Kevin, Thank you for posting the Luacra story. I found the timeline very helpful in understanding the story.
Comment by Henry at February 17, 2012 01:07 PM
Oh where to begin on the blog by Mason? First, it seems that the case of Karen Abigail is being treated as a single moment and example as indicative of Luarca's career as an adoption attorney. And, ultimately that is unfair in some ways as I am sure that Luarca has been involved in legitimate and clean adoptions which matched families and children--never a bad thing. That said, I also expect that for every clean adoption there was likely a dirty adoption. I assert this because fundamentally the Guatemalan adoption system was so flawed that there was a continuum of poor practices all the way to downright child sales and theft--human trafficking! Now, this author makes a good point about the US trafficking laws, specifically TVPA of 2000 and its failure to recognize ilegal adoptions human trafficking--she is correct. And, recent efforts to amend that law to include an expanded definition (with illegal adoptions included) was not sucessful. However, the author (a legal scholar) misses the fact that the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (a US domestication of the Hague Convention) covers some of these issues. While it is weak legislation in many ways, the blog author would benefit from an addition of this legislation to her exploration as this particular legislation is most relevant. Finally, on this topic--illegal intercountry adoptions do not have an endpoint of exploitation and thus the children are not exploited in sex and servitude. In fact, we know quite the opposite is true! However, this end point of exploitation makes this issue complicated and illegal adoptions do have the elements of "force, fraud, and coercion" and that langauge is both in TVPA and the Palermo Protocol (international private law).
To change subject back to Luarca and her personal circumstance, specifically spending time in Guatemalan jails and facing threat of the 'maras'/gangs. Well, welcome to Guatemala--and Luarca knew the risks when she insisted on continuing adoptions and often brazenly announced on Guatadopt and elsewhere that she would not cease adoptions even with allegations of child sales and abductions. Luarca's OUT THERE presence made her a lightening rod and that intersected with Loyda's case. On the subject of Loyda--while I respect Norma Cruz ultimately what Norma says on behalf of the women is not nearly as important as what the women themselves say. Loyda has clearly stated to the international media that she wants her daughter returned and CNN actually had an online story, with video, about Loyda's hopeful decoration of a bedroom for a daughter's return. Notice that I say "a daughter" because we don't know if the child in MO is Loyda's daughter, or not. The US family has ignored the court order to return the child to Guatemala and they clearly stated their position/intentions on US television in the Fall of 2012--yes, their position like Loyda's is a matter of record. So, no matter what Norma says or does not say--the words of those most directly affected as documented. Now, ultimately I don't mean to undermine Norma Cruz. That has no currency and she is a national hero in Guatemala--deferred to by many as the voice of reason and honesty in a country where there is essentially NO FAITH in the government and law enforcement. Norma speaks truth to power and she does not apologize. Ultimately, it it were not for Norma or Fundacion Sobrevivientes (where she is the Executive Director)we would not even be discussing these critical issues. Because without the concerted advocacy complete IMPUNITY would reign in the case of adoption fraud (child sales and abduction) in Guatemala. No surprise really--2 women die daily in Guatemala as a result of femicide and only 1-2% of these murders of women are ever prosecuted. So...why would the government of Guatemala make adoption fraud a top priority in terms of prosecution? In fact, this environment was exactly the reason why adoptions remained full-out OPEN for a number of years even with evidence of child sales and rumors of abduction. And, I say rumors because for many years that is all we had. Now, we have three women who have publically reported abduction pursuing a return of their daughters. Then there is Mildred Alvarado's case (FindingFernanda.com) and then Ana Escobar's case--both child abduction cases which have been well documented at this point. Those are five cases--how many more are there in a nation where IMPUNITY reigns? One last thought on this--everyone needs to understand that throwing Luarca and Marvin Bran and others into jail is not just about the children and their birth families that were exploited/violated. No, this is about far MORE than the cases. This is about confronting impunity and making sure that an out of control adoption system never resumes without accountability. And, anyone committed to adoptions resuming from Guatemala must agree that transparency and accountability are essential. I mean, frequent readers of Guatadopt know that at least 75% of this forum has been dedicated to those issues in the past 5 years. And why...because it is horrifying to all to consider that adoptees may be ill gotten with force, fraud, coercion which includes paying for relinquishment signatures--paying women in extreme poverty for their 'consent' in a process without any real oversight and most definately without unbiased birth mother counseling.
Now, all of that said. To go back to the blog...the author would be well served to be far more careful about her reporting of the 'facts' related to the US 'closing' Ethiopian adoptions. It is just not correct...the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Ethiopia slowed the process down considerably because their system could not bear the sheer volume of adoptions being processed in the nation. This is not unlike the Guatemalan meltdown, but the Ethiopians are being preventive--something that the Guatemala government was never truly sucessful in implementing. That is prevention of allowing fraudulent cases to make their way through an overloaded system. My congratulations to Ethiopia for looking at the past (Guatemala and elsewhere)and predicting their future.
Also, on Vietnam. Well one just needs to look at the history of adoption from that nation and recognize that there were deep problems (including imprisionment of some of their officials--just as Luarca was imprisioned). It is a messy past and now that Vietnam is a Hague Convention nation it is the US responsibility as a Hague partner to identify when a nation does not meet their transactional requirements for the Convention. This is preventive and ultimately technical assistance has been offered and provided to Vietnam and other countries that are attempting to become Hague-compliant. Now, that is not the action of a nation (the US) actively working to shut down another nation--it is a pragmatic shutdown UNTIL capacity to regulate adoptions is clear and with the history of Vietnam (and Cambodia, etc...) that is pretty important. If the US does not engage in this preventive manner, as a top child receiving nation, then the Hague Convention is all in vein. And, pretty much everyone in the adoption policy world has agreed that the Convention is and was an essential step forward. The arguments begin in the Convention's implementation!
Lastly, the attack on the United Nation's Commission on Impunity (CICIG) is truly amazing. This is the only organization which undertook an extensive review of cases and identified adoption irregularities with a large enough sample to identify trends. And, I mean a large sample. This information is absolutely essential to reforming a system and reform is the only way to re-open adoptions from Guatemala. So, you can make the CICIG out to be the enemy, but I assert that ultimately their work was not only essential but so very important for the future of orphaned and vulnerable children joining adoptive families in Guatemala and elsewhere! (Also, while CICIG is controversial in Guatemala--it has been recognized as a model of practice for justice by the international community! This includes the American Bar Assn.)
I could go on, but I'd just like to point out that Mason's blog reminds me how the internet has plenty of mis-information which is blended with facts that make the entire body of work appear to be high quality. Critical thinking is imperative when chosing which information to digest when it comes to adoptions from Guatemala. You can select that information which feels most comfortable, but that will get us nowhere in the long run!
Comment by karenms1 at February 21, 2012 05:24 AM
For awhile there, the web site wouldn't come up. I was worried that we had lost you. Good to see you guys back.
Comment by cheryl at March 6, 2012 12:31 PM
hola señor que miran este anuncio yo soy un padre afectado por este maldito negocio de las adopciones me robaron a mi hijo en el año 1997 desde esta fecha yo e buscado justicia para la debolucion de mi hijo a mi hogar la señora luarca no tiene corazon solo le interesa sasiar su sed de dinero no le inporta destruyir hogares de familia en guatemala me gustaria que todo el peso de la ley caiga sobre la señora luarca en guatemala....
Comment by gustavo at March 11, 2012 11:56 PM
Kevin...with so many things to focus on, it does irk me that you posted this link...
We pray and advocate still for children and their adoptive parents who are caught in the web made by people like Susana. All they want to do is bring their child...no longer baby...home. But the actions of the unethical traffickers, have cast such a shadow of suspicion and fear in the government agencies, that these cases are deadlocked. Honest people who want to do the right thing in the PGN and CNA are hamstrung.
If it wasn't so serious, it would be good for the kind of humor John Stewart is so good at...pointing out tom-foolery in the media.
You try to be neutral, but are a bit blinded by hope, I guess. Even Mason firstly made sure she would not be in trouble for publishing the following drivel...
"*Please note the following is based on the opinions and factual angle of Susana Luarca and her followers." You didn't mention that, but instead suggested Mason might be a person of merit.
I wonder if the article was written by Susana herself. Having read her stuff before, I can't help but wonder, as she sat for the interview...
"I was surprised to see how well she was able to maintain herself and sustain her natural beauty during this very difficult time. Having the beauty and poise of a Latina Meryl Streep, my brain could not process why such a woman would be subjected to house arrest or the accusations of human trafficking."
I was reminded of her recount of her glories that day breaking windows at the PGN...before the videos surfaced and showed her to be a bully in a tantrum.
But there is exquisite irony in the Freudian slip at the beginning of the "interview"
"Luarca immediately began discussing the case of corruption, injustice, and a foreign agenda"
It certainly is all of that!
But the reality is...this is so very sad...for so many people and in so many ways. That Missouri couple represents so many Americans, who trusted in their Agencies and the professionals in Guatemala. This couple are not the criminals, but unaware, certainly were dealing with criminals.
Comment by Steve at March 17, 2012 06:28 PM
Wow, anyone interested in truly understanding the pain and suffering brought about my Susana Luarca should just read the simple statement by Gustavo (above). It says so much and how can we ignore the pain of a parent?
Comment by karenms1 at March 18, 2012 08:03 AM
That disclaimer was not there when I first posted the story.
I don't see what "hope" I am trying to hold out in this. Not sure I get that part of your post.
Comment by Kevin at March 19, 2012 07:25 AM
I guess by hope I meant hope that it wasn't as bad as it really was, and that people like Susana aren't as bad as she really is.
Have you seen that Judge Roxana Mena has been indicted by Cicig? for many cases including the Casa Quivira case.
Comment by Steve at March 19, 2012 09:30 AM
I tried to translate Gustavo's post but was unable to translate it in its entirety. Basically, I understand him to say that he believes that the adoption business resulted in his child being kidnapped and he believes that Luarca contributed to this problem. Gustavo, I am very sorry for your loss. I'm posting this in English and Spanish. I hope you find your child.
Trate de traducir mensaje de Gustavo, pero fue incapaz de traducirlo en su totalidad. Basicamente, yo le entiendo a decir que el cree que la adopcion del negocio dio lugar a su nino que es secuestrado y cree que luarca contribuido a este problema. Gustavo, estoy muy triste por su perida. Estoy publicar esto en Ingles y Espanol. Espero que encuentra a su hijo.
Comment by anonymous at March 19, 2012 01:21 PM
I read the Luarca account shortly after Kevin posted it. What he said is true about the disclaimer not being in there when he first posted the story. Given that it relied on Luarca's own words, I think the original should have emphasized this at the very beginning of the writeup.
Kindest Regards, Cheryl
Comment by cheryl at March 20, 2012 12:33 PM
Reading all of this, I am reminded by how articulate the people are who have involved themselves in this whole mess--me included. I so very much respect Steve and I am proud to call him my friend at this point. Kevin and I have disagreed more than once and we continue to have mutual respect--meeting in person once and coming away from that with a sense of person and humanity. So, I'm not interested in attacking the words of either--we are all well intentioned. However, I would suggest to everyone to look at Gustavo's words...they say it all so simply. Can anyone really imagine how painful it is to have your child abducted, "adopted", and know that you will NEVER have enough power to change that/fight against the crime? And then, the child grows up with an 'adopted' identity only to eventually learn that the assertion is 'abduction' in their country of birth. The whole thing is sick and no matter how you try to cut through this, Gustavo says it all no matter how "naturally beautiful" Susana is~! And yes, that is the BEST indicator of the blog being absolutely biased. Maybe even written by Luarca--and I would put nothing past her! Finally, the fact that she has to pay for the guard to be posted outside of her home--cry me a river. Susana is one of the adoption millionaires and that guard earns so little that the penance of pay says so much about Guatemala!
Comment by karenms1 at March 20, 2012 11:40 PM
You can read about Gustavo's case a bit here: http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/30616
I'm not sure how I fell back into the role of being the defender of what was going on in adoptions. I am someone who can debate either side of just about any issue, but this is not an academic exercise.
There was a ton of horrible shit going on!!! Few in this country know that as well as we at Guatadopt did. And that was only with the cases than ran into roadblocks. Who knows how many slid threw that shouldn't have.
The question I have is what are we debating? Is it over where Susana falls on the spectrum from saint to Satan?
We can all agree that very fact that an adoption attorney could end involved in adopting a kidnapped child without knowing it is true testament to how bad the system was. I've also given my strong opinion on how I'd hold that person responsible in a "criminal neglect" sort of fashion.
The only defense I have offered is to say that I don't believe she'd be involved in a kidnapping knowingly. Without getting into semantics, that in no way negates Gustavo's story. His is a well known case, although admittedly I don't know the details. It dates back to before my days in adoption.
As time goes on, I find myself wanting more to build bridges than attack. I think the virulent nature of our society and its influence over the world has gone too far. And we can look at adoption policy to see how it ends up.
I believe that many of those who had the ability to influence good reform became far too polarized. This caused one side to be unwilling to make improvements that could have dramatically helped, especially in being to identify the truly bad cases. On the other side, the adoption service providers lost sight of the big picture and excused way too much. I think, actually know, that it was not all greed.
And now we are seeing the end result...
Comment by Kevin at March 21, 2012 07:55 AM
Kevin, very well put. Couldn't have said it better myself. Best, Cheryl
Comment by cheryl at March 23, 2012 01:28 PM
I am a little slow to get back around...Please believe me it is not because I do not value your comments and point, Kevin.
We talk about polarized issues, like abortion, where each side rallies around protection...either the fetus or the mother.
But when you talk about the Guatemalan adoptions, where is the polarization? I actually read this line: " This caused one side to be unwilling to make improvements that could have dramatically helped, especially in being to identify the truly bad cases." Thinking you were referring to the Adoption service providers, until I read the next line.
So help me, Kevin: what improvements were people who were opposed to "the Susana side" unwilling to implement? From my view...and I guess I am on this pole...we were all trying to shed light, and clarify procedures, and adhere to some sort of rule of law. Through the whole time periods spoken of in the article, we continued to model upright adoptions, so it can't be that you would have the poles be "adoption vs anti-adoption". You are sensitive to the points of view that cast aspersions on adoptions from Guatemala, and so may sense that there was a lot of that going on...but the big movers and shakers in Guatemala were the lawyers like Susana, desperately blocking any (often feeble) attempts at identifying "truly bad cases".
Then the money issue...
Not everyone worked in adoptions in Guatemala solely due to greed.
But: What happened would not have happened without LOTS of American money in play.
If that lesson is not learned, there is little hope for working out a sustainable Inter-country Adoption future.
Comment by Steve at April 2, 2012 10:34 PM
Kevin you were very clear. "Guatadopt has ALWAYS done our best to bring all perspectives and relevant stories to our readers" Steve, he made it clear there was good and bad and does not condone the bad. So how is that hope? Another argument out there is that it was all bad with all the adoptions corrupt and moms selling babies and people stealing them and all complicit which would carry the tainted charge to all guatemalans. All bad or all good is a extreme swing of the pendulum. The truth is in the middle. By saying that is not denying bad or condoning it. Kevin has never defended or denied he has always tried to figure out the middle.
Comment by lisa at April 4, 2012 07:35 AM
I'm still angry as an adoptive parent that they don't have a photolisting or child abduction database they can bounce off of for not only adoptions but any instance where a child is missing. Also how about having parents of missing children submit DNA? That way any time authorities have an unattended child including when children are being placed for adoption the DNA of child can be bounced against the master sample for a match? How freaking difficult is that? And why aren't they doing it?
Comment by lisa at April 4, 2012 07:38 AM
I would like more details on Gustavos case which I had never heard of. I have always been on the fence with Susana due to the allegations and not knowing her but this with Anyeli has me falling off the fence.
1) Who made the determination the children were uncared for and took them? The authorities or adoption affiliated people? Did I read adoption entities made the determination of unfit parenting and took custody?
2) When was this turned over to the authorities?
3) Was the machete attack reported? When did it occur? Does he have scars?
4) Is this case in the hands of the courts or a private lawyer battle?
5) Where is their mother on this?
6) How long between kids in custody and adoption being started?
Comment by lisa at April 4, 2012 09:17 AM
I was not referring to you. I consider you and I on the same middle ground. I was referring to the UNICEF's of the world, who were not real open to reforms that would have greatly improved things and maintained an operating system. On the others hand, ADA and others didn't go far enough their proposals. The main sticking ground in my opinion was how to regulate/police the buscadoras, who had a crucial role in accessibility but also were the heart of many of the most aggregious problems.
Comment by Kevin at April 8, 2012 09:07 AM
You are right about the buscadoras being a problem. But, regulating them suggests that they should even exist at all. There should NEVER be an reason for "finders," NEVER! The fact that they did exist--and made outrageous money--says everything. So, regulation is not the ticket and only making them irrelevant was the way forward. The 2007 law did that.
Comment by karenms1 at April 9, 2012 08:18 AM
Good point about the DNA tests. I'd take it further. I'm very disappointed that Guatemala didn't have a DNA database for the parents and for all of the children that left the country. They could have factored the cost in. Think of how different these cases would be if they had had that kind of a database.
Comment by cheryl at April 9, 2012 12:33 PM
The 2007 law made every aspect of Guatemalan adoption irrelevant.
Comment by Troy at April 9, 2012 03:16 PM
Troy, I agree.
Comment by Henry at April 18, 2012 08:01 AM
Karen, are you saying regulating something is proof it shouldn't exist or did I misunderstand?
Comment by lisa at May 31, 2012 07:23 AM
Hate to tell you this. But, it might be easier to just have a baby of your own. It isn't hard to get pngenart. It took me less than a month both times. ( I have a 3 year old son and a baby due in late Jan.) . Just make love to your husband. And get pngenart. Adoptees don't have any rights what so ever. Trust me I am adopted. Just have kids of your own.
Comment by Jaay at June 1, 2012 06:35 PM
I guess I don't even know what to say to a human being as ignorant as you. People adopt children for many reasons, only one reason is due to infertility. Infertility is a very real physical condition and it really makes me angry that you would negate it by saying that it's "easy" to get pregnant. That is so completely untrue. I won't even get into the other reasons that people adopt (very good reasons, I might add) because you are not even worth my (or anyone's) time. Please stop speaking of things you obviously know nothing of. Go out and educate yourself, or keep you mouth shut. If you would like to be considered seriously in these discussions, this is certainly not the way to do it.
Comment by Monica at June 6, 2012 10:03 AM
I tried posting this once before but it didn't go through. So I'll try again.
I'm very sorry that you had such a bad experience as an adoptee. I love my daughter with all my heart and I thank God for her every day. I wish that you had had a better experience. Every child deserves to be loved for the little soul that they are.
Kindest Regards, Cheryl
Comment by cheryl at June 13, 2012 12:21 PM
Monica, I am outraged by your attack on Jaay. You have no idea what she has suffered as an adoptee.
I feel ashamed at this sites continuous support for Susanna and her horrid ring of criminals, including the adoptive 'parents' (shouldn't we say kidnappers) who paid for her services.
Why are so few adoptive parents of children from Guatemala so intent on defending criminals: the organizations, government agencies, lawyers, and couples that deal in stolen children.
Kevin, you are all but impartial in what you say and allow on this site. There is a sick kind of love that takes a child from her home to satisfy the selfishness of others.
Comment by LauraLyn at July 23, 2012 01:09 PM
@Jaay, I actually believe noone should be having children and we should all be adopting. I have my children. They are adopted. I'm offended you would think your bio children deserve a home and family more than mine.
Comment by Lisa at July 25, 2012 05:25 PM
Your comment makes no sense. How am I "all but impartial" in what I allow on this site when I allow all viewpoints to express their side - inlcuding you!
We should all be respect of Jaay's views on adoptee rights. There are real issues there and it gets at a core debate on being child vs. biological famlily/adoptive centric, especially in domestic adoption. While not trying to diminish any of Jaay's feelings, I also know that personally, I'd vernture to say that 90% of all the adult adoptees I have met support adoption and think of their adoptive parents no differently than I think of my bio-parents.
But Jaay was also incredibly insensitive and disrespectful to the MILLIONS of couples who suffer from infertility. It is no joking matter and impacts in ways someone who never went through it wouldever imagine - read chapter two of the book I wrote and posted to this site years ago.
I also say to Jaay and LauraLyn what their solution is for children who are orphaned, abandoned, abused, neglected, etc? Do they not deserve a loving family? Should they be forced into insitutional living until they are 18? What benefits do they deserve to give them a fair shot at success absent of a family unit for support?
What do you believe should occur when a woman has an unplanned preganancy and does not believe she can/will properly care for and love the child?
It is always SO freaking simple for people to take polarized opinions and attempt to make everything seem clear and obvious. But that is not the real world and is not productive. This is an issue hurting our country in so many ways - just look at Congress!
Adoption systems are all screwed up. There has been too much unacceptable corruption and greed along wiht a lack of long-term thinking on things like adoptee rights. The sooner we can all admit to this and to the fact that institution of adoption is one that should be improved and cherished, the sooner we can move forward.
Comment by Kevin at July 27, 2012 01:19 PM
Before you accuse me of attacking someone for something, you should read my comment. My "attack" on Jaay had absolutely nothing to do with what he/she may/may not have suffered as an adoptee. Read my comment again. I really don't need to say anything further as Kevin has said absolutely everything I was thinking/feeling. Take a moment and really read his comments before you reply. It would also be a good idea for you to educate yourself on the subject matter a little more before you make comments like you did above. Obviously, you have little to no experience with the subject you speak of.
Comment by Monica at July 30, 2012 08:41 AM