Fighting for Family, Part Two

Most pregnant women, by the ninth month of gestation, are more than ready to part with the baby they have been carrying. By week 40, the most common thought is, “Let’s get on with show.”

In those final days, some of us find solace in thoughts of the Asian elephant, who carries her young for an average of 645 days.  Of course, I wouldn’t be in a rush to birth a 220 pounder, either.

Even so, elephants have it relatively easy compared to Amy Slack, who has been waiting for her daughter Lilly’s arrival for nearly 2,000 days.

582777_421100434603622_1458385784_nAmy and her husband, Spencer, received news of their “match” with a three-week-old baby in Guatemala in October 2007. Since then, their path to bring Lilly to the U.S. has been blocked by legal issues, administrative nightmares and countless other frustrations.

(Note: If you missed Part One of the story documenting Amy Slack’s struggle to adopt a daughter from Guatemala, click here.)

To grossly understate the situation, the Slacks have been on a wild roller-coaster ride.

Earlier his week, as I was preparing to “publish” my first blog post about the Lilly, who is now five and still living in Guatemala, Amy told me to hold tight, as she expected to report good news within a few hours.

Apparently the Guatemalan office that handles adoptions, PGN (Procuradoria General de la Nacion), was ready to release Lilly’s paperwork and allow the adoption process to move forward.

PGN’s job is to review adoption dossiers and analyze whether or not they conform to the guidelines set by the Hague Convention as well as Guatemala’s own requirements.

Last week, a PGN representative said the attorney representing the Slacks could pick up Lilly’s file, and then apply for Lilly’s new birth certificate and passport. With those in hand, the Slacks could obtain a visa for Lilly and potentially bring her to their home in New Jersey by the summer’s end.

However, when the attorney arrived at the agency, he was told the documents weren’t ready, and an additional hearing would be held the following day. There, the judge ordered the documents to be released.

Later, a PGN employee told the attorney that someone else had already picked up the paperwork.

And then, this Monday, it was the same old story. The lawyer went to pick up the paperwork, and was told, “Sorry, it isn’t ready, come back tomorrow.” And so it goes.

This scenario has played out several times in the past two years, despite the fact that at a 2011 hearing, the Slacks gained official approval for Lilly’s adoption. After that time, no additional hearings, documents or psychological evaluations should have been required, although all of the above have since been re-requested, several times.

And so, the Slacks are among hundreds of U.S. families “stuck” in the process. They have visited and communicated regularly with the children they plan to adopt, forming strong bonds filled with love and trust. Yet those children continue to languish in orphanages and foster homes.

And, when the bills mount, frustration grows and hope diminishes, the Slacks wonder how much more they can take.

“What keeps me fighting?” Amy asks. “Well, Lilly keeps me fighting for Lilly. That sweet little innocent girl that calls us mami and papi.

“When people say, ‘All you can do it wait,’ they make it sound like I can go about my normal life and just relax in between bits of news about our case, waiting for the next step,” Amy says. “My days, especially for the past three years, have been [focused on] advocating for Lilly to come home.”

Amy soldiers on. In her “spare” time, outside of working a part-time job, running a household and caring for a 12-year-old son, Amy spends hours  “writing emails to anybody and everybody who could possibly help; reaching out to senators, reps [and] lawyers; [helping to] get letters drafted and signed by Congress or the Senate, getting bills passed, getting our story in the news, re-doing our fingerprints for like the 15th time now, updating our home studies, raising money, worrying about money….

“Every day I am stalking my emails [and] Facebook messages [searching] for [information about] what is happening with other cases that could affect my own, supporting the other families, waiting for responses back from people who could help,” Amy says. “It is an all-day, everyday thought process and in all honesty sometimes a through-the-night thought process depending on what all happened with our case that particular day.”

And the grueling process has left severe collateral damage.

“I have gone through some really dark patches,” Amy confides. “But something always pulls me out, whether it be [my son] Ben, friends, something small but good happening in our lives, a happy day, a good hard laugh over something. And sometimes, a good cleansing cry helps.

“What keeps me positive is the fact that I know why I am doing this, what the outcome needs to be and what the ultimate goal is,” she says. “If nothing else comes out of this mess, my son will see that not everything comes easy. Sometimes you have to fight–and fight hard–for what you want and for what is right.”

And finally, Amy adds, “Lilly will know how much she was wanted by the fight we gave in bringing her home.”

Please come back to Permission Slips on Thursday, June 27, for Part 3 of Amy’s story.

 -Linda Williams Rorem, 26 June 2013

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  1. […] (Note: If you missed Parts 1 and 2 about Amy Slack’s efforts to adopt a child from Guatemala, click here and here.) […]

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