Posts Tagged ‘Andrea Poe’

Mamalita in the Washington Times

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

A few days ago, Andrea Poe of the Washington Times interviewed me about Mamalita for the paper’s section called “The Red Thread: An Adoptive Family Forum.” As a great admirer of Poe’s support for adoption, I was incredibly honored when she told me she loved my book, and that her profile of me and our story would run in her column on January 11, 2011. Readers of this blog may remember my comments on the piece Poe ran on the Gatto Family, whose case has been stalled in Guatemala since the closure of adoption in December 2007. In another piece, titled “UNICEF’s effective attack on inter-country adoption,” Poe wrote about why the stated policy of the organization founded to help children often does the opposite. Andrea Poe writes the kind of articles about adoption that I want to read.

In the article about Mamalita, Poe writes:

The process to finalize the adoption should have taken a few months.  Instead, it began to drag on without clear answers.   When O’Dwyer reached out to her adoption agency, she would be told they were trying, things were difficult and to be patient.

“I would be heart-broken when I went down to Guatemala to visit Olivia and find her strapped into a stroller in front of the TV,” recalls O’Dwyer.  “The foster parents weren’t bad people, they had other children and they had signed up as foster parents to a baby and Olivia was growing up. Time was going by and Olivia wasn’t growing up with us.  Her attachment was to her foster parents.”

That’s when O’Dwyer made the decision to move to Guatemala, even while Tim stayed back in California.  “I really had no choice.  I wanted to raise my daughter,” she explains.

She rented a home in a town called Antigua, a community where several expats were located, all mothers who had moved down to Guatemala to live with their children, also caught in bureaucratic limbo.  The good news was that the American parents were permitted to keep their children with them as the paperwork dragged through the system, but the bad news was that there was no streamlined process that afforded these families any sense of security.  “I actually faced the fact that I might have to live in Guatemala until Olivia turned 18,” says O’Dwyer.

Poe ends the article with this:

When asked for advice for other parents stuck where she was, waiting and wondering if they will ever be able to bring their kids home, [O'Dwyer] offers this: “Do the very best you can and be active.  My goal was to do one thing every single day that forwarded my goal, even a small thing.  Lobby and advocate officials for change, and when outraged write letters.  Most importantly, don’t give up.”

Read Andrea Poe’s article here. If you have an opinion about it, please post a comment on “The Red Thread: An Adoptive Family Forum” site. And here, too, of course!


Stalled more than 4 years in Guatemala. One family’s adoption story

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

When I read this story in the Washington Times, my reaction alternated between sorrow and outrage.  Andrea Poe writes:

Anthony Gatto, an attorney, and his wife Megan live outside Albany, New York.  They have been waiting to finalize the adoption of their son Anderson since he was born in October of 2006.  More than four years later, they continue to fight to gain custody of their little boy. 

They are one of the nearly 1,000 American families who have children stranded in Guatemala due to bureaucratic snafus, inter-country glitches and adoption laws that shift like sand beneath their feet.

The Gattos have visited Anderson in Guatemala. The child’s birth mother has gone on record stating her wish that the Gattos adopt him. Back in the States, the couple has done everything in their power to finalize  Anderson’s adoption. They pay $500 per month to an orphanage for his care. Four years later, they are still stuck.  Anthony Gatto writes:

Last May, we attended a Congressional Briefing on the issue that was attended by staff people from over twenty members of Congress.  We are part of a group of parents waiting to adopt children from Guatemala since the new law passed in 2007.  The group is called Guatemala 900 ( We currently have over 20 Senators (including New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand) and 10 Representatives (including Rep. Scott Murphy) fighting for the 400 families who have been waiting since January 2008 to adopt a child from Guatemala with stories similar to ours. 

All of these children have been in orphanages for over 2 1/2 years.  These children do not know the joy of a loving family and unless something is done, they will spend the rest of their lives in an orphanage.

Gatto supplies a vivid illustration of what waiting for Anderson since 2006 looks like:  

We have had his nursery fully furnished for almost three years and it only serves as a reminder that we must continue to fight for him because he is our son.  Every day we look down the hall at his room.  His crib is still assembled even though he’s too old and too big to fit in a crib. 

We refuse to take it down until we get him home.  Each year for his birthday and Christmas we buy him presents and wrap them for him when he gets home.  My wife and I celebrate his birthday each year and his closet is now full of presents, waiting for him.

I share the Gattos’ final plea:

We need to bring national attention to this matter in order to bring all of these children home.