December 23, 2009

Take a Look - Kidnapped Child

For starters, there are no new adoptions being started from Guatemala! So my posting this thread is only because "you never know" who might be researching ICA, trying to adopt from another Central American country, etc. As always, if somehow this site's reach can help right a wrong, we'll give it a go! It's a huge longshot, but why not try...

http://www.prensalibre.com/pl/2009/diciembre/23/364625.html

This little guy was snatched from his family in Jalapa. The CNA is concerned he could be sold for adoption (domestic or ICA in another country), prostitution, slavery, etc.

Posted by Kevin at 09:35 AM

June 22, 2009

Searching for PAP of J. Enrique

We're looking for the PAP(s) of a little guy named J. Enrique. We know where he is at and would love to get you in contact in the folks there. From what we hear, he's doing okay but having a hard time. So if anyone knows L.B., let her know to contact us.

Posted by Kevin at 09:34 PM

April 16, 2009

Data is back

We have recovered our lost data....uh, minus the message and comments from yesterday and today (sorry!).

Our forum will also be restored and we will also lose our recent posts of today and yesterday. You are not going insane....but we had to make a decision as to whether we lose a month or 2 days!

Sorry for the inconvenience!!!!

Posted by Kelly at 02:10 PM

April 02, 2009

A Note and Plea on the Missing Children...

The post just below this one touches on some of the sad aftermath of the problems that occurred in Guatemalan adoption. Guatadopt.com has always prided itself on being forthright and also offering some insight. We don't try to sugarcoat things, but we also try to give perspective.

I want to point out some things to those who visit the link posted with the information on these children. Don't get too worked up about any one detail and realize that it is entirely possible an agency could have adopted out a child that they did not know was kidnapped. I'm not defending anyone named in there, just pointing this out.

Secondly, while I am in no way trying to call anyone dishonest, there has been info provided in some of these reports that, based on my knowledge and experience in Guatemalan adoption, doesn’t add up. Don’t necessarily assume that everything is 100% as it really happened. Somehow, this issue of DNA tests being done and passed needs to be addressed – especially given that many of these adoptions would have occurred after second DNA tests were required.

With all of that said, what is 100% certain is that there are mothers in Guatemala desperately trying to locate their children. These women are victims and we need to try to imagine the unfathomable – what if one of your kids was abducted or removed from your family?

And then there is another side to imagine. These adoptions allegedly took place a long time ago. What would you do if you discovered one of your children’s birthmom claimed he/she had been abducted? There are huge debates that could occur (and have in different situations) over what is in the best interests of the child in this event. I am not offering up any opinion on that. But I am pretty sure I know what my opinion might be if it was my child impacted! Not defending, just being honest.

With all of this in mind, I offer a plea. If the adoptive parents of any of these kids or anyone that knows them comes to Guatadopt with information, we promise 100% confidentiality. You can contact me at kevin @ guatadopt.com (remove spaces). What we can offer is a way to provide the biological mothers of these kids solace in having a picture or update to know that the child is safe. We will not reveal your information (unless required by a court of course) . Obviously, if the authorities/organizations have copies of things like passports, they know where the child went. My understanding is that some sites have gone so far as to list that information publically. Guatadopt has far too much respect for everyone involved to do that. We can’t solve this issue. But what we can do is help in a safe way to show that the children are safe and loved as well as to help have the process done of verifying whether the adopted children are even the same ones who are missing.

These are very difficult situations so I ask everyone to be as human and empathetic as possible.


Posted by Kevin at 12:45 PM

PHOTOS OF MISSING CHILDREN

A New site has been set up to post photos of missing Guatemalan children. Please take a moment to take a look. Please note that this new site is not affliated with Guatadopt.com:

http://www.adoptionwatch.typepad.com/

Posted by Marie at 05:02 AM

March 31, 2009

Alert: Requests for Passport/COC - suspicious!!!

Dear Families,

It has come to our attention that some families with children who have already been in the US for well over a year are being told by their attorneys that the CNA needs to "reveiw their case" and to submit a photocopy of their child's US Cerificate of Citizenship or their families US Passports to present to the CNA.

We are in communication with our sources and with the CNA. They have denied that any such requests have been made by them. It is a highly unusual request for children who are back in the US and it is not relavent to verification of adoption.

Please be advised that the US Certificate of Citizenship SHOULD NOT be photocopied. Furthermore, we (Guatadopt) are a little concerned about the intent for these photocopied documents.

We will post any further developments.

The Guat Team

Posted by Marie at 10:19 AM

September 25, 2008

CASE SUPPORT DOWN

Folks - It appears that something is wrong with the Case Support form. We have not been receiving these forms. We've also had reports that the auto replies states that we are sharing the information with officials. We are NOT sharing your information with anyone. This was meant for a different form and it must have defaulted to that form somehow. PLease be assured that we have no intention of sharing your information.

For now hold off on sending it through that form until I have time to see what is going on. If it is an emergency, use the http://www.guatadopt.com/MailMe.php form and just select General Info.

Thanks!

Kelly

Posted by Kelly at 09:09 AM

September 10, 2008

Its Official - Adoptions are NOT opening this year

Regardless of some agencies pumping new clients with hope of starting a Guatemala adoption... its not happening this year. International Adoptions from Guatemala will NOT be open any time this year reports the National Council on Adoption. In summary, the CNA says that they have 158 Guatemalan families waiting to adopt and only 70 children that are adoptable (ie: have been cleared by their system).

What has been verified: Agencies do not have a right to give referrals post Dec. 31st. There are no exceptions.

Brakes Put on International Adoptions

Link: http://www.sigloxxi.com/noticias/23028

The National Council for Adoptions (CNA) suspended the delivery of children to foreign families during the remainder of 2008. The previous decision was made because there are many Guatemalans who are applying to host at home to an infant.
The measure was circulated by the president of the ANC, Elizabeth Hernandez, the secretary general of the Hague Conference on International Law, Hans Van Loon.
According to the records of the ANC, 158 applications have been received by Guatemalan families, but it is currently only 70 children are adoptable, for which it will prioritize nationals rather than foreigners.
Rudy Zepeda, spokesman for the unit, reinforced the plea and said: "In compliance with the spirit of the new law on adoptions will be sought that children who are declared adoptable be delivered to Guatemalan families rather than another country."

More reasons
Another reason for the suspension, said the Council is the need to conclude the cases of transition by changing legislation, which means cleaning the system of bad practices and strengthen adoptions locally.
According to Jaime Tecu, coordinator of the area's legal CNA, if it is not possible to find a family at the national level, is considered the options, doing the steps indicates the Act.
For foreign families, he explained, can be given two other options: surrender in making those children who exceed 8 years old, or in cases where the infant is suffering from any physical disability. In both, you must first exhausted the possibility of a Guatemalan family.
From last January, when the agency began its functions, to date, have been approved 20 adoptions couples Chapin.
According to official data, in 2007 were given up for adoption to foreign families about 5 thousand 100 children, 5% more than in 2006, when they joined 4 thousand 837. 95% of these children has been adopted by American families.


Qoute:
"In compliance with the spirit of the Adoptions Act it will be sought that children declared adoptable be delivered to Guatemalan families rather than another country. "
Rudy Zepeda

-------------------------------------------------
Commentary:
Some very good questions about the above release were posed in the comments along the lines of "How can they say there are only 70 children adoptable when orphanages are overcrowded?" OK, first lets make it clear that this excludes children grandfathered under the old process.

With the fuzziness of the new process, it is hard to answer that. So, I am going to talk about the concept of orphans in need of a family vs. orphans who have been *cleared* for adoption under the new process. The 70 children represent cases that have been "cleared" for adoption (We'll see if we can clarify it a bit better to what that means). My understanding is that many of the children (and there are quite a few) who need homes have not been deemed "orphans" yet. Keep in mind that Guatemala's system was very progressive in the past and you were referred a child BEFORE the child's situation was reviewed and BEFORE they were deemed "adoptable". Legally, your referred child was not considered an orphan until that paperwork was approved by PGN. Now, I believe the verification of the orphan status will come BEFORE the referral. So, there are quite a few children who will still need to complete an abandonment process (or another process) before they are considered legally orphans. I imagine that they will do this BEFORE they give referrals. On top of that, there is a lot of confusion as to what the steps would be. I know many orphanages do not want to present children until their in-process cases are resolved.

I am not defending the fact that things are moving too slow for these children, only that the numbers are conveniently low and can be conveniently distorted....but the information may be accurate as it relates to the new process.


Posted by Kelly at 07:05 AM

August 30, 2008

Aug 31st - FAST AND HARD DEADLINE!

Tomorrow is the DEADLINE for presenting Birthmothers and children for interviews at PGN. The deadline also applies to ABANDONMENTS so the children must be taken in person to PGN.

I want to make something perfectly clear: NO EXTENSIONS HAVE BEEN GRANTED. We've checked. If you have been told this, EEEHHHH (sound of obnoxious buzzer!).

Start the bugging process ASAP if you have been told this!

ALSO, remember that we desperately need votes!!!!
Here is a link to the project:
http://www.membersproject.com/project/view/NVRAXK

PLEASE LET YOUR FRIENDS KNOW and SPREAD THE WORD!!! Announce it on your FaceBook, your MySpace, send it out by email.

Posted by Kelly at 08:41 AM

April 04, 2008

I171 and Fingerprints

We've had a lot of requests for support from parents getting to the end of the process only to realize that their I171H or their fingerprints expired.

Unfortunately, if you let these documents expire, then the US Embassy has no choice but to issue an I-72 instead of PINK. It is beyond frustrating when the adoptions are taking so much longer, but this is not something that Guatadopt, a third party attorney or your Congressman can "speed up" . Please understand that this is YOUR responsibility (not many agenices will alert you...though, you would think that since they are supposedly facilitating your adoption, they would tell you!)

Please CHECK your paperwork and make sure that it is UP TO DATE. Timelines for getting updates will most likely be along the lines of what it took to get this done the first time around.

I171H - expires after 18 months
Fingerprints expire in 15 months

(Don't guess, pull your I171H out and look for the expiration dates)

With US Hague implementation, we do not know what happens if your I171H expires. Since CIS will NO longer accept an I600A or issue an I171H for Guatemala, it is likely that if you let your approval expire, your adoption is over. In other words, in past times you could "start over" the process of getting an I171H. That is no longer the case.

Information on how to get an extension can be found here: http://www.guatadopt.com/archives/000684.html

Posted by Kelly at 06:01 AM

March 06, 2008

Looking for Families

We're trying to find the families who are in process or WERE in process with the following children (I have used initials for last name). If you would contact us using the Case Support Form (just so we can verify that we are talking to the right folks), we would appreciate it. Please just mention in the notes that you were responding to our request. We've been asked to make sure that you are aware of information on your case.

* Maria Luisa P.
* Juan Luis P.L.

* 3 brothers with the last initials of P.N.

* Bryan A. (4 yrs)
* Kathrine d.C.
* Luis Sigfredo F.

Posted by Kelly at 08:26 PM

February 27, 2008

Attention Waiting Angels Clients

The Michigan Attorney General's Office is still trying to locate some of the remaining Waiting Angel's Clients. If you have NOT contacted the AG's office, PLEASE do so....regardless, of what you have done elsewhere. Please contact:

Martin May
517-335-0855 (corrected)
MayM1@michigan.gov

Posted by Kelly at 06:58 AM

September 03, 2007

Response from Primivera and Susana

{Posted on behalf of Susana Luarca, ADA}

Kelly and friends,

The retaliation of the PGN is a direct consequence of the criminal charges filed against three PGN lawyers: the director, Victor Hugo Barrios Barahona, the director of the section of the Childhood and Adolescence, Josefina Arellano and Abel Calderon, one of the PGN reviewers. The charges were pressed against them by the grandfather of a little girl whose file was kept hostage by the PGN for over eight months, for no valid reason. The girl is at the hogar Primavera and the accusations are a smoke screen to conceal the fact that they have abused their power in more ways than one and will have to answer for that. Attacking the hogar that shelters the child, is the PGN lawyers idea of a legal defense.

When the PGN does not approve the adoption, the notary can choose between doing whatever the PGN wants, or to pass the case to the Family court, where the judge decides whether to approve the adoption or not. That road has not been used very often, because the judges are not willing to contradict the PGN, but since the abuses of the PGN got so bad, many cases have been filed with the courts and approved by them.. When the PGN found out about this, the Attorney General and Arellano went to talk to all the judges, to request from them that the PGN were notified of the court approvals, under the pretense that the PGN wants to keep track of how many children are adopted. The First Judge immediately complied with the request, but the clerk who got the copies of the approvals of the PGN did not tell anyone about them, so the three days that are the term to file legal resources, expired before the PGN realized that they have been served. We were told that she was immediately fired. When the next notification of another approval arrived, the PGN filed a petition right away to annul the approval, which is totally out of line. Adoption is a voluntary matter, that cannot become litigious, so there is no room for that kind of petitions and much less from the PGN, who has nothing to do with a private matter such as an adoption. The judges are confused for all this turmoil, especially because they do not know what is what lies beneath the PGN opposition, so they feel caught in the middle of a dispute between the lawyers and the PGN. But what it is at stake is far more serious. The legal system of the country is being tested when the people in power feel free to perform hostile takeovers of private orphanages, holding the babies hostages, taking lawyers into custody, undermining the authority of the courts and discrediting the people and the orphanages that stand between the abandoned children of Guatemala and a very somber destiny. On the other hand, this could be an eye opener for those who believe that the State should control adoptions, because if the State could not handle forty six babies in a well run facility, how can we expect them to care for the thousands of children who will be deprived of private care if adoptions are no longer possible? It is urgent that the private system remains in place, duly accredited before the central authority, who could not be the PGN, for its notorious incompetence, neither Bienestar Social, for the same reason.

The Secretaria de Bienestar Social de la Presidencia (Secretariat of Social Welfare of the Presidency) was created by an illegal decree of the then president, whose legislative powers are limited to issue regulations of already existing laws. Only the Congress can pass laws and the people of Guatemala cannot be obligated to obey orders that are not based on law. The SBS issued a decree (illegal as well) ordering all those establishments that care for children, to register with them. Primavera does not obey illegal orders, so that is why it is not among the ones who did so. But that does not make Primavera a clandestine crib house, because it is legally formed and registered at the Civil Registry, as it should be. The allegations that Primavera is a clandestine crib house are ridiculous, but coming from the newspaper whose editor is the brother in law of Wendy Widmann de Berger, we find it easy to understand its ulterior motives. Time is running short and Berger has his days numbered as President of Guatemala. The coveted reward of 28 million dollars in exchange for closing down adoptions in Guatemala is so near, yet so far, that he and his wife are getting very desperate. At the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Military Academy, when Berger was interviewed by the press, his only concern voiced to the reporters was that the Congress has not approved the adoptions law, a proposal known as the Ortega Law, which would effectively close down adoptions in Guatemala. In a country punished by malnourishment, poverty, violence, embezzlement of the public funds, drug dealing, child labor, sexual exploitation of the children and many other terrible things, the reward explains why is that Berger is so focused in an adoption law that would derail a system that really works, allowing a few thousand of children every year .to escape from a certain death.

The lack of veracity of the article published in Prensa Libre is matched by its lack of respect of the privacy of the people who are adopting and the children who are being adopted, despite the warning of the judge who told them that according to the law, the matters of the Family Court are private. Our apologies to the families whose names were mentioned in the article.

The PGN has said that the children cannot be at private orphanages without a court order. That is not so. The judges of the Childhood and Adolescence contradict the PGN, refusing to issue court orders to admit children at those centers, when the child is being relinquished by the birthmother, because the scope of their jurisdiction are the children whose rights were violated or are about to be violated.. The Law of Integral Protection of the Childhood and Adolescence (PINA Law) is meant to remedy the situation of the children who do not have a family or whose family is abusive, and of the juvenile transgressors. A child being adopted is not a child at risk. As simple as that.

The court rulings will remain and the PGN will have to quit playing games with the adoptions files. The request for documents that are already in the file, for requisites that have no legal grounds and for conditions impossible to fulfill and more impossible to be legally justified by the PGN, are exhausting everybody’s patience. Mot of the PGN staff are on their way out and they will have to answer for all the harm that they have done. Casa Quivira will always be the example of what a government should not do and of the harm caused by the raw ambition of someone who wanted all.

Susana Luarca, Attorney at Law
Guatemala City.

Posted by Kelly at 06:41 PM

Recent Adoption Targets

First, let me say that we will provide more information from Guatemala as soon as we have it. I apologize for delays, but we try to get CREDITABLE information as opposed to what Prensa Libre is likely to publish.

There is an article published in the tabloid, Prensa Libre about Adoption again: Senalan a jueza por autorizacion anomala . But the gist is that PGN and Arellano are upset that some attorneys have opted to process adoptions judicially. My understanding is that a judicial ruling is in lou of PGN's opinion and perfectly within their right to do. The judge is not required to listen to PGN's case but may opt to do so. The article goes on to say that Arellano is attempting to nullify the adoptions because PGN was not properly notified within some timeframe and updated documentation was not updated. The article also states that the orphanage Primavera is not registered. A loose translation is included below.

A judge ignored decisions made by PGN regarding at least 10 adoption cases. Elia Berdúo Samayoa authorized 10 ICA of children from Asociación Primavera, an entity that does not have the authorization of the Welfare Office to operate as a "casa cuna." The documents were approved in June and July of 2007. Josefina Arellano explained that attorneys presented the files to the court because PGN was requiring them to fullfill certain conditions before approving the adoptions.

Arellano said that PGN's requirements do not imply that PGN opposes an adoption case. However, Arellano said that attorneys argued that PGN was opposing these adoptions. The judge ruled in favor of the families without requiring PGNs stance on these cases.

“The judge should have required PGNs opinion in this process, because each case's study determined that some requirements were missing" (Arellano).

She added that the judge notified these resolutions much later than the 3 days established by the law (the cases were ruled favorably in June and July and PGN was notified in August) Because of this, Arellano fears that PGNs demands for the annulment of these cases will be rejected because they were presented outside the time framework.

PGN has started an investigation in all of the country's courts to determine whether similar cases exist, in order to render them invalid. PGN also notified the departamental delegations warning them about attorneys' new strategy.

(then they go on explaining why PGN believes the judge broke the law)

Among the missed requirements were corrections to the birth certificates of the children and the biological mothers. Files were also missing official documents from Asociación Primavera and their legal representative Enriqueta Noriega. Judge Berdúo believed that these documents weren't necessary to approve the adoptions because birth mothers had relinquished their children voluntarily and the "hogar" had the DNA tests available.

Among the attorneys that benefited from the judge's ruling were Ilda Yaresa Medina Vielman, Alma Beatriz Valle Flores, and Douglas Lainfiesta. Prensa Libre tried contacting judge Berdúo but her secretary indicated that according to art. 14 of Family Law, these procedures are not public. The "hogar" and attorneys refused to comment. The "hogar" is not registered.

(then some details about Prensa Libre trying to contact the parties)

According to PL, Asociación Primavera is a clandestine hogar. When PL called, the secretary said it was a law firm, while neighbors told PL that children live in the premises.

According to Carmen de Wennier, jefe de la Secretaría de Bienestar Social, the association is not among the 126 authorized hogares. The information available in the electronic registrar of the ministry of the interior establishes Asociación Primavera only as an "association" registered in Mixco on Aug 19, 1999.

(Info on specific cases)

--------------------------------------------------
This is no doubt a political retaliation, in my opinion. There are several problems with what has been stated and I believe this hurts ANY credibility for PL, PGN and Arellano.

1 - FIrst of all, it is our understanding that PGN really has no recourse for a judicial adoption and cannot arbitrarily overrule a judge just because they don't like the ruling.
2 - PGN has already breached their "timeframe" requirements (and this has been happening for years) by not issuing a judgement or Previo within 3 days of submittal. The PGN system has been far from impressive...more political than really caring to uncover unethical behavior. Many professionals in the judicial sector have expressed their embarrassment over the behavior and tactics of PGN. This behavior was what prompted attorneys to bypass the bottleneck and political antics in PGN.
3 - It is my understanding the Primivera is registered. If this was not manufactured propoganda on the part of PL, then it was an intentional dig from PGN/Arellano which has as much professionalism as a 4 year old (I expect my own child to act with more diplomacy).
4 - The targeted orphanage is Susana's. I suspect this is direct retaliation for the Manifesto published.
5 - The reason is contradictory. The international community has complained that this is not a judicial system. Yet, now PGN/Arellano are contracting themselves just to try and prevent adoptions from going through granted by a judge.
6 - While I assume that registered adoptions (in process) are subject to public records, it is in very poor taste to publish this information. Apparently, the privacy of the children and parents involved are of no concern to those who value sensationalism over good taste. Furthermore, the parents were not privately notified...another breach of good business practice from PGN.

We are saddened to see that it has deteriorated to bad faith practices such as these. I would like things to "cleaned" up....but the targets are indiscriminate, it appears.


Posted by Kelly at 11:37 AM

August 20, 2007

Casa Quivira - Things Deteriorate Rapidly under State Care

Over the weekend, 7 Children from Casa Quivira were transfered to a regional hospital. A judge issued the order for the transfer. Casa Quivira staff and adoptive parents have been denied access to the home.

We do not know the condition of the children admitted to the hospital, but witnesses have told Guatadopt.com that it appears that the children are not getting proper care (by US standards) nor has the house been kept clean by the new custodians. Last week, there were reports that formula had been turned away at the door and that only powdered milk was being used in the home. One reader, a pediatrician, acknowledged that without consistent care and adequate formula the children were likely to develop various sicknesses. Children on medications have also apparently not been receiving them, and no one has consulted with Casa Quivira's normal doctor, who has also been denied access to the children.

While children can get sick anywhere, it is unusual for a custodian to require a court order to get medical attention. The conditions under "state" care seem to be deterioriating to the level of their welfare system....ie: there is not one.

{Also .see "When the 'Solution' does not address the Problem". I believe the current situation at CQ is a inhumane solution as well as an illegal occupation of the hogar.

Added 8/21/2007 - 9 Children in hospital. Government officials still shirk responsibility for their health. See: http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/08/21/guatemala.adoptions.ap/index.html

Posted by Kelly at 07:18 AM

August 02, 2007

2nd DNA- Official Notice

The 2nd DNA requirements are effective on August 6th. It will apply to adoption cases FINALIZED by Guatemalan authorities and submitted to the Embassy ON or AFTER August 6th.

The official notice is here:
2nd DNA Notice

We'll provide more details as we receive them.

Posted by Kelly at 03:05 PM

June 24, 2007

When the Solution Does not Address the Problem

The barrage of negative reports from US DOS, Guatemala, World news, UN Reports, etc. have certainly put a damper on the excitement of adopting. Critics of the system have never understood why our feathers are ruffled when we are faced with another attack. I wrote a bit of a response to another post, but I believe that it represents many *Guatemala* Adoptive Families, especially, those who frequent this site.

Yes, there are some serious abuses in Guatemala THAT MUST BE STOPPED. We (Guatadopt.com) believe that it has become more serious in the last year OR maybe, we are just getting more of the reports. The US government cannot reveal it's proof to placate families in process. The accused must be given due process and if there is any hope that the abusers are to be prosecuted, then the evidence and the details of the ongoing investigations are not going to be circulated to the general public.

Each entity has a different result they hope to achieve with adoption reform.
DOS, DHS and the US Embassy in Guatemala are not child welfare organizations. The ultimate solution for them is to make sure that EVERY adopted child meets the current criteria in the orphan classification and that they meet the criteria of the Hague (which in theory is intended to protect the child). The key point is that this "protection" does not extend to children who are NOT adopted. Therefore, if there are only 5 adoptions that are Hague compliant (and eligible for a Visa), they have met their goal. The children that are left behind are now outside their jurisdiction. It is also a goal to reduce the necessity of oversight by the US government...and therefore, staffing.

The Guatemalan government has a few goals. The first is to keep political relations strong with the US. Another is to improve their human rights reputation…at least in public. It is embarrassing that such a small country has so many children leaving the country for foreign families. Their reputation would greatly improve if fewer children were to leave the country. But the Government of Guatemala also realizes that if fewer children leave, then they are now accountable for the welfare of the children left behind. This has caused a great deal of conflict. Not only is the Constitution of Guatemala at odds with some of the proposed solutions, but the Congress is under pressure to meet EVERYONE else's idea of a solution (DOS, UNICEF, Hague Convention, their own Constitution, etc.).

The priority of UNICEF and other Human Rights organizations (as they state it) is to reduce the human rights abuses at the macro level. They believe that removing practices that involve human rights abuses is the answer.

Adoption Agencies and Adoption organizations such as FOA and JCICS are child centric and their concern is for every child in need of a family. Unfortunately, they are considered "tainted" because of their financial interest in the adoption industry. It is also unfortunate that the bad apples have effectively discredited the ethical providers in this industry.

That leaves the adoptive families - adoption advocates. ….such as Guatadopt.com and our readers. Our views are child-centric. Every viable solution is in terms of the effects on the children in Guatemala. We would like abuses to end but not at the expense of the child. So, here is OUR tirade:

1) As adoption advocates, we do NOT believe that *adoption* should be considered a cure for the SOCIAL ILLS of Guatemala (nor a cure for social ills of the US). Many of the problems have remained unresolved under the current system because of LACK of accountability. Some of these abuses stem from racial friction. Historically the indigenous people of Guatemala have been treated as sub-human and the discrimination is still very prevalent. For example, there is a increase in the number of women who disappear or who are killed without a second glance because of domestic abuse or even employer abuse. Little attention has focused on these problems within Guatemala. The women victimized by enslavement, abuse and even murder do not have a prominent place in society; therefore, their abusers are seldom sought and prosecuted. So, it is no wonder that these inequities and abuses extend to adoption. In fact, this is not unique to Guatemala. It is a common denominator in about every country or society in various degrees (ex: Child labor, gender pay inequities and class pay inequities). The degree of inequity is the CAUSE of many of the abuses that plague the country NOT just adoptions!!!!


2) Listing and analyzing the problems plaguing the system do NOT JUSTIFY an INHUMANE SOLUTION. In our society (this adoption community), each of our children are highly valued. We perceive the need of the individual child first and foremost. Adoption is an OPTION provided to a child who has no reasonable means for a loving family or home otherwise. If red tape or Hague compliant laws prevent this eventuality, then his/her human rights have been violated. That does not mean that we think that abuses are acceptable as a means to completing our happy family. On the contrary, we want the abusers PURGED from the system!!! A moratorium on adoptions does not punish the abusers for they will go onto other careers. It punishes the honest law-abiding citizens and it punishes the CHILDREN. Furthermore, every law/process introduced must be critically evaluated to make sure that the children's best interest are secured rather than negotiated away.

3) To rid us of abuses, we must also rid ourselves of the abusers. Unfortunately, governments are not SHUT down in order to purge abuses; School systems are not shut down; industries are not shut down nor even DEFACS when serious abuses are found! Guatemala and the US get a resounding *D* in their attempts to rid the industry of these abusers. The result is that FEW of the violators are punished or banned (We know because we have reported quite a few!). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if they are not banned they will continue their unethical practices and encourage other unethical practitioners to join the club!!! Red tape and lack of resources to crack down on the criminals are in effect depriving families on both sides any sort of hope for justice. Accountability is non-existent. If adoption laws and ethical treatment is not enforced, then there will NEVER be justice for the women/children abused in this system.

4) Human Rights organizations and those influenced by them often get so carried away by the problems, that they fail to CHAMPION the needs of the individual child. The child is invalidated to SUPPORT their position or worse, the child is expected to take a backseat to the controversy. Unfortunately, many of the proposals (even the most humane) are intended to HIDE social ills instead of addressing them. If you are caught up by the statistics of HOW MANY children leave the country as opposed to WHY these children are in need, then you are destined to fail at solving the problem. Address the problems (demand accountability) and there will be less need to find these children adequate protection. But NEVER sacrifice the wellbeing of the child. Regardless of the child's situation, he/she deserves a chance to obtain a family. He/She should never feel inferior because the people around him/her failed to protect him/her.

A good example of the solution failing to address the problem is Cambodia. Children are still in need, but now they are ineligible for adoption to the US. It is easy to say that the Human Rights organizations, the Cambodian government and DOS have failed to provide any protection for children AFTER their options were forcefully removed. This story illustrates the conflict: Trapped in Cambodia. Isn't it sad that our own government is so unyielding?

Posted by Kelly at 10:49 AM

May 03, 2007

Arrests - Waiting Angels, MI

This morning, Joe and Simone were arrested on multiple charges including felony rackateering which could carry as much as a 20 year sentence. Authorities are working to find assistance with finishing outstanding cases. If you have a pending case, you should be contacted soon.

It is horrifying that an act of love and devotion can be abused to such an extent. We will update you with more information as we receive it and as usual, we offer our emotional support to the families involved.

Rescue 4 Undercover Report 1
Rescue 4 Undercover Report 2

Posted by Kelly at 02:51 PM

March 19, 2007

Guatadopt.com Warning

Alert (US only): To prospective parents considering adoption from Guatemala. After much thought and review, we feel it is important that parents think twice about entering the process. Prospective parents should expect considerable delays, increased scrutiny and strict interpretation of the orphan classification. Whether you agree with the recent DOS announcement or not, they are still in the position to determine Visa Issuance to the United States. Pursuing an adoption at this time may be risky and your agency will not be able to estimate realistic timelines. This warning will remain in effect until the process moves to a Hague compliant system and the current issues/concerns have been adequately addressed.

Orphan Classification (Partly defined)

Non US Citizens/Residents - This alert does not directly apply to non-US Citizens/Residents. However, with the push for a new Hague Compliant Law, expect delays and possible changes in the adoption process.

Posted by Kelly at 05:31 PM

February 08, 2007

US Embassy Announcement

The US Embassy will not be issuing immigration visa appointments between March 18th and 21st. There is a large event: Annual InterAmerican Development Bank Governors Assembly during that time. Many of the hotels are already booked solid.

Details are on the US Department of State site.

Posted by Kelly at 09:22 AM

December 05, 2006

Guatadopt Forums back...

By request, I have brought back the Guatadopt forums. Last time, we had to shut our forums down because of a security issue (locked me out and was spamming with inappropriate, vulgar content)....so understand that this is somewhat experimental. Regardless, I would like to move the PGN folks to their own private forum since I think that will be easier for everyone to comunicate with each other. We'll be looking for moderators for several forums, so if you are interested...let me know.

The New forum is located on: http://www.guatadopt.com/discussions

Posted by Kelly at 10:35 AM

November 08, 2006

Alert - 3 year old adoption

We've been alerted to a specific situation where we feel the child is at risk (and we certainly do not want families or other agencies/attorney to become involved in an adoption that has no chance of completing). From what I understand the supposed mother has bounced from a few different attorneys offering her child for adoption and then disappearing. The embassy is aware of the situation and is hoping to talk to the birth mother. If you are in process of adopting a little girl who will be three this month and has the first initials C.L., weighing approximately 27 pounds and 35.5 inches tall, please contact me privately. I have more information, but will not release it to anyone unless the profile matches.

FYI: Some of the proposals have different ways of "registering" birth mothers so that this is traceable. I certainly hope that these are doable in whatever new laws appear in Guatemala.

Posted by Kelly at 10:14 AM

October 18, 2006

Foster Mothers Detained at Hotels

I have several reports from sources in Guatemala that foster mothers have been detained in front of or around the hotels. We do not have details of the incidents, but several attorneys have confirmed that this is happening. The Embassy and the Department of State have been notified. If you have visit plans in the next few days, please contact your agency and have them reconfirm with your attorney. Several attorneys have put a halt to visitation until this is resolved. We certainly do not want to put families, children or foster mothers in harm's way.

We will post more details when we can....

Posted by Kelly at 10:21 AM

September 24, 2006

Adoption Supervisors Guatemala (ASG)

Today, I am backing up to clarify some information about an organization that had an unfortunate way of introducing itself to our readers. As many of you might remember, there was concern about a seemingly "new" organization called "Adoption Supervisors Guatemala (ASG)". This organization is different than one who has been commonly known as "Adoption Supervisors" (SJI) to Guatemalan Adoption Old-timers. The name similarity along with several fake posts that appeared on our site became a concern. But I will address that here....

I'll start by saying that since my post, I have had several discussions with ASG. I listed my "issues" with the events and their corporate name. They have patiently addressed each concern and taken action to prevent future problems.

CONCERN 1: Choosing a name that was commonly used for another organization:
While Servicios Juridicos Integrado (SJI) has used this name casually with the adoption community, SJI has never incorporated the name nor do they "officially" have claim to the name. There was no trademark on the name nor any other legal claim to it. Adoption Supervisors Guatemala (ASG) incorporated the name (adding "Guatemala). While I question whether this is good faith business practice, the business community does not acknowledge this as a problem because there is no official use of the name in SJI's practice.

CONCERN 2: Confusion within the adoption community:
Beyond the legality of the name, there is the problem with confusion. ASG reviewed their naming and stand by its legality. However, they have pledged to try to keep the confusion down to a minimum. I am hopeful that the adoption community can help by using "ASG" or "SJI" when discussing thier own experiences.

CONCERN 3: Postings coming from Guatemala:
One of my most serious concerns was the number of posts showing up on my site originating from Guatemala. ASG responded by saying that they do not condone any fraudulent postings and took time to interview their staff. The Board took a number of additional actions to discover who might have been responsible for the posts. Reviewing some of the circumstances surrounding the posts, it is very possible that someone outside of the organization might have tried to help "promote" them.

LEGITIMACY:
While I have no experience with the attorneys of ASG, I have been assured by a few key individuals that they are good attorneys dedicated to helping parents (and agencies) with difficult cases. Several parents have also contacted me to say that they were very happy with their services.

Most importantly, ASG has spent a great deal of time answering my concerns, reviewing office procedures and interviewing staff.

FInally, please note that I have no personal experience with ASG or SJI and therefore, I cannot vouch for their services. Hopefully in the near future...I will be able to meet with ASG, SJI as well as other organizations in Guatemala.

Posted by Kelly at 08:51 AM

August 29, 2006

Spammers....I would love to vote them off the internet

Well, I wasted another night trying to salvage our site after spammers got in and spammed from our email. I can tell you right now that Guatadopt folks do not send spam. This was a breach to the hosting setup that we have, but of course WE'RE the ones who are punished. I can't publically say what I wish upon spammers...but it is NOT pleasant.

One problem is that as we become more popular, we are more visible and somewhat more vulnerable. It is also the reason that I warn commenters to be conservative about their personal information.

We apologize for the inconvenience....if it happens again, it probably means that we haven't plugged the breach, but please be patient with us!

Note: if you have tried to e-mail Kevin, this problem has caused him not to be able to access his e-mail. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.

Posted by Kelly at 09:01 PM

July 21, 2006

Scam Alert - More on Fraudulant Postings regarding AS

This post has been retracted. Both organizations (SJI and ASG) are legitimate organizations dedicated to assisting families in need. The post remains for history only. Clarifications in the archives are located at; http://www.guatadopt.com/archives/000496.html

The URL for the original Adoption Supervisors (SJI) is http://www.adoption-supervisors.com. While I do not have personal experience with them, I can say that they are NOT associated with this new copycat organization (the url missing the dash).

I removed over 20 postings connected with the copycat URL and most were supposedly happy families claiming quick exits from PGN with the help of this organization. These were found NOT to be real families from the US. Considering the lack of professional ethics...copying the name Adoption Supervisors, posing as happy families and purposefully redirecting folks to their website...I would stay clear of this other organization. I do not know ANYTHING about them and it could very well be a scam. Guatadopt.com notified SJI of the problem since it is their reputation that is being compromised

Kelly (guatadopt.com)

{The following Open Letter is posted on behalf of Servicios Jurídicos Integrados (commonly known as Adoption Supervisors)
Dear Ladies and Gentleman,

Today it has come to our attention that a cooperation which calls itself *ADOPTION SUPERVISORS GUATEMALA* has apparently contacted some of you, with the purposes to confuse you and make you believe this emails would have come from Servicios Jurídicos Integrados. Please, be aware that this cooperation is NOT part of our Law firm, we do not know them and we never have heard about them at all. As we believe you all have noticed, Servicios Jurídicos Integrados does not post nor participate on any list server, much less would we contact clients by obtaining their email address from a list server.

Please, be very aware that you possibly might be the victim of a fraudulent scam here !

Please, be also very aware that Servicios Jurídicos Integrados rejects any responsibility for damage that might occur to you, based on any promises from the cooperation * ADOPTION SUPERVISORS GUATEMALA *.

In case you have been contacted by this cooperation, trying to make you believe they would be part of our Law firm or simply trying to confuse you with their name, please be perfectly aware that you have not been contacted by Servicios Jurídicos Integrados at any moment. We do not contact adoption parents unless they contact us first, we never have and we never will promote our respective services of this branch of Servicios Jurídicos Integrados in any active way at all.

Thank you for your time and your attention !

Sincerely,

Servicios Jurídicos Integrados
Edwin Barrientos & Manfred Bretbacher

Posted by Kelly at 01:24 PM

July 20, 2006

Possible Fraudulent Postings regarding Adoption Supervisors

Dear Readers,

It has come to my attention (thanks to some research by Donna of the Yahoo list), that some of the comments regarding "Adoption Supervisors" may not be honest postings by legitimate families. We are investigating at this time and believe that the AS we all know and love is PROBABLY NOT involved in the postings. For your own safety, please do not use any links regarding Adoption Supervisors from this site until we verify what is going on. I would also ask that you do NOT offer your own "validations" (otherwise, we will just have more comments to investigate and I will most likely delete them so as not to confuse the issue).

Posted by Kelly at 09:38 PM

March 28, 2006

Social with Susana Luarca: April 1st Plantation Florida

{Posted on behalf of Mary Mooney, Event Organizer}

We would like to invite families of the Guatemala adoption community to join us April 1, 2006, to meet with Susana Luarca, a prominent adoption advocate and attorney. Susana Luarca will speak on the status of Guatemalan
Adoptions, Now and in the Future, and families will have an opportunity to ask questions and share ideas and concerns.

The invitation is open to families wishing to adopt or have adopted from Guatemala. Please come meet with us to socialize and show off our children.

*The meeting will be at
April 1, 12PM
Staybridge Suites FT. LAUDERDALE-PLANTATION
410 NORTH PINE ISLAND ROAD
PLANTATION, FL, 33324, US

Please RSVP or respond if you have questions about the event via our FormMail: Mary Mooney

Posted by Kelly at 08:05 AM

March 23, 2006

Hague Interpretation by Tifany Markee

Guatadopt readers -
We are exceedingly grateful to the many professionals and experts who take the time and share their expertise. I realize that at times, opinions and interpretations differ on many important issues. I know that makes it extremely difficult at times for our readers, but we feel obligated to share as much information as possible. I do feel that this is a serious issue that should not be glossed over by the agencies or prospective parents in the prepatory stage of their adoption.

{Posted on behalf of Tifany Markee, Immigration Attorney, Milner & Markee, LLP.}
I have been asked by GuatAdopt.com to provide a statement on the recent developments of the Hague Convention. As a bit of background, I am an immigration attorney, and specialize, in part, in international adoption law. I am an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Further, I am general counsel to 2 international adoption agencies, and have also been successful in assisting families with disputes they have with international adoption agencies. Finally, I am an adoptive mother of two children from Russia.

My statements below are simply my legal opinion, based upon my research and first-hand conversations with the Joint Council on International Children Services (JCICS) and the Department of State.

As many know, Guatemala acceeded to the Hague Convention (hereinafter called HC) in 2002. A challenge was immediately put before the Supreme Court in Guat, and the eventual ruling was that the method of accession was improper, and was thus against the constitution of Guatemala. Many here remember the near total stoppage of adoptions during that time.

Until now, this has never been an issue again. However, in Feb, the US finally signed on to the Hague. Again, there are a myriad of changes, but most principally, it will demand that any adoptions which occur between 2 HC countries must be done only by an accredited agency (the actual process of acceditation is a work in progress), and has all sorts of other safety nets, aimed at the protection of the kiddos. If the adoption is between a HC country and a non-HC country, no changes will be affected.

So now the pressing news:

The Department of State publicly confirms that the US considers Guatemala to be a HC country. Note that Guat is a non-member HC country, as they are not members of the Hague's permanent board. BUT, in the eyes of the US, Guat is a HC country. The Dept of State said last week that it did not recognize the "constitutional challenge," as that only pertained to domestic law, not internatonal law. The US seems to feel that the actual logistics of HOW the HC was aeceeded makes no difference in determining whether the country is a signatory to the HC.

However, the Dept of State also said in the very same breath that the adoption procedures in Guatemala were NOT in compliance with the HC. In short, this means that the US questions the procedures and safety nets.

So this presents an interesting problem: if the US considers Guat to be a HC country, then it will demand that any adoptions that occur after the effective date (which is slated, presently, to be January 1, 2007) MUST comply with the HC. However, at the present time, Guatemala does not comply.

The Joint Council has confirmed that is indeed the US' view.

The Joint Council as well as the Dept of State are presently encouraging Guatemala to allign itself with the Hague regs. Form a central authorization, etc. Guatemala does not seem so inclined to act, although there are several in Guatemala that would like to see such a central authority take over the job from the private attorneys.

Indeed, from both a legal and logical standpoint, adoptions from Guatemala (or more specifically, the US immigration of/ issuance of immigrant visas to children from Guatemala) are at jeopardy. The Department of State is clear: Guatemala, a Hague country, is not in compliance. Once the US effectuates the Hague, the convention effectively requires that the US not allow the immigration of adopted children from Guatemala, unless and until Guatemala complies with the Hague demands. If Guatemala fails to do that, I would expect that the US would refuse to priceed with Guatemalan adoptions. Again, this is the legal and logical conclusion, although one that has not been specifically and explicitly confirmed by the Department of State.

I have also posted on this subject on Adoption.com, and have gotten several questions about options. I have a few main thoughts I would like to share:

1. Adoption from Guatemala are at risk. Any prospective adoptive parent needs to be aware of the pending regulations, and take them into consideration as a part of making a decision to proceed with Guatemala. Families should take this news very seriously, and not allow an agency to dismiss it or claim that they have nothing to fear. It is up to the families to press their agencies for news and updates.

2. Any agency that completes adoptions from Guatemala needs to properly advise prospective adoptive parents of the risks. I personally feel that it is unethical for any agency to brush this under the rug, and dismiss any conversations about it. I would recommend to any agency to have a full and frank conversation with their families, and allow the families to make an informed decision. Agencies need to lead their clients in a fair and informed manner. I have advised one of my agency clients to begin these discussions with its families within the Guatemala program.

3. I know that the rumors that are floating around suggest that the filing of the I-600A will preserve eligibility to complete an adoption from Guatemala, despite a suspension (i.e. a grandfathering). I do not professionally agree with this line in the sand. The I-600A simply states that Mr. and Mrs. American citizens are stable and proper adoptive parents for an international child; it is not country-specific (the approval is then cabled to the country of the family's choosing). For this reason, I also do not feel that the issuance of the I-171H will also be a cut-off point. Rather, my opinion is that any cut-off line imposed in the event of a shut-down will relate to the initiation of the process in Guatemala -- filing of the Power of Attorney, fiing for Pre-Authorization, etc. I will research the cut-off points used when the US pulled the plug on adoptions from Cambodia and Vietnam and see if I can find a parallel to Guatemala.

4. As it relates to point #3, I would strongly encourage any family who is currently on the fence about adopting from Guatemala to make a decision, and a committment, and move forward as soon as they can. I have been in the immigration community for many years, and have seen many individuals who miss cut of dates of programs due to inaction. If a family has committed to Guatemala, I would advise that family to begin as soon as possible, with the goal of being as far down the path as possible by Jan 1, 2007. Hopefully, this will ensure that all families make it under any imposed cut-off lines.

5. Do not panic. I have seen the Department of State and CIS change and implement many programs over the years; often times, they extend deadlines and move the effective dates many times. While the Department of State has indicated that Jan 1, 2007 is the effective date, many other things need to be completed before Hague implementation, including the completion of the regulations related to the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA), the US implementation of the Hague, as well as the accreditation regs and procedures. While Jan 1, 2007 seems fairly certain now, that date may change.

I will be attending the JCICS conference at the end of April, at which time I will attend the Guatemala caucus, the Hague meetings, as well as the open forum with the Department of State. I am happy to provide a summary and highlights as soon as I return. I am also happy to answer questions as they come.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ADDENDUM...added 24-MAR-2006
Based upon a conversation I have had with JCICS, I would like to amend or clarify a few of the comments I made in my statement yesterday. I feel that the only way to educate prospective adoptive parents is to provide the most accurate information possible, in a manner which is clear and timely.

1. Regarding the effective date of the Hague Convention in the United States: As the rumor mill begins to run rampant, dates and specifics begin swirling around. As I was writing my posts on Adoption.com and GuatAdopt, I made extensive use of and reference to a specific date for implementation: January 1, 2007. In my conversations with JCICS, I have confirmed that while we all may be eager for a bright-line start date, the Department of State has, so far, not committed to any specific date. They did mention in their open meeting that their goal for implementation is 2007; however, they attached no specific month or day to that goal. As I stated in my post yesterday, the implementation date is simply a goal; many steps have to be completed before that implementation, including establishing a process and authority for accreditation of US-based agencies. JCICS is of the opinion, and I concur, that the actual implementation date is likely to be closer to the end of 2007, possibly even into 2008. That timeline appears much more realistic given the amount of work that must be done in anticipation of the full implementation.

2. Regarding the status of families who are just beginning the process: As I stated in my post yesterday, I believe that families who are currently starting the process are unlikely to be impacted by any changes. Ultimately, only the Department of State will determine the line which a case must pass to be grandfathered in under any changes. However, given the time lines we are seeing for completion of various steps in an adoption from Guatemala, I believe, as does JCICS, that any family that begins within the next few months should be fine. Of course, opinions may change as the end of the year approaches, and only after an assessment of the progress of Hague implementation can further predictions be made. I would once again reinforce that any families who are uncertain of a Guatemalan adoption may wish to wait and see; but those who are committed to starting the process should begin that process within the next few months.

3. Regarding the status of Guatemala as a Hague Convention country: JCICS clarified for me that Guatemala is a Hague Convention country because it acceded to the Convention. States which are Permanent Members of the Convention (which Guatemala is not) can then object to the accession (which was seen in the actions of 5 countries). However, only Member countries can then ratify the Convention, and non-member countries cannot object to that ratification.

I am hopeful that this provides families with additional updates and details. I invite all families to maintain an open dialogue with all participants in this important discussion, including JCICS, FOA, as well as their agencies, to hopefully reach a solution to this upcoming potential problem.

Respectfully,

Tifany Markee, Esq.
Milner & Markee, LLP
www.milner-markee.com

---------------------------------------------

Posted by Kelly at 06:52 PM

US State Department Confirms intent to close down adoptions in Guatemala in 2007

ALERT: We are extremely sad to report that the US State Department has confirmed they will treat Guatemala as a Hague country bound by the Hague requirements. Since Guatemala does not currently meet the Hague criteria, adoptions will cease in 2007 when the US enters the Hague. This position (that they are viewing Guatemala as a Convention country) has been publically stated on the US State Department site as well as a meeting held last week in which they confirmed that they viewed Guatemala as a non-compliant Hague bound country and therefore, could not do adoptions with Guatemala until they were compliant.

This position, in our opinion, must be politically motivated. We believe the US has several ways to legally recognize the current adoption system in Guatemala without violating their participation.

  1. The US could object to Guatemala's accession (the UK objected and found an acceptable process which would keep adoptions open).
  2. The US could recognize that Guatemala publically withdrew from the Hague once the Constitutional Court of Guatemala ruled the Accession unconstitutional. Currently, the State Department is claiming that this does not qualify as a formal withdrawal.
  3. Guatemala could formally (in writing) withdraw from the Hague. This is unlikely and unreasonable since it would make no sense for them to withdraw from something they were never constitutionally a part. Furthermore, a formal withdrawal mandates a year before it can take effect.

You can read some of the information on the State Department's site: Implementation of the Hague and the Stance of other Hague countrie in regards to Guatemala. What is unbelievable to me is that our own government is publically stating that they are not recognizing the Guatemala Constitution as affecting their participation in this International "Treaty". Excuse ME? Does this mean that OUR US Constitution has no bearing one what the State Department negotiates with other countries? I'm appalled!

I should add a disclaimer that I am not an International Law expert or an attorney and I will try to follow this post up with as much validated information as I can. But what I can see is that once again political ploys are getting in the way of children finding permanent homes with loving families. It appears that our government is not interested in finding homes for needy children, but are more interested in "looking" good by forcing adherence to a Treaty that is as vague as a politician campaigning that he is "for the children".

We will follow up with some opinions from the experts soon.....

FYI: I updated the above statement to make it clear that it is the interpretation and the way the US Government views Guatemala's participation.

Posted by Kelly at 08:16 AM

May 20, 2005

Central America Public Announcement from the Department of State

Issued: May 19, 2005

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert Americans to the potential dangers posed by Tropical Storm Adrian to the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Nicaragua. This Public Announcement expires on May 31, 2005.

Tropical Storm Adrian is intensifying off the Pacific coast of Central America and is expected to cause severe flooding with rainfall levels of 6 - 10 inches on the coastal areas and up to 20 inches in the mountains. Because of the increasing severity of the storm and the danger associated with it, American citizens living in or planning travel to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Nicaragua should monitor news reports of the storm's movement.

U.S. citizens in Central America are urged to register and update their contact information at the nearest U.S. Embassy or through the Department of State's travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov.


For more country-specific security information, U.S. citizens planning to travel to or remaining in Central America despite this Public Announcement should consult the Department of State's country-specific Travel Warnings, Public Announcements, Consular Information Sheets, and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, available on the Department of State's website at http://travel.state.gov.

Updated information on travel and security in Central America may also be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States, or, from overseas, 1-202-501-4444.

Posted by Kelly at 02:37 PM