Catie Come Home

Our adoption journey to Guatemala

April 05, 2005

Our Adopted Homeland

The story in the post below this one begins by noting that after adopting Anthony, Kimberly and I returned home having learned little about his birth country. I wrote that more than five years ago, and I couldn't say the same today. Guatemala has become as much a part of our family as the family she gave us, and we adore the Hispanic culture and people in general.

We began to incorporate our children's heritage into our own even before Anthony came home, starting with my favorite topic: food. When we decided to adopt from Guatemala, we quickly found the location of the nearest Guatemalan restaurant in the Washington, D.C., area -- a cozy place called La Bamba in Silver Spring, Md. -- so we could sample the cuisine. We still go there once or twice a year, even though it's nearly an hour's drive. The food is always great, and although the service is typically slow, we don't care because we love being there. We especially like to visit when we are talking to others interested in adopting from Guatemala.

Our taste for Guatemalan food is not limited to restaurant fare, either. After our first trip to La Bamba, Kimberly found a recipe for her favorite meal from the restaurant, pepian de pollo (chicken thickened with ground squash seeds). It's now one of the entries in the Johnson-Glover Family Cookbook. The cookbook's dedication to our children ends like this: "These culinary concoctions encompass every part of your heritage -- country, Cajun and, of course, Guatemalan -- and all your favorites, except perhaps the ever-popular PBJ sandwich. You have enjoyed these homemade delicacies from the time you first tasted solid food, and we hope you, your children, your grandchildren and beyond will enjoy them for lifetimes to come."

I've also become a collector of Guatemalan coins. I started the collection on a whim not long after we adopted Anthony. We visited an estate sale that included various foreign coins, including one from Guatemala: a 1/4-real from 1900. The coin is about the size of a pinky fingernail and features a mountain scene from Guatemala. I paid a buck for it (probably more than it was worth), and thus began my fascination with Guatemalan coinage. Now I try to buy a few coins every time I go to a coin show or visit a shop that has them. None of them are worth much individually or even as a collection, but I will treasure them forever. I even bought a Guatemalan peso from the 1800s when we were in Guatemala City to adopt Elli, and I will give it to her someday.

We have adopted Guatemala in other ways, too -- from raising money so we could send hymnals to the preacher we met there, to buying jade, to teaching the Spanish language and Mayan history to our children, or even to simply following news developments in "the land of eternal spring" (not always good news, unfortunately). The gift that Anthony and I made Mommy for Christmas 2001, just after Elli was born but before we brought her home, perfectly illustrates what Guatemala means to our family. In the four corners of a piece of posterboard, I traced drawings of the U.S. and Guatemalan flags and maps of the United States and Guatemala. I merged all four in the center and cited the lyrics of a Phil Collins song from the movie Tarzan to drive home the underlying message: Two Worlds ... One Family.

Now I sometimes think back to the days before I knew where Guatemala was on a map and rejoice for having been given the chance to discover her. Part of me even sees our infertility as a great blessing from God, for without that pain, we never would have found the comfort He had to offer in a world then unknown to us. I am a blessed man because my quiver is full (Psalms 127:3-5) -- but it would still be empty if God had not guided us to Guatemala.


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