February 20, 2008

Investigations, allegations and indictments

Over the past couple of days a number of stories have broken about investigations, indictments and other indicators of the sad side of adoption. Some people have asked me why we post these things. The main reason is of course because we post all news and information related to Guatemalan adoption (or try to). Second, because often times the only way families working with the adoption service providers involved find out about the situation is by us posting it. They have a right to know.

So read on to hear about what's up with the Claar Foundation, Homecoming Adoptions, and Casa Quivira attorneys Vilma Desire Zamora Perez and Sandra Patricia Leonardo Lopez.

Claar Foundation:

They’ve shut doors and they are being investigated. You can read about it here: Boulder Daily Camera and Vail Daily.

When I first read this the name Lisa Novak stuck out in mind. A google search solved it. She was the person who became some sort of self appointed spokesperson to the adoption community for DOS and the Berger’s in regard to the threat of the Executive Order/Protocol of Good Practices last year. I remember it well because it is the only time I know of when something Guatadopt reported was ever questioned for its authenticity or accuracy. And for the record, the darn thing was real back then no matter what DOS or anyone said and of course it came to fruition months later.

Homecoming Adoptions:

Admittedly it comes as no surprise to me to see these guys in the position they are now in. I can’t go into it because we promise confidentiality to anyone who contacts us. So I’ll just say that I am not surprised and leave it at that. You can read about their troubles and watch a video here: WKMG Orlando

Casa Quivira attorneys Vilma Desire Zamora Perez and Sandra Patricia Leonardo Lopez:

According to today’s Prensa Libre, the Ministerio Publico has filed some pretty serious charges against them. And they’re saying that charges may soon be brought against Clifford Phillips. Before reading the so-so translation below please know that Prensa Libre is often like the National Enquirer. The manner in which it phrases things as fact versus allegation leaves much to be desired and it often sensationalizes things. We will post something to the comments of this thread once we are able to verify or better explain what has happened.

Prensa Libre Story:

Indictments against Casa Quivira Lawyers

By Coralia Orantes

The Public Ministry (MP) filed charges against Vilma Desiré Zamora Perez and Sandra Patricia Leonardo Lopez, lawyers of Casa Quivira, for the crimes of complicity in the alternative and child abduction.

The prosecution has more than 60 ways of conviction against these lawyers, which shows the falsification of identity of juveniles in the casa cuna.

In addition, there are the stories of mothers of the children who agree that at no time were they given in adoption.

The office reported that they even locate the file of the alleged mother of one of the minors, but when corroborating her identity, it was discovered that the person who had that name had died.

It was also discovered that some of the women who filed a claim with juveniles, were not their mothers, but which supplanted the identity of the real ones.

The Court of First Instance ruled that Antigua Guatemala also will begin action against Clifford Phillips, owner and representative of Casa Quivira therefore requests by him, was suspended, just last week, the blood tests of children located in the Children's Home and their alleged mothers.

On August 11, 2007, the MP and police raided the house Quivira, and found 46 children who were to be given up for adoption, several of them apparently with irregular procedures.

On Friday last, the Court of First Instance of Antigua Guatemala left tied to trial Nora Xalim Valenzuela, a social worker from Juvenile Court that city, for the crime of perjury.

Posted by Kevin at February 20, 2008 01:30 PM

Now that things are going with the new CNA...does anyone have any idea how things are proceding with the PGN?

Posted by: John at February 20, 2008 03:21 PM


I for one am very glad that this info is out there. Watching this happen to my son/dil's case, it needs to be out there. On forums, blogs, etc, PAPS are afraid to share concern, issues, problems in their case for fear that the information will somehow get back to the agency and their child will be gone forever.

Granted, there have been few agencies that turn out to be corrupt, but if you are the victim of one that is, it is just heartbreaking.

Posted by: Mimi at February 20, 2008 04:13 PM

Hi Kevin: I was wondering if you knew of any updated information from the National Adoption Council when they will post the new procedures for new referrals and registration of new cases after December 31st. I had a referral and the birthmother took her back. I'm just agency said they may have an abandoned baby but they have to wait for the new procedures to be posted. I look everyday but jcics doesn't post anything as often as you. Thank goodness I can read your site or I would go crazy....If you have any information, I would appreciate any news you may have.


Posted by: Kim P at February 20, 2008 04:22 PM

am I the only one thinking that this (Claar, Homecoming and CQ) is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg??

It all just makes me sick - and what makes me sickest of all is believing that Guatemalan adoptions did not have to end up this way, but that too many people in positions of power made a lot of greedy choices that brought us to the closure of the notarial adoption system. UGH

Lisa T.

Posted by: Lisa T. at February 20, 2008 05:09 PM

As it all unravels, there will be more investigations into wrong-doing on both sides of the border. The coming months will be telling. The unscrupulous entreprenuers--not adoption professionals--can scury around and claim to be advocates for poor children. However, when it is all said and done there are just too many people involved who are motivated by nothing more than greed.

Posted by: karenms1 at February 20, 2008 05:33 PM

I am the redhair Guat Mom to 2 at home and waiting on the twins from the news story... If anyone wants to know more concerning HCA please contact me

Posted by: COrey at February 20, 2008 05:39 PM

Our case was in Antigua FC for four months then last week we were told that we had to change to Guatemala City FC (and start FC over )b/c our SW in Antigua was under investigation and that there was only only one in that court. After reading this I am assuming it was Nora Xalim Valenzuela, the social worker to trial for perjury.

I am severally disappointed in our four month delay but I would not have felt right getting out of family them finding that these charges brought against her. It would tarnish the adoption for me. I hope that all adoptions are completed but I do not want to take a child form his mother if she did not want to give him up.

This does not mean that corruption will not happen somewhere else just that I don't have to worry about this SWs tarnished record. I hope that this does not upset anyone that I am angry about being stuck in FC just not Antigua's FC.

Posted by: Nancy C at February 20, 2008 06:32 PM

I think now that parents are seeing that the reign of terror of the attorneys in Guatemala and the bad agencies in the US is drawing to a close, they feel like they can take them down without repurcussions.

I agree with the above poster that we ain't seen nothin' yet.

Posted by: Steph at February 20, 2008 07:01 PM

Oh boy, could I add to this list. Time will tell. Now, all we can do is pray. Pray for all the corrupt agencies and facilitators, to be found out and stopped before they are allowed to move on to the next country...

I believe there must be a special place in hell for those who make money off the backs of children.

Posted by: Melissa at February 20, 2008 07:14 PM

How interesting that some posters on this site appear to find validity and reliability in Pensa Libre....shame shame!!!!!

Posted by: betsy at February 20, 2008 09:43 PM

Nancy C: I would not be too quick to jump to conclusions about this social worker. I don't know about the 4 month delay to which you are referring, but I do know about the allegations of "perjury" for this case. I think, as Kevin said, Prensa Libre is much like the National Enquirer. I also think that the translation is a bit off in the sense of "indictments." I don't know if the term indictment means something different in Guatemala than in the US, but these are more like accusations or allegations. A judge in the criminal court will review the information and decide if the allegation should be dismissed or if there is truly an issue worth investigating and having a "trial" or hearing. In other words, it is not a definitive accusation. In this case, the social worker, to my understanding, is being accused of using an address for a birthmom in her socioeconomic report which was not the current address for the birthmom. Why did the birthmom do it? I don't know that but I can think of a host of reasons why she did--protection of herself and/or her family, that is where she lived previously, her fear of the government (remember the things that the Guatemalan "government" has done to her own people in the name of justice) and more. My understanding is that the paperwork that the birthmom presented did confirm her "false" address as being her accurate address. I do not believe that it is common practice in ANY family court for the social worker to travel to the address listed on the paperwork, verifying that the person does indeed live there. Now, I'm all for having a legitimate system and one without corruption, don't get me wrong. I just think that jumping to conclusions here is wrong.

Posted by: don't be too quick at February 21, 2008 07:14 AM

Finally--justice!! HCA is getting what they deserve. I hope they go to jail. That is where they belong for what they have done to so many families--including ours. Pray for the babies that are waiting to come home--they are innocent and do not deserve to be the victims of corruption. I look at my child, a product of HCA, and think to myself that I have the best thing out of them. And no one can take that away.

Posted by: Jules at February 21, 2008 09:50 AM

I agree with Mimi. Agencies make adoptive parents sign contracts that basically state that no matter what happens they are not liable for any malfeasance. Parents are afraid to complain about even the worst abuses, because the social workers involved might label them as unfit for future adoptions. And social workers in different agencies stick together.

The lawyers in Guatemala are worse. They operate in a world where justice is bought and sold and morality is measured in Quetzales. For them child procurement is a business transaction. The rights and interests of the child (not to speak of the adoptive or birth parents) are not part of their concern. I short, there is no question in my mind that the adoption business in Guatemala was and is fundamentally corrupt.

That said, there is little doubt that the Guatemalan children who have been adopted internationally are much better off in their new homes. The "best interest" of these children has been served.

If UNICEF and others had concentrated more on improving oversight of the adoption situation and less on pushing for regulations that essentially end international adoption everywhere, the best interests of Guatemalan children and children everywhere would truely have been advanced.

Posted by: Bob at February 21, 2008 11:04 AM

It's not until everyone that is dealing with an illegal agency, lawyer, facilitator comes forward that this mess will be stopped. I urge all of you that are not speaking up to do so. Pull together and work as a big team to go up against these people that are causing so much heartache for everyone. Think first of the children involved. Do what is right for them, put your pride & embarassment of getting involved with these people to the wayside and stand up for these kids. This is going to be a long process, but in the end may it prove to be well worth never having to see another child or PAP left in such turmoil. This needs prayer and lots of it, so if you won't step forward at least be on your knees in the background and pray, pray, pray for these families. Please speak up and do something.

Posted by: auntie at February 21, 2008 11:22 AM

Does anyone know how things are going with PGN now that CNA has been established and cases have been registered? We're back in PGN now and are (of course) hoping that things are going to move more quickly than 8 weeks. Does anyone have any sense of this?

Posted by: Andrea at February 21, 2008 11:37 AM

I hope & pray HCA gets what is coming to them!! We went through 2 years of pure torture with those criminals! We finally brough our daughter home and thank God every day for that. I pray for the families who are working with them waiting to bring their babies home. I hope those idiots do some serious time for what they have done to innocent families.

Posted by: Laurie at February 21, 2008 12:07 PM

Don't be too quick,

I was not accusing the SW of anything I simply stated that we have been in FC for a long time with the only SW in Antigua FC and now she under investigation.

I am frustrated about the delay but do prefer another FC so in the future when my son does review his paper work he does not site any allegations against his SW, attorney or agency. The press surrounding adoptions at this time is going to be a tough enough subject without any other facotrs weighing in.

My agency stated that last year a hogar was raided and she was the SW working with the hogar so she is being investigated through association with it. I never stated she did any wrong doing just that I want to be as far away from the situation as possible. If possible.

Posted by: Nancy C at February 21, 2008 12:18 PM

The only way we can fix anything in this world is to know the truth and be able to seperate truth from fiction, speculation, or rumor. I welcome all the information that is posted on this website.

As far as corrupt agencies I would like to remind everyone again and again which should be obvious that THAT is not "Guatemalan" corruption. I would be willing to bet you anything without even looking into these agencies that they performed adoptions in other countries as well. So, be it as it may that the notarial system can have problems, so can government run systems. Anyone who thinks differently should venture out and take a look at domestic adoption allegations and other international adoptions.

What *should* happen is violators are punished be they notarial or government PERIOD.

Posted by: lisa2 at February 21, 2008 12:31 PM

I agree with Lisa T. - this is just the tip of the iceburg. I'm with an agency that is currently under investigation. There haven't been any news articles or press releases. What makes it really difficult is our agency was licensed in more than one state. The impacts are far reaching and how many families are impacted we don't even know. But money is gone, families still don't have the children home and we are all left wondering how this could have ever happened to us.

Posted by: Jo at February 21, 2008 01:41 PM

I am thankful that you post even the negative side of adoption. My friends are victims of HCA and not only do they have a right to have their story told (no matter how hard it is for others to hear), they feel called to warn others who may use HCA or agencies like HCA. Thank you, guatadopt, for keeping everyone informed.

Posted by: J1270 at February 21, 2008 02:41 PM

To "Don't Be Too Quick to Judge":
Your response is classic. Diminish reports of wrong-doing. I don't think that you can misintrepret "perjury". That means a lie was committed in a legal proceeding. As for the Prensa Libre, yes its tactics leave much to be desired. The state of journalism in Guatemala is much like the state of adoptions--lacking of professionalism, standards, respect and dignity. You may argue away the story based on these shaky grounds, but I think we all have to agree that where there is smoke...there is fire. Lisa2 is right that adoption fraud takes place all around the world, here in the US as well as other nations. Russia is notorious and Vietnam is under great scruitany right now. Systems regulation is essential and non-negotiable at this point. The Hague may be imperfect, but at least in a moment of sanity it was decided to forge ahead. Yes, there will be bumps along the way, but who can really argue against systems reform at this point? So, argue away, diminish the facts, demand proof (as is Susana L's famous stance), attack posters like matter what is said, the truth is the truth. In my experience, the truth eventually emerges. And, it is going to be very uncomfortable. I applaud those who are courageous to post their stories of fraud--tip of the iceberg those stories are. This is the beginning of the truth and reconciliation process and it is necessary for a new day to dawn in Guatemala.

Posted by: karenms1 at February 21, 2008 02:57 PM

If a false address on paperwork is sufficient to condemn an agency or hogar as "corrupt", then a lot (all?) agencies dealing with Guatemala adoptions are going to fall into this category. I hear all the time from adopters who have searched for the birth mothers of their children and found that the addresses on their paperwork were false. In fact, I would not be surprised if that happens in the majority of cases. For people who have not yet completed their adoptions and/or who have not tried to locate the birth mothers of their children, do not be so sure that this doesn't apply to you and/or your agency!!
I do not believe that all or most agencies operating in Guatemala are corrupt or wish to deceive, but I think people are kidding themselves if they believe that the Guatemalan authorities could not find fault with how other agencies/hogares have been doing things if they so wished.

Posted by: Ann at February 21, 2008 03:05 PM

Bob wrote: "That said, there is little doubt that the Guatemalan children who have been adopted internationally are much better off in their new homes. The "best interest" of these children has been served.

First of all, it IS unfair, not only to the lawyers, but to the children and their first and adoptive families to paint with such a broad corruption brush.

Secondly, I know many adoptees who would argue that although their adoptive home might have had a higher SES as well as plenty of love, they still were not "better off" and that adoption was most decidedly not "in their best interest." The foundation of adoption is loss -- period.

Of course, when that loss is coupled with corruption, the results for the adoptees will only be compounded.

Posted by: Elizabeth at February 21, 2008 03:26 PM

Why the attack on Susana? She never attacked airistar she just responded to aristars constant attacks on attornys and facilitators in Guatemala.Susana does more for the children of Guatemala than anybody on this board. I get tired of people who have spent very little time in Guatemala thinking they know more than her when she has been fighting corruption in Guatemala all her life. Let's wait 6 monthes to a year to see what happens to the children of Guatemala before we say the hage and the CNA is the best thing for them. By the way UNICEF sure has been silent since they got their way. The way the new law is written children will be at least 3 years old before the process is finished and they can go home to their adoptive family, to me that is not the best thing for a child. I agree that even one corrupt adoption is one to many, but with the Hage thousands of children will suffer. It is time for UNICEF and everyone else who pushed for this law to step up and provide for these children.

Posted by: Scott at February 21, 2008 04:35 PM

Really, Bob, I'm going to have to agree with Elizabeth. Breaking up a family for an adoption isn't supposed to be primarily about the "best interest of the child" by some American standard. It's supposed to be about finding homes for children that have no other alternative.

When there's as much corruption as has been uncovered in Guatemala, I'd seriously doubt the assertion that the best interest of the child is always served anyway. Taking a a mother's child because he might experience a better life? That's just plain wrong - where would you draw the line?

Posted by: GDSinPA at February 21, 2008 04:55 PM

I believe we as adoptive parents need to be aware of what is going on. We want our children home... some Guatemalan's never wanted their children to leave and had no choice.
In reporting these things, it is also good to remember that this is only a portion of the adoptions. Thousands of children were legally and willingly given up with the desire for them to have a better life...a true sacrifice.
We just want our baby girl home. We fear that little is being done to insure that is going to happen in a timely manner. All are in our prayers.

Posted by: Amy at February 21, 2008 04:57 PM

With all due respect to Kevin, as a regular reader of the Prensa Libre for more than ten years, I think it is patently unfair to compare it to the National Enquirer. It is probably the best of the four or five dailies in Guatemala. Admittedly it is no equal to the New York Times. (Perhaps a better comparison would be to the tabloid New York Post.) Yes, regarding international adoption, the Prensa Libre's stories have skewed heavily toward the sensational. Obviously they're trying to sell papers in Guatemala, not please us adoptive parents in the United States. The unfortunate thing comes when American "journalists" make such stories the basis of their own.

Posted by: Gregg at February 21, 2008 06:43 PM

I agree with all those folks who say that..... Govermental agencies and beauracracies are always the best folks and systems to eliminate corruption in any process - regardless of theme...

I find they are very effective in managing issues, speeding up the process and addressing the root cause and the needs of the people they serve... regardless of country or level of government

I question why we just don't turn more stuff over to the goverment to fix...and the most effect managers of problems... the United Nations.... boy they can address any problem faster than I have ever seen before...

Folks, we all create systems to manage the exception.... fix the exceptions via some mechanism... not create more of the same....

Define Lunacy:

Doing the same thing time as after time and expecting diffrent results.... ideally we want to help children and reduce the fact the kids going into the system.... root cause fix.... this is great.... but once they are there.... why great systems that keep them there??? to feel better about yourself, under the feeling the your controls protect children.... I can't tell you how many kids are better off because we got the notary to properly put in his/her middle initial on his signature... I know kids are better adjusted for this....


Comment by Rich at February 21, 2008 04:52 PM

Posted by: Blinded by the right at February 21, 2008 09:47 PM

Secondly, I know many adoptees who would argue that although their adoptive home might have had a higher SES as well as plenty of love, they still were not "better off" and that adoption was most decidedly not "in their best interest." The foundation of adoption is loss -- period.

Elizabeth, Don't forget to add that many of theses children may not have survived if it not for IA. I'm not trying to paint a polyanna picture, I know about the corruption, etc. But I fear that this new system will lead to more loss of lives than any corrrupt cases, which is far worse by comparison. There are no systems in place to care for these children which now will not become adopted. Erik

Posted by: Erik at February 22, 2008 05:52 AM

Is it true, that with the new laws that you will not get a child from Guat. until they are three?We are trying to patiently wait for Guat. to open back up. What is your gut feeling, will it be open again this year? Spring, Summer, or Fall?

Posted by: Lori at February 22, 2008 07:46 AM

In an effort to adhere to the 'no personal attacks' approach to this forum, I will respond in regards to your comment about Susana L. Let's stick to her organization, the ADA. In my opinion, the ADA is central to the mess that we are in right now. If the ADA was honest about how much their attorneys make, the KNOWN system of birth mother payments (which is illegal), and operations of jaladoras/organized crime in some relinquishment processes...then they would have a lot more credibility. However, they took their energy, power, and intelligence and put it to use fighting the Hague Convention in the Guate Supreme Court. That dragged on for years and their members continued practice as usual--appearing to have no interest in self-regulation. Troubling is the fact that they persisted in one attorney representing all in the adoption transaction--a dual relationship which is counter to ethical practice. They could have SOOO easily decided to end this practice as as profession of conscience AND passed along the expense to PAPs, but NO. Instead they invested in the fight at the Supreme Court level and it made for good theater and an effective stall tactic. Instead, they could have used their collective power and intelligence to move towards problem solving--being proactive. Now, it has been taken away from them in a big way. They chose to kick and scream rather than be a part of solving the problem. Had they taken a strategy of planned change, this mess of the US refusing to recognize new adoptions may be very different. Afterall, Guate could have begun Hague implementation back in 2003 and had 4+ years to develop a system prior to the US ratification (the point of no return). Instead this grand show proceeded and the US escalated warnings and escalated warnings--with a drop dead date. Susana and the ADA took a particular path. That was their perogative and they exercised their free will. Now, under the Ortega the Guate people--in a democratic process--responded to these antics. And the will is that adoptions must change--go figure!?!

Posted by: karenms1 at February 22, 2008 09:41 AM

There is corruption in every system... and that does not make it right or OK that it exists in any. That is just the fact of this world we live in. NO ONE can regulate morality. We can do all we can to ensure safe guards and encourage good practice but we cannot with ANY SYSTEM make people be moral.

As an adoptive parent (domestic and international) this entire discussion is gut wrenching. No one is arguing that the old system was without corruption OR that the new one will be immune from it! The bottom line is that those of us who engage in adoption (of any kind) do so because we care about the CHILDREN that it aides!

In my DOMESTIC adoption there were family members who were WILLING to take the children... just none that were competant or ABLE. I do hope that this is also considered when they are looking at the closest of kin for the children in Guatemala. If there were family members that could (or would) help these birth mothers do we honestly think that after nine months of carrying them they would just give them up!? This is appalling!? AND IF the birth mothers were being paid and that is the ONLY reason that they were giving up their children- What kind of parent does that!? I think we are giving the people (birthmothers ESPECIALLY) of Guatemala a very bad rap if those are our assumptions. And IF the birthmothers were willing to sell their children... wouldn't we MUCH RATHER it be to adoptive families instead of to child prostitution or street gangs?!? A mother who is going to sell her child will find SOMEONE willing to buy... who would you like for it to be?

As far as the stealing of children is concerned- this is abominable no matter where it happens... and it happens EVERYWHERE. Here in the US you cannot look at the paper, watch the news or pass the wall at Wal-Mart with the pictures of missing children on it. People steal and kidnap children EVERYWHERE. There should definately be as severe action as possible taken to stop this kind of behavior and punish it! However, you cannot throw the babies out with the bathwater. Do we really think that ALL THESE CHILDREN are being stolen and the majority of women say nothing? OR that the legal system (which needs these children as future citizens) simply closes its eyes while doing nothing? We are not the worlds watch dog- we need to give Guatemala some credit as a fully functioning GOVERNMENT! It may not be America but for what it's worth ours isn't perfect either!

It is very hard to adopt a child- as MOST ALL OF US on this forum know. I hate all the mud slinging that has been happening as a result of this debate. I do not want to stick my head in the sand- as so many others have accused those of us who hold to international adoption as a viable recourse for the problems of abandoned children- but I do not want to create MORE PROBLEMS than solutions. The problems will create themselves. It is up to us to do ALL WE CAN to promote healthy lives for these children. The course of action we have chosen is no small one... we have chosen to invest all that we have and are in the lives of children that were not even directly related to us before our decisions to adopt. This is a HUGE decision and HUGE sacrifice.

Closing the system may prevent some of the corruption... but it will also doom the lives of NUMEROUS MORE children who could have had "normal", non-institutional or street lives. The reason so many of us are defensive on this matter is because the majority of adoptions are not corrupt... and yet we must endure the criticism and accusations of those around us.

People file malpractice suites every year... would we shut down the medical profession!? People get food poisoning daily... do we stop eating! OR do we accuse those who DO eat or who DO go to the doctor of being part of a vile and corrupt system? NO! and whats worse is that those are things we all do to live... adoption is not done for the survival of ones self but for the BENEFIT of the LIFE of ANOTHER... one who cannot even repay the gift being given!

I hate that the very sacrificial and noble decision to adopt children is so often maligned and placed under unneccesary scrutiny. There are a huge number of people that do not even choose to BIRTH their children here in the US and yet we harp on adoption corruption!? What about ABORTION!? Would we rather those rates be higher in Guatemala!? That's what our country seems to deem most beneficial on so many levels... Can we get a bigger picture view here and stop painting ourselves martyrs and heros.

Can we please just try and keep focus and realize that we must all do what we can for the greatest good of everyone involved. None of us will do this perfectly regardless of the zeal with which we approach the situation. We are adults. There are no fairy tale fixes... lets support one another... the chilren... and pray that this new system has LESS corruption than the previous one (how ever far extending that may or may not be).

Posted by: Jordan at February 22, 2008 11:04 AM


We just found out about a blood sibling for our daughter. We are still in process with her and are holding out hope that the sibling can be a part of our family. Any thoughts??

Posted by: Anonymous at February 22, 2008 11:09 AM

Please, please people. Stop all of the "would have, should have, could have" and get back to sharing information on how everyone can help move forward.

Posted by: me at February 22, 2008 12:16 PM

lets get back to Kevin's original post..investigation of US adoption agencies...we're talking about some families not getting beyond signing their POA's or to the first DNA...being referred children who are not even available for adoption...switched children and the excuses, lies to the point that you believe you are the one who is crazy, because, surely, these agencies know what they are doing and you believe and believe and believe...then when you lose your child, you are left to wonder where he/she is, whats going to happen to him/her...and then you hear from other PAPs with the same agency who tell their experiences with the foster fam these agencies use that suffer from lice, filth, bad food, malnutrition, physical abuse but your agency ignores your phone callls and emails, you only hear from these agencies only when they need more money, want you to sign a second or third POA and want to charge you extra fees to do this....I know that most contracts warn of the risks involved in int'l adoptions, but no one thinks that it will be because of their US agency or caused by their US agencies.

If you have your child home, and are now worried about the circumstances of the birth, relinquishment, or what you will tell your child later on...kiss them lots, love on them, soothe them, smell them and get down on your knees and thank the good Lord that they are with you and not one of the ones left behind because your US agency did not do their job, did not EVER intend to do their job...because they are good at the lying and deceiving and have no conscience in doing so.

Posted by: Mimi at February 22, 2008 01:14 PM

I don't think it's fair to say Don't Be Too Quick was minimizing wrongdoing. She/he was stating that since nothing has been proven yet we should refrain from judging. Isn't that supposed to be the foundation of democracy?

Being indicted means charges have been brought and investigation has been happening, there is not a conviction yet. The charges might very well turn out to be true, but we don't know the whole story yet.


Posted by: reba at February 22, 2008 02:19 PM

To anonymous -

We also found out about a sibling and are in the process of adopting them both. It can be done provided they are both from the same birth mother!! Best of Luck to all of us!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Tracey at February 22, 2008 03:17 PM

I just wanted to comment that I thought your post was wonderfully written. You made so many good points and comparisons.
Thank you for your comments! I agree with you completely.

Posted by: Julie at February 22, 2008 04:45 PM

To all,

No one knows what the new system will look like, when it will be implemented, or what it will entail. Anything you have read is pure speculation. No on can say when new adoptions wil be possible. No one knows what is the youngest age kids will be adoptable through ICA. So I'm afraid I can't offer nay opinion.

Also, I was told that no files have actually been filed yet against the CQ attorneys though they will be. So PL got that one wrong.

Gregg - okay, National Enquirer may have been a bit unfair. But I think that Siglo XXI is a far more accurate paper than PL. Especially recently where it has been painstakingly clear that PL has it in for Pres. Colom. (not to mention all adoption coverage they have had). So knowing you, I'm surprised you speak so highly of PL but that's your call. Te veo a la fiesta?


Posted by: Kevin at February 22, 2008 05:32 PM


Please refrain from your un-supported attacks of Susana L.. You have no business stating what you state unless you have personally had a case with Susana as we have. Your rants are tiring and do nothing to add support so please stop.

Just to clue you in here is some REAL data about Susana L. from someone who has personally dealt with her and who's case she processed.

1) Susana is NOT in this for the money! She is in it for the children. That is quite apparent if you have visited her facility. the child to care giver ratio is higher than most day cares here in the US. She has a staff Doctor not one day a week but for about four hours each and every day. Our daughter was given as good, if not better, care under Susana than she would have received here in the US and that COST money that does NOT go into her pocket. If money was the object for Susana there is certainly a LOT of "fat" (read our money), related to the well being of the children under her care, that could have been cut and put into her pocket. She does not and has never skimped on the superb quality of care given to the children under her supervision.

2)If she was in it for the money, as you claim, she would certainly charge a LOT more than she does. Our case was in process for well over 12 months. Our fee divided over 12 months and between the multiple lawyers/notaries that worked on our case, the care given to our daughter, the fees charged by many outside organizations involved such as DNA testing, does not even amount to a minimum wage Burger King job or equivalent here in the US.

Sure there is corruption in the Guat system but no where near as wide spread as you tend to paint it. there will ALWAYS be corruption in the Guat system! One could argue that there is more corruption here in the US and I for one am a firm believer in that!

Our best friends, Jackie and David, were bilked out of 41k during a US in country failed adoption of which they recovered $1200.00 but only after spending 8k on attorney's fees, with another US attorney, to try and recoup some of their losses.

3) Susana does NOT pay birth moms period and end of story!

When you have some actual data, first hand experience or anything to say, that may support any of your vicious and slanderous claims against Susana please bring them to the table. Until then please refrain from your innuendo negative attacks.

P.S. As near as I can tell Susana netted less than about 2K for 12 months worth of hard work on our case.

Posted by: Zoe's Dad at February 22, 2008 05:48 PM

Gregg and Kevin: Odd comparisons and timing with the top story of the NYT this week!

I think the trick for all is to learn to read an admittedly biased source, and glean what can be logically deduced. Of course, that takes a crystal ball most of the time! Or something more rare: common sense.

Until we all get good at it, I am glad we have Gregg and Kevin and kelly to help intrpret the news...and don't you guys let up on each other!

Posted by: Steve at February 22, 2008 06:11 PM


Either you don’t know what happened in Guatemala in 2003 with the Hague Convention, or you just pretend to ignore it. Allow me to refresh your memory. After the accession of Guatemala to the Hague Convention in November, 2003, the PGN, acting as Central Authority for the Hague Convention, held hostages the adoption files started after March 5th, 2003 and did not do anything about them, during SIX MONTHS. It was them, the PGN - acting as Central Authority – who had the chance, the time and the resources to begin a Hague implementation, and they have had all these years to create a childcare system to shelter the children who don’t have families and to create a system that would protect them and instead of doing that, it is the PGN the one who requires all sort of papers (including green ones) to approve the adoptions. Neither Alfonso Portillo nor Oscar Berger, did anything to improve the child care system, and it is such a lame excuse to blame it on ADA, that the only plan for the children, has been to be adopted by foreign families. We are professionals, we defend our Constitution and we care for the children. That is why we filed a constitutional challenge that amended with one stroke, the abuse of power of both, the President and the Congress, and restored the order, allowing thousands of children to be adopted and to live safely and happily with permanent families. If anybody objects to that, wait some years and ask the children who were adopted how they feel about having a family instead of being another child of the street or being the star of a porn film for pedophiles, as those two are the most likely destinies of children without families.

The accession to the Hague Convention, continues to be unconstitutional, there is no doubt about it, and so is the elimination of the notarial system by the Adoptions Law. The cost of and adoption is always brought up by people who have no real arguments, to muddle the waters and belittle our work. As an adoptive mother of two, I have to make plans for the education of my children, and even in Guatemala, the cost of their education is overwhelming. Does that make their education illegal? Does it link the private education system to the organized crime? Of course not. In the same way, the people who did not want to pay the lawyers’ fees, could have gone to the Secretaria de Bienestar Social de la Presidencia, to adopt a child through them. SBSP did, according to its website, TEN adoptions in 2006. Ten, while the lawyers and the private system did thousands. If you care to read the Adoptions Law, the CNA will charge for adoptions to foreign parents, and why would they do it, if the CNA is funded by the State? That only proves that the Adoptions Law was not passed to eliminate the cost, but to monopolize the power to do adoptions. And even with that power, and with a ten million quetzals grant to start moving, the CNA has done nothing to get the system up and running.

According to the Civil Code, adoption is a voluntary matter that does not need a lawyer because there are no conflicting interests between the parties involved. Both, the birthmother and the adoptive parents are after the same goal, which is the authorization of the adoption. It is very much like a marriage, that could be authorized by a notary, a priest or by the mayor. Unless the bride or the groom, or the child being adopted, owns property, there is no need for a lawyer. If there are assets, that has to be settled before either the marriage or the adoption takes place. As a general rule, all the children being adopted come from poor families, so there is no need for a lawyer to represent the birthmother’s interest. To use the argument that the same lawyer represents both parties to criticize the notarial system, shows ignorance of what adoption really is, and it is just another way to malign our work.

As Guatemalans who are aware of the terrible conditions of our country and have first hand knowledge of how the lack of adoptions negatively affects the countries, as we have seen it in Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, we feel responsible to battle for a system that allows children to be quickly and efficiently placed with permanent families. After defending so much the work of Wendy Berger, it has been established that the program “Creciendo Bien” did not improve the health conditions of the children and their mothers. Wendy Berger was the force to have the adoption law passed, however, she did not open a single orphanage. All her effort was to leave the blueprints of a project named “The City of Children” at a cost of thirty million quetzals, to house two hundred and forty children. With that money, a lot more could be done. It has been proved, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Guatemalan government, regardless of who is the president ad who is his wife, is a very bad administrator of the public funds when it is about helping the poor women and children. What the lawyers have been doing in Guatemala, is a story of success, of how a group of Law professionals put together their collective power and intelligence to move towards problem solving and found families for thousands of children, created and run orphanages and give to many children, the shelter, food and education that the government denies them. We have been maligned by those who are set in keeping those children starving and mistreated, to make better pictures for fund raising campaigns. When the time comes and the truth is known, the world will know that the Guatemalan adoption system should be used as a model, and as it has happened before, those who malign it, will have to remain silent and look for a place to hide their shame.

Susana Luarca, ADA

Posted by: Susana Luarca at February 22, 2008 08:23 PM

It's interesting to me that in the same paragraph that ends with you asking for people to stop acting like martyrs and heroes, you begin talking about the what a "sacrificial and noble decision" it is to adopt children. I'm not saying that I don't appreciate people who decide to adopt but I do think that anyone looking for a child *should* be placed under a large amount of scrutiny. Maybe it seems unfair and I do believe that the vast majority of PAPs have goodness in their hearts but isn't the scrutiny worth it if it keeps one child out of the hands of the wrong person?

As for demonizing those that choose abortion, I think you are once again playing right into the hero vs. villain oversimplification of which you warned people. Abortion is a complete other discussion and one that I do not see having the capability to be discussed fully here. I think it is a bit unfair throwing that out there knowing that the complexity of the issue can't be addressed in this commenting format.

All that to say, I see what you are getting at and I believe that I understand a lot of your frustration (although, I won't pretend to understand all of it since I have never personally adopted). I'm also not completely sure I understood the point of your post since you spoke in generalities and the entry and comments to follow are about specific agencies and such.

I personally do not want to see an end to International Adoption but I also think that more restrictions need to be in place so there isn't a demand (perceived or real) for babies. In order for that to happen, people must stop feeding the mouth of corruption. That is not to say that it is all corrupt. That is just to say that it is important for websites like Guatadopt to get the word out about the predatory agencies and corrupt facilitators. If people who were lucky enough to use a more reputable agency are inconvenienced, I'd say just be thankful that you weren't the victim of such agencies, either as a PAP, a child or the birth family of a child.

Posted by: J1270 at February 22, 2008 10:47 PM

I disagree again with your statement that there is no conflict of interest in what you do. Every birthmom needs independant counseling from someone who will NOT gain financially if she relinquishes her child.

Posted by: kl at February 23, 2008 12:00 AM

Anynews about the CA giving the Pgn the database of the new cases.

Thank you


Posted by: vince at February 23, 2008 06:17 AM

As an adoptive parent, I can speak from my own experience and say that I have always known that I would adopt, and that this has been something I've known I would do since I was a teen. Not because I couldn't have children, but because I have always felt that I would prefer to love a child who was already in the world and who needed a family. I know many others personally who share my belief system. I think it is unfair to paint adoptive parents as those 'creating the need' for the children who are relinquished.

This is not to deny any corruption - there has been corruption - but let's not point fingers at those who have tried to do what they have felt is right to help the plight of these children. Just because a lawyer is getting paid for the work they do to process an adoption doesn't make them corrupt. Do lawyers in the United States get paid to process adoptions? You bet they do. How easy it is to point fingers. For those who are pointing fingers (especially those who have never adopted internationally) I hope you are doing your part by donating to these causes that you feel you need to defend. Would it be ideal for children to remain with their birth mothers in their birth country? You bet! Until there are social supports in place for mothers and children in Guatemala, this is going to be difficult, at best. We can not turn our heads and look the other way at the socioeconomic plight of women and children in Guatemala when we are looking for reasons for the large numbers of children who have been put up for adoption.

I hope that all of those who are so concerned about the fate of these children, especially those who helped push or support the recent changes to the adoption laws, will step up to the plate and look into ways to help support the women and children of Guatemala during the transition process.

Finally, I just feel that I have to add: Adoptive parents are already scrutinized during the adoption process. Anyone who has adopted, knows this. Between the U.S. requirements (homestudy, police clearances, FBI check) and the international requirements (family court, PGN) we have been examined under a microscope. It is one thing to be scrutinzed, and another to experience random and unnecessary delays due to people playing games with the system, and with children's futures. I think this is what adoptive parents feel frustrated about.

Let's all try to be constructive, and supportive and do our part to help the women and children of Guatemala. If you aren't here for that, maybe you should post on another forum.

Posted by: Debbie at February 23, 2008 08:30 AM

I feel like I'm repeating myself some here but I also feel the need to reiterate that I do not want an end to International Adoption and I did not intend to imply that I think that simply adopting from Guatemala creates the demand for children. I specifically said that it is corruption that is the problem and I also said that I do not believe that everyone involved is corrupt. I was just saying that since corruption exists, it is all the more important to get the word out about those agencies, facilitators, etc. who are corrupt. I have seen time and time again people post here and elsewhere say they don't want to hear about problems in the system or about problem agencies because it makes people question their own adoption. That's the problem I have. It is selfish to think that those who have been victimized don't have the right to tell their story or that they shouldn't warn others of what's going on just because it makes a small percentage of people wonder if their was corruption in your case. When it comes to international adoption, everyone going into it should always tread with caution and do as much research as possible before picking an agency and a country so they know the possible problems out there. If everyone is being quiet about the problems in the progress for the sake of those who have not be victimized, no one will learn from the problems out there.

I'm very sorry if that seems like I'm painting anyone with one board brush stroke. I am talking about a vocal minority who wish that problems with Guatemalan adoption never made any news stories. I am talking about the importance of sharing information and doing research. I am not advocating for an end to International Adoption. And yes, I do give to organizations that help Guatemalans and that help people all over the world.

Posted by: J1270 at February 23, 2008 10:11 AM

The birthmothers get the counseling from the social worker at Family Court. Do you think they need more? Dont they have to sign off 3 times as well as show up for the DNA? They have the chance to change their minds at any point. It's more time than we have here in the United states after a child is born. I dont see what is wrong with the lawyers in Guatemala making money from us? It's their job. They do most of the work, provide foster and medical care. I know there is some corrupt lawyers out there ( I've had one) and there are some very caring lawyers out there (I now have one) but dont let a couple bad apples ruin adoptions from Guatemala.

Posted by: Ter at February 23, 2008 12:10 PM

Susana's comparison to education is a good point. Here in Guatemala, a good education costs way more than the average family can pay for. Another example of the difference in fate for the poor vs the well off. Free market pressures will never benefit the poorest in their need for education, because it is more efficient to keep the workers uneducated, and with less choices. Poor people in the states would not put up with the lack of opportunity due to lack of free education here. Somethings need Government intervention and tax dollars, or they will not happen.

Comparing Adoption to a marriage is also good, because each is a life long relationship. One main difference, however, is that the child is not of equal standing with the other potential partner, being unable to make a decision for themselves. Someone has to be their advocate. One Lawyer would suffice IF there was not a financial incentive to complete the Union. Even the most philanthopic person will have some temtation to "follow the money" when there are decisions that must be made for the benefit of the child. THEN, if the profit motive is such that the more children you adopt out, the more money you will make ( and according to the dad who used Susana, the margin is certainly small enough that she needs volume) There is a motive to "find" children, should they not be readily available.

Speaking of cost effective...I am not a mathmatician, but as far as the "city of children" goes, I think Q30,000,000 divided by 240 children is less than a per child adoption fee. Then once built, it will be there for future children also. No matter what you think of Wendy Berger...this was an effective use of state funds.

Posted by: Steve at February 23, 2008 12:12 PM

I was able to bring my son home from Guatemala in September ‘06. After a thirteen month process I feel extremely fortunate to have made it through this long frustrating process and now savor every moment with my beautiful son. During the time of waiting for PGN approval (6 previos clearly used as a stall tactic), I turned to Guatadopt for support as one of the only sources available to calm my nerves and provide me some kind of hope that the nightmare would be over. I worked with exceptional people (Hanna Wallace and Doris form Adoptions International) and making it through this process in one piece would not have been possible without them. I have great respect for Hanna, Doris, Susan Luarca and people like them. Without them I would not have a son and my son would have surely had a life of suffering as the birth family did not have enough food to feed themselves much less another mouth.

My journey began in July of 2005 and I have been an avid reader of Guatadopt from the beginning. I have to tell you all that your lack of support for each other and your “I know best” attitudes are making me heartsick and nauseous. Please, stop and think about what you are saying and consider the emotional state of the readers to this forum. Please stop the attacks on Susana Luarca.

I would like to thank Guatadopt for all of their work and dedication and for being a source of support for me when I really needed it! Also, thanks for the 2008 Calendars and all of your good works! I am officially an ex-reader after this post, I just can not stand to watch some of these half informed posts coming to the site.

Posted by: david at February 23, 2008 02:35 PM

Vince - PGN is taking cases that were registered by CA.
All the best - to everyone. Gd willing, all of our children will be home soon.

Posted by: waitingfor2 at February 23, 2008 04:20 PM

Susana, the fact that you flatly refuse to acknowledge ANY problems with the (old) system just underscores my point that you lack credibility. Put forth a meaningful argument as to how ethical adoptions can take place and I'd be more than interested to hear your perspective. You have a great deal of experience to share. However, you first have to acknowledge and identify the flaws/problems with the notary system. Most certainly you, of all people, know of the unsavory activities that have taken place at the hands of the unscrupulous entreprenuers. You have been unwilling, throughout this whole mess, to do so. That is a shame.

Posted by: karenms1 at February 23, 2008 04:42 PM

To those who asked for information on PGN, I spoke with my adoption coordinator Lutheran Social Services here in the US as well as our privately retained in-country attorney yesterday and it appears that PGN is moving to clear their desks of cases, especially the older ones quite quickly; some within two weeks. LSS has actually had two cases complete with babies coming home to their adoptive families since the CNA has been functioning.

Our case has gone back into PGN this past week following registration with the CNA. We are praying for a quick turn-around; our little girl is 14 months old...


Posted by: David N. at February 23, 2008 04:55 PM


I appreciate your emotinal point of view, but one (and only one) of the reasons that Gauatdopt is the best site is the robust debate. There are plenty of sites where you can get what you seem to seek, so, be blessed and go to those.

Susana is dynamic and extremely intelligent and has been called the champion of Guatemala sadoptions. But she has also been the author of the harshest criticisms of anyolne who has disagreed with her. She went so far as to slander the President of Guatemala, accusing him and his wife of high crimes and treason, saying they were subverting Guatemalan law to receive a $28 million illegal payday. That accusation has turned out to be false, and I have not seen her correct herself...which means that she, like the rest of us, need to be held accountable, as far as this website goes.

Posted by: Steve at February 23, 2008 07:12 PM


You got it wrong. In an adoption, the child is duly represented by a parent or by the person who has his/her legal custody. In case the parent representing the child does not have the child's best interest at heart, there is also the social worker and the PGN to oversee that. That is way better than what happens in a marriage, where there will be children, or there are already children from previous relationships, and they get parents or step parents who are approved only by their own parents and nobody else. And who is advocating for the children of mothers who marry anybody, regardless of how bad the new husband could be for her children? Adoptive parents are screened and checked and checked again, and the process of adoption takes care that they fulfill the requirements to be good parents.

Regarding the City of the Children, I said that Wendy Berger left only the blueprints, not that she had it built. There is a huge difference between blueprints and the actual construction of the building. To compare the cost of adoptions with the cost of a building is like comparing apples to oranges, and anyway, it is moot, because it was never built, so we would never know if that it was overpriced, much less if it was "well spent" as you say.

The more children who are adopted, the more children who will not have to suffer abandonment, poverty, hunger and in many cases, death at an early age, due to curable diseases for lack of medical care or money to buy an antibiotic. If you have a problem with giving families to children who do not have them, I do not. All the children are entitled to a family, and even the best orphanage or the best foster care are a very poor substitute to a permanent family. If it bothers you that lawyers charge for the adoptions and for the child care, go ahead and offer to do it free of cost. Support the children while you walk their processes through the legal maze of the Adoptions Law and show us a lesson, of how you can feed, dress, keep healthy the children and do a legal process without getting a penny from the adoptive parents.

Susana Luarca

Posted by: Susana Luarca at February 23, 2008 07:29 PM


Sometimes ignorance is a bliss. But if you live in Guatemala, you cannot pretend that you still believe that Oscar and Wendy Berger are saints.
Just look at the debt left by the Berger administration of two thousand million quetzals and that is just what one Ministry owes to private construction companies. The 28 million dollars were a donation offered and signed by UNICEF to the Secretaria de Bienestar Social de la Presidencia, an entity whose illegal existence has been challenged by ADA, and it is in the official newspaper El Diario de Centro America, of February 25, 2005. ADA published in a whole page in Prensa Libre the ties of that donation to the approval of a draconian Adoption Law, and contrary to what you do, the Berger administration never denied it.

Denial is not a river, it is a big ocean and you are choosing to drown in it.

Susana Luarca

Posted by: Susana Luarca at February 23, 2008 10:46 PM


A healthy debate can take place only and when the people disclose their identities and their agendas. I have no obligation to you, who hides under a false name and pretends to be someone interested in improving adoptions in Guatemala, when all what you say is against the only system that has been successful in all Latin America, and many other countries of origin of adopted children.
Disclose your name and your agenda, and then we can talk. Until you do so, do not bother in attacking me. Does not offend me he who wants but he who can do it, and you do not have the power to offend me.

Susana Luarca

Posted by: Susana Luarca at February 23, 2008 10:56 PM

I have no idea where you got your information about the family court social worker providing counseling. No, they do not provide counseling. They prepare a report--a birth parent history--that is SUPPOSED to be factual (and posters on Guatadopt have stated that some reports have falsehoods in them). A social worker interviewing someone for a report is far different than counseling. Counseling would be unbiased, open, and oriented towards a birth mother's free will. And as for the three points in the relinquishment process with the three different signatures...Well, at each of the three points the signature is typically reinforced with money. Sign, payment, sign, payment, sign, works like that. And, if she should change her mind...she has to return the money plus expenses for the child care. Hmmm...Somehow it seems to me that a woman living in extreme poverty does not exactly have what you and I would call "free will" in those circumstances. Hence, the need for reform. Finally, everyone on this forum seems to agree that there far too many needy children in Guatemala and adoption is an essential intervention. However, you've been given a story about a balanced and fair process that may have sounded convincing and I can understand that. Until the truth is out, true reform can't really begin. Guatemala, at this point, is a terrible case example of what can go wrong. Frankly, in my opinion, it tops Romania at this point. By the way, I don't know who sold you the convincing story that everything is okay with Guatemalan adoptions, but I suspect that it is someone whose livelihood depends on adoptions. Again, go figure! My livelihood does not depend on Guate adoptions and I know the country well. I speak out as someone who cares deeply and I'm disapointed that the train has run off of the tracks. It all started out innocently enough and we're upon the wreck now.

Posted by: karenms1 at February 23, 2008 11:04 PM

Good say, Susana Luarca, and what she said, is really short, when a child sick and all the babies sick may be a flue, may be from stomach, or when a child the formula is not good, is very dificult to pick a formula, and the only one is good for the baby is the more $$$, and plus wait a long time to pgn moves, sometimes the money is almost all to cover all the babie needs, we can add the payment to people work with the attorneys, to secretaries, the tranlators, the "procuradores", and the pays from fees to the doctors month to month, all to the paps have a very healthy kids, is not fear you think to handle and run the adoptions is easy, is necesary so much work, to give like all the paps want a quickly and legal adoption, a very healthy baby, and a good service, and to do all this things, like any other services a professional or a businnes offer is basic the $$$$ if No money nothing can´t move you have the example from the CNA, they are a institution from the goverment, and they are professionals, but no money, no new sistem, no new adoptions, no options from the kids born in this month, Still the people don´t like the money subject is a need to implement and do a job. I think and i am sure that the person have more money in the world, don´t make their job for free. because all the people, paps, attorney, and i have families that need we work, and this job can be working in a industry like the biggest part of humans, or helping people like attorney in adoptions. Please try to see the reality and give some credit to a big solution it was the old Notarial system, and all the people work and give a better life to so many babies and build a lot of happy families. Remember nothing is perfect, all we can do is give the best from us. and be a better persons to build a better future.

Posted by: chapinstudent at February 23, 2008 11:22 PM

I do not think the Berger’s are saints, if by that one means sinless. I think they are a mixture of good traits and weaknesses…like the rest of us. That is why I believe in accountability. It seems like ADA would exclude lawyers from that…based on their sainthood, presumably.

The airport and the new roads leading to the capital from all sides, as well as many other projects done and plans for others that are excellent and efficient in 4 years, and only a $250 million deficit? The U.S. Government could learn something from the Berger’s! As I recall, they entered office with the previous administration having stolen as much as 40% of the government’s budget…so the net deficit comparison means they left the country 100’s of times better than they found it financially…with a good head of steam for future growth. AND they prosecuted more corrupt former officials than ever before. And it seems to me that ADA said that they were gong to personally receive that $28 Million from Unicef. Maybe someone with more patience could review Guatadopt comments archives and see how it was worded. But to say there is something inherently wrong with the welfare department of a developing country to receive funds from an international organization is just not in touch with the world as it is.

I reread my comments based on Susana’s responses, and see I made a number of typos. That happens a lot, as I type with 9 fingers. I lost one finger while building one of several children’s homes in Guatemala that care for 100’s of children, and charge no money to adoptive parents and are supported by charity. My finger was attended to by a noble Guatemalan surgeon free of charge, as he is in the network of charitable people, and he has performed 1000’s of free operations for poor people and orphans with very little outside support. I am aware of a small home that partners with parents for adoptions, and does not charge a penny to the parents for the care. The parents contract directly with the lawyers ( who say they would charge less, but are afraid of the repercussions) and the parents cover the maybe $2,000 of in country adoption costs. That home has indicated the frustration of moving in the adoption process and running into obstinate government officials who demand a bribe to do a simple operation, and have told me they are told that the official “knows how much you are making for that adoption, and I want my piece of the pie” ( paraphrased to American slang) These homes would be able to do more with their limited resources BUT for an environment where large amounts of money have been used to grease corrupt skids and close investigative eyes causing inordinate fear by proper officials to move a case forward. One couple who have been trying to adopt a precious little girl for almost 4 years now, when told that the new law might make an adoption take 2 years said “wouldn’t that be great!”

Posted by: Steve at February 24, 2008 09:37 AM


I agree with Susana that in theory adooptions are about the birth mother and the adoptive family having the same goal. That is certainly the ideal and that is definitely what happened in one of our three adoptions.

As for the other two -- there were so many tricks pulled, we will never know if the birth moms were coerced or not, but my gut instinct from details of the situations says that they both freely chose to relinquish.

That, in theory, is how it should work. There should be no conflict of interest between the parties, thus no need for a lawyer for the birth mom, as Susana described.

Okay, in reality there is coercion and force, then how do we protect the birth mom? I don't think involving lawyers is the answer. The government, corrupt as it is, has tried to address this issue by having the birth mom appear and affirm that she made this choice freely. If she has been forced and lies in this interview, providing her a lawyer is not going to change her choice to lie and allow the coercion to continue.

Even though I know there is coercion and pressure applied to some birth moms, I also believe that most, by and large, know what they are doing when making this choice. Just because they are improverished doesn't mean they are stupid. I know that for our third adoption, the reasons for the relinquishment were clearly laid out and it was a very logical, sad, but logical decision.

Adding another layer of legality would not have changed her decision, unless she chose to avoid the difficulty of the process by abandoning her child on the street . . . that is my worry now.

Posted by: Sheryl at February 24, 2008 09:58 AM

As many of you know we went through a nightmare with our last agency. We choose them because they had twin girls who needed a home. Now, we lost the twins but were given a new referral, the little girl we have now.

Please don't PM me wanting to know who they are because I can not tell you. They made us sign a confidentiality agreement, in order to continue our little girls adoption and to end our relationship with them.

But, I will say that one of the person names on our child's old paperwork with the agency was the woman who got arrested and convicted of illegally bringing a child from Guatemala into the US. One of their Guatemalan contacts worked with a non-adoption atty who got charged by the government of Guatemala for steeling huge sums of money. This atty fled the country of Guatemala about 9 months ago. I'm not sure if they found him or not.

***BUT, I say all that to say this. In the midst of our storm we had many who helped us. There was one agency who did our home study, who has continued to be a strength to us through all these months. Their weekly newsletters have been an ongoing inspiration.

Their director was chosen by the US government to visit and evaluate other US agencies who wanted to get certification to continue working when the Hague goes into effect in the US.

She is a wonderful lady and I can say with 100% assurance that their heart to help children all over the world is their main goal and focus.

Now, they are not associated with MY ATTY who gives me the scoop in Guatemala, but I do feel that the info released in their last newsletter is info that many in the adoption community would love to hear.

I will put their contact info here to, to give them credit for the quote and also for those who want to get the weekly newsletter.

Now, they give info for several countries but I will only list that info that pertains to us, for Guatemala.

There is light on the horizon! The Central Authority has stated that it will make an announcement within two weeks, and we already know that one of our attorneys has been authorized to begin adoptions again. From his conversation with the Central Authority, there will be changes, but the basic procedures will remain intact, and the foster mother system will, too. Such a relief!

From there is news of further investigations in some adoption agencies. Frankly, I think we all welcome a clean-up of those who were engaged in bad practices. I'm not making a judgment, because I do not know these persons and that is not my place. But it will be a fresh day if we can feel more confident that the agencies and facilitators working in Guatemala are committed to following the laws and procedures properly. At the very least, it will reduce time lost when the US Embassy starts investigations because they cannot TRUST what is going on.

22 February 2008

Dear Families and Friends,

No snow here, this week. It's supposed to be 80 tomorrow and it is a beautiful day.

Thank you to the many families who have called about Kyrgyzstan and Guatemala and Kazakhstan. Given the past year of ups and downs in adoption, I applaud your faith and courage! We really appreciate the positive recommendation that spark these calls from our adoptive families. Your confidence in us sustains the agency, in the midst of difficult times.

We have heard of other agencies facing severe shortfalls, some closing. We want to assure that we have no such problem here. Truly we are blessed by being small because that makes us very nimble when there are changes in the adoption landscape.

Countries that permit international adoption do come and go, and tighten their regulations, and are pressured by the US to conform to our standards - all of which can produce dramatic change. Here we are committed to helping the children - that's our mission - and as much as politics cause havoc, we can always find children who need help, who need families.

It's important, for your own sanity, for families to stay flexible, too. I know that over the past few months we have encountered issues and slowdowns in Vietnam, opened Kyrgyzstan, promoted Kazakhstan, and re-opened Guatemala. As for the latter, we are waiting for the official announcement from the Central Authority within two weeks. Some of your may feel tossed about on rough seas when we suggest alternatives - but it is simply part of our commitment to you, to give you choices and keep you advised as to what they are.

We also feel very free to recommend other agencies, for programs that we do not offer. One agency that we recommend often for their Ethiopia program is Children's Home Society & Family Services in MN. They have been working in adoption for over 100 years and they have a wonderful program.

The book that I mentioned last week, Outsiders Within, Writing on Trans-racial Adoption, has another gem to share. This one is positive, from a young man adopted from Korea. He writes,

"The potential transracial adoptees possess for enhancing mutual understanding and compassion is powerful. Somehow I can help but believe that we were meant individually and collectively to be teachers of a sort, to use our individual and collective experiences to bring greater understanding of identity to our society.
By definition, I will never know what it is to be a woman, to be African-American, to be disabled, or to be deaf. But our strength as humans lies in our ability to extend beyond our tiny self-worlds and see the deep humanity and the divine spark in one another..
In the end, I am both uniquely myself and also one tile in the mosaic of humanity. And I lose nothing as a tile in acknowledging the exquisite glory of the mosaic."

What we focus on expands.

International Child Foundation, Inc.
a licensed non-profit 501c3 Adoption Agency & Humanitarian Organization
Toll Free 866 663-9058 ~ Phoenix 602 635-2448 ~ Tucson 520 531-9931 ~ ~


I really hope this news concerning the CNA turns out to be true, because I plan to be first in line to adopt a boy!!!

My little girl really wants a brother and we want a son!!! :D

Posted by: airstar98 at February 24, 2008 10:23 AM

Susana's Quote
A healthy debate can take place only and when the people disclose their identities and their agendas. I have no obligation to you, who hides under a false name and pretends to be someone interested in improving adoptions in Guatemala, when all what you say is against the only system that has been successful in all Latin America, and many other countries of origin of adopted children.
Disclose your name and your agenda, and then we can talk. Until you do so, do not bother in attacking me. Does not offend me he who wants but he who can do it, and you do not have the power to offend me.
Susana Luarca"

Karenms1!!! Please do not feel that you need to give your name to Susana.

I remember months ago, she told Steve the same thing.




And, please continue to post. We have read your post for month and what you have to say is very important to us and I'm sure many others who want to know the truth or at least what you know or have heard

Now, for all of you others who have great things to say about Susanna, that is wonderful and I am thankful to God that you are safe and sound in your home in the US with your child.

BUT, can you say without one shadow of a doubt that every single atty whom Susanna represents through the ADA is not corrupt.

Our frustrations are not pointed at good, ethical attys, they are pointed at the corrupt ones.

The only reason Susanna's name keeps coming up is because she represents them and she also has her own orphanage.

In the middle of corruption, we were told over and over, by our attys and our security, after asking, why can't we leave the house and just go to the store or take a walk ... we were told, you see the face that you see ... what you don't see, is the face behind the face you see ... meaning you have no ideal whose face is really behing the corruption/organization.

Posted by: airstar98 at February 24, 2008 11:13 AM


First, I want to say that I really respect you for being Guatemalan and caring enough to be part of the guatadopt community through your post. I wish we could hear more from others who live in the country.

Second, I want to honestly say that I/we don't care about paying the atts/facilitators or even the CNA when they start facilitating adoptions.

Heck, I've paid another $15,000 US dollars to my attys to fight the corruption and protect my little girl. AND, hey her safety was well worth the loans we had to take out to do it.

That being said, US families don't mind paying for an adoption to help a child, now, we would love to not have to pay so much but we would do it, if it mean helping a child who has no home, to be part of our home.







Posted by: airstar98 at February 24, 2008 11:29 AM

Dear Susana,
You might be accuse of several things, and over zealous in some areas, but adoptive parents that have come through your referral process, now that you are ethical. It so obvious, you don"t over charge when your cases go past 6 months, and you don't pay for bc's as well. At this point, Susana, you won't be able to get the last word with Steve and Karenms1, It does not matter what evidence both sides have , in Karenms1,'s eyes all adoptions are corrupt in Guatemala, so why bother spending time defending it, does not matter what type of evidence you have. Your children that come home will be your evidence, long after this board is gone

What I see is here is 2 sides that will never move an inch on each side. THE PAP who think their adoptions is 100 percent above board, and the Steve and Karenms1, who think everything is dirty and corrupt.

let me ASK out there is a MIDDLE GROUND?
Is corrupt buying your Mixco' bc after your child being held hostage? I don't know?

Both sides are so far removed, that could never meet in the middle (It would be like Mccain and Obama running together)

Susana, keep on working bringing those children home, and take care of yourself.
and thank you for taking care of the children in your care.

I might not agree with your agenda.
But It is very clear your commitment to the people of Guatemala, and I am truly sorry you lost a finger.

Elizabeth York

Posted by: Elizabeth York at February 24, 2008 11:37 AM


interesting you should mention Romania in your discussion ...

would you like to comment on the CURRENT state of affairs in Romania? would you like to say anything about the current realities being played out for the Romanian children (who have been so QUICKLY forgotten by all of the lobbying groups who pressurised for 'reform')

Just curious ... I would hate to think that Guatemalan children would be subject to the legacy of such 'reforms' that Romanian children have been left with - and can you comment on whether it is preferable (in your opinion) for a woman to have the right to privacy when she makes an adoption plan for her child OR whether it is better that her extended family be approached (against her wishes) and her child be placed with a biological relative who is willing but perhaps not very able ... how long is an acceptable length of time for a child to wait in care? (if indeed care is available?) and is it better to spend half of your childhood in an orphanage (rather than a loving family) all so that adults can feel good about the process? I am 100% against corruption(but not naive enough to think it will ever be completely eradicated) but I am also against bureaucratic systems that drag on for years and eat up childhoods ...

I hope against hope that the Guatemalan government have a larger vision and a greater heart than the hearts so quick to judge and attack on this thread - I do not envy their task - I wish that many posters would post messages of encouragement for the new government - all saying - WE SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR WORK please remember the forgotten children and their need for loving families (wherever those families are)

where wrong has been done - it needs to be addressed and I hope that it will be. I feel very lucky to be the parent of a child who was born in Guatemala. Her country and culture are central to our family now.

in the mean time - can we remember that justice usually starts with the idea of innocent until proven guilty?

Posted by: european adoptive parent at February 24, 2008 02:57 PM

Kelly, Kevin, et. al. :

Speaking as a parent who has adopted from Guatemala, anyone who pays attention honestly knows that ALL the notarios, including Susana Luarca, have had a vested interest in maintaining the system that existed in Guatemala until very recently. The former system, which was essentially run from start to finish by the notarios (i.e. lawyers), was indisputably based on a conflict of interest. That a certain amount of fraud and abuse came to exist should come as no surprise to anyone.

It is easy for us all of us adoptive parents to put our heads in the sand and believe that (at least) in OUR case there was no impropriety. At the same time, if we are self-honest, we have to believe that there are far too many cases in which poor mothers have been coerced and/or manipulated into relinquishing their children for money. (It pains me very deeply to know for a fact that my child’s birth mother was paid a sizable fee - by Guatemalan standards - at the relinquishment of her child.)

While I do not know Susana Luarca personally, I find it incredibly naïve for anyone to claim that she and other lawyers in Guatemala have done their work solely “for the children”. Clearly they have successfully charged us American parents whatever the market will bear. We must all admit to ourselves that the Guatemalan adoption system has been one that was based on supply and demand. Some well-meaning but unenlightened cynics have labeled it a “baby market.”

Although I have posted several times to GuatAdopt in the past and have used my actual identity, I choose to remain anonymous in this post because I do not care to share the somewhat ugly truth of my child’s case with friends and family.

At the same time, while I appreciate the insight that Steve and Karenms1 have offered in this debate, it is long since past time for them to “come clean” and to tell us who they are.

Steve, Karenms1: who are you? What "expertise" do you hold? If you truly have anything more to share as self-claimed “experts”, you need to ‘fess up to us GuatAdopt readers and reveal your identities. The time is now!

Anonymous midwestern adoptive parent

Posted by: Anonymous midwestern adoptive parent at February 24, 2008 03:14 PM


With all the mud slinging and accusations going around, we just wanted to say "Thank You!" We appreciate all that you, your staff, and colleges have done to protect and help the children of Guatemala as well as PAP's. Please know that there are many more people like us out here that appreciate all you do.

Scott & Lorinda

Posted by: Lo at February 24, 2008 04:07 PM

Anonymous Adoptive Midwestern parent: Thank you for posting what I have been wondering for a long time. WHO IS KARENMS1? I agree that it is time to come clean. She was extremely vocal prior to the whole Ortega/Dec31st/Feb 12 stuff. I wondered where she had gone during all this stuff. Now she is back again.....come on Karenms1. Who are you??????

Posted by: Grandfather Clause Not Santa Claus at February 24, 2008 06:52 PM


We feel the same as Lorinda and Scott. Thank you for all that you have done. Thank you!

Dan & Kathy

Posted by: Kathy & Dan at February 24, 2008 06:55 PM

I am a mom of two little boys from Guatemala. Both adoptions were difficult (one was Hague-delayed in 2003). I will never forget the daily pain and emotional anguish of not knowing what was happening...and our agency encouraging us to abandon the children in favor of a more stable country. For those of you with waiting arms and hearts, know that there are many anonymous prayers said for you and your children every day. While I understand the intellectual need for debate and the value that comes from constructive disagreements, I am saddened to see such mean spirits on this site. Guatadopt was a lifeline for me during our second adoption two years ago...I hope that our readers can tone down the rhetoric a bit and help one another more. God Bless our families, in the USA and Guatemala.

Posted by: meg at February 24, 2008 08:56 PM

Steve writes: I reread my comments based on Susana’s responses, and see I made a number of typos. That happens a lot, as I type with 9 fingers. I lost one finger while building one of several children’s homes in Guatemala that care for 100’s of children, and charge no money to adoptive parents and are supported by charity. My finger was attended to by a noble Guatemalan surgeon free of charge, as he is in the network of charitable people, and he has performed 1000’s of free operations for poor people and orphans with very little outside support.

Steve: You're kidding us right? Sorry if I don't believe you...but I don't. And honestly, I'm not laughing at you, but with you as I think that you think that you just pulled one over on all of us reading this post. If you really did lose a finger, then I'm sorry and I assume that Unicef has insurance and that doctor that usually attends to poor people should have been paid by your employer Unicef's insurance provider. Keep up the good work Steve....and could you have your employer make good on their promise to the people of Guatemala and start to provide some money to women and children. The women and children of Guatemala thank you!!

Posted by: Not Laughing At You But With You! at February 24, 2008 10:54 PM

It's interesting to me that, other than Ms. Luarca, both of the people who have called karenms1 out to reveal herself are both completely anonymous posters, one with anonymous in their actual name. I understand the desire to know the motives of a poster and possibly some general background info but I think it is unfair to expect people to state any identifying information online ... and especially in a forum where the majority of the commenters are anonymous. Until everyone who posts here is expected to share their full information, why should any one person be singled out? If you do not believe what she says or simply disagree with her, that is up to you but it's only fair that you respect her privacy as I imagine you'd like your own privacy to be respected.

Posted by: J1270 at February 24, 2008 11:42 PM

I think it is far too easy now to pass blame on all of the attornies for all of the inequities in the former Guatemalan system of adoption. I don't think they true facts of what cases were legit and which were not will ever be unearthed. I also think it is hypocritical to blame lawyers for trying to earn a living from doing what they did. Do all of you, im what ever profession you work, not want to earn as much as you can? I don't think this money should be earned in an illegal or bribed manner, but again, can this be proved. Do we all know what the new system of adoption in Guatemala will bring? Will there be statistics of how many more children are lost because Mother's choices are now more restrictive? I really feel that more children will die in the future because of the current restrictions than were hurt due to the previous system. But again, that's just my opinion that is tied to nothing more than caring deeply about my child's homeland. Erik

Posted by: Erik at February 25, 2008 06:22 AM


We also agree with Lorinda and Scott. Words cannot begin to describe our admiration for your efforts. We cannot begin to thank you for your dedication. We can say that we know first hand what kind of wonderful person you are. Thanks to you, our son may finally be coming home.

Anthony & Megan

Posted by: Aman at February 25, 2008 08:53 AM

I find it interesting that this debate has turned into an attack on the 'true' identities of the posters who have said controversial things--rather than the real issues and human rights abuses. Given the fact that (1) 98% of Guatadopt posters do not use a full name, (2) speaking out about corruption is dangerous, and (3) what's the difference? As such, I will continue to post as karenms1. By the way, an 'identity' demand from someone who posts as anonymous is really rich--thanks for the laugh. This is a really interesting tactic at play--demand people's names rather than dig into the real issue. It seems like it FIRST begins with: diminish what is said THEN change the subject (in this case, names). How about let's get real about the problems/human rights abuses so that the reform process can be an informed one. Anyone who really thinks that there are not problems in Guatemala has bought the swamp land! And, they are unstable grounds on which it is not wise to build a house! As for the "Not Laughing at You"--surely you are kidding.

Posted by: karenms1 at February 25, 2008 09:07 AM

Regarding the comments from J1270, I agree that I probably made a mistake in asking Karenms1 and Steve to "reveal their identities". Better stated, I should have asked what their credentials are that should lead us Guatadopt readers to believe they have any credible expertise. As for me, I am merely an adoptive parent of a Guatemalan child who has done a little sleuthing (after the fact) and discovered some ugly truths about my child's case. Was my agency aware of the lies told by the attorney and Guatemalan social worker? If not, they should have been. I love my child beyond measure, and have no regrets about the adoption. Still, I understand and have personally witnessed the seamy underside of international adoption. Beyond that, I claim no expertise. I again ask that Karenms1 and Steve tell us what makes them so qualified to speak with (what they imply is) authority.

Posted by: Anonymous midwestern adoptive parent at February 25, 2008 10:13 AM

Hi Kevin,

I noticed the last update to the site was February 20th - is there any new information since then?


Posted by: Robert at February 25, 2008 10:33 AM

Coatepeque: They live in the trash:

At less 30 kids and teenager live and work in the municipal trash, They doesn´t go to the school, in they are very vulnerably to have a multiple disseases; and so many times they eat the foods they found in these place.

Young kids and infants come daily to the trashplace, in they are looking for piece of wood or plastic bottles to sale some business recycle trash.
“Is necesary that the authorities take conscience about the situation and they do something to rescue this kids“ say Edgar Noriega, assistant officer from the PDH (Human Rights Office Attorney), plus he apoint since a few months a go they are watched and prove that the child are expouse to big problems in health , this is the result the breath gases from the trash, and some others dangers substancies when the trash is on fire.

…………… (they say that adults to do this job and they don´t have any supplies to work with trash to handle all bacteries, etc, says to this place is beside to a runway where circulate the heavy transport, because this is a route to go at San Marcos, and say also the kids try to get the “best of the Trash” they up to pick ups when the cars are in move when they came to leave the trash),

“ Is necessary and urgent the intervention from the Chilhood Attorney´s office, because the human right´s of the kids are broken: Right to the education, to health, and safety” Add Noriega to his lines.

The Major of the town say the only he have program to do is build a plataform from “concreto”, near to the trashplace to give safety at this little kids and adults., (ja……….. )

An other example, the Authorities from the guatemalan goverment say how bad and danger is the situation from the guatemalan kids,) and they urge to the Office depend to PGN that represent the human right of the kids do something to help them, and in the declaration to Mr. Noriega say this is no the only case to broke the safety and right from guatemalan kids. Please see the pictures in the top on the right side. This is only you have knowledge from some acts and situations, give to the people live in Guatemala and guatemalan people the right to comment , to you can see all the problems our guatemalan authorities and international institution cover and hide. Thats all, blesses to all. (you can see the original news in :

Posted by: chapinstudent at February 25, 2008 11:55 AM

Sounds like a number of agencies have really not done justice to the guatemalan adoption community. I feel for the parents and children caught in the middle of all this... what a mess....

Sincere Regards,
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings

Posted by: gloria at February 25, 2008 01:29 PM

I am Elizabeth York, who can't have bio children ( i don;t think i need to go into details of hardships of that) so we adopted, not because it was the noble thing to do, but because we wanted children! We stuck in the middle of our second adoption, and are heart sick and worried. We look at the news at Guatadopt to help us. I am not expert, on adoptions, and now the the truth is lies between ADA and the anti adoptions forces. If we are going have a debate here, I want FACTS and FIGURES from both sides, I want hard and real data as a PAP, I deserve that info. As Parents you will defend your children until the day you die. It is human nature. If we are going have these serious discussions about adoptions, we need to have real data. Both sides of the issues, not just Susana and Steve and Karenms1.
Asd far Steve, you always been polite in your views, and I appreciatte that! Karenms1 you are passionate about your views, but sometimes your blanket statements, need to back up with facts, I would be like me saying that " all social workers Name Karen from Virginia, don't know what they are talking about"
So please let us have factual data, that can be verfied.
Elizabeth York

Posted by: Elizabeth York at February 25, 2008 02:41 PM

airstar98 - her name is Susana, with only one n. If you are going to shout at someone, please have the respect to spell their name correctly. Also, we understand that you want to emphasize some things, but please consider turning the caps lock off.

Steve - so sorry to hear about your finger. From all of your posts, it is clear that you truly have a heart for the children and work hard to care for them. I'm sorry that anyone would question that, even they we don't agree with everything that you say.

Susana - Your response to karenms1 was very classy! It is also clear that you care for the children of Guatemala, and I am sorry that anyone would question that, even if they don't agree with everything that you say.

Posted by: another anonymous at February 25, 2008 02:51 PM

I've not posted before, but we are concerned. Our agency tells us that PGN will go out of existence in a few months and that they are scrambling to get money from waiting parents. Our attorney says he needs 1,500.00 for fees (bribes) or we will never get out of PGN. Anyone in the same boat? Anyone able to shed any light?

Posted by: DMJ8 at February 25, 2008 05:19 PM

If my attempt at logical responses, and anecdotal references of situations I have seen with my own eyes do not convince you, my identity will not either.

I am not an expert on anything, but am in the trenches in Guatemala, and like the little boy, who from his vantage point, could see the King had no clothes, sometimes feel it is important to reiterate that, especially in light of forceful, authoritative pronouncements saying that all is well with Lawyer controlled adoptions in Guatemala.

I, along with friends, have pledged our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to : identify, evaluate, and address the needs of every child at risk in Guatemala. Yes, that makes me a dreamer. International adoptions help a tiny fraction of that group, and muddy the waters in which we who hope to help the others as well live. The public of Guatemala not employed by the adoption industry is highly suspicious of anyone saying they want to help the children. The government officials are gun shy and bribe trained.

The public outcry against International Adoptions in Guatemala is very real, and fueled by the press, but also fueled by the actions and obscurity that the Lawyers operate with. Those actions that PAPs complain about on Guatadopt.

I AM NOT ANTI ADOPTION. As a matter of fact, it is because I believe adoption is the very best option for those children at risk, that I disagree so often with ADA's form of adoption apologetics. Corruption of a noble enterprise has made the task of helping the children of Guatemala much more difficult than it should be. Corruption is the Number one identified enemy to Charitable efforts world wide. That is why I feel we must address corruption in our own house, before anything else. Yes, there are worse ways that children can be trafficked, and for really horrible ends. But corrupt adoptions hurt adoptions at large, and must be weeded out. The industry has proved itself incapable of even admitting there is a problem. How are they going to solve it then?

No, I am not paid by anyone, much less UNICEF. You might say my rich daddy supports the efforts He has asked me to do. I cooperate wiht the Government, and say when they do good, and when they do bad. Governmental charity just does not work. I may have stated it before here, and that is why Karenms1 had a good laugh, that Governments need to punish the bad guys, and charities need to care for the children at risk. In light of that, I have also said that there is no problem in the world that is so bad that involving UNICEF can't make it worse.

So I write here with an attempt at logic...For instance, a casual reader of Guatadopt can glean that many AP's have frustrating stories regarding the actions of their agencies and lawyers. (Failed DNA tests and switched referrals come to mind) That's a fact not acknowledged by ADA. Until the Adoptive community demands transparency from the people they pay, there will not be much hope of weeding out the corrupt agencies and Lawyers.

Posted by: Steve at February 25, 2008 06:41 PM

For what it's worth...

I'm not sure why he doesn't choose to say so publically, but I believe Steve is one of the owners of Amor del Nino, the orphanage most recently associated with the (unproven) charges against CQ.

Posted by: Mari at February 25, 2008 07:55 PM


I read often, but have not posted in the past. I am deeply saddened by the juvenille banter in this latest thread. I feel it reflects poorly on all of us as adoptive parents and hope those of you involved can find it on you to move on to a more productive line of chat.

Please remember what is truly important.

Posted by: Quiet in WI at February 25, 2008 08:40 PM

Where's Kevin?

Posted by: D at February 25, 2008 11:06 PM

I have always come to guatadopt for information and support. I endured a very long adoption process and pretty much stalked this site as a distraction from the pain of the wait. I know what it feels like to lose a child to an orphanage and to also lose the “babyhood” of the child finally placed in my arms because the adoption took so long. Hearing news stories about how PAP’s flock to Guatemala because adoptions are “quick and easy” make my stomach turn, but I digress…

During that horrible wait, this site was always a refuge. For this reason, I have to admit that I feel disappointed by some of the current posts. I don’t mind a healthy debate—I believe I can learn from hearing all sides of an issue, even if I disagree. I am, however, uncomfortable with the name calling, the need to call people out or to put others down just to make a point. I feel like the site that has been such a refuge for so long has been tainted by the current personal back and forth.

My hope is that the conversation will continue, but in a way that is informational and educational, rather than person and derogatory. To me, put-downs diminish a point of view. I am interested in all sides, but it is difficult to sift through the rhetoric.

Maybe I am just being too sensitive because my emotions are still raw from a long ordeal. I’ll give you that. But maybe there is also some truth to this post.

As for using my full real name, well, that just does not feel safe in cyberland and it does not honor the privacy of my children.

On a final note…I wanted to say thank you to the Guatadopt team for all you have given me and other parents like me over the years. Your work has value beyond measure.

Posted by: Lisa at February 26, 2008 12:21 AM

I'm here. I've got no new news and have really not wanted to get into this debate. I am working on a longer piece addressing "who's to blame" but that's another story.

The posts here are really starting to disappoint me. Not for the viewpoints, but for the tone and veracity.

Is it fair to out someone's identity who has really not harmed anyone (remember sticks and stones) just because you don't their view? If someone "should" be public, don't they only diminish their own credibility by not saying what entitles them to consider themselves experts?

Can't we all express our views without being insensative to adoptive families and in-process PAPs?

Don't we ALL know better than to stereotype ANY entire group of individuals? Granted, my favorite author (Robert Heinlein) wrote about "the day they hung the lawyers" but that was sci-fi. In any profession, race, religion, ethicity, geography, etc most people are good and honest and there are a few that are not. We all know that.

Guatadopt made the difficult decision years ago to resist the temptation to heavily control what readers contribute to our content. That is one reason for the site's success. As things become tense, like now, from time-to-time that leads to threads like this that run awry. SO while I don't like what's happening here, I can't stop it.

Please EVERYONE, debate is good and healthy. Let's keep it constructive.

Gracias y paz,


Posted by: Kevin at February 26, 2008 07:49 AM

I couldn't agree more with the last two posters, Kevin and Lisa. What kind of an example are we setting for our children with these attacks on each other? I too am guilty of having overemotional rants that sometimes lead to negative ideas, but I try to mostly keep them inside my head. I am not condoning the lack of free speech, but, next time you decide to post something...First read it out loud to yourself. Does it sound like a something you want to attach your name to? Next, Imagine that your adoptive child from Guatemala is reading this. Again, I'm not trying to preach, I probably have more faults than anyone on this board. I just don't think that any of this rhetoric is helpful. Love Y'all. Erik

Posted by: Erik at February 26, 2008 08:58 AM

In reply to:
"I've not posted before, but we are concerned. Our agency tells us that PGN will go out of existence in a few months and that they are scrambling to get money from waiting parents. Our attorney says he needs 1,500.00 for fees (bribes) or we will never get out of PGN. Anyone in the same boat? Anyone able to shed any light?

Comment by DMJ8 at February 25, 2008 05:19 PM

The $1500 bribe sounds too similar to the quote by the "baby stealer" on Dateline. If there is new law in Guatemala, then they shouldn't be taking bribes. Your agency, if reputable, should know how to handle this situation.

Hang in there. I'm praying for all of you that are in the middle of this mess.

Posted by: me at February 26, 2008 10:26 AM

I'm a PAP. No expert on adoption - maybe that's why my 2 girls are STILL stuck in the system. Does anyone think that there is a more constructive way we could be using our time? I check this website a few times a day to see is anyone has heard that PGN has sped up - or closed - or anyone knows anything. Please if you are speaking form the heart (or yelling from the heart) go ahead, what ever makes you feel better, but if you have facts - real true facts, please let us know. "Us" the PAPs that can't wait to hold their children in their arms, at home.

Posted by: waitingfor2 at February 26, 2008 10:43 AM

I am very worried too about the Central Authority and PGN. We have been in PGN since April 2007, kicked out 6 times. We went to visit our son 2 weeks ago (he was so beautiful, happy and healthy) and we asked our attorney take us to PGN. We all went and talked to a reviewer and our file was about at the top of her stack and she said she would sign it and send it to Barrios! Then our attorney actually briefly spoke with Barrios and he said he would sign it. We left feeling hopeful. Now we are told by our attorney, who went back last week to check to see if our case was signed and approved, that PGN files must be reviewed by Central Authority, even though we have already been registered, by the deadline.

Kevin or anybody, what is happening with this Central Authority? How long does this new process take? I am so distraught. My son is now 15 months old...the transition will be so hard for him, and our lives are so on hold without him.

Posted by: CWB at February 26, 2008 11:36 AM

CWB, I too have been waiting and promised a case number at the PGN. I am too afraid to visit, and then have to leave. My son is about the same age as yours and I agree that this is going to be such a hard transition. Doesn't it seem that the childrens' mental well being is not being considered there at all? They will just leave it upt o us to deal with. I feel for you.


Posted by: Jill at February 26, 2008 12:00 PM

Kevin, thanks for sharing with us that Robert A. Heinlein is your favorite author. (We share that in common.) It should come as no surprise that you're such a fair, level-headed guy, and a genuine advocate for social justice. And a "Dead Head" to boot!


Posted by: Gregg at February 26, 2008 01:53 PM

I Grock Spock! Ha - I was in my twenty's before I figured out what that old button in my moms jewelry box was referring to. Sorry - off topic I know - but this has been an exhausting thread - and I have nothing on topic to add to it.

Posted by: Susan at February 26, 2008 02:49 PM



Good to see you again!

Posted by: D at February 27, 2008 12:55 AM

For the record...

I have been told that at this time (Feb 27) Vilma and Sandra have not actually been charged with a crime, but do have petitions against them. Charges can not been brought until a judge has a chnace to review.


Posted by: Kevin at February 27, 2008 04:14 PM

karenms1 wrote:
To "Don't Be Too Quick to Judge":
Your response is classic. Diminish reports of wrong-doing. I don't think that you can misintrepret "perjury". That means a lie was committed in a legal proceeding. As for the Prensa Libre, yes its tactics leave much to be desired. The state of journalism in Guatemala is much like the state of adoptions--lacking of professionalism, standards, respect and dignity. You may argue away the story based on these shaky grounds, but I think we all have to agree that where there is smoke...there is fire. Lisa2 is right that adoption fraud takes place all around the world, here in the US as well as other nations.

my comments:
I agree that you can fraud anywhere in the world. I also always say that anywhere that there are people involved, you can have corruption--it doesn't matter the venue, business, cause, etc. I understand what perjury means BUT, we do not KNOW that the social worker did indeed lie. Well, I should say that I don't know. Do you? If not, then the social worker is innocent until proven guilty. I operate on facts and I don't have facts that tell/show me that the social worker did that. WHAT IF, however, the birthmom did indeed give a false address to the social worker? Is that the fault of the adoption program? Is that the fault of the social worker? If it was knowingly accepted as a false address, then I have a problem with that. If the social worker is instructed to simply operate off of the information given by the birthmom (I don't know this is how it works), then who is to blame? To me, this speaks to issues faced by many women, and probably many people living in poverty for that matter, in Guatemala. It speaks to the sad state of her life. I think it's sad that the birthmom cannot live her life as herself. I think it's sad that she might have such a distrust for the Guatemalan government that she feels she needs to give false information. I think it's sad that she might feel that she has to conceal her whereabouts to her family during her adoption process. I think it's sad that she is in a position to place a child. (Yes, I know that not all birthmoms fall into the category of being poor or using any false information. I'm just giving examples here.) I just don't think it's my place to judge the actions of another person without living the life of that person. The plight of the people of Guatemala is something that haunts me daily and I struggle with what to do and how to help. I try to do my part to help the people of my children.

Posted by: don't be too quick at February 28, 2008 09:27 AM


First, in the interest of full disclosure, my name is Kerri Bogda. I am an adoptive parent and certainly no expert on the Guatemala legal system. However, I would like to comment on your use of the cliche, "where there is smoke, there's fire" when referring to accusations laid upon the social worker. That doesn't take into account that many people are not only falsely accused, but are convicted and even put to death wrongly (in the US!)

I'm not denying that there is corruption in the system. I fully acknowledge that there are disreputable people who coerce women in the adoption process, etc. In the case of the social work, though, I agree with the above poster that we should not jump to conclusions about her guilt or innocence. Here's another expression to consider - "you can indict a ham sandwich." This is a comment made about the US system of grand juries - basically, it's inordinately easy to bring charges against someone. Now, I have no idea whether the social worker perjured herself. She may very well be corrupt and should be removed by the system is this is proven true.

However, please consider the following. In my role as a tax accountant, a client hands me his or her tax information. By law I can accept my client's tax information as accurate. The onus is on the taxpayer to tell the truth. If someone says they gave a certain amount to charity, I do not have to see every receipt (we could never get all of our work done if we did!) The situation with birthmothers and social workers may very well be the same. I admit I don't know. But sometimes, where there's smoke, there's just smoke.

Posted by: kerri bogda at February 28, 2008 12:40 PM

I could be wrong but I think karenms1 did a journal article about Guatemalan adoptions that repeatedly cites the ILPEC report to support evidence of corruption in the old notarial system -- even though the United Nations, which commissioned the report, disowned it because of its many flaws.

If it's the same person, I'm disappointed because the article, as I recall, was pretty recent and the UN disowned the ILPEC report several years before she wrote her article.

I think karenms1 feels very passionately about the problem of corruption in international adoption but she, like many opponents, does not see the broader forest.

Posted by: L at February 28, 2008 05:38 PM

"If not, then the social worker is innocent until proven guilty. " Quote by dont be too quick

This is the second time that someone's posted the "innocent until proven guilty", so I thought I should respond ...

Actually, Guatemala, from what I was told here, is that they follow the Roman Law which says, "you're guilty until proven innocent".

I have no clue what all happened, just wanted to share what I was told concerning how the law is different from the U.S.

I would think they have more on her than only putting the wrong address for the birthmother. I thought the article said they had 60 charges against her, but I could be wrong, cause I do have a hard time understanding these articles, even with the translation.

Posted by: airstar98 at February 28, 2008 05:38 PM

You said: “Actually, Guatemala, from what I was told here, is that they follow the Roman Law which says, "you're guilty until proven innocent".”

Once again, you got it wrong. Article 14 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala establishes the "Presumption of Innocence and Publicity of the Process. Every person is innocent, until he/she has been declared responsible judicially in a sentence that is firm”.

In other words, in Guatemala, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law and only until there are no legal resources left to be filed against the sentence that condemns the accused.

The social worker gives an opinion about the adoption. She has to rely on the information supplied by the parents, to evaluate if the adoption is the best for the child. In that context, the address of the birthmother is irrelvant for the adoption process.

Susana Luarca, Attorney at Law

Posted by: Susana Luarca at February 29, 2008 12:58 AM

the article does not say there are 60 charges against anyone

and I wonder how many of us would like to be assumed guilty until we could prove our innocence? I do know that about Guatemalan Law - I am glad a judge has to review evidence before ANY charges can be brought

and unless anyone has direct knowledge of the actual situation for each of these individuals then it's hard to know where the truth lies - so much can and does get lost in translation (figuratively and literally)

Posted by: european adoptive parent at February 29, 2008 03:26 AM

airstar98 wrote:
I thought the article said they had 60 charges against her, but I could be wrong, cause I do have a hard time understanding these articles, even with the translation.

my comments:
It is confusing the way that Prensa Libre posted the information. There are 60 "pieces of evidence" regarding ALL petitions that the Ministerio Publico submitted in support of their claims of wrong doing by the CQ attorneys, the CQ owners, and this social worker. My understanding is that they listed each piece separately, not lumping together like issues. For example, if the MP says that Person X took an apple for the baby (totally bogus, I know) for Baby A, then it lists Person X taking an apple for baby B as a separate piece of "evidence" instead of saying Person X took apples for the babies. I personally do not know what is contained in the 60 pieces submitted so I cannot attest to how many pieces pertain to the social worker and each other party in this case. My point is simply that the 60 pieces aren't all "against" the social worker.

Posted by: don't be too quick at February 29, 2008 08:32 AM

Thank you for taking time to clarify the law. It's nice to have someone post facts not just what they have been "told."
I really admire all that you do for the children of Guatemala.

Posted by: Cara at February 29, 2008 02:44 PM

Just an update:
There is a court date on Monday March 10th for Vilma and Sandra, the Casa Quivira attorneys.

Posted by: Lynn at March 8, 2008 08:20 PM

One of the tenets of the process in Guatemala has been that the paperwork reviewed by the PGN and the U.S. Embassy are legal documents that have been attested to and therefore is admissible as legal tender. That system falls apart (and apparently has) if the information given in those documents is blatantly false.

Given this norm, why would an innocent person falsify data on these forms? I cannot think of any. BUT I can think of many reasons why a person aware of anomalies would falsify. The tenet of "innocent until proven guilty is imperative to protect human rights against both oppressive governments and over active investigators. But any PAP that uses that standard to keep faith with a "smoky" agency or lawyer is hurting themselves and every other PAP.

By these standards, Al Capone was an upstanding citizen who did not extort and prostitute and kill many people; he was simply a tax evader.

Posted by: Steve at March 9, 2008 05:42 PM

Oh my goodness. I am the parent of one Guatemalan boy who is already adopted, and one who is (hopefully) on his way. I come to this site to follow the CURRENT adoption processes, not all the bickering and arguing that it seems 3 or 4 people are involved. Please, for the good of all of us, stop. Stop, stop, stop. I don't allow my 3 year old to whine, why should grown adults whine about things over which they have no control? Since none of you can control what the other thinks, feels, or does, please accept my completely unsolicited advice and...LET IT GO!

Please, can we move on to more productive discussions? I read through most of these posts looking for more information on one of the corrupt agencies (HCA), hoping to find more news. They are evil people, and they are American attorneys based in Florida. Teo is equally greedy and evil--and he is Greecian, not Guatemalan. Evil, greedy, corrupt people are everywhere...everywhere! In your backyard as well as across the world.

Let's get back to the discussion at hand...what to do with the corrupt agencies and the families whose lives are being torn apart at the seams as a result!!

If the 3-4 of you want to take it offline and beat each other up, feel free, but please quit wasting valuable internet space to argue with each other here on this forum.

I may be the only one who feels this way...and that's fine. I just hope that one of you takes time to read my post and grow up a little. Everyone's nerves are on edge, and your postings do not help!!!!

Posted by: jules at March 20, 2008 10:14 PM

We also used HCA - we thought because one of the attorneys knew so many people in our church, they would be legit and upstanding --- boy were we WRONG!

Shortly after match up, we were notified by our daughters Guatemalan pediatrician he would recommend a NEWBORN screening test ---

We immediately contacted the rep at the agency and forwarded this recommendation and told her to charge the amount to us - a few weeks later we contacted the agency to see if they had the results back --- to make a very long story short --- the rep at the agency kept telling us the test was completed and it was too bad we didn't believe her or Teo --- we kept saying we wanted evidence this test was completed and we had the RIGHT as the PARENTS of this child to see said results - she then said to send a letter into the review committee and ask for a refund - we said we didn't want the money - we wanted our daughter to receive the MEDICAL test the doctor had prescribed at 6 weeks of age - she said to just put that money issue in the letter and hopefully the review committee could get to the bottom of things.

We sent in the letter - with the verbage she said to put in there about wanting the refund, BUT we did it with a twist - we said that if they would not produce the result of this test we wanted the refund because we would have to do the NEWBORN screening test when we brought our daughter home --- then we BEGGED and PLEADED that they make sure this was completed for our daughters sake!

The letter we received back that was SIGNED by 4 or 5 of these HCA review committee people (one of which was the rep herself) - was the most (now keep this in mind - this is OUR opinion only - we are no experts or anything), but it was so stupid, arrogant, and mean spirited - we e-mailed as many people back from that agency as we could think of - with a reply.

We heard from Kurt Alexander - our money was refunded AND we had the NEWBORN screening test results with a date completed listed as approximately around the time our reply letter was received by members of HCA.

*Our daughter was approximately 9 months old by this time!!!

What was also upsetting was that one of the 'review' board members that signed that TERRIBLE letter was someone we had known years before and had thought was a Godly man.

We know that each of them will stand before the throne of God one day and will answer for that ridiculous letter that they penned and signed their name too - we personally feel they played Russian Roullette with our daughters healthcare - I personally don't think that will play out well for them when they face God and have to answer for that.

After our daughter came home last year, they contacted us to tell us she has a sibling that lives in the U.S. - needless to say we were shocked - they forwarded us the e-mail of this family.

Our computer broke recently and we have asked them for this information again or to send our info onto this family.

Now they won't return our e-mails or phone calls to tell us if they will honor our request to forward our information onto our daughters biological siblings family --- even though we pointed out that one day she may need this for MEDICAL reasons.

In our last e-mail we asked them to not make us have to go about getting our request honored in another way.

We pray for God to turn one of their hearts and let us know if they will do the right thing in this oh so simple request.

Posted by: Mom23 at July 18, 2008 04:31 AM

I know this is a late posting since all this was happening way earlier this year. I am just shocked when I am hearing about all this.

I used Homecoming Adoptions and had quite a few delays and finally got my twins in January 08. I was so busy after I got them that I haven't even been on this website since then.

When I was picking up my twins, Teo told me that there were problems with HCA collecting the money and not paying them. I had just been on such a rollercoaster for over a year that I didn't even know what to do about it all and then got so busy with the twins that I didn't do anything.

Things are finally settling down and I was reading all this and I'm so shocked and sad to hear this.

I just wanted to post so that if anyone had any questions for me, I could try to help. I also wondered if this will mean any problems for me since I used Homecomings. Does anyone know?

Posted by: Tracy at November 8, 2008 10:30 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?