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Gabby's Adoption

$7,300 of $7,300 goal

Raised by 37 people in 13 months
It's been 10.5 years since we met our beautiful little Gabriela!   She was 6 months old, weighed just 9 pounds, and was suffering from malnutrition and lung ailments when God put us together in Guatemala.  Her mother had died in childbirth, and Gabby miraculously survived her first 24 weeks of life in a stick and mud hut in the primitive and extremely poor village of Pinalito.  
Since our first days together in November of 2008, we've been fighting an uphill battle to bring our sweet girl forever into our family through adoption.  In the meantime, we became missionaries in Zacapa, Guatemala.   Our mission is Life of Promise Ministries.   www.lifeofpromise.org 
On July 24, 2018,  we finally received our Certificate of Suitability to adopt from the Consejo Nacional de Adopciones (National Adoption Council of Guatemala)!!  On May 17, 2019, we finally received our final resolution from the court in Zacapa which declares that the adoption has been fully approved by the Guatemalan government!  Now all that's left is to change Gabby's legal name and apply for her passport and visa.  We hope to be able to travel in July for Gabby's first visit to the USA!!
There have been many expenses along the way for both Gabby (left in photo) and her sister Mae Mae, whom we adopted from China in 2012.  These sisters are inseparable, and support to help all of us become family would mean the world to us.  
The funds we need will cover legal fees, adoption fees, multi-night trips (to Guatemala City from our mission house in Zacapa) for adoption meetings and interviews, and plane tickets for our family to bring Gabby to the United States for her first time ever.  
Funds are needed by the end of June.   The two things Gabby wants to see most on her first visit to the states are New York City, the ocean, and winter snow!!   She is a very special girl and we love her with ALL our hearts.    God has a great plan for her life,  and we would be so incredibly grateful if you would help us make our 10.5-year dream come true. 

God bless you!  
Tom and Arlene Richmond
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Nearly 11 years ago, we spent our first week at this little hotel in Zacapa with our Gabby. Now it’s one of her favorite places to swim. As I watched her splash around in her mermaid tail the other day, I was thanking God for saving the life of this tiny baby, turned beautiful young lady. The Lord saved her and made her part of our family. But His purposes go way beyond Gabby’s life to all the people whose hearts He has touched. Gabby’s story, and Life of Promise Ministries are a testimony of God’s faithfulness and commitment to keep His promises. ❤️❤️❤️
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We just reached 50 percent of our goal !!! Thank you to those who have given so generously towards Gabby’s adoption!
Gabby is such a special girl, and we knew from the beginning that God had a wonderful plan for her life.
He already made it possible for us to have a mission that helps the poorest in Zacapa. And really this is just the beginning. Can’t wait to see what the future holds!!
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Here’s the rest of my blog entry from a visit to Gabby’s birthplace when she was 16 months old. I posted part one a few days ago. My prayer is that these entries will inspire the reader to trust God, trust in your ability to get out of your comfort zone, and just plain “make life an adventure.” Blessings...

Saturday, October 10, 2009
“We were staying for a week in the mountain village of Pinalito where Gabby was born. Each time we went outside with Gabby, a large group of children would gather around her. It was so special to see how tender they were with her. What especially struck me were the boys, who normally act so tough with their machetes and rough games. They would come over and take her hand lovingly, repeating her name over and over- 'Justina, Justina.'

As the week unfolded, we saw changes in the women who came each day with their babies to hang around the mission house or the medical clinic. At first they were aloof, and Gabby was obviously a curiosity to them. After a few days, they saw how much Tom and I love her. Their attitudes changed to genuine appreciation for the type of life Gabby will have.

We are convinced that God is doing something to change the hearts of the people through Gabby's adoption. She is only the second baby ever adopted out of that village. There have likely been no other adoptions in the entire Cero Grande mountain range. It is not uncommon for women to perform their own abortions or smother their newborn babies with the placenta immediately after birth. These women are usually unwed mothers or married women with abusive husbands who have a number of children already. Those who perform their own abortions often die during the birth of their next child due to damage of their reproductive system. So tragic and heartbraking.

We have been praying that more women would chose adoption for their babies, just as Nicholas was brave enough to choose adoption for Gabby after his wife died in childbirth. We actually saw an answer to that prayer as soon as we arrived in Pinalito. A young woman named Martha is four months pregnant. She is an unwed mother of a one year-old boy and her story is very sad.

She was in love with a young man who brought her home to get his father's approval for their marriage. Arranged marriages are common in Pinalito, and Isaiah's father did not approve because Martha's father is one of his enemies. He had another woman in mind for Isaiah, and told him that he would lose his inheritance if he married anyone other than her. Inheriting land is very important to the people, because land is basically all they have to call their own.

So Isaiah deferred to his father's wishes and married the other woman. But he continued to have relations with Martha, the woman he really loves. She is now pregnant with a second child from this man, and an unwed mother is seen as a "trashy woman" for the married men to have affairs with.

While we were there we heard gunshots one night. We found out the next day that several married men had gone to her home to attempt to rape her. They fired shots outside her door to scare her into coming out. Fortunately, Martha's family is among a small group of families who actually have cement block homes with doors that lock. She locked herself and her mother inside and they remained safe, at least for that night.

We were able to speak with Martha several times during the week we were there. As Martha saw how happy and loved Gabby is, she opened up her heart to the idea of placing her baby for adoption. Now she is planning on going down to Zacapa for the rest of her pregnancy, placing the baby with a foster family, and then returning to the village. We believe that God is changing the hearts and minds of the people so that they will be open to giving their children better lives when they are unable to care for them.

God has done so many miracles in allowing Gabby's adoption to progress thus far. Since traditional adoption is closed between Guatemala and the U.S. right now, this adoption would not normally be taking place. Through the goodness of God, we are doing everything legally in ways we would have never known about if the Lord had not set things up for us. Yes, things are taking much longer than we had planned or hoped. I have decided that it will take a book to recount all of the miracles along the way. In the meantime, we have this blog. I hope to do a better job of keeping it current.”

Update to this blog entry: Today, Nicolas (Gabby’s father) is happily married to Martha, the young mother in this story. They have several children together. God is amazing!! Also I’m noting how I mentioned that the adoption was taking much longer than we had hoped. Haha, what a hoot to see my thoughts in writing from 10 years ago. Had I known it would take more than 10 years to adopt Gabby, I wouldn’t have been able to go through all this. I don’t think Tom would have either. I’m thankful that God doesn’t give us the big picture of the future. He guides us lovingly each step of the way for His good purposes.
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Here’s a blog entry from a visit to Gabby’s birthplace when she was 16 months old. My prayer is that these entries will inspire the reader to trust God, trust in your ability to get out of your comfort zone, and just plain “make life an adventure.” Blessings...

Saturday, October 10, 2009
“Wow, I can't believe it's October. In one month it will be exactly a year since we met our daughter, Gabby. Tom and I are in Guatemala now, waiting for our meeting with the CNA (government adoption bureau).

As you may have noted, we changed our baby's name from Justina to Gabriella Justina. We’ve chosen Gabriella because it means "God is my strength." This name is so fitting for her because God has certainly been the strength of this little "fire plug" of a baby. She has an amazing amount of spunk and spirit in a tiny compact body! Tom and I continually marvel over the fact that she wouldn’t be alive today if God had not saved her from the conditions in her mountain village. We are keeping Justina as her middle name because it means "justice" and because we want to honor her birth parents with the name they gave her.

As I explained in one of my previous postings, the Mayan people in the mountain villages (and particularly in Pinalito) live under a veil of mental, physical and spiritual oppression. We are beginning to see that God wants to bring justice to these people by breaking the strongholds that have caused them to live in fear for generations.

We brought Gabby up to Pinalito last week, with excitement and a bit of fear over how the people would react to seeing us "outsiders" with her. Most of the villagers refuse to go to Zacapa (a small city at the base of the mountain) to seek medical help or jobs. Their fears and superstitions have taken over their lives. As a result, children and adults are dying due to treatable illnesses, preventable illnesses and extreme poverty.

We were also unsure of how her birthfather, Nicholas, would react to having us on the mountain with Gabby. He was friendly and cooperative when he signed the custody papers with us at the lawyer's office in June (2009). But our missionary friends explained to us that Nicholas was being pressured from his father and father-in-law (who are both witch doctors) not to place Gabby for adoption. As a reminder, Gabby’s mother died hours after she gave birth to her, and the witch doctors came to the hut as she was dying to perform their rituals.

Well, word travels fast in a village with no TV or internet (no electricity for that matter). The people are seriously into each other's business (like the old days of telephone party lines and knowing your neighbors really well). The first man we saw said to us, "Is that Nicholas' daughter?" Gabby had not been in the mountains for an entire year, so he couldn’t have actually recognized her. That encounter made us a bit nervous, so the first thing we did was to visit Nicholas' hut with some food for the family and shoes for the children we had purchased in Zacapa.

We were relieved to accept a warm welcome from Nicholas and his four children. He even asked why we didn't bring the baby to the hut with us. We told him he could come up to the mission house to see her, which he did the next day. His two oldest daughters, Brenda Maribel and Ingrid Juana, visited several times and we were able to get photos of Gabby with them. They are adorable girls, and of course I wanted to take both of them home as well!”
More to come...
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Raised by 37 people in 13 months
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