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March 14, 2007

New DOS FAQ

The US DOS has issued a new FAQ on Guatemalan adoptions. This is one more in a series of ominous notices coming from them that parents considering starting a Guatemalan adoption need to consider seriously. This should be appearing on their website soon but can be read below.

Guatadopt is working on some commentary for parents considering starting an adoption from Guatemala.

DOS FAQ
March 14, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions: Prospective Adoptive Parents of Guatemalan Children

Q: I have already begun the process of adopting from Guatemala but have not been matched with a child. After reading the information on your webpage, I am concerned. Do you recommend that I pursue adoption from Guatemala?

A: Although we understand many U.S. families have adopted children from Guatemala in the past, we cannot recommend adoption from Guatemala at this time. The situation in Guatemala has changed. There are serious problems with the adoption process in Guatemala, which does not protect all children, birth mothers, or prospective adoptive parents. The Guatemala government is planning to implement new adoption processing procedures to increase protections. The United States is also scrutinizing individual cases more closely than before. We recommend that you bear these facts in mind when choosing a country from which to adopt.

Q: What are the problems in Guatemala?

A: The major U.S. Government concerns about the Guatemalan adoption process include:

Conflicts of Interest: Guatemalan notaries may act as judges and determine a child’s eligibility for adoption and issue a final adoption decree. In the same case where he or she is acting as judge, the notary or his/her staff may also directly interact with birth mothers, solicit consents for an adoption, and handle the referral of the child to prospective adoptive parents. The Department of State does not believe that the notaries, given these multiple roles, can truly act objectively and in the best interests of the various parties.

Lack of Government Oversight: Despite these critical roles in the adoption process, the notaries are largely unregulated. Public oversight is minimal. Particularly in cases in which prospective adoptive parents are told that the birth mother relinquished her rights to her child voluntarily, the U.S. Government is concerned that social services to birth mothers are extremely limited and that their consents may have been induced by money or threats. Monetary incentives and high fees drive completion of the adoption more than protecting the children, the birth parents, and the prospective adoptive parents. The Department is aware of a growing number of cases of adopting parents who have told us that they are being extorted for very large amounts of money by their local representatives in order to complete an adoption.

Unregulated Foster Care: Like the notaries, Guatemalan foster care providers are not regulated or checked by the Guatemalan government for compliance with any standards. Many Guatemalan foster families have demonstrated their love and concern for the children in their care, and American adoptive parents have expressed gratitude for how the foster families cared for the children while the adoptions were in process. Unfortunately, however, the Department of State is also aware of instances of grossly inadequate care for young children in foster home situations. There are cases in which American adoptive families who have completed a Guatemalan adoption later learned that the foster care provider or others in the household had physically or sexually abused the children.

Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption: Guatemala has been a party to the Hague Convention since March 2003, but it has never enacted Hague-consistent legislation or instituted Hague-consistent practices that would provide children the protections that are now lacking. Guatemala has not established the required “central authority” to oversee intercountry adoption processing under the Convention and has not yet taken numerous other steps the Convention requires. The U.S. Department of State, the Hague Permanent Bureau (which oversees the Convention) and other countries have consistently expressed concern about these and other problems with Guatemalan adoptions. In fact, many Hague Convention countries have stopped adoptions from Guatemala.

Q: If the United States sees so many problems in the Guatemalan process, why has it continued processing adoption cases and continued to permit Guatemalan children to come to the United States?

A: The U.S. Government continues to process adoption cases, but subjects each case to detailed review. For example, in 1998 the United States instituted mandatory DNA testing for Guatemalan women who stated intentions to relinquish their children. This measure was taken in response to numerous cases in which impostors who were not the children’s actual birth mothers attempted to relinquish rights to children who were not theirs.

Even with DNA testing, however, it has become increasingly clear that the current adoption process in Guatemala does not protect all children adequately. U.S. authorities have therefore increased their scrutiny of all adoption cases. This increased scrutiny means more time will be needed to conduct individual case investigations and that each case will take longer to process. Similarly, more cases may be denied because the facts uncovered during the investigation show the child is not classifiable as an orphan under U.S. law.

Q: My agency is very reliable and they tell me that the adoption process they use in Guatemala is good and transparent. Can I rely on their assurances?

A: The Department of State has long advised all prospective adoptive parents, irrespective of the country from which they are hoping to adopt, to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, prospective adoptive parents should contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.

Even if a U.S. adoption agency has an unblemished record with such offices, however, and even if the agency itself is operating completely with the best intentions, the lack of oversight and regulation over the other actors in the Guatemalan adoption process make it extremely difficult for even the most ethical agency to be completely certain that everything has been done in accordance with the law and in the best interests of all the parties.

Q: What if I have begun the process of adoption from Guatemala and my child has already been identified? I consider this child my child and I cannot walk away at this point.

A: At this time, the U.S. Embassy is continuing to adjudicate each adoption case based on the merits of the information provided in that individual case. The Embassy, however, will adjudicate each case with even more scrutiny than has been its practice in the past. In addition, Guatemalan authorities have recently indicated that they plan to look more closely at each adoption case. Guatemala has introduced a new manual of adoption good practices. At this time, we cannot predict the full effect of the new manual on current or future cases. We do expect that processing individual cases will take longer due to the necessity of government scrutiny.

Q: My agency tells me that it is unlikely that Guatemala will change its adoption laws this year, because of elections and other political factors. Isn’t this good for me, because my case may not be delayed?

A: Adopting a child in a system that is based on a conflict of interests, that is rampant with fraud, and that unduly enriches facilitators is a very uncertain proposition with potential serious life-long consequences. When you decide whether to move forward with adoption in Guatemala, you should consider factors beyond timing. Some American prospective adoptive parents are deciding against adoption from Guatemala now because they do not want to support negative child welfare practices. In addition, a child’s long-term psychological well-being may be affected if the child later learns that his birth family did not freely choose to give him up or that he, and perhaps siblings, were “produced” for the sole purpose of adoption. U.S. parents have also discovered that their adoptive children have undisclosed serious special needs due to inadequate foster care and/or fraudulent medical information.

Q: We only want to adopt a child who is truly eligible for adoption and most certainly a child whose birth parents have legally terminated their parental rights. With these goals, can we adopt in Guatemala?

A: For the reasons stated above, we cannot say that the system of adoption currently in effect in Guatemala provides any assurances that your goals can be met.

Q: I understand that the process in Guatemala does not adequately protect children, but there are children in the adoption process now who will be hurt if adoptions are stopped abruptly. Will there be a process to help those children?

A; A number of foreign governments and non-governmental organizations have pledged their willingness to help the Government of Guatemala with technical support for a new adoption process with reliable oversight. Many good practices have already been identified.

Posted by Kevin at March 14, 2007 02:30 PM
Comments

OK SO DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THOSE OF US WHO HAVE ACCEPTED A REFERRAL, GOTTEN OUR POA REGISTERED AND OUR 171H? CC

Posted by: cc at March 14, 2007 03:06 PM

Thanks for posting this information.

This is a very sad state of affairs all the way around.

It does seem things are going to get worse before they get better. There appears to be a wave of bad press building--there were articles today in The Oregonian and in The Guardian in the UK and one a few days ago on Aljazeera's web site. The foreign pieces are particularly upsetting because they are suggesting that American parents are turning a blind eye to trafficking.

I really pray that this system can be fixed, and quickly.

Posted by: Kelly at March 14, 2007 03:09 PM

OK, so now I'm sick to my stomach. Does this mean:
-if you do not have a referral=forget it
-if you have a referral=delays, if you're lucky to pass scrutinization
-children left behind=Unicef
Marie

Posted by: marie at March 14, 2007 03:22 PM

What does this mean for those of us who are in PGN? Are we going to bring our children home anytime soon?

Posted by: Victoria at March 14, 2007 03:25 PM

I think this is a very political move to continue to pressure the Guatemalan government to ratify the Hague.

I still feel those of us in PGN will bring our children home. We did everything by the book and our adoptions should be approved.

Posted by: Nancy at March 14, 2007 03:57 PM

Hello, and thank you for your contributions to adoption and for serving as a steady voice for us Kevin.

This is very discouraging for my wife and I. We have limited choices for international adoption because of our age, and once again, the best of intentions are likely to lead to the cessation of all good works.

The adoption process in the US is so byzantine and fraught with uncertainty that we hoped to go abroad, but now that hope is dimming, especially when one considers that the infrastructure required to provide the oversight the DCS is discussing for Guatemala simply does not exist.

I believe that the outcomes of large beuracratic interventions are, most often the utter cessation of progress and growth and sometimes tragic collapses of existing systems.

Oddly - it is we the law-abiding that suffer - the lawless don't follow the laws anyway, and the most draconian crack-down on judges and facilitators will not effect the trafficking in children one iota. It will only have the effect of moving children with a future in government institutions that much further from hope.


Adam

Posted by: Adam Ward at March 14, 2007 04:19 PM

First off, I don't think anyone has a clear way to know exactly what DOS is saying. They certainly do not give Guatadopt nay inside scoop.

I think you need to read exactly what they are saying. To me, and just my take on it, is that there are serious issues with the current process that seem to be getting worse. Anyone considering just getting started should know the risks and realize that there are no guarantees you will be able to bring a child home. For now, the US is not stopping adoptions but there's a chance they could in the suture. No one knows what will happen on the Guatemalan side. Expect that in-process will be delayed due to greater scrutiny.

As for the part about the Guatemalan side. The ADA has made it clear that they believe they can successfully challenge implementation of the protocolo. For those of us who went through the Hague Fiasco in 2003, we trusted them and they were correct. But things are a political hotbed right now and I don't think even the ADA can guarantee where consitutionality may end and political pandering may begin.

Ultimately, everyone adopting or considering it is an adult and needs to know the risks. But let us not forget about the children.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at March 14, 2007 05:10 PM

Someone explain to me what is wrong with the process:
1. Birth mother agrees to adoption
1a. Agreement is via Attorney in Guatemala
2. Social worker interviews birth mother
3. Family court approves that the child can be adopted
3a. US Embassy investigates and approves.
4. PGN checks paperwork.

These "serious problems with the adoption process" are very simular to the United States adoption Process just Substitute State attorney General for PGN, and State Department of Child and Families for US embassy investigation.


mike

Posted by: Mike at March 14, 2007 05:16 PM

Kevin,

How did you receive this information if it is not yet posted on the US DOS website?

Posted by: B at March 14, 2007 05:26 PM

It was e-mailed to their list of adoption agencies as well as to some families that had sent them questions.

Trust me, we don't post fake stuff!

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at March 14, 2007 05:38 PM

Appreciate the information. You might not like this post, but I bet more than a few are feeling this way. We are one day entering PGN, but who the h*ll knows now. Reading this posting from DOS, despite all the homework and good intentions we did prior to selection Guatemala last year, I feel like there is no way I would have chosen to start the process in Guatemala: notaries acting as judges? cases of sexual abuse? monetary incentives and threats? Sorry but if this was a well known set of circumstances it should have been more broadly known before - like 1998, when the DNA testing was started? What is wrong with DOS? Now I have a child I consider my son, in Guatemala city somewhere and feel rather misled by DOS and our agency. I have to believe he is in good hands and not a product of cooercement of his parents. This is sickening, shame on DOS and the adoption agencies for having held this type of information so close that it only comes out now. We the adoptive parents go into this faithfully and with the best intentions and it costs real money and heartache and to find out we did not have all the facts is wrong. At the very least I feel that much more strongly about our son's welfare now that it has been confirmed what a state of affairs is the international adoption relationship between the US and Guatemala. Truly dissappointed in the US State Department and the adoption coordinators.

Posted by: Keith at March 14, 2007 06:02 PM

Kevin, again, thanks for your insight and for keeping us all informed. This is tough for all of us, I'm waiting on my 171H and praying for the best. The alternative is to forget the children we already love. I hope that does not happen for any of us.~Melissa

Posted by: Melissa at March 14, 2007 06:40 PM

this is so sad - what about the kids?

Posted by: Betty Jean Perez at March 14, 2007 06:42 PM

Kevin,

Thank you for keeping us informed. It is very hard to hear/read when we just want our babies home. We need to remember that it is more about the children and not us personally. Not panicing in the key so that we can all make good decisions and be active in the process itself.

Thank you again Kevin for allowing us to be informed.

Lisa

Posted by: Lisa at March 14, 2007 06:43 PM

I imagine that the "serious problems" with the system are that a.) the same person who decides whether the child is adoptable is also the person who finalizes the adoption and, evidently, sometimes also the person who solicits children for adoption. This really is a conflict of interest, because if that is a person who coerces mothers into giving up their children when they don't want to, then the adoption procedes and the mother is crowded out much easier than if it is a separate person. and b.) if a birth mother IS coerced, and she tries to claim her right and is ignored, she has no viable recourse in Guatemala because, not only is there no enforcement of laws protecting her legal rights and helping her to keep her child, but that child is gone from the country and God only knows where she is to look.

It really is not the same as if a mother in the US faced these same problems. Here, she would know where to find the child, or where to start looking, and there are no international boundaries stopping her from making her case to a judge.

and c.) there really are no social programs available to Guatemalan women, to help them to raise their children in the absence of a father. This means that many women have no recourse but to give up their children to strangers and (in most cases) never, ever, ever, see them again or even know if they are alive. Their only other option, in most cases, is to watch that child (or their other children) slowly starve to death. If you were a single mother in that situation, how would you feel about it? Would you want the availability of aid, so you could keep your child? Or, at least, so you had the choice of whether to keep them or let them go?

These are the main things we should consider, as parents. The government has many agendas (as does UNICEF), but as parents, our main concerns are the children, and empathy with other parents. That means considering the birthmothers as parents, rather than just as these faceless women who choose to have and give away children. They may face horrible choices, and it is up to us to rally behind them, and make sure it really is a choice, and not a last resort!

In these things, we can freely support the ideas behind the Hague, even in our disappointment that Hague-ratified countries often end-- or put on hold-- future adoptions while they try to figure out how to implement it. I know it's terrible to think of adoptions ending, and the ends do not justify the means, but this is the intent behind the drive to better the process, to protect all involved!

Posted by: sheila at March 14, 2007 07:04 PM

Thank you Kevin for keeping us informed. This site is a blessing
to me, and I am sure many other
families. Lets not all lose faith
and we must try to be cautiously
optimistic.

Thank You
Kathleen

Posted by: Kathleen at March 14, 2007 07:54 PM

Keith,

I have to totally agree with you. I never would have picked Guatemala if I had even an ickling of any of the problems that have surfaced. We decided to adopt because we love children and because we truly desired to rescue an orphan. If the case is not absolutely legitimate, I would feel horrible.

Posted by: Kristen at March 14, 2007 08:08 PM

Hi there...I have just read everyone's comments and am too, really upset by them.

We have just decided this week to adopt and are very limited as to our choices. My husband has multiple divorces and is a bit older than I...over 50.

Adam (in particular)...I read you were hoping for Guatemala because of the age issue. What other info have you received as to your options?

Thanks...
Jen HD

Posted by: Jen HD at March 14, 2007 10:03 PM

Keith and Kristen,
I feel the same way as you. I would of never picked Guatemala if I knew about all the fraud going on. It does make me worry more about my baby now. What will happen to him if adoptions cease in the middle of the process? Will his foster mother be able to keep him? Can she afford it. It all makes me very sad.......I'm hoping my baby really is an orphan and not an infant that was made to sell or coerced to give up. The reality of it all is whatever his circumstances were....He is an orphan now.......

Posted by: Roseann at March 14, 2007 10:08 PM

There is a new post at www.adaguatemala.org with ADA's set of FAQ that may shed some light on the matter.
Susana Luarca

Posted by: Susana Luarca at March 14, 2007 10:26 PM

Keith and others. We began our adoption research nearly 2 years ago and brought home our 4 year old son last April. I have to say that I personally spent a lot of time researching the process and agencies. I did read of some of the issues that DOS now has illuminated, but I guess I assumed that they were the "exceptions" to the rule. It seemed to me at the time that countries like Russia and Ukraine were even more corrupt. While I'm sure all of us would cringe at the idea that our child was the result of some immoral relinquishment, I can't honestly say that I thought that the *chances* of that in my case were NOT high. It felt like the odds of being struck by a bus.

To this day, I am still not convinced that much of the "evidence" of abuse isn't the tail wagging the dog. In other words, people do not get motivated to change a process over issues like "conflict of interest" What motivates change is dramatic stories of abuse and coercion. I do understand the conflict of interest piece and it is unusual for notaries to act as they do but hey....the government was NOT stepping up to take care of their children so the "private" sector did. Was it driven by money and greed? Perhaps in some cases but from my 3 visit trip to Guatemala, ALL the people I met I truly believed worked in the profession because of a LOVE and compassion for the children. Are there problems - YES, I am sure, Abuses, YES - just like there are no doubt abuses and problems with the U.S. system. Please - how many foster home in the U.S. are discovered to be inadequate each year??? We have an oversight system and still children are abused in U.S. foster care.

I wish DOS did a better job of putting the abuses into perspective. It is one thing to state that the system needs more oversight and less conflict of interest (what process doesn't need improvements) but to hi-light and possibly dramatize the issues of coercion and abuse seems hard to believe. Some might argue that even one case of abuse is too many - perhaps I am just not that idealistic????

How many of the 4,000 cases processed last year do they suspect had coercion, abuse or mistreatment? I just can't imagine that the percentage is high!!!! If I was told the number was 10% I would be taken aback. From following posts for 2 years, I would guess that it was 50 out of 4,000. Any experts here willing to weigh in??

Sadly, I think that the pressure to implement the Hague will result in a hault at some point - but hopefully they all learned from the previous Hague situation how NOT to handle the cases in progress. I also have to believe that DOS is posting statements with subliminal messages to the Guate sectors. They want the Guate side to be scared so that they step up and change. In doing so, they scare all of us. I have close friends that are in process with their adoption and they do not know what to think. I do not think that anyone really knows what is going to happen yet and DOS will continue to set expectations very low. I hope this is a tactic - it is hard to believe that they will not allow cases "in progress" to simply terminate. I bet it will just take longer. If you are in PGN, I would think your odds are good that you will see the other side. As people are steering away from Guatemala, perhaps the cases in progress will lessen and the current work load will be lighter so that even with additional scrutiny, they will get these cases done. You all have my prayers. Thanks for letting me ramble. Jane

Posted by: Jane at March 14, 2007 10:44 PM

I'm trying to be careful how I word this. I guess I have 3 comments.
1. I am sickened about the allegations of physical and sexual abuse. As previous posters have mentioned, now, all of a sudden, the DOS is mentioning this?
2. In relation to these allegations of abuse, I'm sorry, but the US foster care system also has it's cases of abuse as well. I am NOT saying that any abuse is right. It's is WRONG WRONG WRONG and should be corrected both in Guatemala and in the US. But on some levels, the phrase "takes one to know one" comes to mind.
3. Again, in reference to the alleged abuse, I find it ironic that the DOS's stance to solve the problem is to increase scrutiny, which will cause delays. HHmmmm, let's see...you're telling me that there's a chance that MY child is being abused in his foster home. So, the US is going to take longer to process MY child's adoption, so that MY child has every opportunity to stay in foster care even longer, increasing the amount and/or severity of such alleged abuse. WHAT? How about this...if you have concerns about the foster care system, WORK FASTER to help us bring our children home to a safe place.

I'm off to fire more e-mails to my legislators. Please join me in doing so. Thank you!

Posted by: Kris at March 15, 2007 01:42 AM

The inhumanity of this situation is excruciating! By the time most people adopt they have already exhausted other means of having a child. When my Daughter and Son-in-law called to tell me they were adopting a child from Guatemala I was thrilled. The pain and suffering of going through the series of invitro procedures and losses of babies was devastating. I remember saying to them "Do this! This is a baby that needs a home, and you are a home that needs a baby!" I realize now how naive and simple this thinking was.
This process is in many ways is a circumstantially prolonged labor of birth. The sheer mental and emotional torture, financial strain and sacrifice,and heartache is unimaginable to others. Nurseries and loving homes awaiting children to lift them out of temorary homes and a poor nation unable to adequately take care of them. Where is the humanity for the child? I am an educator and I find this process by both countries to be horrific.
If everything is done by the book, the DNA established, the child already matched with petitioning parents, why this lengthing wait of adoption and bringing them home to start their life? So many questions and so few answers...just the anguish of knowing this child will have to transition and rebuild relationships, adapt to new language, and environment, etc. later then sooner and stealing the time of initial baby growth and moments from both the desperately loving adopting parents, stronger bonding with the foster families who have to turn these children over, and the innocent baby having to be challenged to yet another social and emotional adaption to life itself. Timely policy and procedures, reasonable time lines based on healthy baby research,establishing reliable and honest knowlege of the why and how the parent is giving the child up for adoption before there is a matching with the petitioning parent (DNA done initially, etc.) seems better, at least to me. Again, so many questions and too little in the way of answers. This child would be my Grandson and I await him with all the excitement of his awaiting and loving parents. My heart is breaking for my children, all of you who are in this unforgiveable situation, and most especially for the children. My heart full prayers for each and every person touched by this prolonged torturous procedure from both countries, and most especially every child.

Posted by: ronee groff at March 15, 2007 03:01 AM

Sheila- Your comments: "in these things, we can freely support the ideas behind the Hague, even in our disappointment that Hague-ratified countries often end-- or put on hold-- future adoptions while they try to figure out how to implement it. I know it's terrible to think of adoptions ending, and the ends do not justify the means, but this is the intent behind the drive to better the process, to protect all involved!" Sheila, please explain how the Hague has helped the children of Romania. Marie

Posted by: marie at March 15, 2007 03:48 AM

I believe Sheila is saying that the spirit and intent of the Hague is admirable. It's implementation has been horrible. The challenge is how to achieve the goals without having the negative results.

Kevin

Posted by: Kevin at March 15, 2007 06:45 AM

I am so disgusted by our own government's hypocrisy that I can't even see straight right now. Truly, the United States government makes me sick with its arrogance and "Big Brother" attitude. Yes, the US government clearly knows what is best for everyone, in every country of the world.

As others have already pointed out, the domestic adoption process in the United States is often fraudulent! And I can barely even contain myself that the US government would dare to criticize the foster care of another nation, when this country's foster care is absolutely horrendous!! While my two daughters were in foster care prior to our adoption of them, they were shuffled to multiple homes over a series of three years and experienced additional neglect, sexual abuse, and other victimization. And that is WITH "government oversight!" The US GOVERNMENT DOES NOT DO AN ADEQUATE JOB PROTECTING ITS OWN CHILDREN!!!!

I am also appalled by the comment that implies that American parents just want babies and don't care where they come from; and that we should consider the child's "long-term psychological well-being" at discovering he or she was just produced for adoption or whatever. That comment is so patronizing that I am nauseated. And there is also the brutally sad fact is that if these children ARE already here and born anyway, they still need loving homes with permanency! Is it better that they endure lives of abject poverty in institutions? Oh, wait, I'm sure the institutions will be lovely with the foreign governments and NGOs stepping in. How much better that is than having parents who love and care.

I am confident that our son's case is going to pass all the increased scrutiny, but I am just horrified for Guatemalan babies who have not been placed and now may never be placed.

It's an additional outrage that the DOS statement ignores the vast majority of adoptions that ARE legitimate, that truly help the children and allow birth mothers to know the children they must give up will have good lives with loving parents and freedom from the poverty and despair that many of them endure. I remember a saying, "bad cases make poor law." The minority of bad cases here shouldn't cause the harmful delays to children who are legitimately relinquished and have loving parents waiting.

If a child truly were taken from birth parents against their will, and the birth parents wanted that child back, I think the last thing any of us would want to do is take that child away. I disagree with the post that parents in Gautemala have no recourse--with the birth mother having to sign off FOUR TIMES AND APPEAR FOR DNA, how is it that she is completely unprotected?

Yes, some of the legitimate problems in Guatemalan adoptions need fixing--but not at the expense of the children who wait.

I think we should fight for the children of Guatemala, both in our country and to whatever extent we can in Guatemala.

I would like the Guatemalan people to know that at least this American is appalled by US hypocrisy and arrogance (no wonder the rest of the world hates us), that we truly want what is best for the children and families of origin in Guatemala, and that we have more respect for their country than the DOS statement implies.

Posted by: Wendy at March 15, 2007 07:24 AM

I would simply urge caution and patience on the part of all of us adopting parents and more prudence on the part of the DOS.

The bottom line is that all 3 parts of the adoption triad must be protected. And quite frankly, the child is the most important side. In reality, the DOS is tasked with protecting American's interests first, and this is what I read in the first part of their FAQ. This explains the warning not to start the process now.

Since DOS has no control over regulating what happens in Guatemala, they can only issue a warning. So they are bringing to the forefront some examples of corruption and abuse, presumably to put some pressure on Guatemala to create better oversight. I'm also puzzled as to why they would over-play this so much. Pressure on the home country is really the only means they have to affect change,

It seems like DOS is just not expressing their intentions clearly. They are trying to say too much in a single release - talking about abuse within foster homes and by adoption facilitators in the same document. This leaves the impression that they wish to allow children to languish in lousy foster homes while they delay cases under review.

If you read carefully, this statement sticks out:
"Similarly, more cases may be denied because the facts uncovered during the investigation show the child is not classifiable as an orphan under U.S. law."

This tells me that what they are most concerned about is corruption during the relinquishment phase. I'm not sure I can blame them for that.
What's needed here is a brief explanation of classifiable as an orphan. Does a legit relinquishment with abuse by the foster family negate the classification? I've never heard of that before.
I guess I'll be accused of sugar coating, but I just see this as a case of lousy communication rather than lousy policy. Not really surprising if you think about it.

Posted by: GDS at March 15, 2007 08:09 AM

Marie,
My understanding of the situation in Romania is that Hague and UNICEF had little to do with it. I could very well be wrong here. I heard that some Romanian official had adopted a boy from a Mid-Eastern country. When he got older, he rejected her for some reason. She then made it her job to pass the law disallowing all international adoptions so that no one would have the horrible experience she did. Of course she never paused to think that her situation was rare and unique.
Again, my understanding. Please, correct me if I am wrong.

Posted by: Cathy at March 15, 2007 08:29 AM

I have hesitated in responding - because I didn't want my adotion worker who also visits this site to think that I was the same Sheila as the one who wrote the earlier comment. I agree with Kevin in this instance - implementation has been horrible - when I made my decision to adopt from Guatemala I was very aware of the 2003 issues but I still decided to take my chance. Even now in light of the new developments I am working on an alternative plan (despite the fact I have my pre-approval have been though family court, was in PGN, got a kick out and am back in PGN). I have made an emotional and spiritiual commitment to this child. I will be leaving soon for a visit and friends and co-workers keep asking is this really what you want to do and my response right now is ---- if I have to go to Guatemala every other month for a visit until these issues are resolved and I can bring this child home -- then I will. the next question people usually ask is that is a lot of money to spend on travel and time away from work - yes it is - but what do you think I'd be doing if the child were home with me. In my more irrational momments I even think about the prospect of moving to Guatemala until this process is completed - That is when I laugh and ask - if the US government postion would change if they had 5000 Ex Patriots living abroad, spending money abroad, not paying US taxes due to overseas residency because they have made a commitment to family - Sheila #2

Posted by: Sheila at March 15, 2007 09:17 AM

All I can say is this is so very, very sad..........

praying,
gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings

Posted by: gloria at March 15, 2007 09:24 AM

We have been in PGN since August 2006. We're hoping to bring our daughter home before she turns one year old.

The DOS has continually been making allegations of strong arm tactics used on birth mothers, babies for sale and corrupt lawyers, yet they have not cited one case of this as proof.

The only recent case we have heard about is the Mary Bonn case, and I'm sure this is an isolated incident. Where are the reports of the cases beyond Mary Bonn? What's the scope of the issue? Is it 1 percent of all cases? Is it 10 percent? Is it 50 percent? The DOS keeps saying it happens, but offers no facts to back up their claims.

Like many others here, my wife and I have chosen our lawyers on the basis of recommendations from their past clients. The lawyers in turn work with reputable people in Guatemala, and have been doing this for years with no problems.

If the DOS knows of cases to back up their allegations they should tell us. Or else they should explain to us why they can't give us more information about these particular cases.

The DOS is not doing us (and potential adoptive families) any favors by continually telling us how corrupt the Guatemalan adoption system is, but offering no facts to back up their allegations.

Dean Tomasula
Sandy Gelpieryn

Posted by: Dean Tomasula at March 15, 2007 09:47 AM

My heart truly goes out to all of you-- just starting the process or in PGN. Ronee, Keith, and everyone, I know how excrutiating it is to wait, and our case was delayed only an extra few months. We brought our daughter home last year, but the infertility, stress, anxiety, the exhaustion of our finances, and the complete sense of helplessness and unfairness of it all, leading up to it, was just so overwhelming, each and every moment of every day.
Though our daughter is home, it bothers me that all this is happening and just now we are finding out more about abuses of the system.
I will pray for you all to find hope, peace of mind, and your children in your arms.

Mary

Posted by: Mary at March 15, 2007 10:15 AM

We are still waiting our preapproval. We have met our daughter and her foster mother who is a lovely person. I still have faith and still trust that all of us in the midst will be bringing our children home sooner than later. Hang in there everyone. If our paperwork is on order we should have nothing to worry about.

Posted by: Mick and Julie at March 15, 2007 10:41 AM

Jane, very well put. I also have a hard time believing that there are very many cases where women have been paid so much money that relinquishing their child was profitable. I feel like saying to Guatemalans who accuse their own people of this, "Now think about what you are saying. You obviously find this repugnant, right? All of the people you know find this repugnant, right? If you went out on the streets of Guatemala and asked a bunch of people what they thought, they would also find it repugnant, right? So then, why do you think there are sooo many Guatemalans who are profiting from relinquishing their children? Do you have that low of an opinion of YOUR OWN PEOPLE? I would submit to you the fact that you and so many other people find this repugnant weights in heavily toward refuting that lots of Guatemalan attorneys pay biological parents high prices for children and lots of Guatemalans are profiting by relinquishing their children." I just don't have that low of a view of the human race. And just because people are poor doesn't mean that they sink to the bottom of the moral cess pool.

Posted by: cheryl at March 15, 2007 11:11 AM

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR UPDATES IT HAS MADE THIS ROLLER COASTER RIDE A LITTLE EASIER TO HANDLE. I AM CURRENTLY WAITING TO GET OUT OF PGN I HAVE BEEN THERE SINCE NOV 23 IT IS NOW MARCH 15TH. THIS IS MY FIRST ADOPTION AND WAS PLANING ON A SECOND WE WILL SEE WHAT THE FUTURE BRINGS.
THANKS LISA

Posted by: LISA GIUDICE at March 15, 2007 11:19 AM

My thoughts:

From the beginning, I felt that I could never do enough research on the adoption process and so I put my faith in my agency. They have not responded to my last 3 emails. I think I just entered PGN, but they will not confirm. Strange, considering 18 months ago they gave me a hard sell on how perfect I was for Guatemala... My son Wilson turns 8 months on Saturday. I love you Paco.

I'd like to offer prayers and encouragement to all parents who have struggled with infertility. At the same time, I'd like to give a shout out to those of us who can conceive but choose to adopt for other reasons. My adoption involves more of a desire to parent again rather than altruism, but I support all of you who are on this journey.

I'd also like to say THANK GOD that I live in a country and have advantages that allow me to be a single parent and thrive. I know this is a unique position for women (and probably mem) on this globe. My situation is not perfect, but my sons are first and they know I will do anything for them.

I'm very fearful about what changes lie ahead for us- especially those which are out of our control. I don't want to think about missing more of Wilson's young life, but I can think of nothing else. Let's continue to support each other and I'll start putting my faith back where it belongs!!

Posted by: lauren at March 15, 2007 11:34 AM

I hope something is done to protect the children of Guatemala. A new system should replace the notary system. I hope those in process can continue, but I think no new referrals should be given out until the process is revamped. My husband and I chose Guatemala, because it is an hispanic country. My husband was born in Venezuela to a Cuban father and Spanish mother-so he is a hispanic melting pot.We did do research, however you don't know until you actually go through the adoption how things really are.
We both felt a formality was missing when we brought our daughter home in January.I don't have a solution, however something must be done! For the skae of the children. We both fell in love with the country and people of Guatemala and only want the best for them. ouroldest son Ricardo loved Guatemala so much he wants to move there and become a Guatemalan, he asks us all the time when we are going back.

Posted by: Kristi at March 15, 2007 11:45 AM

Is it possible that we ask the DOS to be more specific? If they need more information on our cases, what is that information? How can we/our agencies and attorneys assist them in their investigations? Just tell us we will go get it!

Also, I wish the DOS would tell us what type of delays they are talking about? Will it takes months to do DNA? Will we see these delays when it comes time to get our pink slip?

What is the most effective way to get answers to these questions? What governmental officials are in the best position to help us?

When I read these DOS statements that are not specific I feel like someone may just be covering their behind.

Jenn in PA

Posted by: Jennifer at March 15, 2007 12:51 PM

I think we need to remember that when the DOS is referring to notaries acting as judges - first notaries in Guatemala are not the same as notaries in the US and secondly they are using the word judge to indicate the notaries are deciding if a child should be placed for adoption. Much the same process is used in the US with Domestic Adoption agencies or adoption attorneys acting as the judge - interviewing the birth mother and making a determination that it is possible to get termination of parental rights of both parents.
My personal belief and this is just my personal option, is whoever is writing the things at the DOS does not understand the adoption process from either a domestic or an international view. Because Guatemala has so much internal strife, I think they are an easy target for the uninformed to point at and make all adoptions look bad. Women in all countries should be allowed to decide the future for their child, if they are unable to parent for any reason, whether it be economic or emotional or a combination.

Posted by: Deb at March 15, 2007 01:56 PM

As we are waiting for our 171H this news is a bit scary, but, as our addoption agency has said, the DOS has also stated that anyone with an I600A will be grandfathered into the new system. This gives me some hope for those of use who are in that part of the process.

It is a scary process, but the thought of giving up on the child, that we already love, is unbearable just the same. The ADA website provided some more information and I know at this point our decision is going to have to be on Faith in God and nothing else............

Posted by: CLP at March 15, 2007 03:12 PM

It does sound quite scary and instills doubt but we too are a couple of weeks from a referral.
Our agency has told us we can move forward but to expect delays.
We plan to move forward and will have to do the best we can with the situation.
We havent recieved the referral of our baby boy yet but nonetheless we love him already and cant wait to bring him home. He's in our hearts and we'll just have to be patient and optimistic.

Posted by: Tanya at March 15, 2007 05:55 PM

Hello, I'm just as saddened and worried as everyone visiting this website. We have just completed our dossier and it is headed to Guatemala. Of course, we have already paid our agency fee and half of the attorney's fees so we feel we have no other choice but to continue on at this point. I already met our daughter who is a toddler. We had heard that sometimes these are tricky cases because they question the birth mothers more because of the age that they are relenquishing their child. I am worried that if this process takes longer than the 5-6 months stated on most websites that we might be hit up for more money for foster care. This really concerns me because as most other adoptive parents know, how do we really know what kind of care these children are actually getting? We personally don't want to be thought of as an "American Cash Cow". We obviously don't want our adoptive child not receive what she needs but out of a $20k attorney fee, how much goes to them and how much for the foster care? I just feel sick to stomach just wondering if we will actually get our beautiful daughter out of Guatemala. I know there are many of us in the same boat but it doesn't make it easier. I do like to read about other families situations.

Posted by: Lyn at March 15, 2007 07:03 PM

I hope everyone read's Susana Luarca's post on the ADA website--it's excellent, extremely informative and actually very encouraging!

Sheila #2--What you described--becoming expatriates--is exactly what my husband and I plan to do. My husband has tentatively found a job teaching in a mission school in Guatemala; I will telecommute with my current job. He has extensive overseas experience and this transition will probably be easier for us. We have always wanted to do something like this and were looking into living abroad even before we began the adoption process.

I realize that most people are not in a position to do this, but as you described, wouldn't it be funny if thousands of us swarmed overseas and said "hasta luego" to Los Estados Unidos until ALL Guatemalan children could arrive safely with adoptive parents!

Wendy

Posted by: Wendy at March 15, 2007 07:20 PM

https://www.adoptioncouncil.org

The National Council for Adoption issued a response to the DOS statement. It's nearly scathing.

Posted by: Elizabeth S. at March 15, 2007 07:20 PM

We must stay united for the children, without the many thousands of folks who have previously adopted from Guatemala and those presently in the process there would have been many dead children or children on the streets. The Guatemalan system has some problems granted but what about our own system, it is one of the worst. I know few foster children in the good old USA who have not been abused, molested and left to the system for eternity....... Why do families adopt from Guatemala or any other chountry because our children languish and are not available for a smooth, loving or caring American adoption..... What business do we have to tell the women of Guatemala that they have no choice concerning their children and their future? If DOS thinks this is so bad, why aren't they helping to fix it instead of making a bigger mire of changing rules, paperwork and disrespectful treatment of all parties of the triad.

Until there are homes for every child we belong adopting these children and standing with these birth mothers for them to have a choice for their children. Adoption should be one of their choices if they can not care for their child. Choose Life, Choose Adoption!!!!!

Posted by: Sandi at March 15, 2007 07:56 PM

Deb-

While I respect your opinion that is not the way the US adoption system works. The agency is not the Judge whether it be a state agency or a private adoption agency. A completely separate entity decides whether a parent's rights should be terminated. A completely separate entity decides if the consent or relinquishment is valid. While the agency or attorney may gather facts about the situation to determine whether parental rights may be terminated, etc., ultimately the Judge makes the decision and that decision can be appealed to at least one more court and many times two with the possibility of three! Making a determination that it is POSSIBLE to terminate parental rights is totally different than being the one who terminates the parent's rights.

I have many times wondered where all of the babies available from Guatemala come from. They don't have the China problem...one child policy...etc. When attorneys in a third world country are being paid $17,000 to $22,000 to complete an adoption corruption is bound to happen. While that is big money in the US...think of how much money that is in Guatemala where the average yearly income is only $4,100.00 a year and where 75% of the population is below the poverty line. How many hundreds of adoptions a year does each attorney handle????
I hate to see anyone lose their child, but folks...there is a serious problem here and putting our heads in the sand is not going to resolve it and protect children.

Posted by: Karol at March 15, 2007 08:17 PM

I have read on one other site that new laws are going into affect April 1st. Has anyone heard this? I have not seen this substantiated anywhere. I am assuming it is a rumor, but wanted to see if anyone was aware of this.

Posted by: SMS at March 15, 2007 08:35 PM

Elizabeth -

Thank you for posting the www.adoptioncouncil.org website. I think everyone should read it. It is a very well written letter and vocalizes everything I feel we have been concerned about, in reference to the latest DOS statement.

Kris

Posted by: Kris at March 16, 2007 04:35 AM

I agree with Lin as far as the costs of the adoptions. Yes, the fees you have to pay a US adoption agency is ridiculous. They send you a packet of papers to complete your dossier. The fees you have to send to the Attorney in Guatemala is also outrageous. The Guatemala Adoption process use to take 6-8 months. How much money do you think it takes to raise a six month old baby? But they also suck you in because you have to pay half or in some cases the entire fee when you accept the referral. At the moment you see that little precious face and accept that baby as your own, you love her/him. You know that that child is part of your family. Then you watch for month after month after month and pray to get a picture on time to see YOUR child growing. You try to communicate with your agency to get bits of information, yet they won't return your emails. They are working on reeling in new parents to get the fees. You tend to get lost in the crowd, you don't get your updates or pictures, you don't get emails. Then as time goes on, it's past the 6 months, now you are paying $250 per month for foster care for who knows how long. Then after being told that your adoption is going well, you find out when it's 11 months that it's actually not. You visit your child in Guatemala, spend even more money, send your child clothes etc. Then your child is sent to an orphanage and then you don't get ANY information or pictures of YOUR child. Sure, you can be given another referral, a new face that you immediately accept. Start the dossier and fees all over again hoping to hear news that you can still adopt the original child and pay all of the fees all over again to complete that adoption. But what do you do? How can you back out? This is your child. I don't think the problems lie with just the Guatemala side. Our agencies here in the US need to be scrutinized as well. Why are THEIR fees so much? Why do they continue to give referrals...because they make their money and the Guatemala attorneys get their money...nobody really cares if you actually get your child. If everyone stopped, even temporarily, adopting in Guatemala, maybe this situation will be fixed. You have to understand that your chances of this being completed in the time promised from your agency is probably not going to happen. You need to research, you need to really think about it. You very well may pay all of the fees, go through all of the scrutiny, checks, complete all of the documents, wait and wait and wait and you may not get your child. I can speak from experience. This is an extremely emotional draining experience and takes so much out of you. Check in to other countries first. Good luck to everyone waiting who are already in the Guatemala system. May God bring these children home to us soon.

Posted by: Shelly at March 16, 2007 05:56 AM

SMS,

We are aware of the April 1 date "rumor". As always, Guatadopt tries to validate things before posting them as news (a main entry). We are in that process right now on the April 1 date. It has come from trustworthy sources but other similarly trustworthy sources deny it.

So at this point, we can neither confirm nor deny an April 1 protocol implementation. When we know more, everyone will know.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at March 16, 2007 06:45 AM

Deb - Regarding your statement that $17K to $22K in a third world country is bound to attract corruption....I think we need to stop and re-assess the logic. We tend to verge on being a bit hypocritical when dealing with another country. (the rest is not directed at Deb)

As an example, how many stories have you heard about mortgage fraud here in the US?? For me, I think its weekly. Yet, with thousands of US citizens losing their life savings yearly which are typically NEVER recovered, there is no outcry to shut the mortgage industry down. That is because the reaction has been to catch the crooks not to shut down a business that might effect the *economy*. Now, granted...nobody will come out and say that a shutdown will occur (and certainly I hope it does not). But the Protocol has all the verbaige that has caused many other countries to effectively shut its doors to international adoption. Go do an adoption in El Salvador if you don't believe me.

What about the attraction child predators have to the teaching profession. Teaching is my background and I would find it VERY offensive if everyone classified all teachers as being child molestors. Certainly, this is not a case of financial lure! However, we seem to have a rash of teachers who NEED to be in a nice safe jail and away from our children. No shutdown in the future there! Rarely, is there even a review of the employment system...instead, the focus is on catching/punishing the criminal. Now wouldn't that be nice!

I probably see more variety of unethical behavior than most parents (we just get LOTS of emails and questions via the site). But here is the kicker....the majority of problems WE see are tracing right back to corrupt agencies in the US or agencies that have no business being in Guatemala and certainly, the instances we find are RARELY prosecuted regardless of the pressure exerted.

The use of 3rd world country should also be put in perspective...and I won't do that now. But to live in the style you are accustomed to (from the states) to Guatemala are NOT drastically different (though nicely lower). It is the level of poverty that is drastic.

Generally, I agree that there are many professions that attract crooks more than others...but when I look around, I can't say that the US has a right to condemn JUST the Guatemala side of things...

Just my dos quetzales y siete colones!

Posted by: Kelly (Guatadopt.com) at March 16, 2007 06:53 AM

I only want to say this: DOS has failed to provide any kind of numbers or analysis. I think most of us care deeply that our adoptions are legitimate. But the vague statements made by DOS are not transparent. I don't know whether allegations made point to problems with the notarial system, or simply that corruption and poor care is possible in Guatemala (just like it can happen in the U.S.). I can't see numbers of instances, type of instance, how a particular type of allegation is verified. I don't see what percentage of the total cases per year each type represents. I could go on and on. I see huge imbalance in their statement also: if "questionable instance x or y" were true in 0.15% of total cases ...it could be true that there would be negative impacts on Guatemalan mothers, US families, or the children --- But what about the positive effects of the other 99% of cases which gave us adoptive parents younger children (read: without attachment disorders, not having languishing in cruddy government orphanages without adequate attention), healthy children (read: physically healthy and emotionally healthy due to 1 on 1 caregiver relationship and at least, the ability to bond and love, because they have been loved), a form of (bittersweet) relief to relinquishing biological parents,knowing that their relinquished children have been loved by foster parents, will be loved by adoptive parents, and will have substantial resources, opportunity, and a shot at a better life ---- to loving adoptive families who cherish these children, provide opportunities they wouldn't have had, who support and encourage identification with the culture of their home country.... Like I said: imbalance and no data, no analysis. WHAT about it DOS? Producing verifiable statistics and solid, unbiased analysis is apparently not what DOS does.

Posted by: Shawn at March 16, 2007 07:40 AM

Shelly,

It sounds like you have had a bad experience and I am sorry for that. My agency has been absolutely wonderful. They travel to Guatemala every 6 weeks or so to check on the children, take pictures and video, to check on health, care, medicals, ect. There are awesome agencies out there! I am blessed to have found one.

Jean

Posted by: jean at March 16, 2007 08:28 AM

We are in a place where we can receive a referral any day. As it stands today, we will pursue another country or a domestic adoption. It saddens me to say this, but I have true aprehension about proceeding in our situation. I also think that those of you who are chosing to continue will have a happy ending. Good luck to everyone and may your families be complete!

Posted by: Jill at March 16, 2007 09:40 AM

Shelly

I am so sorry that you have had so many problems with your adoption. That is just terrible. I would like to add that not everyone has those issues and there are excellent agencies out there who really do care. Our agency does not charge any additional fees for foster care and they do respond immediately to questions. We also receive regular monthly pictures, measurements, and updates. I agree that there are some BAD agencies and we actually started with one, but switched before they took too much of our money. I just wanted to reiterate that there are some very good agencies who care and work very hard to help unite families. I don't think stopping adoptions will help anyone, especially the children in Guatemala. What would happen to them? There is no social welfare system in Guatemala to take care of these children. The system needs fixed, but it needs to be a mindful and slow transition so that children are not harmed and families continue to be united.

Blessings to you

Posted by: SMS at March 16, 2007 09:57 AM

The National Council For Adoption (NCFA) has issued a statement criticizing the Department of State's ill-advised, alarming FAQ. Please visit www.adoptioncouncil.org to read NCFA's release.

We are now receiving inquiries from national media, wishing to speak with "pipeline" families currently in-process, preferably with referrals.

If you are currently in this situation, and would be willing to speak to the press on behalf of Guatemalan children and their waiting families, please contact me via email.

Thank you,
Lee Allen
Director of Communications
National Council For Adoption

Posted by: Lee Allen at March 16, 2007 10:48 AM

Folks,

The sheer volumne of unwanted children in a very religious country should have been the writing on the wall for the US many years ago. As ugly as it sounds, the women of Guatemala are getting pregnant and putting their babies up for adoption ON PURPOSE. I lived and worked in Central America for over 3 years (esp Honduras and Guatemala) and know the are very well. Birth mothers get paid (a lot if you compare it to the rest of their country). After 3 pregnancies they then have sufficient money to pay a coyote (human smuggler) to bring them across the border illegally. End of story. The is no one child policy like China, no male preference like India, no overwhelming AIDS orphans like Ethiopia or the intolerance of family like Russia/Ukraine - it is for all intensive purposes a way of making enough money to get to the US of A (illegally). Also, I am sure Guatemalan lawyers are now purchasing homes in Tahiti. Sounds harsh, but it is the truth.

From a moral standpoint the United States has to stop these adoptions and is in the process to do so. With China changing the requirements and (a lot of) E European babes having Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - African AIDS orphans will be the only true abandoned angels in need of Forever Familes. Let's hope that is not a problem for us.

Posted by: Amy at March 16, 2007 10:51 AM

DOS accusing Gautemala of corruption, conflict of interest bla....bla.. Don't you think that everything is fair in US? If there is no corruption, no conflict of interest, no political influence, how can Angelina Jolie adopts a child within a very short period? Is She bringing babies home without greasing the palms of DOS or any state authorities? Where is the legal system? When we have to wait for just a DNA authorization for 2 months, how can she completes all the adoption process within 3 months?
We have major lapses in our system. Before blame other, DOS should look themselves in the mirror.

We accepted the referal in Feb. and still waiting for DNA authorization.
Sam

Posted by: Sam at March 16, 2007 11:42 AM

We are here to stay informed, connected and support one another. Hardly think any of us are turning a blind eye (or sticking our heads in the sand?) to the situation in Guatemala. We all agree reform is needed- and that includes cost- but any action that will suspend adoptions will produce horrendous results for all involved, espeically the children!

The DOS is there to provide factual information to prospective adoptive parents considering Guatemala, but the way in which their information was posed will persuade many to discontinue or not choose that country. Where does that leave those children?? Not to mention their grossly exaggerated statements of how the children are treated in foster care, the system being rampant with fraud and based on conflict of interest.

I thought they were there to provide US Citizens with fact, not scare tactics. We are very disappointed by our government on this issue.

Shelly- your agency sounds awful. That has not been our experience at all. While they have no control over PGN- they certainly are responsive, provide regular updates on our baby and outlined all the costs and how they are allocated before we chose them and never asked for any more money. They care about the children in Guatemala and why they still are giving out referrals. Our agency, as well as us, are NOT going to give up on these children!

Posted by: sharon at March 16, 2007 11:56 AM

Karol,

While you may not think that attorneys and agencies in the US "judge" the merit of an adoption, they do to the same extent as the notaries in Guatemala. The notaries are not Family Court nor are they PGN, they are the people interviewing birth mothers and getting enought information to determine if adoption is even an option. I know for a fact in domestic adoptions, the agency or attorney the birth mother contacts does the termination paperwork and files the court case. Does this sound familiar? The same thing happens in Guatemala. The court then decides if termination is in the best interests of the child and that same court or another court determines if the adoption can be finalized. Again does this sound familiar? Family court and PGN.
I am not saying Guatemala does not have room to improve their system of adoption, but don't condemn all birth mothers as greedy or all Guatemalan attorneys and notaries as corrupt.
At least DNA testing is required for a Guatemalan adoption to prove the child and the birth mother are related. As far as I know there is not a state in the US that requires DNA testing and birth mothers don't always make an adoption plan before their child is born.
Every system has the potential for corrupt practices.

Posted by: Deb at March 16, 2007 12:09 PM

Kelly,

I did not make the comment regarding the cost of adoptions in Gautemala. That was Karol in her response to my post. I don't have any opinion about the costs, as I don't know what the attorney is spending for foster care or medical care as well as for legal fees. Adoptions whether domestic or international cost what they cost.

Posted by: Deb at March 16, 2007 12:14 PM

Amy,

I know people are frustrated, angry, opinionated, etc but shame on you for saying that "Guatemalan women" are having their babies on purpose. What an insult to them! I do not deny that money can and does motivate an individual but an individual(or even individuals) does not represent an entire gender. Secondly, an orphan is an orphan and not less of one because of FAS or changes in a country's adoption regulations (your reference to China). Any child without a family is an orphan worthy of a family. Since when do we classify an orphan as being a "true" orphan? You might want to revamp your words of "truth". Lilian

Posted by: Lilian at March 16, 2007 01:33 PM

For all of you that had a bad experience with your agency I am truly sorry. You cannot make statements that what happened to you will happen to everyone.
For those of you that are upset that you had to pay everything 1st, I am sorry, but that is not how all agencies work. We paid half at the time of refferal and the 2nd half the day before we leave to bring our daughter home.

Amy, I am appalled at the fact that you make the comments that all of the women are getting pregnant on purpose for the money. Have you ever seen the families on Welfare here in the U.S. that have one child after another to get more money???? Considering birth control and abortion is against most of their religious beleifs and there is no welfare system in Guatemala to help them. What should they do? Keep the babies and let the starve to death before they are two???

We brought our Son home in Oct. 2005 at 10 1/2 months old. We spent 17 weeks in PGN since our cause was sent to Minor Courts because he was not the first child that his Biologial mother had given up for adoption. So they do investigate to make sure that the cases are legit. Also we received monthly medical updates and pictures of our son. We are using the same agency for our daughter and have been receiving monthly updates.

Kelly - thank you for the comments in defending the foster mothers. My son's foster mother was wonderful, she took amazing care of him. He came home as a very happy, heathly and loving child. We have her and her family to thank for that. We still keep in touch and we refuse to let people lump her in with the few bad ones.

We thank God everyday that our Son's and Daughter's Biological Mothers decided on Life for them and came up with an adoption plan. We thank God everyday for blessing us with our son. We are currently in PGN and pray that we will be able to bring our daughter home.

Sorry this is long winded but I am pretty annoyed at the statemnts that lump all of the wonderful agencies, attorneys, Biological Mothers, Foster Mothers in with the few bad. I think some people need to remember the old saying "those that live in glass houses should not through stones"
May God bless all of the people working hard to help our children come home. Most of all may God Bless the Children!!!!!!!

Posted by: Kelly at March 16, 2007 02:00 PM

In reference to Lee Allen's e-mail requesting people to publically speak on this issue...I'm in...just tell me where and when. What is your email or is it listed on your website.
David

Posted by: David Gibbardo at March 16, 2007 02:53 PM

Amy,

You said you lived and worked in Central American, including Guatemala and Honduras, for 3 years and that you believe that many women there get pregnant on purpose to sell their children. I would like you to provide the number of cases (where the women got pregnant on purpose to sell their children) that you have first hand knowledge of. I'm not talking about what you read. I would like to know the number of cases that you actually know about.

As you pointed out, a lot of Guatemalans are religious and they are Catholic. Also, I'd imagine that it is more difficult for them to obtain contraceptives than for us. Then add to that the poverty. So certainly, there are a lot of children who are conceived for other reasons than to sell them.

I recently read that the number of unwanted pregnancies has sky rocketed in the US because low income women are having a hard time obtaining contraceptives. If that is the case here, then it would be much more so in Guatemala.

Although I haven't lived in Latin America, I have known a number of illegal immigrants of Hispanic descent who live in the US. I know that they would be very opposed to selling children.

Posted by: cheryl at March 16, 2007 04:49 PM

Lee Allen can contact me if he needs someone to speak to the public.
dgibbardo@rochester.rr.com

Posted by: David Gibbardo at March 16, 2007 05:00 PM

Guatadopt- I'm surprised you posted Amy's comments, I think they should be removed, they don't belong an an adoption support site.

Amy- your comments disgust me and shame on you. Birthmothers are not "paid" to give their children up in Guatemala. How dare you. I'm not naive to think that there are despicable situations, such as what you suggest, that happen in EVERY country, however it is certianly not the norm.

Posted by: sharon at March 16, 2007 06:48 PM

This post is in direct response to Wendy's of March 15, 2007, at 7:24 AM. I will try my best to be civil but it will be difficult. Your over-emotional response is evidence of your partiality. Your plea to Guatemalans to see you as one American who is "appalled by US hypocrisy and arrogance" is silly. You cannot compare the Guatemalan adoption industry, and an industry is what it is, to the U.S. foster system.
No one - NO ONE - pays $30,000 for a child from the U.S. foster system. The sheer fact that people are willing to pay such huge sums for a human being makes scrutiny necessary.

Just so I remove myself from silly comments and whatnot - I adopted a child from Guatemala in March 2006 and am sickened by the thought that she was brought home to me under less-than-honest circumstances. I want everything done so that no child has to wake up, as a teenager perhaps, and ask, "Was I sold? Was my mom coerced into giving me up?"

Your anger should be reserved for those a$$holes in Guatemala who traffic in human beings. I am tired of listening to people like you.

Posted by: susan at March 16, 2007 07:09 PM

I want to say one more thing about Amy's statement concerning Guatemalan women getting pregnant on purpose and selling their children. Amy said that after 3 pregnancies a woman would have enough money to hire a mule to bring her to the US. Lets assume just for the sake of argument that Amy's statement is true and see to what logical conclusion it takes us to.

I don't have a problem with reimbursing a woman for past or future lost wages and expenses due to a pregnancy. I do have a problem if getting pregnant becomes profitable. In my opinion, if it takes THREE pregnancies to hire a mule then it certainly cannot be characterized as profitable to sell your child.

Posted by: cheryl at March 16, 2007 09:58 PM

My comments are directed at susan of march 16, 2007 at 7:09 pm...Susan, I think you owe Wendy a huge apology. Like myself, Wendy is a parent waiting for her child to come home and for the last month, she has had to deal with increasing uncertainty as to when and if her child will ever come home. She has every right to post an "emotional" message expressing her feelings on an adoption support site!

I find it interesting that you brought your daughter home in March of 2006, yet you imply that anyone who pays $30,000 for an adoption deserves increased scrutiny. This is approximately the same fee you paid for your adoption. If that was such a cause of concern for you, why did you pay it?

I think it is extremely insensitive of you to come on to an adoption support website and launch a personal attack against a fellow adoptive parent who is still going through the agony of waiting. It must be nice to have the luxury of being able to judge all of us in-process parents now that you have your daughter home with you. You say that you are tired of listening to people like us - well, then don't.

To everyone out there - this site exists for all of us in-process parents who need a place to find information and support. I know that this is an emotional issue and that we all feel passionately about our opinions. Let's remember that we can disagree with each other's positions on issues without resorting to personal attacks on each other.

Posted by: kristen at March 17, 2007 11:47 AM

Thought of the day: What is easy? What is difficult?

It is easy to react. It is easy to be fearful. It is easy to make blanket statements. The US Government is made up of men who have arrested development. They do things like implement a color coded warning system. THREAT LEVEL ORANGE. They react. They are childish and can not see the big picture. They live in a fear based modality. It is immature. It is irrational. It is threat based. They live it, they breathe it - both at work and probably at home.

It would, therefore be 'easy' for us to do the same. React at a fear based level and let panic set in. Reactions come from the limbic brain, the reptilian brain. Just picture a squirrel, this is how it feels to live in fear. We, however, are not reptilian. We are mature, rational beings who can see the big picture and make wise decisions and instead of React, we can choose to Respond. Reacting makes us feel powerless and afraid; responding makes us feel powerful and in control. We are smarter than we give ourselves credit for.

So my recommendation is this. Let's all work together to slow the emotional reaction train down (for everyone's sake) those in PGN, and those of us who have just started our dossiers and will not allow fear to take us to the crazy mind. We can choose to not follow the stories and just turn off the Internet for a couple of days to regroup, or we can choose to participate in the discussion, but know that the more we react, the more we are buying into their fear.

It is their fear, not ours.

We need to be careful not to react, not to wig out, not to write messages in CAPS with a lot of exclamation points, not to post fear based comments. But rather, like Kevin does very well, to keep our heads about us. To use our frontal cortex and realize the the DOS and most of the men in office, are functioning at much lower levels, and that maybe it's just their job to set warnings more often now, since they screwed up so badly pre 9-11 by having their heads in the sand and not alerting us to any dangers.

This is the best thing I have read. It is thoughtful, clear, mature, non fear based, and definitely written by someone who gets it. These are the things we should be reading and listening to: https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/

No one knows what will happen with the future of US / Guatemala adoptions. We cannot control it.

We do, however, have complete control over our reactions. Let's all work together to stay calm and sane and rational during an emotionally-charged time.

Breathe.

Peace, Liz

Posted by: Liz at March 17, 2007 12:47 PM

I have 2 adopted kids from Guatemala. The first one was during the 2003 Hague Mess. I am keeping up with what is going on because I have a cousin in process of adopting his 2nd. The emotionality I am seeing in the comments is not unlike 2003. The best comment I read, I think is from a Shawn. Show me the data and analysis! Never once in FOUR YEARS has anyone (DOS or Guatemalan government) shown any real numbers or real cases. I have read the Hague and the study on Children's Rights from 199? comissioned by the Guatemalan Government. I have not read a single thing that is verifiable. Some Guate prosecutor says every year that there are 30-33 cases pending regarding adoption crimes, but are these the same cases year to year? Is it one atty or 10? Why is it always 30-33? I think what the DOS has produced is nothing but propaganda and they should be ashamed of themselves.
Allison

Posted by: Allison at March 17, 2007 09:51 PM

Susan,
It's fine to disagree, but I don't see the need for rudeness. This is a support site, and it is normal for people to feel emotional about adoption. It is a very emotional thing.

However, I don't feel my post was overemotional. I genuinely object to the DOS post on the grounds of inaccuracy, to say the least. Since this is an adoption site I won't go into incredible problems with US foreign policy.

Yes, I am emotional about the physical, sexual and emotional abuse that my two daughters experienced while they spent three years languishing in US foster care before we adopted them. Their case is not unique by any means; just ask any parent who has adopted from the foster system. I stand by my position that the US should not be criticizing other countries' foster care when its own is so appalling.

At no point did I imply that it cost 30K to adopt from the US foster system, so I don't even know where that comes from. However, interestingly, it does also cost about 30K to adopt an infant in the US--at least that's the price I was quoted by a domestic agency.

I don't think it's irrational to question the motives and truth-telling of the US government. A look at our recent history should explain that.

Of course I think it is horrendous if there is child selling or human trafficking, but there is no need for the US government to get hysterical and assume that this applies to a large number of Guatemalan adoptions. The US government has been known to over-react in the very recent past.

I think that comments that imply that large numbers of Guatemalan women sell their children is insulting to the many birth moms who make a loving sacrifice to give their children a better future. I do think it shows great disrespect to stereotype Central American women this way.

For the record, my own son-to-be is the biological son of an unmarried 19-year-old student. She planned to relinquish him throughout the pregnancy. I believe she made this choice to give him a better life and herself a better future, and I believe this was a loving, responsible choice.

I sincerely hope for your sake and your daughter's sake that you are able to put any fears you have about the nature of her adoption to rest. I understand your concerns; I just think you misunderstood mine.

I wish the best for you and the precious child you now have with you.

Posted by: Wendy at March 17, 2007 10:12 PM

In response to Liz 3/17/07
Thanks that is exactly what I needed to hear!

Posted by: Michelle at March 18, 2007 11:39 AM

Amy and others -

The lack of sensitivity is troublesome. I would hope that anyone who stayed in Guatemala or Honduras would have a compassion for the people in dire poverty and compassion for the parents who are raising "Latino" children. These comments come off as being rather racist and elitist, in my opinion....whether you realize that or not!

The "ugly" truth is that there is NO WELFARE and that there is NO FREE EDUCATION in Guatemala. The "ugly" truth is that North Americans can be rather hypocritical when there is serious corruption within the US regarding adoption....seems to me that surogacy should also be considered illegal in the US, don't you think? There is no doubt why these women become pregnant. Unfortunatley, what is good for the white folks in North American is somehow shameful in Central America!

A child should not be "invalid" just because the biological mother made a desperate decision. I seriously doubt you will find some bio-mom living in luxury for all the children she has relinquished.

Finally, most of the adoptive parents on this site whether Latino or not CARE DEEPLY for their children and their culture. Have a little respect.

Posted by: Kelly (guatadopt.com) at March 19, 2007 03:24 PM

Susan,

You may be worrying needlessly about whether the biological mother of your child was coerced. Have you tried locating her and asking her? I also suggest that you talk with Kevin Kreutner about this. He has talked with many parents who have contacted biological parents.

Lastly, Wendy's criticism of the US government's hypocrisy doesn't automatically mean that she is opposed to tightening up the process. If you had children that had been abused by their foster parents, I suspect that you would also be extremely upset.

Best, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at March 19, 2007 05:16 PM

My prayers go out to all the waiting prospective parents and especially to the children of Guatemala. This whole situation has been on my heart and in my thoughts and prayers.

I want to encourage those of you considering adopting from Guatemala right now to REALLLLLLY research agencies. There are probably many agencies out there who may be ignorant about the situation, or even possibly trying to "pull the wool over people's eyes". Sadly, too many agencies are just trying to make a buck.

But there are some GREAT agencies out there - we found one and completed the adoption of our daughter last June. (we also have a son who is 5). Ask around, do your research and ASK every agency about these warnings and how they plan to deal with the situation.

Blessings to everyone and Godspeed those babies HOME!

Posted by: Cindy at March 19, 2007 11:48 PM
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