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November is National Adoption Month: An Adoption Journey to Guatemala

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November is National Adoption Month. During this month, USCIS strives to raise awareness about the adoption of children, both within the United States and abroad, and celebrates the citizenship of hundreds of children in special ceremonies across the nation. The Beacon will feature three separate blog posts this month to share the unique stories of children and families who have bonded through intercountry adoption.

This week we feature Ryan and Jessica Hooker who adopted their son, Daniel, from Guatemala.

Our Guatemalan adoption journey is one that began in May 2007. It was then that we met and fell in love with our son Daniel, who was 18 months old at the time. Though it took over five years to bring Daniel home, our hearts overflow with joy and thankfulness. On Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, my husband and I walked into the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City with our son Daniel. We were excited but also a bit anxious. Meeting with the U.S. Embassy was the final step in our adoption process and we anxiously awaited their approval and Daniel’s visa.

In many ways, we had no idea what to expect or how to prepare. In our heads we knew everything would be fine, but in our hearts we just wanted our son to come home. After the proper paperwork was filed, fees were paid, and questions were answered, I can happily say we left with Daniel’s visa in hand. In the lobby of the embassy, our son became officially ours and we haven’t looked back. His homecoming the next day at McGhee Tyson Airport, in Knoxville, Tenn., was like no other. At 11 p.m. we were welcomed home by friends, family, and a few local press photographers. Our journey home was over, but our journey as a family was just beginning.

Daniel with passport

Without the help and hard work of people at the U.S. Embassy and USCIS, our adoption would not be complete. As we enter November and “National Adoption Month”, we would like to thank the following people who helped changed the life of our family forever.

Thank you: Kristen Smith, Karla Brown, Kelley Miller, Diana Amézquita, Miriam Moreno, Leslie Krueger, Senator Mary Landrieu, and Ellen Eiseman. These ladies and countless others are the hands and feet that helped process and move our case along. We are so grateful and hope these photos will express our thanks.