October 16, 2013

Is it what we all expected?

ND Game.jpg


Parenthood that is. I mean after all, most of us went through the trials and tribulation of trying to become a parent together. And then once our kids came home, reality struck!

To answer the question personally, I’d have to say “yes” and “no”. Unlike many friends of mine, I always knew that parenting would be all encompassing. My goal was always to be a very involved parent and active participant in my kids’ lives. But many things are not what I anticipated. For one, I thought I’d have more energy. Secondly, I didn’t realize just how much little stuff goes into parenting. Lastly, let’s face it, every child has his or her challenges and there is not a roadmap with how to deal with them.

One thing in certainly true, it seems unfathomable to imagine a life without my kids. My sense of self revolves largely around them and their well-being (which makes me wonder what will happen to me once they are grown). An avid dog lover, I was always the person who claimed my dogs were like my kids, how could I love anything more. Well no offense Ozzy, but you are now the dog and they are the kids. I could love something more!

One surprise for me, and by the way my kids are 10 and 8 now, has been “adoption parenting” because thus far, we haven’t had to do any. I mean that in a few ways that we all had to ponder.

-the community at large: we’ve lived in three states with very different cultures since becoming parents, I can honestly say that I have never really experienced any intolerance, off-handed remarks, or the like. At least nothing worth mentioning. I had a funny one a few weeks ago at a soccer game. I coach my son’s team and he was doing an amazing job at goalie. The coach from the other team said, jokingly, “he’s not from around here, where did you all buy him?” At first the adoptive dad alarm rang but I realized she didn’t realize the goalie was my son. When I said, smile on my face, “what do you mean, he’s my son” she was visibly embarrassed and obviously the comment was harmless.
-it’s no big deal to the kids: I don’t know if it is because of my kids’ inherent natures or a function of how open we’ve raised them. But my kids are just not that interested in it all. For them, it’s no big deal. There are so many non-traditional families these days, that there’s no stigma. When they get the “he’s your dad?” question from a kid, they explain they were adopted (I prefer saying we are an “adoptive family” but I can’t pick their words for them) with nothing that resembles insecurity, embarrassment, or pride for that matter. It just is. In reality, I wish they were more interested!
-Tied to the first two is that we haven’t experienced issues like schools having projects that can’t be done normally for an adoptive family. The schools are very cautious because of how many kids lack a dad, live with an aunt, or are otherwise outside the norm and that helps. But still, we haven’t had awkward family tree assignments or the like.

One thing I have found interesting is how the parent changes over time. For the longest time, my kids loved me almost as much as the dog! They wanted to be around me all the time. If I was home, it meant it was time for me to play with them. And while I loved to do so, there were times - many times – when I just wanted to sit in my recliner, have a beer, and watch the news. Those rare times when a 6 and 4 year old managed to occupy themselves were heaven. Now, they are into their own stuff. Isabel has discovered the solace of being alone in her room. Sammy is far more interested in Minecraft than he is in me playing monster with him in the backyard. It’s now ME who begs THEM to play some wii or go on a bike ride. Maybe that’s why a guy who quit playing soccer when he was about 10 decided to learn up and coach their teams – because they have to play with me then!

I realize fully well that above has been my experience and I’d be idiot to think that my kids’ feelings, emotions, and struggles won’t change. We are so blessed with two wonderful kids who are well behaved, polite, considerate (well one of them), and humane. I’m sure some of my past critics who said I could never be a decent parent are as amazed about that as I am. Even more amazing, and this is not a joke – my kids don’t fight with one another. They bicker a tiny bit but by and large, the best-of-friends.

All in all, it’s a ton of work and the most rewarding job possible. Today, I really don’t think of us an adoptive family. We’re just a family. My kids are just my kids, the same as anyone else. Adoption isn’t primary in our identification internally or from our community and that’s pretty cool.

Posted by Kevin at 05:15 PM

December 17, 2011

Semi-Old Comments

There has been a bug in our system for some time and comments have not been getting sent to me to approve. I just went through and approved all the legitimate old ones I could find. I apologize to anyone whose comments were not posted until now.

If you ever post a comment and it doesn't go on the site within a day or so, please let me know. We don't censor and anytime there is a comment we are not comfortable with, we would let you know.

Posted by Kevin at 09:14 AM

September 30, 2011

April 15, 2011

Bar-Mitzvahs in Guatemala

For all those fellow members-of-the-tribe con hijos chapines, here's a way to integrate your kids birth and adoptive cultures.

http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/23309/Bar_Mitzvahs_With_a_Marimba_Beat/

Posted by Kevin at 04:52 PM

December 02, 2010

Swimming Pool Safety

Okay so it's an odd time of the year to post this and as the weather near me is quickly cooling, darned to those who can use this now :-) But one of our readers runs this site with tips on pool safety for kids and you never know when reading something like this may end up saving a life. So why not post it?

http://www.automaticpoolcleaners.org/

Posted by Kevin at 11:45 AM

October 19, 2010

Any Pennsylvania Attorneys Out There???

The now defunct Do Good Charitable Foundation is in need of some pro-bono legal help in regard to a civil lawsuit in which it has been named. Since the foundation had no assets, insurance, etc and donated every penny that came in, it's easy to see the quandry.

So if by some chance there is someone out there who may be able to donate some legal services, it would be much appreciated. It may be as simple as a willingness to supervise students doing the actual pro bono work. You can just leave your e-mail as a comment (I won't publish it) or e-mail me (kevin @ guatadopt.com - remove the spaces).

Thanks in advance!

Posted by Kevin at 12:46 PM

June 11, 2010

Welcome Aboard - New Writer

Here's something that doesn't happen very often - Guatadopt introducing a new writer. But that's just what I'm doing here...

For some time, it's been painfully apparent that Kelly and myself have been lacking in time, energy, whatever. At the same time, our hopes that the in-process debacle would come to a rational end proved wrong.

With that as the background I welcome Ann Roth to the team. Ann is the proud mom of one Guatemalteca. Importantly, Ann (and her hubbie dude Dave) also are working furiously to bring home their son.

It is not often that I would refer to a child still in-process as being the PAP's "son", but in this case the dedication and determination I've seen from Ann for a few years now is worthy of an exception.

Ann is a leader within the Guatemala900 and I look forward to bringing us back into our activist roots to help them with their efforts. She is a busy mom so be patient, comments will get approved...

Welcome aboard Ann!

Posted by Kevin at 04:06 PM

June 07, 2010

Great Prensa Libre Story

The Prensa Libre ran a very nice story on Sunday about all the different ways, Guatadopt included, that adoptive families come together to celebrate our children's heritage, manage parenting challenges, and stay informed on all things Guatemala. You can find it here.

For years I have tried to get just this type of piece written as a way to show what the adoptive family community is like, in particular the fact that many of us don't lose touch with where our kids came from.

Click on more for a horrible translation.

Internet unites families with adopted The social networks through Internet are a new method that the families with adopted children of Guatemala utilize to establish contact, to share experiences, to organize meetings and events, and also to maintain alive the flame of the Guatemalan culture in their children. BY CRISTINA BONILLO

These people have pages or form groups in the social networks that serve even to maintain informed the families on what happens in Guatemala.

Now that the natural disasters unchained by the storm Ágatha and the eruption of the Volcano of Pacaya have done notch in the country, the networks of these adopted families have also become reproductive of the to happen national.

For example, in the web page www.guatadopt.com the families can find brought up to date the last informations on the effects of the storm, as well as testimonies of families and of adopted, and information on processes of pending adoption in Guatemala.

Other groups of adopted parents until maintain projects in Guatemala. Is the case of the Network of Adopted Families of Guatemala, in which they participate families of Canada and States. UNITED., that contribute directly with two projects in Guatemala: one with women in the communities close to Quetzaltenango, where they help to market organic products, and another in a village of Comalapa, where they initiated a project of water entubada.

In Facebook they are several the pages and groups of adopted families of Guatemalans that can be found. One of them is a JINX (Guatemalan Adoptive Family Event), a group created to organize an event that is celebrated every other year approximately, in which they congregate scores of families with Guatemalan children.

In the page Guatemala Adoption of Facebook, 222 members, among families that adopted and their Guatemalan children, share experiences.

The network serves some families to have achievements as the one that mentions Award Videen, who explains that its son has now 9 years and through the network they managed to find their biological brother, also adopted by an American family. "¡We could not believe that to find it could take 20 minutes! Fortunately we were not very far away and we have maintained them in contact", explains Videen in the network. They seek counsels nevertheless, not all the experiences are so good. The families also use the networks to seek aid when arise problems. In this same group, Debbie Mark explains that in 1999 they adopted a Guatemalan girl that now is 10 years old. "The other day broke to cry and said that did not want to be here more. That wanted to be in Guatemala with his family 'real'", indicates the mother, and subsequently question if someone has had an experience of that type and counsels on how act. Local groups In some states, the parents with Guatemalan children create groups to perform joint activities, as in Pennsylvania and Kansas. Gina Peirce, copresidenta of the organization Greater Pittsburgh Adoptions from Guatemala (Gpafg), refers to Free Press that this association is formed by some a hundred families that live in Pennsylvania and adopted children of Guatemala. Be maintained in contact, the organization counts on its own web page, a group in Facebook and another in Yahoo. "We utilize these channels to communicate activities, information of interest as events or resources related to Guatemala that be celebrated in our neighborhood, as well as opportunities to support to supportive organizations that work in Guatemala", declares Peirce. Another organization of this type is Guatemala Adoptive Parents of Kansas (Gapk), that
joins with families of this region for the purpose of "to create a network of support and connection among the Guatemalan culture, the adopted parents and its children", asserts this association in its blog. Among the activities that organize educational and playful options they are found, as well as assistance for who they adopted Guatemalan children.

Posted by Kevin at 01:48 PM

December 24, 2009

From Me on this Christmas Eve

If you're a Guatadopt reader, please find the time to read this tirade in its entirety by clicking on more…

As I write this a massive search is underway in my hometown for an eleven year old girl who was kidnapped. The suspect in the case, a registered sex offender, is in custody but is not being cooperative. Yesterday I posted about a similar search for a little boy in Guatemala. That search has ended with the worst of outcomes as Keneth was found murdered.

The last year has been an amazingly difficult one for me in my role at Guatadopt. The polarization of views has made it near impossible to communicate through a position on things. No matter how I have chosen to manage the stream of allegations, news, counter-allegations, etc it seems as though it is interpreted as taking one “extremist” position or the other. As a result of this, it’s as if there is some sort of microscope on every word, timing, etc. On one hand, who the hell cares? It’s all just the internet, not the real world after all. On the other hand, I care very deeply because of the nature of all of this. Because of who I am and what I believe.

I am an adoption advocate. I believe in the institution of intercountry adoption. I believe it to be a wonderful thing that is one tiny piece of the puzzle to providing for the world’s children in need. And at the same time, it does allow the joys of parenthood to people like myself. Whether or not our primary motivation for adopting was humanitarian in nature is irrelevant. And I’m the first to admit it was not for my wife and me. I take no shame in that.

During my time and experience at Guatadopt, I have come to a few conclusions. The system became plagued by many types of corruption and it is a crime to lump them all together. It is an injustice to the victims of true kidnappings to group their experience in with one where a birthmother may have faked documents, failed DNAs, etc because she was married and thus her child wouldn’t meet the US Orphan Status definition. I don’t condone either, but their occurrences don’t necessarily lead me to the same conclusions.

There are other debates over payments to birthmothers, whether de-facto surrogacy should be tolerated, if poverty is a valid reason for relinquishment, etc. that deserve to be had but are very academic in nature. No women should be in the position of feeling relinquishment is her best option due to poverty! Until there are means of aid accessible to the women of the world, this fact is just mental masturbation. Because there are children that die every year due to their parents poverty. I can’t solve that, though I am the kind of guy that would much rather see my tax dollars used to drop humanitarian supplies than bombs. My opinion is that of course we don’t want a commercial system creating orphans. And it needs to be controlled. Let’s just all agree that the money clouds everything and as much as humanly possible should be removed from any birthmother’s decision.

Another thing I have come to learn is that with Guatemalan adoptions there is evil and corruption everywhere. Every side and faction seems to have its own agenda. You can’t take with 100% certainty what comes from Unicef any more than the ADA at times. As for me and this site, our agenda was and remains to be to push for functioning, ethical adoption systems.

So on to the hot topics of the day.

How have I handled the allegations against Susana Luarca? I have been attacked over this, with most of the criticism coming from the viewpoint that we are being too kind to Susana. Well here’s my viewpoint on it.
First off, I will admit it is difficult to be 100% objective on this. While she and I have never been great friends, without her I likely wouldn’t be a father. She led the fight and I did all in my power to help her. Would I have done the same back in 2003 if I knew all the corruption I’d encounter in later years? Who knows? But what I saw from my experiences with Susana was a fighter. She’s always communicated like a defense attorney whose job it is protect her client, in this case the notarial system. There have been times when I was outraged at Susana. She once came to the defense of an attorney who I knew wasn’t paying his foster moms and threatened to out. That really p*sse d me off.

I have heard from many of her clients over the years. Some ecstatically happy. Some seemed less so. Some complained of feeling intimidated. Some even felt abused. There was no doubt that she’d fight for her cases, though some question at times if they were used for her larger motives. But you know what, she got the kids home by and large. Her hogar seemed to provide very good care to the kids. So all in all, her clients knew her notoriety and hopefully her personality.

It always seemed like one thing with Susana was that there were few secrets because everything was in the papers. I remember a number of years ago, when a birthmom tried to reclaim a child in order to get more money, Susana didn’t turn that child over. Instead she went to the courts. Whether that was fair or not to the birthmom can be debated, but it was done in the open in accordance with the law. And we all saw what happened at PGN in a different case where Susana felt that a minor birthmom was being intimidated by her family to reclaim. I’m not saying whether she was right or wrong, but it was certainly not covert.

I don’t know the specifics of the allegations and charges against her now. I know that the media doesn’t necessarily portray everything as it is. Reporters worldwide are too pressed for time to do a good job. The pieces about birthmoms who claim she wouldn’t allow them to reclaim their kids, or threatened them, disturb me deeply. And they need to be examined by the courts and MPs.

I am also disturbed at the way it is portrayed because she, or any attorney/hogar, did adoptions of kids with failed DNA tests. There is a reason why those went before a judge. And there is no good answer on what should be done. On one hand, there was not the infrastructure in place to 100% ensure that these children were abandoned. On the other hand, if a search shows no one trying to find them, what should happen to this child? Should they be denied the chance of a family just I case? When Susana was presented with a child from a failed DNA, what should she have done? Taking it to the courts seems a valid response. Now all of this goes to hell fast if it can be proven that a judge was on the take. But thus far, I am not convinced that a judge who was more “pro-adoption” would not be accused as something far worse. And I’m not ready to hang an attorney who brought more cases to judges that were not biased against adoptions.

So my net takeaway is that I don’t know. The Susana that I have known seemed far too wise to get caught up in anything like kidnapping or in being a ringleader of anything other than a blind advocacy of the notarial system. I find it hard, but not impossible, to fathom. That makes her neither saint nor satan, which is where all things considered I am comfortable placing her. I’m sure her friends and foes both are equally distraught with this right now.
Now on to Norma Cruz, who apparently has been nominated for Prensa Libre’s Person of the Year (http://www.prensalibre.com/pl/2009/diciembre/23/363295.html).

She deserves huge credit for the publicity and attention she has brought to the extremely real problem of crimes against women in Guatemala. But I have some issues with her as it relates to all things adoption. First off, I am an adoption advocate as stated previously. Norma is one of those people who characterizes ALL adoptions as inherently corrupt and wrong. That is an agenda and platform that I can not support!

There are aspects of some of her stories that I find very hard to believe and in my opinion may have been fabricated/exaggerated. That doesn’t mean a hideous crime didn’t exist, but it may not be exactly as reported in the papers. And I believe that some of those things may have distorted attention away from the real corruption problems that existed. In addition, and I admit this is my ego, I can’t get over the fact that Guatadopt reached out to Norma MULTIPLE times to help. There were children missing, presumably referred to someone in the US, and yet she wouldn’t reply back to our offers to post pictures of the kids, see what we could find, etc. After all, it was due to someone reading this site that caused the first child to be returned to her mother!

Net result is that I believe Norma has a well intentioned agenda. But I cannot get over her overall portrayal of adoption nor do I, right or wrong, have 100% confidence that she doesn’t have too much “ends justifies the means” philosophy. I’m not asking anyone to agree or disagree, I’m just sharing where any perceived bias from me comes from and why. I only claim to be human after all. Any bias should not be perceived as trying to not cover the stories of corruption. I stand by this site's record of posting the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So how will I handle all of this?

I will continue to allow all sides to post. I will do my best to post all stories of relevance. And I’ll do my best to decide well on what is relevant. I will respect that on some matters we have many readers who differ greatly. I’ll ask you all to deal with the crap you don’t like. I don’t know any better way to handle. I am doing my best to be objective, but once again I’m human.

In the coming weeks you will likely see calls for how to help out one side or the other. I will allow all those pleas to go out unless something is overly distasteful to me.
And yet, in all of this I can’t help but to just be a parent and imagine the heartache and pain of the parents of this little girl in Maryland and Keneth in Guatemala.

And let us not forget that there are still hundreds of kids in Guatemala with American families waiting to bring them home, and no families for them in Guatemala.

For now, I’m taking the holidays off. Don’t expect any comments cleared for a few days.

Paz y Feliz Navidad


Posted by Kevin at 01:20 PM

October 02, 2009

Very Cool

Not adoption related. It's Something to watch and ponder. Not because it's Bill. And yes, him and the hot young singer is certainly cause for a joke. But because this is a bunch of Arab and Israeli kids singing "Imagine" together at the birthday party of a former Israeli president with a former US president! In all times, Lennon's lyrical masterpiece is something worth imagining...

Posted by Kevin at 09:24 PM

June 07, 2009

A Sad Day...

Today I lost a good friend. She was in her early forties and had everything going for her. Newly wed, a new grandma, starting an MBA, and embarkiing on a new career. She was a kind, honest, and hard working person. She was someone who could be an aspiration for single moms everywhere.

I first met her setting up an interview for my first job after grad school. She assured me the town wasn't too bad, after all they had just gotten a new chain steak restaurant. That went over well with the kid from Southern California. When I needed someone to help me create the song loop I used to go down the aisle at my wedding, she was there to help and figured it out. (Dead Man's party from Oingo Boingo if you're curious. But it was only the music, not the lyrics, I'm not that bad) She was one of the very few people that ever babysat my kids. Boy did they ever love her.

For the past two years when Guatadopt needed someone to design the calendar, she stepped in and did a marvelous job. Many of you corresponded with Lesa over missing pics, wrong pics, etc.

So in honor of Lesa, even in the small way she touched our community, please take a look at those calendars, think about all the good things of friends and family, and thank her with a prayer, thought, smile, whatever. She was a wonderful person and the world is undoubtedly worse without her. I'll miss you Lesa...

Posted by Kevin at 09:08 PM

October 17, 2008

Weather Update

Heavy rains have caused flooding in the interior of the country.

Areas affected:
Chimaltenango
Rivers overflowed in Izabal, Peten and las Verapaces
La aldea Tonajuyu, Chimaltenango

The rivers: Rio Dulce, Polochic y Motagua, between Izabal y Peten, y el Chixoy, en las Verapaces have overflowed causing immediate danger.

In Zacapa, the river Motagua, along with the rivers Rio Maria Linda, Achiguate y Coyolate are starting to overflow.

Posted by Marie at 04:50 AM

October 16, 2008

Guatemalan Textiles

Guatemalan hand woven textiles are known worldwide for its intricate designs and vibrant colors. Patterns are often traditional Maya designs and differ from regions and tribes.

The Forsyth Center Galleries is showing an exquisite collection of Guatemalan apparel dating from the late 19th and early 20th century, and representing a significant cross-section from more than 100 villages found in the Guatemalan highlands. Reports Newswire.com in an article today.

The MSCC Forsyth Center Galleries at Texas A&M University is featuring, Guatemalan Maya Weavers: Colors of Tradition, from Oct. 16 through Dec. 15 at the J. Wayne Stark Galleries.

Women of the Guatemalan highlands have been weaving clothing using handmade backstrap looms for centuries, yet no examples of Guatemalan textiles older than 200 years are thought to exist. The Forsyth Center Galleries are fortunate to possess an exquisite collection of Guatemalan apparel dating from the late 19th and early 20th century, and representing a significant cross-section of the more than 100 villages found in the Guatemalan highlands.

As each Latin American country is different from one another, so are the villages that comprise Guatemala. Throughout these villages, Guatemalan women have maintained a tradition of incorporating particular colors, patterns, shapes and symbols that make up the styles of dress that are unique to each village. Included in the exhibition are complete men's and women's outfits used for everyday living, as well as complete men's and women's outfits used for special celebrations and rituals. Keep in mind there are also controversies of the role that colonization has played in the wearing of these textiles, but that is for another thread.

The exhibition was organized by Forsyth Center Gallery Director, Nan Curtis. According to Curtis, "The varied styles of dress on display in Guatemalan Maya Weavers: Colors of Tradition offer us a rare opportunity to explore an important heritage as well as an integral part of daily life for the Guatemalan Maya, an ethnic community that demonstrates some of the greatest variety of weaving skills and some of the greatest diversity in design and color in art." The textiles were a gift from Harwood K. Smith ( '35 ) and his wife, Kate, to the MSCC Art Collection in 1983. The MSCC Art Collection is maintained by the Forsyth Center Galleries.

The Forsyth Center Galleries is a non-profit cultural institution at Texas A&M University that provides intellectual enrichment for the humanities in the fields of American Art, and American, English, and French glass objects. As the home to the Bill and Irma Runyon Art Collections, the Galleries house one of the world's extraordinary collections of glass objects and American paintings. Their mission is the commitment to education, exhibition, and the interpretation of the fine and decorative arts. The Forsyth Center Galleries are open Monday through Friday 9:00 am from to 8:00 pm and Saturdays and Sundays 12:00-6:00 pm. They are located at the southwest corner of the Memorial Student Center on Texas A&M University's main campus. Admission is free. For more information contact 979-845-9251, or email fcg@msc.tamu.edu
*You need JavaScript to enable you to view it or visit the website at http://forsyth.tamu.edu .

Posted by Marie at 05:31 AM

September 03, 2008

Do you know me - Sept 08

We're looking for one more. No need to worry. But the truth another family was told she had passed away and would love to know she's okay. So if you do, please let me know.

pic sep 08.jpg


Posted by Kevin at 08:53 PM

August 26, 2008

Looking for a family

If you are the family adopting a little angel named Karina, your last name starting with "M", please let me know. We'd like to welcome you in as part of a special almuni group.

Posted by Kevin at 09:11 PM

August 23, 2008

A Note from Buffalo CIS re: Incomplete G884 and inquiries

Our contact at Buffalo CIS has asked us to pass that they are getting caught behind because of G884 frms being sent in without everything needed. Same goes for any inquiries they receive via e-mail. Please click on more for some reminders.

Starting Monday 8/25/2008 I will be returning ALL incomplete G-884 requests I receive.

From Buffalo CIS:

G-884 submissions:
The form must be completed and signed.

Notarized OR signed in front of an USCIS officer.

Two forms of photo identification from the parent submitting /signing G-884 must be attached. (ie.Copies of driver’s license & Pass port).

One document showing the relationship between the adopting parent(s) and the child (possible birth record/certificate).

Emails sent for instructions or inquiries MUST have the child’s registration number. (This is the quickest and easiest way for me to locate the file).

Posted by Kevin at 09:04 AM

August 14, 2008

Warning: E-Mails from Me (Kevin)

Some spam/hacker managed to get into my address book. So for anyone who receives an e-mail from me with the subject line "hi", please ignore it. It is not legit and I didn't send it...

Posted by Kevin at 11:54 AM

July 21, 2008

Do You Know Me - July 2008

Authorities are trying to find out any information on this child. It is believed that she was referred to a family who may have been told the birthmother reclaimed. The child was found abandoned in Mexico and authorities are attempting to determine her origin, believing she is Guatemalan.

If you have any information, please e-mail me at info @ guatadopt.com (remove spaces before and after @ symbol).

pic2.bmp

Posted by Kevin at 01:00 PM

July 14, 2008

Families in the Salisbury/ SE MD Area?

We're looking for families who live in the Salisbury/Ocean City/Selbyville area. So if you live in that part of the country, please post a comment or e-mail me at kevin @ guatadopt.com.

Posted by Kevin at 03:51 PM

June 29, 2008

July on Guatadopt

Just giving you all a heads up that July may be a "dry" month on Guatadopt. Marie, Kelly, and I all have out of the ordinary stuff going on that will likely keep us on-line minimally.

Both Marie and I are moving our families. I know in my case I will not even have my own computer for about three weeks.

Kelly, our matriarch and founder, is having some surgery. Of course we ask all of you to say a prayer for her to have a quick and easy recovery.

So bear with us, we'll do our best!

Posted by Kevin at 09:43 AM

May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day in Guatemala. So we would like to send out best wishes, love, and respect to all of the mothers and foster mothers to whom we and our children owe so much. While some claim that a women who relinquishes her child is trying to abandon her motherly responsibilities, many of us who have contact with our children's birthmoms know this not to be true. The fact is that it takes huge courage and love to be able to put your own self aside and care for your child's health, future, and well being so much that you make the such an extreme sacrifice.

And to the true heroines of Gutaemalan adoptions..the cuidadoras (foster moms)... I don't know what else to say but thank you! In the current crisis where adoptions are taking longer, more than ever it is you who will ensure that the children are impacted as little as possible. And it is you who will have the ever more difficult job of handing over a child who you have come to love like your own. To my kids' foster moms, we love you and I'll be calling you later.

Posted by Kevin at 09:56 AM

April 30, 2008

Attn: "In Process" Abandonments

In the next day or so, Guatadopt will create a form where people waiting on an abandonment decree can register their information. We can make no promises of any success. Individual case info will kept confidential from the public but by flling it out you will be authorizing us to send it to the CCAI, CNA, or other governmental bodies as necessary. We did learn that CCAI would like this info and so we're happy to use our reach to the adoption community to help.

To be clear, once this form is up (we will post it here on the main Guatadopt.com homepage) you should only fill it out if: Your case needed a Certificate of Abandoment when CNA registration occured and thus could not be registered.

Posted by Kevin at 02:17 PM

April 29, 2008

A Prayer Request

Today I learned that Mateo, the son of a friend of ours and Guatemalan adopteee, was diagnosed with Leukemia. This is very hard to swallow as we went through our daughter's adoption along with his and I can not begin to imagine the pain and stress his parents must feel. So please, say a prayer for his treatment to be successfull and with as minimal discomfort as possible.

For those of you who know Mateo and his parents, please refrain from posting their private site in order to respect their privacy.

Gracias y paz!

Posted by Kevin at 10:27 PM

April 21, 2008

Message from USCIS re: G884 - Return of Original Documents & COCs

UPDATE 4/21/08: This is an update to a previous post from 3/4/08 that can be read by clicking more. USCIS has gotten over most of hte backlog of requests. They have asked me to pass on that anyone making an inquiry regarding G-884 requests or inquiries regarding Certificates of Citizenship include the child's registration number with their initial inquiry.

The registration number can be found on the VISA page of the Guatemalan passport or on the Certificate of Citizenship.

Former Post from 3/4/08:
Today I spoke with a very nice guy with USCIS. His office was recently given the role of completing the requests for original documents when adoptive parents send in the G884 form. They are experiencing a backlog and are diligently working to get through it.

If you have sent in the G884 form and have not received any acknowledgement from USCIS by March 15, they ask that you contact them at Child-Citizenship-Act@dhs.gov OR 716-551-4741 ext 6130.

Kudos to this office for caring and trying to communicate with their customers.....

Posted by Kevin at 02:54 PM

April 09, 2008

Waiting Angels Sentenced

Simone and Joe of Waiting Angels were sentenced today. 11 months of probation for felony tax evasion with charges to be reduced to misdemeanors if they comply with the terms of their probation. Restitution to their victims will be determined on April 30th.

Here's a story on it: http://www.macombdaily.com/stories/040908/loc_local04.shtml

Posted by Kevin at 06:32 PM

April 02, 2008

Looking for a PAP

If you are in the process of adopting a little girl named Guadalupe S. G. who is living at the AGAND hogar please contact me. We have some baby pictures of this little angel and the family whose adoption of Guadalupe was disrupted would like to be in contact with you. You can reach me, Kevin, here: http://www.guatadopt.com/MailMe.php

Posted by Kevin at 04:29 PM

March 17, 2008

Registering for Guatadopt Forums

A note to anyone who has tried unsuccessfully to register for the Guatadopt forums. I, and others, normally approve those every 24-28 hours. Unfortunately, for every legitimate registration we receive, there are literally 20-30 spam, porn, pharmaceutical, etc. registrations to reject. It is often difficult to tell the good ones from the bad. All we have to go on is to look at the username and e-mail address and then guess.

So if you try to register and it doesn't get approved within a couple of days, it means we rejected it because we guessed wrong. If this happens, please:
1.) Go back in and register again
2.) Contact me with your user name. You can contact me here: http://www.guatadopt.com/MailMe.php

PLEASE ONLY CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE PROBLEMS REGISTERING.

Posted by Kevin at 07:31 AM

March 11, 2008

AP Story on Casa Quivira

By now I am sure most of you have read the latest story the AP's Juan Carlos Llorca has written in regard to the ongoing saga of Casa Quivira. If you have not, you can find one version of it here.
First of all, my heart goes out to all the families involved and of course my hopes are that the children not be punished because of this - they are undeniably innocent!

There are some key points I’d like to address on this because in my opinion this story conveniently leaves something out that makes it all less sinister. Fraudulent documents are a serious matter, so upfront I am in no way defending what occurred and I’ll just go on record saying that I do not accept the CQ excuse of “not knowing”. They knew the controversies and concerns around Guatemalan adoptions and if a large number of their cases had issues, I have a hard time accepting the excuse.

Juan Carlos Llora has been covering this story for some time. He is not some guy who was thrown a story with a short deadline. He has had time to understand Guatemalan adoptions and the law.

Why would the legitimate birthmother of a child fake her identity?

The story said she was married…

The US Immigration and Nationality Act states that a child whose parents are married can not be adopted internationally by US citizens. As such, the only way this child could be adopted by US citizens would be through the use of fraudulent documents. I have been told by DHS officials in the past that one of the most prevalent fake docs used is death certificates for living, still married fathers. So this corruption was to circumvent US immigration law, not Guatemalan adoption law.

This does not make it right. I am not defending the practice. The law is the law whether or not I think this restriction on the children of married couples is asinine, pathetic, and stupid (which incidentally I do believe!). However, Juan Carlos Llorca when attempts to use this to describe a corrupt system and leaves the obvious explanation out, at some point the humanist in me comes out and calls bullsh*t. In other words, from a legal perspective – highly unethical. From a human one – debatable.

I also am concerned by the statements about Casa Quivira being the best or most reputable adoption agency. Where in the heck did they come up with this? I am not making a statement about CQ here, but no agency gets those distinctions and how did this make its way into the AP story? Why would that be included?

Those statements clearly are being used to paint the entire adoption system as rife with corruption. Those statements lead the everyday reader to surmise “if the best agency had these fake docs, what about the rest of them”. And that casts a dark shadow over tens of thousands of families, one of which happens to be mine that I will defend to the grave.

So where did it come from? The AP’s research? The Ministerio Publico? Cliff and Sandra? Who said CQ was “considered Guatemala’s best adoption agency”? I’d like to know.

Let me add that I know that the AP reporters involved in this piece were given my name and cell phone number to speak to before publishing this story. If the AP isn’t going to take some time to understand things, a five minute conversation would have at a minimum made sure they knew why this woman would have used a fraudulent cedula.

So while this story was not atrocious it also fell short in my view. I personally have no issue with stories documenting the corruption that existed. Those stories need to be told. But this piece seemed to intentionally include, “fabricate”, or omit key points of information in its attempt to denigrate families formed through intercountry adoption from Guatemala and that is wrong.

Peace!


Posted by Kevin at 05:41 PM

February 26, 2008

Non-Adoption Global Politics - Colom's Challenge

Many of our readers try to understand all things Guatemala and keep up with the politics du jour. Yesterday I read what I found to be a very interesting story about the challenges Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom faces in his attemps to improve life for his people in an era where both the U.S. and Venezuela don't get along and both offer help.

So here's a little break from the adoption stuff to keep us all informed...

http://www.mexidata.info/id1732.html

Posted by Kevin at 11:30 AM

January 30, 2008

Newsweek Story

Newsweek has a couple of stories this week on ICA. But I want to promote everyone reading this one: http://www.newsweek.com/id/105531.

This story actually explains, albeit only on the surface, the issues surrounding UNICEF's positions on ICA. Moreso, I think it does a good job of pointing out the b.s. they spew out all the time. This is no surprise when they let Alexandra Yuster, who I'll officially give my "(censored to be a smart *ss and/or polite boy) of the year" award to, speak in public. And Alexandra, PLEASE accept a debate with me. After all, how much of an intellectual threat could a little ole blogger like me be to someone like you who gets paid to live in the ivory towers of idealism and academic theory?

Yes UNICEF, ICA is so much not a focus that you seem to spend alot of time and energy on it. How about doing some direct aid and supporting the grassroots organizations on the ground who are better at making a difference? Stop talking about "trying" to develop this or that and do some good like I know y'all can. Remove the conditions that lead to ICA before you endorse pulling the rug out from under the children. And remember this, because we can not be fooled - the debate is not over the need for ICA reform in countries like Guatemala. The debate is over the types of reform YOU support!

Posted by Kevin at 05:14 PM

January 19, 2008

Welcome Dateline NBC Viewers

Guatadopt.com would like to thank you for wanting to learn more about Guatemalan adoptions. Admittedly, you've stumbled to the right place to do that.

An adoption attorney once told me "at its best, there is no adoption system as good as Guatemala's, at its worst, there is none worse". This statement is incredibly true.

Tens of thousands of families like ours have been formed through adoption from Guatemala. For many of us, our experience was far more than an adoption process, because our lives grew in ways beyond just the size of our families.

Many of us remain involved in the community of adoptive families through websites like this, local community groups, and other means. Many of us now have a devotion to help alleviate the extreme poverty in Guatemala that leads to children needing families. One such example is Do Good, LLC – a company created by this site’s founder and chief writer that sells ethically produced items and where every sale helps feed a child a Guatemala. You can find it here:
http://www.do-good-stuff.com

Guatemalan adoptions were not all corrupt. It is horribly wrong and inaccurate to assume all children adopted from Guatemala came to this country through a corrupt process. More importantly, it is incredibly unfair to the children. But as is the case with any system, the combination of money and poor law enforcement created an atmosphere for corruption.

Guatadopt.com provided a good deal of help to NBC in creating this story. We knew that it would most likely show more of the dark side of Guatemalan adoptions that involved a small minority of all cases than it would how most of our families grew. But we felt that only by helping show all the truths of the system might the public be able to understand this institution so many of us hold dear. That goal shows true by the fact that people like you are here to learn more.

One of our writers, Troy Webb, was featured on the Dateline show. You can read his “Second Time Around” blog that chronicles his adoption and interactions with NBC in our writer’s corner here: http://www.guatadopt.com/WritersCorner/SecondTime/

Intercountry adoption is an incredibly complex issue. It is political. It can be easily sensationalized. It is heart warming. But as Dateline has demonstrated, something that is obviously a wonderful concept – children finding families despite border – can run awry if left open to unethical opportunists. The real debate lies in what should be done when unethical and abusive practices exist.

The global norm is to stringently reform intercountry adoption laws. For example, Romania has formally ended the practice. Through much of Central and Southern America the trend has been to create an underfunded, complex, bureaucratic system that keeps intercountry adoption open on paper, but in reality makes it virtually impossible. The latter has occurred. No one, not even the critics of intercountry adoption like Unicef, can say what the impact has been on children. In an effort to remove corruption, are we throwing away the baby with the bathwater?

It is quite amazing that we live in a world where countless children die each day from malnutrition and other curable diseases. This is a world where children languish in squalid institutions and orphanages because their parent(s) knew that was better than what they could provide. And this is a world where there are many thousands of loving adults who just want to be parents and provide a family for a child.

Our children are not our “adopted children”, they are just our kids the same as anyone else’s. They are our purpose in life. They are the sparkle in our eyes. We love them more than words could describe. Our families may have been formed through intercountry adoption and because of this we celebrate Guatemalan holidays, we sleep in cunas rather than cribs, and we drink pachas rather than bottles.

Thanks again for visiting.

Sincerely,

Kelly Caldwell and Kevin Kreutner
Founder and Chief Writer for Guatadopt.com

Posted by Kevin at 06:40 PM

Please take a look...missing child!!

Enma Galicia ap Poster.jpg

By now it is no secret that the Dateline NBC will unveil a kidnapping scheme. Like everyone else, I am very curious to see how this was to be pulled off given the safeguards in place. It's worth noting that this did occur before 2nd DNA testing was mandated.

As an adoption advocate, I hate stories like this casting a dark shadow over all adoptions. But as a child advocate, I can not ignore the reality that three children were abducted, connected to adoption, and that only two of the three have been returned to their families. There is still a child missing and that can not be ignored.

Please click on more for larger pictures and more info on this.

Enma Galicia was abducted along with two of her sisters. She was seven years old at the time and would be eight right now.

Ename was abducted on Oct. 23,2006. If she was referred to a family, it likely would have occurred between then and Mar. 2007. Her parents did not have any recent pictures of her. The most recent picture was from when she was two years old.

Enma Galicia ap Poster2.jpg


Credit for this poster goes to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-THE-LOST) for taking the three year old picture and trying to estimate what Enma might look like today. So in it, the older child look is a rendition, but it has how she definitely looked when she was two.

If you think you have any idea where Enma could be, PLEASE let me know. While her parents are overjoyed to have two of their kids returned to them, it is bittwersweet since Enma is still missing.

It's worthy to note that when the US Embassy added a second DNA requirement, it caught some people by surprise. It is possible that Emna could have been referred to someone at that time and then the PAPs "lost" the referral or the case turned into an abandonment. In addition, there's no way of knowing how accurate the computer generated picture might be. It's also possible she was referred as being a child much younger than she is. And of course it could never have happened with her real name. I hate the fact that I'm having to post any of this; but we, the proud parents of children adopted from Guatemela, know what a parent's love for a child is. I can not fathom the pain of having one of my kids abducted. If our community can somehow help to find this child, we need to do it.

Posted by Kevin at 11:11 AM

December 31, 2007

A year that shall go down in infamy...

As this year comes to its end, it is a time to look back and ponder so that we can move ahead. The year started out pretty slow and status quo for adoptions from Guatemala. Concerns over when the US would ratify the Hague and what that would mean seemed to be the hot topics. But on the last day of January, the year became the one that it would ultimately become - the year of scandal.

As the year progressed threat after threat arrived. New law proposals. A “Protocol of Good Practices” resurfaced. Little by little the process became more difficult. The Departments of State and Homeland Security issued warnings, advisories and FAQs. Cases started to take longer. At the same time, Guatemalan authorities started to clamp down, at times in downright unreasonable fashion. A new law passed, but then didn’t pass. There was huge fear over a grandfathering clause. Then a second new law actually passed. And here we are today, waiting to see what next.

2007 was a year wrought in the seedy side of adoptions. On one hand, we saw justice at work. Agencies like Reaching Arms International and Waiting Angels are now out of business following investigations. Mary Bonn is behind bars. Admittedly, a positive thing these folks are no longer in the adoption business, but also something that contributed to the take down of a system.

There is ample room for debate over why things went down as they did in Guatemala. The line between strategy and conspiracy is sometimes a blurry thing. Ultimately, the tide was moved over the course of the year away from an “adoption friendly” future in Guatemala to one based on a legal fad that has been sweeping the globe - a fad that greatly reduces the Guatemalan adoption burden on the US government.

In all honesty, I can’t entirely blame those that supported a strict law that would inevitably cause a dramatic reduction in the number of adoption cases. The system undeniably has been riddled with far too much corruption and unethical activities. Trust me on that one. Over this past year, Guatadopt’s experience was a large increase in the number and degree of “troubled” cases. I figure the increase must be in part due to more bad stuff going on and in part due to the site’s ever increasing popularity and prominence. Back to the point, something had to be done.

My call for rigorous enforcement of laws over those that restrict the system will not dissipate. I shall continue to wonder what such an approach could accomplish. Nonetheless, we are where we are and there is a whole lot of blame to throw around at every adoption constituency out there, parents included. Well all except the most important constituency group – the children.

It is of course saddening to look at my children and think that the way they came to my wife and I was something that so many believe needed to be outlawed. I look at the world of their biological mother, the excellent care they received in Guatemala, and who they are today and can’t help to feel anything but proud. Yet popular culture would have me believe otherwise.

Over the course of 2007 my views on Guatemalan adoption did change significantly. Maybe it was because of the troubled cases I struggled to help families get through. Maybe it was the barrage of newspaper, magazine and radio interviews bombarding me with questions about all the bad stuff in adoptions. Maybe it was personal exhaustion and a sense of futility. Whichever the case may be, I started the year as a hard core advocate for the notarial system and ended the year thinking it needed far more significant reform than before.

This year was a real challenge to endure as an adoption advocate. Guatadopt has always prided itself on being beholden to no one and posting the truth as we see it. Prior to 2007, this was an easy task. But this year was different. Kelly and I have joked that we must be doing a good job because at times we’ve had every constituent group love us or hate us this year. That seems a show of objectivity. Nonetheless, it was hard to develop a “positive” rapport with the likes of Unicef and the Department of State. It was extremely difficult for me, the consummate radical and anti-government guy, to actually go out of my way to help the Department of Homeland Security. It was difficult to put aside my personal hatred of how their Immigration and Customs Enforcement department treats undocumented workers in the US in order to help them solve and prosecute unethical activities in adoption. In the end, they have fallen far short of my expectations. It seems far more important to them that they deport innocent people seeking a better life than it is to hunt down and incarcerate those who have jeopardized children and grifted innocent families. But so be it.

So now here we are on this most saddening day. A new law has hit Guatemala. Exactly what the future holds is uncertain. I can’t help to wonder what more I could have done. Maybe Guatadopt should have been more proactive against corruption prior to 2007. Maybe we should not have been hesitant to expose the formerly more limited dark side out fear it would feed into the hands of the enemy. Maybe we could have forged a group like PEAR to mobilize adoptive families for domestic adoption reform. In the end, I sleep well at night because I know without doubt that we always did what we felt was right.

I stand by the belief that there is a better way to handle intercountry adoption. Adults must find a way to keep themselves honest and ensure that every child’s right to a permanent and loving family is met. I shall continue that fight into the future regardless of what Guatemala’s system looks like.

Assuming this new law has the expected impact of essentially ending adoptions from Guatemala; it is unclear what will happen to this humble website and grand ole institution we know as Guatadopt.com. Kelly and I aren’t going anywhere but we know from experience that most of the energy on the reader side of things comes from in-process families. We will move on and focus energies on our Do Good business as a way to continue to give back to Guatemala. But I want to beg each of you to stay involved. We have been a community and a community sticks together. Whether or not more children come to the US from Guatemala does not impact the history and ongoing needs of those children who did. We need to continue to keep them connected to their birth culture and remain a vocal force defending our families. And we all have a debt to try to alleviate the conditions that lead to adoption. So please, while it would be easy to drop out, do not do so. We will need help and most importantly, someone has to try to document what this law actually does to children if there is ever to be a change in how the global community views intercountry adoption policy.

I’ll end this scattered piece with one last thought. Thanks to all of you, the readers of Guatadopt. Whatever the future holds all of you have given me experiences that I shall take to the grave. Five years ago, when my wife and I were in the early stages of an adoption from Guatemala, I never could have anticipated just how my life would change from it. Through Guatadopt I have made friends, shed tears, endured pain, and shared the greatest joys of people’s lives. I can not put into words the feeling of having someone tell you “without your help, my son would never have come home”. No, that’s not me trying to pat myself on the back. It’s just the spiritual side of me that believes we are judged by our deeds saying “thanks for giving me the opportunity”. Through this website I’ve had the ability to act on an issue I hold very dear. At times it has been hard to be a celebrity of sorts and most recently, the inability to help families push things along has been a huge and humbling challenge. Nonetheless, I have to say that we, the Guatadopt community, are a great diverse group and I am honored to have been a catalyst in creating it.

So I facetiously say “Happy New Year” and let’s all see where 2008 leads us.

Posted by Kevin at 10:25 AM

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving is one American tradition that should be spread around the globe. A day to sit back and remember all that we have to be thankful for...

Those of us in the adoption community all have much to be thankful for. The very nature of the fact that we had the ability to enter into an adoption means that most likely none of us suffer daily in search of food or shelter. We have lives stable enough for us to be able to grow our families through intercountry adoption. Needless to say, there are many in this world not so fortunate.

It was four years ago today that my wife and I were in PGN. After years of infertility treatments, a failed referral, another child who passed away at the beginning of the process, and having survived the Hague Fiasco, we knew we were close but also lived with the unease of “what next”. For Thanksgiving, we were going for dinner at the home of some of my oldest and closest friends.

We were just about to leave for dinner when I got an instinct to check my e-mail quickly. There was a new one from Isabel’s foster family. It said we were out of PGN!

Thanksgiving will always be a dual, yet connected, holiday in our home. Last night my wife and I were trying to come up with a name for our Thanksgiving. I figured it was really a thing for us two to share as it meant the long road to parenthood was finally coming to an end. Yet for some reason she didn’t like my suggestion of “we’re f’ing out of PGN day”. Oh well, as usual, she’s probably right.

So on this day be thankful for all you have, be aware of those less fortunate, and remember that like what this day means for my wife and I, some day you’ll have more to be thankful for.

Peace! God bless! And may tomorrow be a better day!

Posted by Kevin at 10:01 AM

November 12, 2007

Latest Goings On

Thank you all for your concern. Kelly and I are alive and well. We haven't posted in a few days primarily because I was out of town at a Specialty Coffee Convention (my real job) and Kelly has been battling technical issues with our Do Good project so that we can get it up and running (and figure out why some are having a hard time ordering calendars). But it is no joke when we say that it means a lot to know that our readers get worried when we're absent. We hope that someday we'll be able to have someone dedicated full time to Guatadopt and Do Good, but for the time being we do the best we can. So click on more for latest happenings, most of which is probably not new news.

New DOS Statement http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3840.html

Following my little tirade last week about DOS interference in the Guatemalan Congress’s right to determine its own Hague/Ortega implementation date, DOS released a new statement. It doesn’t say much at all and is once again designed to scare off anyone considering accepting a new referral. PLEASE do not take this to be an endorsement from Guatadopt to accept a referral at this point time. The situation is extremely tenuous and anyone considering it should realize what they might be getting themselves into. There is risk in when and how a case might be completed and very likely in how long it will take. My statement is merely to say that DOS has the ability to stop new referrals if it so desires and that they seem to be trying to force Guatemala into doing their dirty work, which I do not approve of.

Some have commented that my post about DOS contradicts our earlier calls to action for DOS. I do not believe this to be the case. Here's how I see it:

1.) Grandfathering – I believe this threat has been used as a red herring, Nonetheless, advocating for grandfathering has to do with in process cases. It is the US government lobbying for good faith agreements entered into by PAPs who signed legal contracts for an existing legal system. Just imagine if this instead had to do with coffee or something like that. If companies had entered into good faith legal agreements, wouldn't it seem proper that the US would advocate that Guatemala honor them? Now, it is horrible to compare children with coffee beans! But in reality that only further makes the point. There are real living children with real families waiting for them in the US. Far more important than coffee!

2.) Ortega lobbying/implementation date - here you are talking about something different. Now you are talking about what Guatemala's system is. This is interference. I get some lobbying. But in this case, here and now, you are talking about the fact that DOS got what it wanted with Ortega. But the Congress had the sense to know Jan 1 is too soon. DOS is just upset that it will extend how long there are pipeline cases post US Hague ratification. This has nothing to do with current in process cases. This has to do with the potential for new cases. DOS's goal since around March has been to end new referrals. That's why they've issued the FAQs and warnings. That's why they asked agencies to close their programs.

So I see no contradiction. One is respect of living children in the process and good faith agreements entered into by US citizens. The other is trying to influence a country's sovereign right to make and implement its own rules.

New JCICS Statement: http://www.jcics.org/Guatemala.htm
JCICS issued a new statement today. Like the DOS one, not much new. I respect JCICS making sure everyone realizes they still don’t recommend giving out new referrals. It is factually correct though I think it once again overstates the risk to in-process cases.

Casa Quivira

I am happy to report that it appears as though the Casa Quivira mess may be coming to an end. Nearly all of the children are back at CQ and the hold on the cases has been lifted. Events around all of this have spiraled out of control and I don’t wish to get into taking any position. But what I will say is that while everything is not cleared up for all the cases, it does look like at last innocent children are not going to be caught in the middle of the politics and tensions that exist in Guatemalan adoptions and that they will achieve permanency in a loving, family environment.

Posted by Kevin at 03:57 PM

November 03, 2007

Read This Editorial!!!

Tomorrow's Washington Post has an editorial that we should all read. My only comments are "Amen!" and "Way to go Prof. Bartholet!". Alas some attention to the true best interests of children and rigorous enforcement of laws.

You can read it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201782.html

Posted by Kevin at 06:22 PM

October 25, 2007

Site Maintenance and Restores

We are currently restoring some of the site and have lost some data/comments.

Please be patient with us. I believe the forums are back up and hopefully, not too much has been lost.

Thanks for your patience,

Kelly
guatadopt.com

Posted by Kelly at 08:28 PM

September 27, 2007

Calendar Submissions - time is running out!

Just reminder that calendar submission are due in by Oct 1.

For more info: http://www.guatadopt.com/pages/Calendar.htm

Posted by Kevin at 12:05 PM

July 21, 2007

Research Study - Share Your Lifebook Philosophy

Barbara King is the proud mother of two children from Guatemala and is also a communications professor. She's looking for families willing to participate in an interesting study on lifebooks. Read on for her invitation. I am going to leave comments close on this one as any questions should be sent to Dr. King directly.


Dear Guatadopt Reader:

You are invited to participate in a study concerning how adoptive families create a family identity through the lifebooks they make for their adopted children.

As a mother to two Guatemalan-born boys and a Communication professor at Carroll College (Waukesha, Wisconsin), I am very interested in communication practices in adoptive families and am conducting this study to gain some professional insight into these practices.

Any parent who has completed a lifebook for his or her child adopted from Guatemala can participate. Participants will be asked to make an electronic or hard copy (not the original!) of their lifebooks available to me. Please be assured that lifebook contents will remain strictly confidential.

For their time and effort, participants will receive a $25 gift card for each completed lifebook submitted for the study.

Please contact me if you are interested in participating in this study or want to find out more.

Thank you,
Dr. Barbara King
Associate Professor of Communication
Carroll College
bking@cc.edu

Posted by Kevin at 10:59 PM

May 19, 2007

ATTN: Waiting Angels Clients

The Adoption Supervisors Group (ASG) is working to provide some aid free of charge to clients of Waiting Angels in order to coordinate completion of the adoptions and any special requirements that may be made on them. They have set up a US phone number (760-216-8106) and I encourage all clients to call. I am going to keep comments closed on this one as it is really just an annoucement.

Posted by Kevin at 09:42 AM

May 13, 2007

A Child's #1 Advocate

For Guatadopt, Mother's Day honors biological mothers, foster mothers, adoptive mothers and mothers in process!

May the world understand the POWER of the mother. She is the most powerful advocate (besides fathers, of course) for her child(ren). May every child be blessed with her time, support, love, devotion, nurturing, protection and advocacy!

HappyMothersDay.gif

Posted by Kelly at 09:22 AM

May 02, 2007

Adoptions International - Philadelphia

No, they haven't been banned :-) Quite to the contrary, this agency run by Hannah Wallace is one of the finest out there and one of the few on the short list of agencies I recommend.

It has just come to my attention that there is another agency with a very similar name operating in Pennsylvania and that there has been some confusion between the two. This deeply upsets me because I would hate to think that anyone I referred to Hannah's agency may have contacted the other agency, who I have no information about.

The "real" Adoptions International's website is http://www.adoptionsintl.org/. Their phone number is (215) 238-9057. I don't get any kickbacks for references so that is not why I am posting this. I am posting it because there are not enough great agencies out there and I hate to see anyone potentially monopolizing off of Hannah's history and reputation.

Posted by Kevin at 08:49 PM

November 06, 2006

NYT Article

The New York Times yesterday ran a story on Guatemalan adoptions. You can read it here..

This article, while not ill-intentioned, paints the normal picture we get from the media. What amazes me are the number of facts that are incorrect.

Update Nov. 8, 2006: Five Letters to the editor have been published. They can be found here.

Update 11/9/2006: The NYT did print a correction in regard to this article. They corrected that it was president Portillo, not Berger, who approved the Hague in 2002. Read it here.

To send a letter to the editor. You should e-mail it to: letters@nytimes.com

Rules for Submnission:
Here are some guidelines (courtesy of the NYT):

1.Letters should be no longer than 150 words and may be shortened to fit allotted space. They must be exclusive to The Times (no prior submission to, or publication in, any other medium, including the Web). They should generally refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven days.

2. To be considered for publication, letters must include the writer's name, address, current location (where you are writing from) and daytime and evening phone numbers at your current location (for verification, not for publication). If you submit your contact information as a result of this automated reply, please re-send the letter with it.

3. Because of computer security concerns, we do NOT accept attachments; please resubmit your letter pasted into the body of an e-mail message.

4. If you send us more than one message in any seven-day period, you will receive only one automated reply.

It is impossible to try to rebut or reply to this letter in 150 words or less. My hope is to be able to find an avenue to have something printed. Here is what I sent them:

Dear Editor,

Not only did Marc Lacey’s story about Guatemalan Adoption misrepresent reality, it also was full of factual errors.

Oscar Berger did not sign the Hague Treaty in 2002. Berger didn’t become President of Guatemala until 2004. The treaty was signed by former president Oscar Portillo, who is currently being extradited from Mexico back to Guatemala to face corruption charges.

The Constitutional Court did not rule that the country must abide by the Hague Treaty. In fact, in August of 2003 the Constitutional Court ruled that Pres. Portillo’s acceding to the Treaty was unconstitutional. The ruling this year stated that President Berger could not be forced to formally withdraw from it.

Guatemalan adoptions need reform created in a pragmatic manner. The history of the Hague Treaty in Central America explains why those of us who know the beauty of intercountry adoption find it so frightening to see Guatemala follow suit.

Kevin Kreutner
Proud father of two Guatemalan children
Chief writer, www.guatadopt.com
my address
my phone number

Posted by Kevin at 09:13 AM

June 30, 2006

Implementing SITE CHANGES

I'm currently making changes to the site. So, for a little while, you may see some quirky behaviour while I make the changes. Please just give it some time to settle out and use your REFRESH button often.

A copy of the original site is located HERE....for your convenience.

Please note: there will be ongoing changes while I am transferring information. If you can't find a link, please try the copy of the old site first. But feel free to email and ask!!

Posted by Kelly at 09:46 PM

June 27, 2006

PGN Emails...please don't ask!

Yesterday, I counted 37 emails with the subject matter "PGN" asking the SAME thing...."what's going on?". There were another 12 which were agency/case specific and finally 14 emails I could answer. All in all, it took me over 2 hours to read and to respond to a few. (Just to clarify: I am only referring to direct emails to me not comments posted on the site) I guess I need to vocalize a reminder here....

PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL ME ASKING ABOUT PGN OR TIMEFRAMES!!!!! If I know something that is different from the previous posts or notable, I POST it!! I promise!! Again, this is not a paying job for me so I cannot dedicate every moment to answering the same question (sorry, I know most of you don't realize that it adds up ;-). Typically, I let comments speak for themselves...a few outs here and there, sure. But PGN does not contact me with a list of statistics and WHY some are getting out and some are not. That is why I POST information when I know it. I do get upset when readers constantly email me the same questions (and some folks email DAILY!)...thinking I am holding some criical information back (this is just a few people, btw).

Please understand...I would like to spend my time efficiently answering questions for folks who need guidance or who have questions about the process, etc. I can't do that if I am bombarded with PGN emails (and I am refering to the "is there news?" emails here).

To answer a few legitimate questions of late that I have not responded to yet....


Should I use Adoption Supervisors? You guessed it....I CAN'T answer that question for you. If you have been in PGN for more than 3 or 4 months, then there might be a previo or an investigation. But as far as I know Adoption Supervisors is ONLY able to inquire about your case (and that is ONLY helpful if your attorney hasn't been following through). But folks, PGN is a DISASTER right now. They stalled so many cases for so long, sent many to investigation for no reason and have been evasive THAT they have a backlog! So, even if they did start miraculously becoming the most efficient entity doing adoptions...it is still going to TAKE AWHILE before we see them catch up!!!! Some of the attorneys have been sent on wild goose chases regarding their cases. I've also been informed that Adoption Supervisors is claiming 4 - 6 weeks as an average timeframe in PGN....that seems EXTREMELY short considering the information I have. While I am sure they are getting a windfall of business from the PGN slowdown, I'm not sure this is really going to do much good in 80% of the cases. Most folks get antsy about their children coming home (for good reason)...but some of the best attorneys seem to be caught up in these stalls as much if not more than the rest! So, think twice before you jump. (and thanks to those who have emailed me information that they have received regarding Adoption Supervisors and such).

PGN Receipts
Yes, PGN is supposed to give receipts to the attorneys when a case enters PGN. This is the proof of date when a case actually enters. Contrary to popular belief, between each major step, there are paperwork chores that must be completed. These chores adds a few days to a few weeks to the timeframe. Many times they are grouped into the "closest" major milestone...such as PGN. The receipt gives you a more exact time when the case entered. Some attorneys do not provide the receipts to the agencies. You can ask about the receipt, but don't be surprised if that is not readily available. I would only ask if the case has been sitting in PGN for more than 3 or 4 months. Otherwise, if everyone is asking for receipts...the attorneys attention is focused on supplying these to ALL their clients INSTEAD of chasing down corrections for previos, etc.

PGN TIMEFRAMES -NO, I AM NOT GIVING THEM...PERIOD. At the current time, I know many folks who have been in over 6 months and some who seem to have gotten out in 6 weeks. There is NO consistency nor recipe for what is going on!

POSTING EMAILS
I realize many of you would like to connect with each other. Several of you have posted your emails publically. I consider this your choice. But I would like to give everybody a quick spam-awareness lesson. When an email is typed publically (especially with the amount of traffic and webcrawlers which hit this site)....spammers are able to pick it up and add it to their list. Spam is not just irritating, it can be downright offensive and destructive (this is a popular way for email fraud groups to get their "targets"). Because of the popularity of this site, I spend a lot of time filtering out downright illegal, disgusting comment posts (which is why all comments have to be approved). So please keep this in mind before posting your email to a comment. I cannot play go between...but I will try to find another way to protect identities from spammers while folks have a way to connect.

DONATIONS
I originally wanted to send everyone a personal thank you for the donations. But I've failed miserably being busy with my job search But for those of you who donated....it is MUCH appreciated. I have been spending more time getting the other parts of the site ready to roll which I assume will be more appreciated than Thank you notes...hopefully!!! But I will say that you did make a nice dent in my electric bill! Its helped me from being paniced about the job situation....and its motivated me to find something that still allows me to grow the site!

GRACIAS!

Keep strong and try to keep your spirits up. Good vibes always seem to help!

Posted by Kelly at 06:52 AM

June 19, 2006

Attachment Parenting for...me?

Adoptive parents are deprived of the early "birth-bonding" with our children. While Guatemala excels in offering personalized foster care which naturally promotes good attachment, it does not replace the need for attachment parenting. The new parent is also struggling with the giant change in their lives...how easy it is to hang on every well meaning friend's advice while depriving your child of necessary bonding.

Is there such a thing as "make-up" bonding? Well, my personal opinion is YES! Attachment parenting is s life-long strategy (age appropriate, of course) to promote strong bonds throughout a child's life. Like exercise alternatives, it is something that is chosen for your and your family and can be altered for certain lifestyles.

In the past, it has bothered me to hear a newly adopted parent say..."He bonded to me immediately". Typically, that statement is really "I have been bonding to HIM since the first referral picture and when he looks to me for care, I assume he is attached..." There is a magical moment when mom/dad and child come together...however, bonding is the close MUTUAL relationship established from ongoing care through sickness and health. It is a condition that the child KNOWS he/she can depend on your care. This history is missing for an adopted child and in MANY ways the child needs to be treated as a newborn!! Sadly, adoption is another trauma in a child's life...changing caregivers can have a devastating effect on a child's mental health.

I can go on about the potential issues with attachment disorders, but there are much better articles available! Every adoptive parent should read about attachment issues and the symptoms.

Friends, relatives and especially physicians (unfamiliar with adoption) will tell you to stick to schedules, get the child off the bottle, let them cry it out, keep the child in his/her own room and even that you are holding him/her too much. My personal "been there, done that" is to nod at the physician (no use arguing), discuss attachment strategy with close friends and family BEFORE they offer input and to discuss strategies with others who are in similar circumstances. Keep in mind that NO friend or family member is going to be appreciative of you scoffing their advice. Its a tough balance between letting yourself be constantly scolded and YOU alienating your friends by embarrassing them. If you are firm about your plans even before the child comes home, you will find ways to accomplish your goals *and* keep friendships in tact.

Again, attachment parenting is not a one size fits all routine. As a working mother (at least most of the time), I opted to select things that my friend (also an adoptive parent) chose NOT to do based on our child's personality and our own sanity. Dani will be 4 years old in the fall. She sleeps in a toddler bed in OUR room. When she is sick, she sleeps with me. To this day, she "snuggles" with me before bedtime and I can say that right now she is very well adjusted and attached.

Other things you can do:
Primary caretaker theory - In the beginning, one person should assume the primary caretaker role. Limit passing your baby around (hard for families and homecomings). The primary caretaker needs to do 90% of the primary tasks (like holding!). Let your family support you like preparing bottles! There is no problem with family members holding the baby...but you need to stress the importance of becoming the primary caretaker (even if the spouse is as excited and enthusiastic as you are). This bond will actually support family bonding with other individuals SOONER than if you do not take this approach. Whether or not "things are busy at work", you need to take some time off to promote bonding. Otherwise, a child may not understand who the primary caregiver is supposed to be!
Longer Bottlefeeding - The intimacy formed by providing sustinance to a baby is priceless. I treasured holding my daughter during this time. I don't remember when we stopped completely...but I do remember that we had a morning and nighttime routine well after it was necessary.
No crying it out for a couple of months - Yes, you will feel as if you are verginig on promoting bad habits. But I strongly believe that a habit was easier to break than therapy for a child traumatized by fear of neglect. Afterall, those first few months while your child may "appear" to be attached, they have no choice but to trust that you will act as their caregiver. Clinginess can be a symptom of fear. A clingy baby or child (one who fusses as soon as you leave their site) is looking to see if you will be there for them. This is where baby holding and wearing may give them more confidence to settle.
Baby wearing - Yes, it is true that a child hanging on your back or on your front fusses less than one in a crib. Though it is not always practical, it can be a miracle worker in stores or while trying to fold the laundry! This also had an interesting side-effect. I became ultra sensitive to my daughter's state of health. I could "smell" when she was starting to get sick or was worn out (a subtle change in her baby smell!). Today, she is still subconciously comforted by my closeness even when she is asleep. (When she is sick, she breathes easier next to me and when she has bad dreams she "settles" when I pull her close).Dani-time - We try to set aside a quiet time for just me and Dani each day. Since I am not a stay-at-home mom, we do not have the luxury of quatity time to promote attachment.

Hardships
It has not been easy being a working mom. Sometimes, careers are not conducive to being a good parent. I certainly earned the T-shirt for attempting the balancing act here!!! Moreover, its tough to keep the job stresses out of your child's care. I envy those who can cut back or even quit their job.

Today, I am happy to have a very independent, good natured and well behaved daughter. While I don't think I am the perfect parent and we do struggle with issues here and there....she is happy and healthy. More importantly, *we* are well attached!

P1000448B1.jpg



Posted by Kelly at 09:10 PM

June 16, 2006

A Site Teaser

As I mentioned before, I have been working on revamping the site. I had hopes to move some things over...but I'm a little behind. But since I promised...and readers have been so supportive, I'll give you a little teaser.
http://www.guatadopt.com/ResourceCenterHome

We'll be moving our informational documents and much more to this area so that our readers can browse what we have easily. Let me know what you think!

Posted by Kelly at 07:13 PM

June 13, 2006

Communication, Perspective and Character

COMMUNICATION
AGENCIES - These difficult times should prompt you to schedule a weekly call to every single client WHETHER OR NOT you have an update. I realize this is tough...some parents have a hard time letting you go. But even an upset parent will appreciate a call even if its just to see how they are doing: "Hi, this is K. How are you coping? I wish we could tell you something positive, but we still don't have any news..." You might get twenty questions or the blame game, but its much better to answer them on the phone than for parents to silently feel you don't care.

PARENTS - Please remember that your agency/attorney did not know or orchestrate a slowdown. The Embassy slowdown was unexpected and now this is unexpected. Anyone who has been around Guatemala adoptions "would" assume that if *this issue was resolved, then adoptions would be back to the normal timelines. Some attorneys are having a hard time accepting new cases for lack of available foster mothers. Orphanages are filling up. This is extremely hard on ALL parties....Please keep this in mind when your agency calls or emails. Just as you may feel distressed about the situation, the agency folks are dealing with this every working hour and are probably feeling a bit defensive now. While I am not privy to every detail of each case out there and I certainly have no right to judge YOUR situation...I am simply suggesting that each of you think about this carefully, before responding to your agency. Compassion is a TWO way street!

PERSPECTIVE & CHARACTER
There are times that I have to bite my lip when reading emails from upset parents-to-be. When the process slows down, the distress becomes high and parents often lose some perspective, IMO. These are the times, when outsiders/anti adoption folks focus on our weaknesses and use our words against us. They do not have to worry about the side-effects of children who stay in foster care or orphanages longer. They do not have to struggle with attachment parenting made harder by the long wait. What I am about to say is not to judge or scold parents. But it is something to focus during these difficult times:
For every parent who turns away from a Guatemalan Adoption, there is a child who will not find a loving home (it may not be the same child but its going to affect *a* child somewhere in the process). Since there is no welfare system in Guatemala, their future is either dependent on private orphanages or pure street survival. So, while you may not wish this difficult time on any other parent...it is the child who has no voice in the decision. It is the child who is hurt THE MOST! You are your child's #1 advocate....STAY that way. If you are paying extra for care....then balance that information with what child care costs here in the states. I know my pre-school/daycare costs almost $200 per WEEK and that is for 5 days a week and certainly not 24/7. You are the child's "sponsor" not a "buyer of a product". Some attorneys have separate fees for the adoption and foster care. Again, I can not speak to the way every charge is allocated...some are reasonable and well spent...some are not. But before deciding whether you are being unfairly treated decide this:

  • What role do you play in this child's life RIGHT NOW? Advocate? Sponsor?

  • What happens to children all over Guatemala when things slow down...or worse, when adoptions are stopped?
  • I hope that rethinking your role, you can see a higher purpose for your dedication to a child. Without the hopes and dreams of every single parent here...there would be an awful lot of children without homes!!!! Keep your chin up and remember another client, the child, who also has no say in the process!!

    Posted by Kelly at 08:14 AM

    June 03, 2006

    Needing a software engineer?

    Dear Readers -

    Up until a few weeks ago, I was struggling to get any free time to work on my "revamp" of the site which none of you have previewed yet. But a couple of weeks ago, my full-time contract ended abruptly (Phase 2 of the project was indefinately postponed). Added to that lovely piece of news, all parties involved (the ole he said/she said) failed to give me a courteous 2 week notice (which would have been nice so I could have prepared a LITTLE!!!) On the positive side, I've been trying to finish all those "can't do right now" projects which have been floating just below the "critical" mark on our meter.

    But this may also affect the site, temporarily. For one, I am postponing some of the revamp (due to cost) and may also cut out some things that indirectly have out of pocket costs.

    Readers are welcome to donate to the site...and those donations will be SOLELY applied to the cost of the site, document updates and expansion costs (in that order). Your understanding is greatly appreciated!!!!

    Posted by Kelly at 06:26 AM

    April 05, 2006

    Birth Mother Search Service

    This is a repost of previous thread because of a change in e-mail address to contact Nancy...

    While I don't usually post about this sort of thing since it is a "commercial" venture, I am making an exception here. Nancy Hoffman, whose travel and other services many may be familiar with, has teamed up with a Guatemalan national to provide birthmother search services. The reason I am posting this is because this is the only such service I am aware of that is out in the open enough to do so and many families may not be aware that such a service exists. While the name of the Guatemalan intermediary is kept confidential, I can say with 100% certainty that she is a woman of high integrity and a deep respect for adoptive and biological families. Neither Guatdaopt.com nor I personally have any financial stake in this service.

    To read about it:

    Download file

    Posted by Kevin at 06:25 PM

    March 09, 2006

    Tides Turning?

    Many of us have become accustomed to media reports which paint ICA in the most horrible light possible, making it appear as though we parents are all little more than child traffickers. And all too often, the issues of children's best interests fall by the wasteside.

    Below is a link to an article from a Hungary paper that I think is almost one-of-a-kind in really examining the issue, the realities, and the politics that come into play. The article deals with Romania, but I believe one could very easily write the same article about Guatemala.

    http://www.daily-news.ro/article_detail.php?idarticle=23672

    Posted by Kevin at 05:35 PM

    December 22, 2005

    Calendar shipment survey

    We are still very concerned about the status of the calendar shipments. If you ordered a calendar, I would REALLY appreciate your time in taking the quick survey.

    TAKE THE SURVEY HERE

    12/26 - Each day, we've been getting reports of the calendars trickling in. We finally had someone in Georgia receive their calendars this weekend. Judging from the patterns, I expect that quite a few calendars will be delivered in the next few days. For that reason, we are taking a wait and see approach. If you have not received your calendar by Wednesday 12/28 mail, please contact me. We'll figure out something.

    Posted by Kelly at 08:36 PM

    December 21, 2005

    Memberships? Not here!!!

    I have had a disturbing number of emails claiming that folks are trying "join" our site (some have been complaints). A few had money involved. I suspect that we might be mistaken with other organizations, but it is enough to warrant a red flag. Unfortunately, I never received responses from some earlier emails and have no way of verifying that.

    Currently, we are NOT a membership site. All of the information on this site is free to the public. IF we ever have a membership area, it will be an additional services and very clearly displayed on the site.

    If you have been contacted by someone claiming to sell memberships to Guatadopt.com....or you have written a check to Guatadopt.com for something other than calendars, PLEASE CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY. We have NOT authorized anyone to collect money for us.

    Posted by Kelly at 07:44 AM

    December 12, 2005

    Ongoing Email Issues

    We are still having some unexplained email issues. Generally, we try to answer emails within a day or two (unless we are on vacation). But that has proved difficult when we don't know how many emails we are missing OR whether our emails are being redirected to spam folders. We have a few different issues that we are tracking down with the hosting site. If we have not answered a question, you can try to post a comment to contact you (at least we have a way to track who is trying to contact us).

    Posted by Kelly at 09:27 AM

    December 01, 2005

    EMAIL DOWN LAST FEW DAYS

    I am checking to see which emails were affected, but I can tell you that a few of our emails have not been working. I suspect that it affects both sending and receiving mail. If you have sent something in the last few days and have not received a reply, please take this into consideration. I will try to get a workaround while we figure this out.

    Posted by Kelly at 10:10 AM

    November 20, 2005

    E-Mail Caution

    I have received a couple of e-mails indicating that the Doom virus may getting sent out in e-mails that say they are from me. If you receive an unexpected e-mail from me with an attachment - DON'T OPEN THE ATTACHMENT.. I assure you that this is not something I have anything to do with.

    Posted by Kevin at 10:07 AM

    September 26, 2005

    Project Happiness is BACK!

    Want to do something really great for the kids of Guatemala this holiday season?

    Looking for The Perfect Way to Share Joy with Needy Guatemalan Children?

    Check out this link: www.ProjectHappiness.org

    Project Happiness is affiliated with Gregory & Anita Giagnocavo and their crew at Hands of Hope in Guatemala. The goal of Project Happiness is to provide needy Guatemalan children with Holiday/Christmas gift bags that contain appropriate toys and gifts. To achieve this goal, they would like to hand out 5,000 gift bags. In order to do this, Project Happiness needs our help. A donation of only $9.85 will provide one Gift Bag to a child (of course, you can purchase as many gift bags as you want). Payment is easy on the website: just use a credit card or a PayPal account. A tax deductible receipt will be issued by Hands of Hope, which is a registered 501(c)3 charity.

    Each child will receive a quality Gift Bag based on gender (check out the link to see what is in each bag). The Project Happiness team worked hard to choose appropriate gifts that fill each bag. The children who will receive the bags are those in a number of orphanages as well as the kids that Hands of Hope assists. Again, check out the www.ProjectHappiness.org web page for more info.

    Instead of giving the usual gift to your friends and relatives this year, why not give those whose lives have been touched by our Guatemalan angels (you know who they are ? Grandma, Grandpa, etc.)? A gift that they will be proud of? a gift that gives back to the less fortunate kids in Guatemala. Give a donation to Project Happiness in their name(s).

    Please spread the word about Project Happiness. From their website, you can download and print promotional flyers and posters promoting this worthwhile project. Maybe you could post the website link to the various adoption lists that you belong to. There is also a web ad that you can download and place on your website.

    We hope to update you on the success of Project Happiness in future posts.

    Happy Holidays!

    note: Special Thanks to Jen V. for spearheading this initiative for Guatadopt

    Posted by Kevin at 01:14 PM

    August 22, 2005

    Research Study

    A student at Suffolk University is doing a research study on how we try to integrate our children's culture. For more info, please read his letter by clicking on "more."

    The comments will be kept close as any questions should be sent to the person conducting the research.

    Dear Parents,

    My name is Frances Tung and I am currently a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at Suffolk University. I have been interested in transracial adoption for a few years now. When I began developing my idea for a dissertation, I decided to study transracial adoption, not only because of my personal interest, but because of the lack of research available and the urgent need for it. What I have developed is a study to survey the cultural socialization strategies used by parents of international adoptees and to evaluate these as factors in the child's psychological adjustment.

    I am asking for your participation in the project. I am looking for families with adopted children from China, Guatemala, or Russia who are currently between the ages of 6 and 12 years old and were adopted before the age of 2. The study will involve completing a set of questionnaires regarding your parenting practices and the adjustment of your adoptee as well as demographic information. This set of surveys will take approximately an hour and a half to complete. In addition, a teacher questionnaire is included for your child's teacher (current or last year's) to complete.

    This study will have a number of benefits. These findings will help to better understand the experience of transracial adoptees. The study will shed light on the parenting strategies used by parents and its effects on the child. Once the study has concluded, a summary of the results will be provided to all participants.

    All information collected during the investigation will be kept strictly confidential and used only for the purposes of this study. Any identifiers will be removed from the questionnaires when analyzing the data.

    If you would like to participate in the study or have any questions, please email me at frances.tung@suffolk.edu or 617-515-7146. I thank you for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

    Sincerely,

    Frances Tung
    Graduate Student
    Suffolk University

    Posted by Kevin at 02:50 PM

    July 07, 2005

    An anniversary of new family

    trio near.jpg

    Last night, I was doing what I try to make a monthly ritual. Yes, it was the night to call our daughters former foster parents, now known to her as Abuelo Leonel and Abuela Betty. I was feeling guilty because I was a week or two late for the call and its always a great pleasure to catch up with them and tell them all about how Isabel has learned new things (and to keep my Spanish functional).

    Half way through my call, my wife Sheila came out onto the porch and not realizing whom I was talking to, coincidentally mentioned that I needed to give Betty a call. We all got a laugh about how great minds think alike and Betty felt great knowing that even though she doesnt speak to Sheila much (language barrier), Sheila still makes sure Betty remains active in our daughters life.

    A few minutes later it dawned on me It was July 6th. Was that the date? (imagine fingers counting dates and remembering itineraries). Yes, it was! Yesterday was exactly two years to the day that we first met Betty, her son Alberto, and of course our little angel Isabel. It was exactly two years ago that we discovered our family would grow not by one, but by sixteen! There was Isabel, Betty, Leonel, their kids Karla, Alberto, Maria Alejandra, Pepe, Francisco and Monica, and I could of course go on to spouses, grandchildren, and even girlfriends that all became family to us.

    When we started the adoption process and planned our first visit, we never imagined what we would find that our Isabel had a large extended family in Guatemala that loved her far more than just being temporary caretakers. And we never realized that all these people would remain so close to us.

    So once again I tell this tale as a reminder to those who dont believe children keep ties to their birth country. I tell this tale as an inspiration to those who need to push their agencies and attorneys to allow them the chance to have the adoption process be more than a nuisance. I tell this tale to show those that wish to end foster care why it can be so wonderful. But mostly, I tell this tale as way to once again thank these wonderful people and reminisce on a trip that was predestined to be memorable, but ended being more than we could have imagined.

    Posted by Kevin at 11:47 AM

    July 06, 2005

    Spam

    Readers -

    We have had a terrible time with the Spam from inappropriate sites. I recently removed over 400 comments that have literally jammed up some of the workings of the site.

    If you have posted a legitimate comment recently, I may have accidentally deleted it while removing the others. I apologize if this is the case.

    The spam is also the reason I have closed comments on earlier posts. We will be updating the software this summer which may help control the problem.

    Until then, please ignore the comments and forgive us for closing comments on some of the postings.

    Posted by Kelly at 10:16 PM

    February 14, 2005

    Welcome Home Amaya!!!!

    A little bit under a year ago, I got to know a very special couple in the midst of one of the most horrendous adoptions I have ever heard of. This couple stayed strong and went to incredible lengths to bring their daughter home. I am not at liberty to divulge the specifics of their case or who they worked with, but I will say that their attorney was banned by the Embassy. But this couple never gave up and alas their daughter Amaya is home safe.

    So to Troy, Lisa, and Amaya - CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

    NOTE: due to the possibility of litigation against Guatadopt, we have edited this post, deleted the comments, and closed the thread to future comments.

    Posted by Kevin at 09:24 AM

    December 13, 2004

    A Little Humor...

    We all need a good chuckle, especially during the stressful adoption process. Below is a post that came to me on a listserve. We're not sure where it originated or who the author is, so if you're out there, please take credit because credit is due!

    THE ACCIDENTAL ADOPTION

    Have you every noticed that you hear all the time about "accidental"
    pregnancies, but never about couples who experience "accidental" adoptions?

    Can you imagine:

    Honey, sit down. I have some news for you.

    What is it?

    Well, I don't know how to say this, so I'll just come out with it. I went out
    to the mailbox today and . . . . . well, we got an I-171H.

    A what?!?! An I-171H? As in, we're going to have another baby?!?

    It looks that way.

    But how? We've been so careful! I put away all the blank 1-600A forms.

    Didn't you hide our homestudy update?

    Of course I did. But don't forget, there was that one night . . .

    What night? (pauses) Ohhh, that night. But it was only once. We were just
    messing around. I didn't print clearly. I didn't even use black ink! (pauses
    again)

    But it was kind of fun.

    (giggles) It was, wasn't it? I'll never forget how cute you looked getting
    your fingerprints.

    So now we've got our I171H, eh? But that doesn't always mean you'll adopt,
    does it? I mean, shouldn't you see the agency or something, make sure everything's okay?

    I already did.

    And?

    I'm five documents along.

    Five documents!

    And they're all notarized, certified and authenticated, okay?

    Just great.

    There was one small scare when the agency couldn't see the notary's middle
    initial, but it showed up just fine under the magnifying glass.

    Thank God. And you, honey? Are you feeling okay?

    I'm feeling fine. As long as I know you're happy about this.

    Happy? I'm thrilled! It's always a shock at first when something like this
    happens, but of course I'm happy.

    Posted by Kevin at 02:48 PM

    October 31, 2004

    VOTE!!!

    Tuesday is of course election-day and this is also undoubtedly one of the most important and closest elections this country has faced in a long time.

    Dont worry; the rest of this post is not going to include any endorsements or progressive political lobbying from yours truly.

    It is a very sad thing that only about half of the eligible American population makes his/her way into the voting booth. For the worlds greatest and most notorious democracy (though actually we are a republic), it is disheartening that voter turnout lags far behind many less established and secure democracies. So matter what else is going on, no matter how much you hate or love both Kerry and Bush, make sure you vote.

    My one bit of political posturing is a call to set your own personal life here and now aside and vote for those candidates and propositions you believe are best for our childrens future. I read an interesting book recently that was written by a group of Business Ethics professors. The book was about environmentalism in American corporate business but was written in the context of the wager of our childrens future. Quite simply, it stated that so much is unknown about environmental threats, but are we really willing to take the chance on our childrens futures? And for those ready to comment that Im not keeping my vow to remain non-partisan, this book does not endorse increased governmental regulation. Instead, it calls for all companies to decide how proactive they wish to be and to utilize that in a way that creates competitive advantage. Yes, quite capitalistic and laissez-faire I must say.

    For me personally, active environmentalism, promoting racial equality, strong social programs, and empahtically protecting civil liberties are what drives my determination of whats best for the world I will hand down to my daughter. But for others, it could very well be the removal of estate taxes, privatizing social security, an emphasis on national defense, and governmental control of morality. I hope I did not describe those priorities pejoratively; it honestly was not my intent. I certainly don't mean to imply that either set of goals listed is exclusive of those in the other. There are many ways to attempt to go after the same goals and the most productive road is unclear. We are each different with equally valuable opinions on these matters. It is only through the exercise of our right to vote that we are collectively most apt to determine the right answers.

    But when we vote based only on what may provide some immediate solace, we are thinking far too short term in nature. And this can be dangerous because it almost by default means were ignoring the dilemmas that inevitably lie ahead. Even worse off is when we dont vote at all. Because then we are saying that we dont even care. Not voting inherently means placing the power in the lobbyists and special interests that, IMHO, have equally damaged both of our major political parties and threaten the very fabric of our democracy.

    So get out to the polls and be heard. I know this is a non-adoption, non-Guatemala post. I dont think either candidate will be better or worse so far as adoption is concerned. But this website is ultimately about family, children, and all things that impact the lives of those families formed through intercountry adoption. So in that vain, Ill stretch things a bit and once again make the call to action.

    GO VOTE!!!!

    Posted by Kevin at 06:36 PM

    October 27, 2004

    OHIO RESIDENTS!!!!

    On Tuesday, you will be able to vote on State Issue One which is positioned as a way to prevent gay marriage. But the law goes far beyond this and will prohibit public sector employers from offering medical leave and medical benefits to children adopted by single parents and/or unmarried couples (including heterosexual couples). So PLEASE vote No on this bill. You can read about it at:

    http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/news/guide/IssuesReport-04.pdf

    note: this bill was e-mailed and described to me by an Ohio resident who had received an e-mail from an adoption agency about it. It appears as though there are differing views on what it would actually do. Personally, I tend to believe that one has to read legislation like this and ponder how it could be misused and abused in order to understand the whole picture. But I am not a legal expert nor a resident of Ohio so it is up to the Ohio voter to decide.

    Posted by Kevin at 04:45 PM

    September 02, 2004

    Pic of the Week

    kansaskidsjpg

    Here's one of two gorgeous adopted siblings, Alondra and Mateo, showing off their farm-hand skills and down home nature. They must live in Kansas or something....

    Posted by Kevin at 06:44 PM

    August 31, 2004

    Dang Spammers!

    The internet is a great thing and a wonderful tool for free speech, but sometimes that can be misused.

    Because of the popularity of Guatadopt and its high ranking, we are a target for spammers who post links in our comments. We are working to get this under control but, needless to say, the sleezebag spammers are crafty.

    Guatadopt does not endorse any of the products or services appearing in our comments and apologizes for any inappropriate materials being promoted. As a Marketing professional myself, I personally deplore these unethical practices that give legitimate marketers a bad name.

    Thanks for understanding

    Posted by Kevin at 12:31 PM

    June 20, 2004

    Happy Father's Day

    Here's to all you wonderful dads and those soon to be wonderful dads!!!
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    Posted by Kelly at 08:01 AM

    May 14, 2004

    In a time of calm

    shopaholic3 low res.JPG

    While this certainly is not a time of calm in our world, it seems to be one in the world of adoptions from Guatemala. Whether this is the calm before the storm or more long-term in nature remains to be seen. But as I look at this adorable picture of my newly-walking beautiful daughter for whom I am forever grateful, it leads me to some thoughts of introspection about how this is precisely NOT the time to get comfortable in my joy and become complacent to the world of intercountry adoption. Along with the joys of intercountry adoption come a variety of responsibilities we have to our children, the adoptive community, and the children and families yet to be joined.

    Our children are and always will be Guatemaltecos; this is not something that we should ever attempt to minimize. We parents must make respecting this fact a priority in how we raise our children. While our children may likely be adults before they fully understand the need to feel a part of their birth culture, we need to the sow the seeds of that discovery. We need to go the extra mile to ensure our children learn Spanish (even if it means learning it ourselves). Where possible, we need to do outreach to the local Guatemalan community as our children are every bit as much Guatemalan as any other immigrant. As an example, The Bay Guatemalan Adoptive Families have been developing a relationship with the local Consulate and will be participating in its official Independence Day celebrations in September. We need to teach our children the history of Guatemala and we must be painfully honest about the struggles that led to their being adopted out of the country. All these things require more work in our already overly busy lives, but they are not to be avoided.

    Even though we may have our children home and may never consider another adoption, we mustnt put the adoption experience behind us. We must remain involved in the community to lend a helping hand to those entering the process. Remember how much help someones e-mail to you was about where to stay, what to bring, the process, etc. was? Well as the bible says, do unto others..

    While the system may be running fairly smoothly right now, it is doubtful that it is because of some new paradigm or efficiency. The threats to the blessed way we created and grew our families will return: our foes have not disappeared. In the coming years, it is likely that more threats will come from the United States as it moves into the Hague Convention. A current bill before Congress, the ICARE Bill, is a parents dream so far as citizenship rights are concerned, but it establishes a Central Authority with undefined authority, funding, and priorities. Some new legislative aspects designed to protect families also stand to remove our options as they threaten to drive all but the largest agencies out of business due to huge mandatory insurance policies. These are just a few of the pending issues that come to mind. Our elected representatives do not have the time, staff, or desire to thoroughly understand all the proposals that they vote on. Many legislators, for example, now admit that they never fully read or understood all the ramifications of a bill as significant as the Patriot Act. The point is, we are the community impacted by laws governing intercountry adoption. We must be the experts. And we must inform and educate our elected officials. This too is not easy. You wont just call your U.S. Rep. on the phone and have them invite you over for coffee to discuss it. It takes perseverance and ongoing communications. I admit that I have done a poor job of this personally with my representative. But others have done a great job and in the San Francisco Bay Area alone, it looks like parents will be meeting personally with at least three U.S. Reps to discuss current issues.

    Finally, while the system may be running smoothly for most, I do not wish to ignore the difficult struggles many families are facing. The families impacted by IAR losing its license are just now beginning to get the children home. More recently, the Embassys banning of the lawyer Blanca Eugenia Martinez de Arce is creating an uncertain future for many families struggling to find out exactly where they are in the process, who is working on their cases, and what roadblocks may lie ahead. Lastly, there are still families who have yet to bring their children home following the Hague crisis last year. Having been a survivor of that crisis myself, I cant imagine how they must feel today.

    So the point of this blog is not guilt anyone into action. It is a rejoice for those of us with our children home and a reminder that intercountry adoption doesnt end with a Gotcha Trip. I have seen and experienced how peoples activist energy and desire to volunteer dissipates with homecoming. This is understandable, bringing home a new child is difficult and time consuming. Caring for that child and providing him/her the extra attention he/she deserves is and must be the #1 priority. But complacency leaves the system, the institution, and the community vulnerable to those who either cant comprehend it or stand against it on reactionary ideological grounds. With more children in need of families being born every day, we cant just sit back and accept ourselves as being the lucky ones.


    Posted by Kevin at 05:54 PM

    May 09, 2004

    HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!!

    Happy Mothers Day to all our new mothers! There are no words that can express the joy I feel when my little one calls me "mama".

    As we enjoy this day, I am especially honored to present our dedications to our foster mothers and our birth mothers everywhere.

    DEDICATIONS

    If you were unable to add your own dedication and would like to do so, please feel free to add a comment.

    Posted by Kelly at 12:03 AM

    April 13, 2004

    To my daughter's birthmother

    Dear L-

    Today is Easter and I feel so thankful and so emotional watching my beautiful daughter hunt eggs with the older children. She is so bright and energetic. At 19 months, she did such a good job gathering eggs until she was distracted by a butterfly. I guess that shouldn't be surprising from a child that stops to look at every bug, every flower, ever bird and every moment.

    Everytime she smiles, everyone around her smiles. I guess its because of those big ole dimples and sparkling eyes. The world is HER stage and I often wonder if it DOES revolve around her. Yesterday, we ate dinner at a little restaraunt around the corner. She waved and smiled at the patrons and talked to the waiters. The smiles are contageous!!

    She has many words in her vocabulary now and will talk about everything...filling in her sentences with very meaningful sounding babble. She is also very meticulous. She remembers where every object came from and will promptly put it back EXACTLY in its special place when asked. Her memory is amazing. The other day, daddy took her to pick up some parts and told her that she would see the man with the bird. Unfortunately, the man and the bird had already left for the day. I think daddy really hoped that she had forgotten about his comment. She was very quiet and patient the entire visit. But when it was time to leave, she asked daddy where the bird was (Bird??? Tweet? Tweet?).

    She is truely an amazing, intelligent child. I have to admit, some days can be tough. She is very determined and not easily distracted! But there is not a day that goes by that we are not thankful that she is in our lives.

    As always, you and your family are in my prayers. I'm adding some Easter pictures to the album I am saving for you. While I know so little about you, I also know so much about you through the eyes and smile of this wonderful child.

    Blessings to you,

    Kelly

    Posted by Kelly at 06:45 PM

    March 20, 2004

    Re-vamp

    Dear Readers-

    In the next few weeks, you will see some changes to the site. Hopefully, the end result will be easier navigation and better organization. However, if you notice any "dead-end" links please feel free to notify me: EMAIL WEBMASTER

    Posted by Kelly at 03:53 PM

    December 31, 2003

    Cold Weather Hits Guatemala - You Can Help!

    We all know Guatemala to be known as the land of eternal spring. But an unusual cold has hit this year, with some areas even experiencing snow. Hands of Hope can use your help right now!

    Here is how Gregory from Hands of Hope described the current situation: "It has been so cold here in the mountains of Guatemala, down to freezing; the children sleep on dirt floors in cornstalk shacks, and they simply cant stay warm. We are seeing so much sickness in the clinic due to the extreme cold. Pneumonia has taken the lives of some children. Crops are frozen".

    Hands of Hope is working hard to distribute blankets and other necessities to help the people in need. They are able to purchase thermal blankets for $5 each. I have personally donated to buy 50 of these blankets and I would encourage/challenge everyone with the means to do the same.

    As we end this holiday season and start the new year, think for a moment about just how lucky we are - food in excess, heated homes, etc. We all face challenges but nothing compared to what the people Hands of Hope serves are dealing with right now. So please, do what you can. Maybe there is that $50 Christmas present you really don't need - take it back, that's 10 blankets. Maybe skip dinner at a restaurant once - another 10 blankets. You get the idea.

    Follow this link to donate:
    http://www.hands-of-hope.com/WaysToContribute.htm

    Gregory will be posting a complete photo essay about this current need by Saturday. So please check there for more info.

    Happy New Year!

    Posted by Kevin at 12:20 PM

    December 11, 2003

    What happened to Guatadopt?

    Something funky has been going on with this site. If you tried to come here earlier and instead got the opportunity to buy a hard drive, it wasn't your computer. And now the last month's entries seem to have disappeared. You're not crazy, it's still December. And all those great entries and threads really did exist. Hopefully they'll be back soon. And unfortunately, moving back a month at guatadopt doesn't make the treachurous waits a month shorter.

    Sorry...

    Posted by Kevin at 01:20 AM

    July 26, 2003

    Asking BCIS to resume DNA authorizations

    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.

    Resume DNA authorizations (MS Word)

    Resume DNA authorizations (html)

    Thanks again to Allison McSweeney and Ellen Daley for their outstanding assistance in editing this letter.

    Posted by at 01:54 PM

    May 14, 2003

    Updated Shop

    We are constantly updating our CAFEPRESS SHOP - GUATADOPT with new designs. CLICK HERE to check them out!
    fromGuat.jpgflagssteelmug.jpgGuatgirl.jpg


    Posted by Kelly at 05:07 PM

    March 08, 2003

    Map of Guatemala

    guatemalamapcover.jpg

    Posted by Kelly at 12:34 PM