October 28, 2003
Update Oct. 28th, 2003
(Posted with permission from Susana Luarca, Attorney at Law).
This morning a group of lawyers and hogar representatives had a meeting at Congress with Oscar Cifuentes, president of the Committee of Legislation and Constitutional issues. He told us that his party (9 congressmen) will oppose the adoptions law, which is a modified version of the Valladares law, but equally bad. In order to approve the law as it is, they need at least 75 congressmen and three hearings.
Later, we learned that the adoption law was passed by Congress in first hearing. This may sound scary, but just to give an idea of how things may work out, the project of adoption law of Nineth Montenegro has been on hold after the first hearing for ten years. However, it is an alert bell, that we have to be more proactive, because they will win only if we let them win.
Now, more than ever, we have to fight to oppose a very harmful law that will only make happy those who are the promoters of a campaign to limit the population growth: UNICEF-WHO-UNFPA have joined forces to collaborate with other UN agencies to promote aggressively their population-control agenda. Part of that agenda is to oppose international adoption, because it is a way of escaping death for those children who are adopted, but most of all, to those children who remain in the country, supported by adoption generated income.
The project of law is unconstitutional in many ways. We are going to file amparos and challenges to stop it. We need your support against UNICEF and its anti adoption agenda. The network that we have been creating can grow, to protect those who cannot defend themselves: the children of Guatemala.
Susana Luarca, Attorney at Law
Associación Defensores de la Adopción
Posted by Kelly at October 28, 2003 03:04 PM
Does this mean that there will be two more hearings before it becomes law? I'm asking because we just accepted a referral and want to know if we have a few days to get the paperwork into Family Court before anything changes.
Thank you Susana for your updates. I'm wondering if you have an idea how the passing of this law now would affect those cases currently in PGN? Thank you very much.
I too am wondering how this all affects those cases that are current in PGN waiting for final approval as is my case.
Is this the same 'adoption law' that the State Dept refers to in it's latest posting/advisory?
I, too, have a child (9 months old) whose case is waiting in PGN. How does this law effect him and the other 1500 children waiting to come home to their families? I know that as parents we respond on this website, we write letters to UNICEF and sponsors, we call our congresspeople, but does any of this really make a difference? I have read many comments and ideas from parents on this website on other ways to make a difference, but I feel we need some leadership from you, Hannah or others to focus our efforts. What should we do to join forces to make a difference and bring our children home and help other children for the future? Please let us know and I am sure we will make it happen. I have a close professional friend who is on the Board of Directors for The Carter Center. I am visiting him on Tuesday to see if there might be someone there who would be willing to put pressure on the right people to bring our children home and keep the adoption process open in Guatemala. Please let us know how to make ourselves a real force on UNICEF and the government in Guatemala. Thank you for all you are doing to help us.
I would also like to know how this is going to affect our case which is in the PGN?
If these 9 congressmen oppose this set of adoption laws, is that enough to not have the 75 needed? Is the Nineth Montenegro adoption law that much different than the Hague Convention? What is the Valladares law? If one of these adoption laws has passed once, how soon will it have a chance to come up for rehearing?
This is the first I've heard of the campaign to limit population growth. What is the basis of this comment?
Why is the point not being made that no one who has successfully gotten through the arduous task of being approved as acceptable to adopt would never want a child that was forcibly taken from its birth mother? We want safeguards in place as well. However, is there not any kind of study out there to prove the point that these oppressive adoption laws ultimately hurt the children, even the ones who make it into the loving arms of a permanent family? What is the benefit of keeping a child in institutional care for more than 18 months of his/her life? Is it beneficial to the child? Is it of benefit to ANYONE except the egos of people who think that if they can impose more and more rules on the process that this will somehow make it a perfect situation with absolutely no corruption at all?
Your work is tireless and we are very grateful, but there is a growing sense of frustration of what to do, who to call, who to write, and what does all of this mean? What exactly is "project of law"? What is the impact on the here and now? Is there any way to find out the status of our cases? Are ANY cases coming out of PGN?
We heard about criminal charges being levied at the people of PGN (I assume), but what impact did that have?
It seems that we just keep receiving more information on top of more information that together may somehow be connected, but I fail to see the connection, the impact, the results, the change or any kind of indication how this might affect what I may do.
Please, please, if you can, read through the previous posts and see if there isn't some way this information can be brought together in a way that would answer some of the many questions posed.
You are right. The network that we have been creating can grow, but it needs direction and guidance. We are asking for that help.
My husband and I are Christians who are adopting a precious baby girl from Guatemala. God's hand has been on this adoption from the very beginning. One thing I want to share with everyone who reads this is that the Lord wants these little children to have good homes with loving parents who take them in as their own. He says to take care of the widows and orphans!
When God accepts us into His family it's through the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15) that we enter into that relationship. Adoption simply means to take into and accept someone as your own, to give them the same inheritence that you would give to your biological children (if there be any).
As we've been praying for the situation in Guatemala, the Lord lead us to the passage in Psalm 33:10-11 which says "The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations." Simply stated, "God's plans will rise above the plans of man!!" God WILL have His way in Guatemala and our children WILL come home to us soon.
I encourage each of you to keep praying, keep standing in faith and fighting the good fight. OUR CHILDREN WILL WIN AND WE WILL WIN, TOO!
God bless each of you in your process.
Lori from Indiana
This situation is really getting ridiculous. Check out Ethica.net. There are two articles talking about how "rich americans" are stealing guatemalan children and how it's estimated that "1/3 to 1/2" of all babies are given up out of some sort of coercement of the mother. UNICEF and some other organization in Guatemala are the ones getting all the publicity - all of it negative towards americans. They list several countries that decided a couple of years ago to suspend adoptions from Guatemala. They apparently saw the handwriting on the wall. UNICEF is determined to stop these adoptions and the US government is evidently unwilling to step up and demand that at least the adoptions in progress be processed. The Guatemalan organization concluded the article by saying that instead of the focus being on the children, it's now on the adopters and finding the "perfect" child. This article couldn't be more negative and influential. It seems that even though we have jumped through hoop after hoop, and paid a bunch of money, and done everything we were asked to do with regard to these adoptions, we now are being asked to solve the current problem!!! I've written to UNICEF, I've written to Laura Bush. I'll never give another dime to UNICEF. Big deal. The fact of the matter is that they have a point, they are powerful, they are rich, and they have the backing of the international community and the people in power in Guatemala. Maybe our children will eventually come home because some closed door meeting will take place between some US official and some Guatemalan official but who knows??? Yes, a FEW babies are coming out of PGN but now what??? The articles that I am reading are not only not sympathetic to our side, they are painting us as rich, greedy, americans who want perfect babies and we're willing to pay big bucks to get them no matter who we hurt in the process. How do you fight that, pray tell?
Your words are wonderful Elizabeth. That is exactly how I feel. I have done all I feel I can do, but it is getting worse and worse. My son in waiting will be 5 in one week and things are getting harder for him, for us and his brother who awaits for him here in Michigan. We also have a little girl who is waiting to come home to be with us. She will turn one in two months. It is killing me knowing that there is nothing that I can do and that things seem to be getting worse instead of better. I would love to join a support group for those of us who are waiting. As I stated, I live in Michigan. Anyone interested can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I pray the answers will come to those in power to make the right things happen and I pray for the children.
I too accepted a referral just last Friday. I don't know what this means to new cases.
Susana, you had said that for ten years there was nothing done. Please tell us what we can do if anything.
Thank you for your efforts. I wait for any and all information.
Is there even a way to rush the papers. PGN doesn't seem to be working very fast. Was this a set up? Did they have inside information to hold things up to stall until this went by congress?
Will we ever be free?
What support can we give? Is it time to let the media become involved, even though we can't necessarily trust what their take is on this? What other options are out there to spread the word about UNICEF's stand. It doesn't seem like appealing to and/or threatening to boycott corporate sponsors makes much difference. UNICEF is just too strong! We HAVE to make our message known to others!
I have heard that Secretary of State Colin Powell will be in Guatemala next week and that the best way to send a message to him that he will see before traveling is by fax: 202-647-2283.
A clarification regarding Colin Powell's trip to Central America next week. I received 2 Yahoo News Alert corrections saying that he indeed will visit Panama but not the other CA countries originally mentioned.
Im hesitate to make the following post, since I understand the frustration that all waiting families are going through. My wife and I recently finalized an adoption of a 15month old baby girl from Guatemala. The process began when our daughter was 3 weeks old, so I feel I understand everyones concerns, helplessness and the like. We all decided to adopt because we wanted to either start a family or expand a family. What is hard for many to understand or will not play well is that because we went foriegn for adoption, most of us had a choice in who we adopted. There are many children throughout the world in orphanages who are available for adoption. They are not adopted for a variety of reasons including health, age, etc.. On my recent trip to Guatemala, we met children in the orphanage who were older than our daughter who are not adopted. There are children here in the US that are older, have health issues that are available for immediate adoption. Why don't we just adopt them. For if it is "about the children" we would surely all choose this option. For most of us, it is our desire to start a family on our terms. Its ok for us to have some selfish reasons for wanting to adopt what we want. For it will be us who has to wake up when they cry, provide a home and love to these children. We know we are doing a noble thing, but we are also doing it for ourselves. We must temper our anger against the knowledge of this. The situation in Guatemala is about who controls the money. The government wants more of the action that is going to the lawyers who facilitate these private adoptions. The attorneys want the money to stay where it is. We want to get babies as early as possible. UNICEF wants to impose population controls on every country. It is a vicious cycle. I was angered during our trip to pick up our daughter to run into acouple who was picking up a 4 1/2 month old little girl. I said how could that be? Why did they get special treatment? We had to wait 14months! It became apparent that some cases get processed faster than others. Is it that some agencies are just better or is it that money talks. I think the latter. I know some of you will be angered by my post, but to finish I think everyone in the process should get what they signed up for. We all made the contract based on the program that existed at the time we decided to adopt. We need however a better rallying cry than it is "for the children" because it is only for the children we choose. Maybe we should keep emphasizing that its about a womens right to choose the options for her baby. In the end, it is truely the most important choice.
I understand your views and I agree that we should be fighting for a woman's right to choose. After all, UNICEF is not requiring a rich country like the U.S. to put all of our children into orphanages, nor would they try because we give them too much money. However, I feel the need to remind (or possibly inform) you that not all of us who are trying to adopt are with partners. It is MUCH easier for a couple to take on the responsibilities of a child with special needs, whether physical needs or emotional needs caused by years "in the system," than it is for a single person to do so. I MUST attend work daily in order to keep a roof over my head. I don't have the option of downsizing my life and staying home while my husband works for a bare minimum living. It would not be responsible for me to knowingly adopt a child who might need a parent at home daily or would find it difficult to spend some time in daycare. Nor would my social worker be a responsible professional if she recommended me as a parent for a child with great physical or emotional special needs. I am not looking for a perfect child but for a child who needs a home for whom I can responsibly care. I'm happy for you that you were able to bring your child home. I, unfortunately, will probably never get that far. I understand that, JUST LIKE BIRTH PARENTS, my desire to parent a child is in part a selfish desire - that's built into us by evolution to keep the species going. But I also understand that my RESPONSIBLE choices are limited. And, though I agree with some of what you said, I hope that others who have successfully adopted can be sensitive to the myriad of situations which bring an adoptive parent to the decision to adopt from Guatemala. It's truly not always because we want "the baby of our choice."
I am sensitive to your needs and any others in their choice to adopt from Guatemala. There were particular reasons we chose Guatemala. I merely wanted to point out that the media will have a field day with all of us who simply say its about the children. Choosing adoption is for many indivudual good reasons. We should not be ashamed of our ability to provide loving homes to the chidren we choose. Please do not give up on the fight. It is worth the wait.
While I do understand and agree with much of your viewpoint as stated here, I take GREAT exception with your implication that children who come home at an early age were somehow aided by extra money under the table. My husband and I used a reputable 20+ year old adoption agency, paid only the fees stated up front for all Guatemalan adoptions, and brought our son home on his 4 month birthday. His referral was at 16 days old and we even went through the holidays and all the vacations that are taken during that period. Our case was kicked out of PGN one time. I cannot tell you why this happened so smoothly for us but to say that we were simply lucky enough to have been randomly assigned staff in the various courts who did their jobs promptly. We have great empathy for those who wait much longer and are prepared to have a much longer wait if we ever try again. We have absolutely no contacts or friends of any kind in the country or agency and there is no way whatsoever that special favors were done for us. I am sorry that your case was one of the unlucky ones that take way too long but please do not make hasty judgements about others' cases that have negative implications. It is never a good idea to judge others' motivations, especially concerning matters of the heart. We have already lost three biological babies and an infant adoption where the children are generally healthy was the only type of adoption that we felt we could bear at the time, both emotionally and financially. Plus, we absolutely celebrated the idea of a multicultural family! And surely you'll agree that many of these same children who are today lucky enough to be adopted as babies could VERY WELL be the additional children who in the future are languishing in the orphanages..if UNICEF and others have their way....
Why oh why must people make this issue so black and white? There are so many good ways to help the children of the world (and parents too- what's so wrong with that?!!) and the way to help are NOT mutually exclusive!!
First, thank you for your constant flow of information...yours is the only reliable source I have at this point. I'd like to ask if you could please highlight the main points of the Valladares Law. I would also like to know how the process of passing this law affects cases currently in the PGN. Finally, I would like your opinion on how the upcoming elections are influencing current PGN activity and whether you feel PGN processing will be negatively affected by the elections. Thank you.
Hi everyone. I wanted to let you know that I went to the State Department Meeting today regarding the proposed Regulations on Intercountry Adoptions for the US regarding accreditation for the Hague Treaty. It was very informative-but definitely not the appropriate arena for us to voice our concerns and urgency to bring our children home. However, the good news! During breaks, I talked with the Director of Children's Issues and the Adoption Unit Chief. I told them that I was an adoptive parent in waiting for our baby boy. I told him that there were alot of us out there (900+ families). I expressed our desire as adoptive parents to unite so that we can bring our children home. They stated that we could contact them with any questions that we may have. I told them that it was a pleasant surprise to hear that they wanted to help the 'adoptive parents' as much as they could. The perception was that perhaps they were playing it safe. Anyway, I also talked with them afterwards and the Children's Issues Section is willing to have a meeting with us. I told him that I would send out an email and find out how many folks could come to DC. I recommended that we may be able to do a teleconference, etc for those who couldn't make it. Or perhaps we could compile all the questions that we have for them for those who make it to address. He did state that it would be very challenging to work with each individual-just not enough hours in each day. I said that we wanted to address the 'big picture' brainstorming. They said that they couldn't make any promises but would be very happy to support us as much as possible. So I was very excited that they were so available, sincere, kind and understanding of our plight. So please give me your feedback everyone. I told him that I would contact him next week with follow-up information. I will be happy to organize this for us if you agree this would be something you would like us to do in unity. I am anxious to find out what everyone thinks! Penny
Let me know how/when I can help with any effort.
Thanks so much for attending this meeting on our behalf. This may be a great opportunity for us to rally as a parent organization and find some needed support. I live in Atlanta, but would be happy to fly to D.C. to help. In addition, if there is work to be done to prepare a presentation or some support materials for the meeting, I would be happy to assist with that. As you hear back from other parents, let me know how I can help. I can give you my direct reach information when needed. I feel that this might be our best shot to get some consistent support from our government vs. each person contacting his/her congressperson. This is exciting news. Again, thanks for your time and efforts to make this meeting happen.
Our POA was done wrong back in June..it took almost 4 months for our agency to realize it. We are done with another one, arrived yesterday from the D.C. Guatemalan Embassy. I am sending it off tomorrow to our agency. I have visited our daughter 2x already in the last 4 months. I have really bonded with her. If the POA gets to Guatemala on Monday, would our attorney still have time to file it? How long does it take to file it? We will make the deadline before the 3 hearings and 8 day wait? Thanks, Cathy
PN - I am going to be quite harsh and I will apologize upfront. I don't think you have done due dilligence in your assessment of the situation.
Our Choices(selfishness)? I'm not sure what your point is...Yes, I am selfish about my life. Yes, our decision was because we wanted to start a family. But my ethical upbringing is not mutually exclusive of my choices.
As for your statement that short processes were due to money, this is just an ignorant statement. There are just too many reasons why a case could take 4 months and why it might take 2 years. Some agencies (like mine) did much more of the paperwork than others....which reduced possible errors. Some lawyers are extremely efficient(like mine), while some group cases and tack on significant time. Some lawyers are sloppy while others are meticulous (like mine)....and there are a LOT of variables in the process depending on whose desk your case falls. Even with the current situation, these issues STILL come into play!
You most definately cannot speak for MY motives because you do not know me. My child is already home...and yet, it is the children I think of FIRST when I update my site.
My disclaimer - I don't know you, your history or your circumstances...and I have no intention of accusing you of anything. In return, I hope you will remember that people have a right to choose the course of their life as best they can....but that does not negate their desire for what is RIGHT.
Thank you Kelly. I was starting to feel bad for what I recently posted myself because here I am venting and our son is already home. But the only reason I read these posts every day and sometimes respond is because I deeply care about the children still waiting to come home (one of whom is the future son of a good friend) and I want to try to do everything I can to get the word out about the current situaton in Guatemala...and also to help financially. Negative myths about Guatemalan adoption truly do affect all of us, no matter where we are in the process and I am ever so grateful to you for spending what must be countless hours working on this fantastic website. I don't know how you do it with a little one at home!
To all the waiting parents out there: I don't know if this is reassuring or not, but the impression we received of our Guatemalan lawyer/facilitator (who met us when we met our son) was that she was extremely caring and professional, as were all the other officials we came in contact with. I don't know if he is still there but the man who interviewed us at the U.S. Embassy was probably the nicest customer service professional I have come into contact with during the entire process. And even though she works with a large U.S. agency and probably handles hundreds of referrals, our lawyer did not appear to be wealthy by any stretch. She was driving a very old car that had been hit and the door didn't even close properly. The offices are simple and non-extravagant. The paperwork we received spelled out exactly how much the foster Mom was paid per month and what she was given for expenses. Since our case was short, yes, I am sure that the lawyers and facilitators ended up with "extra" money, if you will. But they have to have a reserve for those children who are with foster moms for a very long time. The pediatricians need to be paid as well, and vaccinations, etc. can be costly. Furthermore, they have to pay far more than we do to supply their offices with modern computer, fax, and telephone equipment to be able to communicate rapidly with the U.S. The telephone system in Guatemala City is notoriously bad (we had to try 4 times just to make a call to the airport 3 miles away) and so they all maintain cell phones as well. While I am sure that there are some unethical facilitators there (as there are in every profession!) our overall impression was of a group of friendly professionals who were dedicated to helping the kids find homes. I cannot speak for any of the other parts of the process as we did not meet them, but I strongly feel that the facilitators/lawyers are not our enemies..and in fact, in recent months have probably gone for long periods with little pay just to fight for the right for adoptions to continue...
One more thing - it may seem from all the bad press and pressure from UNICEF that the Guatemalan citizens on average are anti-adoption. I can't tell you what everyone might have been thinking as they saw us (obviously pale white Americans!) clutch our precious baby as we walked around GC, but I can tell you that the few people who did speak to us were extremely pleasant and their overall attitude was gratitude to us for taking on the lifelong care of one of their country's children. One man said he just wanted to "hug" us and we assured him that we were the lucky ones. Another family I know was stopped by a Guatemalan man on the street who told them that the children who get adopted are all considered "angels" because they are lucky and blessed to have a second chance at a better life. So please do keep the faith that what you are doing is not only a good thing, it is a WONDERFUL thing, for both you and your child, and I pray every night that all the angels will be in your arms very soon.
As I read Colleen's post, I remembered the trip my brother-in-law made to Ukraine to get their 2 sons. He had to carry $15,000 in cash for various "gifts." The trauma (my word) he had to go through to get their wonderful boys was more than my husband and I were willing to endure. That is one of the reasons we chose Guatemala. I guess my point is that I would rather the "bill" be upfront as it is with Guatemala and have "everything" be covered than to be expected to bring extra money for who knows what.
My husband and I also appreciate so much what you did in D.C. yesterday. We were praying all afternoon for the meeting.
We also would be more than glad to travel to D.C. or do WHATEVER we can to help.
We are in Ohio!
Can you please email me privetly. We are just heart broken with this whole process. I have been following my case with frequent calls to Claudia at PGN, but my facilitator feels she might not be giving me accurate information. I was told my case was just waiting on final signature and this was over 10 days ago. Today my agency says they feel I will be coming out with a previo. I was told by PGN that my paperwork was fine. Who do I believe and can you please help us. We just want our daughter home for the holidays. I am desperate. Thanks for all your informative updates, they keep me going, when all else seems depressing. Waiting on our baby girl to come home. Thanks Terri
I'm in Florida, but with a little notice, I can fly to DC for the meeting. Just let me know.
I am happy to help in anyway that I can with your plans for the meeting with the Dept. of State. Thanks for initiating this possibility. I cannot make a trip to DC, but can offer any assistance long distance.
Hello All - I just wanted everyone to know that there is still hope out there. My baby, 10 month old Jessica, will be home in a couple of weeks. She exited PGN last week. My 5 year old Jose, will hopefully coming with her. The wonderful attorneys and consultants in Guatemala are trying to get his papers out also. They entered at the same time, are identical and should leave together. I pray that eveyone has their children home quickly. Good Luck
Our family has been blesssed, also. We got the news on Thursday that our 10 month old son can come home. Our paperwork exited PGN and we are on our way to Guatemala to pick him up within the next two weeks. There is also a little girl(12 months) who is coming home from our agency also. So hopefully, this is positive news for everyone that cases are starting to clear. I have "happy cried" so much that my eyes are swollen. I can't imagine the tears when I hold him for the first time. My 5 year old daughter is now getting anxious, but I am sure she will adjust when she gets to be the big sister. Our family will stay active in assisting in any way to make sure all of the children get to come home. Thank you all for your support through your words on this website and you will all be in our thoughts and prayers.
I'm so happy to hear that some cases are finally leaving PGN. PRAISE THE LORD!! Congratulations Hope & Lee. Our 7 month old son is currently in PGN with the many others. We pray every day that we may soon hear some good news & today our prayers have been answered!! Thank you both so much for sharing your wonderful news!
God bless you on your travels.
Lee and Hope,
This is such WONDERFUL news!!!! I am overjoyed, I am sobbing like a baby as I write this - what an ENORMOUS relief it must be for you both, and your families! The long, arduous wait is finally over for you, I am so very happy for you! I will be praying that you all have safe journeys, and please let us know how you are all doing when you return!
Just thought I'd pass along the news that our agency reported having three cases successfully exit the PGN last week! They also stated that several others had been rejected for reasons that they felt were very "nit-picky". They are however still encouraged by the fact that at least these cases are being looked at rather than just sitting endlessly on someone's desk. Our case should be entering PGN any day now and I, like all of you, just want our child home soon.
Just wanted to let everyone know that my wife and I just found out that our daughter's case is out of the PGN and we will be traveling within the next 3 weeks. We were in the PGN since the middle of May. Our case came out in August with a previo. Our daughter, Maya, will be 9 months on November 15. Needless to say we are very happy and relieved to say the least. I hope this gives hope to all of you who are patiently waiting and we hope everyone gets their babies before the holidays. God bless you all.
Here is a source for the information concerning UNICEFS advocacy of abortion in Guatemala and in other nations. www.lifesite.net (click on unicef) . This source specifically mentions the Catholic Church's response to UNICEF's stance on abortion. Regardless of how we may feel about abortion, I feel that an organization like UNICEF has no business pressuring other emerging nations with their agenda, based on their (usually western) values and dangling big bucks before their governments in exchange for complicance with the solutions they prescribe.
I am just getting caught up on the latest comments . . . so happy to hear your great news! We found out that PGN kicked us out for some corrections to the paperwork on the Guatemala side, but we are back in as of yesterday. Our agency remains optimistic that we are in the final stages of review and we can only hope that we will be traveling to pick up Elena (7 mos) before year end!
Congratulations to everyone who has received similar good news over the last few weeks! We must remain positive that things are looking up!
Just got The Call today... very happy after 9 months since the referral!