It is taking me much longer than I had hoped to publish Our Adoption Story. This is Part 3 and there will be a Part 4, which will be the end. I have been typing on this for months and even though it has been over a year now, it is still really hard for me. I was a normal girl, leading a VERY normal life and then BAM! my life turned into craziness! Please bear with me as it still feels like I am pouring salt into wounds. These last two parts of the story are the most difficult. I became a VERY strong person during this and realized that even though I didn't "birth" my child, I have that Mother Bear instinct. This is part of the fight for my life and Caroline's life....
I need to make sure that all my readers understand that my agency, who seems to sound somewhat decent in this story was NOT. Now, I do not fault most of the workers, but I do blame the agency's directors for their grave mistakes. They knowingly hired a banned facilitator and known crook in Guatemala to oversee our adoptions. They refused to pay money that was rightfully owed to our foster moms. They also allowed our children to be used as pawns in a very dangerous game. The last one is the one that I refuse to forgive them for....
Scott put us in the taxi van and we were off. It was the last time that I would see my dear friends. (It's truly amazing at how God chose to introduce us to them back in July and then again in September. Looking back, I can see how God was placing dear friends in our path, so that He could use them to get us to safety.) We followed Susanna through winding roads, ones that I would become very familiar with over the next two months. My mom sat in the front seat while I sat in the backseat with Caroline, who sat in a carseat for probably the first time in her life. I held onto my mom's hand for the entire trip. I'm not even sure if I breathed. We arrived at our safe house in a small village outside of a larger one. Our house was buried so deep into the village that I swear you had to have a map to find us.
In any other circumstances, our house would have been amazing and it would have been perfect for a nice vacation or even normal fostering. But, of course, perfect was not the "perfect" word.
I called Tim to let him know that we were safe and Caroline was with us. I will never forget the 'worry' in Tim's voice. He didn't know where we were, had never met Susanna, and was back home in the United States, far away...
Tim said that Teo, his assistant, and other families who were using our agency had been calling him. They all wanted to know where I was and what the hell I was doing. According to Tim, Teo and his assistant were still waiting for us to come down to the lobby, hours after we had left. They had no idea I was gone. God was so good that day! As it turned out, Teo had talked to one of the families that I no longer associate with to find out what room we were staying in. He then talked a housekeeper into letting him into our room. I guess he was surprised to find we had been gone for hours! I wish that I could have seen his face!
Once we arrived at the house, Susanna ordered us our food and introduced us to the family who lived on the grounds. She helped us to make our house a "home" and then said her goodbyes. We were alone and feeling very vulnerable. I know for sure that we didn't talk very loudly and I'm not even sure we breathed out loud. We double locked all the doors, checked the windows, and settled into our new residence.
I called one of the worker's from the agency to let her know we arrived safely. She informed me that Teo was furious and for her own safety she didn't want to know where we were. I had already decided that at that moment, NO ONE would no where we were because I wasn't sure what Teo was capable of. My mom and I packed a small bag of important documents, dollars, quetzals (Guatemalan currency), diapers, formula and one change of clothes for each of us...in case of an emergency exit. Crazy, eh? What's even crazier was the fact that we slept with our clothes and shoes on and had a large knife under the mattress. For days, we slept like this (in a full size bed).
What was going on with our agency and Teo? Because of the "stunt" we pulled, Teo suspended all visits for adoptive parents. I guess he wanted to pull in peer pressure. He had one of his "friends" (the same one that I no longer speak with) put out an email telling "the truth" of the situation. It was a rather interesting email that went out...I may publish it one day, but for now I am choosing to keep it private.
The day after arriving, I hired a very trusted taxi driver to take me and the "housekeeper" to the grocery store. I needed a cell phone and we needed food. I put on my sunglasses to help hide the fact that I was American (I'm blue eyed and 5'10". I'm an Amazon compared to the Guatemalan women!!) and I tried not to show my fear. I managed to get a cell phone and some food to hold us over for the next few weeks until we could be "safe". However, I now learned that Teo was about to bring kidnapping charges against me. I was told NOT to leave the house because he was looking EVERYWHERE for me.
Unfortunately, everything was stacked against us. I was basically a wanted felon. And Caroline became even more sick and began wheezing. We needed immediate help. I had my sister join a foster parent message group (under a fake identity) to find out medical contact information. Susanna called her pediatrician to see if he could make a house call for us and my US pediatrician listened to her breathe over the phone. It was bad! We couldn't hide any longer. I called a doctor's office and the taxi driver to come pick us up. I took all my quetzals, put the certified documents into a zippered pocket and covered us up. A new taxi driver showed up to take us. Do I trust him? I had no idea who he was and he didn't speak English. I prayed, Lord, Please help me know the difference between a stranger and a friend. At the moment that prayer went up, the trusted taxi driver called me to tell me that he was sending a friend and he would take me to the doctor. Trust Him....
We got in the taxi and prayed for safety. I was being hunted and needed to be invisible. How exactly do you hide a 5'10" inch blue eyed American? Prayer! We walked into the doctor's office and was never looked at twice. I gave a fake name for myself and Caroline and we sat in a crowded waiting room. We were eventually called back. The doctor who had kind eyes and a gentle smile asked for my paperwork (my legal documents that proved that she was in my legal custody). A knot formed in my throat and I said a quick prayer.
"I don't have them with me, sir."
"Are you waiting for your foster mother to give them to you?" he asked.
"Yes." Is a lie still a lie when your life depends on it?
He assessed Caroline's physical situation. She was very sick. He told us that had we waited one more day, she would have been in the hospital. He gave us some medicine and some instructions on how to keep her hydrated.
We came home and I called Tim. We discussed that I really needed him there with me to help me make some decisions and we needed some supplies that we couldn't get in Guatemala. My mom is a diabetic and didn't have enough medicine and my pediatrician friend needed to send some breathing treatment medicine for Caroline. The problem that we faced was how do we get him into Guatemala without being seen. The agency told us that Teo was watching the airports and the local hotels. Tim flew in and was picked up under a different name. Our beloved taxi driver, who was a bit confused, but never asked questions, picked up Tim and brought him to us.
Seeing Tim opened up a huge flood gate of emotions. For the first time since Teo told me that I would never see Caroline again, I allowed myself to cry. Tim had the needed medicine for my mom and Caroline and brought us supplies that my sister packed.
Over the next few days, we made contact with some missionaries in the area. One family even traveled over an hour to come take us to lunch and to pray with us! I now know that the extra prayer was because my life was about to become a rollercoaster ride.
Tim and I spent hours on the phone with the agency discussing the situation. At this time, the accountant told me that I was on my own and they had washed their hands of me. The directors also decided to abandon me and let me either sink or swim. Two of the workers stuck by my decision and kept me informed of what was going on behind the scenes. What was brewing? International kidnapping charges...
It was time for Tim to leave and return home. At this time, my kidnapping charges had not been finalized. They were only being discussed. The morning Tim was supposed to leave, I received an email. My kidnapping charges had now been put on paper. It was official. I was now a fugitive and had a warrant for my arrest.