Category Archives: counseling

El Salvador: A Beginning

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Let’s just jump right in: My mom never did a traditional baby book for me, but she did keep every single piece of paper from her adoption journey in a binder for me. A few fun facts I learned:

• She started the adoption process in September of 1986. (I wouldn’t have even been born for another 1.5 years!) She sent in her international adoption application November 3, 1986.

• My mom originally wanted to end up adopting 2 kids eventually. It ended up being just me.

March 16, 1987: her home study was forwarded to South America. (I will be born in a year)

April 22, 1987: her home study was approved for the Latin American Program. Based on her preferences, she would probably be best suited for the El Salvador program. She has more paperwork to send in, and then it’ll take a month after that for the approval on that end.

July 1987 she sends all her paperwork to El Salvador after her approval. Including power of attorney to Dr. Jose Manuel Pacas Castro.

•Then, there’s nothing for a year. Paperwork and applications expire.

•Then, there’s a paper dated July 22, 1988. It’s from Dr Pacas to Ana whom is a translator in all of this/adoption specialist of the Latin American Program. It reads, (translation) “Barbara Sophia Moreno is almost 4 months old, whom I previously inform you could be the referral for Ms. Cathy Houseman. The baby is very healthy. She is under the guardianship of the First Minor’s Court and her state of abandonment is being investigated by the authorities. At this time she is in the Hogar del Niño orphanage.

February 4, 1989: A letter from Dr Pacas to Ana reads: “As I previously promised you, enclosed you will find pictures of Barbara Sophia so you can send them to Ms. Houseman. As you can see some of the pictures were taken in September and others during the month of June of 1988. She is such a beautiful baby girl and very healthy she’s been receiving good care since she was born. I hope that by the month of May we have finalized and completed the adoption. I will keep you informed as much as possible regarding this case. I think Ms.  Houseman will be very anxious to knogw more about her daughter.

February 16, 1989: (I’m 11 months old) there is a note in my mom’s handwriting, “Barbara Sophia – sending pictures. Do fingerprints. I-600A (blue form). Reapplying – referral of child already, might be traveling soon. Need updated bank and employment statement.

February 17, 1989: letter from Ana going a bit more in depth of my mom’s notes. Says Dr. Pacas’ assistant Clara has been visiting me, making sure I receive proper care. My mom also reapplies for everything on this date.

March 1, 1989: Mom sent out additional paperwork and copies of letters

March 28, 1989: (I’m 1 year old now!) A letter in my m0m’s handwriting is addressed to Ana, “Ana, Talked with Dr. Pacas Friday and everything is going well. Barbara Sophia is doing well and is very healthy. Travel still anticipated for May. When going to El Salvador, stay in residential area. Dr. Pacas’ assistant (Clara) was in an accident and is in the States for surgery and therapy. Lost finger of right hand. Therapy for arm and leg.

And a letter to Clara, “Clara, I talked with Ana today and she told me about your accident. I am in the process of adopting Barbara Sophia and would like to thank you for everything you have done for her. Ana told me that you were visiting her quite often before your accident. I am quite anxious to see her and to see how big she is. Hope you will be home when it’s my time to travel because I would love to meet you.” AND GUESS WHAT CLARA’S LAST NAME IS!? AVILA!!! Isn’t that fucking crazy!?

April 5, 1989: From Ana: “Greetings! Just a note to let you know that I spoke with Dr. Pacas and he informed that the adoption process could be finalized by the first week of May. …”

April 19, 1989: note in my mom’s writing states, “Leaving on 26th – will be in El Salvador around the 9th of May. Apply for Visa through New Orleans office – need employment letter, bank statement, police letter, passport photos, $10 cashiers check – put rush on letter indicating travel end of the month.

And this is where the ball gets dropped on the American end of things. Nothing comes back in time. According to a note dated April 28, 1989, “fingerprint cards were sent to the FBI on April 6th and takes four weeks to clear. If I hear nothing, contact again to trace.

May 12, 1989: everything finally gets sent out.

June 15, 1989: She receives a Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (I-600).

July 13 & 20, 1989: Fax transmittals to Ana from my Aunt Karen.

July 14, 1989: to Mr. James Montgomery, District Director, Immigration & Naturalization Service reading, “Dear Mr. Montgomery: Please find enclosed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative for filing in the above captioned file. Please also find enclosed additional copies of a letter dated February 17, 1989, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition and letter dated June 14, 1989 filed with your office months ago. Why is there a delay in processing this Petition? Please advise by calling my office as listed above.” Signed by Charles Silky, my mom’s boss at the time whom was a lawyer.  Stapled to that letter was a hand written note that stated, “Approved & forwarded to San Salvador 7-14-89” with a stamp dated July 20, 1989.

A Notice of Favorable Determination concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition stating the application has been forwarded to the American Embassy at San Salvador. On it states that it was filed on 3-27-89 and approved on 7-14-89.

July 19, 1989: The Embassy sends my mom her packet she needs in order to travel and for me to be able to come back with her.

August 2, 1989: A copy of an invoice from House of Travel Ltd indicates my mom and Chuck are going to leave Muskegon airport and traveling to Chicago/Midway on August 12. From Chicago they will be flying to Miami. The next day (13th) they will fly from Miami to San Salvador.

August 3, 1989: A fax from Ana indicates that if my mom arrives on Sunday the 13th, she will be able to rest in the hotel and will be able to get me on Monday the 14th.

From there, there’s a few ticket stubs from the flight, and some colones, which was the currency used at that time. There’s also a note in Chuck’s writing, indicating the exchange rate between the dollar and colones. $1 colones = .16 cents! $100 USD is $625 colones!

She gets me on the 14th. They sign all the paperwork officially on the 15th. And I came home on the 16th of August, 1989.

Why I Need to Start Dating My Fiance Again

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Tonight Matt and I went to Pints & Quarts in Norton Shores for some dinner and discussion. I had asked him the other night to take some time and think about what it is he wants and needs out of our relationship, and the total revamp of our lives we are undertaking. I posed the following questions for him and I both to mull over for awhile:

  • What is it that I wish to achieve to better myself? Do I need something personally? Spiritually? Physically? Mentally? Socially? I knew that besides really struggling with the weight of my world right now, that some of it is from my complete hysterectomy that I had in November. I had everything removed and never started on any sort of hormones, so that was becoming a concern of mine. I had also had some pretty severe bouts of depression as a teen (those good ol’ 15-17 year old range), and plenty of post-partum depression. Avila and Iris are 20 months apart, and Iris and Jensen are 22 months apart. Then, when Jensen was 4 months old I had the hysterectomy. So, yeah, not a lot of time for my body to settle down and adjust to things. 
  • What is it that I wish to achieve as couple in our relationship between just the two of us? My counselor recommended we take the 5 Love Languages quiz and read more about it in the books by Gary Chapman and it’s something we had discovered previously. His concepts make a lot of sense and allow both of us to discover different ways to express our love to each other. My primary Love Language is Quality Time, in which I scored an 11. My lowest Love Language is Physical Touch, in which I scored a 1, whilw he got a 7. Matt’s primary Love Language is also Quality Time, in which he scored a 9. His lowest Love Language is Receiving Gifts, in which he scored a 0.  He scored an 8 in Worder of Affirmation (I a 4). Acts of Service I scored a 9, Matt a 6. Receiving Gifts I scored a 5, Matt a 0. So, it’s pretty obvious we have lots of work to do in order to make sure the other is really getting what they need from each other in this relationship, which was what I wanted to work on for us that we both feel happy and fulfilled.
  • What is it that I wish to achieve as family? As a parent? As a part of a parenting team? Our kids are pretty spoiled. They get basically anything they want or need and we are happy to make it happen for them. There was a time Avila really didn’t express interest in things, so when she started liking trains and super heroes, we made sure we let her know we heard and understood her. It was a really big deal for her to start communicating likes to us, so we all indulged. Not to make Iris feel left out, we made sure she got her fair share of things too. But don’t think that we didn’t also spend the time and money to take our children to different experiences. We love doing activities and going places, and learning new things as a family all the time so this point was really nice to get back onto the same page with, and deciding to focus more on that aspect of “rewards.” We make our kids do chores, just because they live with us and that’s part of being a family and living together, but there’s also things they can do that help us and we will give extra rewards for. Now, this part is going to be a new endeavor on our part, and exactly figuring out the best course of action to complete those desires is going to be something I talk about here. Cross your fingers for us.
  • What is it that I want Matt, or he want me, to know, from the bottom of my heart? Now, this one is sort of tricky for me. Because I always fear he doesn’t actually hear what I’m saying. However, I just wanted him to know that I trust him. That I love him very, very much and I always will. We know this, and it’s something we just get. But I trust him. When I don’t believe in myself, when I’m frustrated with the kids, when I’m just so locked inside my own head that it never seems like it’s going to get better; I trust him with my every being and know he is going to support me in whatever decision I make for myself, and ultimately our children and our family. If I need outpatient therapy and have to drive over an hour away, one way, he will make sure I have enough gas, and that my tires are properly inflated. That I know this, that I trust him fully to not take advantage of that trust, and I hope he trusts me too.

We got some good conversation in, while having an AMAZING meal and drinks, and getting somewhere in our hopes to better ourselves, our relationship, and our family. I’m glad I have Matt by my side, but I have definitely fallen into a rut of trying to be everything for everyone all the time. I forgot what it was to just go out with him, to dress up nice, to go someplace without the kids, eat a good, quality meal (I had the Californian burger, he had the Steakhouse burger, and we split a pretzel basket beforehand. AMAZING!) and have a quality discussion about our relationship, our selves, our kids, and our hopes for our future together. Avila’s behavior therapist suggested we make the time to go out, just the two of us, once a week. That we had to make the time, even if we just sat at park for an hour together; that we make that time to regroup away from the house and kids together.

Now, here’s where I get skeptical because I’m not quite sure how we are going to manage this. I know she didn’t say, go have a lavish meal every time. She isn’t saying take hours and hours to spend lots of money on each other. That we just need to take the time to get away from the chaos, and get to be adults together. I’ll be posting some of our date night ideas (and hopefully links about how they go!) in another post later. I just know, that we are both going to try this dating thing with each other again, and hopefully it starts helping our quality of love and happiness, so that we can raise happier, more loving kids.

The first post is always the deepest…

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OK, first off, if you are reading this, thank you. Well, thank you and I’m kinda sorry, haha. I’m starting this blog at the advice of my counselor to help me deal with, well, life.

I’m 27 years old, but I’ll be turning 28 at the end of March. I live in Muskegon, Michigan and have been here since I was adopted from El Salvador in 1989. I was adopted by a woman whom was single, and remained single my entire life. My mom is one of most selfless, kind, compassionate people I’ve ever met; and I’m proud to be her daughter, and that my children get to call her Grandma.

I am a mother. I have three children – two girls and a boy. My oldest, Avila, turned 4 years old in January and has been diagnosed with Autism. My middle child is a girl named Iris, and she is nearly 2 and half but thinks she’s right up there with Avila. She is neuro-typical and not only wants to do everything her big sister does, she wants to do it better. So that will be an interesting dynamic once Iris surpasses Avila on skills and abilities. Lastly, there is Jensen. He is my 7 month old son and I cannot imagine my life without him. He is seriously the best baby I’ve ever met. He has slept through the night since, literally, the day he was born. But before you start getting too envious, just note that Avila has yet to sleep through the night; she’s always been worse-than-a-newborn in that respect.

Then there is Matt. Matt is the biological father of Iris and Jensen. We have been friends for about 6 or 7 years now, and going on our 4th year in a steady relationship. Technically, we are engaged and though I have every intention on spending the rest of my life with him, right now the official titles and all the pressure from those titles have sent me into a crazy whirlwind.

Which, sort of circles me back to the reason I’m even starting this blog. This blog is going to be about my journey to finding balance between “mother,” “girlfriend/fiancé/wife/significant other,” “daughter,” “friend,” and simply, ME. Working with the various professionals with Avila and her Autism, keeping our household clean and organized, getting better self-help habits so my children don’t go through the hells I did – and still  do – with depression and anxiety. I’ve had a hysterectomy in November 2015 as well, so that’s a whole other can of worms to add into the equation. Plus, in addition to all of that we have the biggest-pain-in-the-ass dog I’ve ever met, a cat that thinks he is a kid, and two horses that we will be working on getting home once we purchase our first home on property.

So, if this seems like something you want to read for ideas, tips, you feel like helping me, or just want to read about someone else’s mess to make you feel better about yourself, then that’s all great by me. I hope I can use this as a way to make connections to all of the people that are dealing with similar issues, and really help each other in remembering we are not in any of our endeavors alone and that someone, somewhere, can help and wants to help. That’s why I’m here. Hope to hear from you all soon.