By Celine Klosterman
Judee Albert has seen God’s hand in everything.
When she and husband Randy Albert welcomed their first son, a Guatemalan toddler named Jeshua, into their home last December, the Lord was there. When the members of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City adopted a second boy in need, Arturo, just months later, prayer helped them decide to do so. Now, as Guatemalan legislation has stalled the Alberts’ plans to adopt two girls, Judee says she’s curious about what God has in mind.
The fate of sisters Delmy, 10, and Marlin, 8, has been in limbo since Guatemala suspended foreign adoption proceedings begun after Dec. 31, 2007. The country reportedly plans to create a governmental division to oversee adoptions, which have been plagued by corruption.
Judee calls Delmy and Marlin’s case a “textbook example” of such dishonesty. First, the girls went missing in January, and the Guatemalan attorney handling their adoption case wouldn’t cooperate with efforts to find them. A year and two private investigations later, they were found safe with their godfather. But Judee believes the attorney, also the girls’ foster mother, hid their location in order to keep adoption-related fees the Alberts paid her.
The couple eventually recouped those fees. But another, major problem surfaced.
Though the Guatemalan attorney had told the Alberts she’d filed paperwork to begin adoptive proceedings for Delmy and Marlin in 2006, the couple discovered — too late for the Dec. 31 deadline — that she hadn’t.
“That was devastating,” Judee says. She and Randy now have no hope of legally adopting Delmy and Marlin until Guatemala lifts the adoption suspension.
Still, the couple remains devoted to the sisters. “We believe firmly God led us to these girls for a reason,” says Judee. “When we committed, we made a promise to them and to God that we’d take care of them.” She and Randy wire money to the girls’ family, and visited them when they picked up Arturo in October.
“It was the most phenomenal, fantastic experience to hold them, tell them how much we love them and explain we hadn’t abandoned them,” said Judee, who’s sent the girls photos and letters. “They cried. We all were crying.”
Back in Iowa, she and Randy are counting their blessings with 2-year-old Jeshua and 1-year-old Arturo. Mellow Arty “is adjusting just so wonderfully; he’s a happy, happy boy,” Judee says. “He has a very different personality from Jeshua, who’s high energy, go, go, go,” she laughs.
Disciplining two toddlers with their own personalities and opinions is challenging, Judee says. But she looks forward to a peaceful, evening ritual with them and Randy.
“We say the rosary right before bed. They’re winding down usually, and I’m looking at these two, little, beautiful, brown faces, and wondering, Wow, what did I do that God would bless me in such a way?”
She voices thanks for those who’ve prayed for the family amid changing situations. “My human nature every day was like, this is too hard; I can’t go on with it,” Judee says. Despite struggles, she’s glad for the opportunity to be part of four Guatemalan children’s lives.
“A lot of people would think the situation with the girls is a sad ending to a story. … This is not. This is an incredibly miraculous, beautiful, God’s-hand-on-it ending to a story. This is the beginning of who knows what. It’s so much better than anything we could picture; what an amazing story we’ve gotten to be a part of.”