JCICS has launched a worthy campain on behalf of families in need of I600A extensions. I urge everyone to participate.
Information on it can be found here: http://www.jcics.org/I600A.htm
Grassroots activism is hard at work! Right now, your humble Guatadopt Team is unable to be the organizers of anything. Quite frankly our regular jobs, families, and day-to-day upkeep of Guatadopt has us pushed beyond our limits.
We have received many different letters, ideas, etc - but everyone seems to want us to be the kingpins and that isn't going to happen right now (I have to get on a plane in a couple hours as it is). But what we can do is serve as a clearinghouse where files, ideas, contact info that YOU create can be posted and easily downloaded.
Updated 9/29: Sorry, I've been non-internet connected for a couple days so we're behind. As is in the comments numerous times, DOS has modified its website and is now stating that they are advocating for in-process cases to be allowed to be completed. In addition, there is a new, well organized campaign from JCICS added when you click on more.
Updated 10/1: Families Without Borders has added a new campaign.
1.) Anything we post/publish should NOT be construed as Guatadopt officially endorsing it. We are just providing the portal. With that said, we reserve the right to refuse to post/publish anything we have major issues with.
2.) If you have put something together that you want added, please put it into a form where someone can easily download it and use it. In other words, make it genreric enough and without personal info (ie 'I accetped a referal Jan 12, 2007").
3.) E-mail files/links you'd like to see added to this to firstname.lastname@example.org
4.) Let's keep the comments on tis thread geared around action. Please don't post "I just sent the letters out" type things. This will make the comments easier for someone to look at and see what they need to do. In other words, make the comments specific calls to action or relevant info that others can act on.
I will do my best to keep this up to date. Please understand that I will not be on a computer consistently for the next few days.
Families Without Borders has launched a campaign of its own. It includes: Their response to the DOS, a sample letter to send to DOS, a letter to your Senators and Rep., and a great analysis of the DOS position. Please visit their site for complete info: www.familieswithoutborders.com.
JCICS "Guatemala 5000" campaign: JCICS has launched a well-organized campaign, asking for specfic actions on specific dates. http://www.jcics.org/Guatemala5000.htm
On-Line Petition from Focus on Adoption: http://www.petitiononline.com/foafoa1/petition.html
Letter to DOS for In-Process families: Download file
Letter to DOS for Awaiting Referal Families: Download file
Letter to DOS for Friends and Others: Download file
Letter to Sen/Rep for In-Process Families: Download file
Letter to Sen/Rep for Awaiting Referal Families: Download file
Letter to Sen/Rep for Friends and Others: Download file
Fax to UNICEF: Download file
posted on behalf of Alison G
The only full time worker for the Chicago CIS Orphan Unit has been
transferred as of March 16. The wait for I171H form is going to be
very long unless she is replaced - with help - very soon.
Families can write letters to the District Director: Jared Heinauer
10 W. Jackson Chicago, IL 60604-0000 asking that CIS make finding and
training new staff a priority. Ask Mr. Heinauer to assign adequate
staff to the Chicago CIS Orphans' Unit. Explain how the wait affects
you and your child.
Chicago CIS had one person in the unit 10 years ago and still assigns
only one person. As we know, international adoption is growing and
Chicago CIS needs the staff to grow too.
Thanks for your help!
As many of you know, Families Without Borders has been conducting a letter-writing campaign in celebration of National Adoption Awareness month (November). We are collecting letters about how our lives have been affected by Guatemalan adoptions. These letters will be sent to Sra. Wendy Berger, First Lady of Guatemala and strong supporter of the new adoption law proposal. Letters will also be copied and sent to Ms. Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, which is also strongly in favor of adoption law changes in Guatemala.
Although the campaign has been going on for three weeks now, we have only received a few letters. Our goal is to have 100 letters to send to Guatemala from family, adoptees, friends, and community members. Considering that thousands of children have entered the US from Guatemala in the past few years, and tens of thousands of people affected in some way by them, we thought our goal was realistic.
Since Guatemala does not have any way to receive or process the post-placement reports that many of us do for our agencies, they rarely get to hear what happens to our children after they leave Guatemala. But the rumors of child-trafficking for nefarious purposes abound. This is our opportunity to tell officials in Guatemala about how intercountry adoption has affected our children, our families, and our communities.
In hopes of collecting a few more letters, we have extended the deadline for the Celebrating Families - Guatemala campaign. We will now accept letters by email until Saturday, November 19, 2005. Details about the campaign can be found at: www.geocities.com/celebratefamiliesguatemala or www.familieswithoutborders.org
Families Without Borders, in celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month, has kicked off a letter writing campaign. They are collecting letters from anyone touched by Guatemalan adoption (family, friends, community) to send to Sra. Wendy Berger, the First Lady of Guatemala. Some of these letters will also be copied and sent to Ms. Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF. We want them to hear about the positive effects of intercountry adoption from Guatemala on our lives, those of our children, and our communities. This seems especially important as new, restrictive adoption laws supported by UNICEF continue to be considered in Guatemala.
Please read more about this campaign at http://www.geocities.com/celebratefamiliesguatemala or www.familieswithoutborders.org.
Several members of the Bay Area Guatemalan Adoptive Families group met Friday 4/16/04 with U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA 14th District). The primary purpose of the meeting was to thank Rep. Eshoo for her support during the Hague crisis last year and for her continued interest in adoptions from Guatemala.
Rep. Eshoo was presented with several letters and photos as well as a copy of the Families Without Borders report on UNICEF and Intercountry Adoption. Rep. Eshoo assured the families that her office would give the report a detailed read. The Bay Area Guatemalan Adoptive Families are looking forward to continuing to work with Rep. Eshoo, as well as several other representatives in the San Francisco Bay Area, on issues such as the U.S. Hague implementation, the ICARE Bill, and facilitating visitor’s visas for foster mothers when sponsored by an adoptive family.
Rep. Eshoo, of course, fell in the love with the children. She remarked about how happy they are (despite the infant and toddler wrecking crew that took over her office) and also commented about how it is seeing kids like these that gives her the ambition to serve.
A note of commentary to this story…
We need more elected officials like Rep. Eshoo. Her office and staff have listened to the concerns of her constituents and acted accordingly on their behalf. They have given thought to the complexities of intercountry adoption without bias. Rep Eshoo realizes that she must represent her constituents, but also that they can be a valuable resource to help her form her positions. Thanks Rep. Eshoo!
Guatadopt.com encourages everyone to forge a relationship and dialogue with their elected officials. Many legislative changes are ahead of us in the near future, including the ICARE Bill and the U.S. implementation of the Hague Treaty. If those of us with a vested interest in Intercountry Adoption (ICA) don’t get involved, we have no right to complain about what we may end up with. ICA is a complex issue and is not one that our elected officials are able to grasp well without assistance and perspective. This is more so the case in regard to adoptions from Guatemala because of the inherent differences between Guatemala and the other predominant “sending countries” like China and Russia that have very centralized governments and established bureaucracies.
If you have already been in contact with your Representatives and/or Senators, we would like to know about your experiences and their level of involvement. We will use this information to create a central database so that we, as the adoptive community, can be more organized on a national level. Please e-mail the name of the elected official along with where they represent (i.e.: Rep. Jane Doe - Republican Ohio 10th district) to email@example.com as well any actions they took on your behalf.
Note: A few minor wording changes were incorporated into these letters on Oct. 20, reflecting an evolution of the document. These do not affect the message of the letters.
Many people have asked about a sample letter to send to the sponsors of UNICEF in order to express our displeasure with the UNICEF policies on intercountry adoption - especially as they apply to Guatemala. I have had the privilege of working with a dedicated group of adoptive parents on assembling an educational package for the US sponsors of UNICEF. Part of this package is an explanatory letter, which we felt would be appropriate for people to use as a template in their letters to UNICEF sponsors.
By sending this letter, or a modification thereof, you would also be helping us to prepare the sponsors for the arrival of the educational package (a nearly 50 page document), which we hope to have finalized by next weekend.
A list of sponsors can be found on the United States Fund for UNICEF web page. The trick-or-treat for UNICEF sponsors are found at: http://www.unicefusa.org/trickortreat/for_partners.html
The corporate partners are listed at: http://www.unicefusa.org/partnerships/partners.html
This letter has been carefully constructed, reviewed, and edited by individuals who work in corporate philanthropy, business, adoption, and education. All that is required is that you add the name/address of the sponsors, and your contact information.
If you modify the letter provided, or choose to write your own, we strongly suggest that you maintain a respectful tone towards the audience (corporate sponsor) and seek to educate them about the UNICEF position on intercountry adoption rather than admonish them for their support. It is probably safe to assume that most of the sponsors do not know this part of the UNICEF agenda, or assume that their donation is being used towards education, immunization, maintaining safe water supplies, etc. We need to educate the sponsors about the intercountry adoption policies and ask them to hold UNICEF responsible for how their donated dollars are spent.
Here is the letter. There are two versions - one for a single signature (uses "I") and one for multiple signatures on the same letter (uses "We"). They are provided in MS word and html versions.
Please remember to add the recipient's information (company, name, etc) to the top of the letter and your personal contact information to the bottom. This is critical because letters without contact information are often ignored by the addressee.
These letters were researched, written, edited, and submitted by Families Without Borders. We are an informal coalition of adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents who support intercountry adoptions from Guatemala and elsewhere, and oppose UNICEF's philosophy towards, and efforts to curtail, intercountry adoption. FWOB is not directly affiliated with guatadopt.com. We wish to thank Kelly and this site for hosting this information while the FWOB web site is under construction.
The Bay Area Group (CA) has been very successful with convening meetings with high-ranking staff members in the offices of Senators and Representatives in their area. They have pulled together information on a wide range of topics and put it into a format for use in meetings with our elected officials. The packet, which is currently 95 pages long (so don't just download and hit print unless you're really ready for that), is most effective when placed in a binder and left with the staff member after the meeting. They have also provided helpful hints about scheduling meetings, what you should bring, how you should prepare, etc.
Some notes about the packet:
(1) you will have to revise sections of it based on the composition of your own group - for instance, there is space for a list of group members, pictures, etc that will be different for each group. If you don't use a section of the packet, make sure to remove mention of it from the table of contents.
(2) there are portions of the packet that use color - for changing the color of text directly, highlighting sections of text, a map, etc. If you are using a black and white printer, go through the document carefully to make sure that these areas are still legible and differentiated from the rest of the text.
(3) this is a large file (95 pages) and might take a little while to download. Please be patient.
Please, feel free to use this packet in your meetings with senators and representatives.
The Bay Area group indicated that they didn’t start seeing what they really need from the reps (calls/ letters) until they began meeting with them. The dozens of letters their office received prior to the request for a meeting got their interest, but it was the meetings that really have been the golden nugget in terms of getting officials to ACT on our concerns.
Julie Nicholson has put together some pointers that the Bay Area Group has learned from these meetings. You can find it at:
Julie is willing to correspond with anyone who wants further information on setting up a meeting, how theirs have gone, etc. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you simply want to know what to ask for when the congressional offices call in response to your repeated letters, a list of "action points" (which is also found in the packet) has been compiled. Remember that meeting directly with a staffer is the best way to get action, but you can start with the action points here:
A big thanks to all of the people who have worked on this packet, and provided documents or information for inclusion. We hope that it will be put to use by many people as senators and representatives all over the country are faced with requests for meetings on this issue!
As many of you may know, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala stopped granting DNA authorizations for transition (March 5 - June 30, 2003) adoption cases. Adoptive parents are now referred to the Central Authority for DNA testing. There are a couple of problems with this - first the CA labs are not working yet, to my knowledge, and there are no procedures in place for conducting DNA studies. More importantly, adoptions by U.S. families should not be under the jurisdiction of the CA at all.
Although this may seem to be a problem facing only those families who do not currently have visa pre-approval to bring their children home once the adoptions are completed, the implications go beyond that group. By yielding to the request of the Central Authority in Guatemala to stop performing some duties related to the immigration of adopted Guatemalan children, the U.S. government is legitimizing the CA. This is dangerous for all adoptions in process in Guatemala, since the best possibility for the process to go back to "normal" is if the U.S. asserts third party status to the Hague Convention, and therefore doesn't recognize the authority of the CA in processing U.S. adoption cases.
This "problem" is one that can be solved by the U.S. government quite easily, since it is one solely of their creation. We are not asking representatives from the U.S. to lobby the government of Guatemala on our behalf. Neither are we asking them to become involved in international treaty law by asserting third party status (at least not in this letter). We are simply requesting that the BCIS in Guatemala resume their job of authorizing DNA studies so that the "transitional" adoptions might proceed quickly once the PGN begins processing adoptions again.
With this in mind, I am providing yet another letter to add to our campaign. We would like everyone, whether you already have DNA approval or not, to consider sending this letter out to Joe Cuddihy at the BCIS.
Thanks again to Allison McSweeney and Ellen Daley for their outstanding assistance in editing this letter.
I have received recent information that suggests that the DOS is working hard to resolve the current difficulties surrounding Guatemalan adoptions. Among other things, it appears that the DOS is considering pursuing the third party status line of reasoning which could result in U.S. cases being processed under pre-March 5th procedures until the Guatemalan Congress enacts new adoption laws or the US becomes full party to the Hague. It also appears that the DOS is simultaneously working to clarify the many important questions raised by the PGN's recent announcements. However, on their web page and in recent responses to letters, the DOS is still referring adoptive parents to the Central Authority web site for information.
I am pleased that the DOS appears to be responding to our concerns and believe this effort has reached a critical point. Our letters to the DOS have been having some effect, and I strongly encourage that we continue them. It has also reached a point where our representatives may be able to have a strong influence. Therefore, I believe it would be very helpful if we could persuade our representatives contact the DOS directly to exercise their influence to encourage the DOS to continue its efforts on our behalf.
So, please, write your senators and congressional representatives. New letters, reflecting the concern that the DOS continues to refer US adoptive parents to the Central Authority for information and providing information on the recent success of amparos in Guatemala have been provided below. They are designed as a follow-up to the letter-writing campaign of the past two weeks. So, even if you have already sent letters out, please consider sending this new set.
The DOS letter should go to Michelle Bernier-Toth, Steve Vann (both at the same address as provided, fax 202-312-9743) and Senator Mary Landrieu of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption (fax number 202-224-9735) and should be attached to your congress/senate letters.
As with the other letters, please email me directly at email@example.com to let me know who you sent the letters to, when, and what response you have received.
These letters were written by Allison McSweeney, Julie Nicholson, Theresa Lacy, Ellen Daley, Tara Kunkel, and Maura Meade-Callahan. I'd like to thank everyone for their hard work writing and editing recently!
Sorry for the confusion yesterday, we needed to make some changes. Maura just sent me the updated documents and here they are (including the list of questions for PGN):
We are starting a letter campaign to BCIS, the US Embassy and DOS in hopes of clarifying the adoption process for us. We need to get our letters to these officials NOW!!!
Here are the sample letters provided by Maura Meade-Callahan (thanks to her, Hannah and several others who spent a lot of time perfecting these letters):
The DOS letters need to be modified, I will post a link shortly to those (as well as the address to Joe Cuddihy).
There is a letter addressed to Michelle Bernier-Toth at the DOS with a cc to Seve Vann. These should be sent out without additional coverletters, but with a copy of the position statement.
A copy of the position statement with title at the top and reference to the web site at the bottom - this should be sent with all correspondence.
A copy of a letter to Joe Cuddihy at the BCIS. Hannah put this one together specifically to request that the BCIS start processing DNA authorizations for pre-July 1 cases again. This should be sent with copies of the DOS letter and position statement.
A copy of a letter to congressional representatives to let them know what they can do to help us out. This should be sent with copies of the DOS letter and position statement.
FAXING & MAILING: Since security may slow down receipt of letters, please also consider faxing your letters! Faxing, followed up with a phone call, is a good way to make sure the message is received. Members also have "local" offices in their home states/districts, where mail MIGHT get through a little quicker. That's also where "constituent service" staffers are often located. Unfortunately, we don't have a list of those office addresses.
Here are the phone numbers and faxes of our congressmen and congresswomen:
House & Senate Spreadsheet (HTML) (notice the HOUSE and SENATE tabs at the bottom)
**NOTE: I may be adding additional information as needed, so please check back with us!