SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- In a new twist to an old story, USS Peleliu (LHA 5) is boasting a new mom among the group of new dads who were the first ones off the ship Nov. 4 during its homecoming ceremonies following a scheduled six-month deployment.
Senior Chief Master-at-Arms (SW/AW) Kathleen Gutierrez, assigned to Peleliu's security division, and her husband, Joe, said they have wanted children for years. What they couldn't do on their own was solved by the process of adoption.
When a baby boy was born just nine days after Peleliu deployed and the adoption was finalized, Gutierrez became a new mom while on deployment. Just like the group of new dads who are traditionally the first ones off the ship following a deployment, Gutierrez made her way down the brow and was able to hold her son for the first time shortly after the ship moored at Naval Station San Diego.
"I just don't want to let him go," said Gutierrez as she took her son, David, from her husband and held him in her arms for the first time. "There are a lot of happy tears today."
The Gutierrez family started the adoption process shortly after Peleliu returned from a deployment in 2006. After researching the idea of adoption they contacted an attorney in San Diego who specializes in adoptions and began the paperwork and preparations that can often take years to complete.
"The journey to this day has been years coming," said Gutierrez. "Words are not enough to express the love I have felt since the day I got word I was a mom. God has truly blessed my husband and me."
Their lawyer worked with adoption agencies nationwide in an attempt to match the Gutierrez family with a mother who had decided to place their child up for adoption. As months turned into years, the couple said they never gave up hope in their efforts to adopt a child.
"It was not an easy decision to make when Joe and I considered our options," said Gutierrez. "Everyone wants to have their own child, one you carry for nine months and give birth to, but I have always wanted children, so we decided to adopt."
After two years of interviews and paperwork, the couple was notified just before Kathy deployed in May aboard Peleliu that they would soon be receiving a child. David Benjamin Gutierrez was born May 13 in Philadelphia, just nine days after Gutierrez deployed aboard Peleliu. Her husband traveled to Philadelphia to welcome their new son into the world and bring him to back to San Diego.
Gutierrez said that through photographs and an occasional video teleconference she has been able to see her son while on deployment, but that nothing compares to holding him for the first time.
"I am looking forward to every milestone in his life from here on out," said Gutierrez. "I may not have carried him for nine months, but David is my son, and I couldn't be happier. I thought May 13 [the child's birth date] was the happiest day of my life, but I know now its Nov. 4 because I got to touch him and see him smile."
Peleliu is the flagship of the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group (PELESG) which left San Diego May 4 on a scheduled six-month deployment.
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