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March 19, 2007

Guatadopt.com Warning

Alert (US only): To prospective parents considering adoption from Guatemala. After much thought and review, we feel it is important that parents think twice about entering the process. Prospective parents should expect considerable delays, increased scrutiny and strict interpretation of the orphan classification. Whether you agree with the recent DOS announcement or not, they are still in the position to determine Visa Issuance to the United States. Pursuing an adoption at this time may be risky and your agency will not be able to estimate realistic timelines. This warning will remain in effect until the process moves to a Hague compliant system and the current issues/concerns have been adequately addressed.

Orphan Classification (Partly defined)

Non US Citizens/Residents - This alert does not directly apply to non-US Citizens/Residents. However, with the push for a new Hague Compliant Law, expect delays and possible changes in the adoption process.

Posted by Kelly at March 19, 2007 05:31 PM
Comments

I'm sure this was a painful post to write, but it was the responsible thing to do.
Its fairly obvious from the recent DOS statements what their intentions are. The contradicting JCICS statement implies (to me, at least) that many agencies intend to continue accepting clients for Guatemala adoptions despite the current situation.
PAPs need somebody to give them the straight poop.

Posted by: Anonymous at March 19, 2007 07:18 PM

I feel for those currently in process and those thinking about adopting from Guatemala. I will be thinking of all of you and hoping that you are able to bring your children home. I sit here in awe that my son just came home 6 months ago, and I truely cannot imagine what you are feeling right now.

Posted by: s at March 19, 2007 07:37 PM

Any idea on what this means to those of us who are in process? Should we expect considerable delays also? How worried should we be?

Posted by: Laurie at March 19, 2007 07:53 PM

Can you give us any more information? Is there something going on that has made you come to this decision? or is it just the picture as a whole?

Thanks for all that you do...

Posted by: Alisha at March 19, 2007 08:01 PM

Thank you Kevin for being honest. Please Lord, let good sense prevail and let all our babies come home in a reasonable amount of time and that everything is all done "LEGALLY"!!

Posted by: kristi at March 19, 2007 08:06 PM

I read the definition of an "orphan" in the Internation Adoption Booklet on the DOS website. The sentence that concerns and confuses me is:

"As a rule, most children who are in orphanages will qualify as 'orphans' whereas children whose parents legally relinquished them to an adoption agency or adoptive parent will not."

Do you know if they consider children in foster care to fall under the "orphanage" scenario, or the "adoption agency or adoptive parent" scenario? (I'm guessing it's the latter, but am trying to get as much info as possible before I freak out!)

Thanks for being such a great source of information!

Posted by: Jennifer Goldberg at March 19, 2007 08:10 PM

What does this mean for those of us who have already accepted a referral last week? What is your realistic opinion about what will happen to our cases? Thanks for any opinions you can give.
Maria

Posted by: Maria Benoit at March 19, 2007 08:21 PM

All cases will be effected (see the DOS post).

As for what this means with the orphan classification. I think we can interpret it that Yes, they will have a strict interpretation whether it is paragraph 1 or 5. I cannot speculate on what areas will be most effected. At this time, I believe the manner of relinquishment will be the key to a successful adoption just as the manner of the CoA issuance will also be closely examined.

All we can say is hold on for a bumpy ride. And, you are right...we are not happy to post this assessment at all.

Posted by: Kelly (guatadopt.com) at March 19, 2007 08:45 PM

Thank you for this I think. This is my second adoption. My babies DNA test is supposed to be tomorrow. Obviously it is to late nowto back out. I already love her any idea what so ever in how long we could be talking, months, years?

Posted by: Lynda LaCoste at March 19, 2007 09:22 PM

Kudos to you all at Guatadopt for saying something so hard to hear and say, but so necessary.

My heart goes out to those in process, as I don't think anyone knows what to expect, and hope is a reasonable thing to have.

To anyone who has not accepted a referral yet, please take some time to listen and watch before committing your hearts and hopes, to say nothing of $$.

Posted by: tesi at March 19, 2007 09:26 PM

Thank you for all that you have done to keep us informed. It makes me very sad, but reality is reality. If possible could you clarify something? When you say, "prosective parents considering adoption from Guatemala" what exactly do you mean? Do you mean people in the process without referrals? People who have filed I-600-A? People in the process with a referral? People in PGN? Thank you.

Posted by: Jill at March 19, 2007 09:34 PM

I'm not quite sure I understand Jennifer's or Kelly's post about orphan classification. I'm not sure what they are referring to.

In reading the below section of the Immigration Act, it seems to say that relinguishment adoptions are OK. Or is there something else I should be looking at too?

Kevin (not guatadopt.com Kevin)

(F) (i) 17a/ a child, under the age of sixteen at the time a petition is filed in his behalf to accord a classification as an immediate relative under section 201(b) , who is an orphan because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents, or for whom the sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing the proper care and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption;

Posted by: Kevin (not Guatadopt.com Kevin) at March 19, 2007 09:45 PM

OH, this makes me so sad....

I don't have an adoption in progress, but feel for those of you who do....my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

I do agree that you had to do this....but I wish you didn't.

Posted by: Lisa at March 19, 2007 09:56 PM

I owe Jennifer Goldberg an apology. I just read the Orphan Definition on http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_473.html. However, farther down the page, under frequently asked questions, it refers to final adoption decrees.

"Q: What documents are required to obtain a passport for a child who became a U.S. citizen under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000?

A: (1) Evidence of the child's relationship to a U.S. citizen parent (a certified copy of the final adoption decree)"

Perhaps the DOS needs to update their "Orphan Definition" on the above-referenced website to avoid the confusion.

Kevin (not Guatadopt.com Kevin)

Posted by: Kevin (not Guatadopt.com Kevin) at March 19, 2007 09:59 PM

Hi Kelly, I just wanted to clarify what particular issues you forsee in the classification of an orphan by USCIS. It appears to me that DOS has just changed their website and older information is mixed up with new. The link to the orphan classification you provided just discusses types of visas, not whether a child meets their criteria for an orphan. Is there a link to a recent orphan definition which elucidates what is on the brain of the USCIS/DOS? Is there something specific to the Hague which may shift that classification? Thank you so much for taking the time to aid & enlighten.

Posted by: Sarah J in NY at March 19, 2007 10:00 PM

Kelly, I am curious to ask - what made you post this "statement" today vs. last week after the DOS statement? Has other sources or other news been obtained that you and guatadopt.com felt the need to post this "formal" warning?

Thank you for your research and information. I am curious as to why this post came about tonight, meaning - is there additional news about to "hit" the wires this week.

Thank you - Jennifer

Posted by: Jennifer at March 19, 2007 10:36 PM

I am also very confused about the orphan classification. I read this on the DOS website:

Orphan Petition **
Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

Proof of approval of the I-600A.

Proof of the child’s age and identity.

Proof that the child is an orphan as appropriate:

proof that the child has been abandoned or deserted by, separated or lost from, both parents or that both parents have disappeared or died;

death certificate(s) of the child’s parent(s), if applicable;

proof that the child’s sole or surviving parent cannot give the child proper care and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption;

proof that the child has been unconditionally abandoned to an orphanage, if the child is in an orphanage.

This seems to indicate that relinquishments are still part of the orphan classification??? I would imagine that it is probably relatively rare for adopted children to be "true" orphans (parent(s) dead?)

Thank you Kevin and Kelly for keeping us informed...the DOS is so confusing. Thanks for trying to help all of us.

Wendy

Posted by: Wendy at March 19, 2007 10:51 PM

I posted the other link that has a generic description of the classification. I have the actual code...but I am not sure it is still accurate.

I really don't have any answers to timelines.

And to clarify, the orphan classification IS the determination for Visa Issuance. This is not a new concept at all. In the most simplistic terms, if the child meets the orphan classification, then the child is eligible for Visa Issuance. DOS is not reviewing cases from a humanitarian view (does the child need a home?) Their only concern in years past and today is whether the child meets the orphan status. The answer would be NO if the child does not meet the criteria or if there has been an attempt to circumvent Guatemalan or US law. While I don't like to make analogies when it comes to our children...you can think of emissions testing as a way to understand this. The concept of the test doesn't change from year to year, but newer evaluation equipment/techniques may change the outcome.

As for the timing of the post....there is no magic formula. We posted the DOS warning as soon as we had it. We have information that re-establishes the critical nature of the DOS position. We wanted to make darn sure that adoptive parents were heeding the warning...plain and simple.

Again, this will effect most cases awaiting pre-approval. I do not know whether cases which have already received pre-approval will be effected.

Posted by: Kelly (guatadopt.com) at March 19, 2007 11:01 PM

Kevin or Kelly at Guatadopt,

My child was born on Oct. 18, I received a referral on Nov. 17 the birth mother turned 18 on Nov. 20. Will she be considered a minor? DNA and SW visit was after she turned 18. Can you advise on this situation?

Thank you.

Posted by: md at March 19, 2007 11:09 PM

Okay,

I accepted a referal two weeks ago and have sent the POA to Guat. But...the attorneys fees have not been wired yet. This new warning is concerning and if there is no chance of this adoption happening then why send this money that I will never see again? I am very attached to this baby already, even though I have tried to remain gaurded. If it is a matter of waiting years to bring her home I am okay with that. What does this warning mean? Is there a good chance I will NEVER get to bring her home???

Posted by: JT at March 19, 2007 11:34 PM

To Jennifer Goldberg. You said you read "As a rule, most children who are in orphanages will qualify as 'orphans' whereas children whose parents legally relinquish them to an adoption agency or adoptive parent will not" in the INternational Adoption Booklet. I did a search for International Adoption Booklet DOS and did not find this. Could you please provide the link?

The Orphan Classification (partly defined) link that was posted by guatadopt states that one criteria for being classified as an orphan is "The sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing proper care and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigraiton and adoption."

Thanks in adance, Cheryl

Posted by: Cheryl at March 20, 2007 01:27 AM

Could someone explain to me what has changed here? I'm not getting it at all. Erik

Posted by: Erik at March 20, 2007 05:36 AM

To all,

Nothing has "changed". We now better understand where the DOS wanrning was coming from. We also need to react based on what we see happening so far as posts, e-mails, etc from adoptive parents are concerned.

Despite the fact that we posted the DOS FAQ and told people that it should be taken seriously, we saw the rhetorical debates over its content being debated more than its intent really sinking in.

Let us remember that the DOS and CIS hold the power to approve a case as well as PGN. DOS, for better or worse, made the statements for a reason. They are telling people that to accept a referal today is to expect a difficult process.

Our warning is not any new news, it is merely saying that while you can debate the DOS content on end, it doesn't change the fact that they are telling parents you are in for a rocky road.

We did not say "don't accept a referal". We said to "think twice" and realize what is going on.

To those in process right now, expect that things will take longer than usual (whatever that is). This too is nothing new. We just want to make sure that it is sinking in and that no one is minimizing the the reality of what is happening.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at March 20, 2007 06:47 AM

I feel like this new warning put out by guatadopt.com while yes wonderful for "news" it is yet another "repeat" of all the latest posts within the last week.

why the need to add additional alarming and add to the panic?

frustrated,
Jennifer

Posted by: Jennifer at March 20, 2007 06:49 AM

Thank you for all of the helpful advice.
We are currently waiting on a referral but I believe we will no longer pursue a guatemalan adoption at this time.
We will be looking into other countries to add to our family.
This is upsetting to say the least but it looks like we dont really have a choice.
I wish all of you the best in completing your adoptions and bringing your precious children home. Good Luck to everyone.

Posted by: Tanya at March 20, 2007 06:49 AM

Erik - I have the same questions. I do not see any "NEW" news here. Just more panic added to the stress of the adoptions already.

Jennifer

Posted by: Jennifer at March 20, 2007 06:51 AM

Kevin and Kelly,
Thank you so much for keeping us informed. I can only imagine how hard it was for you to post this. I agree that the DOS warning does need to be taken seriously. This may be a naive question...but we just entered the PGN this week. We have our pre-approval. Is the pre-approval the point when the decision is made about the orphan classification, or is it made when the Visa is actually issued after the PGN? Thank you for all of your information and support!

Posted by: Sue at March 20, 2007 06:55 AM

Hello Everyone,

I want to thank you for this post however, I am completely disheartened. I just accepted a referral about a month so I am all in. While this comment may be true, I feel sideswiped by it as I have been reading posts all along. With everything going on, I cannot believe not one party is really saying anything to address the families in progress. To say expect delays is one thing but to then issue that statement makes me feel like it is so much worse for us. I am just going to rely on what my agency tells me. They have been very truthful thus far. As statedm I am in it and applaud anyone still plugging away at it(assuming they are well informed). For those of us in progress, are we really going to give up now? So does it matter what anyone's opinion is as long as adoptions remain open? Best of luck to all of us!!

Posted by: Trina at March 20, 2007 08:32 AM

Kelly & Kevin,

Thank you for what must have been a difficult post to make. I agree with you, DOS has made clear its intent to 'crack down' on visa issuance, and without a visa, no adoption will be completed. I am troubled by posts I see elsewhere by PAPs along the lines of "well, my agency says I have nothing to worry about so I am going ahead" - "nothing to worry about" is IMHO disingenuous at best.
thank you again,

Lisa

Posted by: Lisa at March 20, 2007 08:58 AM

I am waiting to get out of PGN (since mid-Dec) so this is obviously very frustating. Waiting is so emotionally exhausting.

I have to vent a bit:

It is very hypocritical of the DOS and our government to suddenly care about Guatemalan adoptions. This is basically about geopolitics and claiming the higher moral ground, which, in my mind, this administration does not have the authority to do.

Why does it lack this higher moral authority?

1. Why sign on to the Hague Treaty pertaining to adoptions when the Bush administration refuses to accept other key tenets of the Hague, like the rights of prisoners, habeas corpus, and stipulations against torture?

2. Why care about Guatemalan adoptions when there has been no overhaul from the federal level of our abismal U.S. foster care systems on the state level and CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program) for the most underprivileged is being cut? Whose interests are being served here, not those of children, whether on our soil or in Guatemala.

3. Why would an administration and party whose main goal is to *privatize* social services want to move them out of the private domain into public scrutiny in Guatemala?

While I think Guatemala needs to sign on to the Hague, this needs to be done in a way that allows for something other than a totally chaotic transition from the old system to the new. Otherwise, it will just be a public system with all the corruption of the old system and none of the incentives that come with the fact that Guatemalan adoptions are a business where those who provide certain and usually quality services (ie, foster mothers) are paid. Yes this market needs to be regulated, but is our government in a position to determine how this should proceed?

I think not.

Finally, there is no large middle class in Guatemala, or Central America or Mexico, who will adopt these kids. Families can't afford it and frankly there is racism in those countries that would make it a stigma to adopt an Indian baby.

So we are stuck between bad politics and some corruption in Guatemala and hypocrisy on the U.S. side, and worse, kids who needs homes are stuck.

Minna


Posted by: Minna at March 20, 2007 09:09 AM

Wouldn't it make sense for the DOS/CIS to make this determination at DNA authorization time????? Why let people spend time, money and heartache going through the other steps??? I hope this is only at the pre-approval stage and not after going through a grueling bout of PGN. If anyone hears *when* the DOS/CIS will be making this determination, will you let us know? Also, is there a period of being grandfathered for some people?

Posted by: Suzanne at March 20, 2007 09:26 AM

Kelly,

What do you mean when you say this will affect most cases waiting for PA? I have two babies waiting for PA. Are you saying I can expect delays or are you saying this is the point at which they are possibly suspending adoptions? This is very alarming to say the least.

Posted by: Lisa at March 20, 2007 09:28 AM

Hello all, I'm new to this list and have a precious 5 month old baby in PGN (or that's where we she was March 1 - we've received no updates since). I've been devouring sites such as this since we have experienced "radio silence" from our agency. I'm encouraged that another family that I'm acquainted with brought their daughter home last week (at 6 months). My first daughter was home at 3.5 months (in 2006) (I know, hard to believe). We visited our new daughter in February and you all know how hard it is to turn around and leave them there. For us, it is almost as if we've lost a child, and each day with no news adds to the stress and frustration. I'm praying for all of us in this very, very scary and difficult time. Bless all of our babies waiting to come home.

Posted by: Steven at March 20, 2007 09:39 AM

I have the same question as Sue. We just got our pre-approval yesterday, and I expect we'll be in PGN shortly. I would imagine that the PA is the point at which the Embassy says for sure the child will be able to get a visa/meets orphan classification guidelines. But is there a possibility the Embassy could say "no visa" after the preapproval is given and the adoption out of PGN? I know that PGN requires the PA before they'll approve an adoption, and that it is the safeguard against Guat approving an adoption and the US Gov't saying "no, the kid can't immigrate". But does this change the rules at all?

Posted by: Tina at March 20, 2007 09:46 AM

To md whose child's birth mother was a minor, but has now had her 18th birthday.

My child's bm was a minor at the beginning and even through family court. When she did turn 18, all that was needed was for her to come back in and sign another set of adoption papers herself...in her case her grandmother was signing for her when she was a minor.
It of course added time, but really was not a problem. I would think this was taken care of for you when the bm had her family court interview. I would check with my agency though.
Hope that helps!

Posted by: Lisa at March 20, 2007 09:55 AM

Kevin,

I agree with you that the DOS statement needs to be taken seriously. I think the reason the conversation devolved into rhetoric over the DOS statement was that it sounded like the DOS was saying that only true orphans would be considered for visas, and that orphans by relinguishment (adoption by final decree) would not longer be accepted. That's what I think got people off-track.

Kevin F (not Guatadopt.com Kevin), waiting on PINK, birthmother signed final decree & new birth certificate issued

Posted by: Kevin (not Guatadopt.com Kevin) at March 20, 2007 09:57 AM

Please clarify if you mean that we can expect longer delays if we do not have preapproval or if you do not think we will be able to bring our precious babies home?

Posted by: JT at March 20, 2007 10:27 AM

I want to add to what Minna is saying. First, where are the facts in all of the allegations that there is corruption in the system? How many birthmothers have come forward as having been pushed into relinquishment? How many other babies have been smuggled into the US besides the single Mary Bonn case? Who decides that the Guatemalan lawyers are charging too much? Lets look at facts and not speculations. I have not heard one legitimate fact concerning corruption and the reason for this sudden and chaotic impending change. It feels like another governmental messup.
How many times does the government operate more efficiently than the provate sector? I have never seen it happen just try to call the IRS and see how long you are on hold. I do not see how this makes anything better for the children. That should be what this is all about. This transition should not have to hurt the innocent lives who are waiting to come home and the massive pile up of children in instutions waiting for things to smooth over so that adoption is once again "safe". I hope there is a voice out there speaking on behalf of the children who will be so affected by these radical changes.

Posted by: lisa at March 20, 2007 10:53 AM

We cannot predict on how strictly things will be scrutinized or in what manner. Pre-approval is exactly what it means...they anticipate an approval. However, they can reject a Visa application, though they need good cause to do so. Certainly, denials can be challenged, but it still causes delays.

The Embassy has long had a "gentleman's agreement" with PGN to have pre-approval before an adoption is finalized. This is meant to reduce the chance that an adoption is deemed legal by the Guatemalan government but the child is not eligible to immigrate back to the US (loosely put...the US does not consider the adoption valid).

If I was adopting right now, I would personally forge ahead. My perspective is quite different though....I believe children need an advocate. I have every reason to believe that those I trust would process my adoption in an ethical manner. I would accept the risk....timelines be d#$%ed. But at the same time, I want parents to understand the severity of the warning and know what they are getting into.

Posted by: Kelly (guatadopt.com) at March 20, 2007 11:03 AM

Thank you Kelly for that clarification. That helped a lot.

Posted by: JT at March 20, 2007 11:21 AM

I finished an adoption in 8/2006 and I always wondered where my money went. How can one not wonder if corruption goes on. Families bring home babies and weeks later they get a call that the BM is pregnant again. How many of you get a 100% truthful answer when you inquire about hoe the money is spent. I love my daughter more then anything and would do it again in a heart beat but after going through and meeting others who had gone through this process and had lawyers who were questionable I just wonder...

Posted by: nancy at March 20, 2007 11:34 AM

For the sake of all the children (as well as our little girl) we hope it does not take significantly longer for families that are waiting.

My wife and I started the process in January 2006. We received our referral in May. We entered PGN in August. So, we've been in the "final stage" for nine months now. Our lawyers originally told us the entire process would take "up to nine months." How I wish that were true.

This is not our first adoption. Four years ago we adopted a girl from Colombia. We were warned that process could be long and drawn out. So far the process in Guatemala has taken three-times as long!

Posted by: Dean Tomasula at March 20, 2007 11:37 AM

My daughter has been in PGN 12 days. I just have to pray that God will send her home to us. There is no backing out for us. She is our daughter. We all know that our government is very slow about changing things. Even though we need to take this seriously I believe that it will take time for all this to take effect. I am praying constantly for all of our children!

Lou

Posted by: Lou at March 20, 2007 12:57 PM

Just for clarification, don't "in process" adoptive parents still have to worry about the potential of not making it thru the process if the Protocolo if implemented? Since we don't know what "in process" means yet?

So, if that's correct, aren't we dealing with more than "potential" delayed timelines....right?

I'm just checking...as I am getting so confused these days! So many uncertain potential outcomes at this time....hard to keep everything straight. I guess time will tell.

Hang in everybody!

Loni

Posted by: Loni at March 20, 2007 01:20 PM

So if the child is denied they would go to an orphanage, right? Even though they are not *orphans*? CRAZY!!!!!!

Posted by: Suzanne at March 20, 2007 02:46 PM

As heartbreaking as it is, I'm so thankful that I paid attention to my inner voice and stopped my process in January. If I had continued to move forward, I'd be on the Guatemalan Adoption Rollercoaster with you. Please visit www.familieswithoutborders.com for information on how you can let your voice be heard. Our government needs to know how we feel so please contact your state representatives & senators.

Posted by: Lucinda at March 20, 2007 03:33 PM

Kelly, thanks for your comment about forging ahead because of the children needing an advocate. That's how I feel. My family and I chose Guatemalan adoption because we wanted to give children a home who might not otherwise get one. Not only will we continue with our current referral (it's hard to think of my son-to-be as a "referral") but unless there is a total shutdown-which I don't think will happen--I want to pursue adopting a second baby to give another child a home. I'll endure the waiting, the ups and downs, the craziness, and the agony for the sake of the child. That's just how I feel. I understand completely if others don't feel the same way. The decision is very personal. People are all made differently with such different situations. I totally respect everyone's decision at this time.

Minna and Lisa, I could not agree with you more in your posts. I have been feeling the same way about the US hypocrisy, the reality of the situation, and the the fact that the children need to come first, politics aside! Of course, that's not the world we live in--but maybe we can try to change it as much as possible.

I know in the forums we had a very active thread in which Marie gave us pointers about writing to the DOS and others. I think it's vitally important we continue to do that as a way of advocating for children who need homes.

No matter what the circumstances of the child's conception, if he or she is born, and has no family to take care of him or her, in my view he/she needs a home! I understand wanting to change the process so that in the future corrupt practices can be *prevented*--but in my mind, all existing children need permanent loving homes *first.*

Besides writing to the DOS, I just wonder if there is something more than we can do. When I read about the infant mortality and poverty in Guatemala, I am so scared for all these little babies.

Maybe it is time to launch a media campaign, hiring a public relations firm if necessary. Media pressure is sometimes the only thing that changes politics.

I understand DOS/CIS has the power to give the visa or not, but I don't understand how it is right or legal for them to change things in the middle of the process. That's why there was the talk of all I600As being grandfathered in and a three-month period before enforcement of Hague rules--because as recently as Dec/Jan, the DOS recognized that the process needed to be gradual for protection of both adoptive parents and children. No agency's power in this country is completely unlimited--at least theoretically--there may need to be legal appeals or other ways to use our system of checks and balances on power.

Posted by: Wendy at March 20, 2007 04:47 PM

I agree with Erik. I don't see where anything has changed but as hard as it is we need to be patient and I know we will get our kids home. What bothers me is that this last announcement has certainly gotten people worked up. This is our 3rd adoption in Guatemala and the second one a year ago was an adventure and took 14 months. When we got home the only thing that mattered was that we were home and he was part of our family. We know that things will work themselves out and with patiance and prayer I believe it will be sooner than later.

Posted by: Mick at March 20, 2007 05:13 PM

Concerning nancy's post. I would also like a break down of where the money goes. However, just because we didn't get a break down doesn't mean that the bio moms are getting rich. An acquaintenance from India once told me that you can't get government people in India to do anything without paying bribes. Could be that the attorneys are having to pay a fair amount of money to people in the government. Its easy to say this is worng but if they can't get things done any other way then ...

Posted by: anonymous at March 20, 2007 05:32 PM

I am wondering how my case will be affected since we are adopting from an orphanage and not through an attorney/foster family. Any insight would be appreciated.
Thanks, Todd

Posted by: Todd at March 20, 2007 06:42 PM

Next week our case will have been in and out of PGN (including a minor's investigaion) for a year...yes, an entire year. Our daughter is 16 months old and it is disheartening, scary and frustrating to be dealing with all this added "stress" right now. After all this time, will our little girl ever come home? I have to trust and hope she will...

Praying for all of us who are enduring this trial.

Posted by: A.L. at March 20, 2007 08:01 PM

My wife and I brought home our daughter in Sept. '06 and are currently considering to pursue another Guatemalan adoption. We have compiled all out documents for our dossier, but we are now just wondering if we should try to go through with this or not. We are so affraid that we will get stuck in the process.

Is anyone one else in this same situation? Can anyone lend us some advise on what they feel we should do, go for it or wait? We are beating ourselves up over this and would like to hear the advise of others in our situation or others that have gone through a Guatemalan adoption.

Posted by: Marshall at March 21, 2007 06:55 AM

Comment to Nancy,
The fact that the attorneys are even offering the bio sibling to the same adoptive family that has the older child is positive the way I look at it. I would love to be the first consideration in making my family complete by adding the brother or sister. To me this shows compassion on the part of the Guatemalan people to want to place these children together. Without birth control remember it only takes nine months to carry a baby to term. And about how the money is spent it is very easy to break down when you figure foster care, medical, basic care needs, gas is Guatemala is twice what it is here, and the list goes on and on. I feel very fortunate with my adoption costs. I have a friend her in the US trying to adopt who began at the same time. She was asked how much money she was willing to spend on an adoption. Then told the more money she was willing to spend the quicker it would go and the "better" the baby would be. Now how corrupt is that!! She is still waiting on a referrel and her fee is starting at 30,000. Mine in Guatemala is 21,000. We can look at the positives in Guatemala or we can always speculate otherwise.

Posted by: lisa at March 21, 2007 08:29 AM

Marshall,
My daughter and I were there Labor Day last year also getting her little boy, so about the same time. Two weeks after we were home she got a call the birth mom was expecting again, was she interested. The baby boy was born March 1st and she's going full steem ahead, and hoping and praying it all gos well. Her adption agency is gaurded alittle saying they had know idea the outcome of this ordeal and any money would be non refundable. We already love him and are taking our chances. I myself truly believe it will all wash out for the best maybe taking alittle bit longer, but worth the wait. You can only follow your own heart but those children need good families and if your one it's worth the risk.
Good Luck!
Grandmother, Cindy

Posted by: cindy at March 21, 2007 10:34 AM

Marshall,

Sounds like we are at about the same step in the process. We have our dossier complete but need to wait for our 171 H to go further (probably another 6 weeks at the least). We have two children (3 and 1) from Guatemala. Very soon, we will need to make our final decision on whether to accept a referral or move our case to another country. A month ago, I couldn't even consider another country as our ties to Guatemala are already so strong. I have since stepped back to gather my thoughts, and realize another country is certainly an option for us. My answer changes back and forth regarding Guatemala (depending on the "announcement de jour")but I am leaning more toward forging ahead. Worried about "getting stuck" ? - I think that's a given (my opinion) and that I can handle. If we go ahead, I'm expecting a long and unknown time line. I am preparing myself for the worst. I'm not willing to take the risk of Guatemala closing it's adoption process (by either the US or Guatemala)and that risk I will need to assess when we have the 171 H in hand. As many already have expressed - you need to know the real risks (emotional, financial, etc), and decide if you can handle them or not. Good luck with your decision! Lilian

Posted by: Lilian at March 21, 2007 12:15 PM

Thank you, Kevin and Kelly, for the work you do.

My husband and I recently decided to adopt from Guatemala and are in the home study process. Our dossier is still being put together. We have invested only $500 in the process so far.

These ominous warnings have caused us to think twice. While we still want to adopt from Guatemala, I think we have to take a look at the other countries out there. I would be interested in hearing from somebody else in the same position. Are you staying the course or switching countries? What countries are you looking at?

Good luck to you all. I am praying for everyone in the process.

Debbie

Posted by: Debbie at March 21, 2007 12:39 PM

Has anyone heard anything about the legislation the Guatemalan congress was going to be addressing "early this week"?

Posted by: Kim at March 21, 2007 02:07 PM

Concerning bio moms putting multiple children up for adoption: Lisa you are right. A fertile woman could probably have anywhere from 12-20 kids during her reproductive years if she isn't in a position to use any method of birth control. For those of us who struggled with infertility this seems surreal, but none the less it is true.

Further, I know a couple that adopted 2 children from an AMERICAN biological mother. The first child was less than 2 before the bio mom was pregnant again. This couple adopted both children.

Posted by: anonymous at March 21, 2007 02:13 PM

Hi Debbie,

If we end up switching, we are considering Panama and maybe Peru. Just gathering info about them now just to be prepared.

Lilian

Posted by: Lilian at March 21, 2007 05:13 PM

Hi Debbie

We are just waiting on our I-171H at this point. Our dossier is complete and has been submitted. We have decided to forge ahead at this time, knowing it will be a bumpy road. Good luck with your decision.

Posted by: SMS at March 22, 2007 07:07 AM

It is a good thing to be straight forward about Guate adoptions at this point. There have been some serious problems in Guate. It is time for the system to shift. It is best for parents to be very careful NOT to get caught in the middle of this shift. And, I caution everyone to recognize that the US State Department has set a date of 31 December for ratification of the Hague Convention. At that time, any Hague signatory country (like Guate) that is NOT compliant (like Guate) will no longer be honored in terms of travel visas.

Posted by: karenms1 at March 22, 2007 05:26 PM

Wow Karen what is your source for this information? I have done ignifiacant research and have not seen the Dec 31 date.

Posted by: Mick at March 22, 2007 07:10 PM

In response to the comment by karenms1 on March 22:

As recently as Dec 06 and Jan 07, the US DOS was saying that the US plans to ratify the Hague late in 07 or early 08, consistent with what you are saying above. But at the same time, they also stated that all approved I600As would be grandfathered in, and that there would also be a three-month period before enforcement of the Hague requirements after the US ratifies the treaty--all of the above to allow the "smooth transition" to Hague compliance that even they admit benefits the children.

Does anyone know--has the DOS reneged on the above statements? While their warnings recently issued have been disturbing and ominous, I have yet to see any official statement that they will not honor what they said above.

Posted by: Wendy at March 23, 2007 06:10 AM

I will be leaving next week for visitation with my bundle of joy. Like many I have been told I am at the end of the PGN process - I anticpate that my case will move forward but that it may take longer than expected. I believe that since I have made this commitment that it will be even more important now to form a bond and to exercise as much parental influence as I can. Last week I made a joking comment about the possiblity of becomming an ex-patriate so that i could exercise physical custody once the PGN process has been completed. In all reality I can't imagine that PGN will now reject cases as these children would have no place to go. the Guatemalean economy does not really have the means support the return of these children into thier public welfare system, and it is equally inconcievable that the private foster parents have the financial resources to continue to care for these children. I believe that demonstrating my commitment by being physically present for "my child" will make all the difference. When I come back from my visit I will let you all know whether I will make the ulitimate sacrifice and decision to sell enough assets to allow me to live in Guatemala for --I believe 2 years is the legal requirement--in order to petition the US governement to bring the child home as a related caretaker. Sheila

Posted by: Sheila at March 23, 2007 01:05 PM

As for the 31 December 07 deadline that I posted previously--I have it on good authority from someone shall remain annonymous (this date is subject to change) However, this source is in the know in terms of the US government and plans to ratify. I do not make this comment lightly nor do I make it for any other reason than to encourage everyone to be realistic about the ratification of the Hague. This shift has been a long time coming--dating back to the 2000 UN reports of adoption irregularities in Guatemala. Regardless of what you think about UNICEF, these reports chronicled serious allegations about the problems in Guate. It is imperative to understand that Guate is a "$1 a day country" coming out of a 36-year civil war (ending in 1996). Many problems have persisted in the decade that has followed. Guatemala is recognized by the US gov. as one of the most corrupt countries in this hemisphere. There has been much money earned on intercountry adoption in Guate. Unfortunately, some individuals have profiteered and the recent arrest of the facilitator has not helped matters. It is unfortunate for the many children who are legitimately eligible for adoptio--and the many open and adoption-ready families. Also note: there are several other countries that have had adoption scandals that eventually led to a moritorium. Famously Cambodia had a unscrupulous adoption facilitator who is now in jail (Seattle Agency). Also, Romania completely set forth a moritorium when there was documentation of abuses--now only Romanian families can adopt. So, if Guate does not take proactive steps now--a full moritorium could result eventually. Standing in the way of proactive policies may have significant long-term impact on a potential moritorium. That would come at a great cost to all--most importantly Guate children in need of permanent homes.

Posted by: karenms1 at March 23, 2007 06:11 PM

As to a three month waiting period...once the Hague is ratified, there will be an additional three months that will be a 'grace period' of sorts. I am not sure what that will really mean for Guate given the many changes taking place in the country, potential new legislation, etc. However, when the line is drawn, inevitably some families will find themselves in a grey area and others will be cut off. That'll be difficult.

Posted by: karenms1 at March 23, 2007 06:14 PM

Just had to tell the adoption community, that I got the call this morning that we are out of PGN. Went in Dec. 1st. Everyone- good luck. Keep the faith. You'll bring your babies home. All the best.

Posted by: Cookie at March 29, 2007 04:34 PM

Cookie,

Did you go into PGN with all of of the required documents or did you go in without DNA results and visa preapproval? I'm asking because my attorney initially filed without the DNA results and visa preapproval. I'm trying to get an idea if my timeline will be pretty much the same as yours.

Thanks in advance, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at April 2, 2007 10:09 PM

We have had our daughter home since October 2006 @ 1 year of age. She is now 18 months and is only saying Mama, Ma, and a lot of jibber jabber. She is trying so hard to talk, but I have her scheduled for speech therapy at the end of April. Other than the speech being a transition from spanish for 1 year to english, things are going wonderful. Has anyone had this issue of speech and if so, what did you do? We could hold out and see what develops, but having another daughter ( biological) was talking sentences at 18 months I am a little concerned.

I would appreciate any comments.

Thanks.
Marissa

Posted by: Marissa at April 10, 2007 10:55 AM

Marissa,
our biological son was barely speaking a few words at 15 months and was referred to early intervention speech therapy. They told me that kids focus on different developmental steps at different times, and most of the kids that get therapy are just fine, sometimes they need that little push, or maybe they have been working on something else - like fine motor skills. Not sure if this is any help, because he wasn't also dealing with a new language, but I don't think it is all that uncommon. If you haven't already done it, look into your state's early intervention program, they offer great services.

Posted by: Kathy at April 12, 2007 03:00 PM

Does anyone know what the Final Adoption Decree looks like? How many pages is it? We used a very reputable agency so I'm not concerned about the legality of our adoption but I don't have paperwork that is specifically titled "Final Adoption Decree". We do have lots of other paperwork so I'm wondering which of our documents is actually the "Final Adoption Decree". Anyone know?

Posted by: Michelle at April 13, 2007 12:31 PM

Marissa,

You have probably already been told this but I'll mention it just in case. You may want to have your child's hearing tested and have her brain activity checked out. I'm not whether that would be an MRI or not. A woman told me her grandchild (she wasn't adopted and she wasn't dealing with a second language) was not talking at about 18 months and these are tests they had done. Everything looked fine and indeed the granddaughter eventually started talking. Different kids are on different developmental time tables, but of course it is a good idea to check things out.

Posted by: cheryl at April 13, 2007 02:10 PM

Can anyone tell me how things are looking in PGN in general? I understand that the rule of thumb is 4-8 weeks (but that can vary depending on situation), but with all that is going on has that "average" changed drastically? Our agency told us to expect 10 weeks. I'm just wanting to get a sense of whether things are moving much slower than usual right now (like they were for much of last year). I think we go into PGN soon (We got the embassy consent for our DNA results 4 weeks ago..but have still not gone into PGN). Our case has hit many snags along the way; we thought we'd have our little one by now (she is 6 months old), but it looks like we need to count on at least another 2-3 months.

Posted by: Mary at April 15, 2007 07:08 PM

Hello, To Mary who posted april 15th. Looking back on all the stress of adoption and the long frustrating wait,our agency told us we should just stay off the internet!!!I wish I would have listened then.I adopted a baby girl last year and was obbsessed with looking at postings everyday, which made things more stressful. Yes,PGN varies in every case,there are never any two alike. A friend of mine was in PGN only 4 weeks,we were in PGN alittle over 5 months, and we entered PGN within 4 days of each other. We finally got our baby girl home the 1st of Sept. and she turned 1 year on the 30th of Sept. You will get there don,t worry,"easy for me to say", if I ever do it again,I would never let the internet bring me down.I would just simply wait for my agency to relay the news about whatever is happening in Guatemala.Well, anyway--GOOD LUCK!!! Allison

Posted by: Allison at April 16, 2007 05:14 PM

Hello to all,

Unfortunatly our adoption has seemed like forever. We were matched with Nathali at one month old in Jan of 06, approved Feb of 06,put into PGN in june of 06, kicked out 4 times, got out of PGN Jan 18 2007 and have been in DHS/CIS at the US embassy since Feb 18th of 2007. We have not heard anything from the embassy and they are not giving reasons why we have been in there waiting for a "Pink Slip" this long. We are stressed out and feel sick because for the last 15 months we watch her grow up in pictures.
Where do we turn for help. What can we do? we have e-mailed the Embassy and were told that they are basically too swamped and busy to communicate with the parents at this time. Even our adoption agency are not given any answers. I have a case number, but that's all we have. How long has other parents been in the Embassy waiting for "pink"? Saddened and lost in Wisconsin -- Mark & Audra

Posted by: Mark at April 19, 2007 01:30 AM

Michelle,

this is in response to your question about what the final adoption decree looks like.

I imagine it may vary somewhat from state to state. We live in PA, and ours is a simple one page (a 1/2 page really) form on heavy weight paper. It states:
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Certificate of Adoption

This is to cerfify the Clerk of Orphan's Court Division of Common Pleas (or whatever court it is completed in) in the county of _____________ on _____(date) decreed the adoption of (child's new name if you picked one) by____________(lists adoptive parents names).

At the bottom it states a date of issue and a signature of the clerk of the court, and a raised seal stamped on it (when you feel it its bumpy). Also a little sentence on the bottom stating "This certificate shall be accepted as proof of adoption."

It took some time for us to get the original adoption decree, as they have to type up the hearing, file it, etc.
Before we got ours our lawyer sent us a copy of a typed form with most of the same info on it and the judge's signature,(I think) to have in the meantime in case it was needed for anything.

Hope that helps.

Posted by: Mary at April 22, 2007 01:01 AM

is there any new news today?

Posted by: Jennifer Zairi at May 15, 2007 09:29 PM

Hello,

I've been in the adoption process for a while now and haven't been on the site for some time. No real reason, just got side tracked. I'm trying to catch up some and have noticed all the chatter about delays, etc.......

We were given our referral in June 06. Due to some complications, our Dossier didn't get submitted to G'mala until Nov 06 and we didn't receive PGN Approval until May 9th 07. We were rejected twice (Paperwork) and resubmitted each time. We just received the news today that our Pink Slip has been issued and we go June 8th to get our sweet boy. We started the whole entire process, application, etc... in August 05, so we are more than ready to get a move on!

We originally thought the process from Dossier to Approval was a 4 month time period, but ours was 6 months, 7 months til we get him. It has been horrible waiting with NO word coming through.

I don't know if this is a normal time frame or if this will help put delays into perspective. Any thoughts?

Dana

Posted by: Dana at May 25, 2007 01:08 PM

Has anyone speculated about what the DOS may have as an agenda for their discouraging approach to Guatemala adoptions?
It seems to me this whole approach on their part is tied to other things. But what?
sallyb

Posted by: sallyb at June 12, 2007 02:54 AM

Have any parents with health issues had any success adopting from Guatemala? I have hepatitis c and cirrhosis and though I am presently healthy and symptom-free I do not have a "good prognosis". My husband is in perfect health. Does anyone know how flexible Guatemala is in regard to health? Are we likely to be rejected?

Best of luck to everyone enduring such an agonizing wait. Keep the faith. --thanks, ak

Posted by: ak at June 25, 2007 04:14 PM

Don't they understand that the only one that suffers is the baby. The longer they are in a foster setting the harder it is for them to bond with their adoptive parents. They won't make eye contact with you and they don't know how to hug you even when they get older. They should start to think about the well being of the emotions of these precious gems and let them go home before its to late.

Posted by: Jean Brown at July 10, 2007 03:53 PM

We are close to finalizing our Dossier. We haven't received a referral. How concerned should I be about moving forward and accepting a referral? We have five kids now and we want to adopt because there are kids who need a home. We don't have a lot of time or money to waste but we are willing to tough it out in order to help a couple little girls find a home. I know there are no guarantees, but is it prudent to move ahead with Guatemala? Deneen

Posted by: Deneen at July 14, 2007 11:27 AM

Can anyone tell us how the process usually works -- can you arrange for an independent medical assessment and visit to meet the baby before you accept the referral?

Posted by: Mary at August 23, 2007 08:40 PM

Hello,

My husband and I are in the process of adopting from a baby boy from Guatemala. We have been waiting for 15 months. It took us 8 months for complete our dossier. The length was long because my husband was born in Europe and we were married in Mexico. We worked diligently and kept our adoption agency up to date on our progress. We even flew to Mexico and hired an attorney to assist us with authenticating our marriage license. In June 2007 we were contacted by our agency after numerous excuses for information on the completion of DNA process, we were tell our first placement’s mother had defected to the U.S. or Mexico. We were also told that the attorneys in Mexico knew in December 2006 the baby’s mother wanted to leave to start a new life and was frustrated with the delay. We were never told this information until June 2006. We were told that we could adopt another baby the same day. We were and still in shock over lose of our baby boy. We worry of his current living arrangement and his future. We were told that when he is deemed abandoned we would notified if we wanted to still adopt him. We now place this in God’s hands and pray that we would be able to save this baby. Now, with our new placement we have been harassed to pay for the fist placements foster care that has been resolved after many attempts to reason with our agency to remind them we were never notified there was a problem and that we were in almost weekly contact with the agency to inquire on our progress that their process. We are now been told that our adoption is in jeopardy and we are now required to pay an additional $4,500 for a new referral fee. Now we are in PGN, but will the adoption process will probably not be completed before January 2008. We were told in June with the new placement that we should be able to bring our baby boy home in October or November. What do we do now? How can we find out if our agency is legitimate? Can we post the agency’s name for individuals that may have worked with them in the past? We love both of these children and want adopt them. My husband and I are in need of help. This agency that keeps reminding us that they are “non-profit” are now making us a non-profit family. We also want to know how they refer to themselves “as a Christian Adoption Agency” with We have sent thousands of dollars. We have saved for our last installment, court costs, flights, hotel, and food. Now we are hit with this new fee and we are worried about further hidden costs. We would appreciate commits and suggestions

Respectfully,

Dave and Pam Phelps

Posted by: Pam Belanger at October 3, 2007 02:32 PM

We would like to change our baby's name on her Guatemalan passport to match her name on her US Passport. In order to do this, the Guatemalan consular in Chicago said we first need to have her name changed on her Guatemalan birth certificate. Does anyone know how to go about doing this?

Thank you, Niki

Posted by: Niki Heil at October 20, 2007 04:42 PM

hello all,

we are at the other end of the situation. we are an adoption agency & have accepted a referral of a little girl & cannot find a family for her due to the recent postings. any one willing to consider this child? She is healthy & 5 months old. Are all the children now going to be stuck in limbo?

Posted by: carol at October 22, 2007 12:25 PM
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