May 08, 2007
Dateline / Rescue 4-Revisited
After our visit trip and participation with Dateline NBC, things have been hectic. We just received news last week that Alexia's final abandonment hearing was successful, so we are working on becoming paper ready for her adoption ASAP. Alia (Gloria) is currently in PGN on a March 28th resubmission, and we are hoping to bring her home sometime in June if all goes well. I haven't had time to add to my blog (A Second / Third Time), so this is a brief update.
In and amongst all of this, I have been following the "direction" of Dateline's program and have been in regular contact with the producer in regards to their program and the "sensationalized" Rescue 4 clips. I have not forgotten the "fight" for a balanced look at adoptions in Guatemala. Although I wholeheartedly appreciate "anyone" stepping up and exposing the really "scummy" people that have been "allowed" by adoption professionals on both sides of the borders to exist, I think the Rescue 4 broadcast is an example of "shallow-minded" people presenting "shallow" information without doing sufficient research on their topic.
Below is a response from the producer of the Dateline NBC program - I received today. I will preface this by saying that even to offer a response, the producer had to seek out permission from "higher-ups," and had to be "company correct" in what would be printed. Obviously our conversations have been much more open and direct in response to what Rescue 4 chose to air. I know my approach and Susana Luarca's approach to Dateline differs from some, but we feel strongly that if we continue to "hide" and "whisper" yet do NOTHING, then we get "what we get." If that is the choice some make, then they have no right to complain in the end.
Had the RAIs and Waiting Angels of the world been addressed years ago, we likely would not be in this mess we are in now (and there are more out there to expose). There has been more accomplished in the last 6-8 months by ordinary adoptive parents than the previous 10 years by DOS, JCICS, U.S. agencies, Guatemalan professionals, PGN, etc...., as far as stopping corrupt people from working in this business. We have to "keep up the good fight," or we will lose for sure. There are too many GREAT things about Guatemalan adoptions that need to be repeated and repeated-again and again. Yes, there are problems!! But, don't allow anyone to make "blanket statements" about our children and / or our process.
Here is Dateline's response:
"As you know, Dateline has been working on an investigative story about
Posted by Troy at May 8, 2007 02:24 PM
Guatemalan adoptions for 6 months. Although the story is still in
progress, we are planning a one hour program that will most likely air
early this Fall. Our story has been diligently researched and as a
result, we are very sensitive to the concerns adoptive parents have
about sweeping generalizations being made about corruption in the
Guatemalan adoption process.
We of course were well aware that our NBC affiliate WDIV was working on
a story about the Michigan agency "Waiting Angels" because we are also
investigating that agency. Still, while we have provided them with some
material and they have also given some to us, we had absolutely no
involvement in the production of WDIV's story and we were not consulted
about, or involved with, their editorial process at all. WDIV's story
was written and produced solely by WDIV and should in no way whatsoever
be considered a reflection of the story "Dateline" is planning. "
As things stand, there is a lack of transparency in how funds are spent and many Guatemalan attorneys do not provide proof (such as a receipt showing PGN was entered) that processes have been performed. It seems to me that if many of the US agencies band together and demand transparency on the part of the Guatemalan attorneys, the Guatemalan attorneys will have no choice but to comply. Accounts can be setup that only include money pertaining to the adoptions handled by a G. attorney. Then we can see the money coming in and going out. Separate accounts and providing copies of all communications to clients are standard practices in the US and they should also become standard in Guatemala.
Troy--Thank you for your wisdom on responding to the sensationalistic and insulting slant that WDIV took in regard to Guatemalan adoption, particularly in the broad generalizations it drew in regard to Guatemalan birth mothers. Clearly, I have had my fill of this type of pseudo-journalism (as you may have seen in my posting on the Arrests--Waiting Angels, MI post of May 3). We appreciate your voice as always being one of reason, compassion, and intelligence---with the best interests of the children always in mind. Thank you.
Whew - the Dateline response makes me feel more hopeful. Thanks for posting that!
The agency we used, employs the separate account system you describe and has been doing so for years. We did not personally get copies of every transaction and that would have been nice, however it was good to know that payments to the G. notaries were handled in this way.
Our local NBC affiliate came and did a follow up story on our Waiting Angels experience and it never mentions the things Joe said about birth mother payments. It came out really well and focused on the illegal activities of WA and not on Guat adoptions. That is where the focus should be. We need to purge the system of the bad apples for the benefit of everyone, but especially the children.
Anon, it's my understanding most US adoptions are private and therefore I question the transparency. We also have corruption here and people who sell or steal babies. I've been seeing in a few places they don't have records of the number of US children adopted overseas. And we are beating up on Guatemala? As far as Guatemala transparency and "cost" I keep hearing about these significant costs and as an adoptive parent I can vouch the costs are not significant. We started out in a Hague country. The difference in cost initially was $3000. When you add additional $1500 government expense in case they want to travel to the US, something we supported but would never know what the funds are used for or if it stays in a childrens fund, then it becomes a $1500 difference. That would have been without foster care and who knows what the money is ultimately used for or how this is checked. While as adoptive parents we would like more transparency with all adoption process I do not feel it is fair to focus exclusively on Guatemala in regards to transparency. In the end its around 20,000+ in most countries to my knowledge and I have to ask where that chunk of money is going in other countries. We and most couples didn't mortgage our house over $1500. This reassurance of a central authority doesn't reassure me. We can see many of the central authorities do a very poor job in terms of caring for the children. Here I know some of the money is going into foster care so our children are not condemned to an orphanage. There are allegations of child kidnapping in other countries and I don't see DNA testing and 4 time mother sign off there. I feel our children and we were more closely scrutinized here than in the Hague country. We would never have come here if our alarms were triggered. Not to say problems don't exist but there are more protections in place and in many ways most Guatemalan lawyers do a better job in caring for the children than the authorities of the world are supposed to be doing. In some ways, as much as dealing with ten million different groups drives us crazy, I feel we have less to worry about with corruption with multiple parties involved than we would with one authority. Basic accounting principle.
You are misunderstanding me. You are are being emotionally reactive and assuming that I'm one of those people that are totally down on Guatemalan adoptions. I'm not. I didn't even talk about how much G. adoptions cost, but you go on and on about costs. I am in the process of adopting. I post on here frequently but in discussing this issue I have chosen to not use my name. As you yourself have said, there are problems with Guatemalan adoptions. Quite obviously more transparency is needed. Trust me if you hire a US attorney you will get copies of all of the communications. Further, the law requires US attorneys to use separate accounts and the money has to be accounted for. No one can argue that doing similar types of things in Guatemala would go a long way to minimize the corruption. Don't you want the corruption in Guatemala to be minimized? Don't you think that more can be done to improve the Guatemalan system without compromising the good aspects of Guatemalan adoptions? If so, then why are you arguing with me?
Anonymous posting of May 10--Please note that there seem to be two "Lisa's" on this thread, and you should be clear about who you're addressing. I believe you are responding to the second lisa with a small "l", and not to my posting to Troy earlier in the thread. I will now list myself as Lisa HJ to avoid confusion.
I strongly suspect that almost everyone agrees that the current system in Guatemala cannot continue as is. You aren't going to get anywhere by sayingthis isn't fair because there the US has its problems and other international adoption programs have their problems for several reasons. Two wrongs don't make a right. Further, the US and Guatemala are intent on a change, probably a huge change.
I basically see people falling into two camps. The modify the current system camp and the replace the current system with something entirely new camp. I have called for modifying the current system by providing more transparency. Therefore, I definitely belong to the modify the current system camp. If you also belong to the modify the current system camp, then we are on the same side.
Jennifer, do you mind saying which agency you used?
Oh and btw, Jennifer, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd prefer to e-mail me directly. Thanks.