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Give Luke a chance
Capt. Jacob Allgood and his wife, LeAnn, adopted Luke, 14 months, from Guatamala. After over a year of paper work and waiting, the Allgoods brought Luke home to Arizona in September. (U.S. Air Force photo/Deborah Silliman-Wolfe.)
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Giving Luke a chance

Posted 10/10/2008   Updated 10/10/2008 Email story   Print story

    


special Story and photos by DEBORAH SILLIMAN WOLFE
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/10/2008 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Capt. Jacob Aaron Allgood, 56th Medical Group internist, and his wife, LeAnn, have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of their baby boy, Luke. Like most new parents, the Allgoods were a little nervous, and very excited, about bringing home their first child.
But they didn't bring him home in a minivan from the hospital; they brought him home in an airplane from his birth country of Guatemala. After 18 months of paperwork and waiting, Luke is finally home. 

"We had always talked about adoption when we were dating," said Captain Allgood. "There are so many children who need good homes and don't even have a chance. We hear stories of babies being left in dumpsters. Not that I am against people having their own child, we are having one in a few months ourselves, but we wanted to give a chance to a child who might have not had one." 

The Allgoods, who just celebrated their two-year wedding anniversary in September, arrived at Luke Air Force Base in June from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. The couple started the adoption process in Ohio in March 2007, and the process came to a close Sept. 10 when the couple brought Luke, 14 months, home to Arizona. 

"I think the most important thing for someone to have when considering adoption is a reliable agency," LeAnn said. "I have seen so many posts on this Guatemalan adoption Web site I visit with people saying, 'I haven't heard anything from my agency for three weeks and no one is telling me what is going on!' Even though our adoption process was frustrating, we always knew that our agency and attorney were doing everything properly." 

The Allgoods chose their agency, Families Thru International Adoption, on the recommendation of a friend and after attending a conference introducing prospective adoptive parents to the process. Their agency specialized in adoptions from certain countries, and the Allgoods chose to adopt from Guatemala. 

"We considered a few different countries, and Guatemala was the best fit for us," LeAnn said. 

After deciding on the country of origin, the couple had to complete a dossier which was made up of hundreds of pages of paperwork, some of which had to be notarized at local, state and federal levels. 

"For the adoption, we had to fill out three times as much paperwork as it took me to get into the Air Force," Captain Allgood said. 

It took the couple six months, from March to August 2007, to complete and submit their dossier and to complete a home study to make sure their home was fit for children. Once they were approved for adoption, they were assigned 12-day-old Luke. 

"We had a chance to pick the general age of the child we wanted, and preferred a child from zero to two years," LeAnn said. "We had the option to choose if we would accept a child with special needs or minor or major correctable issues. We gave some input, and the first child that met our criteria was placed with us." 

Once the Allgoods were assigned their child, their agency took over completing the rest of the process, all of which had to be done in Guatemala. In August 2007, the Allgoods signed a power-of-attorney so that a lawyer in Guatemala could sign documents in country on their behalf. 

It would have been wonderful if the adoption process had happened quickly, but that wasn't the case for the Allgoods, or any of their acquaintances who are adopting. After six months of paperwork, the Allgoods had to wait another year before they were able to complete the adoption and bring Luke to America. 

While waiting for the adoption to go through, Luke was in the care of a foster family he was placed with after birth. Every week, the Allgoods had the chance to talk to his foster mother to get updates on Luke. They also received e-mails from her and photos from the agency. 

Even though Luke wasn't yet legally the Allgoods' child, they had been financially supporting him since he was assigned to them in August 2007. 

"We paid the agency money so they could support Luke's foster family so they could support him," LeAnn said. 

They also sent Luke care packages. 

"His foster mom was not making a lot of money, and we spent extra money making sure Luke got exactly what he needed," Captain Allgood said. "And when we couldn't wait anymore to meet Luke, we made a trip down to Guatemala this past June for a visit."
During their brief meeting, they got to meet the then 11-month-old Luke as well as his foster family. The Allgoods got to spend some time with his foster mother and her daughter, and the pair showed the captain and LeAnn around the city. 

"The best part of the visit was knowing that he was with a family that loved him and took care of him as they would their own children," Captain Allgood said. 

After the trip to Guatemala, the Allgoods arrived in Arizona and started getting acquainted with the base community. 

"The 56th Medical Group has been great with this whole thing," Captain Allgood said. "The clinic is so flexible and they have been unbelievably supportive of the adoption. I wish the lay person would know how tremendously supportive the military is, especially here at Luke." 

Not only did the Allgoods receive emotional support, they also plan on receiving around $2,000 from the Air Force to help out with the cost of the adoption, which Captain Allgood said he thought was a very nice gesture. 

Three and a half months after arriving at Luke, and almost 18 months after starting the process, the Allgoods received word that the adoption was in its final stages. 

"When we got the e-mail giving us our appointment date at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala to sign the final paperwork making Luke our child, we had quite a mix of emotions," LeAnn said. "Relief, disbelief, excitement, anxiety and a little residual frustration, thinking finally we are going to be done." 

The Allgoods made the trip to Guatemala together, signed all the necessary paperwork and brought Luke to Arizona on September 10. 

"I think Luke is doing quite well adjusting to his new setting," LeAnn said. "There are still times occasionally when he 'searches,' looking around the room, and I wonder if he's confused and wondering where he is and where his foster family is." 

Even though Luke has not completely adjusted to his new surroundings, the Allgoods have noticed he seems increasingly comfortable and more confident as each day passes. They are both working hard to help Luke develop the strong, healthy, secure attachments that their newly adopted toddler needs. 

"And as all new parents know, reading and preparing for children is not the same as experiencing it," LeAnn said. 

And the Allgoods are guaranteed to have many new experiences in the next few months. With a new toddler in the house and a baby on the way in March, the couple is excited about the future and what it will bring.



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