Comments: On Susana, CICIG and the Senator

Interesting. Our case still awaits. It has been passed from court to court with November 2010 ruling that they "HAD" to have the birth mother's declaration and without it our daughter would basically be in limbo for eternity. PGN supposedly looked for her for @ 1-1/2 years with no luck. In November I took the address from one of the PGN resolutions and hired a searcher (who is fabulous, by the way, email if you want her info) and in just 1, yes ONE day she located the birthmother and she agreed to make her declaration to the court. This being done 3 times now the court is still fighting the adoption. It's very frustrating. They have sent social workers to try to guilt her into reclaiming her daughter, have literally told her husband (who is not bio father) that he "needs to be a man and take care of his family". This is all very sad to me because there is a child who is being hurt by the very system that is supposed to protect her. B/M even offered to reclaim her and do a private adoption with us, however, since we are not citizens of Guat this is not feasible. So, even with the B/M declaration and persistence that she wants US to adopt her, yet another DNA test that PROVES her the mother and everyone involved jumping through all of the newly created hoops that never seem to end, a little girl is still waiting. There are, I am sure, way too many more children caught in these ridiculous circumstances. They linger in hogars when they could be home with their families receiving the love and attention they so deserve. I pray for us all, especially our children who keep waiting for mommy and daddy to come and take them home. They cannot possibly understand why. To add insult to injury, the orphans continue to pile up, so to speak, with little hope of ever living outside an institution setting. These are beautiful, healthy children and there are many more with minor to severe disabilities who could also have families if only the power struggle of all the parties involved in making the decisions would come together for the sake of the children. The children are the victims and the children are all that really matter in this whole mess.

Comment by Teresa at May 12, 2011 09:04 AM



Also, on the issue of the social workers hassling our b/m, they went so far as to tell her that our daughter had been brought to the U.S. by us for a period of time but then the courts discovered that documents had been falsified and we had to "return" her to Guatemala! LIES! The b/m was so upset and wanted to know if this was true. I was able to reassure her that it was absolutely false and pointed out that if she had been out of the country the SW should be able to produce a VISA and PASSPORT that showed her exit and re-entry into the country. It is a very sick system desperately in need of some leadership with morals and hearts.

Comment by Teresa at May 12, 2011 10:20 AM



Is is possible for the two governments to re-open and investigate previously completed adoptions where Susana had involvement? I never doubted for a minute that our adoptions were above-board while they were in process many years ago. To read this post now, greatly saddens me.

Comment by Anonymous at May 12, 2011 11:47 AM



I wouldn't worry. There is zero precedence for that happening. And thankfully, there are only a handful of women trying to find their children (thankfully meant because it would indicate that kidnappings were few).

In fact, one problem in the Anyeli case is that the US has been completely unsuportive in trying to get the adoptive parents to address the issue, have a DNA test done to confirm her identity, and try to resolve it.

I am sure this is having an impact on those Primavera families still trying to bring a child home. But I dobn't think any o fhte in-process fmailies, Primavera or otherwise, are having lots of movement right now.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Comment by Kevin at May 12, 2011 03:09 PM



I am glad to see some attempt to prosecute those implicated in child abductions. Luarca needs a day in court rather than in the court of public opinion--let's settle this! Allegations of abduction need to be put to rest, the girls need to know the truth, and the families need to figure out how to deal with whatever the outcomes are. And, to be honest--Primavera families, in my opinion, are now suffering the implications of unresolved issues as their cases linger even longer with a cloud of abduction allegations. And, Landrieu talks a good game about prosecuting criminals but remains hands-off on pushing the Department of Justice to produce the DNA tests. The truth is in one's actions. Honestly, I think that Landrieu cannot afford to take a hands-off approach on the abduction allegations and it is my opinion that she did more harm than good with Guatemalans spouting her own personal foreign policy. Ultimately...that is not wise. It is a shame.

Comment by karenms1 at May 12, 2011 09:17 PM



Susana Luarca was not involved in this child's abduction and there is absolutely no evidence to support the accusations that she was a "ringleader" for child abductions and procuring children unethically for adoption, or that she knew this child was kidnapped.I know her very well and I know that she would NEVER do this. No matter how you feel about intercountry adoption, this is NOT a real attempt at getting the REAL criminals. This is a trumped up case against a strong child advocate who advocated for intercountry adoption because she believed that was good for children without parental care. Alot of us believe this and there is significant research supporting this position. I know that there are other opinions out there, but that doesn't excuse this attempt to discredit an outspoken adoption advocate through legal harrassment. Guatemala has enormous problems caring for its children and by shutting down the private adoption route, they have cut off the funding source for so many orphanages and children. Is UNICEF filling this gap? The last I heard, UNICEF doesn't believe in orphanages and therefore doesn't support them. Is the Guatemalan government really stepping up... the last I heard the remaining Children's Homes (many have closed for lack of funds) are getting no support for the children in their care from the government. A recent article in the Prensa Libra said that malnutrition in Guatemala is as bad as that in Africa!!! Childhood for the majority of poor children in Guatemala has many risks: death from treatable illnesses, early child labor or slavery, children being sold into sexual slavery.. that is real trafficking and should be addressed. The real shame is what is happening to children, which ICA ameliorated for some.

I am very grateful that Mary Landrieu spoke up for the children and she didn't "spout her own personal foreign policy", she spoke from a legitimate child welfare position, albeit one that Karen doesn't agree with.

Susana Luarca did more for Guatemalan children than anyone. Those who know her, know that.She tried in many ways to get reforms in place without sacrificing the social services which the private system provided (albeit inconsistently). Now none of it is happening and the indifferent government authorities are getting their paychecks by investigating the same things over and over again while children lose.

the injustice of this scapegoating is intolerable... I would hope that Susana could get her day in court and it would be fair, but so far it has not been fair... who has been jailed? an orphanage director who cared for a child, the lawyer who carried out an abandonment process for a child whose DNA didn't match her alleged mother's, but was near enough that
the lab said she was probably a close relative - that child needed to go to an orphanage, couldn't go back to a fake mother, and the notary who signed on the adoption?

Marvin Bran, the facilitator who brought the child into the system might have colluded with the kidnapping, but he's not in jail.

Why should people who have not been on trial even after 2 years be in jail, when they haven't even had a trial, only accusations.? Even after 2 years, when Susana had her hearing in early April, the MP asked for 6 more months to "investigate" further. At the same time the MP, PGN, CICIG, and Norma Cruz were asking for her to be put in jail. The Judge allowed her to post bail, but they appealed it and the Court of Appeals overturned the lower court.
It does not bode well for a fair trial.

What they have built against Susana is a case of speculation.. without evidence. There is not even a DNA test to confirm that this child is the same child that Loyda Rodriguez is seeking. I agree that the Dept of Justice should assure that the DNA is done.

Hannah Wallace

Comment by Hannah Wallace at May 13, 2011 12:21 AM



Hannah, of course you don't think Luarca is guilty of anything. Because, if she is--your own agency and cases fall under scruitany. All I said is that she should have her day in court. Everyone needs to consider the source...

And, you may support Landreiu's work, but I submit that she did inmeasureable harm. Angering the Guatemalans was not diplomatic, useful, and it certainly has not brought any more children home! Applaud her all you like--show me some results. Again, more harm than good...and I assure you that there are forces who, upon hearing comments like Landrieu's remarks, will go out of their way to prove her wrong with more facts and evidence. The applause for Landrieu is based on the fact that she carried the company line about fraud being infrequent. How about the Senator saying--'yes, there were some problems and both of our governments are working towards higher standards for children and their families. And, the most important thing is to care for those children caught in the middle of a transitioning system. They, like all children, deserve to live with a family because languishing in an institution is unthinkable and inhumane. It is time to put aside the arguments and insure that children are cared for' Now, that is diplomatic and focused on a strategy which is collaborative. Imagine that!?!

Comment by karenms1 at May 13, 2011 09:40 AM



Hannah- I agree with you, Susana did not kidnap Anyeli. She is not being prosecuted for that. She is being prosecuted for getting a COA (ceritificate of abandonement), accepting false documents that had changed Anyeli's name to a different name and for knowing that though the DNA was negative, and the person who brought in the child was not the birth mother, regardless she did accept the case and thus went forward to obtain a COA and submit the case to PGN.
She is also accused of doing the same procedure for other children, specifically the kidnapped child, Dafne Nayeli Perez, that was laundered as Yahaira Noelie Muyus, then re-laundered as Jahaira Noemi Muñoz, who was kidnapped in 2006 at the age of 4 (actual age was 4) but laundered a year younger. This is not the only case SL has taken of children with negative DNAs. Though it was the norm to issue a COA to kids whose DNA was negative, was it a right thing to do?

There are other documented case of coersed mothers and children who were kidnapped and the case was processed by Susana, some dating to the early 90s. Let it be noted, that Susana was not the only attorney whose name has been attached to these types of doings. Also, some biomothers were not all saints in this, but the system was available and they did go from attorney to attorney seeking the highest bidder to obtain cash for their child. To say this was not true, does not do justice to anyone.

I do agree that court ordered DNA tests should be done for all the missing children adopted into ICA, this would resolve any speculation for all parties involved.

As per the CICIG findings, kidnapping rings do exist and children were brought to attorneys for a fee, as well as birth mothers were paid. Unfortunately, some children were murdered, that being the cases of Alba Michelle España and Kenneth Lopez.
The kidnappers provided evidence of the fee (less than $2000) that they would get for a specific light skinned child. The CICIG reports provides the details, facts and evidence that some people still need to confirm that this corruption existed in Guatemala.

Sadly, with or without evidence or studies, what all APs have to face is that APs have to deal with the reality of this sad aftermath.

Comment by marie at May 13, 2011 10:10 AM



Hannah Wallace, thank you for your review of the Luarca case. I am not an expert on this case but to me the government's charge and its actions don't pass the smell test. It sounds like they are out to get a vocal critic.

Can you or anyone on this board tell me how many people have been convicted of kidnapping or a similar charge. I hear so many accusations of the corruption of the Guatemala system but I have no idea of how many cases have actually gone to court and resulted in a conviction.

Also you made a good point regarding UNICEF. Now that have shutdown adoptions, where are they?

Comment by Henry at May 13, 2011 10:11 AM



Yes Hannah, I agree that there is malnutrition in Guatemala. But sadly, those were not the children being adopted. On Guatadopt, over MANY years, we only know of a handful of children that qualified to be labelled "malnourished" upon arrival that the orphanage or hogar by the USE medical report. These were children over the age of one, few were over the age of 5 that were adopted by ICA. The majority of children adopted for ICA were children UNDER the age of one, who born and then immediately brought to the hogar or attorney to be placed with a foster mother.


The UN report listing the Guatemala statistics for US visas issued for adopted kids state:

the adoption statistics of the USA for the years 2005-2009, and made a break down of age of adoption per sending country. To keep the break down statistically significant, only sending countries that in one of the years 2005-2009 sent more than 100 children are presented.

Let's look at infants first:

Sending country % children age < 1
Korea, South 88.75%
Guatemala 68.01%
Vietnam 63.49%
-------

The children who went were destined to ICA were not malnourished children in the first place, neither were the first mothers who birthed them, (APs see the photos you have of the biological mothers) nor their other siblings who were not malnourished and the siblings born after a child's relinquishment are not malnourished. Many APs who have visited or sought seeking information about their child's first families were surprised by this finding.

Comment by marie at May 13, 2011 10:31 AM



Karenms1, I agree with you. Sen. Landrieu's ill- timed and ill-informed comments have hurt the waiting families more than has helped them.

I hope that those in power see that the children should not be made to languish in institutionalize care and all efforts to bring the remaining cases to completion should be made for the sake of the children.

For those families still in process, you have not been forgotten.

With love, Marie

Comment by marie at May 13, 2011 10:44 AM



Susana Luarca is not being singled out and scapegoated. She is among many who are either being investigated, prosecuted and/or incarcerated due to involvement in the illegal adoption system. She is more newsworthy here perhaps because she was a regular (supported) mouthpiece here on Guatadopt for years (her org. the ADA even had their own link/blog), and in Guatemala because she comes from a powerful, wealthy and influential family (example: her ex-husband was on the Supreme Court).

Also, let's not forget her legal manhunt against Bruce Harris from Casa Alianza (may he rest in peace) for him verbally addressing her possible usage of that same influence in her "maneuverings" in relation to alleged illegal adoptions in other abductions/abandonments/adoption scenarios. This was ten years ago.... so, these allegations against her are nothing new. For Harris merely suggesting this correlation, Harris was subjected to several years of court hearings, and the threat of jail over his head, because at the time in Guatemala defamation was a criminal offense (can you imagine if this was the case in the US?). This is an example of the power that Susana Luarca had in Guatemala, and an example of her impunity, because none of these allegations (made by others beside Harris, for years) were prosecuted until... now. Simple researching (by searching "luarca" on poundpuplegacy.org for example, who catalog old adoption news stories) can see that allegations against her go back over a decade. Is it realistic to assume (hope?) that these charges are simply trumped up and biased due to some fictionalized anti-adoption stance, the card that adoption profiteers continuously throw into the mix?

The truth is, many in Guatemala are being exposed and investigated for their participation in the illegal adoption circuit, and most (unless you follow it) wouldn't come on the radar of Guatadopt (via newspaper articles) because they are not as "newsworthy". Marvin Bran is on the run and has a warrant out for his arrest for his role in the Anyeli case. Ana Lopez, the lab tech who took many DNA samples allegedly under the Laboratorio Multimedica run by Aida Gutierrez (who supposedly sampled our "botched" DNA test), is/was in jail for her role of switching DNA samples for stolen child Esther Sulamita, so she could "pass" the DNA test and be adopted. The judge in Escuintla (Peralta?) is under investigation and may face prosecution, along with many more people. To say that Luarca is a scapegoat for the whole system simply isn't correct.

I don't think many Americans (myself included) can fully understand what it is like to live in a country where the wealthy and powerful have such complete and total control and impunity, and how powerless the vast majority of Guatemalans are. So powerful, that by merely verbally suggesting that a powerful person has used that same influence can land you in jail. And we can't fully realize the importance and precedent being set that people such as Judge Peralta and Luraca can even face prosecution. This also brings perhaps a better understanding of what the CICIG (and Norma Cruz/Sobrevivientes) are attempting to do, and how brave the mothers of stolen children are for speaking out against such powerful entities.

The bottom line is, to say that all of these allegations and charges against Luarca are merely a scapegoating for a woman ("who has nothing more than children's welfare at heart"), is discrediting the work of some very intelligent investigators (both the CICIG and the MP), who have years and years of evidence that we couldn't even begin to know about, and also continuing to paint a rosy (and extremely inaccurate, false) picture of the Guatemalan adoption system as a whole, which does nothing to further the right and ethical agenda which I believe should be: truth and justice. And something I hope we can teach our children born in Guatemala, whom we brought to our country that supposedly embraces that ideal.

Comment by Jennifer Hemsley at May 13, 2011 10:53 AM



This might shed some much needed light:

http://findingfernanda.com/2011/05/breaking-susana-luarca-in-custody/

Comment by marie at May 13, 2011 12:06 PM



I will try to respond to some of these responses to my post in defense of Susana.

Marie, the information about the case of Yahaira Munoz is somewhat outdated. When Yahaira was identified by her birthmother, she was placed in another hogar and an investigation ensued. This was prior to the time that they decided to "target" Susana, and the MP found that the initial relinquishment signatures were very similar. The Family Court returned Yahaira to her birthmother, but the birthmother also recanted her testimony about Yahaira being kidnapped and acknowledged that she had originally placed the child for adoption. Again, this was a case that was brought to Susana AFTER a failed DNA. While the charges are still pending, if the case would come to trial (unlikely now)it would be clarified that this was not a kidnapping.

Re: Malnutrition - your argument that adopted children are not malnourished is exactly right. They go into orphanages or foster care which provided medical care and good nutrition and THOSE children were spared the fate of 50% of the population who are malnourished. Since poverty was a condition for eligibility for adoption by the US CIS, one can assume that most of the children who were relinquished because the parents could not care for them, were in the more than 50% of the country who live in poverty and that many of them would have also been malnourished or died or uneducated or working at a young age. I submit that the former adoption program alleviated some of this by many humanitarian aid projects on the part of some agencies and adoptive families, supporting hogars with children who were not being adopted, and, of course, finding families for abandoned and relinquished children. I am not saying that Adoption is the solution for poverty, it is a solution for some children. There SHOULD be a concerted effort to coordinate and regulate social services and adoption services. This was part of a law which Susana Luarca and other child advocates promoted, but Unicef, the Guatemalan govt., the DOS and the authorities at the Hague actually preferred the Law which was passed. When I met with Manuel Manrique, Director of Unicef in Guatemala, and asked him why Unicef didn't support a law which included social services, he responded that the Social Services should be "for all". I responded that the Social Service centers proposed would be available to all, because women couldn't relinquish until after a child was born... and the centers would provide prenatal and birth care, as well as many supportive services which could help women keep their children, as well as funding through adoptions.

Hannah Wallace

Comment by Hannah Wallace at May 13, 2011 12:34 PM



Kevin,thank you for the information you provide regarding Guatemalan adoptions.This topic often generates more heat than light.Most posters seem to fall into two camps.The first says Guat.adoptions were fine no problem here everyone move on.The second camp makes hysterical claims that every Guat.adoption was corrupt and every AP should live out their life in shame.
Again,thanks for taking on this thankless task.

Comment by Henry at May 13, 2011 01:44 PM



Thanks so much Hannah for clarifying that. But I am sure that I am not the only one confused, if the mother then did relinquish Dafne, then why didn't she just get her back?

Also, the question that then comes to mind is why were so much of the malnourished children older than age one, not relinquished?

I am sure that the readers of this site would appreciate your insight.

Comment by marie at May 13, 2011 01:57 PM



Kevin said: "Long term is how to find a way to create international adoption systems that don’t end up with the dark legacy that clouds so many, Guatemala included. "

I agree! Here's an idea: take money out of the adoption system, and you take away the vast majority of incentive for crime and corruption (Now watch how those that profit on adoption will jump on the "it won't work" bandwagon, because I've seen this happen at adoption conferences over the years). This doesn't mean continuing to prop up the flimsy "non-profit" status of most adoption agencies... I mean take every. single. penny. out of the adoption system so no one makes a dime here, or in the sending country.

How many of us here would volunteer to assist with adoptions in Guatemala if this were the structure?

With the rise in popularity in "Voluntourism", isn't it logical to explore it? Unfortunately, logic seems to rarely play a role when profiting is at stake, and those that earn their incomes (and some hefty ones, too) from ICA are the first to shut down the idea with their influence and lobbying power (read: JCICS). If people who assisted in the movement of children really, really had the "best interest of children at heart".... wouldn't they volunteer their services? And if Susana Luarca didn't earn any money on adoptions, do you think she would be prosecuted? Like most adoption facilitators in Guatemala, I understand she earned a large income from the movement of children. Personally speaking, I understood our former attorney and facilitator "team", Ricardo and Karla Ordonez, earned millions (USD). What was their incentive, child welfare, or cash?

Comment by Jennifer Hemsley at May 13, 2011 02:02 PM



Re: Marie's question of whether it was right to get abandonment decrees for children who were victimized by fraudulent DNA, fake names, etc.

Marie, the Guatemalan procedure was that those children were considered to have no parents, as they came into the system via fraudulent parents (in the case of failed DNA), and needed to go into orphanages. On the other hand, any orphanage who took a child who was in the state of physical abandonment, who was licensed to do adoptions, needed to file for abandonments. The PGN needed to approve the abandonment. There are several steps in an abandonment investigation which is the role of the lawyer and the court. The law in Guatemala governing abandoned children was very complex, because the child is considered to have a right to a family and if found abandoned, the child's legal guardian is ordered to find a replacement family.

In this case, I believe the courts were supposed to get reports of missing children, but those reports weren't received for Anyeli. Despite charges to the contrary, this Judge has denied abandonment petitions, asked for further hearings, and he and Susana have not colluded to launder children. The PGN lawyer for the investigation was released from prison and the charges against him were dropped.

I don't think there are many children who are declared kidnapped as there are not very many people who have come forward thru the years. And clearly, there were flaws in the system which could declare a kidnapped child to be declared abandoned and adopted. However, if this act was unknown to the parties involved, then it is a mistake, a flaw in the system, but not a crime.

Should those children whose DNA didn't match have to languish in orphanages? Is that right, for the child?

Kevin hit the nail on the head: Should someone be charged for a crime, if they were ignorant of the child's status. In this case, the DNA suggested that a close relative had posed as the birthmother. And the courts still do not know if the child known as Karen Abigail is actually Anyeli Rodriguez.

Not all orphanages were licensed to do adoptions. If a child went to orphanages not licensed to do adoptions, their status was to be in "permanent custody" until they aged out. That is why so many older children never made it into the system. However, the statistics for children above 1 year in Guatemala are about 1/3 of the adoptions. We worked with an orphanage which had to get licensed to do adoptions and had many older children for whom we found families, once their abandonments were completed. It was hard to find families for some of these children. And the outcome for older institutionalized children is statistically very poor. that is why it is so important to have children adopted as young as possible or find families who are prepared for the very special needs these children have. Many times it is hard to predict as the older institutionalized child may not be able to adapt to family life and expectations for bonding and may get destabilized in the family environment.

Does it make sense to have children damaged by institutionalization until they get older and then are considered to be "appropriate" for adoption. All of these "standards" have been horribly misinterpreted and don't reflect the research on child development and institutionalization, nor do they reflect best practices in adoption placement, which is supposed to be family building. A very small number of families are prepared for a special needs child.

Comment by Hannah Wallace at May 13, 2011 02:10 PM



Jennifer,

Wonderful idea in theory. And I won’t say that it is impossible. But I will riase the obvious question of “who is going to pay for it”. How can not one penny change hands?
Guatemala offers virtually no social welfare systems. It does nothing to provide aid to mothers so that things like adoption need not be considered due to malnutrition, poverty, lack of opportunity, etc. How in the world are they going to change that?
Now I can see the argument of make it all government controlled - everything done by government employees. But that doesn’t mean everything will be clean either. Just look at Guatemala where it does not appear the profit motive was behind all of the children of guerilla being stolen and adopted.

And imagine this scenario. PAPs still pay a fee to the government to cover the necessary costs – food, medical, investigatory, legal services, etc. No private practitioners whatsoever. But now you can have unethical activities going on because of government subsidies based on # of kids. Or when dollars get tight, the government will view adoptions as a profit center.
Think I’m nuts? Talk to the food service directors of MANY districts around our country. They can’t serve healthier meals because they can’t afford them. Their district heads expect the food operation to be a profit center. Gotta turn those free meal dollars from the gov. into a profit. And if they try to get rid of the junk food – ships, sodas, ice cream – that they sell in their ala carte programs the P&L really turns south. I’m not criticizing the district chiefs because they need every dollar possible to make up for the fact that Americans with money are generally unwilling to pay (more) for services that benefit the masses.
You know as well as I that Guatemala has a pathetically low tax rate that keeps the rich smiling and the poor suffering. You also know that whenever anyone seriously makes a move to change the taxaxtion to provide services – things get ugly fast.
Sadly, one way or another there are dollars involved and one way or another corruption will occur. That does not mean to defend the Wild West that was going on and I’ve been about as outspoken as anyone on that. But whether a system is private or public has thus far not controlled corruption – Russia being a great example. And quality of care has been better generally in a private system.
To me the solution does lie in a private-public partnership. And to me, it ain’t all that complicated. But it’s still a question of CONSISTENT enforcement from day one and setting PRECEDENT for what will not be tolerated. Things got as bad as they did in Guatemala not overnight, but because of years of incompetence and a lack of desire on the part of both governments to step in effectively.

I know the conversations I had with government officials. I know how many times they were supplied the smoking guns necessary to investigate and chose not to. I know how they didn’t even take the effort at USE to enforce the bans they had placed on folks like Blanca Martinez and Thanasis.
The Guatemalan system as it stood relied on social workers, civil registry employees, judges, etc – all in lines of work that should not be profit centric and require the public trust – as would any “free” system. And yet we see how pure they were.
So I am really curious how you suggest this be done. Volunteerism only goes so far. It doesn’t supply food. It doesn’t provide medicine. It doesn’t pay a foster mom or caregiver.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Comment by Kevin at May 13, 2011 04:34 PM



Thanks Hannah for taking the time to answer so many questions. As you can imagine. many parents have questions and those questions arise to even more questions. Sadly many questions go unanswered.

Henry, please do not put parents that have questions into either camp, it does no one justice and a in the end it does a disservice, it might make parents leery of posting a question in fear of being labeled. This site is for parents to ask questions and to learn the facts.

Comment by marie at May 13, 2011 04:57 PM



Hannah said: "I don't think there are many children who are declared kidnapped as there are not very many people who have come forward thru the years. And clearly, there were flaws in the system which could declare a kidnapped child to be declared abandoned and adopted."

Children who were also in the relinquishment route were stolen, too. They passed the maternal DNA test by the DNA samples being switched prior to being tested. This is fact. Arrests have been made in relation to this. Case in point: Esther Sulamita, a girl stolen from her mother Ana Escobar while she was working in a shoe store. We know so much about that case because by a chance sighting, Esther was removed from the adoption pipeline just prior to her being adopted by an unsuspecting family in Indiana. Had Esther been adopted, we would not have the PROOF we have now: a LEGITIMATE DNA test done to prove Ana's claims.

Consider this, please: how did Esther "pass" the DNA test? I've seen it, and the woman in the picture.... is not Ana Escobar.

And please don't try to assert that DNA switching was few and far between. It wasn't. Our case is proof of that. And I'm fairly certain your adoption agency used Aida Gutierrez and Multimedica to collect samples as well, correct?

And as far as claiming that children being stolen for adoption was a rare occurrence because not many mothers have come forward, that is also not true. Those women (Loyda, Ana, Olga and Raquel) are represented by Norma Cruz (an attorney) and Fundacion Sobrevivientes, so they have had plenty of media exposure. And Norma had to stop representing all the women coming to her, simply because she and the foundation couldn't afford to to help them, financially or with time. One example: when the women were on their second hunger strike last summer, an unknown woman came forward to Raquel, and in tears, explained that the people she saw on the news that kidnapped Raquel's daughter (Heidy) were the same her stole her baby. You don't hear about this woman, do you?

As much as I would like to believe otherwise, the truth is a pretty ugly picture. Sorry, but it's high time we start talking truth, and not candy-coating the situation any longer. The people of Guatemala deserve better.

Comment by Jennifer Hemsley at May 13, 2011 05:42 PM



Jennifer, I need to respond to your comments about Bruce Harris. You said: "May he rest in peace" and you are sympathizing with him in his battle with Susana. It is true that he made many false statements about several others, and Susana was the only one who fought back. He accused her, among other things, of colluding with a judge to have 2 older children adopted quickly against their parents' wishes. His accusations were in major newspapers and magazines all over the world, and he went to the Hague to complain about abuses in the Guatemalan system (at a time when there were barely 500 adoptions a year and very little corruption. He even got the Hilton Humanitarian Award, and many Human Rights Groups came to his defense at the trial.

I guess you don't know - perhaps many don't know - that his witnesses against Susana all recanted by the time he came to trial. It took 7 years for him to finally come to trial and then he provided no defense in the days of testimony: including his quotes in newspapers, his speeches before the Hague, his statements on TV, his website and the many poisonous comments he made through the years, while making a very good salary from Casa Alianza.

But do you know that about 2 years after the trial, Bruce Harris was accused and found guilty in Honduras for paying for sex with a 17 year old male prostitute who had been a recipient of Casa Alianza's "shelter"... he (the young man)testified to repeated sexual abuse by staff at Casa Alianza. A prior Director had also been found guilty of child molestation. Bruce Harris was fired by Casa Alianza. He spent the last few years of his life working for a homeless shelter in Fort Lauderdale, and one hopes he didn't prey on the hopeless. He was revealed as a hypocrite and a liar as well as a probable pedophile. After he was gone, almost secretly, Casa Alianza continued the war against ICA. No one suggested that all services to street children should cease because they couldn't regulate and control their staff. There have been similar scandals with other charitable organizations. There is significant documentation about Unicef's role in many countries, not above falsifying information to gain their ends. I really don't know if they are incredibly cynical or just have some blind spots, but anyone who can't see that the cure (as prescribed by Unicef and other Human Rights groups who go after adoption and prescribe laws like those in most Latin American countries) the cure is worst than the problem and children are suffering.

Yes,some adoption lawyers and some adoption agencies make or made alot of money, many earned alot less than has been stated by its critics; but employees of other charities also make a great deal. Look at the Red Cross, Hospital Administrators, Unicef salaries, etc. The fact that people made a living from adoption work shouldn't automatically indict them, just as the fact that they may be part of the minority upper middle class (not rich)mean that they didn't also do their work in the spirit of charity. For instance, Susana didn't have to spend as much as she did to ensure that the children in her care had a beautiful environment, good healthcare with a live in Dr., go to private clinics when sick, provide a small child to staff ratio, a teacher, teach the older kids English, provide a psychologist. She could have "raked in the money" as is alleged, without working as hard as she did, without providing so much of her time and energy to a cause she believed in. What is happening to her now is just not right, and it is nowhere near "truth and justice", which we all would like to see.

This is not to say that there was not an unethical, greedy, and even criminal element, especially toward the end... and some very bad players.. and very little that could be done to control them as the Guatemalan government didn't lift a finger to control them. But I contend that Susana was not one of them, nor were many other honorable lawyers. And I also know that many of the good people working in adoption on both sides of the ocean tried to make moderate, but effective, changes, which would not stop children from having the opportunity for families... but there was always this powerful lobby led by Unicef for the most draconian change, so that the polarization that Henry perceives, got worse.

Comment by Hannah Wallace at May 13, 2011 11:50 PM



Hannah- It is understandable what you mentioned about how to deal with abandoned children.

With that said, what are your thoughts on since any unclaimed child can be put up for adoption, the newspaper notice offers the only hope for a family to learn about the whereabouts and return of a son or daughter. But poor families living in the mountains or working outside of Guatemala City may never see these notices.

What are your thoughts on the following, especially as in prior years parents were turned away from police stations and no one started looking for missing children until well over 3 days of the disappearance of a child. Fortunately today in Guatemala a system is in placem a system similar to the US's Amber Alert system, known as the Alba-Kenneth system, in honor of the two kidnapped and missing children Alba Michelle Espana and Kenneth Lopez.

What are your thoughts on the findings of the PDH with respect to the number of kidnapped children between Jan. 2006 and May 2007 totalling 915? Whose whereabouts are still unknown.

http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/internacional/54901.html

"según la estatal Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala (PDH), 915 infantes fueron robados de enero de 2006 a mayo de 2007."

Just curious.

Comment by marie at May 14, 2011 09:57 AM



Wallace's comments remind me how the Guatemalan adoption history can be twisted to meet one's needs. And, how the smoke and mirrors include insults and mis-information. For example, Bruce Harris' behavior was unacceptable as he did pay for sex with a young MAN in Honduras and yes the young man was a former client of Casa Alianza. When Harris was confronted, be admitted to this and offered his resignation to Casa Alianza. That does not make him a "pedophile" as Wallace states. His behavior does not indicate an interest in and exploitation of prepubescent children! [criteria for pedophilia diagnostics] I offer this as ONE EXAMPLE of how Wallace twists the 'truth' to meet her needs. Don't get me wrong, I did not know Harris nor want to be seen as an apologist for his actions, but let's get real. And, to suggest that Casa Alianza was almost "secret" in its continued push for adoption reform after Harris' departure. That is ridiculous. They were one of the noted authors in the 2007 "Child Protection or Baby Market?" report written by a number of Guatemalan groups, to include the Catholic Archdiocese human rights office. There is nothing SECRET there Hannah! And, because Casa Alianza was a champion for the search for disappeared children (social cleansing) long before intercountry adoption--it was natural for the organization to take the charge of searching for children who 'disappeared' into the adoption system. They were approached for help from women who had lost their children to adoption due to force, fraud, or coercion--including helping reunite at least one birth mother and her son who was illegally adopted. And, that takes us to abductions. I can see why Hannah Wallace and ALL OF US concerned about Guatemalan adoptions (one way or another) are horrified by this assertion. But, the evidence continues to line-up. This is not evidence that UNICEF schemed upon or created--it is evidence! You may disagree with UNICEF's strategies for child protection, but let's not get things confused here (more smoke and mirrors!). Finally, I find Wallace's comments to be more than contradictory.She is/was an adoption agency director with a great deal to GAIN by taking her position while people like Jennifer Hemsley had much to lose by standing on her grounds of integrity. Readers, you be the judge. Finally, remember the company that one keeps says so very much. Luarca has been caught into a snare that I suspect she won't escape and she laid the tangled web. She has slipped through justice channels many times before. But WOW, the Guatemalans have had enough and Luarca is the top of a pyramid of impending arrests, in my opinion. About time! And, I am looking forward to the 'day in court' as a hearing is necessary for justice, one way or another! I also am looking forward to understanding more about the hidden structures of the pre-Hague adoption system who many many people millionaires--no matter what Wallace states. Salaries were excessive for many and far above any professional salaries paid by international humanitarian and aid organizations. Again, smoke and mirrors!

Comment by karenms1 at May 14, 2011 10:23 AM



So they are randomly looking In to prior adoptions or adoptions that are pending??this is all so overwhelming to read. I am a mother of 3 children all from guatemala and this is all a bit scary. Please help me understand a bit better

Comment by Lindi at May 15, 2011 07:51 PM



I find myself in need to reply to a variety of questions, suppositions, and “this is the way it worked in Guatemala” comments. I am a missionary that has served the orphan for 14+ years in Guatemala. All the while working and experiencing/understanding the children’s court system and adoption mechanism that existed prior, and now post Adoption Reform.
First of all, I would like to state the “Past and Present” LEGAL procedure for ANY child at risk to enter the Children’s Court System. And that is for the Attorney/Hogar/Social Worker/Adult to present the child FIRST to the “SALA” or appellate court (located in zone 9). There at that court they would start an official record or file on the child and assign WHICH children’s court would then process the case. That IS and WAS the LEGAL process. What happened in most cases was that the Attorney/Hogar presented the child to a FRIENDLY court/judge that they DESIRED to process the case. It was mentioned that the courts were “supposedly informed” of stolen/abducted children, but somehow the system failed. The problem is that the system was abused. Because the information of stolen/abducted children was given to the SALA and therefore it was the “net” provided to be the central place of origin for all children’s court proceedings to catch those cases immediately, which we know did not happen. In an attempt at better control, the SALA uses an automated computer system that exists/existed to combat the problem of attorneys asking for a certain court/judge to process their case; this system would automatically assign the case to the receiving court. Unfortunately, there was not a system in place to indentify cases of (and especially in) abducted/stolen children where the case was started WITHOUT the knowledge of the SALA.
Over the years, some of these anomalies were presented to the Magistrates of the Sala/Appellate court but to no avail because many of those Public Officers were also a part of the corruption. Duly noted, today there is a 99% change of Magistrates overseeing the Children’s Sala.
I would like to pose the question, who presented Anyeli to the Escuintla Court? Some adult had to have presented her, Susana? the Foster Mother? The original Attorney? This is a child; she did not show up at Susana’s door unaccompanied.
Since I have read that Anyeli’s PAP’s approached Susana, then someone connected from the “failed DNA” process made Anyeli available to Susana and consequently to the Escuintla court.
Does anyone else wonder why Susana even had another Hogar? So far away from her (beautiful and centrally located) hogar in zone 10? Would one might want to rationale that the only reasonable reason for this “headache of logistics and transportation” would be a FRIENDLY/CORRUPT relationship with this court/judge in speedy abandonments.
It is so important to try to understand the “climate” IN Guatemala concerning the children’s court system. Not from someone with REAL FINANCIAL interests, but from a perspective of someone who witnessed/experienced the system first hand. I have to say that if ANYONE came to my Hogar (and I am speaking for my fellow missionary friends/Hogar Directors) presenting a child with a failed DNA, the only ETHICAL solution would have been to present the child to the Sala, if in fact the child had first gone to the Sala, the child’s case would have been treated with the upmost caution. Much the less, have the case streamlined and a declaration of abandonment within 3, 4 or 5 months!?! Unheard of if there was not corruption/money involved. Many, many times the PGN would claim at the time of the hearing that the investigation/search was not completed, the judge would then argue why make the child wait, and decide to circumvent the process and declare the child adoptable.

We did take in some of these cases of failed DNA, ones where the US Embassy involvement allowed us some details. A few of those REAL BM’s were found and a few never were. I fought long and hard to make sure the origin of the child was established, to much confusion of the judge and PGN. As an hogar director and so the legal representative of the child, that was the only MORAL course. One case comes to mind when a very prominent Adoption Attorney showed up at my door with a beautiful 8 month old baby girl. The Adoption Friendly/Mixco judge had sent them (without calling ahead to see if there was space, which was the norm) and when I asked why he was abandoning the child, he simply stated that he had posted her picture on the agency’s site for almost 8 months and nobody wanted her, and he wasn’t in the business of CHARITY! That child was not presented to the Sala beforehand, and turned up to be a case riddled with false documents and other unspeakable unjust actions. Was this child stolen and her mother later assassinated ? That is one theory my husband says from time to time, wondering of the coincidence between abducted children and the large number of murdered women. He wishes an autopsy had been performed to establish if the women had recently given birth.

Farfetched? This is a country on the brink of a failed state. Rosenberg, Sandra Torres (divorce), Portillo?
Money, Money, Money…………………………….and then you have the children and their poor families.

I consider it a great privilege and honor to take in, and care for the children of Guatemala, but the old adoption system was neither honest nor honorable.

Shyrel Osborn

Comment by shyrel osborn at May 15, 2011 09:23 PM



@karenms1--do you really have that much confidence in the Guatemalan judicial system? You've heard about the recent Portillo case, no? I have less confidence in the judicial system than I do in the former adoption system. With a 90%+ impunity rate for murders, rampant drug and gang violence, epidemic violence toward women....I don't have much confidence at all that "justice" will be done.

Comment by sjbj at May 15, 2011 09:31 PM



to #3 (anonymous) and Lindi:

_what_ is scary? is it scary that other people's children were kidnapped or that other people sold their children in another country or that our government participated in child trafficking? is it scary that inequity, corruption, $ and well-intentioned (and mostly monolingual) people collided and perpetuated further injustice? STRUCTURES are what scare me, and I think U.S. collusion (yes, even at the Embassy--scapegoating just the unethical lawyers, notaries and clinicians misses the point) is despicable.

if all you're really scared about are the sons and daughters you adopted and raise, well, i agree with kevin. sadly, there just aren't enough resources (and certainly not enough political will) for their biological families to find them and know that their children are alive, well. the u.s. isn't honoring the one court order they have. individually, i don't think there's much to fear.

i hope the first reason concerns you though, and that you're brave enough to keep asking questions of yourself and others, and brave enough to want to do something about structural inequity, corruption and injustice wherever it exists.

Comment by alexandra at May 16, 2011 01:01 AM



Every AP of a Guatemalan child should really read this statement:

"consider this, please: how did Esther "pass" the DNA test? I've seen it, and the woman in the picture.... is not Ana Escobar (the child's biomother)."

Every AP should ban together and question the validity of the DNA test.

And for those that have "found" the birthmother that is listed on their documents, hopefully you have done ANOTHER DNA TEST in a lab that does not profit from adoption to verify that that person INDEED is the child's biological mother. If anything, just for peace of mind.
All our children deserve to know the truth about their adoption and true identity.

Comment by marie at May 16, 2011 07:33 AM



Alexandra all of it is scary not just for my oun children for everyone. I think everyone who has adopted in another country not just guatemala wantz to hope and belive that eveything was done the right way! Yes it seems there are alot of problems but not all adoptions were based on lies!

Comment by Lindi at May 16, 2011 07:54 AM



I think that #3 and Lindi are raising questions that may be on the minds of thousands of AP's who completed Guatemala adoptions. They hired well respected agencies,completed all the required paperwork and dealt with all the frustrations and delays of the adoption process. These folks never asked for special treatment and never tried to scam the system. Most were unaware of the accusations of corruption until well after their adoptions were completed.So now some may be seeking assuance that teir adoptions are OK and they have no need to worry. These are very natural concerns.

I think it will be difficult to develop a force for a reformed process because ICA's have ended and in my opinion will not reopen. A natural constituancy for adoption reform may have been PAP's.By terminating adoptions completly a group that would have supported reform in order to keep the system open have moved on. They have either given up on ICA adoption or are looking elsewhere.

Comment by Henry at May 16, 2011 08:42 AM



respectfully, henry, y'all are still APs, and y'all can still form a constituency and ask some hard questions of those agencies and governments. just bc adoption is closed doesn't mean you can't advocate for truth. and lindi, even if there is some sort of ideal, pure, completely above-board adoption to be had in such an inequitable situation--and it's the one you participated in--so what? it doesn't change the fact that others weren't and that U.S. and Guatemalan structures permitted and encouraged those lies. both the documentary _goodbye baby_ (goudvis) and the recent book _Babies w/o borders_ (dubinsky) fall into this trap where they explore and describe corruption and lies while maintaining that their (the authors') guatemalan adoptions were legit (and, marie, they didn't judge their legitimacy w/ the criteria you're suggesting--new DNA tests). that may comfort them individually somehow, but it also supports this idea that it's ok to blame the AP for the evils of the system. and i just don't think blaming individuals is real helpful.

i'm not an AP but i believe that most people adopted in good faith (and, if they're not fluent in Spanish and don't understand Guatemalan politics, naively). and it must suck to have the image of ICA tarnished by these tragedies and be pretty scary, initially. seems to me tho', that truth seeking agencies like CICIG and Fundación Sobrevivientes (Norma Cruz), might be one way to get beyond the fear, beyond the individual (the "oh, whew! at least my adoption was legit in this quagmire!" reaction) and maybe a way to some collective political agency where APs and their kids could get some truthful answers and advocate for beneficial change for all.

Comment by alexandra at May 16, 2011 12:06 PM



Thank you Henry! Your last post clearly addressed how my husband and I feel. We believed at the time of processing of 2 separate Guatemalan adoptions (both handled by the same faciliator and attorney) that both were handled ethically, as we had done a lot of research and chosen to work with highly respected individuals. Did we question our processes along the way and get frustrated with the heart-wrenching delays in process? Of course we did. Do we continue to have questions now as we read still more information regarding Guatemalan adoptions? Of course we do, and probably always will. But as with many things in life, we need to resolve in our minds and hearts that we did the best we could have done and stop torturing ourselves with the 'what-ifs'.

To a previous post from Alexandra directed at Lindi and me, to which I was taken quite aback, I'm not about to take out an ad in the Prensa Libre or any other publication distributed in the area where I believe the birthmom of my children may be, to confirm that she is actually the one who relinquished them at a few weeks old as my documentation states. Is that what you have done to confirm the authenticity of your adoption(s)? I posted my initial question of, is it possible that our government and Guatemala my try to open & investigate previously completed adoptions...because I thought that several people were probably thinking that very same thing. Additionally, as it used to be, I suspected it was still an open forum to ask such questions without criticism.

I appreciate all of the other information in this thread. Thank you.

Comment by Anonymous at May 16, 2011 01:07 PM



Thank you anonymous I feel the same way. All I did was ask a question I never got the answer to. I was trying to say not all adoptions were fraudulant. noone ever wants to say anything good about it!!

Comment by Lindi at May 16, 2011 09:50 PM



Still digesting all of this. I was of the belief that all was well w/our adoption. I've thought about doing a search but I am truly scared at what I might find. Not that I want to stick my head in the sand and of course my daughter deserves the truth. However, what if is a real fear. What if I find out our adoption is not above board????? How do I explain that to my daughter - I'm not saying I would hide it from her but at what point do I find out? Do I wait until she wants to look or do I look now before something happens to the birth mother? I know a few whose birth mother has passed (confirmed birth mother who AP and birth mom had regular contact). At that point it might be too late. What made my heart sink was the comment that "family members or the community was being kept in the dark about the pregnancy". That is exactly our situation. Our birth mom's family did not know of her adoption plan (at least from what I have read in our paperwork). I will say this - our daughter has many similar features - not just "in general" sticking resemblance. Or maybe I just tell myself that. So I guess what I really and truly struggle with is what was said earlier - the way things are portrayed - the vast majority of adoptions had irregularities. I'm not saying things didn't happen but is it accurate to say the vast majority? - that is a question and not a statement on my part. Let me throw this into the mix - what if the vast majority of the adoption are truly legit and 20 years from now our children see these stories - what impact will it have on them? I'm not saying brush it under the rug- I think we all need to ve vigilant in reporting the good and not so good. I am very conflicted on all of this and really just have a broken heart for the victims - the kids. It doesn't appear Guat will ever have a legitimate system and at the end of the day AP's will long for a child and a child will wait for a parent that will never come. Very sad!

Comment by Chrissy at May 16, 2011 11:10 PM



Alexandra, I may not have made my point clearly. Of course anyone who is interested can work to resolve questions around their adoption.They could also continue to work help resolve problems in Guatemala. My point is that if the goal is to keep the Guatemala adoption program open with better control and accountability a crucial oppurtuniy was lost.The PAP's are a natural constituancy to argue for a reformed system because they have a vested interest in the outcome.
As I have said before this issue has become highly polarized.Some were and maybe still are blind to all wrong doing.Some are simply anti ICA and will use any accusation of wrong doing as justifcation to close ICA's.Some assume that every attorney and lab tech involved in adoption most be corrupt and that every person making a claim that her baby was stolen must be telling the truth.
My opinion is that the vast majority of Guat adoptions were ethical. That it is up each AP to resolve any questions or doubts they may have.The Guat.program helped thousands of children and created thousands of loving families.Justice must be served to anyone harmed but AP's who acted in good faith and whose adoptions have no evidence of wrong doing need not spend the rest of their lives on a guilt trip.

Comment by Henry at May 17, 2011 08:39 AM



Bruce Harris played a major trust role in helping street children and was viewed as almost a diety in protecting them from victimization. One of those street children became a prostitute. He could have given them financial assistance or bought them a meal. But no he PAID them for sex. SO in other words he USED and EXPLOITED and REVICTIMIZED a vulnerable person that had once been in his care. This shows his character. To question when the attraction arose is not a giant leap and I believe not outside reason for people to speculate if he broke this level of trust where he would take it. He liked young men. He paid a former student. He was in a position of trust giving him access to lots of young men. He revictimized a victim. This is not a giant leap. If it had been an unknown adult and consensual different story but every professional in such a trust relationship is NOT supposed to break that trust which he did.

Karen, you missed Hannahs point that when this happened noone said stop helping street children. Thats the whole point many of us try to make here. A point and an appeal. We are not saying allow abuse or look the other way. We are saying do not shut down all options for children when evil is found. Confront the evil. Do something about the evil. To use the quote so often repeated in here "don't throw the baby out with the bath water". Lets not stop good things because of the actions of criminals. Lets find a way to stop the criminals.

Back to Susana.. two years awaiting trial? How long are they going to hold her? Ten? What amount of time is reasonable to hold someone without trial before someone questions the motive for holding? Especially a known attorney who has filed against the government for constitutional violations.

Comment by lisa at May 17, 2011 09:33 AM



The idea of ANOTHER DNA TEST might sound good in theory. But, personally, I can't imagine doing it. We have ongoing contact with our son's birthmother and are planning a visit next year. It seems to me highly insensitive to ask her to take a DNA test to prove anything to us. These relationships are already so delicate--imbalance of power, cultural differences, etc etc. Maybe I'll feel differently after meeting her, but at this point, it just seems really insensitive. (particularly since we have no real doubts--photos of her now clearly match DNA photo, etc).

Comment by sjbj at May 17, 2011 11:00 AM



Alexandra, what would you have APs DO?? It's fine to say advocate for truth or whatever, but what does that mean, concretely? We contribute financially to Norma Cruz, as one way of trying to do something. But I have ZERO confidence that we can do anything as APs to influenece any official government policies in Guatemala.
If you have concrete ideas of what you think APs could -realistically- do, let us know.

Comment by sjbj at May 17, 2011 11:04 AM



Hi sjbj- Good hearing from you. Maybe you missed some of the items of discussion in this long commented thread regarding that the woman in the photo may not be the actual first mother of the PAPs referral.

As evidenced in the DNA photo of Esther Sulamita, though it was a positive DNA result, the woman pictured is not the true biological mother. In other words, the woman in the polaroid is not Ana Escobar, that is why the suggestion was made to do retest, if you are initiating contact just as an added safeguard for your own self, but also for that of your child. It is up to the individual to do what they think is best and in the end, ultimately... it will be also due to what they wish to see or not.

Comment by marie at May 17, 2011 02:06 PM



Marie, thanks for the clarification. I did miss that part in one of the posts. Good to see you back here, too.

Comment by sjbj at May 17, 2011 09:58 PM



henry, i couldn't agree with you more about guilt trips being unnecessary and unhelpful. i understand your position about keeping the adoption system in place during reform too, but i don't agree. guatemala needs a new system (whether there's political will & support for that is a separate issue). again, i don't think individual-level questioning about each adoption is useful unless there's a reason to do so (re: potential dna testing in the 2 publications (goudvis and dubinsky) i mentioned, that's different because those two authors are investigating the instances of fraud in adoption and they should be more scientific in their reasoning and provide the data that chrissy and others are asking for. they also shouldn't state, factually, that their adoptions were w/o fraud/coercion unless they know so and present evidence).

as far as what i think APs should do (from my perspective as someone who has spent a lot of time in Guatemala, a lot of time studying Guatemala and its history of colonialism/imperialism, someone with family ties to Guatemala, someone who is bilingual/bicultural and someone who follows CICIG and current events in Guatemala in Spanish, and closely) I think they should:

1) support organizations like CICIG and Fundación Sobrevivientes (as sjbj suggests) because they do important work and they do it well.
2) Guatemala (via FS I think) asked for a DNA test for a child the mother suspects is hers and was kidnapped. To my knowledge the U.S. has not honored that request. I think APs (among others) should lobby the US government to support Guatemala's request.
3) I think APs from Guatemalan adoptions (among others) should ask for an investigation into the U.S. Embassy's role in adoption fraud.
4) In El Salvador there is an organization Probusqueda--a not for profit--that helps families who lost children during the armed conflict (some of whom were adopted abroad) find out what happened to their relatives. I think APs could collectively organize for a similar organization that was a non-profit (I know that there are for-profit seekers). It would be especially awesome if this non-profit was multinational and included Guatemalans.
5) educate themselves in Spanish and in Guatemalan government/history/etc. BEFORE making categorical statements about institutions/laws/the Guatemalan people. Senator Landrieu came across as an imperialist idiot by making the remarks she did and other posters (not in this thread) have said equally ignorant and sometimes racist things about Guatemalans/corruption/culture, etc.


Comment by alexandra at May 18, 2011 07:00 PM



Wow, Alexandra...you make many important points. I appreciate your perspective and one thing is for certain, Landrieu is mis-informed and frankly she did a lot of harm. Truly.

Comment by karenms1 at May 18, 2011 10:30 PM



@alexandra, thank you for taking the time to share those excellent ideas.

Comment by sjbj at May 19, 2011 03:55 PM



I have two Guatemalan sons. I have recently hired a bm searcher in order to obtain pertinent information about each bm. I honestly need to know and make sure both adoptions were transparently completed. Both my sons and their bm's deserve this from us. We patiently await answers from the searcher.

Comment by Annonymous at May 21, 2011 08:40 PM



So annonymous what are you going to do if sometwhing was wrong? Send them back?? I just really disagree . Not all adoptions were done wrong and think of the poor children who were adopted in good faith they will grow up and hear all this.. Really sad!!!! So many children are adopted into the united states we,are all these kids know. Yes I feel for those mothers and children who were stolen. Why is everyone wanting to almost search for something to be wrong!!

Comment by Annonymous at May 22, 2011 02:39 PM



@Annonymous (May22). People are not searching for something to be wrong. People are searching for the truth. Because they think their children deserve the truth about their origins. Even if a searcher uncovered fraud, there are options other than sending the child back...that is almost never the option chosen. Yes, it is sad that our children will grow up and hear about this. And when they do, isn't it better to be armed with the truth, at least to the extent one is able to uncover it?

Comment by sjbj at May 23, 2011 11:05 AM



I have read all of the posts and there are a lot of very interesting and valuable comments. I have a few comments and questions:
1) Comment: I understand one poster to have stated that volunteerism would take the money out of the system and fix the problems with corruption. I would agree that taking the money out of the system would fix a lot of problems. But I don't think that there is any way to take the money out of the system. Volunteerism and obtaining money from charitable contributions would reduce the money but it does not eliminate the money. Charitable contributions are money. Further, any system requires money in order to operate. I'm not saying that volunteerism and charitable contributions are a bad idea. I'm just saying that it doesn't take the money out entirely.
2) Question: Alexandra asked APs to request that the US embassy's role in adoption fraud be investigated. Alexandra, do you have any knowledge of them knowingly participating and possibly even profiting from fraudulent adoptions? I agree that this kind of thing is a definite possibility and I'd like to see a system that prevents/reduces this kind of thing. And I agree that the system needs to be changed rather than blaming APs for not individually policing, which isn't very feasible. Hope I did not misunderstand or misrepresent what you said.
3) Question: has Anyeli's close relative that the DNA test was performed on been found and questioned? If not, why not? They have the picture of this woman and her DNA profile. It seems to me that they should be able to find her or at least be able to figure out who she is.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Comment by Cheryl at May 23, 2011 02:16 PM



Also one poster claims that a high percentage of birth mothers are not malnurished. I don't think any studies have been performed on this so this is an opinion. I know that many people who have searched and found birth mothers talk about their extreme poverty living in houses with leaky roofs, sleeping on dirt floors that become muddy during the rainy season, not having enough to eat, no access to medical help, having never seen a doctor, no running water, using wood to heat where the smoke causes respiratory problems, etc. I have seen posts where birth famly members have died of malnutrition.

Also, I don't think that a big stomach means the person is getting enough or the right types of things to eat.

Best, Cheryl

Comment by cheryl at May 24, 2011 12:33 PM



I have some questions and some comments and will try to group them a bit. I may paraphrase a bit to save the time of rereading all 49 posts.

Teresa,
I am so sad about all that you and the other waiting PAP's are continuing to go through and so sad that these small children are languishing without the families that already love them so. I think about you and pray for your children each and every day.

Alexandra or anyone else,
I definitely will be advocating to my representatives for the DNA tests requested by guatemala to be done. Cheryl asked about what evidence you had about the US Embassy participating in corruption. I am also interested in what you know about this. I have heard about, (and Kevin also spoke about)their inaction once they were notified of problems. Do you have more details/more evidence of their participation?

Everyone,
Cheryl also asked if the fake birthmother of Anyeli was searched for, found and questioned, and if not, why not. I would also like to ask, if she WAS found and questioned, what was her explanation for presenting a child that was not hers, but was a close relative of hers? I would also like to ask, was Loyda Rodriguez asked (since the fake birthmother of Anyeli was shown by DNA test to be a close relative of Anyeli, thereby also being a close relative of Loyda)about the woman in the DNA photo, about her true identity (which Loyda surely must know)?

Henry,
About your post on 5-17 I agree with everything that you said.

Marie,
Did you search for your child's birthmother and then do a repeat DNA test? If so, how did the birthmother receive that request from you?

Karenms1,
What is your take on Teresa's 2 posts on 5-12-11 about PGN not finding the birthmother after searching for 1 1/2 years but her searcher found her in just one day? Or, the birthmother having to make a declaration 3X in court and that is still not enough? Or, social workers harrassing her and her husband in an attempt to get the birthmother to take the child back? Or the PGN lie to the birthmother about the PAP's removing the child from Guatemala and having to return the child?

Everyone,
What other responsibilities does the PGN have other than approving adoptions? With the new system (of which PGN is not a part in approving adoptions any longer) won't these people be unemployed as soon as the last grandfathered adoptions are investigated and completed?

Marie,
About your post on May 13
I do not know what is in each birthmother's heart, but being an adoptive mother of two, I am positive that relinquishing a child as an extremely loving and difficult decision for most birthmothers when they relinquished their children at birth. Wouldn't this decision be even more excruciating after the child was older and already had a long relationship with the birthmother? Given the stats on how difficult it is for older children to adjust to adoptive families, and the stats on how many children are malnourished,I am thankful for the birthmothers who made this decision earlier rather than later. Many children die of malnutrition or treatable disease before age 5 in Guatemala.

You cite Guatadopt "through the years" as your source for info about children being (or not being ) malnourished. I have read and posted on Guatadopt for years, but have not revealed this type of details about either of my cases, and I doubt many other posters have either--how is this a source?

Just curious.

What is your opinion about the many who have posted on many boards about the severe problems with teeth, etc. of their adopted children (which comes from malnourishment during pregnancy) even though many of these children were well taken care of after birth in foster homes and orphanages?

Jennifer,
You have obviously been through a painful experience. It saddens me that you and others have had such heaertachedue to the criminal and unethical behaviors of others. This does not mean, however, that your experience proves that all cases are tainted. I do not believe that the posters here have painted a "rosy picture" about adoptions. Even Hannah's posts, if people reread them instead of focusing on being in attack mode, acknowledge corruption. Just because your DNA was switched, does not "prove" that it was done FREQUENTLY, rather it proves that it was done, and I do not hear anyone here saying that it wasn't. Is one case of switching, one too many?--yes of course!

Annonymous from May 22,
In addition to searching for the truth, may search in order for their children to have a lasting relationship with their birthmothers. I plan to search for one of my children's birthmothers as soon as I have the funds to do it. The reason? My child has asked about the birth family since age 2. I also know that the longer I wait, (like if I waited until my child asked me to search) it may be too late to find her, as she may move to another city, etc. I was fortunate to meet my other child's birthmother on the pick-up trip.

Marie,
about your link posted on 5-13
Susana was not arrested at her home as the article states. Her bail was revoked and she was arrested, but this article is not truthful.

a new annonymous that has not posted on this thread yet (ask me why I chose to post annonymously)

Comment by a new annonymous at May 25, 2011 12:49 AM



New anonymous,

Thanks for your thorough review of the posts and the time you took to respond.

On another note, one poster said that they were conflicted about searching because they were afraid of what they would find. As I remember, one of the detractors of the notarial adoption system estimated that approximately 900-1000 adoptions were kidnappings. I may have not gotten that entirely right because I didn't write it down at the time I read it. But assuming that 1000 were kidnapped and there were 25,000 adoptions that comes to less than one half of one percent of the total adoptions. That means you have a 99.5% chance that your adoption was not a kidnapping. I would imagine that since this was posted by a detractor of the old system, the 1000 may be on the high side.

I'm not saying that kidnapping is alright or that we should turn a blind eye. One kidnapping is horrible. But the decision of whether or not to search is very important and it would be too bad to forgo because one was unnecessarily afraid.

If someone disagrees with the numbers, please speak up and present facts.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Comment by cheryl at May 25, 2011 12:54 PM



I am responding to the following:


"What is your take on Teresa's 2 posts on 5-12-11 about PGN not finding the birthmother after searching for 1 1/2 years but her searcher found her in just one day? Or, the birthmother having to make a declaration 3X in court and that is still not enough? Or, social workers harrassing her and her husband in an attempt to get the birthmother to take the child back? Or the PGN lie to the birthmother about the PAP's removing the child from Guatemala and having to return the child?"

These are difficult times and there are some in Guatemala who are unwilling to take any further risks on the Guatemalan Intercountry Adoption system--and this includes good people who recognize that people are being prosecuted and others are being investigated. Frankly, the corruption was so profound that even those with the greatest of integrity have been thrown upon the stakes and burned--I can think of more than one person in that category. So, one has to recognize that these are difficult waters to navigate. Also, I'd suggest that we all take a deep breath and acknowledge that things are not always what they seem in a country known for smoke and mirrors and a struggling democracy (not truly democratic) with tremendous social forces related to exploitation. (Remember the homicide of the lawyer found officially by the impunity commission to be self-orchestrated by the lawyer himself.) The drama can be over and under-stated depending on the position or lens being used to make a point. Sometimes people present rumors as fact and other times something very grounded in fact is debunked as rumor--depending on the positioning again. So, are officials really harassing birth mothers? Or, are they being persistent and the birth mothers are frightened and feeling pursued in a country where authorities NEVER REALLY ask about informed consent? This is complicated and it depends on many variables and very much upon the position of he/she passing judgment on this sensitive issue.

Comment by karenms1 at May 25, 2011 02:43 PM



In response to karenms1 May 25. I have met and spent time with our birthmother and even though I know VERY little Spanish, when she told our attorney about the SW harassing her husband, I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about! Her anger and frustration are very real. She has lost much work due to the continued "appointments" and so her family (with 4 other children) does not just lose work for that day, but sometimes for the entire WEEK because she can't go one day, she doesn't get to work ANY of the days for that week. I believe that is a transportation issue. But as I was saying, regardless of what language she and I speak, there was no doubt as to what her body language spoke and her intense anger and frustration at being harassed - especially her husband. Her protectiveness of her family doesn't need to be "spoken" for me to understand.
And again I reiterate, THE CHILDREN ARE THE VICTIMS! THE CHILDREN ARE PAYING THE PRICE FOR THE GREEDY "ADULTS" WHO WERE SUPPOSED TO BE LOOKING OUT FOR THEIR BEST INTERESTS. 3-1/2 years plus is long enough for investigations to be done and birth families to come forward. Maybe someone needs to step up and fire everyone in PGN so that they have no reason to continue to delay processes. If they truly want to keep searching, maybe they should contact some of us PAP's as to who we used to find the birthmothers.

Comment by teresa at May 26, 2011 01:39 PM



Teresa:
Interesting post. It reminds me of so many posts on Guatadopt--in the early days when people were so closed to discussing fraud that you could be chased off of the discussion board with the greatest of insults. What I find to be interesting is that the birthmother which you have met has a husband...that says so much about the old adoption system too. Defining 'orphan' is a sticky mess. In the end, I do agree with you on one thing--NO CHILD should languish in an institution due to the unethical adoption system. So, let's settle this! Place the child with a family--any family--here in the USA/other nations or Guatemala. That is not negotiable and it should be the first and primary goal once it is determined that the child is not a 'missing person' like the abduction allegations I've referenced before.

Comment by karenms1 at May 26, 2011 05:03 PM



karenms1, you raise an interesting point when you say "any family". If the system now cares about the children, why haven't they just settled it? Why not just end the transition cases and place these waiting children with families in Guatemala? [I'm NOT saying that's what they should do. Just asking my they haven't, if it's supposed to be about the children]. The fact that they haven't speaks volumes to me. It's a bureaucracy that perpetuates itself...children are just the collateral damage. Certainly they could have investigated these cases and done SOMETHING , these past few years.

Comment by sjbj at May 27, 2011 11:35 AM



Questions that I still have:

Alexandra or anyone else,
I definitely will be advocating to my representatives for the DNA tests requested by guatemala to be done. Cheryl asked about what evidence you had about the US Embassy participating in corruption. I am also interested in what you know about this. I have heard about, (and Kevin also spoke about)their inaction once they were notified of problems. Do you have more details/more evidence of their participation?

Alexandra, Marie, KarenMs1,Kevin, Anyone,
Cheryl also asked if the fake birthmother of Anyeli was searched for, found and questioned, and if not, why not. I would also like to ask, if she WAS found and questioned, what was her explanation for presenting a child that was not hers, but was a close relative of hers? I would also like to ask, was Loyda Rodriguez asked (since the fake birthmother of Anyeli was shown by DNA test to be a close relative of Anyeli, thereby also being a close relative of Loyda)about the woman in the DNA photo, about her true identity (which Loyda surely must know)?

Marie,
Are you suggesting that the 915 missing kidnapped children were all adopted? If so, what evidence have you found to suggest that they were adopted as opposed to another explanation for the children being missing?

Karenms1,
Why would Susana have tried so hard to get the US family (who adopted Karen and who Loyda believes is Anyeli)to do a new DNA test on the child that they adopted, if it would implicate herself?

You said that you wanted Susana to have her day in court so that she could be judged in court instead of by public opinion but, re-read your posts, especially the one on 5-14. Your posts sound like you have already tried and convicted her.

a new anonymous

Comment by anonymous at May 28, 2011 10:46 PM



There are things in this case that aren't addin gup for me. That may be because there is information that I do not know. I'd like someone to help clear some things up.
As I understand it, a close female relative brought Anyeli in for a DNA test. What would be the original attorney's motivation for doing this? One possible answer was that he thought the woman was the child's biological mother. Then this close female relative took off leaving Anyeli stranded in the care of the original attorney because he did not know where she was. I'm uncertain how we then arrive at the conclusion that the original attorney's intention was to be involved in a kidnapping? I'm not saying this guywas a good guy. I'm just not understanding how the conclusion that he was involved in kidnapping in this case fits the fact pattern. Hope I'm being clear in my question.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Comment by cheryl at May 30, 2011 04:24 PM



karenms,
In response to your last post, our b/m's "husband" is not our daughter's biological father (as I previously stated) and if you've been to Guatemala, you are familiar with the fact that not all "husbands" and "wives" are LEGALLY married, but rather live together and consider themselves married. Bottom line, I do not agree with a system that "steals" children and then adopts them out to anyone! But the fact of the matter is that the gov't. has had 3-1/2 plus years to "fix" their broken system, no progress ever seems to be made, and it is not fair that these children are denied their most basic human rights - the right to be loved and part of a family. IF my daughter had been kidnapped then no, I would not continue to pursue her adoption against the wishes of the birthmother, but this is not the case here. I am not "opposed" to discussing fraud in adoptions - it is wrong. Period. But when there are 300+ "grandfathered case" children still waiting on "mommies and daddies" who many of them know and have relationships with, I don't agree with a system that denies these children and countless others a family. If the "powers that be" would get their fingers out of their behinds and do their jobs there wouldn't be a need for the ongoing "p_$$_ng match" between the courts, pgn, cna and everyone else involved. They all want the power but no one wants the responsibility that goes with it. If you're going to be responsible for deciding on another human beings life then there needs to be a timeline that is adhered to. I would liken living in (some) government orphanages to living in a prison. You never go outside the walls of your compound, someone else decides for you when you can get a drink of water, eat a meal, how much and when you go to bed and wake up, what you're going to wear and on and on. When our little girl was moved to the government orphanage she wasn't even allowed to take her personal belongings. She was allowed to choose ONE and from what I understand, the kids steal from each other, so I doubt she even still has her precious stuffed bear she has had since she was 3 weeks old. I'm trying to understand here, are you FOR or AGAINST international adoption?

Comment by teresa at June 1, 2011 10:19 AM



Teresa:
I am for ethical adoptions. Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I have worked with many families on consultation about a variety of adoption issues--including helping them weigh their adoption options. I have also been involved with and/or worked in Guatemala in different capacities off and on for almost 20 years. I am more than aware of the conditions of children's homes in Guatemala. I am afraid that I know far more about the dark side of Guatemala and the problems there than I care to even discuss. And, at the end of the day, I am 'for' ethical adoptions and integrity. Both are sorely lacking when it comes to Guatemala. I am saddened everytime I dig deeper into Guatemalan adoptions as the problems seem to be worse than they first appeared. The abductions are downright horrific. Question is--will there be justice? Will the USA do the right thing? Will Senator Landrieu stand by her commitment to 'prosecution' of the criminals and demand that the USA do the right thing on the DNA tests? All important questions and as Susana L. sits in jail, we all await results in prosecutions.

Comment by karenms1 at June 7, 2011 10:00 PM



Teresa...if you can email me the name of the searcher you used, I would be grateful. Thanks.

Beth
beth359@comcast.net

Comment by Beth at October 7, 2011 01:03 AM