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October 04, 2006

GUATEMALA AND THE HAGUE CONVENTION - More

{Posted on behalf of Susana Luarca, ADA}

The attempt of President Oscar Berger - misguided by his bad advisers - to reinstate the Hague Convention and pass the UNICEF adoption law, disguised as a "Protocol of Good Practices", could have brought him a lot of problems, because his political adversaries would have seized the opportunity with both hands, to prosecute him for usurping the power of Congress to enact laws and for violating the Constitution. The problem with Guatemalan public officers is that they think that they can get away with everything, forgetting that article 154 of the constitution says: "The public officers are holders of authority, responsible for their official conduct, subject to the law, and never above it". We understand that the government’s denial is a way to correct the mistake and to save face, so we are willing to let it go, knowing that President Berger must be very grateful that our warning saved him from having to face charges that would end his days as president sooner than planned.

As a way to keep adoptions open, we are working on the draft of a law proposal that would reconcile our legal system with the provisions of the Hague Convention. We do not oppose changes that improve transparency and accountability, but that is very different from giving to the government the exclusive power to process adoptions, because that not only would violate the Constitution in more ways than one, but would never work, as the Government does not have the resources to care for the children or to process adoptions. Everything that is being handled by the government, like education, health, public safety and social welfare is not working. (So, transferring the social welfare of the children is a concern)
The adoption process should be clear and easy to comply with and easy to oversee. The rights of the parties involved should be equally protected and the authorities should not have the power to hold the cases for more that the allowed time, otherwise they should be accountable, in the same way that the criminal judges are responsible for their unjustified delays if they keep in jail a person longer than necessary. An adoption is not only a legal process. Behind each file is the human part, a child who is growing up without a family , a family who is waiting for him and a birth mother who is tied to an adoption process, that until it is finished, does not allow her to move forward putting that painful decision behind her. We see every day, how the PGN rejects a file for an unlimited number of reasons, some of them totally groundless, and each rejection takes many weeks to be issued and then, more weeks to approve the adoption. That should not happen.

A law that makes adoptions impossible, even if it is said to be “in the best interest of the child”, would fail completely. A law, to really protect the interests of all those children who need homes, has to work. And that is what we are working very hard to get for Guatemala.

Best regards,
Susana Luarca, Asociación Defensores de la Adopción

Posted by Kelly at October 4, 2006 06:50 PM
Comments

Bravo, Susana..... The true meaning of this whole process is to find loving homes for these children and to keep the process, clean, fair and leave a little dignity for the mother's who bravely place their children in a better situation. Thanks for reminding us that not only do the children and adoptive families wait, but in Guatemala this situation continues to make the decision the birth mother's make even harder for them too. Thank you for being there for all parties of this process. Sandi

Posted by: Sandi at October 4, 2006 08:31 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with you on a law that would protect the rights of the parties involved and that the authorities shouldn't have the power to hold cases for more than the allowed time, or they would be held accountable. Besides the waiting adoptive family and the waiting child, I have often thought of the birth mother that has to go through this whole process, as well, and relive the pain of giving her child up. Not right at all. All the best as you work towards helping to bring about new adoption laws.

Arvella

Posted by: Arvella at October 4, 2006 08:51 PM

I feel the law is failing as I have been in minors court for 4 months and waiting for my son since the referal on 07=12-05. When will the dam break for those of us here? I have watched him get teeth in pictures, walk in pictures and now the crib will probably get no use. Grandparents hearts are hurting too along with the parents. Thanks for the work you do Ms. Susana...you are a light at the end of a tunnel and its not the train.

Posted by: Robyn at October 4, 2006 08:52 PM

I would like to thank Susana with ADA for every thing she is doing to help continue adoptions in Guatemala. I would also like to know, however, what is the problem with these poor children who are stuck in the system because of problems with their birth mothers birth certificates. My baby girl, Kimberly, is over 14 months old. Bolanos agency is handling this adoption and hired you to assist with an inscription. I was told by them that you guaranteed it would be done in less than 30 days. It is going on 6 weeeks now. I was told on September 12th that it was done and documents were coming back to be submitted to PGN, however, this was not true and nobody can seem to tell me what's going on. I even had to hire Adoption Supervisors. You're right about putting these birth mothers through this process. It must be horrible for them to have to give up a child and then 14 months later still having to deal with it. What do you think I am going through? I am a single mother and this is my only chance. I know there are others in the same situation. All I ask for is honest answers from my agency, Bolanos and whoever else is involved. Thank you again for all of your dedication and hard work. It must be overwhelming, but I want MY child and hope that you can help.

Posted by: Pamella at October 4, 2006 08:55 PM

Susana, I pray daily that you are able to succeed in implementing a new plan that would be to the benefit of all the parties involved and Hague compliant. God Bless you for your hard work for the children who need a family to call their own and for adoptive families, who want nothing more than a child to love.

Posted by: Darcy at October 4, 2006 09:28 PM

after what is currently 18 weeks in PGN I believe without question some type of oversight if not overhaul is neccessary. Our file has just received its sixth previo and is yet again awaiting another kickout per A.S. who is following it closely while in the confines of pgn itself. We had our file thrown out in June then July then August then September and now anticipating the forementioned October kickout. If all goes well we will re enter this week with the hope of a six week turnaround on the file which then get us out of pgn after what well would have been a 24 week process. YES 24 weeks as in just two weeks shy of one half of a year. this is absurd. Our first 4 previos dealt with an improper handling of the POA while the last two were in the realm of decertifying notary stamps to prevent their fraunulent use in the future as well as the ever necessary most recent medical update which was not placed in our file by our inefficient facilitator. REFARDLESS PGN HAS BECOME THE WILD ANIMAL THAT IS RECKLESS IN ITS PURSUITS, AND I PRAY THAT THAT SAME ANIMAL BE TAMED SOONER RATHER THAN LATER

Posted by: david and tiffany gilbert at October 4, 2006 11:13 PM

Thanks Susana,
I had never thought of the hardship suffered by the birth mothers being tied to such a emotionally complicated process. It is a great point of view to bring up. I thank God every day that my daughter's birth family was brave enough to make adoption plans for her and bless me with the priviledge of being her mother.

Keep them on their toes!!!
Nancy

Posted by: Nancy Johnson at October 5, 2006 12:43 AM

Thank you for your tireless effort Susana. I know the battle is continuous but we all appreciate it!

As I enter my 7 th month in PGN - I can't imagine the pain the birth mother faces, nor the future pain of the foster mother who will have to let a toddler go! I just wish my little girl will come home soon!
Rose

Posted by: Rose at October 5, 2006 07:49 AM

Thanks Susan... Our case was kicked out of PGN due to supposingly an error in a report from the Guatemalan Social Worker. Our attorney said he proved the KO was incorrect and re-submitted us back in. When are they going to get their act together? Do they really care about the children? Why do they get pleasure out of silly KO's that don't make sense; they should be embarrased.

Posted by: Kelly Ann at October 5, 2006 09:54 AM

I guess I don't understand what is behind all the kick outs in PGN. What do they gain from a kickout for a signature or an accent mark? I understand that some are legitimate, but I was ko'd last week for a "signature" (whatever that means) and was re-submitted the same day. Who benefits from that? Definately not the children, the adopting families, the foster families or the birth mothers. Is the only benefit some perverse sense of power that is gained by the person doing the reviewing? Laughing at the stupid Americans? I just don't get it. I have heard and read countless horror stories from families stuck at the PGN stage, but I've never seen an explanation as to why this happens to some and not others. What am I missing? Does anyone know? I'd really like to know if anyone has an answer.

Posted by: Amy L.. at October 5, 2006 03:11 PM

I do not want to discourage all those waiting parents, but we received our referral for a 14 mo old boy on Feb. 25th 2005. As far as I know, our 1st ko was Nov, 2005. We received another one of many KO's July 27th. At that point I did not have any confidence in anyone and I was forced to hire Adoption Supervisors. I felt really good about the situation until today. AS told me that our case made it through the reviewers at PGN and was sitting on the directors desk to be signed. Our adoption agency just emailed to tell me that we had yet another previo. A problem that was suppposedly already resolved. I am pretty devastated at this point. After emailing AS, I was told they would check on it and talk to my attorney tomorrow. It seems that there is really no magic bullet.

M in PA

Posted by: MK at October 5, 2006 05:28 PM

I wonder how many families there are who are looking at bringing home children well after their first birthday. The little infant turned toddler we are trying to bring home is now 16 months old. We have been in PGN since Dec 2005.
I am not sure what benefit there is to kick out cases for such insignificant things. I sit back and wonder how many cases are out there like ours? Reading this thread, I am concerned that there are many. Adoption Supervisors is working along with my agency to bring our baby (toddler) home. I have even heard that Susan may be involved on our case (Thank you Susan for doing this because this has brought me a sense of peace in the midst of a storm). I just wonder how many of us had to find extra help along the way. I just wonder how much is on the plate of these people who are working hard to bring these babies home...God bless them.
Also, it has been said many times but it seems that there are some that just fly through this system and there are other cases that hit every roadblock there is to hit. We have had a minor birth mother interview, PGN investigation, and now a kick out for rectification of Birth mother's birth certificate. I do not believe in bad luck. Although it seems for many when it rains it pours but I don't think this is a coincidence.

However, my faith in the Lord in this process has grown and this is one blessing I have gladly taken and will treasure. I am trusting in His time but my home is not complete and there is a sadness and numbness here felt by me, my husband, and my boys. Even our prayers seem rote and lifeless lately. My five year old boy prays in monotone "and God let that,um,'paper' be good at the courts'PNG'place?...please...that man to sign...let Gabbie (Ana) come home, amen." It is sad when even a 6 years dreams are stripped to where they don't even really believe in those pictures on the screen of their future sister.

Praise God in advance for that day we will be bringing her home,
Jennifer
(9 months of labor in PGN and waiting still)

Posted by: Jennifer Van Wieren at October 5, 2006 09:38 PM

For Pamella with Bolanos...I am in the same situation you are. I would like to contact you, but do not want to give a good address here. If you will, please email me at ggeorge@always-online.com, I will get back to you. (this is a trash account) Hope to hear from you soon.

Posted by: Gayle at October 5, 2006 09:59 PM

I too feel so saddened by what the birthmothers (and then foster mothers) have to go through when the process drags on so long. It has to be traumatic enough to just do it, but when a birthmother is interviewed repeatedly and asked the same questions in 4 separate interviews as ours has been (so far!), it seems cruel. We went with the Guatemala program despite having already experienced a wonderful adoption process with China b/c we thought our 2nd daughter would be a younger baby when she came home from Guatemala. She will be older than her big sister from China was at "Gotcha Day" possibly many, many months older.

We are in our 5th month in PGN, and have been told it could easily be 6-12 more months before we are out. The system stinks from my vantage point!

Posted by: Lis at October 5, 2006 10:18 PM

Jennifer,
I feel for you. We too have a toddler that is now almost 18 months old. We rec, our referrel when she was three months old. It is trully a tradgedy. Senseless wasted time. But in the end I know it will all be worth. His timing, his way. Keep the prayers flowing. Also using SJI for help.
Kim

Posted by: Kim at October 6, 2006 08:25 AM

Susana,
I can't thank you enough for fighting for our children. You were our atty during our adoption, and I was grateful to have you on our side then, too. Thank you for all your work on behalf of our children, their birthmothers, and us-the adoptive parents.
-Melanie

Posted by: Melanie at October 6, 2006 10:28 AM

We recently were hit with another round of spam comments on the site. While removing inappropriate material, I believe I may have removed some other comments accidentally.

Sorry for the inconvenience.....

Posted by: Kelly (guatadopt.com) at October 6, 2006 02:47 PM

Dear Susana,

If you and others are working on a legislative reform proposal to make the private adoption system Hague-compliant, this sounds like a GREAT opportunity to reform the role of the buscadoras!!!

Would it be possible to put the buscadoras and intermediaries on salary, instead of paying them $6,000 to $10,000 per baby that they bring for adoption? Or to find some other way to reach out to pregnant women and assist them in connecting with lawyers when they want to relinquish?

There have been too many believable reports of birthmothers being paid large amounts of cash, and some birthmothers have been open about relinquishing for the money.

The buscadoras are receiving such large amounts of money! If they were on a fixed salary, then there would be no financial incentive for them to do anything questionable like offering women money, and they could still play their helping role.

This change would be powerful in answering the questions of many adoptive families, and of people who distrust the system, both in Guatemala and in the international community.

It would be wonderful to see adoptions continue from Guatemala, and to be able to be sure that the mothers of babies who are being placed for adoption truly wanted and needed to do so, and were not sometimes motivated by the offer of cash.

I hope that some change will be possible.

respectfully,

Tesi
p.s. I wrote a similar comment yesterday that was apparently deleted -- the words were different, but the ideas are the same.

Posted by: Tesi at October 6, 2006 05:49 PM

I thought Guatemala was going to be easier then other countries especially being a single male? S

Posted by: John Harris at December 19, 2006 09:20 AM
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