Welcome Home Johan Mateo

Welcome Home Johan Mateo
March 12, 2010 - Cars make me happy!

Feliz en los brazos de Mami

Feliz en los brazos de Mami

Todo la Familia

Todo la Familia
Enjoying the day at Monserrate

Our View on Adoption

Adoption is a wonderful metaphor for our salvation in Jesus. We are all adopted sons and daughters of God, brought fully into His family and loved unconditionally. We hope and pray that we honor God in this journey and come to know more deeply the depth of His love and our true identity in Him through this awesome experience.

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 COR 6:18

Thursday, January 28, 2010

He's in the Jungle, Baby

Every day now Camila and Gisele ask when we can go and get Johan Mateo, or "my baby" as Gisele calls him. I'm not sure who is more excited.

All the paperwork is out now, and so we're in waiting mode again, for the I-800 approval and our "encuentro", or meeting date, to be set. Then we can book flights and really get ready to go. Looking most likely at early to mid-March.

The concept of 4-6 weeks does not compute in their little heads, so our best answer to them - and to ourselves - is this: every day is one day closer.

Among the other cute things the kids say about you:
- Every morning as they sit at breakfast, Gisele points over to the refrigerator at the one picture we have of you (with that crazy blue hedgehog) and shouts: "Papi! Johan Mateo!", as if she's just seen you walking by.
- At night, she points to the same picture thumb-tacked next to her bed, and Camila and Gisele pray for you, that you are warm and loved and that God is preparing your little heart to join our family. Soon! (Secretly I pray that the crazy blue hedgehog isn't indicative somehow of your personality. ;-)
- We've been learning more about Caqueta, the state where you're from in the remote southern section of Colombia. One day Gisele walked over to your picture on the refrigerator and said, "He, he, he's in the JUNGLE."
- Camila is excited to show your picture to her Kindergarten class. Gisele also to her pre-K class. And Mami and I are like obnoxious new parents showing their baby pictures. We break out our iPhones with your picture and show everyone and their uncle (the dental hygienist, the checkout lady at HEB, the guy reading the gas meter). They all agree your so cute; and more than a few look crossways at that crazy blue hedgehog.

We have become more comfortable with the fact that we will be traveling to Florencia to get you, despite the security concerns. In fact, we've started embracing Florencia, learning about the beautiful city and state of Caqueta that's the home not only of you, but of beautiful parks, rivers, a big portion of the Amazon jungle, and the mouth of the great Amazon River itself... the "puerta del oro de las Amazonas".

We trust God will arrange everything perfectly. Signs he is already doing so:
- One of your Tia Alejandra's best friends from their church in Bogota has a friend who is opening a nice new hotel in Florencia, opening at the end of February. This may be a really good option for us to stay, better than what currently exists, and will give us great contacts there.
- We have discovered other good contacts in Florencia through other friends.
- Beth and Raul at Gladney have been THE BEST! Their lawyer Nora will be there in Florencia with us. They are advocating for us, guiding us, and we know we are in good hands.

But most importantly, we are in God's hands. We know He is going before us and preparing the way. As his word teaches, perfect love drives out fear. And our love for you has easily overcome any trepidation about going to Florencia. Frankly, we are excited to get to know your birth city.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

It is with that spirit of power and love, not timidity, that we prepare to go to "the jungle" and meet you, our son.

Every day is one day closer. All we ask over the next 6 weeks of you, Johan Mateo ... stay away from that crazy blue hedgehog!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


January 8... wow, what a day. No news through the holidays - as expected - and another week was almost past. After some coaxing from Liliana, I called our Gladney caseworker late Friday afternoon, just to check in. Nope, nothing yet, was the reply.

How about a location? I asked. Sometimes you find out the location of the child you've been matched with before you actually get the official referral.

Hold on, she replied. A minute later she was back on line. Sure enough, our dossier had been sent down to Caqueta, a sparsely populated state in rural, southern Colombia. It wasn't a referral, but it was big news anyway, something tangible to chew on as we nervously awaited "the call".

Then - just before we disconnected - our caseworker asked a funny question: Are you home right now?

Uh, yeah, I said, puzzled by why she wanted to know where I was at 4:15 on a Friday. Could it be there was more?

I immediately called Liliana with the news of Caqueta - she was on her way home from work, out a bit early on a Friday -- and then began googling away to find out all I could about the home state of our soon-to-be child. Mostly jungle, home to the headwaters of the Amazon river, that's pretty cool.

The cell phone starts buzzing in my pocket, and its an incoming call from 817 area code. Fort Worth, home to Gladney. I answer and its our caseworker again, her voice shaky with emotion. "You have a referral! I'm sending the picture to you now."

Liliana wasn't home yet, and we'd agreed not to open the picture or any other information on the baby until we were together. Thankfully she wasn't far. I'm crying and calling her with the news, then she's crying and driving faster, the girls run in from the other room wondering why Papi is boohooing, and I tell them they have a little brother, and then they're crying too. Soon Mami's car comes up the driveway, the girls run out and now they are all one big bundle of crying girls, into the house to the computer. We prayed first, thanking God for you, Johan Mateo, and then turn to click on that miraculous email.

And there you are. Smiling out at us, just a beautiful baby boy. A gift. Just like that, a part of our family, filling up a big, special place in our hearts that we didn't even know was there a few minutes before. Now we're really crying and laughing, and the girls want him "RIGHT NOW". They're crazy, dancing and singing. Its sweet.

The next email comes full of all the details of his little life up until now, his history, medical records, vaccination records, etc... From what we can tell, he has been well cared for, first in the home of the birth mother's friend and then, for the last 6 months, with a foster family. The reports say he's walking, saying a few words like "Mami" and "Papi" and "Taita", likes fruit juices and arepas, and that his favorite toys are cars a trucks. (A BOY, A REAL BOY!). He takes lots of naps and sleeps through the night (sure, right!). He's perfect, of course.

Gigi and Papa come over and share the news, Liliana calls her family in Colombia (it took hours to reach her Mom), then friends come over for Life Group in our house and we get to share the celebration with them. Exhausted, we finally get to bed, all of us replaying that picture of you in our heads as - emotionally exhausted - we drift off, all of us wanting you RIGHT NOW, thinking that maybe we'll get to meet you early in our dreams.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Anticipating a new year with Mateo

It is Jan. 2, and we are gathered at Mike's parents' house celebrating a belated Christmas with the Roberts. Mateo was very much with us in spirit as we anticipate next year's holidays with him. He even had a stocking and a few presents under the tree. All the sisters and girl cousins are ready to spoil him (or her) rotten.
Latest update on the referral: nothing came before the holidays, so we're likely looking at a referral sometime between Jan 11 and the end of the month, with travel probably in March. It could come later than that, but referrals have come quickly following approval recently. Hopefully the next posting is "the big one".

Mike Oakes