Virginia Family Reunited After Guatemala Adoption Delay

Family reunited after 5-year legal battle

By Erika Gonzalez
|  Saturday, Apr 13, 2013  |  Updated 11:13 AM EDT
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A Virginia family welcomed their adopted son to U.S. soil after a long battle. Erika Gonzalez reports.

Erika Gonzalez

A Virginia family welcomed their adopted son to U.S. soil after a long battle. Erika Gonzalez reports.

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A Northern Virginia family is back together under one roof after the Guatemalan government finally approved the adoption of a 5-year-old boy to the U.S.

Peggy and Joe Femenella, of Vienna, adopted their son, Andrew, from his native country five years ago when he was 4 months old.

The adoption happened just before Guatemala banned adoptions to the U.S. Andrew's case got caught in the red tape and he couldn't come America.

"Once we started [the adoption process], he was our son," Peggy Femenella said. "So you do anything you can for your family." 

During the legal fight, Joe quit his job and moved to Guatemala to raise Andrew there. Peggy stayed behind to provide financial support.

The case eventually attracted the personal involvement of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who is the co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on adoption. "[The Guatemalan] government failed and our government failed to really identify those transition cases," said Landrieu, who added that 112 American families still had cases in limbo as a result of the Guatemala adoption ban, down from 900 five years ago.

On Monday, word came that the Guatemalan government had cleared Andrew to join his American family, and a welcoming party, including Sen. Landrieu, met the little boy at the airport Friday.

"Long, long time," said Joe Femenella of his family's five-year wait, " but I wouldn't do anything different. 

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