January 12, 2007

"Solutions"

Focus on Adoption will be holding their second conference titled "Solutions" in Guatemala on February 21st which will focus on Hague Treaty implementation. Agencies and organizations interested in this workshop can find out more on Focus on Adoption's website.

Posted by Kelly at 03:15 PM

February 10, 2004

English Translation - Valladeres Law

This is an English translation of the Valladeres Law provided by FOA.

There has been some speculation as to the real purpose of Delahunt's visit. When the task force's position is made public, I will post it.

IMPORTANT: NO, this law has not passed yet. But there has been significant pressure on the Guatemalan Government to pass it.

Posted by Kelly at 05:53 PM

January 21, 2004

Bruce Harris Trial

I was just about to write about my frustrations with the Bruce Harris Trial and the expected *spin* (ie: outright falsehoods)...but Hannah has summarized it so well, I will leave it to her.

Here is one of the articles: Yahoo OneWorld

(The following is posted with permission from Hannah Wallace, Focus on Adoption)

Dear Listmembers, I'm writing from Guatemala, as I'm planning on attending Bruce Harris' trial in support of Susana Luarca and intercountry adoption in Guatemala.

Long time members of this list [St. John's Biglist] are aware of the history of negative and unproven propaganda against intercountry adoption which Bruce Harris has promoted. For years, the media picked up on his accusations and interviewed his "witnesses". However, when the time came for these witnesses to testify in court, they have all recanted.

The attempts by the Human Rights Legal association to get Oscar Berger to intervene, using the "free speech" argument, is misguided. No one should be able to make unprovable accusations against another person. Free Speech should not be used to abuse another person, or to make generalized attacks. The argument that Susana Luarca has to "disprove" Bruce Harris' accusations, or prove that they are untrue, is truly turning the questions at stake and the legal process, on its head. It is Bruce Harris who has to prove that his accusations are true, which he has been unable to do. His arguments about "journalistic" privileges and "free speech" have already been heard and ruled upon by the courts, who have determined that the trial should take place.

While Bruce Harris may be viewed as a Human Rights activist by many, he is an employee, and very well paid employee, of Covenant House in New York. The organization, Casa Alianza, provides services to street children in Central America. Bruce Harris is the Director, living in Costa Rica. It has long been an unanswerable question about why Human Rights activists would take such an extreme position about Intercountry adoption, and only accept solutions to problems that have ended up depriving children of the opportunity to have permanent families, without improving the circumstances which bring those children into the "system" to begin with. I have written for years about the scandal mongering and distortion of the facts which have been promoted by Bruce Harris and UNICEF in order to justify the extreme and unworkable solutions they have promoted.

This attack on ICA started over 8 years ago, when the President of the Supreme Court (Ricardo Umana - Susana's then husband) recommended that the Code of the Child, being pushed as part of the Peace Accords, be suspended until there were adequate funding to provide adequate court services to implement this code. UNICEF and other HR groups seem to be content to have codes and laws in place first, and then seem to disappear when their inadequate implementation causes more problems than is ever solved. Aside from that, the Code of the Child required extensive Constitutional revisions. In a country plagued with poverty, an incredibly high child mortality rate, and other social problems which place Guatemala only slightly above Haiti, as the poorest in the region... it is arguable whether funding would ever go to adequately implement these ambitious codes, and certainly arguable whether funding should go to address more concrete problems. However, shortly after Susana's (former) husband ruled on the suspension of the Code of the Child, Bruce Harris began his attacks against Susana Luarca de Umana. His lies have not been proven at all. The fact that she was arrested is being promoted by a Human Rights group of lawyers as evidence???!!!! The FACT that she was never found guilty of anything is not referred to.

These behaviors on the part of so called Human Rights organizations have led me to question their motives and practices. In my mind they have discredited the very causes they espouse.

I believe that the world of ICA owes a great debt to Susana Luarca, who is the only one who has taken on the task of trying to have the truth upheld in a court of law. We can only hope that the trial proceeds and that Harris is found guilty of being a liar. Then perhaps there is some chance of getting the truth out about ICA in Guatemala and other countries. I'm proud to be representing Focus On Adoption as well as myself, personally, and my agency, in support of Susana Luarca, who is at least as much of a humanitarian as Bruce Harris, who has devoted herself to maintaining legal integrity, and who has never been proven to abuse the law.

Hannah Wallace, Adoptions International


ADDENDUM:
I need to make a correction to my original post about this trial and its issues. Susana Luarca was never arrested. She was charged, appeared in court, but the charges were dropped as there was no substance to them.

Even though it may seem like a losing battle, I believe we must all react and respond to the negative press coverage about ICA, the language which equates adoption with "exportation" of children, the misinformation which is provided by "respectable" organizations like UNICEF and Casa Alianza and Amnesty International, who are all relying on the same sources. A conviction for Bruce Harris should go a long way to show that his accusations have no substance. But we can already see the "spin" -- I have been so disappointed to see that hitherto respected organizations, even Lawyers for Human Rights, seem to have no respect for the laws of Guatemala or the social realities. Most disappointing is that the truth - many faceted - has been discarded in the name of Human Rights. The arrogance that the end justifies the means, and the self righteousness in promoting over simplified solutions to complex problems, is the most disappointing of all.

Hannah Wallace, Adoptions International

Posted by Kelly at 09:47 PM

January 14, 2004

Focus on Adoption Needs Volunteers

Focus on Adoption is in need of a handful of volunteers. We can use people who are good at doing research on the internet and have some time to spare. Also, a web designer and possibly webmaster would be of great help. If you'd like to help, please e-mail me at kevin@guatadopt.com.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by Kevin at 04:55 PM

December 07, 2003

FOA Contributions

I wanted to let everyone know that there has been a delay in cashing FOA contribution checks. As you probably know, the officers have been EXTREMELY busy and therefore, it has been very difficult to get administrative tasks handled. The money will go to help the ongoing legal battles in Guatemala. I have been told that most of the checks will be deposited this week. In addition, they are working on establishing a Paypal account to accept online donations. I will post that when it becomes available.

They are in the process of *creating* their website (in their spare time;-). In the meantime, I will update you on their progress.

I do have a button on the right menu with instructions for contributing funds.

FOA and Guatadopt.com thank you for your generous contributions!

Posted by Kelly at 02:08 PM

October 25, 2003

NPR Weekend Edition

(Posted with permission from Hannah Wallace, President, Focus On Adoption).

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I was interviewed for an NPR Weekend Edition broadcast on Intercountry adoption. Though the show will probably be getting commentary on the Hague Treaty and implications of the recently released Hague Regulations for the United States, there was significant discussion about the impact of the treaty on Third World Sending Countries and evidently, there will be a family adopting from Guatemala who will also be interviewed. My interview was about 50 minutes long and I wish I could remember what I said... just have the feeling that it wasn't complete enough!!!! I have no idea what will be kept in or edited out... though I've made a strong argument for a follow up show just on Guatemalan issues....

I hear the show will be broadcast between 5-6 E.T. on Saturday, October 25, from Washington DC, Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, Steve Innskeep...

Hannah Wallace, Adoptions International

Posted by Kelly at 12:00 PM

October 16, 2003

Contributions to FOA

(Posted for Focus on Adoption)

Focus on Adoption is now taking donations. Although we are 'not for profit', we still do not have 501c3 certification and therefore, any contributions you make will not be tax deductible. Contributions can be made via check or money order to:

Focus On Adoption
16 N. Central
Clayton, MO 63105

This current fund raising effort is dedicated to providing support to the Association in Defense of Adoption, the extremely pro-active organization of attorneys and Hogar directors in Guatemala. All contributions for the ADA should be "designated" on your check, but the check should be made out to Focus On Adoption. All contributions designated for the ADA will go 100% to the ADA. The money will be used to support their initiatives, which include:

*A Massive PR Campaign in Guatemala
*Development of legal challenges, including, but not limited to, Criminal charges.
*ADA advocacy efforts

While Focus On Adoption Board members have been closely aligned with the ADA, and have shared ideas and strategies, we are not members of the ADA. These funds will not have "strings attached", but will be added to the Legal Defense Fund which the ADA members and several agencies have contributed to.In response to one query: Your contributions will NOT be going to Agencies!!
Nor will they be going to any individual members of the ADA.

I want to stress how remarkable the ADA has been in organizing and succeeding in their advocacy. No other similar organization emerged in other countries, when ICA was under attack and, in the majority of cases, deprivatized and centralized -- leaving hundreds of thousands of children without the opportunity to join permanent families. But their work has just started and funds are needed desperately to continue this initiative.

Hannah Wallace, President, Focus On Adoption

Posted by Kelly at 08:38 AM

October 14, 2003

More from Guatemala

(Posted with permission from Hannah Wallace, President, Focus On Adoption).

I'm writing from Guatemala where each night I "pray" that there will be no surprises tomorrow.

This is what I've been able to ascertain:
About 2 weeks ago the Prensa Libra reported that 1500 cases were being processed rapidly by the PGN. Last week the Department of State posted that the PGN told them that they'd only received about 200 cases. A couple of days ago, the Procuradoria for Human Rights filed an Amparo asking the C.C. to suspend all adoptions in Guatemala and used some "strange" reasoning, but also referred to 1500 cases having been approved.


Some facts: After the CC ruling there were approximately 200 cases which fell into the category of "pre March 5" cases, which are slowly being processed. Roy Hernandez, Director of CIS in Guatemala (aka as INS, BCIS, etc.) estimates that they've approved about 100 visas, most of which were "pre March 5 cases".

Based on "informal" polling among the lawyers and agencies, there appear to be under 20 "post March 5" cases which have been approved. I estimate that there are at least 600+ cases which have been submitted to the PGN. There are probably another 600 cases in various stages of processing. Each day some cases come out, most of them have "previos". Most of the cases now include the previa that Article 21 of the Convention on theRights of the Child must be complied with -- this article refers to showing that all efforts were made to find a family in Guatemala. Some attorneys are having the birthmother do affidavits stating that they did not choose to have the child adopted within Guatemala, considering the child to have more opportunity for education and health and a better life outside of Guatemala. Today I heard that ONE of those cases, with the affidavit, has been approved. However, that doesn't mean that they all will be, as there's been no consistency.. except in the obvious flouting of the law by the PGN with various "guises".

In querying the ADA about challenging this previa, which has no legal basis, I'm getting various responses. IF the affidavits are not sufficient, then they will probably seek an Amparo for this. Right now they're treating this and the other annoying and essentially illegal "previas" as they have in the past... and getting the documentation and re-entering the cases. However, at least ONE criminal case has been started, which will open the way for others. Though they can't be addressed as "class action suits", once this first case moves through the system, the model can be used and they can "accumulate". This is one strategy and is very expensive. Criminal cases can take awhile. Other routes to dealing with the problem of an obviously obstructive PGN are being explored vigorously. There is also another challenge to the PGN which was entered before the Constitutional Court awhile ago, which has not yet been ruled upon, which does address their limited powers.

UNICEF's fingerprint can be clearly seen in the recent Amparo filed by the Procuradoria for Human Rights... it is legally ridiculous and is just making a mockery of the Constitutional Court ruling and the Amparos granted in August. (Interesting that there they refer to 1500 cases being processed hastily; whereas the PGN has stated to the Embassy that they only have 200...). The names of the lawyers (about 12) who gave me the copies of their receipts are not really relevant here. I was able to show Roy Hernandez that just 12-15 of the hundreds of lawyers doing adoptions had already filed and that the PGN's statements to the Embassy, reported by the DOS, casting doubt on the attorneys, were clearly false. If for no other reason but financial, the lawyers are clearly anxious to have their cases processed and finished. There is no reasonable explanation for any lawyer to be sitting on their cases and not filing them as soon as possible. Some may have legitimate problems, but the majority are being "toyed with" by the PGN.

For example: today I saw a case returned with 7 previas, for an ABANDONMENT CASE OF A 7 YEAR OLD.. which included the previa referring to Article 21 of the CRC. The abandonment decree, of course, shows that all efforts were made to find family... and far preceeds March 5!!!! This was the 3rd time this case was returned.

I wish I had words of wisdom for all of you (and for myself). I'm continually impressed beyond words by the dedication of the attorneys who are active in the ADA. Sadly, there are a small percentage who are doing most of the work and assuming great expenses. The continued obstructionism by the PGN only serves to point out the dangers of a little power in the hands of the wrong people. If this is an example (and sadly, it is) of what a government department does with its mandate (and in this case, it's exceeding it's mandate)it serves to prove that we all have to keep up this fight. The PGN and its allies have achieved absolutely nothing constructive in the last 7 months.

It's late here and I'll continue tomorrow, hopefully, with no surprises. We should be continuing to keep our Congressional reps informed and involved.

Hannah Wallace, Focus On Adoption

Posted by Kelly at 09:09 AM

October 12, 2003

Guatemala Human Rights Organization asks for cessation of international adoptions

(Posted with permission from Caroline Tiffin, Focus On Adoption).

Yesterday, the Procurador de Derechos Humanos (director of the Human
Rights department of the government), Sergio Morales, filed an amparo
with the Constitutional Court, asking it to require Congress to pass a
law to regulate international adoptions, within a period of 30 days, and
"for the moment", asking to suspend international adoption proceedings.


With the caveat, as always, that I have been a constitutional lawyer for
15 years but not one in Guatemala! - it appears the Court has no power
to take this action and certainly not to require Congress to pass any
law.

I spoke just a few moments ago with one of our attorneys in Guatemala,
to ask her analysis of this. She agrees that the Court has no such
power, and that in any event, the justices of the court who will
consider this, are the same who found unconstitutional Guatemala's
accession to the Hague Convention on international adoption
. She also
stated, as we have already heard, that any new adoption law would not be
retroactive to cases already pending.

In the Prensa Libre article, Morales is quoted as making reference to
the PGN's statement of a few weeks ago that, in one ten-day period, it
processed 1,500 adoption cases, which itself appears to be false. He
also states that he is going to appeal to the Interamerican Commission
on Human Rights, to bring pressure upon Guatemala to cease international
adoptions. And, he makes reference to the recent and still-pending
situation of the Guatemalan children discovered in a "crib house" in
Costa Rica.

In sum, it appears this is another action initiated as a result of the
immense pressure being brought in Guatemala by UNICEF and other
similarly interested parties.

Hannah Wallace is still in Guatemala and I have a message out to her to
ask her to pass along any more information she may be able to glean "on
the ground" in Guatemala.

There is no need for panic; I just wanted to pass along this information
as it will surely become available elsewhere.

As I am just home from Guatemala and immersed in communicating with my
clients about the status of their cases, I won't have time to respond to
private emails about this but will try to respond to any posts to the
list.

There is an article today in Prensa Libre about the above; you can read
it online at www.prensalibre.com - then click on "Nacional" in the left
hand box and this is the lead story on that page.

Caroline Tiffin
Attorney at Law
Palmetto Hope International Adoption
www.palmetto-adopt.com

Posted by Kelly at 09:13 AM

More on the PGN Cases

(Posted with permission from Caroline Tiffin, Focus On Adoption).

I spent Thursday afternoon with Hannah in Guatemala City, and I returned home Friday night. Hannah will write more when she can, but just to expand a bit on what she posted:

I went with Hannah on Thursday to meet with Roy Hernandez and Paul
Mitchell of CIS (formerly INS, formerly BCIS). Paul Mitchell is the
first PERMANENT adoptions officer in Guatemala for at least 2 years.
Mr. Hernandez stated that he and Mr. Mitchell are in daily communication
and that they are committed to continuing to process cases and to
assisting U.S. families. We are hopeful that having an experienced,
permanent adoptions officer in Guatemala will be a positive change.

CIS has been told by PGN that only about 250 cases have been submitted
since the constitutional court's decision was published. The receipts
that Hannah presented to Mr. Hernandez do represent those from only
about 12 attorneys, and it is on this that Hannah based her very
conservative estimate that there must be at least 600 cases that have
been submitted to PGN since that date. I believe someone responded to
Hannah's post (as forwarded by Kelly) asking if the names of the lawyers
whose PGN receipts were presented, could be posted to the list. Since
Hannah obtained them I won't speak for her but I do not think it would
necessarily be in the best interest of those attorneys and their
adoptive family clients, to have their names published to this listserv.


Mr. Hernandez and Mr. Mitchell stated that the problems of the past few
weeks of attorneys having cases rejected at the window at CIS, when they
try to file to get DNA authorization, have been largely dealt with. Mr.
Hernandez explained that part of this is attributed to the fact that the
personnel working at the changes on a monthly basis, and when the hiatus
of CIS accepting new cases ended, there were apparently persons working
the window who didn't understand what was and was not acceptable. This
is a regrettable casualty of lack of funding for a permanent position.

Regarding the age of the Guatemalan documents necessary to file a case
with CIS, that had been extended from 30 to 60 days several months ago,
and then further extended (temporarily) to 120, after the constitutional
court's ruling was published and CIS again began accepting cases. As of
Thursday afternoon when Hannah and I were there, CIS was continuing to
accept those documents up to 120 days old, and Mr. Hernandez and Mr.
Mitchell pledged to notify attorneys and agencies (assuming the agency
is on their mailing list for updates) of a date on which they will cease
accepting documents over 60 days old.

I also want to comment on Ethica's suggestion that families ask their
agencies for dates of submission to PGN and the receipt number. The
date is certainly relevant, but the receipt number is generally not as
it proves nothing and gives no indication of when a case might come out
of PGN. Certainly the case number makes it possible for one to inquire
of PGN about the status of their case, but in most cases this is sure to
do nothing but raise red flags about ones case and/or cause an already
very slow PGN response time on submitted dossiers, to become longer. If
PGN is taking calls from adoptive families about where there cases are,
it would be one more reason/excuse for cases to not be released in a
timely fashion.

I think this was touched on in another post, but just in case:
attorneys who had filed cases with the Central Authority had to get them
back from the CA and then re-file them, in PGN. This process alone
often took weeks. Most of our lawyers did not submit those cases to PGN
until after the court's decision was published. Here's why - when the
PGN attorney assigned to a case issues either an approval or a previo,
he/she signs off on it and dates it. It then goes to the director for
his signature, where it can (and in general should be assumed to have
been if submitted any time after Lecsan Merida took the position at PGN)
and does sit for many weeks, probably no less than three. In the time
period between the court's ruling and the publication of same, PGN
attorneys continued to reject cases based on non-compliance with the
Hague. If for example, a case was reviewed and the order written 2
weeks before the publication, by the time it was signed off on by the
director and retrieved by the lawyer from PGN (more likely than not with
a previo and not an approval as we have seen) it could easily have been
weeks AFTER the publication. I'm pointing all this out so that families
whose cases were not submitted until after the publication, will not
automatically assume that their attorney was sitting on the case (or at
least, not doing so without good reason).

Regarding authentication of DNA results. One of our attorneys was told
several weeks ago that this was going to be required, so we immediately
started doing authentication of all of our families' existing results
and are continuing to do that with new results as they are received. It
may be overkill, and it may prove to be a waste of the families' money
since it *appears* that perhaps no more than 20% of the cases that have
come out with previos, include one on this basis. However, we chose to
err on the side of caution and have that taken care of as soon as
possible so as to be pro-active about it or be able to immediately
respond to such a previo.

Another previo that seems to be issued on about 20% or so of the cases,
is to have the birth mother state she has tried to but has not been able
to place her child with a family within Guatemala. Different lawyers
are probably handling this differently, but I want to point out that
this requirement infringes on the constitutional right of the birth
mother to choose whether to, and with whom, to place her child for
adoption.

Some cases with single parents, where the home study does not state that
the adoptive parent lives alone, are also being rejected, with a request
for a clarification of this.

One of our cases came out yesterday with a previo asking if the adoptive
parents spoke, wrote and understood the Spanish language.

As in the past, some previos are asking for documents that are already
in the dossier and were already submitted to PGN.

On the issue of accepting a referral now - Lisa's sage advice about one
assessing how much risk one can personally accept, is well taken.
However, as Hannah's post explained, it appears unlikely that the
Congress in Guatemala is going to pass the adoption law now pending, in
part because it is so close to the November 9 election. If passed, it
would not be retroactive and there would be some sort of "grace period"
(for lack of a better description) between passage and publication,
whereupon it would become effective. And if passed, it will certainly
be challenged on constitutional grounds for ending the notarial process
and taking from birth parents the right to choose a particular adoption
plan for their child.

Caroline Tiffin
Attorney at Law
Palmetto Hope International Adoption
www.palmetto-adopt.com

Focus on Adoption
www.focusonadoption.com

Posted by Kelly at 09:10 AM

October 09, 2003

Current Situation in Guatemala

(Posted with permission from Hannah Wallace, President, Focus On Adoption).

I'm writing from Guatemala with some information regarding the DOS recent announcements.

Re: PGN statements that the lawyers have not submitted cases. After the DOS announcement was made, the ADA collected copies of the receipts received from the PGN when they submitted their files. I have copies of receipts from about 12 attorneys (only) which show over 200 receipts between September 16 to the present. Today I showed these to Roy Hernandez at the BCIS office. Contrary to the PGN's statements, the fact is that a minimum of 600 cases have been presented to the PGN. Very few cases have been processed. Of these, a very small number have received "Approvals". The vast majority have not been processed. Of the cases processed, the vast majority are receiving "previos" of various kinds, most of them are NOT legally justified. The only way of challenging this behavior is by filing criminal charges. Some have already been filed, but they are expensive and there is no "time line". They are working on a "model" so that others can file without re-writing the wheel... I want to urge families to realize that MOST attorneys have filed their cases as soon as they are able to provide all the documentation. Most delays being experienced right now are due to the PGN's continued resistance to doing their jobs. Now they are stating publicly that they are prepared to do their jobs and blaming the attorneys. A couple of weeks ago in the Guatemalan papers they stated that they were processing over 1500 cases!!!

It's hard to know how long it will take for the criminal charges and other challenges to the PGN's behavior will take effect. Once it does, and once they really begin to do their job under the law, then cases should be processed quickly.

NEW LAW: While there is a new law being considered by some in Congress, and being actively promoted by UNICEF and others, this Law is not a "done deal". There is alot of resistance within Guatemala to this particular Law which has provisions which are unconstitutional. It would take at least 77 congressmen to vote for this law for it to pass. Most of the Congress is back in their home districts campaigning. Even if the law did pass, it would be challenged. It also would not be retroactive. Any cases "started" (with family's POA registered) before it went into effect would be processed under the old law/ current law. It would have to be passed, published and then 8 days later would go into effect.

I'm having trouble sending mail, so I'll expand on this later,

Hannah
Wallace, adoptions international

Posted by Kelly at 09:04 PM

September 29, 2003

Handling Previas

(Posted with permission from Hannah Wallace, President, Focus On Adoption).

It's come to my attention that some agencies have received cases back from the PGN with the previa requiring that they conform to the requirement in the Convention On the Rights of the Child which requires efforts to locate a family in Guatemala....

While this seems to be applied arbitrarily, since many cases are NOT getting this kind of previa and some are being approved with none at all, if your attorney tells you that such a previa is required, I think you should suggest that
they contact the ADA to address this. My understanding is that when this was
discussed prior to the Constitutional Court ruling publication, but after the ruling, the Attorney General was told by the C.C. that it couldn't be applied.... here is no mention of this on the Guatemalan Embassy website, either. But it seems to be happening sporadically, and has to be dealt with..... our "legal" understanding of this is that there are only certain aspects of the Convention On the Rights of the Child which supercede internal law, and this is not one of them...

One lawyer is addressing this by getting an affidavit from the birthmother
asserting her Constitutional right to "choose" to place her child out of the country, with the family who has been named on her "consent". This doesn't mean that the ADA won't challenge this, but is the necessary step in a "first
response".

Hannah Wallace, Adoptions International
President, FOA

Posted by Kelly at 04:53 PM

August 10, 2003

Amparos, CA, Etc.

I know that on several boards, there has been a rumor that the CA was shut down. Susana confirmed that this is just a rumor. There is some political backlash against the director of CA, Eizabeth de Larios from FRG party (Rios Montt's party). She is still there, but the PGN/FRG took away resources away from the CA.

The Court of Appeals (or Court of Amparo) made the ruling that the *"Hague Convention does not apply to the petitioners because it violates their constitutional rights."

If your lawyer was NOT on the list, then his/her cases are NOT covered by the ruling. Pressure your agency to have your lawyer file, if he/she has not already done so.

I am also aware that some agencies are *interpretting* this news as "Everything is back to normal". Legally, the amparos require that an opinion is given within 3 days. But whether they will comply is another story.

(With permission from Hannah Wallace, I am reposting her clarification. Please note that these are the "general principles". Hannah has stated that she is expecting an exact translation of the 27 page Amparo. I will provide a link when we have it)

Dear Listmates, Some of yeou have written about the fact that SOME agencies
are still recruiting families... despite the DOS website warning and the
pronouncements from the PGN/ Central Authority. There is current information to
support cautious optimism about adoptions in Guatemala.

The AMPARO granted to 97 attorney/notaries on August 5, 2003 upheld certain
principles:

1. The Hague Treaty is not a Human Rights Treaty and can't supercede the laws
of the country (internal laws). *Remember that the C.A. says on their website
that they can enforce new procedures announced on July 1, because as a HR
Treaty, the HT supercedes the Internal laws. NOT SO SAYS THE COURT.

2. The PGN does not have the right to develop regulations which deviate from
the current Law, only Congress does. * Without legislation, none of the
procedures pronounced by the PGN can be put into effect. Applying the HT without
legislation is not permitted.
This means that "arbitrary dates" like pre or post March 5, or post July 1 to
apply "new procedures" are not legal.

3. The Notarial Process is protected by the Constitution. *This means that
Notaries can continue to take Relinquishments/Consents and process the adoption
as is stated in the Law. It also means that adoptions of abandoned children,
with legal abandonment decrees, can be processed.

This AMPARO covers all the cases of the 97 Notaries who presented it. There
is an identical AMPARO being entered this week with many more Notaries signing
on.

This AMPARO is like a Court Order and stays in effect while it is being
challenged, until or unless it is overturned by a Higher Court. (It is believed
that this is unlikely to be overturned though likely that it is being appealed.)

There is some legal justification for agencies making referrals, even of post
July 1 children born and relinquished. To be absolutely safe, some agencies
are asking for small retainer fees to care for the children and begin the
process; some agencies are waiting for the results of the Appeal. But there is
this window of "'opportunity" which each family faced with the choice will have
to make. There is also a possibility that adoption legislation would be passed
by Congress. If this legislation differs greatly from the current legislation
and requires Constitutional changes, without perceived benefit to adoptions,
then that legislation can be challenged. According to attorneys, the
legislation cannot be retroactive... however, I don't recommend that families pay a
full adoption fee or even half, until we know that the Amparo is upheld under
appeal.

We should be asking our DOS to change the web site information. We should be
asking BCIS to resume DNA testing. We should be asking that our government
respect the Laws of Guatemala, not the authority assumed by the Central
Authority, who doesn't have the Law behind it in applying certain rules. We should be
asking our government to mediate between the Central Authority and adoptive
families and to stop sending us to the C.A. for information. The PGN has a role
within the current Law to process adoptions within a certain time period.
Cases are being returned to the PGN. If they don't comply with the "court order"
they can be charged criminally.

While we don't have complete security by any means, August 5 was a good day
for the children of Guatemala who need families.

Hannah Wallace, Adoptions International

Posted by Kelly at 03:50 PM

June 16, 2003

Focus on Adoption Annoucement

ANNOUNCING:
(RE-posted with permission from Hannah Wallace, Executive Director, Adoptions International).

FOCUS ON ADOPTION: An Adoption Advocacy Organization

Hannah Wallace, Executive Director, Adoptions International -President
Rodolfo Rivera, Executive Director, Children of the World - Vice-President
Margaret Orr, Excecutive Director, Small Miracles International -Secretary
Caroline Tiffin Attorney At Law - Treasurer

FOCUS ON ADOPTION evolved out of the perceived need to organize advocacy for
children in regard to Intercountry Adoption. Our mission will be to compile
research about the interface of governmental and inter- governmental policies
and its effects on intercountry adoption and children's services. We will be
investigating and rebutting anti-intercountry adoption theory and propaganda.

FOCUS ON ADOPTION has a web site under construction. Additional Board Members and Honorary Board Members will be announced shortly. Focus on Adoption is not a Membership Organization, but will be organizing volunteer efforts to coordinate Advocacy. We are registered as a Not For Profit Corporation in the State of Missouri and have applied for 501(C)(3) status. We will be able to receive donations, but they will not be tax deductible until we receive 501(C)(3) status.

* Note: While this organization has been developing for quite awhile, we had hoped to develop our website and full BOD and Honorary Board before announcing. Current critical events in Guatemala have precipitated this announcement.Look for further announcements in the near future. PLEASE refrain from personal emails until we have our organization's email address.

Our FIRST FOCUS will be Guatemala. With your help, we hope to educate the
public and public officials in regard to Guatemalan Adoptions and will be working closely with the Association in Defense of Adoption, the adoption advocacy organization composed of Attorneys and Hogar Directors in Guatemala.

Hannah D.Wallace, President, Focus On Adoption

Posted by Kelly at 12:59 PM