Adoption: Help Pray Maya Home

A few years ago I made a new friend. Her name is Sheila and she is one of the sweetest, kindest women I know. Sheila has been trying to adopt a little girl from Guatemala for years. I asked her if she would share her story with you. Please read it and then join me in prayer for Sheila and for Maya (the little girl she’s trying to adopt). I am a firm believer in the power of prayer! Please help us!

Put this in your church bulletin, on your blog or Facebook page! It’s time Maya came home!

Sheila’s Story….

Nearly 6 years ago, I started to process of adopting my second child born in Guatemala. At the time, I was married with a beautiful little girl whom I had adopted at the age of 21 months. I was so excited at the prospect of becoming a mother again and giving my daughter a sister whom she had longed for.

Nearly a year into the process and near the completion of the adoption, my then husband decided he no longer wanted a family and informed me one night at midnight as I rocked our little daughter that he was “not going to adopt Maya”. At this point,I had already visited Maya in Guatemala City along with my baby girl, Ella Grace. We already loved Maya and to us, she was already part of our family.

This was August 2007, and the new Hague treaty was going to be implemented in Guatemala with all other adopting countries Dec. 31, 2007. I was told by a local attorney that there was no way that I could become eligible to adopt as a single mom by Dec. 31, 2007. I phoned the adoption agency and my then husband had already contacted them to tell them of his intentions to no longer adopt Maya. At this point, they told me that they could “no longer talk with me about Maya” until and if I was able to get qualified to adopt as a single mother. This was the lowest point of my entire life. I scrambled and called anyone and everyone I could whom I thought could possibly help me help Maya. Judy Schwank, a local attorney, started helping me and advising me.

All documents had to be redone…I had to prove that I was financially still able to adopt/support another child. I also had to undergo counseling to prove that I was stable enough mentally after all the turmoil of a divorce to be able to parent another child. I hired an attorney and pushed the divorce through to get it finalized, etc. and redo all this paperwork before Dec. 31. By the grace of God, I was able to DO IT!!!!! I was so elated. I just knew I could get Maya home.

Now it has been nearly 5 years since the divorce and many trips to Guatemala and still Maya is not home with Ella Grace and I. I was also battling a very corrupt system in Guatemala, along with a very corrupt attorney the adoption agency had hired. Then in the summer of 2008 the adoption agency shut down without letting any adoptive parents know. I called one day to find their phone was disconnected and that was the beginning of another nightmare. The attorney they had hired tried to extort money from me for months and when I reported this to the Guatemala Embassy in Washington, DC…..there was promptly a court hearing in Guatemala and Maya was ripped from the only family she remembered…her loving foster Mother, Karina and her 3 daughters and Karina’s Mother. The attorney at the embassy told me that this was to protect Maya from being kidnapped by this attorney so that he could force me to pay the extortion money. This happened in Feb. 2010.

I made a trip immediately to Guatemala as Maya was taken from a loving home and put into Prince Of Peace Orphanage where she has been every since. I met with every agency I could think of, I made many trips to the courts, begging for help. I carried a picture of myself and my girls taken on one of my many visits. One of the social workers recognized Maya from my picture and told me that she was the one who took Maya to the orphanage that day. She said that Maya told her that her Mother was “Shala” and that I lived in Ky. And that “I would be there for her”. I thought I would literally die. I gave recorded testimony of what this attorney had done to us. I thought surely at this point that something would surely be done to get Maya home where she belonged.

Nothing was done and Maya remained in an orphanage becoming more institutionalized every day. At this point, they would not even allow me to visit her, nor her foster family or anyone who loved her. On this trip, I met Maya’s birth mother and she went with us to the courts and gave statements that I had never paid her money “for Maya” and how she had been lied to by the attorney who was now trying to extort money from us. Finding Julianna, Maya’s birth mother, was no easy feat. She lived 10 hours away from the city. I spent nearly a week in the same house with Julianna and learned much about Maya’s history, etc.

I also learned at this point that the courts would not finalize the adoption as long as there were any outstanding bills to attorneys. It didn’t matter what this monster had done. I had to pay him. My new attorney was scared to go with me to meet with him for fear there would be retaliation against him and his family. So two of my dearest friends in Guatemala City went with me to this monster’s office. He started out demanding $5000. Before he would give me Maya’s adoption file. Finally, we were able to convince him to give me the file for $1200.

The new attorney now had the file….I was finally able to visit Maya in latter 2010 at the orphanage and promised her that I’d never give up my fight get her home. In Dec. 2010…I traveled to Guatemala City for a court hearing.  Again, I paid for Maya’s birth Mom to travel to Guatemala City. Each trip for this cost over $1000 just to get Julianna into the city. At the court hearing, Julianna had to testify as to why she had given up Maya (pure poverty and deep love for her to have a better future). My little girl was at the point of death and eating dirt and hospitalized when Julianna realized she had to give her a chance at abetter life. I had to testify along with other people. At this point, I asked for Maya to please be returned to Karina until I could have her home. The judge, Judge Mena, told us that this would prolong the process that Maya needed to stay at the orphanage. She said that I would have Maya home in 30 days or so.

Again, Maya’s adoption was never finalized and she was not able to come home…no matter how many documents I redid or begged or protested. The contact I had at the Guatemala Embassy here told me that he could no longer help me as they were removed from any adoption proceedings.

The adoption was finally approved in Guatemala in Nov. 2011. Then I applied for the birth certificate immediately. This was not produced by the Renap Office there until May 2012. Now I am waiting for my daughter’s passport/visa to be issued. This is supposed to be the final step, but I’ve been told this so many times as they requested “just one more document”. Each document has cost me over $1000 to be processed, translated into Spanish, etc.

I ask you to please pray to God that this nightmare will soon come to an end and that Maya will be reunited with us here in the USA so we can give her a family, a church, a Christian upbringing that she so richly deserves.

Sheila with Maya and Ella Grace