August 31, 2009

Hunger Strike

Tomorrow a hunger strike is being launched in the US with participants around the globe in honor of the Guatemalan cases. It is being organized by some folks who have contributed to this site for some time. Before anyone comments, I want to point out part of the e-mail that was sent to me from one of the organizers on why - "Because we value and celebrate adoption done in ethical and moral practice". No matter how it is done, it is important that the community of adoptive parents make it 100% clear that we value and celebrate adoption in that manner.

Here is the site:

Posted by Kevin at August 31, 2009 04:17 PM

Thank you for posting this information. It is important for us to recognize the advocacy work which is underway on behalf of all, including the women who allege kidnapping. This posting reminds me of how Guatadopt is a source of many viewpoints on Guatemalan adoptions. Even those viewpoints which make people uncomfortable...

Posted by: karenms1 at August 31, 2009 11:13 PM

When I saw the strike was being formed I thought "oh what a great show of solidarity for these mothers whose children have been taken from them", then I went to the site and read some of the con-adoption articles and realized it was really just another attempt to make adoptive parents out to be negligent, selfish criminals. Why are adoptive parents such targets of hatred these days? Some of the comments on the articles on the site called APs "infertile baby stealers". Guess what! The mother of my child decided to give her up for adoption because she was born out of wedlock. This has been confirmed by sources other than the lawyer/agency. Should I feel guilty because I wanted the child she did not want to care for? The hate mongering against APs has got to stop. When countries (including the US) have a better system for children who are left in the streets to die by the very parent(s)who gave birth to them then talk to me about alternatives to adoption. Until then, be thankful that there are people with unselfish loving hearts to care for those children. And before you lamblast me about corruption, I realize it exists as well, but in trying to abolish international adoption you are literally and figuratively throwing the baby out with the bath water. Thanks for letting me vent.

Posted by: jpor at September 1, 2009 02:42 PM

"Because we value and celebrate adoption done in ethical and moral practice".

AMEN to that!!!


Posted by: Lisa at September 1, 2009 03:44 PM

Thanks to the strike organizers for their effort and the opportunity to show solidarity with the mothers in Guatemala (and anywhere, for that matter, where illegal child abductions have occurred.)

jpor, where on their website did you find these comments? I could find no comment pages at all -- unless perhaps attached to the news article links.

Posted by: Elizabeth S. at September 1, 2009 08:06 PM

I think this website has finally gone off the deep end. Some of the folks behind this protest care more about shutting down international adoption than any child that may have been kidnapped. It doesn't take much digging to find the REAL agenda.

So much for supporting ethical, legal adoption.

Adios, guatadopt!

I will miss many of the good people here.


Posted by: Lo at September 1, 2009 10:49 PM

I applaud the women and families for thier dedication to this--however, I can't help to think how this attention will affect the many children and families who have had thier adoptions handled in an ethical manner-or the effect on the children left behind in GT.

Before someone answers-that the effect will be ethically handled adoptions, what about children waiting for additional years for a family becuase of this type of attention? Who's case is handeled by an ethical attorney anyway?

Where is the hunger strike for these waiting familes?

And before someone says that it is the corruption to blame, not actions like this-I wonder is this is compouning the problem? How much corruption is eliminated because of this--what is the goal?

And before someone says process speed should not be an issue--what about the attachment issues that will be more ingrained with the many childewn who are still waiting? I have heard the conversations about the stolen children and the effect on them to be returned etc...But this psychological issue will be present to some degree in the hundreds of children waiting.

I often wonder-is it morally okay to do things such as this that affect some-and give the message out that all adoptions are corrupt from Gt and have this stigma attached for our children down the line? I don't know the answer to this.

Posted by: Kathy at September 2, 2009 06:23 AM

". . . even those viewpoints which make people uncomfortable..."

This is a frequent refrain from those who are the most strident in their assertions of extensive corruption within Guatemalan adoption. I would like to note that the "viewpoint" that corruption is widespread and systemic does not make me "uncomfortable," as I am secure in my own views on this issue (like the hunger strikers, I have advocated, at the highest levels of both the U.S. and the Guatemalan governments, for systemic reform that would directly address the lack of transparency at the point of relinquishment and the exploitation of powerless mothers). But I certainly am turned off by the stridency with which this "viewpoint" is sometimes asserted.

Professionally, I am an advocate - I practice law. I have learned through experience (and social science backs this up) that the most persuasive form of advocacy is to tell the story in such a way that the listener/reader reaches the conclusion herself, without my having to say it. When the facts are on my side, this is easy to do. On the other hand, if I demand that the listener/reader agree with me and leave no room for her to arrive at her own conclusion, she will resist, even if I am right. (The comments above from jpor are a good illustration of this.)

A simple statement - "We are striking for two reasons. To show support for the victims of kidnapping and coercion, who are women and children at the margins and who do not have access to power. And to bring attention to a problem that cries out for systemic reform." - would suffice and would have more power. It is too easy for those who most need to hear the message to dismiss it when it is packaged in moral superiority.

Posted by: Chip at September 2, 2009 10:35 AM

This is crazy! What about all the children that are waiting to come home that dont have a family to love them! Lets to something about that. There are so many adoptions that were done correct. We should all be proud we have children from Guatemala!! This site use to be so imformative now it is just getting beyond crazy!!!

Posted by: Lesley at September 2, 2009 11:30 AM

Is it morally ok to let corruption thrive and kidnapped children away from their parents?

Should we keep silent about women abused by their husbands because it puts a bad name on marriage?

Posted by: Mariale at September 2, 2009 11:36 AM

I would gladly go on a 3 day hunger strike for ethical adoptions. However, this particular hunger strike has way more of an agenda than "ethical adoptions." I feel that if I signed up for this, my participation would be used as leverage for things that I do not agree with. Amen to jpor. I'm tired of being made out to be some immoral corrupt person because I adopted.

I think the goal is to eliminate all corruption. However, if we refuse to do anything because whatever we do may partially cause or be associated with corruption, then nothing will get done.

Posted by: anonymous at September 2, 2009 12:28 PM

Elizabeth, as I mentioned the comments were on the articles listed on the site. Many of the articles listed on the site had negative stances against international adoption and many of the people who posted comments after the articles were rabid anti-international adoption supporters that supported these articles. I agree with Lo, it doesn't take much to see what the real agenda is.

Posted by: JPOR at September 2, 2009 03:29 PM


Thank you very much for your post. I think a critical part of "telling the story" is to provide evidence. I keep asking for the evidence to support this the "wide spread" theory and no one has provided evidence to prove this.

When people say that kidnapping was "wide spread" to me that would mean that a very high percentage of the children adopted were kidnapped. Assuming for the sake of argument that you could prove that there were a few hundred kidnappings (note: to my knowledge no one has proven that there are a few hundred), that would still not support the theory of "wide spread" kidnappings. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think around 25,000 Guatemalan children have been adopted by US PAPs.

Now I also want to say, that if even one kidnapping occurs, whatever adoption system is in place should be changed to prevent criminals from exploiting that weakness in the system. So don't accuse me of being immoral just because I don't accept the "wide spread" theory.

Posted by: Cheryl at September 2, 2009 05:51 PM

The Guatemalan Mothers, whose children were taken from them without their consent, have my full support. No child should be stolen from their mother, no matter who they are or where they come from or how much money they have. God gave them their children, and they were not relinquished.

If my child were stolen from me, I would fight to the end to find them. I admire their courage.

Posted by: ARS at September 2, 2009 06:19 PM

Like my wife(Lo) I will no longer be comeing to guatadopt. I am so tired of certain people with agendas trying to make AP's feel bad about adopting from Guatemala. I do not now or will I ever feel guilty about my son's ethical and above board adoption.
Like my wife said it doesn't take much digging to see what the real reason for this Hunger Strike is. What about all those children who were taken from Primavera and CQ for no good reason, what is to become of them? What about the birthmothers of thiose children who wanted them to be adopted? Their children were kidnapped too, by everyone involved in those raids, where is their hunger strike?
To all those involved in the Primavera raid:
I know all the adoptions from Primavera were ethical and legal and the way those children were taken is outrages. We keep hearing about ethics from those with an agenda, where were the ethics in that raid. If you really cared about the children and ethics you would be having a hunger strike for them as well.
I do not believe for a minute that corruption and kidnapping is as bad as some here make it out to be. There is corruption in adoption and kidnapping everywhere in the world. Anyway I need to stop before i say something i regret. As my wife said adios, Guatadopt.

Posted by: Scott at September 2, 2009 06:29 PM

Very well said Chip!

Posted by: Janie at September 2, 2009 06:41 PM

If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

In other words, this hunger strike will not be noticed by people outside of the adoption community and will have no impact on anything whatsoever.

I also question who this strike is really for. It's sort of a joke for well-fed, wealthy folks to try and make a point by 'fasting'. This is evidenced by the number of things you can choose to do to meet the criteria of 'fasting'(ie abstaining from television or not eating sugar).

If you sign up your name will be used for all of perpetuity to inflate the number people who did this alleged 'hunger strike'.


Posted by: ellie at September 2, 2009 06:53 PM

I don't get it. Folks are leaving GuatAdopt for posting a link to this hunger strike that was organized by non-GuatAdopt people -- including two adoptive parents of Guatemalan children and two (I think) women of Guatemalan descent.??? Isn't this THE place to post news and information about Guatemala adoptions? Do we want the list owners to censor what information they chose to expose us to? At least we have the chance to be informed. And folks are leaving because the strike site had links to adoption corruption news articles that we could find anywhere (and have probably already read) -- that have some offensive comments from posters all around the world wide web!?! I'd guess that the person who used the phrase "infertile baby stealers" is either an adult adoptee or a woman who lost her child to adoption -- maybe even via coercion.

That kind of outrage, or rage can only sully your emotional register if you allow it to. Those are anonymous voices on the internet. They're not people with whom you interact -- they were not even participating in a conversation with you. Now granted, I also don't like to read angry offensive words and I try to stay away from those sites. But it's not always possible and we do have a link to that anger -- the link is through adoption. Adoption is NOT a fairy tale.

If my daughter grows up to be enraged or outraged -- if she goes through one of the not-so-uncommon angry periods, I'll be there to support her. And I will understand that the very source of her anger is very likely the pain of loss.

I CAN support the women who have organized the strike, I CAN support the women who have had their children stolen, and I CAN support my daughter throughout her experiences as an adoptee -- and it does not detract one iota from me as a person, or as her mother.

I think it's important for adoptive parents to read and try to understand this sort of outrage -- without resorting to castigating the speakers -- because their experiences are valid and, if you have patience to wade through the pain, there are things to learn.

On second thought, I wonder what exactly is causing the outrage. The tone? The insults in the news articles? The link at GuatAdopt? The strike itself? My outrage involves the fact that I was an unwitting participant in this system that has injured, and will continue to injure too many people.

Sometimes, and this is a general observation, I think adoptive parents can become so protective of and sensitive about their families that the difficult voices or topics become an anathema.

Nothing is going to make this go away. This topic will continue with or without our participation, and it will continue until our children are well into adulthood. That's a fact.

Elizabeth S. (reunited adoptee whose first mother had NO choice).

Posted by: Elizabeth S. at September 2, 2009 08:48 PM

Everyone reads here by choice. It’s always sad when folks leave but that’s their right.

I am seeing a sad phenomena happening. There is the most heinous of issues before us, the thought of Guatemalan kids being kidnapped for adoption. How we deal with that as it hits us in the face is creating a wrongful divide. It is in some ways becoming an environment where no matter what someone is actually trying to convey, it’s impossible to convey a position of being an adoption advocate and beyond outrage about the stories before us. If someone states something in support of Guatemalan adoptions overall, it’s as if they can’t communicate that they are not minimizing the crimes. If someone expresses outrage, it’s as if they don’t realize that tens of thousands of children have found homes through adoption from Guatemala.

I didn’t read every link on the hunger strike site. Had I read them, I’m sure I would have read some stuff that I considered naïve, intolerant, belligerent and wrong. So what?

In my role at Guatadopt, am I not supposed to post anything that I may not fully agree with? If you study media, there is something called the “agenda setting function”. That which gets covered is what the public becomes aware of.

If I am made aware of this hunger strike, should I “bury” the story? It’s being sponsored by one person who, because she read a Prensa Libre story on Guatadopt, realized there was someone looking for the child she had in-process. What if we had buried that story? You have another organizer who, whether you like her style or not, undoubtedly stood up against corruption to do the right thing in ensuring she was adopting a child in need of a family. And then the other sponsors who, whether or not I agree with them on everything, have provided care for countless children over the years who were the victims of the way the system became commercialized.

Do I support the fast? Yes and no. First off, I always support grassroots activism. Our world needs more of it. Even when I don’t agree, let’s say the organized effort to derail healthcare reform at these town hall meetings, I appreciate what they are doing. Because people need to give a sh*t about things and do SOMETHING about them. Children being kidnapped…. It doesn’t matter what follows, I need go no further in description to say I support any action aimed against it.

Do I think that some, often for excellent reason, have become tainted to miss the good side of adoption? I do. Do I think that an effort to attract APs to a movement to fight against unethical activities in adoption could do a better job in how it positions its communications, paints a picture of ICA, and does outreach to its target? Hell yes. Am I fasting? No. I’ve never even made it through a whole Yom Kippur. Of course, I haven’t had much sin to atone for. Maybe now I do.

I believe that 99% of everyone who participates here is a good soul. You’ve always got the occasional shmuck. I think our differences are more semantics than spiritual or moral. And they are put on emotional overdrive because of the nature of it. Rather than a dividing force, I wish that was one to show testament to our family devotion and sacredness we find in it. Never should we be made to feel, intentionally or internally, shame for our families. That would be a crime against our children in itself.

Power to the peaceful,


Posted by: Kevin at September 2, 2009 09:43 PM

I posted this comment under the previous post of 'DNA a Match'. I meant to post it here:

As a seasoned parent of 5 adopted children, and as one who totally stand behind this international event to stand with these mothers who lost their children due to alleged deception or coercion, I just hope that this event will stay focused on what DID happen, and not on those who bravely ask the tough questions of accountability. The children are the true victims in these alleged cases of corruption. The ones who are NOT victims are those who made the choice to participate. And, it matters not what level of knowledge those involved did have at any given point in the process. Everyone processing adoptions had a moral responsibility, and anyone who handled funds had a fiduciary responsibility to know the origin of the children. After all, it was them, (the agency or attorney hired by families), who chose the in-country contacts to conduct the business of adoption with.

Also, let's not forget the US system who did not, and does not hold those who process cases with adoption services, accountable for their actions. That seems to have been left to private litigation now. There is a huge gap between state regulations and federal laws that do not cover the offering of a child for the purpose of adoption who is not a true orphan. The child trafficking laws in the US vaguely cover sexual exportation and slavery, (as best I can tell from what I have read). So who are agencies accountable to when the referral is made of a child who's parent did not make a permanent adoption plan? Who is protecting the children, and who is protecting the families? All states are different, and some have very strong regulations when it comes to agency standards, while others clearly do not. Do we really want a once a year visit over a cup of coffee with nice music playing in the background, and neat looking files to set the standards for agency licensing?

I have called for strong federal laws that clearly state what is expected with regard to the way agencies handle receiving referrals and offering referrals to families, in order to protect the children in sending countries, and the families placing faith in the US system. I have not received the answers to these strong questions asked of the DOS. If Federal laws blanketed the US then every agency in every state would follow the same rules and regulations. That would be a starting point to protect families, and children. The corruption would be limited to the sending countries, and therefore much easier to track and document. This type of thing should never even come into question with a reputable US agency or attorney involved in international adoptions. It seems, that In Guatemala, (and other countries) some have worked undetected and in full cooperation of each other, and government offices, (in my humble opinion), to see cases through, that should have never been cases at all. Anyone who thinks the US Embassy is not aware of this, is kidding themselves, in my opinion. Some have done this for financial gain, and others, in a mode of self-justification that the children are better off leaving the poverty of Guatemala. Either way, corruption could not happen without all entities well aware of the possibility of cases being 'less then sound'. Clearly, there were stop-gaps in place that were ignored by everyone!

The COA and Hague regulations are at least a step in the right direction, but not all countries are Hague countries, and the concerns for continued corrupt practices are great. It is my opinion that direct language is needed in strong federal laws to govern the actions of those who handle the futures of children with no voice or choice in any sending country!

So to those who choose to see an event like this as compounding the problem! I am amazed! You should look to those who made decisions to walk the paths of corruption in adoptions! THEY are the ones who you should blame for compounding the problem! AP's and PAP's who are simply asking for accountability with in our own government are not to blame! Let me make it simple for you... if I speed in a school zone, I am going to get a ticket and will be held accountable for my choice to drive fast where I should have known not to, I will face action for my choice. But, as our federal and some state laws stand now, an agency can offer a family (who has in good faith paid them for adoption services), the referral of a child who is not an orphan, and face basically nothing more than a letter telling them to 'check better next time'! Again, I will say, this has got to stop! This must change. It is not rocket science! These are CHILDREN! There are many steps in the adoption process that would raise question to the origin of a child, yet in my own case, no one! not the attorney, facilitator,agency,DNA-lab, or the US Embassy,.... seemed know anything was wrong in my opinion, until after I was offered and accepted the referral, had fallen deeply in love with the child, and had US approval of the adoption! and that took several months! wow! how many idiots does it take to screw in a light bulb! I am guessing that about 15 people, possibly even more were involved in my case, and touched or read a document for my case, from the time I accepted the referral to the time I lost it, and no one saw a problem??! We NEED federal legislation to govern the US agencies. If that had been in place, we might not even be talking about a case like this. I am glad for a forum such as, to stay informed and be aware of what has and will happen for Guat. adoptions!

The human pain associated with corruption in adoptions is great, and it is so sad that people need laws to make sure they don't do this the wrong way. There are enough true orphans in the world that really do need families, for this sort of thing to keep happening!


Posted by: Elizabeth at September 2, 2009 10:30 PM

My hat is off to you! I am SO glad you did not bury the story from the Prensa Libra! If you had, Maria Fernanda and Ana Cristina would NOT be back with their mother today. I firmly believe that! Thank you for all the stories you post on this forum, with out a forum like this...we might ALL have our heads in the sand. I crave true and accurate information, and I am glad I can come here and find it!

Opinions,... well, you know what they say on those,... like something else, evey body has one!
I do value the opinions of some who post on here, and others seem to refuse info on any level. But, The fact remains that THIS is the ONLY place I can come and read what is happening! Please keep your work here going! It is important to all of our children.

Elizabeth Emanuel

Posted by: Elizabeth at September 3, 2009 09:11 AM


I think your post has clearly demonstrated what Kevin had earlier outlined with this very astute observation:

"I am seeing a sad phenomena happening. There is the most heinous of issues before us, the thought of Guatemalan kids being kidnapped for adoption. How we deal with that as it hits us in the face is creating a wrongful divide. It is in some ways becoming an environment where no matter what someone is actually trying to convey, it’s impossible to convey a position of being an adoption advocate and beyond outrage about the stories before us. If someone states something in support of Guatemalan adoptions overall, it’s as if they can’t communicate that they are not minimizing the crimes. If someone expresses outrage, it’s as if they don’t realize that tens of thousands of children have found homes through adoption from Guatemala."


To imply that APs who are frustrated by outrageously sensationalized reports of international adoption, or indeed those who do not support this 'hunger strike', do not want accountability is absolutely divisive. As Kevin said, the 'middle ground' appears to be diminishing. It appears that one needs to either engage in wholesale bashing of international adoption, or else one is an ignoramus who does not understand the serious flaws in the system. This type of thinking creates divisions and instead of forming an army of united adopted parents, it tends to force people with a range of opinions on the subject into tightly defined corners. And then, they strike out at each other.

Personally, although I think the hunger strike is a joke, I too am glad Kevin posted the news and link. This type of balanced reporting is what keeps me coming back to this site and also how it maintains its integrity.

Posted by: Ellie at September 3, 2009 03:50 PM


Please allow me to apologize if my post came across that way. It was not meant to. I, in no way, meant to seem divisive, or want to see a divide between any of the Guat. Ap's. But you are not aware of the retaliation and criticism that I, and others, have faced for seeking the truth in our cases. I agree with you that there should be an army of people demanding responsible accountability. Where are they? I am sorry you think this strike is a joke, but it seems to have been successful in keeping the issues at hand at the forefront. My reasons for participating is simple, I want to see corruption stop, and I want answers as to how it ever happened in the first place. There are officials in state and federal offices who are well aware of the details of my difficulties, yet I have faced the royal pass off game. This is not a game to me, as I said, they are very real children that I love and care for.

I also, don't think we should strike at each other. Perhaps, I did not convey that very well in my post. I think we should get the answers we have asked for from those who oversee this complicated process. I think we should recognize the fact that stronger laws are needed to protect everyone, and we should all ask our legislatures to help us get them. At this time, it seems the interests within state and federal offices is minuscule.

Ellie, I had the chance to speak in person to several people in the Department of State last spring,... higher level people. They were all aware of very important information, yet none of them offered any explanation for the lack of accountability in the US. They all seemed to agree that the current system needs reform, even beyond the regs. of the COA. Yet none of them knew when, how, or who would spearhead those changes. Parents and children deserve better than that. I don't know of anyone asking for accountability who wants to make the 'problem' worse. I know for me, I just want to see others avoid the pain my family lived through, and I do not want to see any more children go through what the little ones I love in Guat. have endured. This does not have to keep happening, no matter what country a child is coming from.


Posted by: Elizabeth at September 3, 2009 06:56 PM

Elizabeth discussed the problems of different state laws and the lack of strong federal laws. Amen to that. I could go on a hunger strike for that.

I can believe that there are "wide spread" weaknesses in the adoption processes in both the US and Guatemala. Matter of fact, I said on 8/24/2009 on the More on Primavera thread that in my opinion neither the US or Guatemala care very much about this.

However, agreeing that there are "wide spread" weaknesses in the laws/processes is not the same and does not automatically mean that a large percentage of the children adopted from Guatemala were kidnapped.

Ha ha ha, probably every one here hates me becuase I'm not entirely in any one's camp.

Best, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at September 3, 2009 07:51 PM

I rarely post my thoughts in public forums, but since I'm the author of one of the articles posted on the Hunger Strike website, I'd like to share my thoughts. In general, I think that the internet and blogs like Guatadopt have opened up our public discourse about a host of important topics. I love that a group of people who are passionate about gardening or health care reform or adoption can meet and mix it up online.
However, I also feel that the anonymous nature of online discussions has broken down some important common sense notions of basic respect and tolerance. Being able to blast someone from the privacy of your living room might feel good when you're typing, but there is always a real live person on the other end who absorbs what you say.
It took me six months to write "Did I Steal My Daughter?" and I'd guess that I cried almost every day. Most of the emotions came from the fact that the reporting brought up things that were unsettling for me to think about as they pertained to my daughter, my family, and my life as an adoptive mother. But if I were to be completely honest, I'd also say that I was extremely anxious about how people would respond to my story. Why? Because I love my fellow adoptive parents and feel that they are, in a very profound way, my "people." Who else, after all, shares the profound experience of loving--talk about an inadequate word!--children who weren't born to you.
But I also feel an intense kinship with the adult adoptees and other experts who shared their perspectives with me. Being a journalist allowed me to wear a different hat than just that of adoptive mother. And while the last thing I wanted to do was write an article that would make adoptive parents feel bad, I also had to answer to my own professional and private ethics. Ethics that I expect no one else to share, but would hope would be respected as the result of earnest soul searching.
So what does this have to do with this current discussion? I hope that everyone reacting to the actions of the hunger strikers can remember that despite our different opinions and perspectives, we are united in that we each care passionately about the issues in front of us.
I hope that we can share our opinions online with the same grace and courtesy we would use if we were having a spirited face-to-face conversation. Even better, I'd love to have the public space to not only have opinions, but also room for questions. The issues before us are, to my way of thinking, enormously complex and I'd like to be able to freely admit confusion and/or any other messy emotion that I may struggle to articulate.


Elizabeth Larsen

Posted by: Elizabeth Larsen at September 4, 2009 12:27 AM

Familes who have experienced corruption in thier adoptions have my prayers and best wishes for a legal outcome.

This topic of widespead corruption though is also a matter of perception-

If the only exposure that I had to adoption was negative and corrupt-I would believe that this is a reality for most cases.

But my experience was not this-so my perception of things are very different.

Perception is not fact based-it is true to the individual life circumstances.

Now-regarding the 3 kidnappings webpage-I agree with Chip.
To have a webpage that has a definate negative slant on adoption has lost me.

It could have been written postively to celebrtate legal adoptions as intended, but it misses the mark, by including corruption as a whole and widespread. To include al-jazeera shows me the desperation of getting support for the claims of "widespead".

Legal, ethically handled adoptions are widepread in Guatemala, and if this was the tone of the article, and cases such as this the tragic exception, I would have joined the hunger strike to support the 3 children & families.

The way that this webpage compounds the problem, is that it is in agreement with anti-adoption groups, and though this is not the intent,it has the possibilty of being used as fodder.

It also implies that nothing is being done to address any "widespread"inconsistancies-which is far from the truth, as we all know from Hague, CNA, and the closing of the program, and additonal scrutiny on cases in process.

Besides working a solution of the 3 stolen children-what else is expected from the GT government to handle this corruption? Will it ever be enough? There will always be some individuals in any circumstance that will try to beat the system--and they should be accountable as individuals, and not have the entire Guatemalan adoption program thrown into it to support the claim of widespread corruption.

It hurts too many innocent children familes, and at this rate-the corruption discussion will be never-ending.

Posted by: Kathy at September 4, 2009 07:46 AM

Elizabeth, thank you for your most recent comments. It is helpful to understand where you are coming from and to hear you explain it in a way that doesn't attack or villify APs or adoption.
I think a major problem is the lack of interest in children and family issues in the US among policy makers in general. I work in the area of child development and child /family policy. It is a constant struggle to get policy made on ANY child /family issue. For example, for decades we have known about the horrible effects of poverty on children. Yet, policy tends to tweak things around the edges, rather than fix the systemic problems underlying poverty. Why don't all children in US have access to health care, to quality child care, to quality education? Why does the US have a high infant mortality rate, compared to other industrialized nations? I could go on and on. The short story is, children and families are not a priority in the US, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary. If there's not a lot of interest in children /families in general, it's all the more difficult to draw policy makers' attention to the smaller numbers of children /families affected by international adoption.
I'm not saying we shouldn't try (trying to affect policy for children/ families is my life's work). I just think that it's not surprising that there is so little interest in fixing the problems associated with IA.

Posted by: sjbj at September 4, 2009 10:55 AM


I totally agree with what you said in your post on September 3, 2009. I feel very badly for all of the APs and PAPs that found out that their children were adopted in an illegal/corrupt way. And, yes, we should try to put a stop to this, or at least, drive the incidence to as close to zero percent as possible.

Personally, I think that most APs and PAPs feel this way. I haven't seen anyone post in a long time that no changes are needed. It seems to me that the divide is no longer about change vs no change. I think the divides are:
1) what extent should the system have been changed
2) whether a high percentage of our children were kidnapped,
3) whether APs should submit their children to a DNA test when a woman in Guatemala sees their picture and thinks the child is their biological child
4) whether APs should always send the child back if it turns out the child is the biological child of the woman.

I think it is wrong to attack APs who have tried to monitor their adoptions and found illegalities.

I feel I get attacked because I don't clearly fall into any one's camp, and because there are so many hurt feelings on both sides that people don't really hear what I say. They react on the basis of their hurt feelings.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at September 4, 2009 12:10 PM

I just went to the strike website and it really is amazing how much support they received--including protesters in France and other places. Obviously this advocacy work has received different reactions and responses on this site, but we need to remember that there are so many sides of intercountry adoption and to respect the diversity of opinions on how to move forward in the face of such serious allegations about adoption fraud/kidnapping is not to accept that you, as a parent, are to be attacked for your own decision to adopt. Attacking people on an interpersonal level is just the sort of digression that takes us away from important conversations about reform and how to ultimately re-open Guatemala under controls that safeguard everyone's rights.

Posted by: karenms1 at September 4, 2009 01:36 PM

Elizabeth Larsen,

Thank you for your eloquent, and passionate post~

Elizabeth Emanuel

Posted by: Elizabeth at September 4, 2009 09:38 PM

I want to publicly thank anyone who participated in the fast and hunger strike for the three stolen girls from Guatemala. Although the support from the adoptive parent community was not what we had hoped (Guatemalan adoptive parents in particular), we had a brave and vocal minority who rose above any personal issues to add their voice for justice for these three women.

We found most of our support came from the human rights communities, church groups, NGO's working in Guatemala, adoptees and women who have lost their children to adoption. I hope someday the powerful collective voice of the adoptive parent community will be heard, as I believe the potential positive impact of such a voice would be immeasurable to Guatemalans in general. By doing so, we collectively say that we are not people who come and recklessly "buy" their children and leave en masse the minute children are not "available" (as we are wrongly so often perceived). I hope one day we can all help dispel this myth that perpetuates in the wake of the adoption rush. Of course, by silence and inaction we send nothing but a negative message, further proving this myth that many Guatemalans hold about adoptive parents.

It was really inspiring this morning to wake up to photos of supporters in Paris (please look at the site) and I promptly sent the photos to Norma Cruz as I know this will mean so much to the three mothers, who are currently in and out of hiding due to threats.These photos alone may have made the strike worth it (to me personally) just to imagine the smiles of Raquel, Loyda and Olga.

This strike, as some here have labeled a "joke" (or a tree falling in the forest that won't be heard), was an act of love --- a bridge of support from around the world, telling these women they are not alone, and others care about their struggle for justice. Despite being a waiting parent myself, and finding outright distress and dismay at how adoptions are (not) being processed right now and the numbers of children in limbo, I believe it is possible to separate our own personal adoption narrative from the injustices wrought against these women.

In closing, I want to reiterate what was written in bold on the site, because it is very distressing to me to be labeled "anti-adoption" as an adoptive parent: Because we value and celebrate adoption done in ethical and moral practice, we call a strike to voice opposition to those that tarnish and ultimately destroy legitimate adoption practice, rendering legitimate orphans homeless, and profitizing a once humanitarian endeavor.

Thank you,
Jennifer Hemsley

Posted by: Jennifer Hemsley at September 4, 2009 09:40 PM

To be clear, I was the one who called the hunger strike a joke, and I also explained why I thought it was so. That reason had absolutely nothing to do with the underlying cause of the 'hunger strike'.

I suggest that if you were surprised or disappointed with the participation level by the parents of Guatemalan adoptees, you give some serious consideration to some of the posts here.

The fact that someone does not agree with your particular methodology does not mean that they are either silent or inactive.

Elizabeth E.-thank you for your reponse.

Posted by: Ellie at September 4, 2009 11:07 PM

Although the support from the adoptive parent community was not what we had hoped (Guatemalan adoptive parents in particular)
well...i for one didn't "support" the strike because i didn't feel that the purpose was to celebrate ethical adoptions or do away with corrupt ones. i felt like by supporting the strike i supported the annulment of these 3 adoptions and the return of these children to guatemala. and honestly, at this time, i am not sure if i do or not.

what i am certain about is my "lack of commitment" to not eat for 3 days, in no way means i do not whole heartedly wish for ethical legal adoptions, the abolishment of abductions and child trafficking, or that my heart does not go out to any suffering parent who has lost a child.

Posted by: mommy at September 5, 2009 12:20 AM

Than you Jennifer, for this act of love, and bridge between us all. A kind, humanitarian act showing support for justice, calling attention to the need for reform, and standing in agreement with ethical adoptions. A courageous effort on a global scale.
Well done my friend,

Elizabeth Emanuel

Posted by: Elizabeth at September 5, 2009 09:13 AM

I DO support ethical adoptions, and I did NOT sign up for the hunger strike...and please do not confuse my lack of participation with apathy for an extremely just cause. I simply do not care for the tone or agenda of some of the people involved in the hunger strike. Period. Perhaps a change in the presentation would garner more support.

Also, there are a number of APs and PAPs, who do not care for their names to be publicly known, who fight or have fought against the corruption in their adoptions. You just don't know who we are, so please stop condescending and implying that there is a lack of support by the adoption community because you have NO idea what others do behind the scenes. Not everyone wants to be public and put their names out there for all to see.

Once again, the real issue, the alleged kidnappings, are overshadowed by the accusatory nature of the posts of some of those who are supposedly working for these women.

Wouldn't it have been better Jennifer to simply say your hunger strike was a success, rather than point the finger at the adoption community for what you perceive as a lack of their support? Just what do you think you accomplish?

Posted by: Dee at September 5, 2009 12:07 PM

With all due respect, just b/c people did not choose to participate in the hunger strike, it does not mean that the adoptive parents community is silent or inactive. In my experience, I have found that most APs have NOT forgotten the people of Guatemala and choose to continue to support the people there - through student sponsorships & other contributions to charities, to volunteer work, to writing representatives to push the passage of a transparent, workable adoption system. I applaud you and others for taking action for a cause that you believe it. Perhaps if you did not get the involvement from APs that you wanted, you should take some time to hear from APs who did not participate. Personally, I did not take part in the hunger stike b/c I felt the focus was not on establishing a legal, transparent & ethical adoption process in GT. I feel at this point, that is what is most important to me so that children who need families do not languish in orphanages or die in the streets.

Posted by: A's Mom at September 5, 2009 02:54 PM

karenms1 wrote: . . . to respect the diversity of opinions on how to move forward in the face of such serious allegations about adoption fraud/kidnapping is not to accept that you, as a parent, are to be attacked for your own decision to adopt. Attacking people on an interpersonal level is just the sort of digression that takes us away from important conversations about reform and how to ultimately re-open Guatemala under controls that safeguard everyone's rights.

My response: I don't see much "interpersonal attacking" going on in this particular thread. The "personal attack" mantra, it seems to me, appears with the same frequency as the "even if it makes some people uncomfortable" mantra. Disagreement does not necessarily equal discomfort or defensiveness. Sometimes, there is just disagreement. Sometimes, the person claiming to be attacked would be better served by considering whether there is something to be gained from the so-called "attacks," which might just be offered in the spirit of bridge-building.

What I see in this thread are posts in support of the strike and posts that question the tone by which the strike was presented by its organizers. I don't see anyone failing to support the victims of kidnappings. I don't see anyone claiming the kidnappings didn't happen.

I think Dee makes an excellent point - that one should not equate lack of participation in the strike with lack of effort to shine a light on corruption and to seek meaningful reform. She also spmphasizes something that I find compelling - adoption is personal and private and the decision to keep it that way is a very reasonable one. My daughter's story is hers to share, not mine. She is my daughter and I do not care to politicize adoption any further than it already is, for her sake.

Posted by: Chip at September 6, 2009 12:00 PM

There was one poster that emphasized the importance of allowing ourselves and others to explore uncomfortable feelings. I totally agree that this is important. However, I would like to see over 90 percent of our efforts go toward finding solutions instead of brow beating APs and PAPs.

I think Karenms posted about the importance of us pulling together so that we can find solutions and reopen adoptions in Guatemala. Karen, this implies that we as APs and PAPs have a say in how the process is implemented. Based on your knowledge, can we influence how this will be implemented?

Sorry if I haven’t quoted every one verbatim. It just takes too much work.

I like Elizabeth’s ideas about pushing for stronger federal laws. I suggest that we also consider the possibility that we won’t get stronger federal laws and come up with fall back positions that will still help us to accomplish our goal for having ethical adoptions. I would like us to brain storm about ideas. Here are some:
1) Guateadopt started a registry for people to rate their agencies. I think this is an excellent idea. It is a way of holding agencies accountable if the feds won’t help us.
2) Get a list of the states that have strong laws and provide that list to people.
3) When I was adopting, I was frustrated that I didn’t have the granularity of information that I needed to make good decisions. I could get some information on agencies, but the really important matter was which Guatemalan attorney handled your case. There was virtually no way to get any kind of information on the Guatemalan attorneys. Now I know the new system will be different and the attorneys won’t be handling the cases, but I’m providing this as an example of why it would be good to keep in mind what information people need to make good decisions.

Like I said, I’m brain storming. Brain storming is a creative process where we throw ideas out without analyzing them too much. After we have come up with a bunch of ideas, we go back and analyze them for how well they help us accomplish our goal.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Chip, Dee, Kathy, sjbj, mommy, A’s mom, and others, thanks for making the point that just because certain people haven’t supported the hunger strike doesn’t mean that we don’t all want ethical adoptions.

I especially want to emphasize Chip’s point that what sometimes is interpreted as an “attack” has actually been offered in the spirit of bridge-building.

Posted by: cheryl at September 8, 2009 12:30 PM

You ask about how APs may be involved in the reform process in Guatemala.... Well, I think that this time is so incredibly sensitive and frankly, I've never been so pessimistic about the future of Guatemalan adoptions. Fundamentally, the way these kidnapping cases work out in the public eye of Guatemala will be critical... These cases are quite a test of the Hague-era (even though they processed pre-Hague). So, we're all at a wait and see scenario and even if things work out in the most positive way possible from the average Guatemalan's perspective (won't open that debate as it is exhausting!), things will still be sensitive. For as many Guatemalans who applaud adoption as a solution to "orphans" there are equal numbers of Guatemalans who view the intercountry child adoption system as not trust worthy (for some very good reasons given kidnapping claims in their papers, the known system of birth mother payments, bribery for paperwork, etc.). Remember, Guatemalans are use to graft and corruption--it is a part of their daily lives. So, public opinion in Guatemala is now weighing in on this highly politicized issue (ICA in general) that has turned into a mad house that not even writers in Hollywood could have invented. The unscrupulous screwed up something that started out innocently....and its ending worse than I ever anticipated. So, until we KNOW what is happening with the remaining cases dragging out, the court case (kidnapping allegations) to nullify adoptions, is impossible to say what kind of input APs can have in the reform process. Of course, one way to be a part of reform is to be honest about the parts of the system in which there was fraud--Guatadopt has archives of this information online (i.e. PGN bribes) and as such this forum is a place for that sort of advocacy work. So, I don't think I've really adequately answered the question, but we know that true reform will only take place when all the concerned parties or stakeholers are at the table. I'm not so much worried about APs voices as I am about birth families as they have been absent from the input thus far. Understanding reform from their perspective is critically important.

Posted by: karenms1 at September 9, 2009 11:10 AM
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