Posts Tagged ‘adoption from Guatemala’

Guest blogger Lisa S.

Monday, February 9th, 2015

I’m one adoptive mother among thousands, with a particular point of view. Today, I’m posting a blog by my friend, Lisa S., adoptive mother to a tween daughter born in Guatemala. For years, Lisa communicated with her daughter’s birth mom in Guatemala via an intermediary. Recently, that dynamic changed. Thanks, L, for sharing your thoughts.

Open Adoption is a Pandora Box

A few months ago, I was afforded the option of having regular contact with my adopted daughter’s biological mother rather than information traveling through a third party, once a year at best. I jumped on this opportunity enthusiastically, relieved that we would always know her whereabouts, and if my daughter chose to meet her one day, it will be possible.

My daughter took this new development in stride, and her curiosity waned quickly. I realized that I was far more interested in her biological mother than she was. This probably doesn’t surprise readers who are adoptive mothers. We are motivated to get information about our child’s birth family for multiple reasons, not the least being genetic health issues. But in reality, most of our children’s birth families in developing countries have never seen a doctor in their life and probably never will.

But fast forwarding 20-30 years when I may very well have left this world (I’m already 61), I can’t help but wonder what will happen when I am no longer alive and my daughter is an adult. As her birth mother ages, it will be harder for her to provide for herself and her family. Will my daughter feel that she has a moral obligation to help her biological mother and keep in contact? And how tragic will it be for the birth mother if my daughter decides that she doesn’t want contact?

When I first searched for the birth mother I had one thought in mind: I want to give my daughter the option to meet her birth mother one day if she so chooses. But this decision is accompanied by a plethora of complications. I have opened the Pandora box.

–By Lisa S.

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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.

Etc.

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.

 

 

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SF Chronicle on Adoption and the Border Surge

Monday, October 6th, 2014

I’m always honored to be included in any dialogue about adoption from Guatemala, including this article by Kevin Fagan in the SF Chronicle, Halt in Guatemalan Adoptions May Be Fueling Border Surge. The reporters did a thorough job, with quotes from Elizabeth Bartholet, David Smolin, Nancy Bailey, Bay Area adoptive parents, and two young men who grew up in orphanages in Guatemala.

Thanks for reading. ~

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Mamalita at Literary Mama

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Me again. There’s so much happening in Guatemala lately–a terrible earthquake and a monster aftershock, the shooting of unarmed protestors by the military in Totonicapan. But, at the moment, I’m not here to write about that.

Right now, I’m posting a link to A Conversation with Jessica O’Dwyer, published this week at Literary Mama by my friend and writing colleague, Marianne Lonsdale. 

Thank you, Marianne and Literary Mama. I’m honored!

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Guatemalan judge rules US couple must return child

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

A Guatemalan judge has ruled that a Missouri couple must return their adopted daughter to Guatemala, Associated Press writer Sonia Perez reported in the Wednesday, August 3 edition of the Kansas City Star.

A Guatemalan judge has ordered a U.S. couple to return their adopted daughter to her birth mother, siding with a human rights group that says the girl was stolen by a child trafficking ring and put up for adoption.

Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez confirmed Wednesday that she ruled in favor of the mother, who is represented by the Survivors’ Foundation.

The rights group, which released a copy of the ruling Tuesday night, claims the girl was kidnapped in 2006 and taken out of the country under a new name two years later and was last known to be living in Missouri.

Tellez’s ruling also says Guatemala’s government must cancel the passport used to take the girl out of the country. It further orders that if the girl is not returned within two months, Guatemalan authorities should solicit help locating the girl from Interpol, the international police organization.

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/08/03/3055103/guatemala-judge-us-pair-must-return.html#ixzz1U1ZCHmaO

It goes without saying that this is the worst nightmare of any adoptive parent. The U.S. Embassy has not yet responded to the ruling.

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A day in the life

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

The kids and I have been in San Diego for the past few weeks, with many of our days spent tromping happily through the vast acreage of Sea World San Diego. The highlight for the kids, always, is Blue Horizons. To visualize, think Broadway spectacular crossed with Cirque de Soleil,  and throw in a cast of peppy dolphins and an array of trained birds.  Cue the music.  Add flags. That’s Blue Horizons.

I admit it. I also love the show.  

But for my purposes here, I’ll tell you what happened right after our latest foray. The kids and I were browsing in the gift shop—of course–when a little girl about Olivia’s age walked up and began this conversation.

Little girl: “Are you their mother?”

Me: “Yes, I am. Why do you ask?”

Little girl: ”Because you don’t look like them.”

Me: “You’re right. We don’t look alike. But I’m their mother.”

The little girl stared at me.  Olivia picked at her fingernails. Mateo wandered away. Then, because I always feel an obligation to educate people, especially children who approach me with curiosity, I said, “I’m their mother through adoption. They were born in Guatemala.”

“Oh,” said the little girl. “Are they really brother and sister?”

“They are now,” I answered. And I took my kids’ hands and steered them toward the Forbidden Reef.

I have to tell you, as an adoptive mother, I always forget my children are adopted. And then, what do you know—someone comes up and reminds me.

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Why I wrote Mamalita

Monday, July 11th, 2011

During public readings from Mamalita, I’ve met many people who harbor strong opinions on the subject of adoption, pro and con. Now, before I read from the book, I talk about why I was compelled to write it. I’d like to share those thoughts here.

Eight years ago, I was living in Antigua, Guatemala with my then-fifteen-month old daughter, Olivia, whom my husband and I were trying to adopt. We had been enmeshed in the process for more than a year, ever since I first saw a photo of Olivia on an adoption website and had fallen in love.

I wasn’t the only American would-be mother living in Guatemala who was trying to sort out a stalled adoption. We were a group of eight, with nothing in common except our overwhelming desire to become mothers and the belief that our bureaucratic nightmares should not be allowed to happen to anyone else. That year, more than 3,000 Americans adopted children from Guatemala. Each one of those families had a story, no two the same.

Soon after I returned home with Olivia in January 2004, international adoption became headline news, none of it good. The private adoption system in Guatemala was singled out as particularly corrupt. Front-page stories described payments made to birth mothers, coercion of women to become pregnant, and the trawling of countrysides by “finders” to trick young girls into relinquishing their newborns. Adoptive parents like me were depicted as privileged Americans who swooped in to snatch kidnapped infants. Even UNICEF pronounced that it was better for a child to remain in his country of origin than it was to be adopted by foreign parents. The news got so bad it was impossible not to feel under attack.

But that was only a part of the story. The story I experienced was that of adoptive parents who felt great love for their children, pushing back against a system that seemed designed to manipulate emotions at every turn.

When I lived in Antigua, the others mothers used to say, “Somebody needs to write a book about this.” My entire life I’d been searching for the one story I had to tell. Even as I was living the experience, I knew Olivia’s adoption saga was it.

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Guatadopt post

Monday, May 16th, 2011

If you’re connected to adoption from Guatemala, chances are good that you’ve already read the May 11 Guatadopt post on the relationship between CICIG and Senator Landrieu, and the status of Susana Luarca.

If you haven’t, please do. Guatadopt writer “Kevin” offers an excellent summary of both situations; his analysis of the difference between “abnormalities” and “non-serious abnormalities” in the adoption process rings true. As for Kevin’s statement that “all of this is very reminiscent of what has been going on in this debate for far too long.” Hear, hear! Take a look at the Guatemala900 website to learn about families whose cases have been hashed over for a minimum of three years. Many cases have moldered years longer.

As an adoptive mother to one child who lingered in foster care for fifteen months, and another for six,  I can tell you that every day makes a difference–to adoptive parents, yes, but more than that, to the future life of a child. 

The “comments” on the Guatadopt site enlighten as much as the post itself.  Read for yourself, and you’ll see.

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My son and the NPR program on transracial adoption

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

If you’re reading this blog for the first time, you should know that I’m a white adoptive mother to two children born in Guatemala. My daughter, Olivia, is almost 9; my son, Mateo, is 6. Olivia is indigenous Maya; Mateo is what Guatemalans call “Ladino,” meaning his heritage is Hispanic. Each has brown skin; one darker, one lighter. Our family discusses skin color often; see two previous blog posts, Peach and Brown.

On Friday afternoon, as he climbed into the car after school, Mateo asked me “Can brown people marry white people?”

“Of course they can,” I said. “You can marry someone with any skin color.” I skipped my usual speech about marriage, which includes a requirement for love, college graduation, money in the bank, maturity, self-awareness, etc. etc. This conversation was about something else.

I continued, “Did someone say you couldn’t, because you’re brown?”  Mateo nodded, looking miserable. I paused and took a deep breath. “Another kid? Or a grown-up?”

“Another kid,” Mateo said. (And here I will disguise the child’s identity.) “X.” 

Why am I writing to tell you about this? Because I want you to know that, yes, even here in Marin County, Northern California, which considers itself one of the most enlightened, educated places on earth, another kid said those words to my 6-year-old son. And I’m guessing X didn’t make it up out of thin air. He must have heard it from an adult.

On May 11, NPR ran a great “All Things Considered” program that really resonated for me:  The Parenting Dilemmas of Transracial Adoption. Here’s an excerpt from the NPR website:

Today, approximately 40 percent of adoptions in America are transracial — and that number is growing. In decades past, many American parents of transracial adoptions simply rejected racial categories, raising their children as though racial distinctions didn’t matter.

“Social workers used to tell parents, ‘You just raise your child as though you gave birth to her,’ ” Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, tells NPR’s Neal Conan… Pertman’s organization has conducted extensive research on transracial adoption in America. He says turning a blind eye to race wasn’t good for anybody. “We don’t live in a colorblind society,” he says.

University of Chicago professor Gina Samuels — who is multiracial and was raised by a white family — has also researched the experiences of children of color who were raised by Caucasian parents. She tells Conan that parents who take a colorblind approach to raising their children often do so with the best of intentions.

“[It] reflects maybe how they hope the world will be someday,” Samuels says. “But oftentimes what this ends up doing is having children [meet] the world — the real world — unprepared.”

On Friday, my son Mateo came up against the “real world” referred to by Professor Samuels. And please let me assure you, this wasn’t the first time. I’m glad Mateo trusts me enough to talk about it.

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Please sign the Guatemala900 petition to Senator Mary Landrieu

Friday, May 6th, 2011

The Guatemala900,  the group comprising families stuck in adoption limbo with the closure of adoptions from Guatemala in December 2007, is circulating a thank-you note in the form of a petition to Senator Mary Landrieu. I signed the petition and urge you to do the same. The Guatemala900 petition preamble reads:

The children and families of pending adoptions in Guatemala have been waiting anywhere from 3 to 8 years for the process to complete.

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu recently traveled to Guatemala to meet with President Alvaro Colom as well as the heads of the various entities that govern Guatemalan adoption in an effort to break the gridlock that these children’s cases have encountered.

For this amazing devotion, the Guatemala900 offers this letter of thanks to Senator Landrieu.

Please show your solidarity for the children in Guatemala and their waiting families by clicking on the link and signing the petition.
Thank you.

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