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Families waiting on adoptions get good news
By Amy Boerema | Daily Herald Staff

Jenny and Andy DeTolve of Montgomery visit with new son Hayden, 4 months old, in Guatemala. They hope to return in February or March to bring him home.


Photo Courtesy Jenny DeTolve

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Published: 12/13/2007 12:12 AM

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Both the DeTolves and the Hulls know the waiting game well.

Having adopted before, the two families are familiar with the uncertainty and anxiety that goes along with waiting for their child to come home.

Both couples, whose journeys were chronicled last December in the Daily Herald's "Finding Family" series, are now in the process of adopting again -- from Guatemala, a country tightening its foreign adoption policies.

Jenny and Andy DeTolve returned to their new house in Montgomery Tuesday after a first visit with 4-month-old Hayden Rafael. They expect to bring him home by March.

Kris and Bill Hull of Naperville also are waiting on their 7-month-old girl, Annika. They last saw her in August and hope to pick her up within the next month or so.

Their adoptions will move forward as planned despite Guatemalan officials approving a law Tuesday aimed at curbing baby-selling by birth mothers. But the law, which among other things, creates a registration process for orphanages, doesn't take effect until next year.

Families whose adoptions are pending, such as the DeTolves and the Hulls, aren't subject to the new rules. Roughly 3,700 children have been matched with new parents, mostly U.S. couples.

Many families worried the changes would leave their children in limbo.

"We were afraid of seeing (Hayden) and then not being able to continue the adoption," Jenny DeTolve said.

But some adoption experts remain cautious.

"What I don't know, and I'm not sure anyone does yet, is whether saying they can go through means all of them will go through," said Adam Pertman, director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York. "That's a looming question."

It's too early to say with certainty that Guatemalan officials will take the necessary steps to eliminate negative practices, he said.

"The proof will be in the pudding," he said. "On it's face, this is a start. That much we can say and be happy about."

For now, at least, the DeTolves, who adopted 11-month-old Madison from China in 2005, are confident they'll see their son soon.

The couple spent five days in Antigua, in south central Guatemala, with Hayden, who smiled and laughed the whole time, Jenny said.

"It was almost like he knew right away we were his parents," she said. "Oh my gosh, he was just so happy. He never cried."

Her husband did, though, when the couple had to return Hayden to his foster mom. She'll care for the boy until the DeTolves return in a few months to bring him home.

In some ways, the wait for Hayden will be harder than it was with Madison, Jenny said, because they have now spent time with him. They met and brought home Madison on the same trip.

Since arriving, Madison, who is now 3, has undergone several successful surgeries to remove cataracts from both eyes. She wears glasses and is doing well, Jenny said.

Despite her challenges, Jenny and Andy knew they would adopt again. They turned to Guatemala after tighter restrictions in China delayed their process.

Kris and Bill Hull came home from Guatemala in August with two boys, Clayton and Abel, after almost 15 months of bureaucratic holdups.

The children join son Myles, who was adopted from the same country in 2003.

While on that summer trip, the couple had their first visit with Annika.

"She was fantastic," Kris said. "She's a healthy, content sweet baby, talking all the time. Not real words, just jabbering. She's definitely a girl."

News that this adoption, too, could be in limbo, was just as upsetting, she said. "You spend a lot of time with your fingers crossed," she said.

But the family has been through it before, she said, and it's turned out OK.

"Now, we just have to have faith that it's all going to work out," she said. "So far that's worked well."