Surgery Scheduled

March 21st, 2011 by John | Posted in Adoption | No Comments »

Our reason for posting Juan Pablo’s journey has been to allow friends and family to remain updated with his progress and to share specific prayer needs.  Emily and I desire to be as transparent as possible while allowing the story of God’s love in his life to be told understanding that his consent has been given for the content shared herein.

Just 3 months ago, Juan Pablo underwent surgery to insert skin expanders below his jaw line on each side of his face.  We remember how brave and confident he was just before anesthesia.   We, of course, were a little scared, but trusted God would deliver him through the surgery.  The time between the updates received from the OR nurse as to the progress of the surgery is still fresh in our minds.  The Lord, who was near to JP at his infant accident in Guatemala, had also been faithful to inspire this procedure and deliver him through it.  After being in the recovery room for a couple of hours, he was transferred to a private room in the burn unit.  While there, he met a couple other children who had been burned and saw the equipment used to treat patients with burns.  I believe he connected the devices and mechanisms to the need of severely burned skin just like his.  God had connected us to Riley Children’s Hospital to learn of this new procedure and surround us with experienced and friendly medical staff.  JP was comforted alongside by his Mama and Papa, grandparents, and of course brother Sam, who is seen below about to bite into his brother’s IV tube.

100_3577 JP and Sam together after surgery.

We knew Juan Pablo was progressing along when he was able to keep down food and prop up his hands to play video games provided by the burn unit.  Just like being at home!

Before being discharged, he wanted to take a picture of himself without the bandages to see his stitches..

100_3605 Upon arriving home, he rested by the company of his best friend Mala…


Due to the delicacy of the expanders, Juan Pablo has been restricted to only light activity.  We agreed that it would be difficult to harness his 8 year old energy level, but thought that having the surgery during the winter season  would be the safest.  Each week, a visit with the plastic surgeon would be necessary to fill the expanders.  Since the initial surgery, we’ve gone to Riley about 12 times to have JP’s expanders filled a little each time.  He has done so well during each of the appointments, which consist of medical staff evaluating the expanders, then inserting a small needle through an internal port of each expander.  A syringe of saline is given in various amounts up to the point that Juan Pablo is in pain.  A helpful tool that has been used during the expansion visits is an iPad loaded with tons of games.  As JP receives the injections, a Child Life Specialist sits with him and the tablet to shift the focus of the pain through the distraction of a game.  Everyone was surprised how quickly he was cruising up the levels of the games he played.  No shocker to us, but I have a feeling he’ll be asking for one of those for his next birthday.

We’ve had a couple scary moments just weeks after the initial surgery.  Juan Pablo’s neck began to swell.  The first time this happened, we took him to Riley’s ER when an on call surgeon drained the excess fluid from his neck and tested it to find that it was not infected, but only that his body was probably just responding to the new foreign objects present.  Outside of this, JP hasn’t had any trouble except for some pain after receiving the injections.  We’ve trusted the Lord’s presence with our boy through one of the biggest moments of his life.  Our prayer has been consistent in that God’s best for JP would be done, he would continue to have a compassionate heart, and the testimony of what Jesus Christ has done in his life would speak of His goodness and love more than ever before. 

With Juan Pablo’s consent, here are some pictures of him from the past months since his surgery, which shows his progress:

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So, now we are ready for surgery, which is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22nd at 11:30 AM.  During this surgery, the new skin that has been expanded over the past several months will be stretched up and set in place of the scarred skin located just below his eye line, around his face, and down to the chin.  We are all excited about this change for Juan Pablo.  He is especially ready to get the expanders out and comments often that he is excited for his new skin.  God led us to JP because of his burns and we will miss that about him.   Our response has always been that we love him and see beauty just as Jesus sees him.  Though the outward appearance will change, his heart and identify as a special child of God will remain.


Here are some specific ways you can be praying:

  • Wisdom and guidance for the surgeons, nurses, and other medical staff involved in the surgery.
  • Comfort from the Holy Spirit in Juan Pablo’s heart before and after the procedure.
  • God’s will and absolute best for JP
  • Perfect peace for myself, Emily, and our entire family as we release and commit everything to the Lord as we trust Him
  • Little to no pain for JP as he awakes in recovery
  • The healing process would be quick and effective.

Road to Surgery

December 12th, 2010 by John | Posted in Adoption | 9 Comments »

It’s hard to believe that five years ago, we first set eyes on our future son at an orphanage in Guatemala.  It was the scars on his face that God used to move our hearts toward adoption.  When Jesus asked, ‘who would I choose’ for your family, we unanimously agreed that it was Juan Pablo.  Not only did we pursue him for the calling, but fell in love with JP’s kind, compassionate, and playful heart.  We knew that the road ahead wouldn’t be easy to care for a child with this special need, but would trust the Lord to be faithful to provide wisdom and direction for his future needs. 

When JP was a baby, he suffered burns of up to 80% of his body from an accidental explosion about which we know very little.  We believe and share with our son that Jesus was with him during and after the accident and it was a miracle to live through this in a 3rd world country.  Early treatment consisted of skin grafts to daily application of ointments on his face.  We knew that by choosing to follow God’s plan to adopt Juan Pablo, there would be decisions to make in regard to treatment of his burns.  Upon arriving to the United States, we arranged for a visit with the International Adoption Clinic at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis to assess JP’s overall health. Our consulting physician referred us to a plastic surgeon who specializes in burns.  From that meeting, we learned that as Juan Pablo ages, his jaw will have difficulty growing and the skin on his face will not stretch with his growth.  We have noticed this already in his difficulty opening his mouth and his smile pulling down skin beneath his eye.  The surgeon informed us that we would have to do something for Juan Pablo in the next couple of years.  We were pleased to hear that there were other options that were less invasive and would look better rather than taking additional skin grafts. 

After absorbing the information, we prayed for months asking for wisdom to make the best decision possible for our son and the timing of it.   The procedure we have chosen consists of expanding skin by inserting a balloon like object in the neck, which will remain there for up to 3 months.  The reason for the neck as the location is because it most closely matches the good skin on his face.  Each week, we will drive to Indy for the surgeon to evaluate the skin expansion process and fill the balloon as needed.  At 3 months, the expanded skin in his neck will be pulled up to his cheeks and chin while the scarred skin is removed.  The first part of the procedure to insert the skin expander(s) will take place on Tuesday, December 14th, 2010.  We felt that winter would be the best time to begin this process since JP can’t be as active usual.  The more invasive surgery will take place in March and he will probably need a couple more surgeries in the future. 

Over the past 6 months, God has been preparing us and Juan Pablo for this procedure.  We chose Juan Pablo because of his burns and fell in love with his face.  We will forever remember Juan Pablo as when we first met him.  A change in his appearance, however, will not change his compassionate heart nor his infectious laugh and smile.  We pray that as his appearance alters, his testimony of God’s grace will remain and motivate him in the work the Lord has prepared for him in the future.  We ask that you lift up JP and us in prayer over the next several months as we respond by faith to the giant of surgery and its journey. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians12:9)

Article in Buckner Today

January 29th, 2010 by John | Posted in Adoption | No Comments »

The following article appeared in the Buckner Today magazine (Winter 2010 edition).  The story was written by Analiz Schremmer, who met us at the Dallas airport and took great photos of us.  The online article can be viewed on page 35 via the following link:  Should this link become unavailable in the future, the article contents are also pasted below:

Juan Pablo’s Heroes


His new

mother’s hands

were shaking.

His father was

all smiles.




Juan Pablo is the happiest child you will ever meet.  And when he came to the United States with his new family, he was a glowing neon sign.

He ran to the parade of people who were there to greet him: his mother’s grandparents,Buckner staff and friends Karen Perry and Margaret Johnson. And then he kept running, throwing his arms around Perry’s dog,smiling at strangers and hugging an unexpected bystander or two who happened to be there.

His new mother’s hands were shaking.His father was all smiles.

This day was the answer to everyone’s prayers: Juan Pablo was no longer an orphan. I couldn’t help but remember how, just a few months earlier, Juan P.’s new parents had bought him and the other boys at the Buckner Baby Home in Guatemala costumes of their favorite super heroes.

The boys bounced around dressed as Buzz Lightyear, Superman and Batman and had an amazing time.But there were other heroes.

John and Emily Wiggins didn’t sweep into Guatemala wearing capes and spandex.They came in with the gifts of themselves,with their willingness to love and open their lives and hearts to bring Juan Pablo back home as their son. Heroics may not be as out-of reach as you think.Maybe all it takes is love.

– Analiz G. Schremmer

Welcome Home Follow Up in Commercial Review

January 10th, 2010 by John | Posted in Adoption | No Comments »

The following article appeared on the front page of the Jay County Commercial Review newspaper on Saturday, January 9, 2010.  This was a follow up article written after our story appeared in the paper during Thanksgiving 2009. 

For subscribers to the newspaper, you can read the article online at:

Otherwise, the article has been pasted in its entirety below.

1/9/2010 12:01:00 AM

Welcome home

Juan Pablo adjusts to Indiana

Juan Pablo with his new parents John and Emily Wiggins. (Photo provided)

Virginia Cline

A journey that brought a young boy from Guatemala to Jay County is "going great" after a month in Juan Pablo Wiggins’ new home.

"He’s adjusting perfectly," Emily Wiggins said of her adoptive son Juan Pablo, who arrived in Indiana Dec. 9 to a greeting of 30 family, friends and church members at the Indianapolis International Airport.

What started with a missions trip by Emily and husband John to the Central American country more than two years ago has brought a young boy to a new country with new sights, sounds and experiences like snow, children’s church and being licked by his grandma’s dogs.

Not to mention learning a new language.

The 7-year-old, who was severely burned in a propane explosion as an infant, calls his adoptive parents "papa" and "mama."

"He’s so sweet. He just hugs everyone," says Emily.

Emily, a former kindergarten teacher, began home-schooling Juan Pablo on Monday. She is teaching him his letters and working on English.

Emily said he tells everyone his can speak English, but he really only knows about five words. "John’s really good," Emily said of her husband’s ability to speak Spanish. "We do okay." She said.

Not wanting Juan Pablo to forget his native language, Emily and John attend a Bible study where some attending speak Spanish. Juan also has Hispanic friends that he plays with. Emily’s brother has twins the same age as Juan Pablo that he enjoys playing with and he also attends children’s church at The Rock. "He loves being around other kids," who says that Juan Pablo has made a snowman and snow angels with several friends who live nearby.

Juan Pablo’s favorite place to visit is his grandma’s house with three dogs. He loves having them lick him, Emily said.

He eats about anything, but his favorite food is spaghetti. Some of his favorite things to do are play on the computer and watch cartoons on television.

The adjustment to his new home hasn’t been without issues.

Juan Pablo’s bedroom was ready before his arrival, but "He didn’t want to be in there alone," said his mother.

Juan Pablo prefers to sleep between John and Emily in their room. Even a Spider Man mattress beside their bed didn’t do the trick.

Emily is expecting a baby in March and Juan Pablo says maybe he will sleep in his own bed when the baby comes.

Days after his arrival in Indiana, a party was held at the Jay Community Center to welcome him home, with about 200 people attending. There were piñatas, super-heroes and inflatable toys and food made by some of Emily and John’s Hispanic friends.

The couple, who had been trying to adopt Juan Pablo for more than two years, traveled there in November and stayed a month waiting for the adoption to be finalized.

Determined to bring Juan Pablo home for Christmas, John and Emily spent plenty of time during November and early December, and Emily credits that time together as one of the reasons for him adjusting so well to his new life.

With the orphanage where he lived now closed, it is not an option for him to return.

Christmas proved to be a special time for the new family, as on Christmas Eve, Emily, John and Juan Pablo read the Christmas story in the Bible and prayed for the other children who had lived with him for four years in the orphanage. Emily said Juan Pablo started to cry and said he wanted them to be safe.

"We had a wonderful Christmas," says Emily.

She says that Juan Pablo spent the entire day unwrapping presents because he wanted to stop and play with each one in between. Employees at Marion General Hospital, where John works, bought Juan Pablo a Wii and he had to stop and play the games he received. His favorites are a boxing and a racing game.

Another favorite present was a suitcase full of super-hero costumes. Juan Pablo had to try each one on and John had to try his on also. John had dressed up as Spider Man for Juan Pablo and the other children at the orphanage in Guatemala. Emily said the two then engaged in little battles.

Home for the Holidays

January 3rd, 2010 by John | Posted in Adoption | 3 Comments »

Life for us as a family in the US had started and before we knew it, Christmas had gone by and 2010 has arrived.  Apologies to our friends who have been waiting for updates from us since our arrival.  The past several weeks have been focused on spending and enjoying all of our time as a family that there has been little time to update the blog.  The choice was easy We hope to make it up to you with an update that will rewind through some of the highlights of December ‘09. 


Since our arrival to the US, there would be many firsts to record, but none greater than the first day in JP’s new hometown of Portland, IN.  He awoke between his mom and dad on a clear, sunny morning with a dusting of snow on the ground.  He was anxious to see more of his new house and discover new things that he hadn’t noticed the night before.  Welcome home decorations were still positioned throughout our house.  The newness of JP home would never get old.

JP found it relaxing to stretch out in the recliner in his PJ’s
First breakfast of oatmeal and doughnuts
First glance of snow on the ground
Watching cartoons in English
Doctor appointment with Mommy
First visit to grandma’s where JP met new pet friends…
…including Alex, Annie, and Mazy  


First walk along the Salamonie River in our backyard

Video of walking on weak December ice

Preparing piñatas for the big party
Muchos dulces!
There were 4 piñatas to fill
New friends the Monroes stopped by to bring dinner and play in JP’s new room
Putting up the Christmas tree w/ Papi
Sorting decorations with Mami


JP was welcomed by our church family @ the Rock with great anticipation.  On that day the children performed in the Christmas program. JP was introduced to all of his new friends who had prayed and faithfully waited for his coming.  Pastor Jeff brought us before the congregation to welcome JP and pray for our life together as a family.  The children had prepared a song for this moment.  It was a very special moment as we, along with many friends, could praise God for the miracle that had joined us.  Masses of hugs were distributed by Juan Pablo. 



The grand welcome home party was held at the Jay Community Center in Portland on our first Sunday home.  All friends and family were invited.  We were amazed that over 200 people came to this fiesta.  For the party, we rented a bouncing moonwalk along with an obstacle course for the children to play in.  There were 4 piñatas available for the kids to bash and take candy.  Food for the event consisted of enchiladas, tamales, rice, and beans.  For dessert, JP had a Spiderman cake along with an ice cream bar with a variety of toppings.  The gym was packed with people.  We were surprised by the huge turnout, but very thankful that Juan Pablo had a wonderful time with many new friends. 

100_0207100_0191100_0203100_0196 100_0202100_0218 010_FacebookPic_4810110793113739562


While away in Guatemala, friends from my job (Marion General Hospital) were following our status and progress on the blog.  They read how JP played a Wii at a restaurant and heard of our desire to purchase one for him someday.  The Radiology department invited us over for their Christmas carry-in and surprised us with gifts, including a Nintendo Wii.  Their kindness and patience through this entire process has been greatly appreciated.  It’s just another blessing to have received the support from my employer during our trips to Guatemala and journey to bring home our son.  On a different note, their gift of the Wii has been a big hit to Juan Pablo while keeping him mentally and physically challenged.  Here’s some shots of JP punching it out with Wii boxing:



The first measurable snowfall JP experienced came on 12/19.  He rolled out of bed, opened the blinds, and looked out in amazement at the winter wonderland that arrived overnight.   We bundled him up in double layered clothing before sending him out into the snow.  Here was his reaction:

DSCN0230DSCN0234   DSCN0248DSCN0251DSCN0241


This Christmas was one that we will never forget.  We were finally able to celebrate this special season together, as a family, and at home.  Throughout the holiday season, we attended many family gatherings when Juan Pablo met a majority of his close relatives.  I believe our most memorable moment came on Christmas Eve as we prayed before bed.  We lifted up the children in Guatemala and as we prayed, JP cried for his friends.  He recognized that he had a family and they were alone.  Our prayer was one of trusting God for His presence with them as their Father.  To witness the tears, we know that the Lord was working on Juan Pablo’s heart and perhaps in preparation for greater work He will accomplish through him one day.

John, Emily, and JP at home
Us @ the McAbee’s
JP w/ Grandpa and Grandma McAbee
Juan Pablo with the Orrell’s
At the table with cousins Olivia and Gabe
Opening gifts with the McAbee’s
Setting out cookies for Santa
Christmas Eve
Christmas morning
Spiderman drops in for Christmas
Rock Band @ Uncle Tyler and Aunt Amy’s
Gifts for Mommy
Mommy, JP, and Grandma Wiggins
JP w/ Great Grandpa Wiggins
Sledding with Gabe and Olivia @ Rob and Kristi’s

Papi and Juan Pablo sledding

To wrap up the season’s highlights, here’s a video of JP dancing with his cousins to the beat of an electronic game:


December 12th, 2009 by John | Posted in Adoption | 2 Comments »

The day had finally come when we would bring Juan Pablo home.  A long day of travel was  ahead, but we received it with such excitement knowing that we would arrive in the US together as a family and begin the next segment of our lives.  To top it all off, we anticipated groups of close friends and family meeting us at the airports to welcome us home.  We loaded our 6 bags onto the Hotel shuttle and were off to the airport.  We arrived to the Guatemala airport a few hours ahead of time to allow for any challenges we might face with crowds or immigration.  There were no problems at all!  For the first time, I didn’t mind filling out those dreaded customs forms since now I was able to complete one for Juan Pablo Wiggins.  We caught a quick breakfast at McDonald’s, then waited at the gate.  During our wait before boarding, we passed it by playing some video games and watching other planes take off.


When coming aboard the plan, JP walked up to the cockpit and was greeted by the pilot, who gladly invited the young enthusiast in to show him the controls.  JP was able to sit in the co-pilots seat and marveled at all the buttons and monitors.  After his brief intro to flight simulation, he was given a pair of American Airlines wings, which we later pinned to our shirts.  The pilot and crew on board our flight fell in love with JP and ended up hooking us up with some free snacks and some headsets to listen to in-flight audio later in the trip.

IMG00326 IMG00325

Juan Pablo wasn’t scared on the plane and was tickled as we sped up down the runway and made our initial ascent into Guatemalan air space.  As we parted through the clouds and looked down at the land in which he was born, I told him to say “Adios Guatemala” (for now) and to admire the views of the beautiful mountains and land that is his home country.  He didn’t sleep at all during our flight to Dallas.  As we flew across the shore line from water to land in Texas, we explained that we had just crossed into the US.  Juan Pablo yelled “Estados Unidos” and then gave us each a big hug.


A short while later, we touched down at the Dallas Fort Worth airport.  We were ready to exit the plane and meet those who awaited us.  We waited nearly 30 minutes in immigration for JP’s sealed packets from the US Embassy in Guatemala to be thoroughly reviewed by an officer at DFW.  There was a question about our current address, then some discussion with other immigration staff, which worried us, but in the end we were permitted through.  We were again praying for favor in that all of our documentation would be complete.  It was enough for JP to be entered into the United States as a citizen.  With our extended wait in immigration, we arrived to baggage claim to find all 6 of our bags neatly lined up and ready for us to walk them through for our connecting flight.  Once we dropped off our luggage, we boarded the airport train to arrive out our departure gate.  There we would be met by some surprise guests.  We walked down a corridor, then saw some familiar faces from a distance.  We were welcomed by Anyra Cano, Karen Perry and her mother, Analiz Shremmer, and JP’s new great grandparents Ralph and Joyce Hamner.  A brief rundown of the group:  Anyra is our adoption case manager who works out of Buckner Dallas, Karen has been a great friend and support to us and JP through this entire process, Analiz works for Buckner public relations and was there to capture this special moment, then Emily’s grandparents who live in Trinity, Texas who were able to make the trip to the DFW airport.  Hugs and tears were shared as we were welcomed into the US by these great Texan friends of ours.  Not only did Karen give JP some wonderful gifts, but she brought along an old friend of JP’s to the airport, her dog Bear.  We’re not exactly sure how she was able to get the dog in, but just know that Karen can get things done!  Juan P. has a great passion for dogs and animals alike.  At one point, JP lost control of the leash and I had to chase them both down, but all control was gained once more :)  

JP embraced by NannyJohn, JP, and Emily  Hamner and Wiggins FamiliesJP and Karen Us with Anyra CanoJP and Bear 

Karen brought along U.S. and Guatemala flags, which we proudly held up for photos to represent JP’s citizenship in both countries.  You’ll notice also that JP was wearing a Texas Longhorns jersey.  It was apparent that not only were these Texans very welcoming, but they were sending messages that they wanted us to move and remain in Dallas.  They knew they were outnumbered by the expected crowd in Indianapolis that they let us pass through this time :)

We made our way back through security and grabbed a quick bite before waiting for the last flight.  JP won the attention of some staff at McDonald’s and they gave him a couple free toys.  It seemed like we were being blessed in every direction, but nothing would compare to finally making it home, that is, to Indiana!  Check out JP’s reaction to taking off on the jetway from Dallas:

The shortened 1.5 hour flight from Dallas to Indianapolis provided enough time for Emily and Juan Pablo to rest before meeting more new friends.  When we began to descend into Indy, JP met snow for the first time as it was blowing quickly by the window and pierced by the wings of the plane.  We were worried that we may be delayed going to Indy in fear of potential ice / snow at the airport, but we were landing right on schedule.  We were thankful that we landed with ease despite the high winds and snowy conditions.  JP’s first sight of snow came in the air, but more was revealed with the slight dusting on the ground.  We pulled into our gate and exited the aircraft.  JP quickly expressed how much colder it was in Indianapolis than it was in Dallas.  The weather was one major difference between the US and Guatemala.  As we walked through the airport, Juan Pablo told me that everyone was speaking English.  In Texas, there may have been a portion of people speaking Spanish, but aside from the occasional overhead announcement in Indy, all was English as normal. 

We rounded the corner and walked past the security checkpoint area when we started to hear some yelling and cheering.  There was our crowd.  This moment we had dreamed of was now becoming a reality.  Many times before, Emily and I had walked through the airport wondering what it would be like to return home with JP and be welcomed by an energized crowd who had followed us all the way to the finish line by love, prayer, and support.  The time had come and the voices were real.  30+ stood at the other side of our exit.  We couldn’t wait to see who had come.  We entered into the cheers from those who had traveled from both Terre Haute and Portland.  Surprisingly, Superman (Scot Longyear) and Spiderman (Nate Brown) were each standing on opposite sides of the entry.  JP made his rounds as he was introduced to many new faces and met each one with a hug.  Emily and I were in awe of those who had come to share with us this special night.  This was again evidence of the genuine love these people have for us and our son that they would drive many miles to cheer us to welcome us home.  Tears came from many who were introduced to their new relative or friend.  JP’s world was being turned upside down with the overwhelming attention, love, and gifts from new people.  He wasn’t at all shy, but gave hugs to each and every one and to some people, multiple hugs.  We were emotionally and spiritually full at this point praising God for making this happen.  Words can’t express the gratitude to everyone who has prayed and supported us through to this moment.  Praise the Lord for His perfect timing for this to be possible.

We spent the next couple of hours hanging out at the airport talking to all of our friends and family.  JP opened some gifts and played with some of the children who came to meet him.  It was a welcome home / reunion that will never be forgotten. 

100_0036 100_0038100_0045 008_Special hugs for Abuelita108_8999108_9004001_The ever-popular superheroes

After our unforgettable welcome home reunion, we were on our way home – Portland, IN.  JP was so excited about the snow that he couldn’t wait to get outside to play in it.  Unfortunately, there had only been a slight dusting and not enough to make his first snow ball.  JP put on his new Spiderman coat, hat, and gloves to prepare for the cold that awaited him.  We rode back to Portland with his grandma and grandpa McAbee.  We sat in the back seat with him as he was elevated by his car seat.  JP noted that traffic was much faster in the US.  In Guatemala, he always told the taxi drivers to go faster, which was about impossible, so he held off on telling Bill to speed up since he was already going so fast.  Juan Pablo was exhausted from the big day, but was fully awake when we finally arrived to his new home.  We entered the doors and was welcomed by a fully decorated house with balloons, signs, and confetti.  He quickly went from room to room downstairs, then made the trip upstairs where he found his room.  It was somewhat familiar to him since we had shown him photos prior, but he collapsed into his bed full of stuffed animals, then noticed toys, the Christmas tree, and closets.  Bill and Kim brought all 3 of their dogs over to the house, so JP finally returned to play with them until we wrapped up for bed.  It is obvious that he is a huge dog fan and has already established a close relationship with harry friends Annie, Mazy, and Alex. 

It was finally just Emily, JP, and I in our home.  We couldn’t believe our eyes that the boy for whom we had been fighting was at last where he needed to be – with his family.  God has blessed us with the deliverance of our son to our home.  It’s going to take some time for this to all sink in, but for now, we’re just taking in this moment.  There’s no more empty nights with our son in Guatemala or the worry of a process prolonging an adoption.  He’s here and this is now.  Our family is together, under one roof, and at the end of the night in our own bed.  As JP was nestled between us, we asked him what he loved most about the day.  He replied in this order: the plane, the snow, and the dogs.  He really loved everything else too, but these were apparently the favorites :)

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For additional stories from JP’s homecoming, see the following:

Visa and Farewell

December 10th, 2009 by John | Posted in Adoption | 1 Comment »

Tuesday was a special day for us as we would receive the final piece to the adoption puzzle and celebrate with wonderful friends in Guatemala. We ate lunch with Chiqui and Mabel at a restaurant near the Embassy. It’s hard to believe we spent a couple of hours there until it was time to enter the Embasy for our time slot to pick up the Visa. I guess time goes by when you’re having great conversation with good friends. Chiqui was one who opened her heart to first take JP into the Buckner baby home from Casa Aleleuia. They have a special history together as do we with her and family. We’re excited about the things God has placed in Chiqui’s heart, her passion for the Lord, and children of Guatemala.

Next it was off to the Embassy for our 3:30 appointment to pick up the Visa. As a stack of envelopes sat on the other side of the window, names were called across the intercom system. We were a little nervous as we weren’t called in the first group, but thankfully our time came. We were first given JP’s passport with the Visa pasted inside. A sealed envelope followed that, which could only be opened by immigration in the US. We’re glad that we stayed around to review information on the front of the packet because we were called back for a 2nd packet that contained paperwork that they didn’t include in the first packet. Again, God had his hand on us to not allow us out those doors until everything was in hand. JP was officially a US citizen according to his Visa type. We had reached the end of the process! We were overwhelmed and embraced this moment with great anticipation and joy.

To celebrate, we headed back to the Buckner office where the staff had prepared a time of prayer, worship, and thanksgiving. We formed a circle in the front office at Buckner Guatemala surrounded by many who have been with Juan Pablo from the beginning, then with us at the start of this adoption process. Amed led us in a short time of Bible application, then we sang a few worship songs in Spanish. This was a perfect end to JP’s story in his home land as we offered praises to God who made all of this possible. During time of reflection, friends Robert and Leslie Chace explained their remembrance of their first sight of Juan Pablo, which was at a girl’s home called Manchen. Later, he was moved to a home called Casa Alleluia, which contained babies and other toddlers of JP’s age at the time. We actually remember visiting that home on our first mission trip in 2005, but we later learned that Juan Pablo was on a field trip. We wonder how things may have changed if we had fallen in love with JP sooner, but trust that God revealed him to us at the perfect time where our hearts were prepared to surrender to His perfect plan in adoption. Roberto went on to say that he remembered JP’s face among on the other children and he was just as playful as the others. Furthermore, he mentioned his feeling after meeting us on our first mission trip in Guatemala, he knew God had big plans in store for us. Who would have known that it would have included this miracle boy who we now call our son.

Tears continued as more shared stories, then Emily and I spoke to thank all of those at Buckner for opening their hearts to JP. We wanted them to know that Guatemala is his first home and we will continue to pour all of our love into him in his new home in the US. All agree that God will use Juan Pablo in a unique way when he is older. Perhaps it would even be to return to Guatemala to minister to orphans and bring encouragement to many. We will dearly miss all of our friends in Guatemala, but look forward to remaining in close contact with them and in God’s time, returning for future visits and continuing in more work that Lord has prepared for us there. We wrapped up our ceremony with some tamales and Ponche, which is an excellent beverage blend of a variety of fruits. We loved it so much that we went to Paiz afterwards to pick up a few manufactured packs just to get the recipe.

What a way to end our journey in Guatemala, but to offer our thanks to our God who again has proved He is able to do above all we can ask or image. Tomorrow is our much antipated return home. We’re looking forward to the reunions in Dallas and Indianapolis!!!

Visa Interview

December 8th, 2009 by John | Posted in Adoption | 2 Comments »

On Monday we had the Visa interview, which was scheduled for 7:30 AM.  This was the final step in the adoption process and with successful results, the Visa would be issued allowing JP to come to the US.  In preparing for the interview, we gathered all requested documents, plus any additional items that could be needed as reference.  It has been amazing to understand the importance of documents through this entire process.  Just to think that a single piece of paper with seals, signatures, dates, and correct ink colors determines how you move along in the process.  All the memories of driving to Indy for a state seal, then to Chicago for a Guatemalan consulate seal were hanging around in my mind as I printed and organized paperwork needed for the Visa.  After reviewing our documents together, we were confident that we had everything needed and then some.  Aside from feeling adequate for the meeting, we knew that we had to take this to the Lord in prayer just as we have any other document or procedure in the past.

For the first time, we entered the Embassy early Monday and were the only ones sitting in the Visa section.  Throughout the day, that same room is packed full of Guatemalans and peace only comes again at the end of their working day.  Our names were called and we met a highly personable friend at the Embassy once again in window 10.  She reviewed our I-600, which I had to initial some fields that had changed since we first started the adoption.  When passed back through to her on the other side of the glass, she stamped that document “APPROVED.”  A great joy and relief came over us as the official ruling had come.  Next we went to the cashier to pay $400 for final processing of the Visa.  Soon afterwards, we were called to window 9 to answer some final questions.  The woman attending us confirmed that we were approved for the Visa and that we could pick it up the next day at 3:30 pm.  It’s official!!!!  Juan Pablo Wiggins has an IR-3 Visa to not only enter the United Statues, but as a US citizen!  He became ours when his name was changed on the birth certificate, then came more of a realization when his passport was updated, and now when he was issued the right to enter the US as JP Wiggins.  Praise God for His faithfulness to us on this day and thank you to our friends who were praying for us at that time.

07dic2005Victory had been won!  We are proof that nothing everything is possible for God as we have faces many instances throughout this process that seemed impossible.  Glory in the Highest!  We were considering ways to celebrate this occasion.  On our way back to the hotel, Mabel shared with us another significance of that day (December 7).  Apparently, a  Catholic tradition has it that on the 7th day of December each year, devil piñatas are sold to those wishing to rid their house of evil spirits.  We wondered why we saw so many of these being held up for sale on the streets.  The piñata devil is not smashed with a stick to deliver candy like a typical piñata, but burned by its consumer.  Can’t say I disagree with the festive mood of wanting to light up the devil, but the smoke and fumes generated are not only disturbing, but hazardous. 


Another way to celebrate would be to JP’s preference.  Not only does 12/7 signify casting out evil spirits, but just another day to light up some fireworks.  Personally, I feel that fireworks is just customary in Guatemala since we hear them at all hours of the day.  However, since staying at the hotel, they’ve become more frequent to celebrate the Christmas season.  Sunday night, we we witnessed a great fireworks display from our hotel room.  It was as if we were sitting somewhere in the Jay County Fairgrounds on the 4th of July.  JP gets overly excited about fireworks and anytime we are looking, he yells “Mira, Mira,” which means “Look, Look.”  If we don’t respond, then he repeats himself until we see for ourselves the continual firing of colored flames.  Since Sunday, he has been telling everyone about the “bombas” or fireworks.  12/7 is a day that had another potential for a great show of lights from our room.  Juan was so excited that he couldn’t decide whether to swim or wait for the fireworks.  We had to decide for him and did both :)

We are picking up our Visa today at 3:30 pm from the Embassy, then are going to the Buckner office for one last celebration in Guatemala.  The office staff want to rejoice and pray over with us as we begin our new life together in the states.  We will miss all of our friends here, but are praying about God’s time when we would return.  Back home, many of you have joined us in celebrating this day and our eminent arrival on Wednesday.  We asked JP how many days remain until we go to the Estados Unidos and he is always right on the money.  We’re so ready to come home and reunite with all of our family and close friends.  Blessings to you all!

Memorable Moments With JP

December 6th, 2009 by John | Posted in Adoption | 2 Comments »

There have been many things that JP has either done or said on this trip that won our hearts, so we wanted to be sure to document and share these with our friends and followers:

*On the first night when we arrived to his room and awoke him from sleep, he had all of his stuffed animals neatly arranged on his bed.  Abi said that he was very careful to do this for us to see.

*Abi asked Juanpi what he wanted to take to the United States, so he packed all of his stuffed animals that we had given him on previous trips.

*At a party held at the babies home, women from a local church asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Juan Pablo said “bombero,” which is a firefighter.

*When asked about his plane trip back the US, he said that he’ll need an astronaut helmet and suit.

*A taxi driver, who had a large belly, came to our hotel to pick up another adoptive family with whom we were conversing in the lobby.  JP went up to him, poked him in the stomach a few times, then began to lightly punch him in the stomach like a punching bag.

*JP is such a friendly child and wants to hug just about anyone to whom we introduce him.  Without invitation, he randomly hugged employees at Pollo Campero, then hugged a McDonald’s delivery boy who shared an elevator ride with us one time.  Maybe he thought he had some connections with Ronald or a free meal?

*JP is understanding quite well the concept of timeout. On a previous trip, his first timeout was for spraying an entire can of air freshener, which left him and the bathroom floor soaking wet. That timeout was very hard for him. While on this trip, just when we thought we could leave him for 1 minute in the shower, he used John’s entire can of shaving cream as soap. After getting out of the shower, he went directly to time out and sat quietly for 6 minutes.

*Any dog that JP sees, he yelps with a compassionately excited tone “Mira…awww.”  This means “Look….awww.”

*When Emily and I are close, he’ll try to wrap his arms around the both of us and say “Mi familia,” which means “my family.”  He has even rubbed Emily’s belly to acknowledge baby Samuel.  He understands and is very content with his new family.

*He, like most kids, repeats things he hears.  He picked up the phase “Oh, Man” and uses it when he knows that one of us didn’t get something right or he loses while playing a video game.

*JP seems to have a connection with security guards.  While at the grocery store Paiz and our hotel, he walked up to the guards, did a quick backwards high five, a fist bump, then at times wanted to end the routine with a sideward butt bump.

*Juan Pablo observes and does just about everything his daddy does.  When wrestling around before bed, he stripped down to his underwear so that he could be the same as me.  JP always wants to hug and kiss me.  When playing Nintendo together, he will sometimes stops the game just to give me a kiss.  Before going to bed, he wants papi to be close.  Sometimes in the middle of the night, he will climb up on top of my chest to sleep.  I’m so blessed to be a first to him for which he has longed and needed his whole life: Daddy.

Visa appointment and homeward bound

December 4th, 2009 by John | Posted in Adoption | 2 Comments »

Praise the Lord!  We finally received the much awaited Visa appointment by email this morning from the US Embassy.  The end is near!  Our appointment is scheduled for Monday, December 7th at 7:30 AM.  We then pick up JP’s Visa the following day 12/8 at 3:30 PM.  Since we will be picking the Visa up so late in the day, we’ve decided to fly out of Guatemala the following day so that all of JP’s new friends and family could meet him at a reasonable time in the evening.  This news brought the encouragement needed and has finally given us a timeline on the adoption.  For all of those who have asked us previously when we’d be bringing home our son, we can finally answer that question.  Check out the countdown timer we’ve updated on the site to reflect our arrival to Indiana. 

Shortly after receiving our confirmation email, we worked with the airline to change our tickets around from our original flight home, which was scheduled on November 22nd.  While previous round trip tickets were updated, we added a one-way ticket for Juan Pablo.  We were able to save some money for his ticket by buying back some expired frequent flyer mileage, then purchasing additional miles.  For those of you who would like to meet us airports either in Dallas Fort Worth or Indianapolis, below is our complete flight itinerary for December 9th:

Airline Flight No. Depart/Arrive City Date/Time
AA 2196 Depart Guatemala City 8:55 AM
AA 2196 Arrive Dallas Ft Worth 12:30 PM
AA 1380 Depart Dallas Ft Worth 3:45 PM
AA 1380 Arrive Indianapolis 6:45 PM

We packed all of our bags at the Buckner office this afternoon and returned to the Tikal hotel where we’ll be staying until next week when we leave for the US.  We’ll pass our time at the hotel comfortably enjoying the rest of our time in Guatemala.  Continue to pray for us that we would prepare all of the needed documents for the Visa appointment on Monday.  A verse from our devotion this morning had double meaning for us as the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about the end of his journey….

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  (2 Timothy 4:7)

We have fought long and persevered for the joy that the Lord has set before us in our son Juan Pablo.  The finish line of the adoption journey is in sight.  I would like to say that we have kept the faith throughout, but thanks be to God that He has been faithful all the time.