Posts Tagged ‘fostering in Antigua’

Maximon Monday

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

One of my favorites shops in Antigua, Guatemala is Casa de Artes on Fourth Avenida Sur, around the corner from the Hotel Antigua and down the street from the small house where Olivia and I lived in 2003 while we waited for her adoption to become final. The goods sold by Casa de Artes are extremely beautiful and mostly out of my price range, but every trip I visit anyway, to gaze on their museum-quality textiles, masks, jewelry, and pottery, and learn something new from the knowledgeable and helpful women who work there, The ladies remember Olivia from when she was a baby, and always comment on how tall she has grown and how healthy she is. They remark on her developing Spanish skills and express delight that she returns often to visit. They know Olivia’s birth family is from the Highlands, and honor her heritage by bringing out to show what I call the “good stuff”–the rare, antique huipiles and cortes hidden away from light and dust in cabinets, made by talented artisans long ago in remote areas.

That’s a lengthy introduction to the real purpose of this post, which is to share an email I received today from Casa de Artes, informing me that October 28 is Maximon Day, which Casa de Artes is celebrating by spotlighting their Maximon sculptures and candles. I’ve written about Maximon before, but because the folks at Casa de Artes explain the man and his significance much better than I ever can, I’ll let their words speak for themselves. The photos are terrific, but you have to click on the link to see them. Apologies for the extra step! ~


Our front door in Antigua

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013


Olivia and I in Antigua, and the front door of the house where we lived when I fostered her in 2003.

Us in 2003.

For us, no visit to Antigua is complete without a pilgrimage to this place.

So happy to be here! ~



Monday, August 16th, 2010

Other adoptive parents and I talk a lot about all the reasons why a trip back to Guatemala benefits our children. But as I visit places in-country with my friend and fellow adoptive mom, Kallie, I see how much other people benefit as well.

Us, as adoptive parents, for one. Nothing allows someone to process an experience like going back to where it happened. Our children’s caregivers, for another. To see that the babies they cared for and loved have grown up to become healthy, happy children is a powerful and moving experience for each of them.

One of the first things Kallie did with Maya when they arrived in Antigua was visit the hogar where Maya lived as an infant. Like the Guatemala City hotel lobby is for me, the hogar playroom is for Kallie: the first place she held her daughter in her arms. That specific location is a place no mother, or father, is ever likely to forget.

When Olivia and I lived in Antigua, we had a wonderful ninera, or babysitter, who took care of Olivia when I went into the capital to investigate our adoption. After we left, Yoli moved on to take care of Maya during the hours when Kallie worked. Yoli and her kids were like family. They have never forgotten us or our children.

A few days ago, we experienced a marvelous reunion with Yoli and her children, who, six years ago, were around the age Olivia is now. Kallie and I hardly recognized them: One of Yoli’s daughters is married with children, studying to become a chef. Another hopes to become a teacher.  Her son, our girls’ playmate, plans to become an architect. (He is the handsome boy in the photos above and below, now the handsome young man.)

Yoli’s eldest daughter, engaged to be married, brought along nail polish. As we drank coffee and ate cake, she gave manicures to the little girls and to Kallie and me (rainbow with flowers and gold sparkles, respectively).  

Before we said goodbye to our old friends and ended our memorable reunion, Yoli showed us the photos she still carries with her everywhere: pictures of our babies.


Kirkus Reviews: Mamalita

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

My publicist at Seal Press, Eva Zimmerman, forwarded me this advance review of Mamalita  from Kirkus Reviews. The Mamalita publication date is November 1, 2010. To order your advance copy, click on the “Book” tab on the Mamalita site.

From Kirkus Reviews:

“‘I’ve never given birth,’ writes O’Dwyer, ‘but I know the exact moment when I became a mother: 10:00A.M., September 6, 2002′—the moment she and her husband sat in a hotel lobby, awaiting the infant girl they hoped to adopt. Yet this celebratory moment was soon overshadowed by the corrupt Guatemalan adoption system. The author recounts her initial naiveté, how she and her husband shelled out vast amounts of money to adoption facilitators and notarios in order to assist them in wading through the red tape of a foreign adoption. Yet nearly two years and thousands of dollars later, O’Dwyer and her husband remained no closer to their goal. Rather than continue her transcontinental flights, the author quit her job and moved to Antigua to focus on her daughter’s adoption full time. This decision led her into the dark side of adoption, a seedy terrain in which she was forced to weave through the barbs of a system set up to exploit the most money and resources from potential parents. Armed only with her elementary-level Spanish, she was forced to rely on a small band of trustworthy Guatemalan officials and potential American mothers struggling through the same experience. Her obsessive quest was constantly hampered by paperwork, signatures, DNA tests and countless other bureaucratic pitfalls. But despite the tragic circumstances, the optimistic author tells a hopeful tale in which she viewed every procedural misstep as a step leading her closer to her daughter.”

“A scathing critique on a foreign adoption system and the harrowing account of one woman’s attempt to fight it.”

Kirkus Reviews


Concert in the park

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Antigua is a town filled with music. A few years back, I was lucky enough to be here during Christmas, and every night an orchestra of some kind performed classical selections in the Square. On Sunday, Olivia and I heard marimbas. An afternoon or two ago, a big band played.

Olivia and I stumbled upon the musicians warming up on the steps of the Municipalidad, one of the grand structures that edges the Square, then joined the crowd in the park to listen. The conductor gave the signal, and the band broke into “Begin the Beguine.” The tune was not what I’d expected, and it transported me to my childhood, when my parents listened to Big Band on the radio and my father warbled along. Olivia swayed to the music, creating her own memory of the melody. I’m happy hers is a memory is formed in Guatemala. (more…)


Buses and a trip to Nimpot

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

One of the first things I noticed when I came to Antigua in 2003 was the buses. They are rehabilitated Blue Birds, the school buses I rode when growing up in New Jersey. But here, each is individualized, painted by a specific artist. When Olivia and I lived in Antigua, we woke every morning to the sound of the conductor calling all commuters enroute from Antigua to the capital, “Guate, Guate! Guatemala!” We came to love the rhythm of those words. The buses seem so emblematic of Guatemala, that I chose a detail from a bus painting by Oscar Peren as the banner of my blogsite.

The photo above is of Olivia’s favorite store, Nimpot. It’s located on Fifth Avenida, right past the famous arch. This store has everything: masks, huipils (embroidered blouses worn by Guatemala’s indigenous people), weavings, jewelry, carved wooden santos, and even mini-Maximons, the patron saint of bad habits. (more…)


Antigua Guatemala continued

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Summer in the United States is rainy season in Guatemala, and as anyone familiar with the tropics knows, when it rains here, it really pours. We just got word that the road to Panajachel and Lake Atitlán—where we planned to go next week with Tim and Mateo—is closed due to a mudslide. Not only tourists use the road, of course; it’s the main thoroughfare through the central part of the country. With luck, the road will be cleared soon for car traffic. (more…)


Baby Jogger

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

As so often happens, a decision to tear out the old wall-to-wall carpet in our bedroom and downstairs office has turned into a massive cleaning project requiring multiple trips to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. We’re giving away everything: clothes, toys, kitchen supplies, appliances. A friend in need has taken furniture and shelving. On Monday, a truck will load the leftovers and haul them to the dump.  (more…)