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September 25, 2007

New DOS Statement - Brace Yourselves

The US Embassy has issued what I will deem a very frightening statement. I will say that I have herd rumors of cases getting streamlined to clear the pipes cleared before Jan 1. In addition, this is all quite iffy and subject to change.

But I would take this as a serious warning to anyone considering starting a process right now.

I take one more thing from this and that is the DOS is stating that it does not have plans to stand by its citizens who have entered into good faith, legal process. In short, I find this "hands off" statement appalling. I am sure there will be more on this in the weeks to come as we learn more and strategize on what may need to be done.

Here is the statement: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/country/country_389.html


Added 9:52 pm Tues 9/25 - click on more for my commentary, a response from Focus on Adoption, and a translation of an article on the Ortega Law that appeared to day in the Prensa Libre. It is worth noting since Guatemala faces a presidential election in a couple weeks that The Patriot Party, whose cadidate is Otto Perez, is suporting this legislation. The UNE (National Unity of Hope) party of candidate Alvaro Colom is much more tentative. Colom already had my support for reasons unrelated to adoption, now he may have it for adoption related reasons as well (which is not to say he "supports" adoption). Thanks to Chris Huber of Families Thru International Adoption for translating it.

A response from ADA can be found here: http://www.adaguatemala.org/English/news/ It has also been posted at the end of the main post.

Added Thurs 9/2: JCICS and NCFA have issued a press release. It can be found here: In addition, at the end of this now very long thread you can find the message they sent out to their agency members urging them to stop issuing referals as of Oct. 1.

Today was a very hectic day of meetings for me in the office. As such, I apologize for the short original post and the fact that it took quite some time to clear comments. That's unfortunately the real world where Kelly and I both have real jobs that feed our families and have to take precendence.

First of all, I am nothing short of appalled at what the DOS has stated. As you will read below in the FOA response, it is not only inconsistent with the Hague, it is also pathetic, cowardly, and immensely insensative to the thousands of in-process families. Granted, as has been stated many times, Guatemala is a sovereign nation and can do as it pleases. But this is also a matter of international affairs and our US government has the duty to defend its citizens. Moreso, ours is a reprentative government and I dare someone to show me how this statement in any way shows an executive branch dedicated to the principle "of the people, by the people, for the people".

I believe VERY strongly that this is political pandering designed primarily to prevent new parents from entering the system. In the end, and this is solely my OPINION, I do not believe that our government will sit around and allow thousands of in process adoptions, entered into in good faith, be disrupted to the detriment of living children in need of permanency and the checkbooks of US citizens. You damn well better believe that if Guatemala or any other country attempted to end good faith contracts on any corporate interest in this manner, there would be hell to pay. I'll point to Cuba after Castro took power, Iran's nationalization of oil industries, and Guatemala's purchase of lands from United Fruit as examples. Except in this case there is zero doubt in my mind that the matter could be handled through simple diplomacy rather than a Bay of Pigs, overthrow of Moussadeq, or genocidal 36 year civil war.

I do not believe this is all coming from the Guatemalan side with the US not raising a fuss. I believe that for some time our DOS, in what I consider its usual non-transparent, dishonest fashion, has not been upfront with the adoption community about its intentions. Instead of having some courage and acting on its own to just do what they ultimately want - to shut down Guatemalan adoptions - they have chosen to issue a series of prolific warnings and statements. Instead of actually prosecuting those who have broken laws, they have accepted plea bargains and not gone after others with vigor and determination. And now they issued a statement like this as yet another way to commit emotional terrorism on its own citizens. I don't think Guatemala on its volition plans to end in-process adoptions, I think the US is orchestrating this in its stereotypical fashion. And in addition, I don't think things will come down as described. I think in process cases will be completed and believe that the US would be better serving its citizens if it just issued a moratorium on new cases if that is what they ultimately want to happen.

I, of course, could be wrong. Moreso, it may take all of us to use our combined effort on an orchestrated campaign to prove me right. Formal plans are in the works for an official campaign and FOA has a call to action below. I did say not to freak out yet because as is being proved in Myanmar right now, as was proven by MLK and Gandhi before us, and as is chanted at many protests - "there ain't no power like the power of the people". We may need to fight. We may need to protest. We may need to threaten (non-violent of course!) all of our elected officials, many of whom are already in campaign mode . But IF somehow the DOS believes that they can just issue a "screw you" statement like this and get away with it, the solidarity of our adoptive community may need to bond together like never before to prove otherwise.

Lastly, since I know DOS reads this site - BUST THE SCUMBAGS, DEFEND CHILDREN, AND DON'T MAKE IT OUT AS IF YOU HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY TO YOUR CITIZENS!

Statement from Focus on Adoption:


Focus On Adoption Deplores DOS's position on Guatemalan Adoptions

Today, September 25, 2007, DOS announced several reasons why prospective adoptive families should not commence an adoption from Guatemala. Not least among them was the purported intention by unnamed Guatemalan officials that the Guatemalan government intends to ignore the clear requirements of the Convention and intends to disallow in-process cases from proceeding under existing law.

Any first year law student can read the Convention and immediately grasp why this "information" is, at best, misguided and, more likely, part of the consistent pattern of the existing (and soon-to-depart) Guatemalan administration's open hostility to constitutionally protected notarial adoptions in Guatemala. DOS is keenly aware of the provisions of article 46 of the Convention and is therefore likewise fully aware that this so-called "plan" is fundamentally at odds with the processes required by the Convention for its applicability. Yet, rather than identify and challenge the patent inconsistency and illegality of the "plan," and in lieu of consulting with the agencies that are left to manage the panic the warning will inevitably produce, DOS instead chose to publish this "plan" as part of a "warning." Why?

In issuing this warning, DOS, the "Central Authority" of the United States, has acted wholly contrary to the interests of U.S. adopting families. DOS should not be "warning" of this plan; DOS should be resisting this plan. American families who are already in process have the right to expect their government to do everything within its power to protect and preserve their rights as reflected in the Convention that the U.S. has been working toward implementing for over 15 years now. DOS's assertion that it is "working closely" with others "to support Guatemala's transition to meeting its obligations under the Hague Convention" is belied by the utter failure of its "warning" to announce U.S. resistance to a "plan" the implementation of which would be in clear violation of the Convention and would directly affect thousands of American families. Why?

Indeed there are changes happening in Guatemalan adoption. Currently, there are two bills pending in the Guatemalan Congress that would bring Hague compliance to Guatemalan adoptions. One, Bill 3635, would retain much of the current architecture, including many salutary features, of the Guatemalan adoption process, while bringing needed reform to parts of the process that all agree should be reformed. Another, the so-called "Ortega law," would render intercountry adoption theoretically possible but practically impossible. The mysterious "plan" that DOS warns of is fundamentally inconsistent with the Guatemalan Constitution, as it is only the Congress who can pass legislation and determine when and how this legislation will take effect. So far the Guatemalan Congress has NOT passed either proposal into law. However, it is a matter of interest to child advocates that DOS and the Hague are strongly promoting the Ortega Law, # 3217 and the Guatemalan congress is reporting on great international pressure to pass a law which includes no funding plan or possibility of practical implementation. Yet, DOS fails to so state. Why?
FOA challenges all adopting parents to flood the U.S. Government, in all its various forms, with questions for our "Central Authority" – Why? Why? Why? Why is DOS ignoring the clear requirements of the Convention? Why is DOS failing to protect the interests of Americans who have undertaken a process in good faith? Why is DOS failing its mandate under the Convention to ensure that adoptions proceed expeditiously and according to the terms of existing law? Why is DOS supporting passage of a law which will hinder adoptions and place children in jeopardy?

Please write to your two U.S. Senators, your U.S. Congressperson, the President of the United States, and directly to DOS. Hold DOS accountable.
You can find your US Senators and Representatives at http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/
You can write to DOS at: Main address:
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Main Switchboard:
202-647-4000
TTY:1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay Service)

Article from Prensa Libre

Adoption Law Ready

Parties agree to approve it with amendments but have not yet set a date.
By: Ana Lucía Blas

The amendments to the adoption law initiative were pacted yesterday in the Commission on Minors and the family of the congress and now should be included in the agenda of sessions so that this law will be approved before the 30th of next November as required by the application of the Hague Convention on this subject.

Rolando Morales, president of this working group, referred yesterday that they had already given their support to the law project and its amendments so that now they are only waiting for it to be programmed to discuss it in the third debate before the full body.

In this way, it would adequate the content of the Hague Convention on International Adoption to the legislation and it would facilitate putting it in practice starting next January.

Among the proposals presented by said commission, there would be created the National Counsel of Adoptions as the director of these processes, which would temporarily be assigned to the PGN and formed by the Secretary of Social Welfare, a representative of the Supreme Court of Justice, a member of congress and a member of the National Commission for Youth and Adolescents.

It was agreed that at the beginning it would be assigned to the PGN because they foresee that it will be difficult to assign resources for it to function as an autonomous entity from 2008. "We do not know not even how much money might be needed for which reason we decided that it will have to wait some time to become independent" explained Morales.

In the original initiative, that was stalled after the second reading in September of 2005, it designated the PGN as the only director of the adoption which generated divisions from various sectors including the Executive, that last July named, by a Governmental Accord, the Secretary of Social Welfare as being in charge of regulation the adoption processes.

Also in July, representatives of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, suggested that in order to avoid dissents, in the law, they should designate no just one institution but rather all who are involved in the process relatated to adoptions.

The Hague Convention, ratified by the congress last May, requires a directing body be defined to coordinate and approve all of the processes in this material.

REQUIREMENTS for ADOPTING

If the law is approved, persons interested in adoption a child would have to request it from the CNA. Once their petition is registered and they meet the requirements, the adoptive family could go to a notary to formalize the process.

A judge of Children and Adolescents would certify that the minor is adoptable before the procedures are authorized for it. The directing entity will decide if the petitioning family is suitable for the child, in accord with the best interests of the child, his right to a cultural identity, physical, medical, social-economic, psychological and other aspects.

The adoptive family and the child will have no less than 5 working days to live together and socialize while the adoption is approved. At the end of this period, a multidisciplinary team will emit an empathy report or quality of relationship established between the parents and the child.

With this, the goal is to avoid that adoptions be converted into a business which until now has generated the theft and sale of children. According to data from the Procuraduría of Human Rights, 203 minors where stolen this year by mafias in order to give them in adoption.

In 2006 there were 4496 adoptions in this country according to the PGN. Ninety eight percent were international, the majority process for US couples.

AWARE OF THE URGENCY

The majority of parties with a high representation in the congress are aware that it is urgent to approve an adoption law before the legislative period ends the 30th of November. "It cannot wait any longer" affirmed Francisco Barquín of the Patriot Party and member of the Commission of the Minor.

Another member of this commission, Conrado Garcia of the National Unity of Hope, agrees that it is necessary to regulate "such a noble action as adoption". Never the less this party has not decided if it would support the creation of the CNA.

Virna Lopez of the Great National Alliance, would support the Counsel and referred that she hopes that the law will be approved without holdups as soon as possible.

POSITIONS

INCOROPORATE RECOMMENDATIONS

Virma Lopez of the GANA party, commented yesterday that the amendments to the adoption law initiative had already incorporated the recommendations from the experts on the subject from the Hague for which it is hoped that the norm will be approved without problems.

IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO ANALYZE

Eduardo Meyer of the UNE party said that in order to know if they will support the opinion of the Commission on the Minor, first they will analyze the modifications together with the other members of their party even though their representative on the Commission had already pronounced his position.

MEMBERS OF THE PP WILL SUPPORT IT

Gudy Rivera of the PP party, referred that the law is need because many people make money with the adoptions. He added that first they will socialize the amendments in their party and if all goes well, it will be able to be approved before this legislative period concludes.

REQUIREMENTS

The norm will fix the conditions to process adoptions.

A judge of Children and Adolescents must declare that the minor can be the subject of adoption.

The National Counsel of Adoptions, the controlling authority on the material, will approve the adoption after having confirmed the empathy of the minor with the adoptive family.

It must also be watched out so that the adoption responds to the best interest of the child which will be taken into account for physical, medical, social-economic, and psychological aspects among others, both for the minor as well as for the possible adoptive parents.

It must guarantee the right of the minor to a cultural identity.

Until now, it is the notaries and attorneys who process adoptions.

In 2006 there were 4496 adoptions in the country, the majority of them processed for US couples.

ADA Response posted with the permission of Susana Luarca

THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE US AND GUATEMALA AGAINST THE CHILDREN
Today, the US Department of State announced a new warning, urging the American citizens not to commence an adoption process from Guatemala at this time, because - they say - fundamental changes in both countries will take place within the next six months.

According to the DOS warning "Guatemala has stated that it will become a Hague Convention country on January 1, 2008". The DOS also says that Guatemala will no longer do adoptions with non Hague countries, and since the US is not a Hague Convention member, it will stop doing adoptions to the US, until it ratifies the Hague Convention. When the US ratifies the Hague Convention, - projected to occur in the spring of 2008 - there may be a period of time during which we will not be able to approve adoptions from Guatemala, until Guatemala’s adoptions process provide the protection for children and families required by the Hague Adoption Convention.

In 2003, when the PGN as Central Authority for the Hague Convention, paralyzed adoptions arguing that they did not comply with the Hague Convention, and the US did not do anything to prevent it, we urged the US to assert their Third Country Status, - as stated by the Vienna Convention - to remove from the scope of the Hague Convention the adoptions done by American citizens. The US DOS did not do it. It was in Guatemala, the Court of Amparo who ruled that not being the US a party to the Hague Convention, it should not be applied to the adoptions being done by citizens of that country. The PGN refused to obey the ruling of the Amparo Court and just because at that time the Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional the approval of Congress to the Hague Convention, that we did not proceed to press criminal charges against the PGN officers. The DOS did nothing then to help the American citizens whose adoptions were caught in the middle of the arbitrary and useless paralyzation of adoptions by the PGN.

The Hague Convention will not come into effect on January 1st., because that day is just when the approval of Congress to such convention becomes effective. The approval of Congress cannot by itself, make Guatemala a party to the Convention. The very same Hague Convention says that a country becomes a party the first day of the following month after a period of three months after the Secretary of The Hague Conference receives the document of accession or ratification. The document of accession sent by the Guatemalan president in November, 2002 cannot have effects internally in Guatemala, because the approval of the Congress to the Hague Convention in 2002 was ruled unconstitutional and therefore, such accession is null and void and cannot produce any effects in Guatemala. The US and the Guatemalan authorities know it, and that is why they forced the Congress to approve again the Hague Convention. If Guatemala would be bound by such convention, there would not have been necessary to violate again our Constitution, to become a party to the Hague Convention.

The US has been putting enormous pressure over the Guatemalan Congress to pass a proposal of adoption law known as the Ortega Law (Bill 3217), which eliminates the private care of the children, the right of the birthparents to relinquish their children or to choose who can adopt them, the notarial and judicial process of adoptions, limiting the intervention of the judge, to just ratify the administrative approval of the adoption. The appointment of the PGN as Central Authority is proven beyond any doubt that is a recipe for disaster. The role that would be played by the Secretariat of Social Welfare of the Presidency is mostly, to oversee what the private hogars would do, ignoring the fact that if they cannot charge for their services (undue benefits), not very many hogars will remain open to care for the children that no longer would be adopted. According to the UNICEF delegate, such entity will not provide anything for the children either, because the needy children are the problem of the local government, and all UNICEF cares about is that Guatemala passes laws that please the international community, according to the treaties that Guatemala is a party to.

We still have three months ahead of us to make our governments quit this game of "If you are Hague, I am Not and If I become Hague, You won’t". We used to oppose the Hague Convention because we thought that far from protecting the children and the families, it was a sand trap, where adoptions got stuck in every single country where it has been implemented. But something made us change our minds. When we read the proposal 3635, we were amazed at the way the Guatemalan Congress has found the way to implement the Hague Convention and at the same time, to keep the good features of the current system. There is a way for a country to keep adoptions open and be Hague compliant at the same time: it is with proposal 3635. But it has been ignored thus far by the US DOS, the Hague Conference and the Committee for the Child and the Family of Congress. Such proposal needs only ten million quetzals to be implemented, because the money to keep it working would come out of the processing fees of the adoptions, and the accrediting fees. The work would be done by accredited bodies and the Central Authority would be an autonomous entity, formed by delegates of the presidency (SBS and PGN), of the Judiciary, of the Congress, of the Bar Association, of the Medical Association and of the Procuraduria of Human Rights. This proposal, unlike the proposal 3217, establishes that the part of the law regarding the organization of the Central Authority, would become effective immediately, and the rest of it, six months later, to give time to the Central Authority to get organized. Also, it states that the processes of adoption started before the second part of the law becomes effective, would be finalized according to the current system as well as those processes where the authorization by the receiving country was granted before the coming into effect of the second part of the law. The Central Authority in this proposal would have the following departments: of accreditation of the different entities who would perform different tasks of the adoption proces; of orientation of the birth parents; of supervision of adoptions; of supervision of child care; of finances; and information. Those departments give the Central Authority the tools to delegate part of their functions and at the same time, to retain enough power to really supervise and oversee the processes, the children and the people who either want to adopt, or collaborate with the adoption.

The Ortega Law, besides being a maze, difficult to understand and to apply, does not have the resources to be implemented and continue working, and after depriving the private orphanages of any income, it does not clarify who will support the children who no longer be adopted. The grandfather clause tht used to be in former versions of the proposal, was eliminated in the last one. According to this ls version, the children must be presnted to Bienestar Social and after an abandonment process is finalized before a judge of the childhood and adolescence, Bienestar Social would choose the right family for each child. The law does not mention who will support the children during the years that it would take to to rule them abandoned and to exahust the possibility of placing them with the extended family or with a national family, in order to allow them to be adopted by foerign couples.

There is a way to become Hague compliant in a seamless way: the proposal 3635. To become Hague compliant just to prevent the children from being adopted, in order to stop the adoption professionals to make a profit out of the adoption, is like having a house on fire and locking the doors and windows to prevent anyone from leaving the house, because they could be mugged in the street. To protect the triad in the adoption process, the law has to be clear, easy to comply with and easy to supervise. Anything else is just a front to close down adoptions.

We are poised to file as many legal resources as necessary to prevent the Ortega Law from keeping the children to join the permanent families who are waiting for them and will do everything that is necessary to make the President understand that he has to send a new instrument of accession for the Hague to become effective. We urge you to what it takes to persuade your government to stop blaming the Guatemalan government for not being able to properly implementing the Hague Convention and at the same time, blocking any attempts at passing implementing legislation that could mean the difference between life and death for the children of Guatemala.

Message from Tom DiFilipo, President of JCICS to its members issued 9/27:

Dear Colleagues,

Based on dialogue with stakeholders in Guatemala intercountry adoption, including the Guatemalan government, the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, adoption service providers, and Guatemalan attorneys, and with the support of the Joint Council Guatemala Caucus Co-chairs, the following represents Joint Council’s understanding of recent events, assessment of their impact, and immediate recommendations.

Recommendation and Call To Action

It is Joint Council’s strongest recommendation that all adoption service providers cease issuing referrals effective Monday October 1 2007. Similarly, it is our strongest recommendation that potential adoptive parents not accept any referrals issued by service providers choosing to ignore this recommendation.

Our recommendation is based on the recent announcement by the Berger administration, as reported by the U.S. Department of State. The Berger announcement clearly indicates that all intercountry adoption with the U.S. will be suspended January 1 2008.

We also strongly recommend that all potential adoptive parents and all adoption service providers join in the Joint Council effort in asking the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Congress to issue formal letters to the Guatemala government requesting that all pending adoption cases be processed through to completion under the existing process and law.

Announcement by Berger Administration

According to the U.S. Department of State, during a meeting of the international community sponsored by the Hague Permanent Bureau, the Berger administration announced the following:

* As of January 1 2008, (the date the Hague Convention goes into force in Guatemala), all adoption cases must meet Hague standards. This includes all pending (in-process) adoptions including those filed prior to January 1 2008.
* As of January 1 2008, Guatemala will not process adoptions for non-Hague countries including the U.S.

Assessment

Given that Guatemala does not currently have a functioning Hague process and the Hague Convention will not be in force for the U.S. on January 1 2008, implementation of the announcement by the Berger administration will bring all intercountry adoptions to a halt. Adoptions in process will be required to register under a new process which has yet to be identified or implemented. Should a Hague compliant system be in place on January 1 2008, the U.S. will not be a full Hague country until April 1 2008 or later and would not be permitted to participate in intercountry adoption until such time as the Hague Convention goes into force. This clearly indicates that a best case scenario is a resumption of adoptions in April 2008 through a process with unknown procedures or time-line.

In assessing the Berger announcement and its impact, Joint Council has considered the legislation pending before the Guatemalan Congress, the national elections, legal challenges and possible extension of the Hague effective date for Guatemala. We also considered the constitutionality of the President Berger’s planned actions and subsequent legal challenges. With none of these factors significantly altering our assessment, Joint Council remains confident in the prudence of our recommendation. Given the circumstances, we strongly believe that the suspension of referrals is in the best interest of children and potential adoptive parents.

There exist specific mitigating factors which could possibly preclude the suspension of adoptions. These include the possible push back of the date the Convention goes into force in Guatemala from January 1 to April 1 2008. It is also possible that one of the two pieces of legislation currently before the Guatemalan Congress will be passed prior to December 31 2007. Additionally challenges to the legal premise upon which the Berger suspension is based. Joint Council continues to strongly advocate and remains actively engaged in efforts to push the effective date to April 1 2008 and to pass Hague compliant legislation. If events occur that significantly alter our current assessment, we will revise this recommendation immediately. Until such time however, our current recommendation and Call to Action stand.

We again call on all adoption service providers and potential adoptive parents to join us in our call for a ‘grandfather’ clause covering all adoptions currently in process.

Best Wishes,

Tom


Posted by Kevin at September 25, 2007 01:02 PM
Comments

I haven't freaked out on the process and potential for a shut down up to this point, but this notice is quite frightening. I just received PA and can't seem to get confirmation that FC has been completed so I can get into PGN. I hope I can get in and OUT before processes are stopped. I knew the risks involved with Guatemala adoptions as this is our second and am still confident that we will be able to complete this adoption, but I have to admit this one scares me!!

Posted by: Stephanie at September 25, 2007 01:40 PM

Wow, my heart is pumping on this one! We have been in PGN for 4 weeks today, and this is not what I needed to read. I pray for all cases in process and our little ones waiting for us.
Anyone every had luck in contacting the PGN?

Posted by: Willie at September 25, 2007 02:06 PM

Well if this is the DOS's position on pending cases, I certainly hope they do have a plan to streamline all of the current legal cases. This is pretty unsettling.

Posted by: In process mom at September 25, 2007 02:33 PM

Consider me a trifle freaked. I don't know how "Guatemalan officials" can promise a change in laws when it has to pass through the legislature, but the potential lack of a grandfather clause is enough to disturb me.

Posted by: Nick B. at September 25, 2007 02:44 PM

I too just rec'd PA, but not out of family court just yet, so as I wait to get into PGN and visit my baby next week - how can they not let us complete the adoption - he is my child as far as I am concerned. This scares the beejebbies out of me!!!!!!

Posted by: Nicole R. at September 25, 2007 02:45 PM

Are they saying that Guatemala will stop processing cases to the U.S. on Jan 1 if we are not Hague compliant, then after we become Hague compliant we will stop processing cases to Guat because they aren't Hague compliant? This is crazy!

I've been in PGN one week after a KO from the first reviewer, there is no telling what the second reviewer will think of our file. Trying not to freak out here, but finding it a little hard not to.

Posted by: J at September 25, 2007 02:55 PM

I'm not sure the DOS means by "pending" - do they mean "pending" POA forms or "pending" in PGN, or what...

I'm just numb right now. I feel so let down by everyone right now.

Posted by: jlr at September 25, 2007 03:12 PM

I'm a little confused and hope someone can clarify this for me. I knew Guatemala was going to ratify the Hague by Jan 1, but I thought there was a three month period after that before any real changes would take effect. Therefore, ratifying Jan 1 would mean May 1st for the actual changes to take effect. The U.S. has said the same thing on their end. Anyone?

Posted by: Debbie at September 25, 2007 03:18 PM

Hi everyone,

I agree with the previous post. These are scary times. I don't understand why the Guatemalan government would not allow cases that are "in process" to be put forth for approval before the deadline of December 31st. To make "in process" cases meet Hague standards is beyond unfair to those families already waiting for their children. A dear friend of mine is adopting two chidren as a single parent. It seems to me that Guatemalan officials are saying that if her two children don't get out of PGN] before the deadline they will never be hers because under Hague singles can't adopt? I'm on pins and needles for her right now. I'm not even going to tell her of this looming threat until I learn more myself. Please continue to post any information that you can. The U.S. Department of State warning does not scare me as much as the statement by the Guatemalan officials.

Jean

Posted by: Jean at September 25, 2007 03:25 PM

This is very scary. We've been in PGN for about 2 weeks but this reads as if that may not matter. How can they legally or ethically cut off in-process adoptions??? Who can we call or pester the &*#$ out of to make sure we get our kids home??? I've heard that PGN is speeding up, has anyone else heard this??

Posted by: Jerry at September 25, 2007 03:27 PM

This scares me also and as soon as any information becomes available please let us all know. Just post a list of who we need to email or write and I will be all over it - just like everyone else here

Posted by: Angie at September 25, 2007 03:30 PM

As difficult as this is to accept, I DOS just set out a clear statement as to agencies that are still taking on new cases (as per the "should agencies close" thread). It is time for adoption professionals to stop and just focus on finishing up what is started. To do anything else is unethical.

Posted by: karenms1 at September 25, 2007 03:32 PM

I would like to know....who are these officials?

Posted by: karla at September 25, 2007 03:40 PM

Didn't Susana from ADA say that any law that was passed, whether it be Ortega or 3635, would contain a grandfather clause for cases in process to proceed under the old laws????

Posted by: JLT at September 25, 2007 03:54 PM

I find it unbelievable that our own government is so heartless. This just sickens me to no end. We are in PGN but there are no guarantees that they will sign off on any more cases. I just cannot believe that NO ONE not Guatemalan govt not the US govt has these poor innocent childs best interest at heart.

Posted by: Karen at September 25, 2007 04:00 PM

Is there some reason why we can't get a straight answer on whether our adoptions will be completed or not? It seems like such a simple question. If you aren't working with a questionable agency, is it safe to assume your adoption will proceed? Are you saying Kevin that you have heard that they will try to speed up in process cases and clear them by Jan. 1, because that would certainly be good news for a change. Or are we going to be caught in a legal quagmire with no backing from our own country even though they themselves have kept right on issuing preapproval. It seems to me that it would have been better for the DOS to stop allowing Guatemalan adoptions versus all of these ambiguous, uncertain, conflicting, "maybe this will happen, maybe it won't" type statements. This is beyond maddening and the second time we've been through (2003)this although this time it seems much worse.

Posted by: contessa at September 25, 2007 04:14 PM

I thought the US was already Hague compliant and if so, why would Guatelama not continue with the adoptions with our country?

Posted by: Brenda at September 25, 2007 04:35 PM

This is a tough one to not freak out about...we have been in PGN 2x now..and are currently awaiting a birth certificate correction to be re-submitted. It is sounding like they are now LOOKING for reasons to KO cases so they can get to the end of the year. I look forward to comments and viewpoints of others more in "the know" than I am.
Lynn

Posted by: lynn at September 25, 2007 04:43 PM

It scares me. Thankfully I am waiting for Pink or I would be really freaking out as I am single. I feel for everyone that is going to get caught in this mess and for those with children at CQ whose future is uncertain due to the investigations. Saying a pray for everyone that things turn around.

Posted by: Kristan at September 25, 2007 04:54 PM

what about the families that entered into contracts in good faith before any warnings were issued??? i.e. January 2007. We will be "Out of Luck" because the DOS can't stand up to Guatemala when they have already issued statements to the effect of grandfathering cases that were started before the end of the year???!!!

Who is there to write or call or email to get some action, I am sick of trying to contact Senators and getting some canned response. Also wondering what you have heard regarding cases being streamlined - does this mean PGN since this is where the biggest delays come from?

Thanks

Posted by: s at September 25, 2007 05:01 PM

we are stuck in a appeal process,
so we are worried, what can we do to get the DOS's attention on this.

Posted by: shawn c at September 25, 2007 05:09 PM

cxl my last post, hit the button too soon.

We can we do as a group. An letter writting campaign?

Posted by: shawn c at September 25, 2007 05:11 PM

I was worried until I got past the tones of the message and focused on content. Can I translate?

Sam says "I know I didn't do my homework (US on hague). So to get the attention on someone else I will make a big deal about Johnny not doing his homework (Guatemala on Hague). Instead of focusing on my own homework I will offer to help Johnny so everybody says what a good boy I am. I'm going to warn everyone what a bad boy Johnny is and noone should play with him. I plan on finishing my homework sometime in the spring next year (the homework I said I was going to do spring of this year but hopefuly noone remembers that) and if Johnny doesn't get his act together I won't let anyone play with him at that time."

Johnnys says "Oh yeah? Well, I plan on having my homework done at the start of the year. When that happens I won't play with other children who haven't done their homework."

So essentially we are talking about the period between the beginning of the year *if* Guatemala really goes Hague at that time and Spring when the US thinks they will enact Hague. And the US has already said repeatedly they will not allow adoptions from Guatemala once they go Hague.. which was earlier then this spring, then this spring, then start of the year, then spring again. How is this any different from their messages earlier this year? The only difference is now Guatemala says it will be Hague by first of the year. Doable? Dunno. Hague countries can adopt from other Hague countries there may be just some tweaking to the new process. So they aren't saying stopping all adoptions.

Am I missing something because thats all I see with the statement other than the ominous tone used.

Posted by: mom at September 25, 2007 05:15 PM

Our case just entered PGN last Friday and I'm curious if other families that are in the same phase as us are scared of a shut down of all in-process cases. Our agency seems pretty confident that our case will finish out, and I have to have that hope otherwise I get really anxious and scared. I'm interested if anyone else feels this way, and if anyone knows what PGN's timeframes are lately. Thank you for your help.

Posted by: JaNae at September 25, 2007 05:45 PM

I'm usually level headed about these things and don't get freaked out. I'm in week 4 of PGN and frankly, I want to throw up -- literally. This roller coaster ride is making me a bit sick. I truly hope that PGN is streamlining things and moving cases along. That would be the only positive that can come out of this.

Posted by: MamitoAlberto at September 25, 2007 07:30 PM

As someone who has an adoption pending, it sickens me that I voted for the Bush administration and that I had a misguided respect for Condaleeza Rice(Secretary of State). Her Department of State is apparently abandoning U.S. Citizens, who legitimately pursued Guatemalan adoptions, for political correctness. Why are they not protecting U.S citizens FIRST!!
Will the PGN and the DOS stand up for the 4000+ children left in utter poverty after they close the process down. The answer is NO! They will ignore the economic and social ramifications of their decisions.
One last point, the adoption agengies are reaching a point of liability with this latest DOS warning. They have a fiduciary responsibility to not start any new cases since they are accepting very large sums of money.

Posted by: jrh at September 25, 2007 07:38 PM

I have one case for our daughter on appeal, to be decided by appeals court. I have another case for our son that just got back into PGN after KO. Not sure what this means for us and others in the middle of adoption. What is going on here?

Posted by: Jackie at September 25, 2007 07:45 PM

We went into PGN initially in early August and have had one kickout. Not sure if we are back in yet though because I can't get anyone to tell me. But, I am very scared. We started working on our adoption over a year ago and never thought we would still be waiting and now it may never end. I would love for someone to tell me that PGN is going to try to move quickly to get as many as possible out!

Posted by: Kelly at September 25, 2007 07:46 PM

Please, let's all call the DOS and make them accountable for their statements. Their phone number is:

1-202-736-9090 They are open 8am-8pm M-F.

You can also write them or e-mail them:

For general children's issues questions concerning international parental child abduction or general intercountry adoption questions, you may e-mail AskCI@state.gov.
For questions that deal with the implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention, you may e-mail AdoptionUSCA@state.gov.

U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Main Switchboard:
202-647-4000
TTY:1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay Service)

We have to stick together on this, EVERY SINGLE baby needs to come home!!!

Let's ask them what "pending" means? Let's ask them how this is in the best interests of the innocent children? Let's ask them how they plan to protect the PAP's that entered into a good faith agreement with a foreign country? Let's ask them "Which" officials informed them of these plans?

We have to act as a cohesive support group like never before. Make DOS answer these questions.

Posted by: J at September 25, 2007 07:54 PM

We have been KO'd from PGN three times since March of this year. Our case is being resubmitted to PGN next week.

We are very concerned of what lies ahead. It is not reassuring when I read the DOS's statement. I, too, feel like our hands are tied. Contrary to what the statement said, I HOPE there is some kind of resolution for a grandfather clause for cases already filed.

To all currently involved in the adoption process, please know that you are not alone.

Posted by: Andy at September 25, 2007 08:02 PM

well, like the previous poster said - fine stop the adoptions and agencies should stop taking clients, etc. and let our cases finish up and get these kids home. These are our kids now and I want my son home with me. This is just crazy - sad as it may be to stop adoptions from Guatemala, but don't funish us in-process cases.

Posted by: Nicole R. at September 25, 2007 08:03 PM

Kevin,

How good are your rumor sources telling you PGN is preparing to streamline and "clear the pipes"? Just wondering. Your sources for the 2nd DNA test was spot on so I'm just hoping this is correct to. Can you tell us how comfortable you are with your sources? We are clinging to anything here, come on! (-:

Posted by: KC at September 25, 2007 08:08 PM

I have been in PGN for about 8-9 weeks with no KO's. I don't know if that is good or bad. We have called PGN and told we are with the 2nd reviewer. The staff spoke English and was very nice when we called to check on the case status. In the past I have heard PGN is working on month and week being processed. Does anyone know where PGN is with the cases?

Posted by: still in pgn at September 25, 2007 08:55 PM

I have been in PGN for about 8-9 weeks with no KO's. I don't know if that is good or bad. We have called PGN and told we are with the 2nd reviewer. The staff spoke English and was very nice when we called to check on the case status. In the past I have heard PGN is working on month and week being processed. Does anyone know where PGN is with the cases?

Posted by: still in pgn at September 25, 2007 08:55 PM

JaNae, our agency tells their clients to count on being in PGN at least 8-12 weeks. We have been in PGN since June 22. Had 1 previo so far, and we were resubmitted on August 14. Our agency told us to count on 8 more weeks after you are resubmitted after a previo. We hope to be out of PGN within the next 2 weeks, if, we have no more previos or "kickouts". I feel like everyone else. Very anxious and afraid that our case will not finalized for some reason and I will never get to bring my little girl home. I can't imagine going back to life without her in my future. I would be totally devastated if I don't get her. I pray everyday for our case and everyone else out there in this mess. I'm not a real religious person, but I feel like prayer is all we have at this point.

Posted by: Lisa at September 25, 2007 09:14 PM

This is bad news from the DOS. As far as time frames for the PGN it seems to be going very slow. Our case was finally released last week after entering the PGN on March 20. We had 2 previos.

Posted by: jeni at September 25, 2007 09:21 PM

Here's my take on it at this point: The US DOS has done what it can to stop US adoptions from Guatematla. Any agency that refers a child from today forward will be liable to the PAP's no matter what their contract says. This gives the DOS an easy out. They have done what they set out to do from the beginning of 2007 to do...stop US Guatemalan adoptions...Thanks DOS!

Posted by: Stephanie at September 25, 2007 10:47 PM

What's scaring me is PGN does not seem to be picking up. Also, USE is still taking too long to issue PA's!

Kevin, I would love to know what you know about "clearing the pipe". I'm not seeing it, but would like to think there's hope.

Posted by: J at September 25, 2007 11:24 PM

Clearing the pipes was a rumor I have heard from a few places - and one that would make sense all things considered. I would consider it a ray of hope but not something to be banked on.

As always, if we say something is rumor it means that we have not validated it as true. When we state something as certainty, as we did with second DNA, it means we have have it validated. Basic good journalistic principles - at least someone has them in regard to adoption.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at September 25, 2007 11:28 PM

I am also one of those "confused" Am I reading or understanding something wrong? Why does it say that if Guatemala becomes Hague compliant then the US won't continue and vice versa.... I thought that was what they wanted to happen??? I must be reading something wrong here....clarify please, someone...anyone....????? We have been in PGN since August 13th with PA and have had a k/o but are back in as of last Tuesday. I hope it moves fast, our baby girl turned 6 months old last Friday. We are also in process with two older siblings and will just be having family court on Friday.... I would feel horrible for them if they get caught up in a shut down as they are totally looking forward to coming home and having a family. They would be devestated. They talk all the time of their excitement and keep asking why it is taking so long? GOOD QUESTION!!!

Posted by: margo engberg at September 26, 2007 12:06 AM

To Willie and others:

The number definitely works to PGN. The lady was able to give me a status of where we were and told me that I could call every 2-weeks.
Dial the string like this----------------011-502-2248-3200-------------wait until the pre-recorded message is finished completely and then enter the ext. 2037-------when someone answers just simply ask in spanish "tu habla ingles" if she does not she will get someone that does. She will ask you for your PGN case number and within seconds you will have your answers. This is a God send for me to just no where we stand.
A really big thank you KELLY!!!
for posting this on a previous thread. The report and where it was found on the DOS site is interesting to me in itself, notice that it was not posted in the current news events where most info from them is found regarding Guatemalan adoptions, instead it was posted where new PAPs that may not have cleared the hurdle with CIS regarding I-171's. They may be saying that they will not get clearance by Jan.1st if they are just now starting the process and hopefully not that they are going back on their comittment to grandfather in all those with cleared I-171's. With regards to the Guatemalan side I think that the date of Jan.1 is unrealistic unless there is a law change to amend their Constitution coming about real quick.
Susana, do you have any info?

God is able,

Paul

Posted by: Paul at September 26, 2007 12:39 AM

I was certainly alarmed by the DOS statement, but even more so by some of these reactions to it.
My take was that the U.S. knows that laws will be changing next year so it wants to slow down the process and stop agencies from beginning new cases right now, which seams reasonable. At the same time, if it was there intent not to proceed with in-process cases, wouldn't they have come out and said it now -- or even earlier this year? My understanding -- and my agency tells me they were directly promised this -- that all people with 171s on file would be grandfathered in.
Maybe I am just looking for a silver lining, but I find it encouraging that the language of this statement is vague. I mean couldn't DOS just have ordered a halt to new cases at some point?
Anyone?

Posted by: Andrea at September 26, 2007 01:06 AM

I thank the person who gave the Sam and Johnny scenario because it gave me the strength to go and analyze the DOS statement from sentence to sentence. I don't think they have said anything new except that they believe from their Guatemalan sources that Guatemala will not process in process cases after Dec 31. of this year. Perhaps they are right, but I will not believe this until Guatemala says this for absolute certainty.

I think this is just one more doom and gloom warning to people considering a new adoption in Guatemala. The first and last sentence of the warning show it's clear intention as a warning to people considering new adoptions in Guatemala.

Posted by: Selma at September 26, 2007 01:27 AM

The response of ADA to the DOS statement is at It is at http://www.adaguatemala.org/English/news/

Feel free to reproduce it entirely.

Susana Luarca

Posted by: Susana Luarca at September 26, 2007 04:12 AM

A few months back I got an email from the DOS.I had written to them before starting a 2nd adoption back in June. I will admit that at that time they specifically wrote to me and said the US Government did not intend to disrupt adoptions in process at the time the "change" occurred, but that they could in no way guarantee what the Guatemalan government could do nor could they control the decisions they made. I had to go into it with my eyes open but I decided it was worth the risk. Now my worst fear may be coming through as the DOS statment clearly states "pending" adoptions could be disrupted by the Guatemalan government. We must all take action and not sit idly by. And when I say ALL I mean even parents whose adoptions have long since been finished to please join us in process and take a stand so innocent babies do not get lost in a bureaucratic shuffle. Waiting for others to take action will not do. We really have to do something. I take this as more than just a warning. It appears to be more of a "what to expect" document and we can't try to second-guess what they are telling us. It would be best to assume what they are saying is accurate and to try to take steps to implore the Guatemalan government does not disrupt in process adoptions. Let's all write our legislative representatives NOW to bring mass attention to this issue. Good luck to everyone. Looks like we may need it. Take care, Christina

Posted by: Christina at September 26, 2007 05:17 AM

Susanna, if you're reading, do you know anything about the disruption of in process cases? Didn't you say that ALL the laws before Congress, even Ortega, contained the grandfather clause? Is it really possible for a law to be passes without it?? Thanks.

Posted by: JLT at September 26, 2007 08:09 AM

Paul,
Thank you for the PGN phone number. How do you know what your PGN case number is? I will have to inquire with our agency.
God bless

Posted by: Willie at September 26, 2007 08:12 AM

In response to time-frames in PGN, We were in PGN for 2 months exactly, then kicked out for Pre-Approval (knew we would be). Our agency is telling us the wait is "2 months everytime you go back into PGN. That is the only consistent part of the process right now."

Posted by: Kim at September 26, 2007 09:17 AM

If you want to do more than send a fax to your state rep and senators you can go in person to them. I just got off the phone with my state rep's office. They have weekly outreach hours in my home state. You can also schedule a meeting with someone from their office in D.C., so if you are going to D.C. for the adoption conference why not try to meet with your senators and state reps there? I have done this before as a member of RESOLVE. You can go solo or with a group. I think it helps if you have written information that includes the steps you would like them to take (and maybe one of those Guatadopt calendars on clearance ;-)). The people you meet with will most likely provide you with their business email. The next time you want to contact their office I think there is a better chance someone will read what you write. Keep fighting the good fight.

Jenn in PA

Posted by: Jennifer at September 26, 2007 09:40 AM

On another thought- how do we get Guatemalan officials & congress, UNICEF and others in Guatemala with influence to take a look at the alternative to the Ortega law? Susana implies it is being ingnored/overlooked . Is it out of line for US AP's and PAP's to write/email/appeal to Guatemalan officials/UNICEF to consider what we have to say- as we are the ones opening our homes to these children, we are the ones financing the care of "their" children. I think we have some right to be heard by them. They are not doing us any favors by allowing us to adopt their children, they need to remember it is a solid demonstration of the dedication they have to their children to make sure they are in a loving, stable family, something EVERY child born to this world deserves.
Someone please start a thread on the wonderful things about Guatemala, aside from adoption and government, something to remind us of why our hearts are so drawn to this country.(and especially for those of us who have not had the opportunity yet to live/travel much in country). It is sometimes difficult to think of how I am going to teach my child pride in his birth-country, when I feel so much disappointment in it's representatives' behavior.
Currently, as positives, I have the contact with his incredibly loving foster family and the beautiful landscape.

Praying for the opening of hearts and minds of all, to remember who is in charge, and that HE has charged us with the care of his precious children.

Posted by: momto1 at September 26, 2007 11:04 AM

As US citizens, it is entirely appropriate for us to expect our Department of State to engage in a rational, logical, and ethical manner--and we must demand this. However, it has NEVER been wise to think that we could control the Guatemalan government...it is an incredibly UNSTABLE nation. Its adoption standards are so loose (i.e. one attorney can represent all) because it has lacked a civil structure of family codes. Ideally, codes should protect ALL involved, including PAPs. As a result, recourse is now a significant problem NO MATTER what the Embassy can or cannot do at this point. Frankly, as I have said before, adoption agencies in this country should be strung up for continuing to accept new cases--the situation was just TOO unstable as Guatadopt and the Embassy pointed out this past year. Now, the question is JUST HOW MANY cases will be left unresolved. This is very sad and the CQ crisis was the tip of the iceberg.

Posted by: karenms1 at September 26, 2007 11:13 AM

willie

I called and they know the case number if you give them the name of the child. Ours is past one reviewer and going on to another after which I am told goes to signature. I am trying hard not to hold my breath

Posted by: tam at September 26, 2007 11:22 AM

DOS phone number, the person in charge of Intercountry adoptions and the Hague statements according to the DOS receptionist is:

Tina Leone she can be reached at (202) 736-9075. I just left her a voice message asking for clarification and outlining our position. Please call, it can't hurt for her to hear our pleas. ~Melissa T.

Posted by: Melissa at September 26, 2007 11:25 AM

All-
The number for the DOS children's issues is 202-736-9130.

Posted by: shannon at September 26, 2007 11:32 AM

To Willie:
My experience is that your agency normally receives a faxed or scanned copy of this receipt as proof from the notary in Guatemala that entry into PGN has in fact taken place. I requested rather sternly that a scanned copy be sent to me once PGN entry had happened. The copy shows the PGN and logo along with the number, the childs name and the adoptive families last name. The Blessed Hope of Jesus be with you and your family.

Trusting in Him,

Paul

Posted by: Paul C. at September 26, 2007 12:12 PM

Is it possible that we could clearly forge some sort of template or statement that is concise and to the point to email or bring to our governmental representatives regarding this latest DOS issue? Any one out there already do this that would care to share? Not only that, but we could start it as an on-line petition... I know plenty of friends and relatives that would voice their vote if given the platform. Susan

Posted by: Susan at September 26, 2007 12:35 PM

After reading the DOS statement, the comments from ADA and from FOA I have to say or think... that this just sounds like another "plot" from the out going administration of the Guatemalan Governement ( aka: the Bergers) to once again force their views and philosophy of ICA. WHAT in heavens name does Wendy Berger have against precious orphans finding loving homes? Geesh..... shame on her, especially in light that she is a U.S. citizen!!! Can you tell I have a real problem with this person?

In all honesty -- I believe they really, really want that $$$ that the Unicef is dangling before them if they do shut things down.

At one time that amount was in the millions -- kevin - do you know if UNICEF is still putting some money on the table if Guat does close down? That was the case in years past.....

In any case, I believe we are witnessing "politics" in action... and yes it makes me *ill* because for the DOS and Guatemala's govt it may just be "politics" but for the parents in process it's about a child..... a dream..... a family......

And of course for the children.......it's all the hope they have in the world right now for a decent, loving, and safe home..... and future........

That is what makes me so very sad...... I honestly think that those that "be in the powers that be" really could care less about these precious children and families........ I wonder how many DOS officials and such are adoptive parents?? How many members of Guat's congress and PGN staff are adoptive parents???Hmmmmm........

Praying with all my heart right now.........it' going to take a miracle...

Gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings

Posted by: gloria at September 26, 2007 12:46 PM

May I make one more suggestion: In your comments to the DOS, I would encourage people to ask (if not demand) additional temporary at the US Embassy to help process the current PAs and PINKs. If they would only increase the staffing for 30 to 60 days to "clear the pipes", so to speak, that would reduce SIGNIFICANT time off of the adoption process. (There is no reason PAs should be taking 60 days). And, unlike thier claims regarding everything else related to the Guatemalan adoption process,they cannot say that they have no control over that portion of the process. My thoughts, prayers, and political letter-writing is with all the in-process families.

Kuma

Posted by: kuma at September 26, 2007 01:52 PM

Shawn C and Jackie,
We are one of the other families on appeal. We would love to talk to both of you.

Kevin,
How can families in similar circumstances communicate with each other privately? In some ways, our issue is the same as everyone in process - we are stuck and may not complete before December 31st. In other ways, our case is different, scary because of its unknown and being entwined in some political turf war (we were kicked out of PGN twice and refiled with a higher court - also with authority to rule on adoptions, but now being contested by PGN on appeal).
We appreciate everyone who has helped us in the process and are looking for more answers to what's going to happen to our baby - someone who we have known and loved for over a year now.

Posted by: BTGC at September 26, 2007 02:43 PM

In a letter from our agency director and Guat program coordinator, we were told that the Guat Congress and some attorneys have been working to extend the Jan. 1 deadline for implementing the Hague-compliant laws an additional six months (meaning July 1). This is from our attorney, who has been doing this for 20+ years and seems well-informed and politically involved. Nonetheless, as per Guatadopt's reporting rules, this is rumor. But, to Kevin, Kelly, Marie, do you know the basis of her assertion, and is it at all likely to happen if it is more than rumor?

Posted by: Nick B. at September 26, 2007 03:18 PM

I just got off the phone a bit ago with Tina Leoni with the state department. It was my fifth or sixth call today and she actually picked up. Apparently she has been talking a lot on the phone. I wish I had a tape recorder. I did not. And I did not get any specifics. But here is a synopsis. Keep in mind these are not direct quotes (except when in quotation marks) but my paraphrasing of her comments.

Ms. Leoni said the sources came from members of the Guatemalan government that they are in regular contact with, and have been. She would not disclose whether these were elected officials or government employees. She said that the DOS was not aware that the Guatemalan government plans, come Jan. 1, 2007, to end pending adoptions (not complete them), until just before they issued the warning yesterday. When I asked her if the U.S. was surprised, she said no, because the DOS has been aware, and issuing statements, about the uncertainties of Guatemalan adoptions. I asked her to define ‘pending’ She said “there is no universally agreed upon definition.” I pressed her, saying that if DOS has been in regular contact with these Guatemalan government officials surely they would understand each other’s intent when using the word ‘pending’. She said, “Our working understanding is cases in process, not completed.”

I asked her how, if they were not surprised about the apparent decision to not complete pending cases come Jan. 1, why was DOS continuing to approve I600A applications even as we speak. She said everything is tentative. Including this new information.

She said the DOS is not leaving PAPs out on their own. She said DOS is actively engaging the Guatemalan government to have them consider a transition phase that would allow pending adoptions to be completed. I asked her how they are engaging the Guatemalan government… she said they are having meetings and discussions.

I asked her if the Guatemalan government revealed any plans for how they would care for the hundreds, if not thousands of children that will be in limbo come Jan. 1… the children that have been relinquished by their birthparents. She did not have an answer.

I asked her if DOS officials asked the Guatemelan government sources they are in contact with how those government officials plan to pull off something that would be illegal by their Constitutional standards (illegal in that they cannot enforce laws retroactively). She said that is why the DOS is working with the Guatemalan government to have a transitional plan for pending adoptions.

I asked how the Guatemalan government officials with whom DOS is working think they can circumvent Hague Convention regulations that state the regs cannot go into effect until three months and one day have passed since the country becomes Hague compliant. She had no answer.

All in all, she did not shed any real light on the situation. Of course I do appreciate her taking the time to speak with me. I tried not to be to emotional or combative, but of course I did get a little adamant a few times, particularly when questions were not *really* answered. Finally, she did reiterate that DOS is not sitting idly by, but working on this.

Posted by: Beth Bacheldor at September 26, 2007 05:12 PM

With the upcoming changes predicted over the next 6 months and the uncertainty of what will happen after January 1st, I feel like I need to prepare myself to expect more and more delays. Delays are always a possibility with any international adoption, and Guatemala is no different. Of course, I do want to stay optimistic and I hope this time of transition will go smoothly and bring about the necessary changes to Guatemalan adoptions.

Posted by: kgm1 at September 26, 2007 06:27 PM

Awesome job Beth! I'm not sure how you held it together to get that much information. I tried calling Tina as well and got a recording. What puzzles me is why she said the DOS is trying to come up with a transition plan for pending adoptions. Why didn't they write this in their warning? Who in the he## writes this garbage. It's really unfathomable with the information that they know, that they continue to issue I-600s. Thanks Beth. Erik

Posted by: Erik at September 26, 2007 06:46 PM

Ok, so I have a question... They state that the big date is January 1st. I wonder how this would work seeing as how January 1st is a holiday. I also wonder, when do they break for holiday and when do they return? For some reason, I was under the impression that they shut down for Christmas in the middle of December.

Posted by: RC at September 26, 2007 07:00 PM

Beth,

Great job getting through to DOS! Sounds like you were about as polite as can be expected, but didn't let her off the hook. When you really start asking questions to a real person about this statement it really points out the rediculousness of the DOS position.

Nick B,

Oh how I pray that your rumor is for real... even if it is just a rumor, I think it will allow me to get a little sleep tonight.

Let's keep the pressure on!

Lo

Posted by: Lo at September 26, 2007 07:17 PM

Beth,

You asked Ms. Leoni "how do they plan to pull off something that would be illegal by their constitutional standards." her reply was that they are working on a transitional phase. To everyone, Ms. Leoni answer has nothing to do with constitutionality. A transition phase and the constitutionality of the particular process that they decide to implement are entirely different issues. You can have a transition phase for a process that is unconstitutional.

Boy, I can tell that DOS has their ducks in a row. No big surprise there.

Posted by: cheryl at September 26, 2007 08:04 PM

My mom and I both spoke to different people from the DOS. We were both told the same thing. First we were told that the DOS is working with Guat to make sure that whatever legislation is passed, that language is included to allow those in process to continue under the old process. Also we were told that the statement was issued to scare off or weed out potential new cases. All in all, I felt confident that DOS is doing what they can for those of us who are in process.

Posted by: shannon at September 26, 2007 08:14 PM

We just received an official message from our agency as well.
To me, this is a breath taking historic moment and we ought to join hands to make a difference.
I still have deep faith in the intentions of the US Government -- fair and compassionate to its citizens. All PAPs, particularly the ones in process, should and can make this an issue hard for our reps to ignore.
Beyond flooding congressional offices with letters and phone calls, can 5000 to 6000 of us not do a silent march in Washington as an appeal to our authorities to discourage Guat government from taking this diabolic step? I am sure our government will do everything to protect the interest of its in-process law-abiding, and average citizens and those thousands of innocent children of Guatemala, waiting for bright sun shine that they have every right to.

Posted by: Phil at September 26, 2007 09:00 PM

Has anyone heard or seen where JCICS stands on this?

Thanks,

Paul

Posted by: Paul at September 26, 2007 10:25 PM

Beth, you did an amzing job remembering all of the conversation. Thank you. What scares me is that the US has always said that they protect young democracy, yet clearly our DOS is helping the Guatemalan officials break their own Constition with abuse of power unimaginable.

Posted by: Linda at September 26, 2007 10:27 PM

This last statement makes me feel a little better....I also spoke with my agency this afternoon and asked what I should be taking from this statement and basically she said that everyone in process will prob. be okay (past i-171) just get though asap. I feel a little more confident my son will be coming home, we're in PGN.

Posted by: Angie H. at September 26, 2007 11:09 PM

I wrote the DOS Head of Bilateral Adoptions Unit in charge of Guatemala today. Here is the response I received.

Thank you for your letter. I certainly appreciate your concerns and understand that intercountry adoption can be a long, complicated process.

In response to your question, I want to note that there is no universally agreed definition of a "pending case" precisely because intercountry adoption is a complex procedure involving a number of relatively distinct legal processes in both the sending and receiving country. In your case, you are dealing with regulations from the State of Florida, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Government of Guatemala. Each of these entities could potentially have a somewhat different definition of a "pending case."

Let me say, however, that we (in the Department of State and at our Embassy in Guatemala City) are urging the Government of Guatemala to find ways to complete all cases that have already been filed with the Guatemalan government. We understand that at least one version of the legislation proposed before the Guatemalan Congress does include language about transition cases. We would like to see transition provisions that would allow adoptions to be completed under the current rules for all children who have already been matched with prospective adoptive parents. We will continue to work toward that goal.


Gerry Fuller

Posted by: Bibi at September 26, 2007 11:55 PM

I'd go with the march/demostration idea broached by Phil. I live in DC as do lots of other in process PAP's. Does anyone else think this is a good idea? I'm frankly scared to death & I hope there will be no shut down of in process cases but my worst fears seem to be coming true....

Posted by: Susan at September 26, 2007 11:56 PM

I also got through to the DOS today. I had a civilized debate with this woman who kept trying to shut me down and tell me that the DOS is doing everything they can to help the American Citizens, but that this is not my child and the child is not an American citizen until they are issued a Visa. I acknowledged that, but reminded her that I entered into a good faith agreement that the process would be DNA, PA, PGN, etc and was given a referral and that referral IS my daughter from day 1 whether she wants to accept that or not. I asked her if she thought it would make me a good parent if I just turned my back on this little girl now who could be sentenced to life in an orphanage just because she's not legally mine (yet) by the process under which I signed up? Reminder #1 to her was that I signed up under one process and they cannot just change the process in the middle (maybe they can, but I will fight for any rights I had to the original process). I also reminded her that there are thousands of children that will be stuck in this mess if our politician's and leaders can't get their act together. That our birthmother is placing our daughter for adoption because she cannot care for her. It's not like a game of red-rover where if we can't adopt her, she'll take her back.

She threw in the CQ card and tried to tell me that birth mother's of CQ children were beaten to death and their children stolen. I asked her if she knew for a fact that CQ or their attorney's were guilty of this and she said she couldn't answer that...but yet wasn't afraid to say it previously. I told her that while I have no idea if that is true, anyone committing crimes should be prosecuted and punished. Both governments should DO their jobs...track down the criminals and take care of the situation rather than shut the whole thing down. I also pointed out to her that I knew about Mary Bonn and RAI and that I was not knew to Guatemalan adoptions.

I also asked that "if" the DOS is doing everything they can to help American Citizens, then they should publish that. I told her what we got yesterday was a notice of the illegal plans Guatemala is going to implent and then a "your on your own" from our government. She went on to tell me that the DOS is working on a transitional plan with Guateamala, but that Guatemalan adoptions are taking up way too much of their office's time as it is and she is the only one that is supposed to be working on Guatemala, now 4 people are. (Hmmmm, maybe the US DOS's motivation to shut the whole system down). She told me that the U.S. has no influence over Guatemala. I almost jumped through my phone but calmly reminded her of the many times that the U.S. has influenced Guatemala for political and economic gain and that these were children we were talking about not dried goods.

PLEASE! If you have 5 minutes call them. Let them know what their message did to all of us yesterday. Let them know that we want answers (which Guatemalan officials said this?). And let them know that we need their support as we entered into this process with "good faith", they cannot just abandon us and our children.

1-202-736-9090 They are open 8am-8pm M-F.

The lady I was talking to had to go off to a conference call with Guatemala, which is another reason I don't think this is over. Be prepared for them to shut you down, but just remind them these are children and we are the people who love them. We only want our government's help to "do the right thing".

Posted by: Jaimee ("in-process" adoptive mother) at September 27, 2007 12:36 AM

TO BTGC,
we and other families in the same situatuion have started a support group. Please email Kevin or kelly of guatadopt and ask them for my email info

thanks,

Shawn

Posted by: shawn cartwright at September 27, 2007 01:13 AM

Thank You Paul and Tam for your responses. With my husband and I's case being in PGN it is horrifying to know that we could potentially sit in PGN for months, and then have the Guatemalan Goverment turn around and stop adoptions when we have been waiting on their approval for 4 weeks now. My heart goes out to all in process cases, and I pray that something will work out so everyone can bring their children home. I can't imagine finding out that after all this time our little Elena will not be able to come home and be left to who knows what after that happens.
Reside in God's stregth and know he will get us through.

Posted by: Willie at September 27, 2007 07:42 AM

If you do a silent march remember it would get attention but you would need to designate spokespeople and have anyone asked questions point to the spokespeople. I know that sounds funny but someone is going to speak so be prepared for that. Otherwise you will get X people out there, the press will come, they will interview one parent who will mean one thing but say another or what they say will get blown out of context, and it would do more damage. Many of you are very eloquent and would do a great job but not all APs are necessarily educated enough to debate or might be comfortable with speaking.

Posted by: mom at September 27, 2007 08:39 AM

Im with Phil and Susan. I would go and march/demonstarte. We would for sure get on the news and make our concerns heard.
Terri

Posted by: Terri at September 27, 2007 08:47 AM

Thanks Paul and Tam for the info.
Hopefully I will get a chance to call.
I am having a hard time with the fact that right now I am waiting on the PGN to approve our case, but yet if it is not approved by Jan. 1 they are going to stop doing anything? How can this be.
I pray for all involved.

Posted by: Willie at September 27, 2007 09:19 AM

Although I don't want to jump the gun, I will say that both my husband and I would be prepared to march on Washington should our adoptions not go forward or if they are caught in some sort of unending legal nightmare. Without sounding too militant, there is no way we should let our government turn on their backs on us without a fight. As everyone has said ad nauseum - Guatemala has an intercountry adoption program, we entered into that program with a reputable US agency, we have followed all the rules, jumped through all the hoops, paid significant amounts of money, and been referred children, who we have grown to love through their photos, videos, medical reports, etc. There is no way that we will passively stand by and allow the children that have been referred to us returned to some orphanage. If looks like that is the case, I hope the many thousands of people who are waiting will come together and go to Washington and show our leaders a solidarity not seen since Vietnam. Sorry to be so dramatic but there is too much at stake! If the letter writing, emailing, phone calls, etc. have no affect, I think marching is the only answer. I think it's a travesty that our government cannot even be straightforward about what it is that is really going on. Are they just trying to scare new parents away from Guatemalan adoption as another writer indicated? Or are they truly trying to prepare those of us in process for a nightmare that they are not going to intervene in? The idea that the US doesn't intervene in the affairs of other countries - give me a *+#$@* break!

Posted by: contessa at September 27, 2007 09:19 AM

Update - I also called the DOS number provided by Jaimee and spoke with a very nice woman. She certainly didn't sound like a decision maker of any kind and she put me on hold to get some "notes" to help her discuss things with me but I was encouraged by what she said. She said that the recent warning was meant for people thinking about adopting from Guatemala - a basic don't do it because it's too uncertain and unstable right now. She said the US is committed to helping Guatemala implement the Hague. She said the DOS is also committed to helping those of us with in process cases complete our adoptions. She did temper her remarks with a statement indicating that Guatemala is a sovreign nation of course and ultimately, they have the final say. Anyway, I found this conversation to be reassuring and in line with what some others of you have also been told.

Posted by: contessa at September 27, 2007 09:45 AM

They have started a petition to the US government on behalf of adoptive parents in our situation. I urge all to sign. Here is the link

http://www.petition online.com/ foafoa1/petition .html

Posted by: Don at September 27, 2007 10:04 AM

Thank you all for your comments...our attorney sent us a copy of the DOS statement and it was great to be able to come here and get a better idea of what is going on and what people are doing about it.

I am wondering if anyone would be willing to share a copy of the letter(s) they are writing to the various entities here in the US. I havent been politically involved in much of anything up to this point but I'm pulling my head out of the sand now --this adoption process has been very awakening! --and wanting to take action.
I have to confess that I've never even written a letter to a senator and am really clueless about what we should be saying at this point. I am overwhelmed with the emotions of this and discouraged that our case will go through --our dossier is just now being translated so we're still pretty far away from even getting into PGN.
I would greatly appreciate it if someone would be willing to share their letters so that I can get some ideas...I promise not to copy it, I just am looking for ideas.

Thank you!
Linda
lsmith1@wsu.edu

Posted by: Linda at September 27, 2007 10:31 AM

Jaimee,

A DOS person actually said that the birthmothers of children at CQ were beaten to death and stolen??? As a CQ PAP I find that preposterous! CQ has been in communication with the birthmothers, so unless they have resorted to performing a seance the BMs are still very much alive and willing to work with CQ to clear this mess up.

Posted by: Kathy at September 27, 2007 10:34 AM

Paul,

JCICS and CCAI are working together for a big PUSH. Info should be posted here. Planning to bombard the GOV around OCT 8-10 and get Representatives to sign a statement to President Berger that they are currently working on. Encourage all adoptive in-process and already home families to become involved.

Annie (PAP to CQ baby, ready for PGN but PGN halted CQ cases).

Posted by: Annie at September 27, 2007 11:05 AM

I just wrote my US Rep. Tom Cross, lets see if we get any answers. I posted it on my website, and below for those of you who may want a sample letter. Lets write our congressman, reps etc., and let them hear our own stories. PS. My stats might be a little off, but I wanted to get it done and went by memory.

Dear Representative Cross,

I'm very dissapointed in the recent warning issued by the DOS regarding Guatemalan adoptions. We entered into a good faith agreement to adopt two children from Guatemala, we filed our I600-A on December 8, 2006. We lost one referral because the birthmom changed her mind, that set us back about six months. We are now waiting on DNA (the first test) for one child and about to enter PGN for the other. There is no way, short of the US expiditing our cases that we will be finished with these adoptions by 12/31/2007. The new deadline in the warning which can be read at: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/country/country_389.html

According to the new "Warning", we will not be able to complete these adoptions and it is worded in a way that suggests the US does not have our backs and are not trying to solve this problem and implement a transitional period so that all in-process cases can be completed. We are not new to Guatemalan adoptions, we are keenly aware of the risks of all international adoptions, however, if the US felt so strongly about not allowing anymore adoptions from Guatemala, then we should not have been issued our 171H's. If the US truly wants to close down adoptions, then they should stop accepting the applications and the $745 dollar fees and stop issuing the 171's.

Last week, a fostermom's daughter in Guatemala was murdered, she was only 14 years old. The authorities will not even bother looking for her murderers. She was just another poor indigenous girl, and not worth their time. This is the same way the authorities in Guatemala (mostly Ladino and Spanish) view the children we are adopting. They will not have systems in place to help the 1000's of children who will never have forever homes if the US does not put pressure on Guatemala to let us complete our adoptions according to the rules of the process we entered into in good faith. 50% of the children under 5 die of malnutrition in Guatemala. 80% of the prostitutes are children under 18.

We need to get our children home, yes, Guatemala's system needs cleaning. The US and the Guatemalan Governments need to prosecute the offenders and allow the clean adoptions to go through. Please don't allow them to throw out the baby with the bath-water. The political pressure for these changes right now is due to the current President of Guatemala Mr. Berger and his wife Wendy's wanting to get their hands on the 2.3 million dollars UNICEF will hand them if they can stop adoptions. UNICEF's answer to corrupt adoptions is to stop all adoptions and to make abortion legal in Guatemala. If you look at what happened after UNICEF stepped into Romania, you will see where the precious orphans of Guatemala are headed, into the streets, the hills, prostitution and slavery. Those are the lucky ones who get to live.

Please visit my website, look into the eyes of two of these children and tell me that "they are not mine". Let them have the life they deserve.

Sincerely,

[our names]
Melissa and dh PAPs to be?

Posted by: Melissa at September 27, 2007 11:09 AM

All this has me a bit freaked out, especially since two weeks ago the Guatemalan police demanded money from the foster mother who is taking care of our child and threatened to take the child. They did NOT, but that event, plus these ominous sounding statements have us concerned.

Posted by: Sandy at September 27, 2007 12:56 PM

I just talked on the phone with the director of the orphanage where our daughter is at. She said that the PGN notaries and the family court lawyers go on vacation beginning mid November. She said that they are required to clear their desk before they can go. This could help many of us get out of PGN in time and many others get out of family court and into PGN sooner. She was not the least bit concerned that adoptions would actually stop. She said their were far too many children waiting that would be left homeless and the orphanages would become way to over crowded. It made me feel a little better, but I still want out of PGN NOW!

Posted by: Amy at September 27, 2007 01:32 PM

So if Guatemala knows they are going to halt cases as of January 1, 2008 to the U.S. - at what point are they going to even push a case through? i.e. We won't even be in PGN until early December. If there's no way to get through before the "deadline" then what will happen to my case before the cut-off? Will it just sit there?

I don't understand how ONE person is making the decisions for an entire country that is supposed to be a democratic nation. How does the executive branch get to decide everything? Doesn't that go against everything constitutional?

Posted by: j at September 27, 2007 01:39 PM

Here is what my agency has said:
The Joint Council on International childrens issues is working with the State Department and the US Congress to issue formal letters to the Guatemala Government requesting all pending cases to be completed. I am hopeful that it will be resolved before the end of the year and we will know exactly how the process will proceed.

Posted by: Willie at September 27, 2007 01:58 PM

I saw the recent posts regarding petitions and letters to be sent. I just spoke to my Senator's office and she assured me that citizens will not be left high and dry. I am not suggesting easing pressure on DOS and Congress, but I think that we need to start contacting someone/agency/dept in Guat. Anyone have any ideas?? Our govt can pressure Guat, but I think Guat needs to hear our voices too.

Posted by: shannon at September 27, 2007 02:32 PM

Joint Council Release

JCICS plan please read


From the JCICS----

Dear Friends,

Guatemalan President Oscar Berger has announced plans to suspend all
intercountry adoption with American families on January 1 2008. Joint Council
strongly opposes such a suspension and asks for your support in our efforts to
ensure that all children retain the right to permanency through Intercountry
Adoption.

President Berger’s plans also call for the suspension of adoptions currently
in-process. Such a suspension would be extremely detrimental to the children
referred to adoptive parents. If President Berger’s plan is actually
implemented, up to 5,000 will unnecessarily remain in foster care or orphanages
indefinitely.

This situation represents a pending crisis for the adoptive families who have
lovingly chosen to provide permanency, safety and love to a child in need and
most importantly a crisis for 5,000 children of Guatemala .

What can you do? Make six simple phone calls and one email.

1. Call your U.S. Senator.
· You can find your Senators’ phone numbers at www.senate.gov
· Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff

2. Call your second U.S. Senator.

3. Call your representative to the U.S. House of Representative.
· You can find your representative at www.house.gov
· Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff


4. Call or fax the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues
· Their number is 202-736-9130
· Their fax number is 202-736-9080
5. Call or fax UNICEF Headquarter
· Ask to speak with Ann Veneman, Executive Director
· Their number is 212-326-7000
· Their fax number is 212-326-7758
6. Call or fax UNICEF Guatemala
· Ask to speak with Manuel Manrique
· Their number is 011-502-2327-6373
· Their fax number is 011-502-2327.6366
7. Send and email supporting Intercountry Adoption to
guatemala5000@...
· Write briefly or at length
· Joint Council will use the cumulative email petition in our advocacy
for Intercountry Adoption


When should you call? Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday (October 8th, 9th 10th)

· For maximum affect, we are asking you to make these calls within a
72 hour window!


What should you say? Speak from your heart and give them the following
information.
· The Guatemalan government has announced that all adoptions with the
U.S. will be suspended on January 1 2008.
· Their announcement also indicated that there will be no
‘grandfathering’ of adoptions already in process.
· If children referred to families are not allowed to be adopted, they
will languish in institutions or foster care.
· Your office must get involved and sign the CCAI sponsored letters to
the President of Guatemala and UNICEF. These letters ask that all adoptions
in-process as of January 1 2008 be allowed to processed to completion under the
existing notorial laws.
· Your office should contact the Office of Children’s Issues at the
Department of State. Their number is 202-736-9130.

Can you explain the problem behind the pending crisis? Here is some
additional information…
· Guatemalan President Oscar Berger has announced plans to effectively
stop all adoptions into the United States including those children who have
already been referred to adoptive parents
· Over 5,000 children have been referred
· The birthparents for these children have already relinquished their
parental rights. As a result, they currently have no family and the Berger
suspension will result in these children having no prospect for a permanent,
safe and loving family
· The government of Guatemala currently does not have the finances or
facilities to even provide housing for these 5,000 children
· The Berger plan is a crisis waiting to happen


Posted by: annie at September 27, 2007 03:02 PM

I spoke with my agency who was in touch with thier lawyers in Guatemala yesterday who spoke to Guatemalan congressional folks and according to them this mandate has not been passed in congress. Just like the US the president alone cannot pass this type of law without going through congress it has a check and balance system just as we do. now I am no expert and I cannot say what is or is not true fact but this is what my agency has been told by thier lawyers in guatemala. They did say their are 2 proposals coming before congress which are the ones Susana from ADA mentioned 3217 & 3635 but neither have been signed off on yet. So please do not lose all hope. Lets do what we can to make our voices heard and keep the faith folks.

Posted by: karen at September 27, 2007 03:05 PM

Here is the link again, the first post had a space between letters. This is a petition directly to President Bush and congress asking them to intervene on our behalf. get relatives friends and anyone you know who will sign, as the more names we get the more leverage for them to take action.
http://www.petitiononline.com/foafoa1/petition.html
Don

Posted by: Don at September 27, 2007 03:26 PM

While I was reading through the 90 messages here I noticed several people got through to DOS. Apparently DOS told them this warning was for people thinking of adopting from Guatemala not for those already in the process. Then why doesn't the warning say that???? Is DOS just trying to get us to stop bothering them? If DOS tells anyone else that maybe we should ask them if they can change the wording of the warning to reflect that. Otherwise they are just not credible.

Jenn in PA

Posted by: Jennifer at September 27, 2007 03:31 PM

For families in process this is a very tense time. Do not allow discouragement to overcome you. It is encouraging to see that JCICS is taking the situation seriously. See their website at www.jcics.org for their response as of today. They are beginning an initiative 5000 for all the children who will be affected with recent events. Even if there is a shutdown for 01/01/08 let us look forward to a potential re-opening for April or May 2008. The children need continued advocacy. The Assistant Secretary of State, Maura Harty, is heavily involved in Guatemalan adoption policy. Her office is another place to direct our concerns. My prayers are with all those involved.

Posted by: supportingreform at September 27, 2007 05:39 PM

We need to stick together and make this a HIGHLY VISIBLE ISSUE for 2008 electoral interest...political science 101 -- we need to be an average voter to have congressional leaders consider this a serious social or ethical issue. Thousands of us educating American public opinion of millions will get us there.

Please follow JCIS instruction below (please do exactly when and how they recommended.)

Anyone for a march/demonstration in October in DC? Any specific date in mind?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
From JCICS:
Dear Friends,

Guatemalan President Oscar Berger has announced plans to suspend all intercountry adoption with American families on January 1 2008. Joint Council strongly opposes such a suspension and asks for your support in our efforts to ensure that all children retain the right to permanency through Intercountry Adoption.

President Berger’s plans also call for the suspension of adoptions currently in-process. Such a suspension would be extremely detrimental to the children referred to adoptive parents. If President Berger’s plan is actually implemented, up to 5,000 will unnecessarily remain in foster care or orphanages indefinitely.

This situation represents a pending crisis for the adoptive families who have lovingly chosen to provide permanency, safety and love to a child in need and most importantly a crisis for 5,000 children of Guatemala.

What can you do? Make six simple phone calls and one email.

1. Call your U.S. Senator.
· You can find your Senators’ phone numbers at www.senate.gov
· Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff

2. Call your second U.S. Senator.

3. Call your representative to the U.S. House of Representative.
· You can find your representative at www.house.gov
· Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff


4. Call or fax the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues
· Their number is 202-736-9130
· Their fax number is 202-736-9080
5. Call or fax UNICEF Headquarter
· Ask to speak with Ann Veneman, Executive Director
· Their number is 212-326-7000
· Their fax number is 212-326-7758
6. Call or fax UNICEF Guatemala
· Ask to speak with Manuel Manrique
· Their number is 011-502-2327-6373
· Their fax number is 011-502-2327.6366
7. Send and email supporting Intercountry Adoption to guatemala5000@jcics.org
· Write briefly or at length
· Joint Council will use the cumulative email petition in our advocacy for Intercountry Adoption


When should you call? Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday (October 8th, 9th 10th)

· For maximum affect, we are asking you to make these calls within a 72 hour window!


What should you say? Speak from your heart and give them the following information.
· The Guatemalan government has announced that all adoptions with the U.S. will be suspended on January 1 2008.
· Their announcement also indicated that there will be no ‘grandfathering’ of adoptions already in process.
· If children referred to families are not allowed to be adopted, they will languish in institutions or foster care.
· Your office must get involved and sign the CCAI sponsored letters to the President of Guatemala and UNICEF. These letters ask that all adoptions in-process as of January 1 2008 be allowed to processed to completion under the existing notorial laws.
· Your office should contact the Office of Children’s Issues at the Department of State. Their number is 202-736-9130.

Can you explain the problem behind the pending crisis? Here is some additional information…
· Guatemalan President Oscar Berger has announced plans to effectively stop all adoptions into the United States including those children who have already been referred to adoptive parents
· Over 5,000 children have been referred
· The birthparents for these children have already relinquished their parental rights. As a result, they currently have no family and the Berger suspension will result in these children having no prospect for a permanent, safe and loving family
· The government of Guatemala currently does not have the finances or facilities to even provide housing for these 5,000 children
· The Berger plan is a crisis waiting to happen



Best Wishes,

Tom

Posted by: Phil at September 27, 2007 06:12 PM

NOTE CONTACT NAME AND INFO AT THE END!!!!!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NYSE Welcomes H.E. Oscar Berger Perdomo, President of Guatemala

NEW YORK, Sept. 25, 2007 - The New York Stock Exchange today opened its doors to H.E. Oscar Berger Perdomo, President of Guatemala.


“We are pleased to have President Berger and his delegation visit the New York Stock Exchange and the United States and thank him for closing our trading day,” said NYSE Euronext CEO John A. Thain.


“New York is the financial capital of the world and the NYSE, with its rich tradition and technology, the paradigm of the financial markets,” said President Berger. “The degree of sophistication of the financial markets in the US are a source of inspiration for countries like Guatemala, with much less-developed institutions to support modern capital markets to channel savings towards development.”

The NYSE is home to 424 non-U.S. companies from 45 countries. These global and regional leaders have a combined total global market capitalization of over $10 trillion.

Please click the following link for The Closing Bell photo with the President of Guatemala.

NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX)
NYSE Euronext, a holding company created by the combination of NYSE Group, Inc. and Euronext N.V., commenced trading on April 4, 2007. NYSE Euronext (NYSE Euronext: NYX) operates the world’s largest and most liquid exchange group and offers the most diverse array of financial products and services. NYSE Euronext, which brings together six cash equities exchanges in five countries and six derivatives exchanges in six countries, is a world leader for listings, trading in cash equities, equity and interest rate derivatives, bonds and the distribution of market data. Representing a combined $30.8 trillion/€22.8 trillion total market capitalization of listed companies and average daily trading value of approximately $127.0 billion/€94.0 billion (as of June 29, 2007), NYSE Euronext seeks to provide the highest standards of market quality and integrity, innovative products and services to investors, issuers, and all users of its markets.

Contact: Annmarie Gioia
Phone: 212-656-5437
Email: agioia@nyse.com

Chrissy
1/8 Signed with FTC
4/19 – Dossier done and waiting for baby girl
7/5 Received Referral
7/12-7/17 POA Trip
7/19 DNA charged
7/27 - DNA Taken
~8/7 - Entered FC
8/9 - DNA results received in the mail 99.999%
8/13 - SW Interviews
9/12 Exit FC w/typo
PA - 9/25 (60 days from collection 47 from recpt in mail!!!!!)
Enter PGN - ?

Posted by: Chrissy at September 27, 2007 10:54 PM

I called DOS today and was told that the DOS was updating their web page, found in country specific concerning Guatemala, and that transitional info could be found there. The info is there and it does clear up some things concerning their intent on how transitional cases will be handled. The young lady I spoke with gave this answer when asked how Guatemala could just cutoff cases when that totally goes against the precepts of the Hague Treaty, her reply was that a Hague country has that as an option. I wrote my Congressman today in the House of Rep.'s and will write my Senator's also. We do have a voice, a very strong voice if we all act as a cohesive group and let our voices be heard.
One voice that I would suggest that we target is Sen. Mary Landrieu from the State of Louisiana, she was very instrumental and quite diligent in her fight for the current child adoption tax credit that she co-sponsored in Congress several years ago. Her contact page can be found at----http://landrieu.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm--- on her page you can find a drop down list for the subject concerning adoption and then issue your statement. This type of a concerted e-mail push will certainly make her very aware when JCICS pushes their effort. When an e-mail box fills up with the same subject it always will get someones attention. For me and my family we try to use all the information and tools at hand but most importantly we use the power of prayer.

Trusting in Him,

Paul

Posted by: Paul at September 27, 2007 11:53 PM

who is Ann Marie Gioia?

YES I AM SO IN ON A MARCH IN DC We need to make this HUGE we cannot allow this to happen to these innocent children or to the families who are waiting on these children. We should ALL be outraged at this illegal manuever in the 11th hour.

Posted by: Karen at September 28, 2007 10:45 AM

To Willie and all those interested:

The scriptures found in Psalms 112, 113, and 128 will encourage your heart and your determination.

Trusting in Him,

Paul

Posted by: Paul C. at September 28, 2007 11:49 AM

Kathy,

Yes, the lady at the DOS told me that about CQ. I debated whether to post it here, but I decided that people need to know what our government thinks and is telling people.

Posted by: J at September 28, 2007 12:27 PM

If possible, I would like additional info regarding the last thread (posted by Paul on Sept 27 at 11:53pm)as to when this DOS update is supposed to be posted. Thanks

Posted by: Jay at September 28, 2007 12:51 PM

There is a revised DOS statement now. Sound little more hopeful for thse in-process.
http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/country/country_389.html

Posted by: shj at September 28, 2007 03:10 PM

This was posted to a Guatemalan PAP Yahoo group and is insightful and hopeful. It is from Adoption Supervisors in Guatemala:

I emailed Adoption Supervisors, who are helping us w/ our case, and this was their reply. Makes me feel a little better:

Yes, there is lots of scare on this, but just look at it this way .... do you really think our ( 3rd world - ) Government would suddenly tell the US Government something like " sorry, but all these wonderful people simply lost their adoption fees " ? We don't think so. Changes might come, but the same way there will have to be transition phase and any changes will have to be practically and doable.

We are certainly aware of this DOS statement / warning, but we honestly don't see how a Law could work retro active, same way and if you read this statement / warning from DOS ... it is a contradiction ... on one hand, they state that they are helping Guatemala to comply with Hague standards and then and as soon as this would be achieved the US then wouldn't qualify anymore ? Makes no sense.

Fact is the following:

Onc e the Law gets approved and published, the following below will happen for adoptions but again, we don't see how and why this should apply to adoptions already in progress and much less for the ones at PGN stage then, any transition will have to be practically and doable, we anticipate there will be a period of grace.

1) There will be a National Commission of Adoption, in the hands of PGN, consisting of one representative of the following representatives / members each: 1 Congressman , 1 Rep. from Supreme Courts, 1 Rep. from the Secretaria del Bienestar Social and 1 Rep. from the Magistratura de Menores ( they call it the Comision Nacional de la Niñez ).
This commission will authorize any adoption, so they will have to be petitioned for it, same way they will qualify the adoption parents ( by means of the good old home study, we are sure ).

2) A Judge from Court of Minors has to certify the adopt-ability of the child him / herself ( no big deal here, either ).
3) The notario / adoption lawyer will subsequently finish the adoption.

Basically, not all too much will change. The real change is that a notario and / or facilitator will not have that much liberties anymore, that there will be a Governmental authorization of the adoption but otherwise, things will stay almost the same. To all we can tell, the notario ( likely through a facilitator like always and before ) will still be able to provide the child, but PGN and the National Commission of Adoptions will first have to approve it.

Naturally, there is an uncertainty as of how this will practically work and at what point, and once the child is presented to PGN and the National Commission of Adoptions, parents or an agency can petition the adoption. But this too will clear up.

Same way, it's not really clear what criteria whether PGN and the National Commission of Adoptions, as well as the judge from Court of Minors will use to determinate and fulfill their functio ns and obligations ... but ultimately this changes aren't really that significant.

The solemn main point is that there will be no facilitator handling an adoption by it's own anymore, nor offering a referral directly, every referral for to say so will have to be approved by our authorities first.

To make it short, the bad apples won't have that much free hands anymore, and that's actually a good thing !

And again, we do not see how this Law could work retro active, it will work and take effect once it is published, or once a specific date is mentioned, likely Jan. 1st 2008.

And no, we do not see this as an attempt to stop adoptions to the US.

We hope this helps a bit.
FWIW~Melissa

Posted by: Melissa at September 28, 2007 05:48 PM

The DOS has issued a revised statement. Maybe our voices are starting to be heard. Let's keep up the fight until all our babies are home!

Posted by: Kathi at September 28, 2007 11:34 PM

Hey all, this has been a hard week for all of us but I know we are all doing what we can to make a difference. Calls, letters, prayer chains etc... and I believe it will matter. I called AnnMarie at the NYSE this morning and she politely told me that the event already happend and that they did not know about Berger before hand and there was nothing they could do. So I wrote her to tell her WHAT THEY COULD DO! (she told me she had several calls this morning regarding this matter, so I believe our calls if anything has people talking and that gets people doing.) In short, I told her that SOMEONE invited Berger, that SOMEONE had influence to get Berger there and "THAT" SOMEONE could make one simple call to Berger, just asking him to do the right thing, to allow the adoptions in process to be completed, that is all, JUST ASK! I also emailed George Bush, asking for the very same thing, a simple call on behalf of the 5000 families and the 5000 children of Guatemala, a call from one President to another, JUST A CALL!!! I said in my email to George Bush that, he is a son and he is a father and like he and his parents would fight with every bone in their bodies for their children, that is what we are doing and I pleaded with him to fight with us on our behalf. It is really simple to write your President and your congress man. I urge everyone to go to the focus on adoption web site (focusonadoption.com) and read their response, it is really good and also their link takes you right to the congressional page where you can find and email your congress even your president! It was super easy. Along with writing letters to everyone I can think of I am asking these people to reach out to their "sphere of influence" and do the same, and urging them to ask that these people stop giving money to UNICEF. My husband is in the fudraising industry, he raises money for children at risk all around the world, we have drafted a letter to every donor and foundation we work with and know of asking them to not give to UNICEF if they do. You can do the same. We have had many calls and emails in support of our effort and some committments that if UNICEF does not take a backseat to this push to destroy families and children in procees that they will cut off their donations.There are rumors that UNICEF has put forth a large sum of money some say 2.3 million dollars on the table if the Bergers can stop the adoptions. We have to stop them from their influence. The pressure needs to be on UNICEF as well. We all know somone who knows someone, we need to keep talking and writing and let our voices be heard. I don't think any of us are opposed to fixing a system that is broken but halting these adoptions in process will further break the system and it will be a national disaster. That is what we need to communicate. Right now Guat and the US were working out a plan to fix the system so why this call for a shut down of "in process" cases? There is no reason to further hurt these poor innocent children. I used to think that UNICEF cared for children....now you gotta wonder.
We are adopting 3 children 2 of whom are 8 and 10 years old and fully aware that we are working to bring them home. If this Jan 1 deadline stands we will not be bringing them home, we are just in family court now. How do you tell them, "sorry now you lost your other parents, you are on your own" We have visited these children and talked on the phone, they call us mom and dad and ask us to hurry and get them home. What a tragic ending it would be to have them once again abandoned. We have to keep fighting, keep supporting each other and KEEP PRAYING!!! GOD IS BIGGER THEN BERGER!!!!!

Posted by: margo engberg at September 29, 2007 12:59 AM

I am still stunned and horrified from everything that I am hearing. While it is easy to pull out a few shreds of hope, it all seems so ominous. Having completed an adoption which became difficult at the VERY END, I'm having flashbacks. But while my own little daughter is home long since, and safe and sound in America, my heart is with the scores and scores of other children who just might not get the same chance at a bright future.

IS anyone organizing a march or demonstration in DC? I would GO and I would BRING MY CHILD!! I'm only about an hour from Washington. Someone please email me if this is going to happen!!

Jen
jysumner@aol.com

Posted by: Jen at September 29, 2007 02:09 AM

Melissa,
The comments you quoted of Adoption Supervisors - whoever they are - are based on a former version of the proposal 3217. The last version does not allow the birth parents to have a saying in who they want to adopt their children, the lawyers and notaries are not even mentioned in the whole proposal and there is no grandfather clause. Everything is meant to be done by the Secretaria de Bienestar Social, who would qualify who can adopt and whom they can adopt, after going first for the family reunification, then the extended family, then the national family and at last, the foreign family. An abandonment process must take place before the child can be adopted, and if we think that the current abandonment cases are getting hearings in the three courts in Guatemala City between March and June 2008, and they are handling less than one thousand cases every year, try to picture the 5,000 in process cases trying to get an abandonment hearing, in a system where the PGN does not do the investigations and the hearings must be suspended, or the birthmothers are not located, or the judge decides to postpone the hearing. We are looking at YEARS of waiting. And that proposal does not mention who will support the children that only the SBS can say who will be able to adopt. To say that “things will stay almost the same” is not true. Adoptions, with Bill 3217 would become impossible, for many reasons, the most important one, that the children would die before they are adopted, because there are no funds to support them or to cure them if they get sick.

If the AS person does not see the intentions of Berger as a clear attempt to stop ALL adoptions, I am sorry to say that it must be because he is not well informed, not because Berger is not set in doing it.

While the PGN was the Central Authority in 2003, it did not approve any adoptions, it did not support the children, and it did not inform the parents about the process of adoption in Guatemala. Lawyers who kept children in foster care as well as the orphanages were in dire straits to support the children with just the income of the cases started before the cutoff date. This time it would be worse, because the pending cases would not be approved by the PGN, and without the income of the pending cases and no new children being referred, neither the lawyers, nor the hogars would be able to support the children.

At this moment, the only way out, for the pending cases and for all the needy children who will always need permanent homes, is the other bill before Congress, the 3635. JCICS is beginning to see the goodness of such proposal, I understand that it is not liked by the State Department, because they say, that “it was done by the lawyers”. I imagine that the DOS means “the adoption lawyers”, but even it that were true, that does not mean that the proposal is bad, or that it cannot be improved. To discard it just because it might have been done by those who have the experience, the knowledge and the interest in making something workable and doable, makes no sense, if what the DOS wants a system that really helps the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the children being adopted. But if what they want is to leave the children of Guatemala without the possibility of finding a family through adoption and the pending cases trapped forever in the legal nightmare of the Ortega Law, they can keep supporting such proposal and Berger in his lie that the Hague Convention will become effective for Guatemala on January 1st., 2008. The way I see it, it is that the presente and the future of adoptions in Guatemala is up to the DOS, who, like a Roman emperor at the circus, has to sign with his thumb, if the children of Guatemala will live or die. But remember that even the Roman emperor followed the will of the people, so it is really up to the US citizens to raise as one and make their voices be heard. God help us all.

Susana Luarca


Posted by: Susana Luarca at September 30, 2007 03:59 AM

The information provided by AS is not new news, this has been discussed for months and you can see the comments regarding the Requisitos and Leyes de Adopciones on our previous threads, you can use the search engine.
Marie, Guatadopt.com

Posted by: marie at September 30, 2007 05:11 AM

Thank you Paul; I will read those verses today. It is hard to give control over to God because this is so scary for everyone, but we have to trust in him and do everything we can to influence a smooth transition into the Hauge.
Willie

Posted by: Willie at September 30, 2007 09:32 AM

But remember that even the Roman emperor followed the will of the people, so it is really up to the US citizens to raise as one and make their voices be heard.

Well put Susana. I'm going to try this again. What can we do to make a difference? Who is interested in started a protest somewhere in Washington. Let's start ther brainstorming. I'm tired of writing letters, I want to make a difference. I never get any response from this, so please let's go. Erik

Posted by: Erik at September 30, 2007 11:35 AM

Susana,

As always, we cannot thank you enough for your dedication, advocacy and input.

You stated, "At this moment, the only way out, for the pending cases and for all the needy children who will always need permanent homes, is the other bill before Congress".

Could you please clarify what you mean by "the only way out for the PENDING cases..."? Are you saying a "pending" case is ANY case in progress right now that has not exited PGN?

Thank you,
Elisa

Posted by: Elisa at September 30, 2007 11:43 AM

Hi Erik


I was also wondering if anyone is organizing a protest.
Do we think it will make a difference? ---this is an honest question, I'm very new to all of this and clueless about politics.

If something is organized I would definitely be interested in attending!

Linda


Posted by: Linda at September 30, 2007 12:31 PM

Hi Susana,
I find comfort in you posting here to let us know you're here fighting with us. You said in your previous post:

"At this moment, the only way out, for the pending cases and for all the needy children who will always need permanent homes, is the other bill before Congress, the 3635."

Is this to say that without 3635, we will not bring our children home? Even with the worst-case scenario - 3217 - is there any chance for a delay or a grandfathering clause to be added?

You mentioned in your ADA post on 9.25.07 that "The Hague Convention will not come into effect on January 1st., because that day is just when the approval of Congress to such convention becomes effective. The approval of Congress cannot by itself, make Guatemala a party to the Convention."

I realize your incredibly busy, but please tell me there's hope for us early in process?

Thank you!

Posted by: jlr at September 30, 2007 12:42 PM

As long as we are brain storming, I had some thoughts. There are a lot of people who are adopting and who have already adopted from Guatemala and from other countries. Maybe it would make sense to form political action groups for adoption issues that lobby and/or make campaign contributions. We could lobby and make campaign contributions in the US but also in the countries that allow such things.

I was envisioning 2 tiers of loosely coupled organizations. The lowest tiers would be organizations for country specific issues. The highest tier would be for issues that all/most countries have in common.

This is a thought that maybe all of us could think about and refine. It is too late to use this idea to address this latest scare but it may be a powerful tool to warding off future problems.

I think we also need to rethink how we could put pressure on UNICEF. One womans comment to ask everyone we know to stop contributing. That is excellent but maybe there are other ways as well.

Best, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at September 30, 2007 01:01 PM

Susana,

we, as well as many, many of our friends are going to participate in Guatemala5000 on Oct. 8-10. We also think we will also call our senators and congressmen before that, starting tomorrow. Could you please give u summary, few most important points we should talk to them and write them about (and pass this info to our supporting friends)? You say it is up to the U.S. side which law is going to pass. I want to make sure, that whatever we tell our senators etc. is very clear and right to the point.
Doing everything I can here not to completely panic.
Thank you so much, Susana.

Posted by: shj at September 30, 2007 01:20 PM

Elisa,

"Pending cases" are those that have not been approved by the PGN by December 31st. 2007. If the Ortega law (Bill 3217) comes into effect - as Berger plans, to meet the no-adoptions deadline, barely two weeks before leaving office), that law will NOT grandfather any of the pending processes, so the children will have to be surrendered to Bienestar Social and the new rules will apply, depriving the adoptive parents of their referrals and the children of the only hope of a future they have had since they were born, with everything against them.

Of course, ADA would challenge such proposal if it becomes a law, but who needs the uncertainty of the outcome, when we could have a seamless transition with the Bill 3635? The only problem with Bill 3635 is that IT WORKS, therefore, it fails the "no-adoptions" agenda. The way it has been described by US lawyers, experts in The Hague Convention says it all: "Bill 3635 can be the first story of success in The Hague Convention implementation, and a model to follow for other Hague countries".

Let’s do it, not just to get home the 5000 thousand children , but to help those children who keep needing homes, and who would surely die - or worse -, if we don’t shelter them and give them safe, permanent and loving homes.

Susana Luarca

Posted by: Susana Luarca at September 30, 2007 02:40 PM

Susana, I'm sorry but I'm confused by your last post. I was under the impression that ALL laws before the congress contained the grandfather clause. You said in your post dated 9/7/07 under #5..."ADA: That is not true either. As the law states all cases already started will be allow to be finalized. They only have to be registered with the Central Authority" (referring to the Ortega law). Has the law itself been altered? Or is Berger using his Executive power to change it? Thanks in advace for the clarification.


Posted by: JLT at September 30, 2007 05:25 PM

Susana,

Thanks for the clarification, it was posted like they just received it from AS, I'll have to email Manfred myself and see if its true or not. Sorry, that should have been done first.

I'm a bit concerned with 3635 being tauted as our only hope. How is that possible when you are one of the ones who kept saying, go ahead adopt, they can not inact the Hague laws until 90 days past Januaury 1, 2008, and it takes a congressional vote etc.? What changed? Berger trying to get the Unicef money is not new, news. We knew this would happen, we know that UNICEF's goal is to end adoptions, but why stop the in-process adoptions? ADA has had our backs this whole time saying we would be fine? Now, its all doom and gloom from your camp instead of working on several ways to ensure that the new laws contain transitional language, it seems ADA is just concerned with their 3565 bill.

When the DOS is telling us that they are working with Guatemala to ensure that the in-process cases are allowed to go through, why should we have no hope? I do appreciate all the work you do, but like other attorneys in Guatemala who own hogars, we have to look at your whole agenda and the big picture.
~Melissa

Posted by: Melissa at September 30, 2007 06:46 PM

Once again I would like to thank, thank, thank Guatadopt.com for being the source of much needed information, feedback and peer sharing.

Personally this entire experience has been most enlightening with regards to how challenging our immigration systems and policies are to not only those trying to become an American Citizen (legally) but to those of us who were born and bred in the USA, paying taxes and voting for our government officials, and are trying to welcome a child, granted from another country, to our families and homes.

I absolutely support the letter writing, calling and potential march in Washington regarding this issue - as it stands today and as it could become tomorrow (years to come). I am also interested in becoming involved in any team that is interested in furthering the cause of not only the children we are all trying to bring home but also those in the future that will need families and homes.

Question/Comment: I heard that Angelina and Brad are looking into adoption from Guatemala. However even if that is not the case, it is my understanding that Angela is a supporter of UNICEF (which seems to be an organization that is the nemesis of our cause); is there anyway to reach out to Angelina to request her help in this regard? She is obviously a huge supporter of adoption, especially those from outside countries, and has had a voice on the Hill....just a thought.

Praying for a safe journey home for each of our children as well as mercy for those that need us today to help them and their potential families bring them home in the future.

Posted by: CEF at September 30, 2007 08:06 PM

Erik,
I am all for the protest. I live In Texas but I am willing to go wherever or whenever if it will help get our daughter home. Our daughter still has to go through her abandonment process and I have struggled for the past 13 months just to get to this point. I will do whatever it takes.

Posted by: Terri Ebbs at September 30, 2007 10:06 PM

The latest statement from DOS which was an altered form of their previous warning is somewhat encouraging. We (those representing the supporters of in process families) are being heard. Let us move forward to getting all 3000 children home. Included in that number would be the kids from CQ. Anyone out there have a current status on those kids?
Let us also make certain we leave good footprints. We need to have in mind the 4000-5000 children who will be affected in 2008. Susana brings up an important point about them. The funds flowing in now help to care for the next set of referred children. If no referrals are being made for adoption there will be no funds to care for those kids. In the USA we take for granted the availability of safety nets provided by welfare, food stamps and foster care. There appears to be no such structure in place in Guatemala.
Even as we look ahead to these next few difficult months let us keep the faith in being diligent in supporting the completion of current cases and remembering to advocate for the children in the next group of 5000.

Posted by: supportingreform at October 1, 2007 12:07 AM

A new post at www.adaguatemala.org may answer some questions that have been asked about the transition cases and the two adoption law proposals.

Susana Luarca

Posted by: Susana Luarca at October 1, 2007 02:50 AM

I have a question for Susana concerning the changes to bill 3217. When were the proposed changes published?

I checked everywhere in the Guatemala Congress website and the only version available is the original one, which includes the grandfather clause, the roles of notaries, and pretty much what AS told Melissa.

Thanks!

Posted by: Mariale at October 1, 2007 06:02 AM

I have read where we need to contact our government to put pressure on Guatemala but was also wondering if we also contacted the Catholic Church and other religious organizations which may either have presence with Guatemala and/or UNICEF since I have read they have voice. Maybe, they as well can help.

Posted by: Bradley at October 1, 2007 08:38 AM

After reading the new ADA post dated 10/1/07 on the ADA website I'm even more confused. It says that the Hague Conference sent a team of experts to rework the Ortega Law and they took out the grandfather clause from the original version. I know I read somewhere that the Hague Conference mandates that laws cannot be made retroactive!! How is it possible that they made these changes when making these changes would not make them Hague compliant?? Anyone??

I'm getting really angry & frustrated now...too much conflicting information.

Posted by: jlt at October 1, 2007 08:46 AM

And a P.S. to my earlier post...after re-reading the new ADA post she makes it very clear that they are not going to advocate for in process cases like they said they would all along. They want #3635 or nothing it seems. Thanks ADA.

Posted by: JLT at October 1, 2007 08:49 AM

As if this whole process isn't difficult enough and expensive enough, I feel as if the in-process people are now being asked by the US adoption agencies, the Guatemalan attorneys, and even other PAPs, to not only take on the responsibility of bringing the in-process children home (letter writing, emailing, phone calls, contributions) but also for saving the current Guatemalan adoption system for the future. I don't know how others feel, but I find this to be a pretty unfair burden. Because I am already attached to the children that have been assigned to us, I have certainly written my letters, called my senators, and called the DOS. I also sent an email to UNICEF. I would be prepared to march in Washington. I don't think marching will be necessary because I believe all these things are working. I was told that the US is committed to bringing the in process cases home. I now feel that Susana and others are presenting a doomsday scenario to us that takes the focus off of our situations and seems more interested in the future of Guatemalan adoptions after the Hague. I believe the US and Guatemalan governments, with input from the attorney's no doubt, will figure out a way to have a better adoption program but I have no desire to dictate what that program should look like just because Susana tells me I should. I guess the next thing will be that the PAP's will be blamed if the children don't come home because we didn't "work hard enough" to make it happen. I think this is all getting very out of hand.

Posted by: contessa at October 1, 2007 09:28 AM

CEF -
I too have thought about reaching out to Angelina Jolie. She is a U.N. ambassador for refugees, and has brought tremendous exposure to ICA as well. I've racked my brain trying to figure out a way to get a message to her. I'm still working on it. If anyone out there knows anyone who might know someone who can get a message to her publicist or her... that'd be great.

Posted by: Beth Bacheldor at October 1, 2007 10:03 AM

I beleive the "squeeky wheel" theory. The more voice we have, the more we'll be heard. So I went down to my local newspaper and placed a plea. A plea to everyone within the circulations district to be a voice for these orphans. The article did not go into depth over politics, but rather just a cry for people to speak out. As a society, we can not turn our heads and allow these children to be consumed by a government that does not put the welfare of its own children first. My hope is that this will boost the voice we have as a whole. I hope it works!

Posted by: Gayle at October 1, 2007 10:06 AM

Susana,

I have read your latest post on ADA and it clearly confirms my fear. Your team will not support anything other then your 3635 bill. I understand it would keep adoptions flowing while allowing transitional cases to complete. Wow, how wonderful that would be! However, it is not likely to be approved, so why not fight for us who are stuck here in the middle? Why not propose something else like new language to transition the in-process cases? I think the "your way or the highway" approach is going to fail.

Clearly, adoptions in Guatemala need reform and there will have to be a period of time when adoptions shut down in order to implement the new Hague requirements. I realize that is not optimal for hogar owners and for the babies being born right now, but it is better then sentencing 5000 children plus all the new ones being born. By only pushing bill 3635, we could be dooming our 3000-5000 in process children and trapping them in the middle of this political war. If you truly were trying to help those of us that are in-process, you would be fighting for them to amend whatever law they are going to pass to include the transitional language.

I noticed you did not really address the 90 days post implementation issue. How many times were we told the Ortega law cannot come into effect until 3/31/2008 or later by ADA? "Do not worry." Now, that is not so? That three months is the difference between getting my chidlren home and having them stuck in Guatemala limbo for perhaps ever.~Melissa

Posted by: Melissa at October 1, 2007 10:18 AM

Susana, we adore you, we really do. I appreciate you fighting the good fight for us. But I do have to agree with the others, that it does feel like you've changed your tune a bit. I think it's important that we (adoptive parents) continue to see the big picture about the future of Guatemalan adoptions...but on the other hand, I understand what Contessa is saying about taking on even more of a burden. We have grown weary, terrified, and have much to lose if we are not grandfathered in.

I am happy to support 3635, but I must know in my heart that my daughter can come home regardless. A few posts back, you were so reassuring to us and my glimmer of hope, and now we are terrified that you will leave us hanging.

Please, Susana, regardless of the law that goes into effect, please fight for us "in-process" cases. And if this is your intention, please be sure to state that in your postings.

Thank you!

Posted by: j at October 1, 2007 11:14 AM

Susana, we adore you, we really do. I appreciate you fighting the good fight for us. But I do have to agree with the others, that it does feel like you've changed your tune a bit. I think it's important that we (adoptive parents) continue to see the big picture about the future of Guatemalan adoptions...but on the other hand, I understand what Contessa is saying about taking on even more of a burden. We have grown weary, terrified, and have much to lose if we are not grandfathered in.

I am happy to support 3635, but I must know in my heart that my daughter can come home regardless. A few posts back, you were so reassuring to us and my glimmer of hope, and now we are terrified that you will leave us hanging.

Please, Susana, regardless of the law that goes into effect, please fight for us "in-process" cases. And if this is your intention, please be sure to state that in your postings.

Thank you!

Posted by: J at October 1, 2007 11:15 AM

I share Melissa's concern. I would like to read the ammends to the Ortega Law from a source other than ADA, just would like to read it myself and not have it filtered by any source. The original proposal had ample room for improvement, but still could have been modified to make it work, IMHO. Particularly now that it seems like 3635 has no chance to make it.

Posted by: Mariale at October 1, 2007 11:36 AM

Susana,

AS has confirmed that the post from them was from an earlier time and that their position differs now with new developments. They can not predict the future any more then any of us can.


Posted by: Melissa at October 1, 2007 12:01 PM

As a parent of one Guatemalan child at home and one waiting to be resubmitted to PGN (and therefore may never come home to me), I just want to say that I DO care about the future Guatemalan children that may not ever have the opportunity to find a forever family through adoption. Once you have a child home, Guatemala is forever a part of your life. Once one child has captured your heart, chances are your heart may soften for all needy Guatemalan children-present and future. Just as we who are mid-adoption need support from others who already have all of their children home, the unborn children need OUR support too. I don't think it has to be an either/or scenario. Can't we push for both- an adoption law that provides a grandfather clause AND an opportunity for adoptions to continue?
Lynn

Posted by: Tricia at October 1, 2007 12:07 PM

My wife and I are going later this week to Guatemala and will try to get some concrete information if possible. I will also try to meet with representatives of both governments to see where they stand if possible as well as talk with as many adoption lawyers and hogars.

I must agree with the last few posts, that everything being told to us the last year has suddenly changed, and although I'm sure Susana only has the highest concern of the children at hand, I believe we may be being used as pawns to try to get a bill passed ,which although may be the best bill, doesn't seem to have a chance. and although I'm sure all of us would like to see every Guatemalan child go to a good family, right now the 3,000 to 5,000 of us that have already did our paperwork and have already CIS approval must take precedent over the longer haul of the Guatemalan adoption process. we need to get the facts straight NOW! Too much contradictory statements are flowing around.
Don

Posted by: Don at October 1, 2007 12:53 PM

My wife and I are going later this week to Guatemala and will try to get some concrete information if possible. I will also try to meet with representatives of both governments to see where they stand if possible as well as talk with as many adoption lawyers and hogars.

I must agree with the last few posts, that everything being told to us the last year has suddenly changed, and although I'm sure Susana only has the highest concern of the children at hand, I believe we may be being used as pawns to try to get a bill passed ,which although may be the best bill, doesn't seem to have a chance. and although I'm sure all of us would like to see every Guatemalan child go to a good family, right now the 3,000 to 5,000 of us that have already did our paperwork and have already CIS approval must take precedent over the longer haul of the Guatemalan adoption process. we need to get the facts straight NOW! Too much contradictory statements are flowing around.
Don

Posted by: Don at October 1, 2007 12:53 PM

Melissa,

When the PGN suspended adoptions in 2003, a group of lawyers and I met with the Attorney General. We had agreed that we were going to ask him to stop applying the Hague Convention to the US cases, because such convention applies only when both countries are members. We did not have time to explain our arguments, when one of the lawyers begged the AG “to allow us to finish the pending cases”. That plea changed the whole direction of the discussion, because instead of using legal arguments to support our petition, this lawyer was asking for a favor. The AG refused, so we filed a successful amparo, an a constitutional challenge the CC upheld and that is how all the pending cases were finalized, because old and new adoptions were approved again, and thus far, several thousands of children live happy lives in other countries, instead of the lives of misery that awaited them here.

To ask Berger and the DOS to allow transition cases to proceed, is a favor that we would be asking of them, and they could say no. But even if they agree to help the transition cases, there would be always cases that would not make it. On the other hand, to demand from our government that the Constitution be respected, that the best proposal becomes a law, that the terms of Hague Convention be applied only to adoptions of Hague countries, and only until Guatemala becomes a member to the convention, is not begging for favors. It is our right to demand from our governments to do what is best for their citizens, and by approving Bill 3635, with a single stroke it would accomplish that the pending cases be finalized, the adoption system would be improved, the rights of the adoptive parents, the birth parents and the children being adopted would be better protected, so it is a win-win situation. The fact that for the last 20 years, an adoption law that restricts adoptions has always been discussed in Congress and not passed, means that the congressmen are not willing to shut down adoptions and let the children die. We have every reason to believe that if the people who has a connection with adoptions of Guatemalan children, helps to educate about the goodness of Bill 3635, those who have the power to make the changes, will help too, to get that proposal becoming a law.

About what you call “90 days post implementation issue” , I am afraid that you are mixing up two different things. One thing is the Hague Convention, whose approval for accession will become effective in January 1, 2008. Three months is the time that has to pass between the deposit of the instrument of accession of the Hague Convention and the moment it becomes effective, but Berger wants to use the former accession of 2002 as a way to avoid having to wait 3 months for it to become effective – for already discussed reasons - and based on that, appoint SBS as Central Authority and stop all adoptions that do not comply with the Hague Convention, whatever that means. The other thing is the proposal of adoptions law 3217, also known as the Ortega Law, that could be passed any time now, thus becoming effective whenever the Congress decides, either after o before the Hague Convention becomes effective. That law does not have the grandfather clause, eliminates the notarial process and the right of the birth mothers (or birth parents) to name who can adopt their children, so the adoptive parents woudl be deprived of their referals. We have been opposing this proposal always, because we know how detrimental their effects are for everybody who has anything to do with an adoption, not only to the children or to the lawyers who happen to do adoptions.

I hope that you understand that we are not sacrificing the pending cases in order to get 3635 passed. With 3635, the pending cases would proceed without any problems, and no one would be trapped in the system, because the transition would be gradual and smooth. If you prefer to advocate just for your child to go home, please do so, but respect my right to advocate for all the children, for all the families and for all the birth mothers of my country. I chose to do so in 2003 and it worked out. It could very well work out again, if 3635 is approved. And by the way, it is not "my law". It is the law of everybody who wants adoptions to remain open in Guatemala after the Hague Convention becomes effective.

Susana Luarca


Posted by: Susana Luarca at October 1, 2007 01:44 PM

It's not all about the children. It's about the money that the children bring in. Several posters even on this site, tried to warn those contemplating starting an adoption, based on personal experiences and knowledge that those who keep trying to say "keep accepting referrals" are in fact leading the PAPs into dangerous waters.

The concern is not for the PAP's or the children really, the concern is losing their money associated with each new referral.

Something that families haven't even talked about here, is the fact that if the adoptions are not allowed to be completed than the family may lose their money to the agency $2,000-$5,000 and the family for sure will lose their money to the Guatemalan contact $10,000-$15,000 or in some cases where the PAP was required to pay the entire fee up front of $20,000 - $30,000.

The focus was placed on saving the children who need referrals and taken off of the fact that extortion was continued to be planned and implemented and strengthened with each new PAP who took a referral.

This was not to protect the children, many referrals may never see a U.S. home. This was done to keep the money coming in.

Some of the extortion tactics is to get as much money from referrals and then walk with the money leaving excuse after excuse to support delays in the process, while children who were matched with a family and some who were matched with more than one family, will never see their family.

The child having a family may not have been part of the plan but taking the money sure was.

PAP's were led into dangerous waters while their money was taken and if they lose their child that will not negatively affect the agencies or Guatemalan facilitators/attorneys because they get to walk with that money. They don't have to pay it back to the PAP's.

What will hurt these people is if "NO MORE PAP'S ACCEPT REFERRALS". This will hurt their pocket books.

This is not a "We Told You So", but a wake up call to the corruption that has taken over Guatemalan adoptions.

If you look at this as a business, it will make sense. You have a business owner who makes his/her money off of finding children and placing them for adoption.

The low amount of $20,000 per referral adds up very quickly when you place numerous children each year.

If the law changes and makes it to where you can no longer conduct your business, than you will no loner have an income. The business owner's main concern is not those cases that they have alrady made money on but on the fact that if the Government closes adoptions than they will no longer be able to make any more money.

This is not like the U.S. non profit agencies helping children for humanitarian reasons, this is making huge profits off of children and that is why the organized crime has gotten involved and have facilitated thousands of adoptions into the U.S.

If the power continues to stay in the hands of the notaries/facilitators/etc., then organized corrupt groups continue to have the legal ability to make their money and corruption continues. If there is a threat of losing your income source then one may want to walk with as much money as they can and that money is brought in by PAP's accepting referrals that may never get their children home.

In a business, if you think your business may go under, you may sell as much as you can, as fast as you can.

Susanna said that if 3635 doesn't get pased then the children will have to be surrendered to Bienestar. This statement absolutely panicked all of us who are fighting to get our children home, some of us who have been in process for over a year.

If this happens, we wonder how many of the Guatemalan facilitators are going to go work for Bienestar, using their expertise in running hogars and children's homes to continue to help the children of their country.

That's an option too, but that option doesn't give them hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Parents to be, your heart is to help a child, while their heart is to take advantage of your good heart and use it to fight for their cause and strengthen their power.

If you have a child whom you are fighting for, you cannot depend on those who make their money off of adoptions to fight for you.

You have got to let your voice be heard and focus on fighting for your individual child, just as if they are your child now. If everyone does all that they can to get their baby home, that will help all the others who are trying to get their child home.

Posted by: Protect The Children at October 1, 2007 01:52 PM

Melissa, you are right on. They want 3635 or nothing now...which TOTALLY goes against everything the ADA has been telling us all year long. Why not help the 5000+ who will be abandoned if in process cases are halted? Work on getting NEW cases started after 9/14 when Berger is gone!!! The ADA obviously has a political agenda and is only worried about themselves. I feel like a fool for putting my trust in them now. If it wasn't for their many "Do not worry all in process cases will finish" comments I probably wouldn't have accepted my referral at all.

Posted by: jlt at October 1, 2007 02:56 PM

I agree with Contessa. We as parents have very little pull. Asking us to write letters is very much like asking us to pray. Actually I think prayer is more likely the answer.
I used to be active in politics but realize that politicians listen only to those lobbyists with money. So unless someone with real power steps in we should all pray

Posted by: tam at October 1, 2007 03:04 PM

Let me caution anyone and everyone against viewing things in absolutes or black and white. I have not always agreed with ADA on every issue and I have stated as much publically - but that does not mean that I reduced their entire position to one conclusion.

ADA has the right and honest obligation to fight for the continuance of adoptions. That is their mission. It is not hidden, it is clear as can be seen in the very name they chose.

I mean this as no attack on anyone but as some perspective that as I read some posts, I see what I deem the ugly american coming through. As long as ADA's role was to do whatever it takes to bring "my kid" home, they are heroes. But as soon as it expands to where what their clear mission has always been may somewhat contradict or be at odds with "bring my kid home", stones are being thrown.

The ADA's goal is to defend adoptions - past, present and future. If that is solely being done for their own personal gain, then that has been the case since day one of their formation. Since the time when everyone called them heroes.

My daughter and son are home because of their dedication and I will never forget that. If back in 2003 ADA had only advocated for completing in process cases, I would not have my son in my home today and I know what his life would be like.

Whether or not 3635 is the answer we can debate. But it is a fact that Ortega would be detrimental for Guatemalan children yet to be born. If ADA isn't thinking about them, then who is? Even if their intentions are not 100% puritanical, who else is advocating on behalf of Guatemalan birthmothers and children?

Once again, it is fine to disagree but let's not make anyone out to be complete heroes or villains.

Kevin
Guatadopt

Posted by: Kevin at October 1, 2007 03:16 PM

Just thought I would share an e-mail that came to another family I know trying to get their child from Guatemala right now...
The D.O.S. responded to an email we sent them:
------------------------------------------------------
"Thank you for contacting the U.S. State Department expressing your concern about intercountry adoptions in Guatemala. As you are aware the U.S. Department of State recently published notice about Guatemalan adoptions. This notice has generated considerable public attention, including an appeal for interested parties to contact U.S. and Guatemalan authorities.
The notice has generated public concern, particularly among prospective adoptive parents who already have cases in process. Prospective adoptive parents have specific concerns about how their cases will be affected. Unfortunately, many questions can not be addressed until the situation in Guatemala clarifies.
We want you to know that we are working hard to protect the interests of American citizens already pursuing an adoption in Guatemala. We are urging the Government of Guatemala as it promulgates legislation to meet Hague standards to include procedures that will allow adoption cases already in progress to proceed to conclusion without additional requirements. In addition, we are making every effort to process cases as quickly as possible when they are approved by Guatemalan officials and presented to our Embassy in Guatemala City.
The State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues is deeply committed to working with all concerned parties to ensure that intercountry adoptions occur under transparent conditions and with appropriate safeguards to protect the interests of birth parents, adoptive parents and, most importantly, the children themselves.
We hope that you find this information useful. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of further assistance.
Sincerely,
Hague Implementation Unit
Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State"


Posted by: Willie at October 1, 2007 03:22 PM

Paul-
Tried calling PGN today, and they were very nice, but not real clear. Just stated that our case is in review and kept repeating one month. We were not sure if that meant you have been in one month or have one more month, but they told us to call back on Friday. Does this sound similar to your experience?
Thanks

Posted by: Willie at October 1, 2007 03:25 PM

Susana-

I thank you for everything you have done for Guatemalan chilren past and future!!!!

Posted by: shannon at October 1, 2007 03:29 PM

I think everyone is just really upset right now. We all just want to bring home our children. Let's remember that we are all in this together! Let's not turn on one another now; we've got to pull through and fight for the children: past, present, and future as Kevin stated.

I do agree it's disheartening to see posts changing from "don't worry" to "worry" but I do feel confident knowing people like the ADA and Susana are fighting for us and the future siblings of our children.

Posted by: j at October 1, 2007 03:34 PM

There is something I don't understand. For months now it has been said that according to Hague laws that even if here is a change in the adoption system of Guatemala, that by law pending cases must be completed. This was all of ours understanding.

So why now is it being said that to ask to pending cases to be completed according to international law, that this asking for a favor?

It is evident that the government of Guatemala does not have the childrens best interest at hand, and that is why only by demanding the legal requirements according to international law will they have to follow and obey international laws of the Hague.

So what is it, do they or don't they by law have to allow cases pending to be grandfathered in?

Nothing personal to ADA. I appreciate all their hard work for all the children, but we parents to be in pending process, need to know our legal rights also.

I pray that in the end whatever will be done will help all the children.
Don

Posted by: Don at October 1, 2007 03:36 PM

Susana,
I have a question for you. Do you have an idea as to when either the Ortega Bill or Proposal 3635 will be voted on? And can Berger really get away with not having to wait the 90 days before Hague takes effect in Guatemala?

Thanks,
Sarah

Posted by: Sarah at October 1, 2007 03:51 PM

Kevin:
I am confused with the posting from Protect the Children. It seems a very ominous message and one that scared me silly. Can you share with me/us what your interpretation of their statement, especially their last sentence, is?

Thank you again for all your support, guidance and knowledge.

Posted by: CEF at October 1, 2007 03:59 PM

Melissa and jlt-

I am just curious...were you close to Guatemalan adoptions back in 2003? What I mean is: where you involved? I am just curious if you understand the true depth of the work ADA has done for adoptions and that have made it possible for you to be in process now or to have your child home. Yep, those greedy attorneys dedicated their lives (countless hours, days, weeks) fighting night and day for the children and to help so many of us get our children home.

Things are changing...daily. And it is stressful. But I am embarrassed by some of these posts and that anyone would actually be so blunt about the fact that they want "their baby" home and heaven forbid they should have to be "burdened" with anything beyond that, like the fate of the thousands of children that might be left behind....left behind in your child's birthplace! Dive in people. Spend some time in Romania and see for yourself what happens when IAs cease. If adoptions from Guatemala stop, the corruption will end...but so will the only hope these babies that are born and here in this world.

There has to be a solution that provides more oversight but does not close the doors & hope for the children of Guatemala. That is what so many of us are fighting for.


Posted by: mem at October 1, 2007 04:05 PM

I agree, Kevin. It would be the easy thing to just focus on our own children coming home, but I cannot in good conscience turn my back on future children. I am afraid that if the ADA doesn't continue to press on toward the futures of all Guatemalan orphans, we will see not just 5000 but many more children in the future suffer under the prospective Ortega Law (*yikes*). The child that we pray will become our legal daughter is 9 months old and perfect in every way. We began process with her when she was just over one month old. We've been in PGN for 4 months with her, and yes, we have visited her, held her, slept with her in between us just laying awake watching her all night.....I cannot believe for one second that to advocate for the future orphans of Guatemala automatically excludes us bringing our little one home. I do not believe they are mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, I don't know much about law or these political workings. I suppose I'm a little naive. I pray that the ADA, including Susana is level-headed and able to not go all or nothing from any angle. We HAVE to have in process cases go through, but we also HAVE to protect these children just coming into the system.

When will this all be over? I feel that writing letters and making phone calls is not enough. But I feel so impotent in this situation! It is a scary thing to trust a government so different than what we are used to. And then it is almost more difficult to trust our own government who always seemed so big and capable until we needed them....I pray that they are big and capable even now.

**I am going to mention prayer, so please don't read further if you do not prefer to hear such a discussion.....**

I will be praying for all, and Susana, I don't understand all of the intricacies of what is going on. I know I never will, but we are so depending on you. I will pray that you are able to get good rest (I see how late your posts are made! ;) ) and that God will multiply your time. I am praying for wisdom for you and those who work with you. Please proceed with my daughter, for that is how I consider her, in mind. She is so deeply imprinted on my heart, my husband's heart, and the hearts of my two little boys, who also pray for her many, many times a day.

I pray for all of my fellow PAPs: for a spirit of purpose and peace. I will pray that your hearts are prepared for the road before you and most of all that your children will come home.

For the children of Guatemala who do not even know what is going on regarding their futures...I pray that the Maker of their hearts will guard those hearts and keep their sweet little bodies safe and free of illness. I pray that their spirits and minds will be steadfast and strong, and I pray that they will come home to forever homes with forever families SOON.

I just wanted you all to know.....

We will all get through this. I believe with all my heart that the Guatemalan congress will approve a GOOD plan where our adoptive children will come home and future children will be protected. I can't help but believe....

Blessings,
Crista

Posted by: Crista at October 1, 2007 04:12 PM

Many people have commented on contacting government agencies, UNICEF etc. which I feel is a really good option. I don't recall if it was posted on this site or another site, but it seems that Anderson Cooper from CNN is doing a segment on Guatemala. I intend to write a letter to him regarding the experience of adoption in Guatemala. Kevin, maybe your contacts at NBC would also be helpful - Guatemala has gotten such bad press regarding adoption - it would be nice if all of us could convince the press that our story needs to be told as well.

Posted by: AJG at October 1, 2007 05:23 PM

I am with Kevin...thanks for bringing balanced sanity.

To diminish ADA's credibility for a couple of roller coaster rides thru communication nightmare would be too premature.

Now, about money. Last time I speculated, majority of us on this discussion board hardly worked for free, and always passionately protected the rights to our professional and economic interests...why is this wrong for ADA? Also, last time I checked with US domestic adoptions, this was in tighter comparison in economics and with (perhaps) higher degree of uncertainty as every other BM storyline ended up in "sorry, I changed my mind."

Now, about lawyers making money...last time I checked, these lawyers are mostly Guat citizens. So, where are they pumping this money into (granted, this be in a capitalistic or monopolistic way)? Being a finance guy, I can calculate how many quatzales a dollar can convert into. I can also estimate $30K - $40K per child and then multiply that with 5K-6K children, and then find out how many quatzales are coming to Guat economy. Then add over 50% PAPs contributing to Guat humanitarian causes every year. Then add over 6K-7K parents adding tourism dollars (and therefore quatzales) into Guat economy. Then consider how many jobs were created in a economy where teachers go on strikes for unemployment. So, it's not just about Susana/team making money...the entire economy is benefited (unless someone knows these lawyers are saving and living in the US or in other exotic countries.) Now, imagine shutting down this entire economic system and ask yourselves, can UNICEF money be enough to offset that “show stopper” in Guat economy? Might work well for a government transitioning out…not for the future of this economy. However, I am not preaching that this justifies adoptions, yet a different economic angle to disagree with the viewpoint that ADA is doing this to make money, only.

Therefore, as Kevin said, let's not demonize because a hard working group of highly educated segment is making more money than others…that’s capitalism 101. Nor, should we attack a person as his/her official message seemed confusing. Let’s disagree on issues and yet stick together as a group for better hopes for thousands of future children of this country and not just “my kid.” Again, this is just my viewpoint and feel free to disagree, but don’t attack me :-)

Posted by: Phil at October 1, 2007 06:12 PM

My how quickly we turn on each other. Have we forgotten who the real problem is? The UN, UNICEF, Bienstar, and Berger. I agree with Kevin as soon as ADA is not looking out for our individual case they are the bad guy when they were heros before. Yes we should be doing what we can to get cases to proceed but how can we turn our backs on the children who will be left with dismal alternatives. I am saddened to keep hearing about "referrals" especially when parents mention them in a disappointed tone. These are children we are speaking of. Your son or daughter. How could you even say you wouldn't have accepted them without a guarantee we are discussing a human being and if you are far enough to have an ICA referral you should be educated enough at this point to know it is very risky and there are no guarantees but we do it anyway for our children not "our referrals". We've been told to turn away from day one even after we were in progress and never for an instant was it something we could do because they aren't "referrals" they are our children. I don't care what Susana and ADA said in their current or previous articles. You all knew the risks, were told by various parties including other APs, and have seen the bad press and garbage politics interfering on a almost daily basis. This has been nothing but a complete roller coaster for years! Anyone who says I didn't know until afterwards I don't think its true. How could you miss it? We knew and heard without fully researching Guatemala and went to another country before because of the bad press. We knew when we accepted a referral here and did tons of research to ensure we were doing the right thing. We read all the DOS statements, statements from UN and UNICEF, from hapy and mad families, and have been reading everything here and in other forums. Please dont tell other APs you didn't know regardless of whether someone promised you a rose garden. We all need to remember why we are here and its for the children and we should be standing together for the families and for the children and not just for ourselves. The easiest way to defeat us is to seperate us and I'm saddened by how easy it is to do that. Everybody stop and think about what is going to happen to the children afterwards? The government does not take care of the children that aren't being adopted today ask yourself how they are going to suddenly turn this around and take care of the children who would have been adopted as well. The answer is they are not going to. These are real children we are talking about.

Susana, continue to lobby for the children. God bless you. Meanwhile hopefully all the APs will join together and try to not only push for support for pending cases but push for future cases as well and not just expect someone else to always take care of it for them because clearly this is something the community has to work on, care about, and push for.

Posted by: mom at October 1, 2007 06:27 PM

Susana,

Thanks for the further clarification, however, I'm still confused about not having that grace period of three months that we all thought we would have? Yes, this is about my pending case, but I'm not so shallow as to only be thinking of myself, afterall, there are 5000 of us in process and we all want our babies home. When its your baby, you fight and if that seems selfish, its not my intention.

We of course want adoptions to continue, but is that really possible without some sort of closure to give Guatemala the time to implement the Hague?

My fears are that they will not pass bill 3536. I'll continue to write letters and ask our representatives to push bill 3536, but what if fails?

I think we all need to have our eyes wide open now and formulate back up plans should 3536 not get passed.

Thank you for the work you do, I'm sure that you do have the birthmom's and the children in mind.

I'm sorry if my earlier post came off a bit harsh, but it was hard to swollow all that doom and gloom coming from the same people that gave us so much hope. We have been in process for over a year, so nothing you said or did made me move forward. It was our own decision and we are all responsible in the end for our own decisions. Peace to you and the ADA.

Melissa

Posted by: melissa at October 1, 2007 07:17 PM

The generalized comments about "weary families" being asked to do too much really struck a chord with me.

As many of you have noticed, I have not been posting a lot lately. I am weary...job stresses, financial stresses, family health issues and the constant demands of the Guatadopt.com site have all been a factor. When a number of in process parents emailed me privately to tell me that I should attend the Ethics Conference....I thought "I just don't have the energy! My time is already scarce!". But then what happens to all these children who do not have families waiting? I may not be able to take on the world, or sign every petition or write every letter....but if I just remember that there are kids that do NOT have a champion...well, that makes a difference.

I think this Bible Quote is applicable. Kevin and I share this belief though we do not share the same religion:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9


Kelly
guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kelly (webmaster) at October 1, 2007 08:22 PM

I will contact everyone listed on the Guatemala 5000 Initiative (listed on JCICS.org) but we all now how influential the media can be. Everyone has a preference to their news shows...email them! I emailed Fox News in hoped they might find this to be a nationally news-worthy issue.

Posted by: Shannon at October 1, 2007 09:21 PM

"Never underestimate that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do." ~Edward Everett Hale

I think these two quotes, which I have posted before when faced with challenges and issues with this process, are even more appropriate today. Let's stick together. We might be a small group of people, but we have the power to change the world for the better...if we are thoughtful and committed. Peace and prayers...Kim

Posted by: Kim at October 1, 2007 10:00 PM

"Never underestimate that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do." ~Edward Everett Hale

I think these two quotes, which I have posted before when faced with challenges and issues with this process, are even more appropriate today. Let's stick together. We might be a small group of people, but we have the power to change the world for the better...if we are thoughtful and committed. Peace and prayers...Kim

Posted by: Kim at October 1, 2007 10:01 PM

I am thankful DOS revised its statement. Our government MUST advocate for PAPs whose cases are pending.

Does anyone know who the diplomatic players are? I guess I am wondering specifically who at the state department will ask for a grandfather clause, and who within the Guatemalan government will have the power to say yea or nay.

Melissa, I want to thank you for asking some hard questions. It's not an easy thing to do. I also appreciate how you reached out to Susanna in your last post.

I respect your position, too, Susanna. You, of course, must do what you think is best for your country, while our job as parents is to advocate for our children. I don't think our interests are mutually exclusive by any means.

Crista, what a beautiful prayer. I am trying not to worry too much about how this all will end. As much as I love my daughter Zoe, God loves her more. He is in control.

Keep the faith,
Zoe's Mom

Posted by: Zoe's mom at October 2, 2007 12:27 AM

To Willie:
I think we are on the same timeline inside PGN. She told you one month more. She has told me more than once that the time process inside PGN is two months. I talked with her on 9/28/07 and was told 2nd reviewer one month to go and that end of July submitted cases were the ones coming out now. It seems like we are in an engineered process with a throttling mechanism attached to it. The Embassy has more help shorter time in PGN, the Embassy has less help longer delays. The shear number of cases if processed in a hurry through PGN would certainly cause lengthy delays waiting for VISA clearances so they just let you stay longer in PGN. I have researched and received the internal processes of PGN, if the process has not been altered, after we have finished the 2nd review (dates, names, data, grammar, etc. ) we will be headed to the desk of the Sub General's desk for his signature, once we have that it is sent back to the Procoduria Secretary where it will be placed in the window for pick-up by the Notary. The Notary will then have to file and have the Birth Mother sign for the last time. Once this is filed you will then become the legal parent of your child and the VISA train starts moving.


Keeping Guatemala open:
Yes, I will fight for my son waiting for me and YES I will also fight for the in-process cases of others and you can count on me to fight for the Children that need a family in the future. When you go to Guatemala take a good look around at the children you will see outside the airport, the ones you filter in when traveling to the hotels or the ones that will beg you for money and plant that in your memory bank like I did when I picked up my first son. When you return back home and the fanfare is over those memories will return and from time to time you will be reminded that this is the life that your child could be living. Take a moment and ask yourself if the child you are waiting on was home already would you support a law like #3635 that gives a child just like the one in your arms a continuing chance or would you support a law like #3217 "Ortega" that would sentenced him or her to a life like the one in your memory bank.
Those like Susana on the ground in Guatemala see this day in and day out and that is the real reason I believe behind ADA's push for a law that will give these children a chance in life. The Hague if implemented using #3635 will keep the door open, hopefully stamp out much unwanted corruption, and yes keep in check the fees charged. Supporting #3217 by keeping silent will forever keep the door closed to children that need Mamita and Papito. The lofty asperations of UNICEF's intellectual community has ruined the lives of countless children and they will do this also if given the opportunity in Guatemala.
I believe we can be an influence by simply e-mailing the Guatemalan Congress on behalf of their children constituency that we are trying to adopt and giving support to #3635

Trusting Him,

Paul

Posted by: Paul at October 2, 2007 12:54 AM

I agree that we all need to stick together, there is power in numbers. The calls to the DOS are working, they changed their statement and have vowed to help in-process cases as much as they can. It seems that ADA is doing everything they can for in-process cases as well as the future children that need to find homes through adoption.

I can relate with the "my child needs to come home" posts earlier, but I can also see the bigger picture of trying to fight for the continuance of all Guatemalan adoptions. Let's forgive the parents who some called selfish, but were only voicing their concerns, frustrations, and worst fears that their child may NEVER come home. In fact, today was a terrible day for me, as has every other day since this roller coaster started. I love my daughter with every ounce of me, I've visited her, held her, kissed her. I've put my boys at risk of heartbreak because I've chosen international adoption as a way to complete our family and reach out to a child in need (as many have posted, we knew the risks, so I have to take responsibility for this). I've spent thousands and thousands of dollars that I didn't just have sitting in my piggy bank. There are many others in the same situation and because of this, we are a bit emotional and at times irrational. Just driving down the road, I cannot concentrate anymore, I have anxiety over all the "what-ifs". We all have issues in life and this just happens to be one the bigger one for me. Losing my daughter just cannot be happening...but it's a very real possibility. This is my worst nightmare coming true.

So please, everyone take a deep breath. The first lesson in communication 101 is to try to see things from other people's perspectives. If you do this, it makes you a much more powerful communicator and listener. As another poster said. Let's debate the issues, but we need to stick together.

Peace to all.

Posted by: J (in-process in PGN) at October 2, 2007 12:56 AM

Paul,
If you don't mind, I would love to e-mail with you instead of tying up this thread. If you are up to this my e-mail address is
cstamm@fultoncountyoh.com.
Thanks

Posted by: Willie at October 2, 2007 08:30 AM

Not sure if my first comment went through, but Paul I would love to e-mail with you if you don't mind instead of tying up this thread.
cstamm@fultoncountyoh.com
Thanks

Posted by: Willie at October 2, 2007 08:33 AM

Paul...I was very interested in your explanation to Willie about the PGN timeline. How is that two months affected by a kick-out? We were put into PGN mid-July, but we got kicked out in early September because they wanted another document. This had to be certified and authenticated, of course, and now I think we are going back into PGN this week. Does my two month wait start all over again or does the time I already spent in PGN count? Anyone know?

Zoe's mom

Posted by: Zoe's mom at October 2, 2007 09:43 AM

We are so very worried. We are still in Family Court! Our dossier has been down there about 7 weeks. I have emailed everyone I know to make calls and emails. WE love these children as our own. Our government HAS to do SOMETHING!
These are children we love! Not bargaining power from one country to another! WE must get our Emma home...I am very scared! PRAY!

Posted by: Emma's Family at October 2, 2007 04:40 PM

Zoe's mom, I'm sorry to tell you but your wait will start all over again. Ridiculous, of course, but that's just the way they do things.

-Jessica

Posted by: Jessica at October 2, 2007 05:04 PM

PGN TIMELINE
We thought we went into PGN the first week in Aug. and had a spanish speaking friend call and check on statis and was told a Aug.9 date. Which ever it still is 8-9 weeks this week with no K/O and haven't got a good news call yet, anyone with the same dates? We last checked on Sept. 21 and was told the case was with the second reviewer. A happy excited waiting family waiting for our second grandson from Guatemala. Zoe's mom I do believe when K/O you do get back at the beginning of the line, 8 weeks unfortunatly.
Grandmother Cindy

Posted by: Cindy Cameron at October 2, 2007 09:14 PM

To Zoe's mom:
We were KO'd after the first week and re-entered on 8/30, the lady at PGN told me on Friday (9/28) that I should count from the time of re-entry on 8/30 instead of original date 8/16 for the two month time period. I have read before where diligent attorney's have petitioned PGN for re-entry where they left off before being KO'd and it was granted. If you call the number after you think you have been placed back in, you may want to ask them if the resolution has been written concerning your case and if so are you on the 1st or 2nd reviewers desk. Chances are you were on the 2nd reviewers desk when you were KO'd, they are the one's that review the data very carefully and not the resolution that the first reviewer is concerned with. The resolution is an internal process of PGN and has to meet Guatemalan legal standards. The data is what supports the resolution of adoption and without it they will not let it pass. If it were me I would petition my agency to insist with the attorney to advocate for your re-entry where you left off. This is a reasonable request given the circumstances. I will pray for you.

Trusting in Him,

Paul

Posted by: Paul at October 2, 2007 10:39 PM

Zoe's mom,
We asked our agency that too, we are also second time in PGN. The response was that it is the only consistent part of the process right now. The wait is two months each time you get back into PGN. I also learned that half of PGN and Family Court goes on holiday in mid-November and when they return the other half goes. I can't imagine how little will get done. The attorneys also go on vacation the week of Christmas until around Jan.8th

Posted by: Kim at October 3, 2007 07:10 AM

Cindy

We have been in PGN since Aug 2 and are in second review two.
Keeping fingers tightly crossed for all of us

Posted by: tam at October 3, 2007 08:22 AM

In an effort to get away from the speculation and get back to the facts I would like to understand what the possible options are and then determine feasibility for each. It's fine to call/email US Congressional leaders and demand that the DOS lobby for the PAP's currently in the system but never underestimate the power of ideas. Rather than call and vent, we need to understand so we can call and suggest.

I have been diligently reading these posts and have attempted to sift through the emotion so that the facts remain clear. Having said that, captured below are three potential solutions to this current problem.

1) The US accelerates our Hague status pulls the timing ahead from approx April 1, 2008 to end of 4th quarter 2007 so that adoptions continue uninterrupted after the new year.
2) President Berger revises the Guatemalan statement to allow in process families to continue under the current system and then establish a clean cut off for "new cases"
3) Law 3635 gets passed in Guatemala

Can anyone comment on the feasibility of each based on established knowledge rather than on speculative emotion? I am no expert but do realize the power of knowledge and for something this serious, I feel it is wise to stick to the facts. Thanks in advance,

Jay

Posted by: Jay at October 3, 2007 10:09 AM

I LOVE the idea of hitting UNICEF in the proverbial pocketbook. How do we do it? The power of the pen--or the e-mail. Get EVERYONE YOU KNOW to write letters to the CEO of Hallmark Cards. The CEO happens to be Donald J. Hall, Jr.

Ironic, isn't it, that a family-owned business does not support families?

If you go to their website, you can see that they have a "For America's Babies" program, supporting immunization. A quote from the site: "Even more importantly, they deliver a message of hope for America's babies -- the hope that all babies will grow up happy and healthy." Except ours, I guess.

It may be tough to find Mr. Hall's e-mail address, but the corporate media contact is:
Kristi Ernsting, 816-274-8272, kernst1@hallmark.com.

"When You Care Enough To Send The Very Best" seems ironic, doesn't it? I say we flood Ms. Ernsting's mailbox.

Posted by: Rosanne at October 3, 2007 11:58 AM

Someone recently posted a phone number to call the PGN and check the status of your case. Can you repost that info. I would like to call and check the status of my case. Thank you!!

Posted by: ashlee at October 4, 2007 03:11 PM

To Ashlee:
Count down to approx. post number #40 or #41 in this thread and you will find the exact instructions that I posted. I called today and they told me that cases are stilled being processed as normal.

Trusting in Him,

Paul

Posted by: Paul C. at October 4, 2007 05:29 PM

I wasn't the one who originally posted the PGN phone number, but I did jot it down. The number I have is 011-502-2248-3200 (extension 2037). It would be good if you had your case number with you when you call. Good luck!

Posted by: JGR at October 4, 2007 05:31 PM

My thoughts and prayers are with Michelle and her husband and family. I know this is a terrifying time, but with all my heart I hope her baby girl will be here with her Mommy & Daddy. Whatever I can do to help I will be glad to do.

Posted by: Dolly at October 5, 2007 08:22 AM

To Paul and JGR:

Thank you so much for the info about calling the PGN. I called Monday and was told that our case was approved. The approval was just confirmed with our agency.

I will continue to pray for all.
Ashlee

Posted by: Ashlee at October 10, 2007 11:34 AM
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