Tammy York, a kindergarten teacher at Central Elementary School in Greencastle, lives with her husband Rob, owner of York Chevrolet Pontiac Buick in Brazil, and their three boys. Wanting a girl, York sought out adoption options.
Things seemingly came to fruition in November 2007, when they received a referral for a Guatemalan girl named Meilani Angelykotella Ajanel. The York's were expecting a 6-9 month wait for the newest addition of their family to arrive.
Their plans, as well as the plans of 900 families nationwide, hit a snag just one month later, when Guatemala, due to allegations adoption brokers were pressuring women to give up their children by paying them, or in some instances stealing the children, shut down their adoption agencies. The action has left all perspective parents who were waiting at that time for their adopted children in limbo.
To combat what they considered to be a great injustice, all families formed a group called the Guatemala 900, and culminated their cause with a June 17 march in Washington D.C., going through spots such as the Department of Treasury and the Taft Memorial.
York was in attendance for the march and said it was reassuring to be around people enduring the same plight as her family.
"The experience was amazing," York said. "To meet people in the same situation as (my family and I) are in was a great way to get the word out for our cause."
York also said it was humbling being around people who have been waiting for their children for much longer periods of time than her and her family have been waiting.
"Our wait has been rough, but some of the people I met have been waiting for around 3-and-a-half years," York said. "Their stories are heartbreaking."
After the march, the group was addressed by Tom DiFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children's Services. The day's activities closed with a candlelight vigil in front of the Guatemalan Embassy.
York also made a personal connection, speaking with a staffer for Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. The staffer, who asked not to be identified, said the Senator would be approached to approve the writing of a letter to Guatemalan officials addressing a speedy resolution in the matter.
The extended wait has not prohibited York from developing a relationship with the now 19-and-a-half month old Meilani. She has gone to Guatemala to visit her three times and has already planned a fourth trip next month. She said she instantly feel in love with her, calling her "amazing" and crediting her for "being able to adjust to any situation."
York said she left the rally feeling good about what the group had accomplished. She hopes this will bring awareness as it has left the life of 900 families in limbo.
York's biggest concern though was about the young children, who are all older than 18 months old, some of whom are approaching toddlerhood without having permanent families.
"The situation is the toughest on the children," York said. "The longer they go without having a family, the harder their lives become.
For more information, visit www.guatemala900.org. Included on the site is a form letter concerned citizens can fill out and send to their congressmen, in hopes they will take action in the matter.