Archive for December, 2014

19 adoptions still pending

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

For reasons we all know, adoptions between the US and Guatemala closed as of December 31, 2007. That means hundreds of adoptions in process at that time were stalled. In the intervening seven years, thankfully, the majority of those cases have been resolved.

However, as of December 1, 2014, nineteen of the original cases have not been resolved. Nineteen of the original cases still are pending.

Last year, the Associated Press stated that the Guatemalan government had created a task force to finish all adoptions by calendar-end 2013. That didn’t happen. I found the post I wrote about it then, dated September 27, 2013. Here’s an excerpt, pasted.

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

“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.


When I think about this situation, I think of my own children, adopted from Guatemala. One of things they crave most is stability, routine, predictability, a world they can trust. What must it be like for the children whose lives have been on hold for seven years? Here, but not here. There, but for now. These people, for a few days. This place, although not forever. Somewhere else. Someday. Maybe.

Here’s hoping that 2015 will be the year the remaining 19 adoptions are resolved, permanency is granted to the children whose lives are in limbo, and the ordeal ends for the waiting families.




On loneliness, again

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

I wrote this blog in 2012 and hope you don’t mind if I re-post.

For more than 10 years, after my first husband divorced me and I moved from New York to California, before I met Tim and we adopted our children and became a family, I felt very lonely around the holidays. True, my parents and siblings loved me (and still do), and so did my friends. Nevertheless, my isolation, never easy on many days, could almost crush me this time of year.

That experience taught me how painful and harsh loneliness can be—in some ways, its own debilitating illness.

Today I feel very lucky to be surrounded by family—Tim and our kids, my sisters and brother and their families, my parents. But I’m remembering people who aren’t in the same state, and sending them a silent wish for better days ahead. xo


An arrest

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

The government of Guatemala has arrested Nancy Bailey, the founder of the orphanage Semillas de Amor, according to this article in the Associated Press. From the AP:

Guatemalan authorities have arrested an American accused of human trafficking and participating in illegal adoptions.

Prosecutors say Nancy Susan Bailey was apprehended in El Salvador and turned over to Guatemalan authorities via Interpol at the border between the two Central American countries.

The arrest warrant for Bailey was issued in 2008 and charged her with taking children and putting them up for illegal adoption for fees as high as $40,000, according to a statement released by prosecutors. She was arrested Tuesday.

Bailey founded the orphanage “Seeds of Love” outside the Guatemalan capital in 1996.

Guatemala’s International Commission Against Impunity issued a report in 2010 saying it found 3,342 irregular adoptions, mostly to U.S. couples.

The commission described networks of child-trafficking in the country for the purpose of illegal adoptions.


Organizing, continued

Friday, December 12th, 2014

We don’t get real weather out here, not like the East coast where I grew up. But yesterday it rained and rained and they closed the schools, so the kids were home. Then the electricity went out at Tim’s office–they’re not a hospital, and thus no hospital-level emergency generators–so he came home around lunch-time, too.

While Olivia did Olivia things in her room and Mateo watched too many movies (current favorite: the Sherlock Holmes series, with Basil Rathbone), Tim dragged out the plastic containers of 1,000+ photos that I had stashed downstairs and forgotten, and declared we must sort them into categories: “Us, before kids, aka: Man, we were young,” “biking pix,” “our wedding,” “JOD Family,” “Tim family,” “Olivia in Guatemala,” “Us in Antigua,” “Mateo,” “birth family visits.” ETC.

I set up a Costco table and chairs in the living room and for the next five hours we arranged the pictures into stacks. (Yes, I do photo books. Another ongoing project! Most of the images I’m talking about here predate digital.)

At the end of the five hours, Tim and I looked at each other and said, “We have a life together. A history.” Even after all this time as a family, that felt like a revelation.

And that’s how we spent our rainy day. xo


Update on the Karen/Anyeli adoption case

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

The Limits of Jurisdiction, by Erin Siegal McIntyre (“Finding Fernanda” and the “Embassy Cables”), offers the latest update on the adoption most commonly known as the “Case in Missouri” or the “Karen/Anyeli” case. Karen has lived in Missouri with her adoptive family since December 2008. But a family in Guatemala remains convinced she is their kidnapped daughter, Anyeli.

Every time I re-read the facts of this case–which I just did again–and take in the magnitude of it, the amount of time, the number of players involved, the years representing a percentage of a person’s life time, I am left breathless.

Here’s an excerpt:

For the past six years, the child known as Karen has lived in Missouri with her adoptive parents, Timothy and Jennifer Monahan. But Loyda Rodríguez and Dayner Hernández, a young Guatemalan couple, are convinced the child is their daughter, Anyelí, who was kidnapped in November 2006. Although a Guatemalan judge ruled that Karen should be returned to Guatemala in 2011, the Monahans have kept her.

Today, both families hope to do what’s best for Karen. But understanding what that means is just as complicated as understanding what actually happened to the child.

In Guatemala nearly a dozen people, including government officials, have been charged with serious criminal offenses related to Karen’s adoption, including dereliction of duty, human trafficking, and falsifying documents. Two women, a nursery director and a lawyer, have been found guilty and are serving jail time for their involvement with the child.

The case pits American against Guatemalan interests, a family against a family. It can be seen as a study in the failure of cooperation and international diplomacy, or as an examination of influence, wealth, and power. The situation forces questions about the definitions of what is right, what is moral, and what, exactly, is criminal.