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December 11, 2007

Ortega Passed

Today Guatemala passed a new adoption law, Decreto 77-2007. So far as I know, only one amendment of interest was added to what we have already posted about this law. It DOES allow singles, of both genders, to adopt. You can read that in the first story below.

Boston.com Story

Associated Press Report

A pro-adoption editorial that appeared in Prensa Libre today (needs translation)

I (The "I" in ths is Kevin) have to be honest that there is a side of me that is relieved. For the past four years or so I have been slowly watching this train wreck happening. The more that time went on, the more it seemed inevitable. It’s been painful to watch the ups and downs and know what the families involved are experiencing. There once was a time when we were really able to help people get their kids home, but that has become more and more difficult as the train came closer to this point.

Anger and sadness accompany this relief. Anger and sadness that it came to this. Anger and sadness at what I imagine will be another good or bad law depending on your perspective. Because ultimately no one has proven that you can have a functioning adoption system absent of corruption. And I promise to do all I can to prove myself wrong in the case of Guatemala. Anger and sadness that families are still not at peace. Anger and sadness that at this moment there are children caught in the middle of political battles, children with loving families yearning to bring them home.

Okay, for those who just want the info… The law goes into effect Dec. 31, 2007. As was predicted, this law does not specify what defines in process or how to register with the Central Authority. The organizations that make it up apparently have two weeks to appoint their members to lead it and 60 days to get it up and running. Yes, that paints a scary picture when cases must be registered by Jan 30, 2008. All I can say is that you will have to once again wait and see. The process of registering a case should be easy technically. But someone has to make it happen. Though I don’t see how this says that they can’t start figuring this out before the people are appointed. Obviously, we all hope that sanity prevails. That’s all I can tell you about other then that singles are apparently allowed to adopt under the new law.

Those of you in-process, please do expect some bumps in the road. I am very confident that you will get your kids home. But there is likely to be confusion and hassles. So please just be prepared for it.

A message that you will inevitably be bombarded with from me as long as you read this site is the fact that we must not turn our backs on the children of Guatemala. While I too have anger, it is not the fault of the children. We must continue to do all we can to help them. I’ll give you an example. In our Do Good feeding program, there are hogars being aided whose philosophies and ideologies I do not agree with. But they feed children in need. It would be wrong to not support those kids even if I don’t agree with the hogar.

This law does not to my knowledge offer a funding stream to provide care for children. It does not provide pre or post natal care. I could go on and on. That will leave a vacuum to no fault of the victims. Hopefully all the people who pushed Guatemala into this law will step up to the plate and offer their aid. But we can too.

It is a rough day and after being stuck at an airport in a snowstorm all day, I’m not really able to digest this all. Is this an end to Guatemalan adoption? The institution is far more to me than how my wife and I grew our family. It has become a strong piece of who I am. It’s hard to imagine that becoming a thing of the past. What will I talk about at cocktail parties? (joke)

There will likely be constitutional challenges to this law. We’ll of course update as we learn more.

One last thought… Or plea… To all of those in power in both the US and Guatemala, please realize the battle is over and clear up the cases that have been caught in the middle of the political mess. If the adoptions were illegal, then end them and prosecute the guilty parties. If there is no evidence that they are illegal, don’t victimize the children. They need to go home!

PEACE!

Posted by Kelly at December 11, 2007 03:16 PM
Comments

Am I supposed to believe anything the author Juan Carlos Llorca says? He's been writing lies about Guatemalan adoption for years now. He definitely is not an objective source. This time he writes:

Notaries charge an average of $30,000 for children delivered in about nine months — record time for international adoptions. The process is so quick that one in every 100 Guatemalan children now grow up as an adopted American; Guatemala sent 4,135 children to the U.S. last year

That statement is so ridiculous. There are so many things wrong. I for one did not pay a notary $30,000 for my adoptions. I could go on if I had the time. I have already spent more time writing this comment then Juan Carlos Llorca did on his article. I guess the AP can just print anything. There are just no standards.

Posted by: Jenn_in_PA at December 11, 2007 04:05 PM

I RUSHED to get home to see if there was some good news to report. Needless to say, I was PLEASANTLY surprised and quite relieved. All of our efforts paid off. I'm so happy I could just scream! : )

Posted by: Sandi at December 11, 2007 05:21 PM

I RUSHED to get home to see if there was some good news to report. Needless to say, I was PLEASANTLY surprised and quite relieved. All of our efforts paid off. I'm so happy I could just scream! : )

Posted by: Sandi at December 11, 2007 05:22 PM

For all the cases that are pending this does seem like good news. At least they will grandfather in the cases. I am sure everyone is waiting for Kevin's thoughts.

Posted by: Janet at December 11, 2007 05:44 PM

What happens to those of us that accepted a referral but we do not have our 171 yet and probably won't get it until after the 31st?
Kristen

Posted by: Kristen at December 11, 2007 06:02 PM

Will Berger actually sign this law? I'm really trying to be optimistic!

Posted by: Sandi at December 11, 2007 06:26 PM

This makes no sense...how can they "open for business" on 1/15, have until 3/1 to figure out how to run the place and require ALL 3700+ CASES to register by 1/30??? Anyone???

Posted by: Jen at December 11, 2007 07:19 PM

My wife and I are waiting for the PA by the US Embassy. We are TRYING to give a family to a 4 years old boy that lives in an orphanage. Are we considered on process?

Posted by: vince at December 11, 2007 07:22 PM

My wife and I are waiting for the PA by the US Embassy. We are TRYING to give a family to a 4 years old boy that lives in an orphanage. Are we considered on process?

Posted by: vince at December 11, 2007 07:22 PM

I'd like some more thoughts on if we should accept a referral now since we have had our immigration approval since Sept? When will it be stated was is considered in process?

Posted by: Trish at December 11, 2007 07:33 PM

Kevin, as always, thanks for your insight. To Kevin and all - how on earth can they approve a law that requires registration with a central authority by a certain date, when the central authority is not reguired to be operational by that date? I don't comprehend how that many members of congress could have possibly approved this without someone bringing this up? Am I completely naive to think that even if they are not going to make this easy for us, in WRITING at least, the law should have some logic??
Thanks for all that you do.

Posted by: Shannon at December 11, 2007 07:36 PM

Also, the PL reported today that the law passed, and now the congress will be discussing amendments? How will they get all of this done by Dec. 31st, and is this true, since today was the third reading? Will the clarifications regarding "in-process" and "registration with central authority" possibly be clarified through an amendment that is yet to come?

Posted by: Shannon at December 11, 2007 07:47 PM

I can't seem to get my head around this. I'm stuck on the registering to a central authority THAT DOES NOT EXIST by Jan. 31, otherwise adoptions will have to proceed by the new law's requirements. WHAT? I would like to think that surely, as Kevin suggests, sanity will prevail and they'll get that Central Authority set up ASAP. I'm mid-way through PGN. It's a crapshoot whether I'll get approval before Dec. 31, when the new law takes effect. I really would like to have been in congress today to point out the obvious omission that the grandfather clause contains. And a few thousand other things! Not just about how this impacts my case, but how it will impact the children of Guatemala who will now not be afforded an opportunity. How it will impact the women who now will not be afforded the opportunity to give their children an opportunity, even as heartbreaking as that choice might be. They (the Guatemalan lawmakers/government) could have done so much better. This is all just breaking my heart.

Posted by: Beth Bacheldor at December 11, 2007 07:59 PM

As a PAP that has been in process for our daughter for 5 years and is still waiting for the abandonement certificate...does anyone have an idea how the new law will run/requirements will be. Iam sure there are quite a few that would like to know this as well.

waiting for Bella

Posted by: Audra at December 11, 2007 08:35 PM

Thank you again, Kevin and Kelly, for keeping us posted. As a solid glass-half-full girl, I am optimistic that the new law has a grandfather clause that can and should be implemented in a practical manner. However, we are still stuck waiting for clarification re: the multiple unknowns others have pointed out. I'll be so happy when I can quit holding my breath!

Posted by: LeAnn at December 11, 2007 08:47 PM

Kevin, I believe what you have had to say is right on target!
Although I exhaled a large breath after hearing the good news today (or atleast it seemed good), I remain heavy hearted for the future. I do feel more comfortable that we will get our daughter home (in PA for about almost 6 weeks now). But, now my concern lies with the children yet to be or about to be born! I do hope there is reform for a better system. I do hope and pray that a viable adoption program can be devised to allow children who need families can be matched with those who long to love them now and into the future!

Posted by: shelley at December 11, 2007 09:25 PM

Did I miss the part of the announcement where it was stated all cases would have to be registered with the Cental Authority by a specific date? What happens if there is a constitutional challenge? Could a challenge delay implementation of the new law? Again, more confusion or stress......the AP announcement seemed like good news stating they understood the position of parents in process already and would not want to hinder the outcome but after going thru this site and others opinions I'm still very stressed about the situation. I'm convinced I will not be 100% content until I am on the plane home with my daughter. Has anyone heard from their agencies/lawyers after this was passed? I would love some insight!!!

Posted by: Anne Marie at December 11, 2007 09:27 PM

Shannon, can you post the PL article (or the link) where it talks about them now discussing amendments? I can't find it. Thanks!!

Posted by: Jen at December 11, 2007 09:34 PM

Having experienced a horribly corrupt adoption process for the past 2 years, we are pleased about this law. (not all parts of it...but most) Our "forever in our hearts" daughter's paperwork was fake, she was represented by people who fabricated awesome stories to cover the truth. But the truth is our daughter will not be coming home to us because of the fraud and unethical practices of our adoption team. (US agency, facilitator, Guatemalan attorney, hogar and their representatives)
I pray Guatemala is able to take the "big business" out of the adoption process. For this "business" is children. And children should NOT be up for sale.

Posted by: laura at December 11, 2007 10:08 PM

Audra, we are there with you. We have been waiting 2 1/2 years for our kids and wonder where on earth this leaves us. Do those of waiting on abandonments even have a glimmer of a chance??

Posted by: d at December 11, 2007 10:23 PM

Great editorial from Prensa Libre. The subtitle "Wash your hands of the consequences" says it all. Let's hope that more people speak out about the problems this law will cause down the road. We have CIS approval but no referral, so we will probably end up adopting from a different country. My only hope is that someday we will have the chance to adopt from Guatemala. It's been a dream of mine since I first visited this beautiful country 10 years ago. I've spent time in private orphanages there that were very well run...one can only imagine what orphanages under this law will look like. God bless all of you who will be grandfathered under this law. You are the lucky ones...and so are your children.

Posted by: Sue at December 11, 2007 11:47 PM

I'm wondering if it explicitly states when the cases need to be registered. Most people keep saying that cases must be registered with the new authority within 30 days that the law goes into effect, which would be Jan 31.

But does the in process registration clause state explicitly 30 days from the law date? The translation of the transition/in-process clause did not include such language.

As I understand it, the clause simply states that cases must be registered with 30 days? If it's not explicit, one might easily conclude March 31 as the last day to register. Here's how.

Using some logic - First the law takes affect Jan 1, and the central authority (CNA) must be appointed within 2 weeks, and operational within 60 days. The law also states that all pending cases must be registered with the new CNA within 30 days. So in my mind that means within 30 days after the creation of the central authority, whenever that may be.

Hypothetically, If they set it up Feb 23rd, then all cases must register by March 23rd. Make sense? Of course that logic is moot if the law explicitly states that cases must register within 30 days of the implementation. Can't wait to see a full translation.

Posted by: GDSinPA at December 12, 2007 07:13 AM

The Prensa Libre editorial says it all --

"El lamentable resultado de esta ley será un trámite más caro, más corrupto, más largo y que producirá muchas menos adopciones. Es decir, lo peor de todos los mundos."

"The sad result of this law will be a more expensive, more corrupt, longer process that will produce many fewer adoptions. In other words, the worst of all worlds."

The editorial also noted that the goal of NGOs pushing for the adoption law is a process that will take a minimum of two years. How this helps children is just beyond me, since child development experts are unanimous that the less time a child spends in an institutional setting and the quicker that child has a permanent family, the better it is for the child.

Posted by: Lee at December 12, 2007 09:36 AM

So what happens if your agency doesn't register your adoption?? Seems for many of them this would be a great out for them. Blame someone else for all of their incompetentcy. I'm just worried some agencies will make excuses. I wouldn't put it past many with all their lies. Hope to get clearer information on the grandfather clause. Hopefully we are not at the mercy of the agency or attorney to register the adoption.

I just don't understand the purpose of the registeration. If the POA is already registered then why wouldn't that be considered in process and leave it at that. What are they trying to do by making families register the adoption? Are they trying to weed some out? What? Am I missing something?

Posted by: hippymama at December 12, 2007 09:45 AM

I agree with GDSinPA's logic. That was my thought process as well...that the lawmakers implicitly meant that registration has to start & be complete within 30 days of CNA actually coming into existence. Even that is a bit agressive....but...at least logical...
Sri

Posted by: Sri at December 12, 2007 09:52 AM

I agree with GDSinPA's logic. 30 days from establishment of CNA, not from when the law goes into effect. I wonder if this was implicit in the wording, but not clearly stated?
Going on a list gives pending cases some transparency and PGN is less likely to "mess" with us...pushing our files into the new process set...This may be a good thing, if we can figure out where the 30 day timeline starts....
Sri

Posted by: Sri at December 12, 2007 09:57 AM

GD,

I was thinking the exact same thing, if it is not within 30 days of the central authority being up and running, closer to sometime in late March, then it is in fact a joke, a joke on us, see we gave you a grandfather clause, but it is moot. This would make no sense, and would not be in the best interest of the in-process children, and I think the new regime in Guatemala will not be made to look like fools, but will in fact, do the right thing. Step up to the plate and make this work, let us bring our children home. Clean out the pipeline cases fast and start anew with the best interest of the childen at the heart of the process.

A girl can dream...

Posted by: Melissa at December 12, 2007 11:17 AM

Given the 30 day/60 day scenario, I fear we shall be in limbo until March or April. Let's hope the registration process is easier than I think it will turn out to be.

Posted by: Lynn at December 12, 2007 11:30 AM

I don't remember having seen this addressed previously, so am bringing it up now.

Let's say there are currently about 3,700 Guatemalan kids that will still be adopted under the "pre-Ortega" rules. Assuming that Guatemalan mothers do not conceive babies for the purpose of selling them, at least another 3,700 babies will be born within the coming nine months. Under the old system, these babies would have either been relinquished for adoption, or declared abandoned by the government. They also would have either been taken in by an hogar, or placed with a foster mother by a notario.

If the new system does, indeed, stretch the Guatemalan adoption process out from the current nine month average to one taking about two years (24 months), by the time international adoption is again feasible in Guatemala there will be 10,000 or more children either living in hogares, or living with their biological families in conditions that previously would have led their mothers to relinquish them for adoption. (Maybe I'm missing something here, but it occurs to me that when the notarios are taken out of the process, their privately run foster system will likely disappear.)

Since the Guatemalan government has done little if anything to support these relinquished and abandoned children in the past, what hope does anyone have that it will do so in the future?

Furhtermore, what will all the privately run (and financed) hogares do to raise the funds, build the facilities, and hire the staff to support 3 1/2 times more kids, for 3 1/2 times as long as they used to?

I, too, am thankful that Guatemala is getting out of the "business" of adoption. But it doesn't seem that anywhere close to enough is being done on the other end to insure that these children are supported in a loving and nurturing environment. I shudder to think of how many more "street kids" will be haunting the parks in Zone 1 of Guatemala City five years from now.

Gregg

Posted by: Gregg at December 12, 2007 02:51 PM

Under the new law, will the children be cared for in orphanages or will foster care continue? A huge plus for Guatemalan adoptions has been the wonderful fostercare the children receive.

Posted by: Robin at December 12, 2007 04:19 PM

The synopsis of the law on the Guatemala website summarizes the law and two things jump out:(1) poverty is not a sufficient reason to give up a child for adoption and (2) tissues and organs of adopted children can't be used for illicit means....?????!!!!!!

Posted by: Robert at December 12, 2007 04:22 PM

Robert,

One of the shocking rumors that people have floated in Guatemala is that children are adopted internationally so countries like the U.S. can harvest their organs. Sick.

Posted by: Jim at December 12, 2007 07:48 PM

I may shed some light unto this, if I may, regarding the alarm that many Guatemalans feel that is a high number of adoptions can be atleast somewhat comprehensible if you see that GT is somewhat the same size of Tennesse and if 5000 children a year where given up for adoption in TN and there was some air of illegal activity in just a few, everyone would be understanably very upset and would want tighter restrictions and the elimination of profitting laywers with the goal to reunifing the family and provide economic and health services to mothers so they wouldn't have to relinquish their child. This is the reason for the constant reminder of the number of children adopted out of GT every year. Marie, Guatadopt.com

Posted by: marie at December 13, 2007 05:17 AM

Marie,

I can understand this on some level and yet...10 percent of all Guatemalans -- 1 in 10 -- lives in the United States. Yet no one in Guatemala seems to make a big deal over this statistic.

Editorials in the Guatemalan press have belatedly recognized over the past couple of days that the children who are adopted, in fact, are given a chance for a normal childhood that would otherwise not be available to them in Guatemala, thanks to the security of having a family and the security of not having to worry about hunger or disease. Let's hope that Guatemala in fact "gets it right" with the new law.

Posted by: Lee at December 13, 2007 10:21 AM

But will the government actually provide economic and health services to birthmothers? I don't think funding for that was part of the law. I guess only time will tell whether this law truly benefits the children of Guatemala. I am a skeptic.

Posted by: cmer at December 13, 2007 10:47 AM

Ok seriously how far fetched is the accusation that The US has asked all of these thousandsd of adoptive parents to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to Guatemala to buy children to give them over the US to harvest organs. That is by far one of the most riduculous things I have EVER heard. Its sad that people in authority in Guatemala would even believe something like that. I think they know its ridiculous but use it to back up their reasoning to change the system. They have been watching to many horror movies. Unbelievable.

Posted by: Karen at December 13, 2007 11:59 AM

Karen,
Far fetched or not, I think the thoughts about selling organs is a fairly common belief in many countries (not just Guatemala) that have kids adopted out to the US. I think it comes in part for the lack of acceptance of adoption in certain cultures so they can't imagine why we would go through so much to adopt children. Just my understanding of the thinking.
Kerri

Posted by: Kerri at December 13, 2007 01:32 PM

Does anyone know how long it has been taking for pink slips to be administered after the embassy receives the second DNA?

Posted by: Jen at December 13, 2007 01:48 PM

Marie, in my opinion the problem with your analogy is that the economic and social conditions in Tennessee (or any similar-sized place in the US) are nothing like they are in Guatemala. So you're comparing apples to oranges. Of course it would be shocking and raise alarm bells for the adoption rates to be so high in any area in the US, because the economic conditions are much better there.

Posted by: erinberry at December 13, 2007 02:23 PM

Karen - my thoughts exactly. I mean are we having their blood tested prior to adopting them to test for a particular blood type too? If there are people horrific enough to do such a thing I doubt they would go to the trouble of dealing with US adoption agencies. Its sad and makes no sense.

Posted by: hippymama at December 13, 2007 02:49 PM

Jim,

I was aware of the rumor, what enrages me is that it was incorporated into the law.

Karen,

I agree with you it is unbelievable.

Posted by: Robert at December 13, 2007 03:17 PM

Posted on the US Embassy Guatemala website:

Statement by the United States Embassy Regarding the Passage of the Adoption Law. "We congratulate the Guatemalan Congress on the important action of passing the adoption law. The Government of the United Sates congratulates the president of Congress Ruben Dario Morales and the leaders of the political parties for this important action. We look forward in working together as our countries implement the requirements of The Hague convention on adoptions."

Posted by: Robert at December 13, 2007 03:21 PM

Marie, in my opinion the problem with your analogy is that the economic and social conditions in Tennessee (or any similar-sized place in the US) are nothing like they are in Guatemala. So you're comparing apples to oranges. Of course it would be shocking and raise alarm bells for the adoption rates to be so high in any area in the US, because the economic conditions are much better there.

Posted by: erinberry at December 13, 2007 03:22 PM

Also in response to the Tennessee analogy, the population differences between Guatemala and Tennessee are about 6.6 million (with Guatemala being larger). I understand the point being made though, that the large number of adoptions, coupled with the hint of corruption makes people want a tighter process with more restrictions.

Posted by: J.A. at December 13, 2007 04:26 PM

Jen - It took us 1-2 days to get pink after they received the second DNA, I believe.

Posted by: Steve at December 13, 2007 05:05 PM

Erinberry;

Speaking of apples and oranges; the idea that the adoption industry in Guatemala has been driven by the needs of the children creates a lot of these logical dichotomies.

The reality is that the social welfare burden in Guatemala is surprisingly similar to states like Tennessee, once you discount the advertisements by sites asking people to give them money so Guatemalan Children won't die.

I googled Tenneessee "Children at risk" statistics, and found, for instance:

In 2006, over 9,200 children were in Tennessee foster care.

Teens represent 50% of the foster care population.

Only 12% of the children in state custody exit the system through adoption. The large majority go back to their families, but others simply become legal age (age out).

In 2004-05, DCS facilitated 1,143 adoptions.

Thee are similar numbers to guatemala outside of the Notarial adoption realm.

If Tennessee had the same Notarial adoption system, with the same formal and informal controls that guatemala has had, there probably would have been similar numbers of adoptions.

Posted by: Steve at December 13, 2007 05:05 PM

erinberry, I'm not speaking for Marie, but my own interpretation is more relative to the size of Tennesee compared to Guatemala. Just imagine if Tenn. had 4000 plus adopted children going to the UK for example. I don't think it has anything to do with socio-economic conditions, just size comparison and how the US would react. Erik

Posted by: Erik at December 13, 2007 05:33 PM

I finally clicked on "More" and read your comments, Kevin. I wish everyone had your perspective.

But as the in process cases wind down, Yet present incredible pressures, I would like to just put in an empathetic comment on behalf of the PGN and the Embassy: Their task would be really simple if they just decided to say the heck with it, let's rubber stamp all in process cases, and start over once the pipes are clear" BUT for the possibility that there are actually some cases that are NOT right, and there are possibly children in process who were stolen from their families.

There have been comments about the highly unlikely use of chilkdren in the adoption process for organ harvesting. But what about the 200 plus accusations of children having been stolen from their parents registered this year in the PGN?

You said:
"If the adoptions were illegal, then end them and prosecute the guilty parties. If there is no evidence that they are illegal, don’t victimize the children. They need to go home!"

That sounds great, but the people perpetrating the illegal adoptions are doing everything they can to look like the (majority) legal adoptions. So the people who might try to prosecute the illegals, HAVE evidence. But do they have enough to get a clear conviction? Who knows? What do you do if you see anomalies that suggest foul play? Even though the anomaly is only an odd juxtaposition of dates for birth, Contract, relinquishment? Maybe a Lawyer's statement. Maybe an oddity in a detail.

The people who want to do right in the PGN and in the Embassy are the people in the most difficult positions right now. Incredible pressure to not send a child beyond the reach of Guatemalan law. And incredible pressure to just be done with it.

Let's all pray for the PGN and Embassy folks.

And then, Kevin, lets see who stays and helps the children of Guatemala who will still need the same kind of care the children in the states need (see my previous comment) as we all acknowledge the Guatemalan Government does not have the resources to do so. I want to push the envelope to try to help children be adopted after the lucrative motivations are out of the picture. I want to offer the opportunity for parents to adopt children in need from Guatemala at little financial cost, but a sure commitment to give the opportunities these children need.

Now I will sign off, and go do my Christmas shopping at DoGood.com

Posted by: Steve at December 13, 2007 06:56 PM

In Marie's defense -- and yes, Marie can certainly hold her own -- I will say that I understand completely what she is saying. The reality is that the ratio of children being adopted to the general population is so out of whack for International Adoption. Yes, China has more IA but they are also a much larger country and have a much larger population.

A red flag is raised when the ratio of children being adopted out is so high. And while none of us wants to admit for one moment that our adoption has been tainted with any corruption, there is corruption.

I certainly do not want adoptions in Guatemala to shut down. I don't want it to become difficult for eligible orphans to find a "forever" family. I don't want to be party to anything that would put children in the streets or lessen their chances at success. I also don't want sloppy attorneys and corrupt buscadores exploited desperate women and taking advantage of us.

Transparency is needed. I am all for that. However, how they are choosing to go about it, is another question.

Posted by: Ana at December 13, 2007 07:04 PM

I am very concerned about the "in process" cases. Who will decide what this means? Also, are the "in process" cases going to be on hold at the PGN until the new office, CNA, starts up? I really do not understand the part about having 30 days to register with he CNA since they are not even up and running yet. Would someone please shed some light on this? Thanks

Posted by: raquel at December 13, 2007 07:17 PM

The comparison in Tennessee was not to "justify" the Ortega. The comparison was to encourage folks to understand how a country could become passionate about subject. How would we feel if someone told us that we were not taking good care of our children (even if we were doing the best we thought we could)? One serious problem with this whole contraversy is that the concern that it makes Guatemala look bad outweighs the best option for the child. But from Guatemala's perspective, they want to solve the problem (and many think that if adoptions are cleaned up/reduced, then the solutions for the children will "come".

As for Steve's comments about comparisons with TN. Yes, I agree that there are many rural areas that have to tackle nearly the same issues. But there are two things that simply can't be matched (at this point). One is that there is free public education (even if it is not consistently the same, its something). The other is that we have a government welfare system (State and Federal level). I live in Georgia and I have actually had less spendable income at times than some of the folks utilizing social programs. Regardless of what is available, I would bet that if a large number of children were leaving TN for other states even....it would be a sore spot with residents of TN regardless of the socio-economic situation.

And Steve....its http://do-good-stuff.com

Posted by: Kelly (guatadopt.com) at December 13, 2007 08:07 PM

I'd like to weigh in on the (ridiculous) rumors about organ harvesting.

I am married with a Guatemalan national, and most of her family members live in Guatemala. We visit the country twice a year on average. My wife's large, extended family is largely middle class and well educated. Yet nearly every time we visit the country, we are told rumors of children being "sold" for adoption so that their organs can be harvested. These rumors are passed along in good faith and perpetuated as "well known facts". Yet, like any other urban legend, no one can actually point to an individual who has been affected by the rumored actions.

Remember back a number of years ago when there was a widely held belief in this country that one could contract AIDS by using a public telephone? Nonsense, of course, but many otherwise intelligent people believed it because, after all "everyone knows it's true."

Likewise for the legends of organ harvesting in Guatemala. What is most disturbing is that, particularly in remote villages that see few foreigners, the populace has sometimes turned on unknown visitors, beating and even killing them. A number of years ago, my red-haired, green-eyed Guatemalan sister-in-law passed through an indigenous village while on a trip. When she stepped onto the street, several Mayan mothers grabbed their children by the hands and ran, fearing that she was a "gringa" intent on stealing the children.

Sadly, I think there's little chance of changing people's strongly held beliefs --- even when all the evidence clearly refutes them. (Don't get me started on the subject of WMDs and the war in Iraq, please.)

In any event, it comes as no surprise to me that Guatemalan newspaper reporters and politicians repeat the ridiculous rumors when it suits their purposes to do so. As for the rumors and reports of children being stolen from their parents, I believe that some of them are probably true. But it's highly unlikely that any of these kids are being placed for adoption in another country. More likely they're victims of human trafficking, forced into prostitution and/or white slavery.

Posted by: Gregg at December 13, 2007 08:51 PM

Steve - I really don't get what conclusions you want me to draw from the statistics you cite. That the notarial adoptions are not "legitimate" or "necessary" (that is, they are created out of a US demand) because the foster care situation in the state of Tennessee should be indicative of the "natural" rate of adoptions in Guatemala?

Posted by: erinberry at December 13, 2007 10:18 PM

Steve said:

But what about the 200 plus accusations of children having been stolen from their parents registered this year in the PGN?

Steve,

For a good Christian person, you're sure willing to spread around a lot of slander/unsubstantiated statements.

I suppose there are children who've been stolen for adoption but if so, those have to be the dumbest criminals around. You can't get a stolen child through the adoption process in Guatemala because you need 2 DNA tests, including one on the birthmother.

Much more likely, as a later commenter noted, these children are stolen for horrible purposes like child trafficking/prostitution/forced labor.

If there are stolen children in PGN, it should be quite easy to resolve thanks to DNA testing. Have any of these women claiming their kids were stolen submitted to DNA testing with the child they claim is theirs?

Lee

Posted by: Lee at December 13, 2007 10:53 PM

Gregg,
To second your statements, a comment was made a while ago on the Big List that explained things, while a bit obscurely, very well. If someone in your neighborhood contented that s/he would not tolerate elephants in his/her living room, everyone would be at the front door looking for them. Of course no one wants them in their house (no one wants babies taken just to use their organs) BUT by saying so, there is the idea that it exists. And since NO ONE can prove something doesn't exist, we will never convince anyone that adopting a baby for organs is not only unthinkable but truly impossible due to type matching etc.
My thoughts,
Cathy

Posted by: Cathy at December 14, 2007 10:23 AM

I feel compelled to comment on the "organ harvesting" topic, even though I wasn't going to. We have been out of PGN for 3 months, and still no BC. Why? Because the town where our son was born passed a law banning any adoption paperwork, and closing the Book of Adoptions. Why??? Because last July, after newspaper reports of children's bodies being found without organs, there was a mob attack on 2 suspected "kidnappers" (suspected of stealing babies for adoption). One person was burnt and left to die. The locals are obviously very passionate about their children.

So, unbelievable or not, the "organ harvesting" and "baby stealing" rumors are well-believed, at least in Petén. In our case, I actually welcome the fact that this is specifically mentioned in the new law. Perhaps it will convince my son's birthtown to change their law, so that we can get his new BC and he can finally come home.

Posted by: Kris at December 14, 2007 10:57 AM

Gregg said: As for the rumors and reports of children being stolen from their parents, I believe that some of them are probably true. But it's highly unlikely that any of these kids are being placed for adoption in another country. More likely they're victims of human trafficking, forced into prostitution and/or white slavery.

I think you hit the nail on the head. Personally, I doubt great numbers of women are being physically coerced into giving up babies for adoption for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that there are plenty of easier ways to make money in Guatemala if you're willing to break the law and provide a much quicker return. I am sure there is great economic coercion whether direct or indirect, but the question then is "What happens to the child if the adoption route is closed?" And the answer is likely living in the streets, sold into prostitution or sold into servitude, likely in a hazardous job. Frankly, I'm a little tired of rumours, well...a lot tired to tell you the truth.

Posted by: Paul at December 14, 2007 12:11 PM

So when does the Hague go into effect?

Posted by: kat at December 14, 2007 12:29 PM

The idea that people will believe what they want to believe goes both ways. There are those who want to believe that organs are harvested by people who adopt children from Guatemala. This unfounded theory is bolstered by the argument: "Why do you think they pay so much for the children?"

Then there are people who, although they argue against organ harvesting based on the logic that there are no names or substantiated cases, also refuse to believe that there are stolen childen even though there are names and substantiated cases ( over 200 in PGN's records).

Use logic, and answer one simple question: Why was a second DNA test instigated? Could it be that the first DNA test was being outflanked? To stand on the fact that there are two DNA tests, and then suggest that this means there is no skullduggery is as illogical as to say there are organs being harvested.

My point in saying these things is that there are two sides to every (especially when emotionally charged)issue, and behaving as if the opposing view is only held by stupid or illiterate third worlders does nothing to help negotiate with those folks.

Paul;

You say you doubt "great numbers" of women are being physically coerced. BUT do you doubt that any are? Then the question becomes: how many is too many? Are you saying "Great numbers" to mean that there are some, but it is an acceptable amount?

Posted by: Steve at December 16, 2007 05:20 PM

Steve: Are you saying "Great numbers" to mean that there are some, but it is an acceptable amount?

Yes, exactly. I am glad you understand my point. And I'm sure you understand that when you say the organ harvesting rumour is bolstered by the payment amount, you clearly understand that an unfounded argument cannot be bolstered. It's like saying the unfounded argument that JFKennedy was abducted by aliens and not shot by Oswald is bolstered by the fact that he hasn't been seen in public since. And clearly you know that a second DNA test could have been 'instigated' (appropo word choice) simply to appease nationalistic supporters, or even, dare I say, to try to provide 'evidence' that there are significant problems with DNA.

When you write of 'stupid and illiterate third worlders,' I think you mistake the real issue. Maybe naive and trusting adoptive parents fail to realize the insincerity and venality of some in the adoption community who continue to claim the moral high road, who post only rumours, create fake supporting posts to bolster their views and dive in at any opportunity to foster doubt in the hearts of parents waiting and hoping for the chance to bring a beautiful child home.

I'm not referring to you Steve, of course. Although now that I think about it, you seem a little light on the facts and quick with the innuendo. Maybe it's just a communication gap...

Posted by: Paul at December 17, 2007 10:54 PM

to the organ harvesting comments:

After the civil war WHITE reporters were coming to Guatemala from all over the world and were seeking out rural villagers trying to find out the real story with the genocide etc. The Guatemalan military did not want the atrocities to be uncovered so the Guatemalan military started rumors that white people were going through the countryside stealing babies and cutting them up for organ parts.

So, it is from a rumor started in the 1980's to stop reporters from uncovering the civil war human rights atrocities. That is it.

Posted by: amr at December 20, 2007 03:56 PM
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