Jen always knew she wanted to be a mother and has expressed interest in adoption since she was a child. Eventually, Jen reached a time in her life when she decided it was now or never, and moved forward to research agencies that would walk her through the process, which is how she found Adoptions From The Heart.
Jen adopted Rachel from Guatemala as an infant, and by the time Rachel was 7 years old, Jen decided to start considering a return trip, to show Rachel her homeland.
“She’s always known she was adopted, we always talk about Guatemala. She has always seen pictures, and I started to ask people when she was probably 7 years old when an appropriate time to take her back would be” Jen says, “I wanted her to remember it. I wanted her to not be fearful, not too young that she would wonder if I was going to leave her there or if they were going to take her.”
Jen decided that 10 years old would be the perfect age for their trip.
“I felt very happy, and I was a little bit nervous because I had no idea what it would look like,” says Rachel, Jen’s daughter.
Rachel’s trip was as memorable as could be and she looks back on her time there as special. She loved being in Guatemala and experiencing different things in the country she was born.
“My favorite part was seeing my foster family, and running a 5k,” explains Rachel, “I liked running the 5k because I run a lot here and to be able to run in Guatemala was really neat.”
When it came to the culture, Rachel really loved the lifestyle.
“We got to go to a birthday party and I really liked that because it was cool to see how they celebrate birthdays differently than how we do here in the states,” reveals Rachel. “They had pine all over the floor, and they didn’t open presents while they were there. They didn’t play any music, but we had marimba drums that I got to play, and rain sticks.”
But for Jen, this trip meant something more than just birthday parties and 5k’s, it meant time for Rachel to see her foster family, the ones who cared for her before she was adopted.
“This trip meant everything to me. I had the vision of her foster mom, and remembered her tears and the pain of handing this baby [Rachel] over to me,” says Jen.
Over the years, Jen lost touch with the family, as the postal system failed and they lost internet.
“One of the things that was important to me, was to take Rachel back so she [Rachel’s foster mom] could see Rachel was okay, and that she was a sweet, happy girl.”
Rachel had been in a foster family that loved her, and treated her as their own, which is why Jen felt it was her personal responsibility to make sure they would get to see Rachel again. It took years of planning and dedication from Jen, even after years of no contact with the family.
“I wanted her [Rachel] to see for herself how much she was loved [by her foster parents], and that she was not just disregarded,” explains Jen. “Rachel was born at 3 lbs., malnourished, and this family loved her back to life.”
Bringing Rachel to Guatemala to meet her foster family, and show them how far she has come was very important to Jen. She recalls a day they spent during their trip back, talking at a coffee shop as a day that stuck out to her most.
“I knew they loved her and we were all in tears. They were telling me their hopes and dreams for her knowing they would be giving her to me,” says Jen. “They had her dedicated in the church, as if she was their own. I got to share what an amazing kid she has continued to be and all the things she’s accomplished.”
This trip meant a lot to everyone and Rachel can’t wait to visit again, which won’t be too long.
“For her 15th birthday we are going back to throw her a big Quinceañera in Guatemala,” reveals Jen.
The Quinceañera is a large Spanish tradition when a girl becomes a woman, and a tradition Rachel’s foster family cherishes. They will be throwing her the party upon arrival, as they continue to treat her as one of their own, something both Jen and Rachel are thankful for.