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Posts Tagged ‘Guatemala Adoption’

Part of the Family

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Here's our"family" photo with Jennifer taken in June 2014

By Kari Janusz-

Friends, Brayan and Wilmer together during one of the Januszes trips to Dorie's PromiseOur family first began receiving newsletters from All God’s Children International sometime around 2004. To this day we have no idea how we got on the organization’s mailing list, but I believe strongly that God placed us there. At the time, I had already been praying about adoption, but my husband Chris (who is adopted) was not quite there yet. I would lay out the newsletter on our kitchen table with the photos of children in the hope that God would soften his heart.

In December 2005, Chris asked me to go to Starbucks on a “date” and to bring my adoption information with me. So there we sat, discussing the possibility of opening our hearts and home to another child. I had already prayed about which country I felt God leading us to adopt from, but asked Chris what country he thought we should pursue. He looked up over my head for a second and said, “Guatemala*.” About a year later, he told me that when he looked up, he saw a sign advertising Guatemalan coffee, and knew that God was speaking into his heart. Chris and I both had ministered to Hispanic teens in New York City and knew that we felt at home with the culture.

I made a promise when we brought Wilmer home to the United States back on March 16, 2008. I promised the Special Moms of Dorie’s Promise that I would not forget them, that we would be back. Now, I am sure that they had heard that before, but we don’t make promises we can’t keep in our family. So in February 2009, we were on a plane to Guatemala on a mission trip to Hannah’s Hope/Dorie’s Promise. We continue to visit Dorie’s because of our desire to expose our son Wilmer to his culture, to maintain the friendships forged when Wilmer was growing up there, and because of our deep love for the country and her people. Guatemala and Dorie’s Promise are forever a part of our family, because they a part of our son Wilmer.

We feel strongly that God has called us to continue to support the place that raised our son for the first five years of his life. It is also important for us to continue to give opportunities for other children to be impacted by the tremendous love and care given at Dorie’s Promise by the Special Moms and staff.

Sponsorship allows us to see how the children are growing when we are not there.

Wilmer with Mama Noe, one of the Special Moms who raised himWilmer had a sponsor when he was at Dorie’s, and she reached out to me after we brought Wilmer home. This awesome woman had saved some of the drawings Wilmer did for her when she was sponsoring him. She sent those drawings to us, and we have framed them and hung them on our wall. Her impact as a sponsor continues to bring joy to Wilmer’s heart every time he looks at the pictures he made when he was young. Sponsorship has lasting impact. Even our 16-year-old son Caleb knows of the importance of sponsorship — he supports one of the teens at Dorie’s.

Mission trips provide such an awesome opportunity for people to bond with the children they sponsor. Personally seeing your sponsored child can make a huge difference. It changes the child from being a photo in your mind to a hug in your heart. Mission trips for our family provide us the ability to continue to grow the relationships that we already have with the children and staff there.

The bonds our family has with the children and staff are forever. Going back to Dorie’s is like going home. They are like family to us. The precious women and men who care so deeply for these children amaze us. Dorie’s Promise is a safe haven, an oasis for children and visitors alike. It is not just a house, it is a home. It is a place very hard to leave. That really is what sets Dorie’s apart from other places — it is a home. When God has His hand upon a ministry like this, you can feel His presence in such a palpable way.

If you want to find the kinds of connections the Januszes have, start by visiting our sponsorship section and reading about our children.

*International adoptions from Guatemala closed in 2008

Meet Miguel Age 6

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Miguel at Dorie's Promise with his Special Mother

By Arwen McGilvra –

Miguel (2)When Miguel was born, it was obvious that he was different. He had a large bulge between his forehead and nose — an abnormality called encephalocele. His parents abandoned him at the hospital and the doctors wrote him off, saying he had little chance to live because of the defect.

Encephalocele, a type of neural tube defect (NTD), is characterized by sac-like protrusions of the brain and the membranes that cover it through openings in the skull.* This happens during fetal development when the neural tube fails to close completely. It is a rare defect only occurring in about one in 5,000 births. While the exact cause is not known, lack of pre-natal care is a factor. Taking folic acid and avoiding alcohol and smoking are important in preventing NTDs. Here in the States, pre-natal screening may be able to detect NTDs before birth, and doctors can be prepared to both safely deliver the baby and have surgeons ready for the necessary operations. Sadly, this option is not available to many women in Guatemala.

The minor’s court sent Miguel to Dorie’s Promise in 2007 when he was just four months old. Doctors told us that because of his encephalocele, along with a deformation of the brain, he would likely be incapable of a full life. But Miguel is living proof that with God nothing is impossible!

Dr. Castro with Miguel - Dorie's Promise GuatemalaThe circumstances don’t slow God down, and they haven’t slowed Miguel down either (who will turn 7 in July.)

Thanks to the care he’s received from Dr. Castro and the Special Mothers, Miguel is a very intelligent, healthy, happy boy. He enjoys exploring nature — he loves to go for walks and collect tree branches. When visitors enter the home, the first thing he does is clap and laugh. He gets excited when new people come to see us.

“He is so cute!” says MJ Zelya, one of our staff members.

Special Mother Marleny says, “Miguel is a boy with many special qualities. He enjoys listening to music, and that usually puts him in a good mood. He likes affection and responds with hugs and kisses.”

Miguel at Dorie's Promise Guatemala“He has a strong character,” she continues. “He can demand attention and will scream to get what he wants from the Special Mother in charge of his care.” Yet it’s this strong will that has carried Miguel through the difficulties he’s faced with his health. He still suffers from seizures and delayed growth. He has a caregiver trained to attend to his special needs.

Dr. Castro has monitored his growth closely: “Sometimes visitors ask me if his facial deformity could be operated on, and after several specialist consultations, not a single medical opinion has concluded that such esthetic operation is advisable, due to its complexity and the danger of such an operation.”

Miguel was declared adoptable in 2010 and he is still waiting to be adopted by a Guatemalan family. Meanwhile, we would like to invite you to take the opportunity to get to know him and see if God is leading you to become a sponsor. We think you’ll be blessed by the experience. Knowing Miguel you learn how joyful and full life can be despite your health or circumstances.



* Source NINDS Encephaloceles Information Page and March of Dimes Neural Tube Defects

Saying Goodbye to Five

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Jazmin with her sisters.

By MJ Zeyla –

Saying good-bye is not easy, especially when you care deeply about a person. Whether you were on a study tour, a business trip, a mission trip, or visiting with family and friends, it’s a difficult thing to do. (Even if we know bigger and better things are ahead.)

For us at Dorie’s Promise, it is difficult saying good-bye even though some of the children may only have lived here for a short time. We feel it so strongly because we love them, but we know that they are going to a place where they will be loved and cared for, and that their new families will provide what they need to be happy.

When children leave Dorie’s Promise, we always pray that the Lord would be with them, taking care of them wherever they are — and that as they grow up they would trust in Him as their Savior.

This month has been full of good-byes. We had several leave for a better life: Jazmin, Maria de los Angeles, and the Villegas siblings — Jackie, Jessy, and Vanessa. This is the life that every child deserves, one that is essential for every human being as the base of society — the family!

Four of them left through international adoption* and were reunited with families in the United States, after long waits for the courts to clear their paperwork. The other was adopted by a Guatemalan family.

We are filled with feelings of both happiness and sadness — joy and gratitude. We know that their forever families will provide them a place to belong, be loved, and be safe and secure … yet we miss them.

Dorie's Promise Guatemala - Maria with her adoptive family.MARIA DE LOS ANGELES

Entered Dorie’s Promise: 4/4/2011

DOB: 12/2010

Maria came to us by court order after she was abandoned in the hospital. Her parents never showed up to claim her after she received medical treatment for dehydration and intestinal issues. As a result, the minor’s court took charge of her case. She was housed with us while they attempted to locate her parents. After many hearings and ads in the newspaper, nobody claimed Maria. Her adoptability was declared in February 2013. CNA, local adoption officials, found a family for her in April 2014.


Entered Dorie’s Promise: 2/13/2013

Jacky’s and Jessy’s DOB: 9/2005

The Villegas Siblings with their adoptive mother Susan.Vanessa’s DOB: 10/2006

They were sent to us because their case was stuck in the courts after international adoptions closed. We were their fifth home while they waited for their case to be finalized. After a long seven-year wait, they were released to their mother in the United States. Their mother told us:

This is GODS MIRACLE! I am just the mommy! I was told to go away, the case was closed, you will never get them – but I believe that when God places something on your heart He will carry you through, sustain you, and give you wisdom and discernment . So when there appeared to be NO WAY another door would open.

This is the 5th orphanage the girls were in. Wow!!! What a difference!

Dorie’s Promise not only feeds and clothes their children, they feed their hearts and souls. They have created an environment that truly gives the feeling and security of a home and family. I am so grateful to the Special Mother’s and everyone who loved my children as their own.


Entered Dorie’s Promise: 2/4/2009

DOB: 9/2007

Jazmin with her Forever FamilyWhen Guatemala closed international adoptions, the court ordered Jazmin transferred to our home. Her adoptive father, Jeff Denbleyker, made a special visit to our home to make sure his daughter was in a safe place. Advertisements were put out to find relatives who might want Jazmin, but they received no answer. Finally, the courts approved Jazmin’s adoptability, and then, after a longer wait and more hearings, allowed her international adoption to be finalized so she could go home. Below is a note from her adoptive father.

Jazmin’s smile and bright eyes first captured our hearts in late 2007. We had no idea what the adoption process would turn into, but there was no doubt that God had put her in our hearts and asked us to take the step forward. As Guatemala’s adoption laws changed, and the interpretation and implementation of those laws evolved throughout 2008, Jazmin’s future was filled with uncertainty. I still remember that phone call in early 2009 where we were told that the adoption was over and Jazmin would likely be placed in a government orphanage. You can imagine the heartbreak; but that desperate time was followed by a phone call a day later that Jazmin was placed, through the truly miraculous hand of God, at Dorie’s Promise. Little did I know at that time how significant this blessing would be in her life.

While the subsequent five years have been an incredibly difficult journey, it was such a blessing to know that Jazmin was being cared for at Dorie’s Promise. While orphan care typically focuses upon physical needs, Dorie’s Promise also took care of her spiritual and emotional needs in an extraordinary way. Amidst our angst in fighting for her adoption, she was in a place where she experienced and knew love … something so rare in this world. Yes, we regret that she was not able to spend those five years in our home with our family, but we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all who make Dorie’s Promise what it is and made such a positive and amazing imprint in her life. God truly had her in His hand. THANK YOU!



*International adoptions in Guatemala closed in 2008

Bringing Chelsea Home

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Guest Post By Tim Sainz-

Chelsea and her dad during one of his tripsA few weeks ago, Heather Radu asked me to write something about my experience with Dorie’s Promise.

“Something brief,” she said. “Or something long. Whatever you want.”

The long version is way too long, so I will take a stab at a short one.

I have visited Dorie’s Promise about 15 times in the last six years.

The first time I went, it wasn’t called Dorie’s Promise, the oldest child living there was nine years old, and my daughter was three weeks old.

When I went a month ago, I chatted with that same young lady, who is now 15, and after the trip and a long legal battle, I also took my daughter home. She’s now six.

A few things strike me about the reactions friends, family, and strangers have had about Chelsea finally coming home.

First, a lot of them comment about what a good thing it is that I stuck with this for so long — and they say this with a combination of curiosity and surprise.

Chelsea now six years old.It’s not for me to analyze whether these reactions are commentaries on what folks think of me or whether they are reflections on themselves.

Whatever they are, they provoke only one thought in me. I never had the choice of giving up. I went into this seven years ago with my eyes open.

Adopting isn’t like shopping. There is no return policy. At least not for me.

My wife and I agreed before we even started an adoption process that no matter what happened, we would stay the course. That included things like developmental or physical handicaps. We never imagined legal roadblocks and the associated financial burdens, but it included them too.

Don’t get me wrong. Even though I kept them pushed away in my dark recesses, I had my doubts about the outcome of this adoption. My faith was tested. It just wasn’t lost.

Comments that were intended to comfort me — for example, “God has His own timetable” — proved much more annoying than comforting. I had to work at not allowing this trial to take my faith and turn me into a misery for the people in my life.

The next reaction I get is the knowing look that is a combination of worry and pity coupled with the question, “How is Chelsea adjusting?”

Let me just say this.

Chelsea was home maybe 10 days before she started complaining, “Why are you always asking me for help putting away my clothes?” It’s completely lost on her that I helped by washing and folding them. Sounds like a normal adjustment to me.

Chelsea with one of our special mothers at Dorie's PromiseThe biggest surprise, however, is the reaction I never get.

People focus on my wait. No one ever wants to hear how Chelsea managed through the last six years.

For me, however, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, the adoption of my daughter has nothing to do with me or any unforeseen benefits I may have received from having my resolve tested.

The people at Dorie’s Promise, Chelsea, and her birth mother are the heroes here.

Imagine you have a boyfriend and that he loves you. Then imagine you get pregnant and all of a sudden he no longer does. You are a societal pariah, and overnight you lose the support of your friends and family.

Now imagine that you are a six-year-old girl who owns her own underwear but not a whole lot of anything else. You have seen other children go home, but you don’t really know what that means. Some foreign guy who speaks broken Spanish visits regularly. You know him as your papa, but you don’t really know why he won’t just take you home. Life is pleasant — it’s all you really know — but there has always been something that’s not quite right.

And finally imagine that you start a foundation to help unwanted children find homes. Other people exploited the system and ruined it for all of the unwanted children. You had to come up with an entirely new operating plan so that you could continue to shelter the kids who were already under your care.

I wasn’t really looking for something to test my faith when I started the process of adopting Chelsea. Candidly, I had no idea what a test of faith was.

Chelsea and her family have been Forever Changed.On reflection, it seems to me that test of faith is a misleading term. It’s not so much a test as it is a search for stronger people who inspire me to continue down a challenging path.

It wasn’t fun fighting a legal battle and watching the growing frustration in Chelsea.

It was nothing, however, compared to giving my child up in hopes of her having a better life.

Nothing compared with living in an orphanage without “my own mama and papa”.

And nothing compared with the constant pressure of more than 50 children and employees depending on me.

Dorie’s Promise is undoubtedly the greatest thing that ever happened to Chelsea and every child who has ever, and will ever, live there. It’s certainly the best thing that ever happened to me.

The place is full of people who keep the faith — active faith, it seems. Not so much blind faith. And with this, they change lives. Not the least of which are mine and Chelsea’s.

For that, my family and I are and always will be grateful to everyone involved.

Thank you.


Comings and Goings

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

New Child Ulises Castro at Dorie's Promise Guatemala

Ulises Castro (Age 3)

By Arwen McGilvra-

The nature of our ministry is flexible and fluctuating. Therefore, we keep several beds open for foster kids who will be in our care only temporarily. Of course, since these cases are often waiting on the courts, we typically don’t know how long these children will be staying with us. Recently, several new children came to our home, and, at the same time, CNA (the Guatemalan adoption agency) found forever homes for some of our other children. The goodbyes are bittersweet — we grow to love the children in our care and will miss seeing them, but rejoice with them when they find an adoptive family.

New Children:

New child Estrella at Dorie's Promise Guatemala

Estrella Castro (Age 7 mo.)

Estrella Castro

Approx. Age: 7 months

Estrella and her brother Ulises entered our care because their birth mother was negligent. Estrella got sick with an intestinal infection and was admitted to a national hospital. When she came to our home, Dr. Castro evaluated her and found that she has chronic and acute malnutrition.

Ulises Castro

Approx. Age: 3 years

Ulises, Estrella’s older brother, was also removed from the home due to negligence and abuse. When Dr. Castro evaluated him, he had chronic and acute malnutrition as well as severe cavities. He was very small for his age (appearing to be only 1½ years old) as a result of malnutrition. Estrella’s and Ulises’ birth mother is a teenager who hasn’t shown interest in learning to properly care for her children. We will know more at their next hearing.

Maria Rene

Approx. Age: 3 months

Maria was found in the streets by the police. They took her to Minors court, which placed her in our home. She is also very small for her age, appearing to be more like a newborn than a three-month-old. During her examination, chronic and acute malnutrition was evident, as well as lice.


Saying Goodbye:

Sandi with her adoptive familySandi

DOB: 4/25/12

Sandi came to Dorie’s Promise by a court order because the birth mother didn’t want her.

After a several visits with Sandi, CNA granted a Guatemalan family the opportunity to adopt her. They seemed to be very excited to be first-time parents. Recently, CNA requested we meet at their office to give Sandi legally to her new adoptive family. Sandi was barely in the door of the office when she saw her new mother and immediately extended her arms to be held. It’s good to know that she’s made a bond with her adoptive family and that they are willing to love and care for her. We wish Sandi all the love and care she deserves.


DOB: 12/24/08

Angel with his adoptive family.Angel was sent to us by a court transfer order because he was suffering malnutrition in the Government Orphanage. When he arrived at Dorie’s Promise, he looked small and sad. He was declared adoptable this past September.

During three weeks of visiting Angel and getting to know him well, the CNA granted to a Guatemalan family the opportunity to adopt Angel de Dios. He left us very happy and excited to go with his “mom and dad.” We wish him the best and hope he finds in this new family a chance to be loved and cared for as he deserves.


Please join us in praying for these new families, as well as for the adjustments it takes to be successful as an adoptive family. We praise God that there are good people in Guatemala willing to adopt our kids and create new forever families. Also be praying for the health and well-being of the children who have recently come to our home.


*NOTE: International adoptions in Guatemala closed in 2008.

A Giving Visit

Thursday, February 7th, 2013


We received a great note recently from Sally Wagner, one of our Forever Moms. We think it will bring a smile to your face — it did to ours…

Wagner FamilyOur son, Carlos, was adopted … in 2005. When we visited Dorie’s Promise in March this past year (Carlos’ first visit back since coming home with us), he was at first nervous about visiting where he had been as a baby. He relaxed when he had a chance to play soccer with a few boys while we were there.

When we received the recent sponsorship mailing with pictures of the children, Carlos immediately (and very confidently) picked out Brayan as the boy he said he played with.

Even though Carlos didn’t know much Spanish, Brayan did a wonderful job communicating with him and making Carlos feel very comfortable. We are very happy to help support Brayan.

Here is why we loved hearing from Sally:

  • We got to see our Carlos again! It delights our souls when we get to see “our kids” happy and thriving, and Carlos certainly is.
  • We love that Brayan was able to give a little of himself to Carlos. Brayan really is a wonderful boy. Because of Brayan’s giving and loving spirit, Carlos was better able to enjoy his visit through this special bond.
  • Anytime one of the kids gets sponsorship, we rejoice, but this sponsorship is particularly special: to think that Carlos and Brayan would have once been brothers here at Dorie’s Promise, and now they are brothers in the Kingdom! Now, Carlos gets to give a gift back to his buddy and to the place that was once his own home.

This is a circle of life for which we can only praise God … and say thank you to the Wagners.



“It was apparent that both of them shared a passion for soccer. They had a great time playing together.” (Carlos — holding the soccer ball in the shadow)

—Sally Wagner

Waiting for a Second Blessing

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

By Pablo Villigran-
Dorie’s Promise changes lives, sometimes in unexpected ways. Just ask Karen and Curt Nichols. Although the couple has three daughters, the desire to adopt had been tugging at their hearts for years.
After deciding to take this step, they visited Guatemala and initiated the process that changed—and blessed their lives.
Four-year-old Cristian now lives at their central New York farm. The family hopes that Brandon, a bright-eyed boy of four who still lives at Dorie’s Promise, will soon be able to join their family.
“Cristian is very active and always ‘into’ something new,” Curt says. “He demands a lot of attention and keeps us all laughing with his juvenile language and antics. Our house is filled with laughter and little kid sounds.”
They learned about us through a friend who adopted a child from us. Since they were searching for an adoption agency, that started the ball rolling. The couple submitted paperwork in November of 2006. Two and a half years later, Cristian came to their home.
With their oldest daughter then a freshman in college and the others busy with their activities, the demands of early-childhood parenting were over. Cristian helped them resume.
“One of his sisters says it got louder in a good way,” Karen recalls. “Another says he adds excitement.
“Our oldest daughter feels that our family has grown closer through this process and with Cristian’s arrival. I think it is fun to experience a child’s early years again. He just ‘belongs’ here and adds a lot of spunk to our lives.”
The only drawback to this situation is that Brandon is still waiting for his paperwork to clear. The two boys shared a crib in their early months and played together as infants.

The Nichols family calls Brandon Cristian’s “brother” and uses video chats and periodic visits to reinforce these bonds. On their visits they stay here and spend as much time as possible with Brandon and the other children.
While this hang-up represents a prayer request for supporters, Karen says that waiting so long is an experience that has dramatically increased her faith.
“I have learned that after you have done all that you can do in a situation, you have to surrender it to God,” she says. “I have a better understanding of what it means to fully trust God and have faith that His timing is perfect. We know that having Cristian home is a miracle in itself.”
She also compliments sponsors who help support the children at Dorie’s Promise, saying their visits have shown them that sponsors’ money is used wisely.
“The children have what they need and each receive great love and care,” Karen says. “We couldn’t ask for any better living situation away from home.”

Saying Goodby to Carlos Enrique

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Carlos came to Dorie's Promise by court order because his biological mother provided false data to the hospital.  Minor’s Court needed to clarify the identity of the biological mother.  She was notify by the court many times to be at the hearings. His biological mother came once to visit Carlos, and she never showed up for any of the court appointments. Minor’s Court declared Carlos adoptable on February 10th, 2011.

About 2 weeks ago we got a call, letting us know they found a family for Carlos! His new family has been waiting to adopt a child for about a year. Carlos will be their first child, and they are super excited to have him.

The Carlos' adoptive family started to visit him last week.We can see in the amount of interest they have paid to him during their visits, that they will be a loving and caring family for Carlos. On March 16th, Carlos went to be with his new family.

We wish him the best!

Thriving After Leaving Dorie’s Promise

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

By Ken Walker-

The mothers of two children who left Dorie’s Promise last spring say they are thriving in their new surroundings, adapting to their extended families, and starting preschool this fall.

After a gradual transition to his new home and a different language, Evan Alejandro Anderson started preschool this week in the system where his mother, Laura, works as an occupational therapist.

Laura and her husband, Scott, waited three years before their first child finally arrived in Rochester Hills, Michigan last April.

However, Laura says the delay proved to be worth it. Traveling to Guatemala 14 times to see Alejandro, they got to know the staff and appreciate the role they played in starting him toward a fulfilling life.

“It’s an absolute miracle,” she says of their son’s long-awaited arrival. “We always knew God would come through.”

Paul Kvinta and his wife, Becky Kurtz, are also full of joy after waiting for more than three years before Nubia Marcela arrived at their home in Washington, D.C. last May.

“Marcela is loving life in the big city,” says Becky, who works for the federal government.

“Among her favorite things are the elephants at the zoo, the butterflies and dinosaurs in the National History Museum, and the carousel on the National Mall.”

Like Alejandro, Marcela will attend preschool this fall after a fun-filled summer. In recent months the Kurtzes have visited playgrounds, swimming pools and the beach. On visits to North Carolina and Texas, Marcela met all of her aunts, uncles and cousins.

“She really treasures spending time with her extended family,” Becky says. “They all warmly welcomed her.”

Laura is especially pleased with the way her large extended family has welcomed Alejandro, and the way she believes his story will shine a light on God.

“They felt like they knew him through pictures and videos, but to meet him and play with him is huge,” Laura says. “People have said, ‘To see you remain faithful for so long has touched me.’

“I’m so thankful for the Special Mothers at Dorie’s Promise,” Laura adds. “I knew he was loved, hugged, fed and allowed to grow. To watch him flourish now is amazing. He knows how to spell his name, where he lives and wants to know everything.”

Becky has similar feelings, saying because of the wait, they feel more connected to people at the home and other places in Guatemala.

“Marcela is a wonderful little girl,” she says. “The best part is just all being together. We both love it when she crawls into our bed in the morning, puts her arms both of our necks and proclaims, ‘la familia!’ It’s hard to beat that joyful expression of belonging and love.”