My Letter | UNICEF is not anti ICA | UNICEF Questions | Support the Cause | Email

 

Dear Visitor -

 

As an adoptive parent, it concerns me that there are so many misconceptions about adoptions in Guatemala.  I would like to tell you about the adoption process and some of the current issues that are threatening these children. 

 

First, I want to clarify some misconceptions that you may have seen or heard about:

  • Adoptive parents do not *buy* babies, we hire attorneys to present our adoption case to the appropriate authorities. Because of the numerous, complex requirements it has become a long, cumbersome process.  
  • Food, shelter, clothing and medical attention are not free. Someone has to pay these costs.  Guatemala does not have an adequate support system for relinquished or abandoned children. Therefore, the support comes mostly from private donations or as part of the adoption fee. Foster care is a very popular way to support these children (through the adoption fee) while they await adoption. 
  • Children from Guatemala *seem* to have fewer attachment disorders.  Children under foster care receive outstanding, personal home-based love and care.  This is imperative to the mental health and development of a child.  The sooner a child is placed in his/her permanent home, the better.
  • By law, a foster mother may not have more than 2 children in the home.
  • There are very strict guidelines for an adoptive family before and during the adoption process.
  • Adoptive parents do not *import* babies. Our children immigrate into this country adhering to the legal guidelines required from INS/BCIS.
  • Our children are not *stolen* from their loving birth mothers. Though there are a few desperate attempts at fraud, there are also numerous safeguards. In the cases that are suspect (less than 5%), many are rejected by either Guatemalan officials or US Immigration officials.
  • Adoptive parents do not view their child as a commodity; UNICEF clearly does by using the terms mentioned above.
  • There have been absolutely NO verified case of an adoptive parent using or selling their children's organs.

 

 

In recent years, UNICEF has been the driving force of a campaign against international adoptions. They have given new meaning to the term yellow-journalism and the result has been devastating. Many countries have virtually closed their doors to adopting families, leaving birth mothers with NO viable options to ensure their biological child's survival or happiness.  Unfortunately, this can be traced to a false-media blitz by organizations like UNICEF and Casa Alianza.  It sickens me to see our media associate the wonderful experience of adoption to child prostitution, pornography, slavery and theft.  In addition, the news media has failed to research the realities of adoption and why a stolen child would be unadoptable. Instead, they quote inaccurate UNICEF statements without doing any due diligence because sensationalized stories are more exciting than a legal adoption. If they simply read the requirements of a Guatemalan adoption and view the Visa Issuance statistics for the last two years, they would see the many inaccuracies they have printed as truth. 

 

  • Our birth mother had to sign off 4 times on the adoption. This kept her in contact with the lawyer several months during our adoption process.
  • In addition, she met privately with a government-appointed social worker to evaluate her reasons for the adoption.
  • A DNA test was performed on her and the baby at a lab approved and designated by the U.S. Embassy to ensure that she was indeed the birth mother.  If the DNA had not matched, the child is declared unadoptable and is turned over to the Guatemalan Court of Minors for investigation.
  • Her file along with our file was reviewed by the Guatemalan Attorney General's office (PGN). 
  • She was interviewed by the US Embassy. 
  • After several months when the mounds of paperwork had been completed and approved by all parties, she signed for the final time and we were parents. During these months, she had the right to change her mind at any given point. Without her cooperation, the adoption could not have happened UNLESS the child was declared abandoned (and that could easily take a couple of years if the birthmother disappears).

 

Click here for more information about the adoption process.

 

 

Guatemala has a tough history. Most of the indigenous population lives in extreme poverty.  Many, if not most, of the women are illiterate. Thousands of children die of treatable ailments and malnutrition. Is it not important that these women have a say in the future of their children? UNICEF says NO. Instead, UNICEF suggested insane policies to prevent women from having the choice. They suggested requiring the birthmother to live with the child for 90 days; they suggested that a birthmother must prove that there was not a living relative that would take care of the child. They pushed for eliminating the foster care system. None of these measures were designed to eliminate fraud. They were designed to eliminate adoptions. Meanwhile, UNICEF clearly stated that it was not their job to support the children forced into orphanages.

 

Adoption is not the perfect solution to all the world's problems. However, it is a viable option for birthmothers that feel they have few.   A child can grow old waiting for UNICEF to come up with their perfect scenario. While you may be specifying some other *worthy* cause of UNICEF's....let there be no doubt that UNICEF will reroute unspecified funds to support their anti-adoption campaigns. When you see a child's face on a UNICEF poster, ask yourself why it is more important for this child to stay in his/her country than it is for him/her to survive. Ask yourself WHY an organization would spend so much time and effort trying to eliminate adoptions instead of educating the women and children.

 

For more information, please read......

 

 

Please spread the word….there are thousands of children that will be deprived of homes if UNICEF wins.

 

Kelly, webmaster

(along with hundreds of parents and adoption advocates)

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UNICEF Questions

These were questions posted to the site. They are so typical to the UNICEF stance, that we decided to post the questions and the answers (answered by Kevin, Guatadopt.com writer)

 

QUESTION: I am interested to know whether you believe that the only 'loving homes' available to these children are outside of Guatemala.
ANSWER: No one claims that the only loving homes for these children are outside of Guatemala. But the fact remains that there are more children in need of homes than Guatemala can offer domestically. Very few Guatemalan's choose to adopt. There are social reasons, cultural reasons, and undeniably economic reasons as well. Those that do adopt in Guatemalan commonly do so in manners that are never formally registered as such, making it virtually impossible to determine how many de facto domestic adoptions occur annually.

QUESTION: Are you an advocate of actively promoting domestic adoption in Guatemala, which presently constitutes a mere fraction of total adoptions?
ANSWER: I am an advocate of finding good homes for children whose biological parent(s) have either decided they can not care for the child or who have been abandoned. If there were not children in need of homes in Guatemala, I'd be happy to adopt elsewhere where there are such children. Above I addressed the informal adoptions that occur in Guatemala. I would have to ask you where the domestic families looking to adopt are? Do you claim it is merely the expense of the adoptions? Why aren't there families attempting judicial adoptions through the state? Why is it that the lawyers in Guatemala have offered their services FREE to domestic families for nearly five years, having an office open normal business hours the first year, and they have yet to have a single family inquire? So I guess the largest reposnse to this is to show where the domestic families who want to adopt but can't are.

QUESTION: There are few Guatemalans of economic means sufficient to adopt a child, I wonder whether you can quantify the poverty level at which it is preferable for a child to be adopted abroad rather than at home.
ANSWER: You are confusing two issues here. One of the reasons why there are not domestic families INTERESTED in adopting is because of poverty. It is not a question of "poor" families being denied the opportunity to adopt.

QUESTION: Is it not the case that the majority of Guatemalans live below this level and yet the majority of Guatemalans do not give up their children in adoption?.
ANSWER:
This is an insulting comment. Where in any position defending international adoption have you read anyone claiming that children being born to parents under some economic level should be taken away and adopted internationally? The biological parent(s) of the child have the right to decide that it is in the child's best interest to be placed for adoption. This is a difficult, heart wrenching decision. Yes, the majority of Guatemalans do not make this decision. But given the rates of malnutrition, infant mortality, and child mortality in Guatemala, why do you seem to find it so difficult to understand why some parents do make this decision?

QUESTION: Should we not put all of our efforts into trying to find loving homes for abandoned Guatemalan children in their native country, providing their families with support, counselling and basic welfare if they are in a precarious economic position and feel unable to look after their child?
ANSWER: First of all, you only mention abandoned children so I'm not sure what you are saying. Most of the children being adopted internationally have been voluntarily relinquished, not abandoned. I would support measures to provide more social services to Guatemalans so that there is less of a need for adoptive families. I do not think that "all efforts" should go against finding domestic homes since I do not believe that such homes exist. But I have to agree with you that Guatemala desperately needs more social protections and services and that the lack of them is contriubting to the number of children needing families.

The real question in this becomes whether a child should have to spend years institutionalized before being allowed to be adopted internationally. I do not believe that this is beneficial to anyone involved, especially the children. There is no evidence I have seen to indicate that there are families in Guatemala interested in adopting but unable to do so. And in light of that fact, international adoption remains an effective way to match needing children with loving families.

Kevin

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UNICEF isn't anti ICA (?)

If you are unfamiliar with the Hague Treaty, I encourage you to read the Hague summary on Ethicanet.org. Stevan W. permitted me to post a response he made on the Biglist. I wanted to include it here because it is well stated:

 

"UNICEF is not publically anti ICA [Intercountry Adoption]- where they are failing IMHO is that they cannot see the difference between theory and reality - so Ms Acosta can happily say that children's welfare is the responsibility of the Guatemalan government - the same government which in reality fails to provide/facilitate private and public medical care to just under half the population etc. etc.

The other point is that Central Authorities per se are not detrimental to children's welfare - but only when they are appropriately set up and funded and an integral part of a social welfare infrastructure, and none of that is true for the situation that UNICEF are advocating for.

I think that the biggest change in UNICEF, from what I have read recently is that they have lost sight of one of the key bases of the policies - as stated in the CFAM report

"Grant sought out programs that were simple, effective, inexpensive and uncontroversial; the catchword at UNICEF became "doable.""

What they are trying to have implemented in Guatemala simply is not "doable"

So, understand that for those who adopted from China, saying a Central Authority will harm the children makes them get defensive about their children... Because of the way their adoptions were handled, they don't see a problem with having a Central Authority."

Stevan W.

To add to this....China has a well-funded system to take care of their children, so the methodology seems reasonable. However, Guatemala...like so many other Latin American country is unequiped to handle UNICEF demands.

{I am not anti-daycare....but I would not support requiring daycare, if the system could only support 1 teacher for say 50 infants}

 

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SUPPORTING OUR CAUSE:

We, as adoptive parents are dedicated to making sure ALL adoptions are ethical, but reasonable. This includes making sure that the birthmother has the rights to choose an appropriate adoption plan for her child without Government/UNICEF interference endangering the child's or the birthmother's wellbeing. One organization that has dedicated numerous hours in helping keep adoptions open in Guatemala is Focus on Adoption. They are working closely with Associación Defensores de la Adopción in Guatemala and other organizations to ensure that new regulations are constitutional and reasonable.


 

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