Archive for September, 2013

Guatemala to resolve all adoptions by year’s end, reports the Associated Press

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Every time I think about shutting down my blog–which is daily, because I hate that I don’t and can’t keep it as current as I should, or would like to–my mind immediately goes to the families whose adoption cases in Guatemala remain stalled, the families known as the Guatemala 900, who have been waiting for resolution at least since January 1, 2008. I think: if nothing else, this blog bears witness to their struggle. I want them to know they’re not alone, that someone out there remembers, that I speak for many when I vow to stand shoulder to shoulder with them until the ordeal for each and every one of their families is over.

Sometimes, I’ll take out a calculator and estimate the number of work hours that have transpired since the shutdown began, and try to imagine how it’s even possible to drag out a process for so long. Say a person works 30 hours a week, for 40 weeks per year. (I’m estimating generous vacation and legal holidays.) That’s 1,200 hours annually, which over five years, equals 6,000 hours. For one person, one single employee working on a case. And surely many more than one are assigned to process adoptions.

Anyway, you can see how crazy-making it becomes, for me who simply is observing, much less for families trapped in the never-ending Mobius strip of changing rules and requirements. The website of the Guatemala 900 posts frequent updates. Here’s a recent excerpt:

“[Pablo's] August 27 court hearing was cancelled because INACIF (forensics) did not have the DNA results in hand of Pablo’s biological mother, who had made the journey to the courthouse.  The hearing was then rescheduled for yesterday, but again cancelled as the judge who has been working on Pablo’s case was moved to another court.  The new judge expressed that the case file “is very thick” and it will take him AT LEAST a month to review.  The new judge said that ‘maybe’ there can be a hearing on October 23rd.”

Arrrrrrghhh!

Then, yesterday, the Associated Press unleashed onto the world this bold announcement:

“Guatemala To Complete All US Adoptions This Year”

“Guatemala’s ambassador to the United States says a task force recently created in his country will help expedite the pending adoptions of 115 Guatemalan babies.

Ambassador Julio Ligorria says in a letter that the goal is to complete the pending adoptions by U.S. couples by year’s end.

Ligorria says in a letter sent Wednesday to lawmakers and U.S. adoption lobbyists that the group led by Vice President Roxana Baldetti began working earlier this month.

Guatemala was once a top source of adopted children for U.S. couples, with more than 4,000 babies adopted each year. The government suspended adoptions by foreigners in 2007 following allegations of fraud and baby theft.

The U.N.-created International Commission Against Impunity studied 3,000 adoptions and found falsified paperwork and fake birth certificates in several cases.”

My first reaction was Really?

My second: Well, okay, maybe. Anything’s possible. We’ll see.

In the meantime, also this week, my “web host” sent a note that the annual payment required to keep my blog up and running is due. I paid it, resolving (once again) to keep at it until the last case is processed, and the last child placed with a forever home.

As always, sending thoughts and prayers to the waiting families of the Guatemala 900. ~

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting organized 2

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

I’m into Week 3 post-reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, and am emerging at last from the organizing phase. I hardly recognize my closet and can at last locate my favorite beaded Guatemalan necklaces, which now live, color coded, in small plastic containers instead of strewn haphazardly on shelves and in drawers. Two things I’ve learned: First, Nobody cares what my closet looks like as much as I do. Sure, when I slid open the door for the big reveal, my husband and kids said “Ooh! Nice! Good job!” But a second later, they were on to the next thing. Whereas I paused for several minutes simply to admire the order. My jeans folded in neat piles. My shoes lined up in a row. My blouses hung on hangers.

The second thing I learned is that my husband and kids notice what I wear, especially if it belongs to a palette other than black. A lavender cotton blouse that I acquired years ago elicited these responses: “Love the color!” and “You look great!” Believe me, I didn’t look that special. Just different. But doesn’t everyone’s eye crave novelty? With my closet organized, I can access stuff I already own, and use it. I’m thrilled!

The other big takeaway from Gretchen’s first chapter is the One Minute Rule. If a task takes less than one minute, do it. That means closing a cabinet, hanging up hats on the pegs in the garage, stacking books onto a shelf. Such small things, that take so little time, that I used to avoid. Not anymore.

This is my Gratitude List for the week:

  • For the first time ever, my kids attend the same school. This means that instead of rushing from one carline to another, I have one drop-off and one pick-up. Fantastic!
  • That school offers twice weekly “homework club” Yes, we must pay for the privilege. But two days a week, our entire afternoon and evening is not consumed by homework. My definition of heaven!
  • Because I feel more organized, I am able to think about my next writing project. Truly, this is the ultimate luxury and one for which I feel enormously grateful.
  • Someone I’ve never met wrote me a note to say how much she loved reading my book, Mamalita. Thank you!
  • I call my parents frequently, but often my Mom can’t remember the details of our previous conversations. Last night, she remembered clearly that Mateo had started an afterschool activity, enough that she could ask specific questions about it. For that, I am grateful, and happy.
  • This morning, my son, reading from National Geographic Kids Almanac, told me “Rats can’t burp.” How have I lived so long without knowing this important fact? Mateo, thank you!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Media coverage of “rehoming”

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

We don’t have cable or watch TV, but even I know about the NBC and Reuters reports about adoption “rehoming,” in which one adoptive family places a child with another family, outside the legal system. My friend Tina Traster wrote a response to the media coverage, which appeared in the New York Times. Here’s the link:

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/author/tina-traster/

 

 

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New Republic article on anti-adoption movement

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

The title of this article by Emily Matchar in the New Republic says it all: Meet the New Anti-Adoption Movement: The Surprising Next Frontier in Reproductive Justice. (Although I would argue that for those of us who follow the “politics” of adoption, the anti-adoption movement is not “new,” but one that has been present and growing for at least the past several years.) The article covers ground familiar to me, and I’m guessing many others:

The past decade has seen the rise of a broad and loose coalition of activists out to change the way adoption works in America. This coalition makes bedfellows of people who would ordinarily have nothing to do with each other: Mormon and fundamentalist women who feel they were pressured by their churches, progressives who believe adoption is a classist institution that takes the children of the young and poor and gives them to the wealthier and better-educated, and adoptive parents who have had traumatic experiences with corrupt adoption agencies

Some women, like [Claudia] Corrigan D’Arcy, blog their stories. They run message boards with names like “First Mother Forum” and “Pound Pup Legacy,” full of tales of bitterly regretted adoptions. They hold retreats for birthmothers and adoptees. They’ve formed several grassroots activist organizations, including Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, Origins-USA, and Concerned United Birthparents. Some call themselves adoption reformers. Others prefer terms such as “adoption truth advocate.” A few will come straight out and say they’re anti-adoption.

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Very few activists are claiming that adoption shouldn’t be an option, but the activists currently involved in the issue recognize that adoption is far from the perfect solution it was so long perceived to be. It’s a difficult, life-changing decision with ramifications that last a lifetime. As such, it needs to be treated with the utmost transparency and a much higher degree of ethical oversight, legal and otherwise.

“I would rather see us live in a society where we say to struggling pregnant women, ‘OK you have a problem, we should try to fix the whole situation,’” says Corrigan D’Arcy, “rather than remove the child and leave the mother in crisis.” One of the most important events of her recent life was locating her now-teenage son via MySpace. “Every portion of finding him, whether it was just finding that he was alive or finding where he is, I felt one step lighter, one step closer to being who I was really supposed to be.”

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Reading the article, I felt a sense of near-vindication, that I haven’t been imagining it, that the prevailing opinion toward adoption is, in fact, primarily and increasingly negative. What does that mean for families like ours, that are so obviously formed through adoption, and especially for my children?

I can talk forever about how we know our kids’ birth families and have relationships with them; how adoption was the best choice for each of our children’s birth mothers (according to our children’s birth mothers themselves) and for thousands of other women; how we visit Guatemala every year and embrace the culture. But none of that counts, really, when you’re discussing the “philosophy” of adoption, and whether it should be permitted at all.

Regardless of the details of any specific case, and whether or not the “general public” is aware of it, a shift in attitude toward adoption has occurred and is occurring, led by many vocal and active critics of the “institution.” I commend Emily Matchar and the New Republic for writing and publishing an article that illuminates this important subject with candor.

Image credit: Google images

 

 

 

 

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Getting organized

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Have I mentioned that this summer I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project? In it, she takes 12 months to tackle her vision of the world and tries to make it more positive. The first chapter is dedicated to clearing out clutter–a first-world problem to be sure, and one that I, although a self-avowed minimalist, have suffered from. Never again! Or at least, headed in that direction. This past week, with the kids back in school, I’ve been cleaning, organizing, and donating, enough that the guy in the Salvation Army truck now recognizes me. And I have to tell you: I feel better! Less is more. I know that. And yet I cling to things. Old clothes that don’t fit. And never fit, possibly. Which I never wear, because as a minimalist, I wear the same things all the time: Jeans and a t-shirt, white or black. Occasionally, a shirt of a different type. My children beg me: Wear something else!

Another thing Gretchen Rubin recommends is a Gratitude Journal. And although at first, this struck me as “so California” (Gretchen’s from New York), I quickly realized there’s no down side to taking stock and counting my blessings. I do this constantly. However, I never write these thoughts down. My journals, which I’ve kept since girlhood, are filled with things I dread or fear, or rants and complaints.

So this morning, while my son is reading quietly beside me, I will take note of a few things I’m grateful for:

  • All the obvious ones.
  • Yesterday, I got a flat tire on my minivan, going north on the 101 freeway, and safely pulled over. I called AAA and within 30 minutes, a tow truck arrived. Ten minutes later, my tire was fixed. Thank you!
  • Our tomatoes are in, and they are fabulous. Gazpacho for days. Enough frozen for spaghetti sauce all year.
  • A Friday lice check at school and we are clear!
  • Playdate today at our house, and the sun is shining so we can go outdoors.
  • This year, my goal was to read more books, and I have done that.
  • A few pending adoption cases in Guatemala have been approved, and the number of waiting families decreases.

An additional subject Gretchen talks about is making and collecting memories, through photo books and albums, and scrap books. For organized people, and I know you are out there, this is a given. For me, this remains uncharted territory. But this year, I’m motivated. The boxes and boxes of pictures that surround my desk downstairs will be organized. Not to mention the thousands of digital images that live on my computer. Soon, eventually.

If you haven’t read The Happiness Project, go borrow it from the library. (One less book to fill your shelf.) Keep an open mind, and, like me, you may finish feeling more in control of the chaos that is daily life.

Image credit: Amazon

 

 

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Essay on mother-daughter trip to Guatemala; and update on Encarnacion Romero case

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Labor Day weekend we celebrated the last weekend of summer with a hike out to Pt. Reyes and gazpacho on the deck. The kids are back in school, and we’re in that beautiful period before homework begins in earnest. That, I am dreading. But until then, the days are hot and clear, and the nights still warm enough to eat outside while the kids jump on the trampoline. Even as I’m living them, I know these are some of the best times of our lives.

I’m posting a link to an insightful and perceptive essay about a mother-daughter trip back to Guatemala, this summer. The journey was the first one back for 11-year-old Nohemi, who came to the US at six months old. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Mother-Daughter Trip Back to Guatemala was written by her mom and my friend, Beth Kawasaki.

Finally, for anyone who has been following the case of Encarnacion Romero, the Guatemalan undocumented worker whose daughter was placed for adoption while Romero was incarcerated: From the Joplin (Missouri) Globe:

A state appellate court is scheduled to hear arguments next week on behalf of a Guatemalan woman who wants to overturn a ruling that terminated her parental rights and allowed her son — now 6 years old — to be adopted by a Carthage couple.

The case, set to be heard Sept. 9 in the Southern District Missouri Court of Appeals in Springfield, challenges a decision handed down a year ago that cleared the way for the adoption of the boy who has lived with Seth and Melinda Moser, of Carthage, since he was a year old.

Joe Hensley, attorney for the couple, said last week that the biological mother’s parental rights were terminated on the grounds of “abandonment, neglect and parental unfitness.”

… The mother of the child, Encarnacion Romero, has remained in the United States to pursue appeals that started more than three years ago. The issue has received nationwide attention from groups that advocate on behalf of women and immigrants, including those who claim that the mother lost custody of the child because she is in the country illegally. …

Romero was living in Carthage in May 2007 when she was arrested on immigration charges while she was working at a Barry County poultry processing plant. While at work, she left her child with her brother. After her arrest, her brother turned the child over to a sister, and she left the baby with another Carthage couple, who agreed to adoption by the Mosers. While serving a two-year sentence for immigration-related crimes, Romero learned that the child had been adopted.

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As more details become available, I will post them.

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