talk to anyone who is considering using ICIA, especially for a Polish adoption. I want to thank Lori and Vicki for their considerable professionalism and caring hearts. Finding good people to help you with an adoption is sometimes more a matter of luck than of skill. I feel that I was very lucky indeed to find ICIA, and I would recommend them highly.
Our adoption story begins like most that you have probably read so far. My husband and I were married in October 1993. We both were in our late 20's when we got married and decided that we wanted to start our family right away. Little did we know at the time, the good Lord had other plans for us. After 6 years of infertility treatments and 4 failed IVF cycles we both were emotionally and physically drained. We had started talking and doing some research on International Adoptions. Once I had my husband convinced that Adoption was the route we needed to take we sat down to figure out on a country. We originally settled on China. I had a good friend who adopted from China so I knew that she would walk us through the whole process. So in May 2001 we started on our homestudy and gathering our paperwork, when my father had a massive stroke and 10 days later I had to have an emergency hysterectomy at the age of 33. I then decided that I needed to step back for a while and concentrate on my health and my father's recovery. In early September we started our adoption journey again we were once again filled with hope. Then when September 11th 2001 happened I told my husband that I just was not comfortable with traveling to a foreign country for 15 days. For the next few days I searched the Internet for International Adoption agencies that had programs that did not require you to travel to pick up your child. That is when I found Island Coast International Adoptions. I called and spoke to a very nice lady named Lori Bollman she answered all of my questions and sent me out information on her Guatemala program. What we liked about Guatemala was all children were in foster care and they received regular medical attention and if you wanted to travel to pick up your child it was only a 3-day stay. When I received the packet I started calling all of her references. I was so impressed with Lori and all of the feedback I was getting from her references that we decided to use ICIA. On November 26th we sent Lori our dossier and to my surprise on November 27th Lori called to tell me that she had a referral of a beautiful baby boy 13 days old. One wise person told me that you don't have to give birth to be a mother. It was at that time I finally realized what God's plan was for us! We traveled on June 2 to Guatemala to bring our son home. I had traveled before but never so far away from home. Guatemala was a life changing experience for us. On the morning of June 3rd we were called to the lobby of our hotel where we met Lori's facilitator Noami, our son and his foster family. That was the best day of my whole life. Our son was beautiful! My heart soared with so much love that I just started crying. Our son's foster family was just wonderful. I could tell right away that they truly loved him and took great care of him. Our son's foster family did not speak English so Noami translated what I was saying to them. Noami stayed with us that day for a while to make sure that we were going to be okay with our son and then she gave us her cell phone to call if we had any problems that night. She took us to all the appointments and stayed right with us. She also took us around town and shopping. We had a wonderful trip to Guatemala their people are so very loving and friendly we never felt out of place. I just cannot speak highly enough about ICIA, Lori and Noami. I know there were days when Lori probably wanted to smack me but she was so understanding and patient. (Patience is not one of my best qualities) When I just thought I would not be able to wait anymore Lori was always there to comfort me. Lori gave Gary and I the best gift we have ever received, our son. I can honestly say that Jacob is the light of our lives! I just can't imagine life without him. We had no bonding problems it was like he knew that the moment his foster mom put him in our arms we were his parents. Our family is just wild about him. My eight-year-old niece told me that being adopted meant to her that the stork just left Jacob in the wrong place and we had to go get him. I would be happy to speak to anyone about ICIA. I am sure in the next 2 years we will be using ICIA again for our next adoption.
Gary and Rebecca Seeley Milford, Ohio Hello,
My wife and I started our adoption process in August of 2001. We used Heart to Heart adoption Agency in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania who in turn worked with Island Coast International Adoptions Agency in Florida. We submitted our dossier and we got a referral for a little boy in January 2002. We were not expecting it to happen so quickly ! We received pictures , the birth length, and the birth weight of our baby from ICIA soon afterwards. We of course accepted this child and the adoption process was begun. This was the most difficult part of the adoption process. The waiting is so difficult at times. During this time, ICIA would send us updated pictures of our baby. Those pictures were such a needed blessing for us ! Lori Bollman at ICIA was such a huge help and was oh so patient in answering all of our questions. We had so many questions for Lori and she always quickly answered them. We got word from Lori in June 2002 that our adoption was final. We were going to have our baby escorted to the United States so we sent our VISA application to the INS in Philadelphia, PA. and thought that our baby's VISA would be approved and our baby would be home in just a few weeks. Unfortunately, our VISA application got hopelessly caught up in INS red tape. We waited until July and we decided to go to Guatemala and get our baby. We had to get passports and make travel arrangements in less that a week! Lori Bollman was so wonderfully helpful during this hectic time ! She got us into contact with a wonderful travel agency in Florida that made us great last minute travel arrangements. Lori also directed us to a company on the internet that was able to get us passports in 3 days. Seven days after we started making travel arrangements, we flew from Harrisburg, PA. to Guatemala City, Guatemala. While in Guatemala, we worked with Naomi Diaz. Naomi was so wonderful ! She made us feel so at home in a strange place. Naomi helped us through all of the processes in Guatemala and everything went so smoothly. We are so happy that we decided to go to Guatemala and get our baby. We know that it was Gods will that we went to Guatemala and we were so blessed during that trip ! It was wonderful to be able to see where our baby came from and experience some of the culture of Guatemala. The adoption process can certainly be difficult at times. The waiting is the most difficult part. It is a tremendous comfort knowing that a wonderful adoption agency like ICIA is handling your adoption. It is also a tremendous help to have a deep faith in God. Put the adoption process in Gods hands and everything will turn out just fine. God led us to Heart to Heart Adoption Agency and then to Island Coast Adoption Agency and what a magnificent job that they did ! I would highly recommend ICIA to anyone considering adoption. Our baby boy has been home for 4 months now and he has adjusted and bonded to us extremely well. Our baby boys name is Samuel James Moodler and he is so happy and active ! He is such a beautiful baby and we love him so very much ! He is a dream come true and an answer to our prayers. We thank you Lori for helping make our dream of a baby become a reality.
How we became a family by Joseph, Mary and Michael Ziegler
My husband and I always knew that we wanted experience adoption as one of our ways in becoming a family. My husband was adopted, so we already knew what a wonderful blessing this could be to families. We discussed the topic for a few years, and after concluding that adoption was the way that we were being guided to become a family, we started researching adoption on all levels. We did thorough research on domestic and international adoption avenues.
Once we decided that we wanted to adopt a baby on the international level, it took some time for us to agree on where to go. I had strong feelings for one country and Joe another. Maybe, we thought at one point, we should wait longer before we make the decision because we could not agree. Then after much prayer for MORE guidance, we agreed that we wanted to adopt from Guatemala. We started with an agency in our metro area, but we were still not feeling like this was IT. We kept this silent from each other, not wanting to disappoint the other.
One evening at a local adoption support group meeting, the social worker mentioned that there was an agency that needed families for babies in Guatemala. Our hearts pounded as we investigated a little more, and we knew that we were being guided another direction. We made the wisest choice and changed agencies and our hearts were finally content. Soon, we were notified by ICIA that we were going to be parents, and that a baby boy had been born.
You see, all of the time that we were trying to make up our minds and not agreeing on a country location was only a factor in the story that our son had not even been conceived or born yet. Once we received our first pictures of him, there was an immediate feeling of being a family. The process went very smooth, with the help from everyone at ICIA.
We can’t thank them enough for our miracle of life that has made us a family.
Dear Lori, Sorry it has taken me so long to get this together, but here is our story.
My husband and I were married in 1990. I was 30 and he was 28. Our plans were to have 2 children by the time I was 35. Well, when I reached 35 we still had no children, we sought the advice of doctors and went through numerous tests, medicines, and surgery and still no luck. By the time I was 38 we decided to stop everything and just be a happy couple.
We were definitely happy, but always knew something was missing, so we decided to look into adopting. At this time we were only thinking domestic adoptions and one agency I called said it could take 6-8 years to place a young child with us, and by that time I would be considered too old for their program. That was really a crushing blow. Not only could I not have a baby, now I was being told I was too old!!
We started hearing about international adoptions and decided to attend an informational meeting of another local adoption agency. We really thought we would be interested in the China program, but after talking to a couple who had adopted from Guatemala, we decided this was the direction we would head.
We continued with the local agency, Adoption Horizons, for our home study and classes. In June of 1999 we were referred to Island Coast International Adoptions and Lori Bollman. When Lori called to introduce herself and explain how the process goes, she had a wonderful surprise for us. She was referring us a beautiful 4 month old baby boy. WE HAD A SON!! It was an exciting and sometimes trying time. The wait is so hard and to be honest we had some delays in our adoption, but the main thing was we finally got the call to travel to Guatemala in March of 2000 to bring our little boy home.
Our trip to Guatemala was wonderful. Noami, Lori's facilitator in Guatemala met us at the airport, took us to the hotel, reviewed our paperwork to be sure all was in order, and was there when our little one was brought to us, took us to the Embassy for our visa appointment, and even arranged for sightseeing of Antigua.
Our son adjusted beautifully and is a wonderful 4 year old today. Our story continues.
Last year we decided it was time to bring another child into our lives. Once again we contacted our local agency to update our homestudy and then requested to use ICIA and Lori's services again. This time in Sept. she called with a referral of a 10 day old baby girl. This adoption went smooth as can be, and poor Lori had to track us down on Jan 1, 2003 to tell us to pack our bags, as our little girl was ready to come home.
Once again Noami took wonderful care of us while in Guatemala, and we even were fortunate enough to meet our daughter's foster mom and her birth mom. Noami was a wonderful translator.
We have 2 beautiful children and we have ICIA and Lori to thank. She was very helpful with answering any questions we had and she made sure we received pictures of both children on a regular basis. We will always be grateful and would recommend her services to anyone considering adoption.
Miracles do happen and we thank God for the angels here on earth that helped make our dreams come true.
Sincerely, Jim & Cindy Daron proud parents of Zachary & Emma
Our Story: It started on April 9th 1988. That was the day of our wedding. I was 25 and my wife was 21 years of age. We decided to wait a few years before we had children. To get on our feet. Well after years of trying to conceive and thousands of dollars of doctor bills we decided to adopt.
We put a lot of time in deciding when and were we would adopt from. From a past experience with a friend of the family we ruled out an American baby. We had friends after three weeks the mother came back and took their little girl. Not for us.
We decided on Korea. Our son was born on Feb 10th. It was June 26, 2000 when we went to St. Louis airport and met him for the first time. He was met by his new parents, grandmother and great-grandmother and an aunt and uncle. It was a joyous day. On the way home from the airport the proud papa just happened to miss his exit off of the interstate. Oh well a few more miles.
About two years later we discussed it and decided to get our son a little sister. Again we pursued a Korean adoption. But our initial application and check was returned. We were rejected do to our body mass index. They thought we were too fat. That was a sad couple of days.
We researched a little more (OK a lot more) and finally decided to adopt a girl from Guatemala. That was an experience. We had never been out of the country before. Never! Thanks to Lori and her employee Noemi our experience was a flawless and memorable one. On October 15th we returned with our daughter. A beautiful 5 month old girl with the biggest dark eyes and that winning smile.
Both of our children have adapted quite well and are thriving. Our little girl was so small when we got her. Just over 11 pounds. In three months she is up to almost 16 pounds and crawling everywhere.
This isn't the whole of it either. The Lord knew he needed a good home for these two children and He knew we would provide that for them. On January 17th my wife informed me that she was pregnant and we would be expecting a child of our own. After all the years we had all but given up hope and now the Lord blessed us with this miracle. On today the 2nd day of Feb we had an sonogram. It was really neat to see the small living baby, no bigger than a peanut. And to hear the heart beat it was amazing.
Our eldest is really excited. He wants a little brother. Mom has already told him she can't pick him up any more because she has a baby in her belly. Four year old curiosity... "Mommy how is the baby going to get out of there?" Mom's reply was , "Mommy's body is made such that when it is time the baby can get out." We all are doing fine . With a long waited anticipation we will be a family of five. And if the Lord blesses us again we will be happy to provide.
Jeff, Bernadine, Kevin and Annabelle Suchomski Pinckneyville, Il
I want every one to know how blessed we are with our new daughter! I am 38 years old with a 14 year old son. I have been looking into adopting a child for a couple of years. I thought I did not have a chance since I am divorced and live with my boy friend of 6 years. I contacted several different agencies and talked with many different people. When I spoke with Lori Bollman of Island Coast International Adoptions I felt a comfortable and a peaceful feeling.
On March of 2003 I started my paper work. I decided to go with Guatemala since my son has a Spanish heritage. It just seemed to be the right thing at the time. Lori explained to me that Guatemala was going through some tough times and things where a bit unstable at that time. She was always honest and upfront with me. Every time I had a question she also responded professionally and efficiently. Well, in October or 2003 she had a baby girl for me. I knew it could take a while since the holidays were coming and Guatemala had just reorganized after a tough year. On January 2004 she told me my daughter was ready to come home!! We never expected it to happen so fast. Noemi, the facilitator, met us in Guatemala and stayed with us all the way during the embassy visit. She even took us sight seeing!!. I can tell you, not all agencies will do that. We met many couples there without any help from their agencies. They were really lost but Noemi even tried to help them.
I could have picked any agency, but the Lord led me to Island Coast International Adoptions and I thank him every day. My adoption went very quickly which seems to be the norm for ICIA. And I will tell you my daughter was one of the youngest babies we saw at the embassy. Most of the children had waited many more months. I would recommend Lori and Noemi from Island Coast International Adoptions to anyone interested in adopting. They are the best!!!
My husband and I have been together for 13 years and have wanted a child for just as long. We felt we where missing the most important part of lives.We started about 7 years ago. We first began with clomid and then went to artificial insemination. Neither worked so we then went to IVF. We did two cycles of that and both failed. We were both devastated and we did not understand why God would do this to us .We felt that we were both good people and we did not understand why we were being punished. When we decided to adopt we looked over all of the different countries and we both decided on Guatemala. We liked the fact that in their country listing, the first words that we saw were "healthy and the babies where born in hospitals and they went straight to foster care."
We then announced to our families that we decided to adopt. My sister-in-law told us that her mother's neighbor had adopted from Guatemala and that she used a local agent. We gave her a call and she told us how wonderful Island Coast International Adoptions with Lori Bollman was. We called Lori on a Sunday and she called us back on Monday. We found out that Lori lived ten minutes from our house so Lori invited us over to meet her. The very minute we met Lori we fell in love with her. That day Lori made us a promise that I will never forget...she told us that she assured us that she would get us a baby and that she did. We can never thank her and Noemi enough.
Lori called me two days before Thanksgiving and told me that I was a mom and that our son was born. It was the best feeling I will ever have. Four short months later she called us with the news that our adoption was final and we could now travel to get our beautiful son. When we got to Guatemala, we got a call from Noemi telling us that she would bring the baby within the hour. Adoption is the best thing in the world. It is hard to explain but everything felt so right and perfect. God did not punish us! He had blessed us. God chose us for this wonderful plan. Dylan fits so perfect in our lives, it's like the last piece to our family puzzle. Noemi is great! She spent the whole next day with us. We can not say enough about her. We traveled with another family that also used ICIA. Our babies were the youngest in the bunch. Everyone asked us how old our babies were. All of the other babies were 8 months to a year old. It is because of Lori and Noemi that we got our babies so young. Plus all of the other families getting their babies did not have a Noemi with them. We were so lucky to have been led to Lori and Noemi. I just wanted to say that Lori and Noemi you both are God's angels. We love you both and can never thank you enough for our beautiful son Dylan. Lori you have been my security blanket through this whole thing. I would tell anyone wanting to adopt definitely go with Lori and Noemi they are great at what they do .
April 13,2004 Love, Warren, Michelle and Dylan Mercer
We have our baby a little over a week now. I see her in the crib and am amazed that she is there. It is one in a line of cribs that we have purchased for an intended new baby, only to give to Good Will when the baby was gone.
It has been a long nine years. My husband, Anthony, and I have held and loved nine domistic children during that time. My children, Mia and Stephan, have grieved with us when each child has left our home. Adoption is not an easy road. We have heard lies, lies that the paperwork is being rushed through for this baby. We have trusted each time. In one case, three months after the paperwork being rushed, we were called that the biological mother was back in town and wanted to see her child. Within days, our little girl was gone. We picked up a little boy and were told he had no one. No, no grandparents, no family at all. After one year of loving this child, an aunt came to our home and took him for a few visits. Then, in judge¹s chambers, the decision was made to send him home with her. My son fell to the floor in despair when I told him Alex wasn't coming home. He talked of him for months. "I wonder if he is walking without holding on, by now," he would say.
Years ago, I asked my minister¹s wife about adopting a child from Guatemala. She told me she would check with our missionaries in that area. Her answer was that Guatemala was closed. It would be a long time before I realized that was not true.
Last December, after all the presents were opened, the last two children left our home. I tore up all my phone cards on caseworkers for I could not go that route any more. For days, I would walk around the house wondering what was happening. I was sure God had another child for us, and, yet, there were no more options. I had exhausted them all. I could not form a prayer in my mind. I just thought over and over what I had done to my children, my husband, for they were disillusioned by all of the disappointments.
One Sunday, I picked up the newspaper and read a story about the little girls in Guatemala. The writer noticed each child was holding and rocking something. They were rocking their baby dolls. When the writer asked to see one, a little girl gave her a rock. They were all holding rocks for dolls. I was so overwhelmed, I went right to my computer. I knew God was leading me. I found Island Coast International Adoptions, and discovered that Guatemala was not closed. In fact, they were looking for families. When I talked to Lori Bollman, I had immediate peace that this was the road I should take.
Lori and I wrote back and forth for a few months. She told only the truth about what was ahead. She was confidant, so much so that I began to believe we would have our baby. We began the home study, and dreaded what we thought would be a long wait. It was February 2004. On May 26th, the email arrived with Lori's question, "Are you ready for a referral?" A beautiful baby girl born May 10th. Pictures followed of a yawning infant that I wanted to reach out and hold in my arms.
As all of the legalities were taken care of, my desire for the arrival of our child grew. I prayed she would be with us for Christmas. Not really comfortable with travel to another country, I told Lori I would need an escort. In my heart, I wanted to make the trip, but it seemed to take more courage than I had. Then, I prayed a prayer asking God what He wanted me to do. If I should fly, I told Him I was placing myself in His Hand. I was placing my family in His Hand. The decision to travel came within hours, and with it, total peace.
Lori and I flew to Guatemala after a flourish of details: an emergency passport, tickets, and last minute paperwork. Could this really be happening? Whenever I got this close before, something would take my dream away. Lori's smile and her wonderful sense of humor got me through the hours in the air. When I met the facilitator, Noemi, I felt I was an old friend. These were women of great faith, and their presence, as I awaited the baby's arrival, was calming. Then, the baby was carried into Noemi¹s home, a house filled with angels. Angels of wood on the walls, statues of angels in her breakfront, angels on each table, cherubs on the armoire in the hall. A month before in church I had asked for prayer. I was told that angels would place my baby in my arms. Surrounded by these angels, I received my little girl. I was weak with joy.
The next day, she was six months old. In two days, after the paperwork at the American Embassy was completed, we were heading home, to a family who had waited years for this moment. As Lori, now one of my treasured friends, looked on, my son danced in the aisle at the airport, my daughter bubbled over with delight, my husband beamed as he saw this smiling, beautiful bundle of baby, ours to keep in a crib that was meant just for her.
If anyone should have given up, it was I. How blessed I am that God provided Island Coast International Adoptions to turn the ashes of my life into beauty. My prayer was that she would be here for Christmas, but she made it for Thanksgiving Day. A miracle has happened, and I will be eternally grateful. Anna Axe
I can't believe it has been almost three months since I held my daughter in my arms for the first time. The time has passed so quickly, and I can easily say Motherhood has been the greatest experience of my life. Wanting a child as a single person is a very difficult decision -- one that I had contemplated for many years. For years, I maintained a very close relationship with my nieces and nephews, and I had daily contact with children at my job. Still, something was missing in my life: a child of my own. Adoption seemed the natural choice for me. Having worked as a childcare administrator for many years, I knew that I would not have any problem bonding with a child that was not mine biologically. I had been diagnosed with PCOS several years earlier, so my chances of conceiving a child is very slim. I knew that domestic adoption was not the route I wanted to take as I had experienced first hand the heartache of friends and relatives who lost children they had already bonded with. After much research I decided on adopting from Guatemala. Having my child cared for by a private foster family was very. I also liked the fact that Guatemala was very close as I hope to have the opportunity to take my child back someday to see her country. Now, I had to take on the daunting task of researching the hundreds of agencies working with Guatemala adoptions. I truly believe in divine intervention and being in the right place at the right time. The next week my sister met a little boy in her son's music class who been adopted from Guatemala. She quickly put us in touch with each other. This family had worked with ICIA the year before and highly recommended Lori and ICIA. From the first time I spoke with Lori, I felt confident that she would help me in making my dream come true. She assured me of two things -- that she had no reservations about me being single, and that she would do everything in her power to help me have a child home by Christmas.
As a single person, I had found through my research that my options for adoption were limited, and I wasted no time in getting my paper work done. There was no way I was going to risk letting this opportunity fall through. I convinced my sister who had been pursuing an adoption from to switch to Guatemala, so that our children could share the same heritage.
My home study was completed in March, and the paper work was approved on April 5th! On April 15th, I received a phone call from Lori: "Are you ready to be a Mom?" My daughter, who I have named Elle, had been born on March 27th. You can't imagine the overwhelming joy to hear those words. I was so excited I barely made it through work. Thank God my family, friends and coworkers were so patient with me during this time. My sister received her referral the same day, she also received a referral for a little girl who was born March 26th. We truly believe these two girls were meant to be together. I received pictures of my daughter each month. With each new set of pictures, I fell more in love with my daughter, and the wait became increasingly difficult. I stayed busy, getting the nursery and the house ready for a baby. I also took time to enjoy my last few months as a single person.
I received my phone call on August19th that my adoption was final and I could travel to pick up my daughter. My sister, mother and I left on August 28th and my daughter was placed in my arms on August 29th. This was truly the greatest moment! My daughter was so calm and content and just looked into my eyes as if to say "Hello, Mom!" Elle and I bonded immediately and I truly feel we were meant to be together she definitely has my outgoing, spunky personality.
I had been so nervous about the trip to Guatemala, but it was truly the easiest part of the adoption, and an experience that I am truly grateful for. I enjoyed having the opportunity meeting the foster family who had cared for my daughter the first five months of her life. They took the time to share all of the important details of her daily routine. It was very obvious how much they truly loved Elle and I know it was hard for them to say good-bye. The facilitator in Guatemala went over all of the paperwork and guided me through my embassy day. She drove us around so we could take pictures, and took us shopping so I could purchase some very special Guatemalan gifts to give my daughter, as she gets older. Everywhere I went in Guatemala other adoptive families stopped me to inquire how old my daughter was. They couldn't believe she was going home at just five months. I also met many families who had adoption horror stories. I can't thank ICIA enough for making my adoption experience such a positive one. I think of the all the " firsts" Elle has experienced in her three month at home and am very grateful for having my daughter home so young.
God has blessed me with a beautiful, healthy daughter, she brings my entire family and me more happiness than I ever could have imagined. My sister is now home with her daughter and watching the two of them play together is so much fun. I look forward to the years ahead and the many special things they will share. People often ask me "Isn't it hard being a single mom?" At times it has its challenges, but when I wake up to the sound of my daughter calling out "MAMAMAMAMA," I smile and think to myself that it just doesn't get any better than this!
All Children come from God, for some the jounrey home just takes a little longer.
December 3, 2004
My husband and I first considered adoption in August of 2001. Our only child, a 14 year old son, had died the year before after a very long struggle with a very rare genetic disease. We were left lonely and empty, and knew that we wanted to be parents again. God had given us our son for a short 14 years, and we were not done being parents.
We got with Lori in December of 2001. Being that I was 46 and my husband was 54, we decided on trying for a toddler girl. We decided on Guatemala because Lori would escort, and we were told the children were so happy and healthy from there.
And so it began. Our local adoption agency in Bellefonte, PA got all of our paperwork to Lori and we began our wait. On February 26, 2002 Lori had our referral a beautiful eight month old little girl who was an abandonment case. Lori explained to us what we would be up against, with her being abandoned, but it felt so right. By all probability, she would be a toddler by the time it was all done.
Little did we know then, how true that would be. The wait was hard, but Lori was always just an e-mail or phone call away. She got us through it all. It took until March 2003 for the abandonment to be granted, but we were one step closer. My husband and I knew that this was all part of God¹s plan for us, so we continued the wait.
By March 2004, we were nearing the end of our long journey. Guardianship had been granted to the foster mother, and the actual adoption process began. By this time we no longer wanted our daughter escorted to us; we wanted to travel ourselves to bring her home.
On July 12, 2004, we got word from Lori that our daughter was just about ready to come home. What emotions my husband and I felt at that time. We left for Guatemala on July 25th and had our Rosa Adele in our arms the next day. Lori¹s facilitator, Noemi, guided us through every step along the way. She was wonderful and put us at ease the entire time. The paperwork at the Embassy was done on the 27th and we on our way back home on the 28th. What a whirlwind!
So here we are, five months later, and so very happy. Without our trust in Jesus, we never could have completed the journey he prepared for us. But, oh, what a journey! Rosa was a very special gift to us from up above, one that we will love and treasure forever.
God works in magical ways. A little less than one year ago, my wife, Yvette, and I were wondering if we were ever going to be parents. Now, as I sit here writing my testimony, we are the proud parents of two beautiful, (and biological), children from Guatemala. Below is our story:
After 3 ½ hard years of not getting pregnant, Yvette and I started to discuss the possibilities of adoption. I have always been a firm believer that things always happen for a reason, and that adoption was God¹s plan for us. So, in October 2002, we decided to pursue adoption. We had no idea how many different countries offered adoption, but by God¹s grace, Yvette was drawn towards Guatemala and with her first "Google" on the internet, ICIA and Lori Bollman was pulled up. I did a little research on her agency and we decided to make a visit to Lori. During the visit, we just knew that this was the right agency and we signed papers that day. By February 2003, we received a referral for Elizabeth Grace, and we were very excited. The initial plan was for us to travel some time within 4-6 months. Unfortunately, come August, God¹s plan for us changed. The Hague Treaty and UNICEF got involved and put a halt on foreign adoptions. Our hearts sunk. Three very long months passed and still no word on when our dear Elizabeth Grace was coming home. With each picture, we watched her grow up and wondered if she was ever going to be ours. Then, a few days before Thanksgiving, we received that blessed call. Lori told Yvette and we would be traveling within a few weeks. I was at work, so instead of calling me, Yvette decided to surprise me at work with the wonderful news. My heart dropped with the news and we quickly called our families to share this joyous occasion. Our trip was a success, Noemi was awesome, and we returned home, after waiting 13 months, to finally feel that our lives were complete, but God had other plans !
Four months after having Elizabeth home (April 2004), we received an urgent e-mail from Lori to contact her immediately. Of course, we initially thought the worse and were afraid that we were going to lose Elizabeth, but instead, Lori informed us that Elizabeth¹s birth mother was pregnant again, but this time with a boy and due in TWO weeks. Our initial plan was not to adopt a second child until Elizabeth was at least 3 years old, by once again, God had other plans. Nicolas Peter was born exactly 14 months and 1 day from his big sister, and we decided to move ahead with the adoption. Initially, it was a difficult decision as we were thinking how we are going to afford a second adoption so soon, we are still getting adjusted to one child, and now we are potentially going to have a second; are heads were spinning. In the end, Yvette reminded me that God never puts you in a situation that he believes you cannot handle and that he will provide. This past October, we traveled down to Guatemala, with Elizabeth, to pick up her baby brother. When Elizabeth first saw her brother, he put on a BIG smile and she went over and gave him a hug. People always tell us that Elizabeth is too young (20 months) to know what was going on, but I truly believe she and Nicolas knew that they were siblings. To this day, every morning when our kids awake, Elizabeth gives her brother a hug and kiss good morning, and Nicolas just smiles and laughs. It is so beautiful to see and even though Yvette and I now say that our family is complete, you never know what God has planned.
God has blessed our family with two beautiful children from Guatemala, and we are so grateful that he chose Yvette and I to be the parents. We also know that it was God who opened our hearts to adoption and brought us to ICIAand Lori Bollman. Lori and Noemi will always hold a very special place in our hearts.
Thank You and God Bless, Peter, Yvette, Elizabeth, and Nicolas Barbatsuly
In May of 2002, I underwent major surgery for endometriosis. After the surgery, my doctor asked when we were planning to have children. I said "in about 2 years or so". He said that we'd better begin trying now as the odds were the greatest right after my laparotomy. We decided to give it a try and several months came and went. I began seeing a new doctor who tested me for tubal blockages and such. Fortunately, my tubes were not blocked. After several more months, she referred me to a reproductive specialist. He decided to do a laparoscopy to see what was going on as my ultrasound showed something unusual. The news in the recovery room from the laparoscopy was not good. I needed yet another laparotomy (less than 18 mos after the first one) to remove a cyst that was very large and aggressive. My surgery was successful and the cyst was not cancerous. During this time, I began watching Adoption Stories on Discovery Health Care channel.
I watched intently and cried my heart out as everyone was united with their adoptive child or children. About 6 months went by and my doctor was recommending injections and IUI. I paid for the shots and went to the "training session". Meanwhile, I saw Lori and her family on Adoption Stories. I felt COMPELLED to find her on the internet. Fortunately, searching Lori Bollman and adoption on Yahoo made my search very easy! I can't explain my compulsion to look her up except to say that God must've been giving me a big nudge. The time came for me to give myself the expensive injections and I just absolutely could not do it. I can't really even say why. This is when we decided to go ahead with our adoption from Guatemala. I got information from a large well-known agency but deep down I knew I would be using Lori. I figured someone who has adopted internationally herself would certainly be trustworthy and understand what I am going through along the way. I was right! ICIA proved to be a great choice.
Our little angel came home in October 2004 at 4.5 months of age. We visited twice prior to bringing her home. We have such wonderful memories of our visits that we will always cherish. Noemi, the facilitator in Guatemala, is such a joy. So helpful and wonderful. I hope I see her again someday! In all honesty, we were concerned (prior to deciding to adopt) that we would get a baby that was really far behind. We laugh at that now. Not only is our little Kira one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen, she is super smart and extremely ahead. She was pulling to sitting at 2 mos, pulling to standing at 4 and walking with help at 5. When we brought her home, she would pick up toys with her feet and bring them up to her hands, she could turn the light switch off and on, etc. At 5 mos, she started drinking from a straw and sippy cup! At 7 mos, she started kicking a soccer ball around the house and also going up the stairs one alternating foot per step. Not trying to do toooo much bragging here (what can I say, we are proud parents!) but you get the idea. Kids are not necessarily going to be behind if they have been adopted. Our little one has already inspired a friend to adopt. I hope that that trend continues.
Sincerely, Suzanne, Alex, and Kira Buckmelter Superior, CO
Hi there, we are the Harmon Family and we live in Missouri near Kansas City. My name is Jason and my wife's name is Heidi. We have a 10 year old son named Bailey, and we are proud to say that we are the new adoptive parents of a beautiful 5 1/2 month old baby girl from Guatemala named Brianna.
Our adoption story began a number of years ago. We had kind of kicked the idea around once or twice because our son is disabled with a genetic disease and we desperately wanted another child in our family to enrich all of our lives. We were first seriously approached on the subject by a friend who knew someone who was thinking about adoption as an option for her baby. We soon met with an adoption agency here locally to see what were the necessary steps we needed to take in order to get the process started. Everything went flawlessly until the mother gave birth. She then changed her mind about the adoption. We were devastated. Emotions poured through us. We were so close, but in every way understood the mother's decision to keep her child. It was the right choice for her. Needless to say we were set back by this and took some time away from the whole adoption idea.
Some time later we slowly started to pick up on the idea again, or possibly thinking maybe this time we would try to have our own baby. We committed ourselves to trying to have a baby, but to no success. My wife then brought up the idea of an international adoption. Warning lights, bells and whistles, alert systems you name it went off in my head. Another adoption? Are you crazy, look at the last one, it will happen again I would say. You have to know my wife, she is very thorough and diligent with everything she does. So needless to say she had done her homework on international adoptions prior to even thinking about approaching me with the subject. I was very hesitant due to the costs involved. But, all she simply said to me was " If I can find a way for us to financially work this out would you be for it?" Me thinking this was a long shot said yes I would be all for it if you can figure it out. Her next comment was, " Sit down and listen to how we are going to get our daughter." So I listened. The very next day we started the process all over again.
We began our international adoption process by researching and Internet chatting with folks from different areas who had adopted internationally. We got references of different agencies and talked to what seemed like hundreds of people. But the one constant in a lot of the conversations was Island Coast International. We had heard so many great things about them, their staff, and all their resources. We used ICIA out of Cape Coral, Florida. There we were in contact with a woman named Lori Bollman who has the patience of an angel. From the moment we started the process until the end she was always there with answers, pictures, assurance and reassurance. We constantly bombarded her with emails wanting to know this, that and the other regarding our daughter. She always left us a calming little note at the end of her reply emails. Noemi, in Guatemala was just the biggest help to us. She helped get us through the Embassy and all of its processes, she helped us get our new daughter in to see a doctor at the very last minute of the work day. She offered to take us sight-seeing with her and her husband to Antigua. Last but not least Olga, how can you thank someone who has taken care of your child the way she did. What a loving heart she has to do what she does.
This whole process was a whirlwind event with incredible highs and lows. From the application process and all of its paperwork. To the referral date. To the monthly pictures and reports. To getting the word that your case is in PGN. To GETTING PINK. Our trip is over but our journey has just begun. Thanks to everyone who helped us to make our dream come true. We are truly indebted to all of you.
The Harmon Family Jason, Heidi, Bailey and Brianna
Well, we have been home for almost 2 ½ months already, and each day is better than the day before. It’s hard to imagine life before our daughter. We are truly blessed to have found Lori Bollman and Island Coast International Adoptions to help bring our family together.
My husband and I were high school sweethearts and always dreamed of the day that we would start a family. We were married in June of 2000 and didn’t waste much time trying to have children. Months went by with no pregnancy. We both went to our doctors for a few tests, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with either of us. We continued trying until January of 2002. In January, it was time to take a break and refocus our efforts on something else. My father, who had been diagnosed with cancer, was starting to have complications with his health. For the next five months, we spent all of our time and energy with him.
After the passing of my father, my husband and I started talking about our family again. We knew we needed some time to heal, but children were still on our minds. As the next few months passed, we found ourselves discussing how we were going to become a family. Should we invest our efforts into fertility treatments, or should we focus on adoption? After years of heartache and waiting, we decided that adoption was the clear choice for us. We just needed a little time to allow the “money tree” in the backyard to grow, so we could pursue our dream of becoming a family. Finally, in December of 2004, the time had come to begin the process.
The adoption process started with the search for an agency. I called a few people from our town that had adopted from Guatemala and asked them what agency they had used. Three of the five people that I talked to had used Island Coast. I did not hear one negative comment from anyone. Everyone raved about their wonderful experience. I almost thought that it was too good to be true. My husband and I talked about it for about a week and decided that ICIA was the agency for us. I e-mailed Lori for an application and info packet. The very next day I found a piece of paper with an agency name on it. This same paper was given to me almost a year before from a co-worker who knew someone that had adopted from Guatemala. The agency was ICIA!! I knew this was the “sign” that ICIA was the one for us.
The process proceeded pretty smoothly. We started our dossier “paperchase” in March and had the completed dossier to Lori on April 27th. The wait had started when would our baby girl be born?? I think that I e-mailed Lori everyday. Lori always had good words of support and encouraged me to believe that God would bring our daughter to us in his perfect time. Well ..exactly one month after submitting our dossier our baby girl was born!!!!
We received the e-mail on Thursday June 2nd with pictures of our baby girl. She was born on May 27th, and she was so beautiful!! My husband and I bonded right away!
We knew she was meant to be our daughter. The wait began again. When would we get to go bring our daughter home?
Those next four months of waiting were very hard!!!! Again, I think that I e-mailed Lori everyday about our case. Poor Lori, I know she had to have been going crazy with all of my e-mails, but every time she responded and assured me that everything was moving and that it was all progressing in very good time. We received pictures every couple of weeks, which was very important to us. Another family traveling to Guatemala took down a package for us with things for our daughter. We even received pictures of her wearing one of the outfits we had sent down. She was growing and being well taken care of ..we were so in love.
On September 27th we received notice that we were out of PGN and would be traveling in a few weeks to meet our daughter!!!! We left for Guatemala on the 22nd of October and had our baby in our arms the very next morning. I can’t even put into words the feeling of holding our baby for the first time. We also met her foster family, who were wonderful people. You could tell that they loved her and that saying goodbye was going to be difficult for them. I was sad, but I felt a great sense of peace that she had been taken care of by such a wonderful family. We promised to stay in touch with pictures, so they could watch her grow.
e also met Noemi, the facilitator, for the first time that day. I had heard wonderful things about her from other families and everything was true. She was an angel. Noemi made the experience so smooth. She made sure that all the paperwork for the embassy was in order so that we could focus on our daughter. Our embassy day came and went without problems. We spent one day shopping with Noemi for things to bring back for our daughter and families. We also spent some time driving through Guatemala City and exploring the city. What a beautiful place with beautiful people.
It is now January. We are very fortunate to have been able to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas as a family. Our daughter was one day shy of her 5th month birthday when we brought her home. Now at 7 months we feel like she has always been here. The pain of “the wait” truly has disappeared. My husband and I have the family that we have always dreamed of having. We are even thinking about starting again. ICIA will be getting a call from us. Our experience with them was wonderful!!! Lori and Noemi are both remarkable women who do a beautiful thing in uniting children with loving families. We cannot thank them enough for doing what they do and keeping everything moving so well.
We thank the Lord for ICIA and the angels who keep it going...Thank you for taking the time to read about our journey, and if you are thinking about traveling the same path, we wish you wonderful journey as well.
Love to all
Travis, Sonya, and Isela Maria The Gatewood Family
Michelle and Chris were married May 5, 2001. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have children. However, we knew that it could take some time as we were both older when we were married.
We decided to look into adoption when Michelle was diagnosed with (PCOS). We began looking at local agencies and were surprised at the statistics. The domestic agencies said that they had adopted out 7 children with the last year and that 22 families were waiting. So with that it could take 2 years or more before we would receive a baby.
We began looking into international adoption. We looked through so much paperwork that it was overwhelming. Then on a chance trip to our local mall we ran into an old friend (Karen) and she gave us information about Island Coast International Adoption (ICIA) and her friend our angel Lori Bollman. We were elated to find out that ICIA’s offices were located in our city of Cape Coral, Florida.
We contacted Lori and she arranged to meet with us at out local library after her office hours. We felt an instant connection with her from the start. We decided on a child from Guatemala. Lori explained what needed to be done and the approximate timeline for us and we started. We started our process June 4, 2005 and had our son Jefferson in our arms February 11, 2006.
We completed all of our paperwork, completed the dossier and other details then brought it to Lori on October 6, 2005. At this meeting we asked her how long it could be before we receive a referral for a baby (The child’s gender did not matter because we know that the baby would be God sent and we would accept whomever he sent for us). Lori told us that she had mothers giving birth daily and we could possibly have a referral within 2 weeks. Well, our angel Lori emailed us on October 10, 2005 and asked “are you ready to be parents”. Chris read the email 1st and was in shock and called Michelle at home to tell her the news. Chris then called Lori and left a voicemail to accept the referral and was so excited that he could not remember their home phone number but finally did remember. About 30 minutes later Chris, Michelle and Lori had a conference call and were told all of the birth information about Jefferson. It was as emotional as if we were present at the birth of our son. We fell in love with him and knew it was meant to be from the beginning.
Lori is the most patient person we have ever met. She is always cheerful, energetic and helpful every step of the way. We are sure that Michelle and Chris must have emailed or called her at least once or more a day. I’m sure Lori must have received emails from Michelle and Chris at the same time without either one of us knowing that the other emailed her as well. Lori never complained and just replied to both of them.
Lori kept us up to date throughout the entire process with pictures and updates every couple weeks. The wait wasn’t as bad as we had heard. Although, the process seemed like it took forever when you’re waiting to bring your child home.
We received “PINK” in the beginning of February and traveled to get Jefferson on February 11, 2006. We were expectant parents waiting for the call that our baby was downstairs in the lobby. Once we received the call from Hugo it was like the 100 yard dash to get him. As soon as we received him we felt an instant bond and there wasn’t a dry eye in lobby. The sometimes lengthy adoption process was eased by working Lori Bollman and ICIA.
Our timeline was:
June 4, 2005 June 25, 2005 October 6, 2005 October 10, 2005 February 11, 2006 February 13, 2006 February 14, 2006 February 15, 2006Met with Lori Bollman (ICIA) Home study Conducted All paperwork and completed dossier brought to Lori Received and accepted referral for Jefferson Pick-up trip to Guatemala to pick up Jefferson Embassy appointment for Jefferson Pick-up Jefferson’s Visa Jefferson home in Florida and our new forever familyGod led us to our chance meeting with an old friend (Karen) in the mall and Karen has told us recently that she has not been back to the mall since then. God put us both there at the right time and then lead us to our angel on earth Lori Bollman. We thank Lori for helping to make our dreams come true in completing our forever family.
My husband and I recently brought home our beautiful baby boy we adopted from Guatemala thanks to Lori and ICIA (Island Coast International Adoptions). After many long years of fertility treatments, we chose to adopt internationally. The choice to adopt internationally was an easy one for us. Firstly, there are so many children in need of a home and loving family, and to have the chance to experience opportunities that otherwise would not be available to them that the decision seemed very clear. Secondly, I have some reservations about adopting domestically. Birth mothers in the US change their minds frequently, and referrals seem to take longer. It just didn't make logical sense to me endure the heartache of a birth mother changing her mind if there are so many children internationally in need of a family.
Around this time, while disheartened over not being able to conceive, I had a serendipitous encounter I will never forget. I had the pleasure of meeting Lori outside of the adoption realm. We instantly connected, and I fortunately learned she owned and operated an international adoption agency. After answering my numerous questions patiently and honestly, we contracted with Lori on January 25 to start our adoption of a baby boy from Guatemala. She handed over the massive paperwork packet involved to complete the dossier, and I gladly accepted the challenge. At first glance, the documents, home study interview, and all certifications and authentications can be very overwhelming. However, with diligence, patience, and with Lori’s help and support, we completed everything needed in less than 6 weeks, and received our referral of a 4 week old baby boy on March 7th! Now the ‘real’ wait begins…DNA, family court, PGN, Pink. There are so many steps involved after receiving the referral, but Lori keeps you abreast of changes as you enter and exit each stage, and keeps you calm with lots of reassurance that “everything will be OK”.
We took two visit trips to have the opportunity to meet and bond with our son. On the first trip he was 3.5 months old. I will never forget the moment I saw Noemi and the foster mother walking into the Marriott with our baby in hand. I cried as the foster mother handed him to me…he was so precious! Noemi is Lori’s partner who is based in Guatemala, and orchestrates all of the referrals, embassy appointments, monthly pictures, visits with babies and foster moms, family visits and pick up trips, physician visits, and so much more that I am not even qualified to list. Noemi is a true angel, just as Lori is. She loves the Guatemalan children with all of her heart and soul. I hope to see Noemi again one day, as there will always be a place in my heart for her!
Our second visit trip was planned on our son’s 6 month birthday. It was a wonderful experience to see how he had changed! He had learned to roll over, sit up, and hold his own bottle! I highly recommend visiting as it makes the experience more ‘real’ to be able to hold, touch, kiss and cuddle with your baby and stay connected with his developments. Precious bonding time I would not trade for anything in the world!
To our surprise, two days after we returned home from our second visit trip we were out of PGN!!! The adoption is final!!! PGN was the hardest step for me…waiting and waiting for the adoption to be reviewed and signed off on, I was going mad until Lori called me with the good news!! So, in just 3 short weeks we received our ‘Pink’ slip to travel, and brought our baby home on 8/31/06.
As you can see, Lori is highly experienced and works very fast. Our adoption experience lasted only 7 months from start (contracting and receiving the paperwork) to the trip home with our baby. And only 5.5 months from the time of referral to the day we brought him home!
As I sit here and write this, I watch my son playing happily nearby. I am so lucky to have him as my son. I couldn't ask for a more beautiful and happy baby! A quote I hold dearly comes to mind from the Dalai Lama…”Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck”. Because we could not conceive, I have the most precious baby I could ever ask for, and wouldn't change a thing. I thank Lori and ICIA every day for giving me the wonderful gift of motherhood, and making my husband and I a complete family. I recommend ICIA to anyone looking for an experienced, compassionate and knowledgeable adoption agency. With ICIA you can count on honesty, personal care and the utmost of professionalism.
If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to email me at Torig71@aol.com
OUR JOURNEY FOR ELI My Husband Owen and I began our journey for Eli in June 2005. After a year of infertility treatments and still no pregnancy we both knew if we wanted to have a child together it was time to make a decision to either continue the treatments or adopt. At that point we started looking at adoption on our computer. The next question was what country did we want to adopt from. At first I looked at Illinois and I could not believe the “wait time” was so long to get a healthy infant. With Owen and I nearing 40 years old we knew we wanted a baby sooner than that. At that point I looked at Russia but they required several visits and some long stays in their country. Then I saw Guatemala and the website I was on had pictures of the most beautiful babies with the biggest, darkest eyes I had ever seen. That caught my attention and I read more and more and more about the adoption process for Guatemala.
I found out that most of the babies were born in Hospitals, we could adopt a baby between 3-6 months old, and the adopting parents would only have to stay in Guatemala 3-5 days. It sounded perfect The following day I called LCFS (Lutheran Child and Family Services) and they referred me to ICIA(Island Coast International Adoption Agency) in Florida.
I contacted them and they sent us a packet of information which included a list of a ton of paperwork that would be required to start the process. All this paperwork would need to be notarized and Authenticated to make up this packet called the “Dossier”. We also needed a Home study done by a licensed social worker along with fingerprinting and several background checks. So, we began our paper chase for our Dossier on July 23rd 2005 and I sent everything to Lori Bollmann at ICIA on January 9 2006. Once ICIAreviewed our paperwork they translated it and sent it to Guatemala.
Once Guatemala said everything was okay we were clear to accept a referral as soon as an infant boy became available.
On January 27, 2006 while on my lunch break at work I received a phone call from Lori that would change our lives forever She said “Stephanie this is Lori with ICIA and apparently you’ve been away from your computer today “ I said “Yes, I’m at work today” she said “well I have sent you some pictures and information of a healthy baby boy that is available as a referral to you if you want him, do you have access to a computer? I said “No we’re not allowed to use the computers here (at work) but can I call Owen and ask him to see what he thinks and call you right back” She said “Sure”. So, I then called Owen and he said “Is he healthy” I said “yes” , he said “what do you think babe” I said “my heart tells me this is our son” He said “okay” call Lori back” so I called Lori back and told her we would accept our referral. So, I accepted our son” Sight unseen”.
The first thing I did that day when I got home was look at our son on the computer- He was perfect He was born January 3rd 2006, he weighed 5lbs 1oz. And was 18 inches long. He went from the hospital to private foster care where he stayed with his foster mother ( a wonderful woman), her 15 year old daughter, and a 3 year old boy that was in foster care there too. His name was Gabriel but to us he was “Eli” (we knew we would rename him Eli).
At this point we were in for what seemed to be a very long wait to bring our son home. We received monthly updates of our baby, It was our only connection to someone very far away that we knew we loved immensely although we had never really seen him, smelled him, or even touched him.
The beginning of March we received word that our case was flying. By March 22nd our final paperwork was in the final stages of the Guatemala Court System. Once our papers got to this stage called PGN they needed to be signed by the Main Official of PGN . Nothing more could be done without his signature. Well, at the end of March before our papers were signed the PGN department in Guatemala made some changes and there was a new Head of PGN that caused things to either move very slow and even completely stop sometimes when it came to releasing adoption paperwork. So, we were stuck somewhere in PGN . Since we were all unsure if or when we would get out of PGN we decided to go visit Eli from May 22nd - 25th. We finally got to see and touch our Angel for the first time. But of course, our visit trip went quick and leaving Eli behind that day not knowing when we would get out of PGN was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Then on June 18th 2006 I received an e-mail from Lori at ICIA saying our papers were signed in PGN Hallelujah we were finally out of PGN They ordered our son’s birth certificate and they had it by June 22nd then they got a PINK slip that had a date of June 28th for us to be at the Embassy appointment in Guatemala.
We flew to Guatemala June 27th, within an hour of being there Lori’s facilitator in Guatemala (Noemi) brought Eli to us. We had our appointment the 28th, picked up his Visa the 29th and returned home to Hoffman, Illinois on July 1st 2006.
Eli has been with us for 3 months now. We have truly been blessed There is nothing in the world that can describe the joy he has given us. There is nothing like walking into his room in the morning and seeing his huge dark eyes and toothless smile staring back at us.
I would like to thank Lori Bollmann at ICIA for being sooo patient and nice to us during our adoption process. She kept me faithful in the fact that when I thought I couldn’t wait another day to hear news about Eli she reminded me to pray, keep the faith, and know that he was coming home soon.
I also want to Thank Noemi (Lori’s facilitator in Guatemala) for taking such good care of us and checking on us and getting us where we needed to be while we were in Guatemala.
We were also fortunate enough to meet Eli’s foster mother while we there. She is a remarkable woman who did a wonderful job taking care of him- he was well nourished and very outgoing thanks to Noella. And, I believe, because of her he adjusted extremely well when we got home. I think of her often and continue to pray for her. Everyone of you women are Heaven sent and all played very important rolls in our son’s life. Thank You all very much from the bottom of our hearts for you have helped bring one of the greatest joys to our lives Hugs in Christ
This is how we were blessed with our son, Diego. My husband, Scott and I had been trying to get pregnant for about 5 years when we started infertility treatments. I went through a couple surgeries and numerous unsuccessful treatments. I started looking on-line at adoption agencies and found one locally. They were having a seminar regarding international adoptions that I attended with a friend. My husband and I then signed up with this agency that referred us to ICIA. Lori immediately eased all of our concerns, and we began the process of adopting from Guatemala.
Our journey started in April, 2006 with our home study. ICIA then sent us all of our paperwork that we needed for our dossier. I completed our part in May or early June. We received our INS approval and FBI fingerprints back by mid June. As soon as Lori received everything we had our referral. On June 28th, 2006 Lori emailed me saying she had a boy that was just born on the 23rd, and were we interested? Of course, so later that night we emailed her back accepting him!!! About a week later we got the first pictures of Diego and he was just the most beautiful child I had ever seen! We then received monthly pictures as well as frequent updates. We went into PGN at the beginning of August. We then got the best call of our lives at the end of September-beginning of October we were PINK!! We went down to pick him up at the end of October.
We arrived in Guatemala on October 29, 2006. We had just enough time to get to the hotel and get our room before we got the call that the foster family was in the lobby with our son! It was the most wonderful moment we had ever experienced. The foster mom had brought her whole family. You could truly tell that each and every one of them loved him.
Noemi (the facilitator in Guatemala) was a godsend. Diego got a stomach bug the second day we had him and she took us to the doctors and then all over the city to get him the correct medicine. She had everything all in order and made our experience there unforgettable.
We have been home now about 1 ½ months and he is the happiest baby around. He is completely healthy and where he should be developmentally.
Thanks to Lori, Noemi and everyone at ICIA my husband and I have been able to achieve something we thought unattainable - our own family. The ICIAfamily is truly a group of angels that only God could have assembled. We loved our experience so much that we are already deciding when we will do it again.
As I celebrated having my beautiful daughter from Guatemala for one year this week, I started to think about the whole adoption experience all over again, so I wanted to share my memories of the last year in hopes of encouraging others that are considering international adoption.
My story started by researching both domestic and international adoption. After much thought, I decided to try domestic adoption and contacted Lutheran Child and Family Services. They sent me all of the information and paperwork to start the process. To be honest, everything is quite overwhelming at first, from the home study to all of the documentation needed; however, they answered all of my questions and made the process go as smoothly as possible. When everything was complete, I was hopeful that someone would choose me to raise their son or daughter, but after over a year of waiting, I began to realize that as a single mother, domestic adoption may not work out for me.
I had researched international adoption and was actually quite hesitant to start the process. I didn’t really know what to expect and I am not a world traveler, so the thought of going to another country wasn’t exactly at the top of my list of things that I wanted to do. It became apparent to me, however, that my desire to be a parent was greater than many of my fears, so I decided that international adoption would be the best way for me to have the child that I had always wanted. I think my final decision came after more than one of my friends reminded me that it doesn’t matter where your daughter is from because she will be yours and you will love her no matter what, which is absolutely true.
I contacted LCFS and told them of my decision to try international adoption, so they quickly began to help me with this process. They recommended a couple of international agencies, but my decision was to contact Lori Bollman at Island Coast International Adoptions. Lori sent me another round of paperwork that needed to be completed and I began to start working towards getting all of the documentation needed for my dossier. This was quite a lengthy process, especially with all of the certifications that are needed for the paperwork, so once that was complete, the wait for my daughter began.
To my surprise, within less than three months of my first contact with Island Coast, I received a phone call as I was traveling home one day and it was Lori asking if I had seen my e-mail. I had not, but she told me that I had received a referral for a beautiful little girl that was one week old. I couldn’t get home fast enough and then couldn’t believe that I was opening an e-mail with pictures of my daughter. I quickly accepted the referral and then the waiting began.
Lori kept me informed throughout the process of progress that was being made towards the day when I could bring my daughter home. She regularly sent pictures and those were the best days for me during the time I was waiting for everything to be completed. There were some difficult times when things just take more time than you think they should, but I would contact Lori to make sure everything was going well and she was always full of encouraging words to help me with the waiting.
When my daughter was 4 ½ months old, I received an urgent e-mail that everything was ready for me to travel to Guatemala. I couldn’t believe that everything was finally happening so fast. I found out on Wednesday that I had an appointment at the embassy on Monday, so I had to travel to Guatemala on Sunday. I was so blessed that all of my flight and hotel arrangements worked out well, especially traveling on such short notice.
On Sunday, my friend and I went to the airport. It was a really stressful time, as there were severe thunderstorms in the area and when we arrived at the airport, their computers were down, so everything didn’t seem to be going so well. By another blessing, the thunderstorms seemed to weaken as they approached St. Louis and our plane took off only a few minutes late. From then on, the day seemed to go much better. We arrived in Guatemala right on time and when we arrived at the hotel, there was a message waiting for me that Noemi would meet me in the lobby with my daughter around 5:00 that evening. Noemi works in Guatemala to facilitate the adoptions for Island Coast and she was absolutely wonderful!
My friend and I went down to the lobby a little early and to my surprise, the lobby was full of new parents meeting their children for the first time. I didn’t know Noemi, but when she arrived, she picked me out and introduced herself. She was a little early and as we started to go through some of the paperwork to make sure everything was in order, I saw my daughter coming through the front doors of the hotel with her foster mother. She was smiling and was absolutely beautiful. She came right to me and continued to smile. I couldn’t believe her good nature, especially with someone that she had never seen before. The foster mother helped me by letting me know her habits and feeding times and anything else that I needed to know and then said her goodbyes. As Noemi and I finished up with checking the paperwork, I took my daughter up to the hotel room and she continued to be a happy little girl.
The embassy process went very well and we were able to go home on Wednesday after only three days in Guatemala. Noemi was with me every step of the way and I was so thankful for her help. One of the reasons I had chosen Guatemala was that the trip was shorter than most and I wanted to spend my time off of work at home with my daughter rather than in another country.
During the three days we spent in Guatemala, we visited with many other parents and many of them were there to spend time with their child, however, they were not able to take their son or daughter home yet. Some of these children were several months older than my daughter and the parents couldn’t believe that I was taking her home at such a young age. We also visited with a mother that was there to spend a week with her newborn daughter, but she waited for almost an entire day in the lobby before she arrived. After hearing some of these stories, I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to have chosen an agency that was able to work through the adoption process so quickly.
After we arrived home, I couldn’t believe how well she adjusted to her new surroundings. I had almost constant visitors for days and she would let anyone hold her and was happy most of the time. She adjusted so well that I even took less time off of work than I originally anticipated so that I could spend more time with her throughout the year.
The last year has gone by so quickly. I was so fortunate to get my daughter at such a young age. I can’t imagine missing all of her “firsts” that I was able to experience, such as sitting up, pulling herself up and taking those first steps. She is growing up so fast and gets more beautiful each day. We honestly don’t go anywhere without someone stopping us to tell me how beautiful she is. She is very outgoing, has a wonderful personality and loves to be around people. Her development has been ahead of what I expected and she is a very smart little girl. She has really started to talk over the last few weeks, so it has been fun to teach her new words and watch her reaction as she learns new things. I am also fortunate to have a wonderful day care that she loves going to each day. There are days when she claps as we pull into the parking lot, so I know that she is comfortable spending her day there. She has been a wonderful addition to my life and I don’t know what I would do without her.
I can’t believe that I ever hesitated with the thought of international adoption. I had some fears of how people would accept a single mother with a child from another country, especially being from a smaller town, but those fears are long gone. Everyone has accepted her and there have been many people that stop me to talk about my adoption experience and many of them have someone in their family that has adopted internationally as well. My story seems to make some people jealous, however, as many families don’t get their children when they are under six months old or have the positive experience I had with Island Coast. I will be forever grateful for all of the help they gave me throughout the adoption process. Lori and Noemi were wonderful to work with and I would recommend Island Coast to anyone who is considering adoption.