June 13, 2007
Earthquake, New DOS Notice and UN
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit the pacific coast Guatemala today. We do not have any infop on the amount of damage, only that the epicenter was not near any major metropolitan areas like Guatemala City or Antigua. As we learn more, we will post it.
Also, the DOS issued yet another ominous warning today. It is posted below or you can click here.
Lastly, the United Nations called for Guatemala to suspend adoptions. Don't freak out, it doesn't mean anything. The DOS statement may be a reaction this. Mainly, we're posting it for everyone to get an idea of the political landscape right now. You can read a story on this here.
Guatemala Status of Intercountry Adoptions and the Hague Convention
June 13, 2007
The U.S. Department of State continues to caution American prospective adoptive parents contemplating adopting children from Guatemala that the U.S. Government cannot recommend adoption from Guatemala at this time because of the ongoing problems in Guatemala’s intercountry adoption process. Although U.S. consular officers currently continue to process adoption immigrant visa cases, each case is now subject to greater scrutiny than in the past and the process may be slower as a result.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) office in Guatemala is taking up to 60 days to review initial documents and up to four business days to review final adoption documents. Please see their notice to the public. The consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala will generally issue appointment letters the day after USCIS completes its review of the final adoption documents.
The U.S. Government’s ongoing concern with the adoption process in Guatemala results from the lack of government oversight necessary to protect children and families. The USCIS field office in Guatemala has denied orphan petitions due to unlawful practices in Guatemala. These include cases where an imposter purports to be the biological mother of the child and where the biological parent(s) have been deceived and there has been no true relinquishment of parental rights. Several adoption service providers are under investigation in the United States. The Department of State is aware that criminal charges have been brought against adoption facilitator Mary Bonn and the adoption agencies, Reaching Arms International and Waiting Angels.
Activity of this nature violates U.S. law and is also counter to the principles of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption which the United States intends to join this year. The Department of State applauds the May 22, 2007 act of the Congress of Guatemala in passing legislation approving the Hague Adoption Convention. The bill clarifies the legal status of the Convention within Guatemala, which had been questioned previously in Guatemalan courts.
This confirmation of Guatemala's commitment to the Convention and to protect children in the adoption process is an important step. However, Guatemala has much to do before its adoption process is fully consistent with the Convention. On March 1, 2007, the Vice President of Guatemala announced a “Manual of Good Practices” based on existing law and regulation concerning child welfare and adoption. The U.S. Government encourages the Government of Guatemala to continue such efforts to improve adoption processing and specifically put in place measures needed to implement the Hague Convention.
Upon the request of the Guatemalan Government, the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (Hague Permanent Bureau) and several Hague Adoption Convention countries, including the United States, are engaged in a cooperative effort to provide Guatemala with technical assistance on the Convention. The Hague Permanent Bureau has invited the United States to participate in this effort and the U.S. Government has accepted. The U.S. Government supports this multilateral process and its goal of working with the Government of Guatemala and its Congress to meet its obligations under the Hague Convention.
When the Convention enters into force for the United States in early 2008, the U.S. Government will not be able to approve adoptions from Guatemala if Guatemala’s adoption process does not provide the protections for children and families required by the Convention.
For a description of some of the steps that Guatemala must take in order to meet its obligations under the Convention, please see “U.S. Law, the Hague Adoption Convention, and Guatemala,” dated May 16, 2007.
The Department of State also encourages interested persons to read in detail the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
The Department will update our website travel.state.gov as new information becomes available. Our e-mail address is: AskCI@State.gov.
Posted by Kevin at June 13, 2007 06:14 PM
Oh just more negativity!! I am at 51 days waiting for PA, I hope it comes soon!! They have predicted 60 days but some are much longer. CC
Should we write them after our adoption is completed to tell them how much we hate them for printing despicable, inconsiderate, and inaccurate information that hurts children? My personal favorite is when they say we shouldn't adopt, even though its "SAD", because how will our children feel if its possible they were born to be adopted? Will the nazi who put that out there stand in front of my child and explain how it's better if they don't get adopted and live in the streets or in an orphanage they know the government can't afford? Can anyone read the rest of the UN reports which talks for ten years of the crisis children face around the world that these idealists are NOT providing solutions for and even though "its sad" we're just supposed to let the kids remain in these states and we are supposedly the criminals? I can't believe the level of scapegoating being used to focus the public on adoption and away from the failures of the world to care for its children. Whats wrong with these people????
Is it just me, or is this even scarier then the last "warning"? I'm nearing PGN, if I were any earlier in process, I would be VERY concerned, the way it is, I will and am caught up in the delays. I think people who are still in the process of doing their homestudies should really, really reconsider. This is not to be taken lightly. Its sad but true, until they "fix" the system, Our time is up.~Melissa
Actually, the earthquake was a 6.8. Still strong, but I wanted to make sure people had the right info.
Thanks NVW. I've corrected the original post.
We heard from several friends and family in Guatemala yesterday afternoon and evening. All were (no pun intended) feeling a bit shaken, but no worse for the wear and tear. Having experienced a couple of earthquakes of that magnitude myself, I can guarantee that it does get your attention. Thankfully, it appears that the epicenter was offshore.
Sorry if this is a duplicate... All the bad press, all the money being offered up by UNICEF. Why don't they create different education programs, more mobile medical units, feeding stations, day care centers, small business loans for the people and children of Guatemala?
I'm having computer problems, I hope this isn't a duplicate. Does anyone know what the money that UNICEF is offering will be for exactly? They should use if for education programs, more mobile medical units, feeding stations and small business loans, just to name a few. Really try and help these people.
I respectfully suggest you separate these to news items for the purpose of comments. People seem to enjoy venting over the DOS nonsense, but also want to express relief and prayers about the earthquake. Probably appropriate not to mix the two.
As soon as I heard the news I contacted our foster mom, and attorney. GC is not impacted by the quake. They said business is as usual. The quake is deep in the ocean.
We are in PGN. Though the DOS says they take 60 days to process PA, many of us received PA in 27 business days. Just a word of encouragement for those who are waiting for PA.
I share your anger, madmom. My favorite hypocrisy in this whole mess is how the US, all high and mighty, issuing their warnings, is not even compliant with Hague themselves! (years and years after we signed the Hague). How about we get OUR house in order, then issue our warnings? The arrogance just astounds me.
Then there's all the PC-speak about adoptive parents being the 'bad guys', when, as you say, it's far easier to point fingers than it is to DO something for these children, around the world, in dire circumstances. The most distressing part of the PC stuff, to me, is how many of the most vocal critics of Guatemalan adoption are people who have adopted from Guatemala in the past and now have their children home. I know that some of the critcisms of Guatemalan adoption are valid, but how about we work at making things better, rather than closing it down, which is what I fear will happen in 2008.
FYI: There are several scales to rate an Earthquake, as I understand it. Also, because of the depth and the location, it is difficult to get completely accurate information (I expect that the initial reports were 7.2 and on what scale?). I experienced a life-changing 7.7 earthquake in 1999 in Taiwan (we were 50 kil from the epicenter). It was reported as a 7.3 initially on one scale, then a 7.6. Eventually, after several months the Earthquake Center upgraded it to a 7.7.
As for the DOS warning, while it is ominous...you need to understand that many of these cases are being investigated by PGN and the US Embassy. They are CHARGED with providing adequate "oversight" to the process. To me, these statements come off like a crossing guard letting a child walk into oncoming traffic and blaming the traffic laws for the serious injuries resulting.
IT is an improvement that DOS recognized the fact that many of the problems are being initiated by unethical agencies in the US. It has been extremely discouraging that "punishing" unethical behavior in the US has had numerous hurdles and in several cases, the federal/state/local agencies have shown LITTLE interest in pursuing CLEAR violations. Hey, if you won't prosecute, then who cares if there is a new law??
I am 100% supportive of greater attention to verifying that a child's rights and parental rights have not been violated. However, dedication to this task has not been supported with additional QUALIFIED manpower in the Embassy (and I am sympathetic to the staff for being overworked without adequate support from our government). We "know" that they are scrutinizing cases. But is it necessary to stall family reunions depending on the ink color of the day (BLUE or BLACK)?? Is that somehow going to protect these children?
I am so tired of everyone talking about how corrupt Guatemala's system of adoptions is ran. Talking about how birthmothers are paid money for their children. What about the United States adoption process, WHAT A MESS! It costs the same as Guatemala and then you are asked to pay for housing and other "expenses" for the birthmom. What is the difference! And if she changes her mind we are out all of the housing and other "expenses". We need to get our own process fixed. Maybe if our own process wasn't such a mess more people would adopt from here. The foster care system is also a mess. Think about how many more babies would be up for adoption here if America did not have checks and other government assistance for those who really don't need it. Also look at how many chances our foster care system gives REPEAT parents. Most of the time the child ends up back in foster care off and on unitl they age out and have no parents and are a mess. In my opinion the United States needs to look at Guatemala as how a system could run as far as adoptions are ran. Children should have families from a young age and should not be tossed around. I am glad that I live in the United States it is just that the adoption news in Guatemala gets to me becuase in my opinion it places young children with loving families and what is the problem with that! Things could always be changed to help insure that the babies being put up for adoption are truly up for adoption, a second DNA test that they are talking about. Things are always going to have problems no matter what the situation, but shutting adoptions down is not going to solve anything.
My agency could give no info about my son's welfare (no surprise) so I emailed Gloria @ La Casa Grande when I learned of the earthquake yesterday afternoon. She quickly responded with the following:
We are fine, it seems the city is eveything normal do not worrie. We do not know yet how are outside at th villages.
Thanks so much.
What if your in the process of getting PA should those cases be fine? Or do you think this is just another warning and we should not really worry until toward the end of the year?
I am so tired of all the negativity about adoptions in Guatemala. About how they are corrupt and how the birthmothers get paid money. What about here in the states? Our own adoption program is a MESS! When we call agencies about adoption here in the states they all say the more generous you are with housing and birthmom "expenses" the more likely you are to get chosen quickly. This comment has came from several agenies. What is the difference? It also costs the same as Guatemala if not more and if the birthmom changes her mind in the states you are out all of her housing and other expenses. If our program was so great why do so many of us look to other countries? In my opinion we need to look at how Guatemala is running their system. They are placing babies with loving families at an early age. THIS IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Wonder how many more birthmothers the states would have putting their children up for adoption if we did not have all the goverment assistance for them? Don't get me wrong I am glad to live in the states it is just that when it comes to adoption in Guatemala and other countries we need to stop trying to fix their gov. adoption system and fix our own!
I'm a bit confused about the DOS post. In the first paragraph, we are warned against adopting. In the next paragraphs, Guatemala is being "applauded" for their efforts. So should we be worried or happy that efforts are being made?
Lauren B- could you please give me La Casa Granda's email address. We stayed there back in Janurary as well as two other times. I would love to have the email address for the future. Thanks!!!
Does your 50-60 days for preapproval start from the time on the date the DNA paper was dated? Also since we are just 20+ days into PA is there any worry? Can and would all in process cases be halted? Surely not for the sake of all our precious babies waiting to come home. Praying for all the children waiting to come to there waiting familes.
I have my heart set on adopting from GT, and have been watching the issues closely. We are doing our home study next month, do you all think we should risk GT still?? Please help!!
Note, the same article regarding UN call to suspend adoptions also had this:
"Guatemala is unlikely to follow the UN recommendation to suspend adoptions because the constitution would have to be changed to take such action, government officials said"
For those of us in process and freaking out!
The State Dept newest warning does not clarify one specific thing: if your adoption isn't "finished" by the end of 2007, does that mean it will be stopped or disapproved? Their strongly-worded statement does not address the issue of those who have been matched with a child and whose cases are nearing completion. It simply says and I quote: "
When the Convention enters into force for the United States in early 2008, the U.S. Government will not be able to approve adoptions from Guatemala if Guatemala’s adoption process does not provide the protections for children and families required by the Convention." So, what does that mean for adoptions midway or better through the process? Yikes!
Anyone have recent experience on how long its been taking to get an appointment to pick up your child once everything is submitted to the US embassy (I think they refer to it as the pink slip) I am waiting over a week and my agency had expected it to be only 2 -3 days before I received an appointment. Also, how far into the future are the appointment issued?
I read on the blog from May 22 that waiting families can call PGN to get a status on their case. Has anyone tried this? I am curious as to what their response was from the folks at PGN.
Regardless of the angst about the US adoption warnings and bad press or the criticism about the Guate process, it is imperative that everyone understand that change is difficult and often uncomfortable. I encourage all PAPs to understand that the human rights abuses which have taken place--in those cases in which adoption fraud has occured--the abuses are extreme and the worst of humanity. It is not easy to imagine being coerced into a relinquishment, but there is clear evidence that it has and is taking place. And, it is very difficult to identify exactly what is going on from case to case--thus a slower process. The problems include forcible housing of pregnant women--allegations from very credible sources (i.e. medical doctors). If these abuses were taking place in the US, there would be absolute outrage and a legal system under which the problems could/would be addressed including not only imprisionment, but also civil liability! We, as privledged Americans, really must respect that changes must take place in Guatemala. As I have said in another previous post, you MOST CERTAINLY DON'T WANT TO HAVE YOUR CASE CALLED INTO QUESTION ONCE YOUR CHILD IS PLACED. I know this seems like a far-fetched concept, but a child who was placed in Spain was later returned to Guatemala once it was proven that the birth mother was mis-led/lied to and didn't understand the relinquishment papers. And, multiple families who adopted from Cambodia later learned, as a result of a Federal investigation, that their children were stolen from their birth families. The pain and anguish of learning this fact was absolutely terrible for these families. If Guate were to continue in its current state, that would EVENTUALLY happen because the Federal Marshalls would inevitably document the same in Guate (investigating orphan visa fraud). They have already cracked down on Mary Bonn and I would not be surprised ONE BIT if there are not others being actively investigated (I say this with almost certainty). Frankly, there is just far too much money involved in this process and, with that,comes entreprenuers who are not committed to children and families, but to enriching themselves. And, that enrichment is so important (with the cash-gain so great) that the unethical practices are a slippery slope, especially in a country where it is pretty easy to break the law without consequence. So, when you get angry at this process REMEMBER this there are reasons for the DOS statements. READ between the lines--when they say problems that is an understatement because they can't say everything until it is proven, such as results of investigations.
Finally, once the Hague is ratified by the US, Guate adoptions will not be recognized as Hague-compliant until the nation (1) develops appropriate adoption laws (process underway), (2) develops a functional central authority, (3) develops a system of judicial oversight that would include some sort of family court hearing above and beyond the current rubber stamp process, (4) trains child welfare professionals in appropriate relinquishment processes, including writing quality birth parent summaries, (5) development some sort of regulation over hogars, (6) abolish the current birth parent recruiting system, (7)significantly change the way adoption facilitation is taking place, and (8) develop a child welfare system which FIRST attempts to keep the child within his/her birth family/kinship group, SECOND attempts to keep the child within the nation, and then THIRD when these options are exhausted, allow the child to be placed for adoption overseas. Given all of the changes necessary, I seriously doubt that Guate will be ready with all of these changes by the new year. If anyone promises that this is a serious possibility, I would (a) question their motive, and (b) question if they honestly understand what it takes to build a child welfare system. More likely, Guate will go through some sort of suspension until the nation is Hague-complaint--a determination made by the Hague in tandem with the nation.
As for how a suspension would impact in-process cases, your guess is as good as mine. I can tell you that I would NOT begin an adoption right now. I predict that there will be a group of families who are going to learn this the hard way. Of course, if adoption agencies here in the US cease new cases appropriately (as some have), this will be a good safeguard. However, some agencies are still encouraging families to go with Guate. As such, the US DOS is trying to get PAPs to get smart and avoid be the one whose case is ceased.
I don't say any of these things lightly. I have worked in a child health program in rural Guatemala. I have over a 15-year relationship with the nation and the situation is VERY UNSTABLE.
To m and j
I have contacted PGN. They are very nice and try to be helpful. I was told by our attorney in Guatamala who I also call and email to be very nice to them or they can hold up your case. As of right now, as I understand, the director is currently signing off on cases that were submitted in April. He is in the very beginning of April of 2007. I hope this helps. If I can be anymore help, please let me know. Our road like others has been long. Our case has been in PGN over a year now. Our birthmother is a minor which does have impact on our file. Good luck to you.
Reading about Unicef suggesting that Guatemala suspend adoptions makes me ill. With no plan for the children, HOW CAN THEY EVEN IMAGINE doing such a thing? I wish some reporter would cover a story like this, dig a little, uncover the individuals who reach these incomprehensible conclusions, and where the money REALLY goes from Unicef? The public should be informed of the truth--because if you don't have a system set up, the kids end up on the street, dead or in some other form of misery. How do the people at Unicef sleep at night?
Hi Kathy C,
I emailed La Casa Grande @ email@example.com.
Judy, I am told the wait after PGN approval is 6-8 weeks, and that 1-2 weeks of this wait is for the Embassy to issue pink.
The info you posted is very helpful. How does one contact PGN?
When you say that the director is signing off on cases now from beginning of April...does that mean he's about 2 months behind? So one could expect the case to be signed off 2 months after submission? Just trying to figure out if there's any way to estimate how long one will be in PGN or to find out how to contact PGN. Thank you!
Thanks Jen! We waited for our pre-qpproval for 11 months. And we are in week 10 in PGN with one Previo. This is our third Guatemalan adoption and each one has taken a little longer. Our Attorney told us the same thing but I was still wanting to know if anyone had tried to call PGN. So thanks. Our daughter is 10 years old and we are excited to get her home. Can't wait to go and get her home.
Thank you to everyone for helping to keep us up to date on the situation. I am on week 8 in PGN and it is good to know that those submitted in April are starting to be processed. I am hanging on by tiny threads and constantly on pins and needles waiting these days and any hopeful information is much appreciated. Praying that all of our roller coaster rides will end soon.
I have the phone number to PGN. I got it off the receipt the attorney gets when he sumbitted our daughter's case. Every time the attorney submits a case, he/she is given a receipt. I has requested our attorney in Guatemala fax it to me for our files it just so happened the number was on it. So I have been on the phone with PGN. As of Friday, our case was finally signed!!!! We are so happy!!! Our paper work was about to expire. The director does seem to be 2 months behind. There is a whole story with PGN. Please let me know if you have any questions that I can help answer.
we where in Antigua when the quake hit...and you could really really feel it. It was very scary! We are all safe and fine but never want to go through that again.
Thats awesome Jen! Congrats! Adn when you called PGN they didn't seem surprised to hear from you or annoyed that you were calling? Do you think it helped get you through faster? We had a previo and are being re-submitted this week. I think I may try to call the following week. I know they must be busy. You daughter is 10 yrs old and a year and a half seems like a lifetime to her I am sure.
"There is a whole story with PGN"
What do you mean? Would you share it? Or share it later?
Proud Mama to Anarosa since 5-26-04
Waiting for Migdalia, born November, 2006
Hi Folks- Just a suggestion to help you. Many of your questions (ex: hotel info, PGN numbers, how to contact USE, etc.) can be answered if you log onto the Guatadopt.com Forum, which is located at the top left of the column on this main website page. I too agree that maybe this way the comments here can reflect the story line posted instead. You can also contact the Guatadopt Team with your serious concerns.
Would someone please post the telephone number for PGN? I can't find it on the Guatadopt Forum under the PGN link.
My daughter is 20 months. PGN was very nice and willing to help me. They did not seemed to be bothered at all. Our attorney told me they are nicer to the families than the attorneys. Our paperwork was about to expire so I think that is why they were so willing to help us. If you call, HAVE YOUR FILE NUMBER. That will help them and you alot. Tell them you know they are busy and thank them for taking the time to help you. As for what is going on PGN, apparently some attorneys are putting documentation that is incorrect, according to PGN. PGN is worried the attorneys are not only paying the birth mothers but also charging the familes more then what they should. That is all according to PGN so please don't hold it against me, ok? I am sure there are other issues as well but we have been in PGN for over a year and all I was worried about was our daughter and our paper work so I really didn't ask too many questions, not only that, I didn't want to appear nosey and make them mad. Let me know how your phone call works for you. Good luck!
PGN Dial 011-502-2414- 8787 and when the recording comes on dial 2037
SJBJ, I completely agree with you. I came to the conclusion the world never noticed the children and didn't care until we started bringing them home. Then they tried to figure out where the children were coming from and assume we are creating them in spite of the fact they see images of millions in horrible situations flitting across their screen in between burger commercials. They have the deductive reasoning of a 6 year old. There are a few cases of unethical parents and cases of people preying on the helpless and taking advantage of good intentions of others but in the end the majority of trafficking is not the adoption community. They have a gigantic hole and go after a pinhole and have big PR campaigns to show the world they are taking care of business. Look at Romania. Why is noone talking about Romania. They closed adoptions there and still have a horrendous trafficking problem. And no one has questioned whether the earlier "fix" was faulty? The US is not Hague, they "will" allow states to handle domestic adoptions (so what is situation now), they "will" have a central authority overlooking international adoptions from the US (but have no records on number of children adopted out of country now... what???), and they "will" do a lot of things.. maybe in 2008. The foster care system gives children who have been removed multiple times from unsafe parents back to those unsafe parents. There is fraud in domestic adoptions. There are women here who will sell their babies but nobody implying because of a few cases that all women who give their children up are for profit baby producers. And we, and other countries, point fingers at Guatemala?
Karen, I expect my government to have proof and give me that proof before making such damaging allegations especially considering the impact on the welfare of children. I expect them to give me a LOT before they ask me to turn my back on a child I love. There are plenty of anti-adoption people in the judicial system in Guatemala and huge issues but no highly visible prosecutions? I have a hard time believing Arellano wouldn't be ALL over that with hourly press releases.
The latest DOS statement IMO was nothing but a nicer and more intelligent modification to their previous post. The prior post was a disgrace. The only proof they can provide is fraudalent US agencies. That proves there's an issue in the US not Guatemala. Do you know whats wrong with this? The burden of proof is on the accuser. Why am I trying to find proof of their allegations? I found plenty of real issues in Guatemala prior to 1998. Nothing now except for reprints and inaccurate articles who say our attorneys can complete our adoptions. I found a few cases of people passing off kids that were not theirs that DNA caught! How often does this occur elsewhere? There is no DNA testing or other safeguards in other countries and families who adopt from other countries should know *exactly* what I am implying here and tons of allegations with these countries but no DOS remarks and no safeguards. No 4 time mother sign off. No wading through multiple courts and having two seperate governments checking you out.
The previous DOS statement was not only ignorant but cruel. I cannot believe anyone who loves children wrote the previous post. To tell me not to adopt because my child may have been born to be adopted? That not only insults their mother and I don't believe worthy of retort but in the small chance it were true is missing something anyone with a soul should see which my child exists. My child has a name. My child has a teddy bear with a horribly mangled ear that has to go everywhere with him. I could go on. So I don't adopt him and then poof he goes away? It makes me feel better they acknowledge it would be "sad". What they told me and what I see other anti-adoption people who claim to have the childrens interests at heart is that I should turn away because my child should never have been born to begin with and then they have the nerve to ask me how my child may feel. Go to a park and tell the parents there to leave their children and tell them they shouldn't have been born and see what kind of response you get. Yet they can say this to us like its somehow different. I don't have words for how cruel this is. I'm proud of our country yet these actions have me mortified. The allegations don't coincide with the state departments own human rights records and tiering reports. It's a key element to this great country presumption of innocence. I expect better of them. I expect the best from them. Give me facts. The only facts they provide are all failures on the US side. I can find no evidence of problems on the Guatemala side of higher severity than other countries. Again, there are safeguards here they don't even bother with for other countries and noone can tell me corruption does not exist in these other countries.
You said you are very familiar with Guatemala and I ask you what you have other than rumor. Show me baby farms in Guatemala now. Not prior to 1998 because I can show you pictures of baby farms we had in the US years ago. Show me something now.
We should all do everything in our power to protect the rights and welfare of children but in my opinion the current situation is all politics and grandstanding while failing once again to address the bottom line.
Ok last comment and I agree and support the families in waiting.
Don't read the press accounts of what the UN asked for. Read the UN report. Pay attention to how much of the report talks about specifically adoptions. It talks in great detail about trafficking and adoption is only mentioned once. Again, Romania shut down adoptions to curb their trafficking issues and it didn't solve a thing.
I hesitate in this response to madmom because clearly it is emotionally laden. However, let me clarify a few things that are confused by madmom. The US Central Authority has an obligation to insure that US adoption agencies are not engaged in the sales, trafficking, or theft of children. Fundamentally, that means accreditation of US agencies which,among other things, would put controls on businesses such as waiting angels. Their 'facilitation' service would NEVER pass accreditation requirements and thus such unscrupulous entreprenuers will not be able to conduct their business in such a reckless manner--and derail hopes and dreams as well as placements. As for the US DOS Central Authority having control over Guatemala--that is incorrect because Guatemala must by Hague standards have its own self-governance, set system requirements within convention parameters, and begin to actually provide a child welfare system in the nation. As I said, I have worked in child health in the region and nation for a number of years--this is a major and important step forward. Also, we must remember that Guate signed the Hague and the constitutional challenges are OVER--the democracy has spoken. And, as such, now the systems building begins, including the development of an ethical and accredited/approved adoption providers system that meets professional criteria. Guatemala, as a soverign nation, will determine its own future in this system development process. The US will not directly determine if Guate meets Hague Standards in terms of ratification--that is between the Hague and Guatemala as per this international agreement. The US may and most likely will object to Guatemala's Hague-standing due to the fact the problems of the current system. By the way, Hague or not,the US DOS has always had the right to suspend a country's orphan visas (as in the case of Cambodia).
Since 1% of its infants leave Guate--it is about time for the nation to exercise some control over a system that has CLEARLY enriched an elite group of attorneys--who are fabulously rich at this point.
You may think that the DOS statement is cruel and take it personally, but I'd advise you to recognize that this is not about YOU or YOUR CHILD. This is about a nation of 12+ million--a system which has enough corruption that EVERYONE should be alarmed and interested in preventing abuses. And, when I say abuses that includes what you call "baby farms." You words, not mine. I call it forcible housing of minors who are pregnant--some of them victims of being sold into this corrupt system (including CREDIBLE accounts of adolescent girls being victimized). When I say credible,I am not referring to UNICEF reports. I am referring to reports from credible people--and I am thinking specifically of an American medical doctor who (while on Medical mission in Xela) was approached by a 12-13year old pregnant girl who asked for his help/prenatal care. Upon further investigation, he learned that she had escaped a house where multiple young, pregnant girls were being housed for the sole purpose of exploiting their wombs. She had been sold into this trade by her VERY POOR father. Now you can dispute this,but there is far too much smoke at this point for us not to think that there is some fire! When a licensed US medical doctor who went to Guate solely to serve a medical mission comes back with this story, that is not UNICEF. That is not Berger's people. That is an experience that is not politically loaded. And, I wonder about anyone who protests so loudly about such a story--this doctor came forward as any ethical professional and human being should.
Wether you point to Romania or Cambodia or other nations one thing is clear--with some corruption eventually comes scandal and then moratorium. One way forward is to put some controls on as prevention and the Hague is the only proposal for this. If you look at intercountry adoption fraud history, you will find a consistent theme. Things begin innocently, the system becomes more efficient over time and the entreprenuers set up shop (i.e. waiting angels, RAI,etc.)and things get sloppy. Guatemala, in my opinion,will go down in history as a case example of how this has happened and how the bad apples will spoil the barrel. AND, the bad apples exist because of a number of factors of which some can be controlled while others are not so easy to control. When capitalism intersects with children we must all be responsible and exercise control. As such, the people of Guatemala and the democracy is moving forward to exercise their rights and responsibility for their children. You can stand in judgement of their poverty and 'inability' to support their people, but I assure you that adopting children is NOT the way forward in terms of securing the health and safety of the nation's children and youth. In fact, I would argue that it may well have created more problems than solved including exploitation that is almost unbelieveable. Your disbelief is exactly what the unscrupulous criminals expect of you.
One last thing, the USDOS is CLEARLY investigating criminals engaged in Guate adoptions right now. US Federal Marshalls are undoubtedly involved in visa fraud investigations, consipiracy investigations, and tax fraud investigations. This is VERY serious business--it is the kind of investigation used for organized crime. Mark these words and READ through the lines of the USDOS statement. There will be some families and children who lose on this and it will be a sad day. This site has issued warnings, the DOS has issued warnings, the President of Guatemala is concerned, Rios Montt's daughter (of all unscrupulous people) is vocal about the problems. Where there is this much smoke, there is fire.
Certainly, I agree with many of the things that "karenms" has said in her comments including that there are some serious abuses in Guatemala THAT MUST BE STOPPED. I also believe that it has become more serious in the last year OR maybe, we (Guatadopt.com) are just getting more of the reports.
The information Karen has provided is accurate and I encourage readers to have a chance to hear what she has said. My comments below are not necessarily aimed at Karen but but to clarify a fear of what transpires because of these issues.
Guatadopt.com also understands why the US government cannot reveal oodles of proof to placate families in process. Its called due process and if there is any hope that abusers are to be prosecuted, then the evidence and the details of the ongoing investigations are not going to be circulated to the general public.
I'll start my tirade saying that Adoptive Families/Adoption Advocates' perspective is child-centric, not based on solving the macro issues.
1) As an adoption advocate, I do NOT believe that *adoption* should be considered a cure for the SOCIAL ILLS of Guatemala (nor should it be for the social ills of the US). Many of the problems have remained unresolved under the current system because of LACK of accountability. IMO, some of the abuses stem from the racial divide and the common abuse of the indigenous people in Guatemala. For example, a serious problem that has not been addressed is the number of women who disappear or are killed without a second glance (because of domestic abuse or even employer abuse). These have not been adequately addressed…as of yet, there is no real accountability because the women do not have a prominent place in society. Since this is a problem across the board, it is no surprise that it is a problem in adoption. In fact, this is not unique to Guatemala…but is a common denominator in about every country or society in various degrees (ex: Child labor, gender pay inequities and class pay inequities). The degree of inequity is the CAUSE of many of the abuses that plague all areas NOT just adoption!!!!
2) Listing and analyzing the problems plaguing the system do NOT JUSTIFY an INHUMANE solution. In our society (this adoption community), each of our children are highly valued. We perceive the need of the individual child first and foremost. Adoption is an OPTION provided to a child who has no reasonable means for a loving family or home. If red tape or Hague compliant laws prevent this eventuality, then his/her human rights have been violated. That does not mean that we think that abuses are acceptable as a means to completing our happy family. On the contrary, we want the abusers PURGED from the system!!! A moratorium on adoptions does not punish the abusers for they will go onto other careers. It punishes the honest law-abiding citizens and it punishes the CHILDREN. Furthermore, every law and approach must be critically evaluated to make sure that the childrens' best interest are secured rather than negotiated away.
3) To rid us of abuses, we must also rid ourselves of the abusers. Unfortunately, governments are not SHUT down in order to purge it; School systems are not shut down when week after week we find sexual predators amongst the staff; industries are not shut down nor DEFACS! I have been disappointed on the Guatemalan side and the US side how FEW of the violators are punished or banned (We know because we have reported quite a few and have tried to assist the investigators) It is amazing how red tape and lack of resources is depriving families on both sides any sort of hope for justice. Accountability is the key here. If we do not hold those accountable for the decisions that they make, then there will NEVER be justice for the women/children abused in this system. That includes inept solutions where the children are not adequately cared for.
4) Human Rights organizations and those influenced by them often get so carried away by the problems...that they do not address they do not CHAMPION the needs of the individual child. So the child is invalidated to SUPPORT their position or worse, the child is expected to take a backseat to the controversy. Unfortunately, many of the proposals (even the most humane) are intended more to HIDE social ills instead of address them. It is telltale, when worrying over statistics of HOW MANY children leave the country as opposed to WHY these children are in need. Address the problems (accountability) and there will be less need to find these children adequate protection.
Kelly: Thanks for this post. I would like to say that I am pro-adoption and it saddens me that the future of Guate adoptions are in such a sad state of affairs. There are no easy answers here and there most certainly will be people that lose as things shift and change. I am concerned about the PAPs who are in early stages and are hopeful to get through under the wire. Of course, the greater consequences will come to bear upon the waiting children--that is the greatest injustice of all.
I HOPE i GET MY SON AND DAUGHTER BEFORE THE 2008 Hague rule applies to the U.S.