Posts Tagged ‘Guatemala 900’

Guatemala 900

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

The end of the year is nigh, which means I think in a focused way about the waiting families of the Guatemala 900. As you know, the 900 represents the transition cases caught in the pipeline when adoptions between the US and Guatemala closed on December 31, 2007. (Since I started this blog in 2010, I’ve written thirty-eight posts on the subject.)

Perspective: If your adoption was in process when the door slammed shut, you and your child have been waiting for resolution and closure for 9 years. Nine. The loyalty, the dedication, the love in that number! Humbling.

Curious about the exact number of transition cases still pending, today I went on the US State Department website and was surprised and happy to see an “Update on Status of Inter-country Adoptions from Guatemala.

Now, if I’m reading this right–I might not be and please correct me if I’m wrong–it seems as though only 4 transition cases remain. Four is still 4 too many, but it’s getting closer to zero.

ShareThis

Guatemala 900 at Eight Years

Friday, January 1st, 2016

I’ve been trying to find out how many families of the original Guatemala 900 remain waiting, eight years later. If you’re reading this, you know that  adoptions between the US and Guatemala ended in December 2007, with hundreds of cases stalled in the pipeline. One by one, the cases trickled out, until, to my knowledge, only a small group remains.

Each of those cases represents a child, and a family waiting for that child. And eight years of days, equaling 2,920 days.

My hope as a mother and as a writer is that someday one of those children grows up to write the story of what that experience feels like. How it feels to visit in a hotel with American parents and then be returned to the orphanage, or to appear in court and listen to adults discuss reasons why you can’t or won’t be reunited with your biological family, while knowing you won’t be allowed to leave with your American parents, either.

Eight years is a long time in anyone’s life. The photos below show my children in 2007, and in December 2015, eight years later.

To the remaining members of the Guatemala 900: You are amazing. ~

 

ShareThis

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.

 

 

ShareThis

Seven years

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Seven years and 27 trips to Guatemala later, the Kern family of Missouri finalizes the adoption of their son Hudson, born in Guatemala. Congratulations!!!!

Here’s the link to TV news coverage.

It’s hard for me to understand how living in an orphanage for years while a family waits for you benefits a child. Yet that was the reality for Hudson, and for all the children whose cases stalled after adoptions between Guatemala and the US closed in December 2007.

Reform, yes.  No doubt the adoption system was broken and needed to be fixed. Or shut down permanently. But to allow a small boy to spend seven years in an orphanage when he doesn’t really need to: Why?

Again, congratulations!~

 

ShareThis

Final at last

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Seven years. Seven years! Congratulations to Suann Hibbs of Edina, Minnesota, for staying the course and finalizing the adoptions of her 8-year-old twins and their 7-year-old sister. The girls lived in five different orphanages and don’t yet speak English. As you know, adoptions between the US and Guatemala closed in December 2007, leaving hundreds of cases stranded in process. Adoption between the two countries remain closed, and likely will for the foreseeable future.

Here’s my plea to friends from that part of the country: Please reach out to Suann Hibbs! I bet she would welcome support from fellow adoptive parents, and her girls would love to meet other Guatemalan children who have lived here longer. No one understands the road Suann and her girls will be traveling as much as the families and children who have been there. We gain strength from each other. Again, congratulations!

Watch the news coverage here.

ShareThis

One of the Guatemala900

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Literally for almost a decade, on various Guatemalan adoption listserves, I have been following the saga of Audra and Les Rice and their quest to finalize the adoption of their daughter Isabella. Today on my Google alert, I see Isabella finally is at her new home! Congratulations to Audra and Les and their family! Wow. WOW! Such good news!

On that note, here’s Antigua Guatemala’s version of Pharrell Williams tune, Happy.

Hoping the remaining families of the Guatemala 900 can sing the happy song, soon. ~

ShareThis

Waiting families and Encarnacion Bail Romero

Friday, December 27th, 2013

As December 31 approaches, I remember the announcement by the government of Guatemala that every pending adoption case would be finalized by year’s end. Recently, I read First Christmas in Texas, a wonderful article about two families whose children have joined them in Texas from Guatemala after waiting 5+ years. With only a few days remaining in 2013, I hope other cases also will be resolved. The lack of resolution, the not knowing, seems to me to be a very specific kind of torture.

I’m also posting here a link to the latest update on the Encarnacion Bail Romero case, Missouri Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to Adoption Decision. The case revolves around an undocumented Guatemalan woman, her arrest and incarceration; and her son’s adoption at age one by a Missouri couple.  I wrote about the case here and here. The article contains information I had not read previously, and implies that Bail Romero may be deported. Unless the US Supreme Court decides to hear Bail Romero’s appeal, the case finally is ended.

On a personal note, this may be the last Christmas for our family that Santa isn’t in the house. The logistics will be easier, but I’ll miss the old guy.

Time marches on. My children are growing up. Still praying for the families who continue to wait. ~

 

 

 

 

 

ShareThis

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. ~

 

 

 

 

 

ShareThis

Unicef, Russian adoption, and Guatemala

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

 

A friend and fellow adoptive mom posted this Statement by Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, on the Proposed Russian Adoption Ban to a Guatemalan adoption listserve:

NEW YORK (December 26, 2012) – “While welcoming Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev’s call for the improvement of the child welfare system, UNICEF urges that the current plight of the many Russian children in institutions receives priority attention.

“We ask that the Government of Russia, in its design and development of all efforts to protect children, let the best interests of children – and only their best interests – determine its actions.

“We encourage the government to establish a robust national social protection plan to help strengthen Russian families. Alternatives to the institutionalization of children are essential, including permanent foster care, domestic adoption and inter-country adoption.

“All children deserve an environment that promotes their protection and well-being. Russian children – indeed all children – need to be in protective and loving families or family-like environments.”

Add me to the list of people who read these words: “Alternatives to the institutionalization of children are essential, including permanent foster care, domestic adoption and inter-country adoption,” and said, “Excuse me? I’m confused.”
 
Where has Unicef been since Guatemala’s intercountry adoption program shut down, five years ago? How has Unicef partnered with Guatemala to advocate for and improve the welfare of the thousands of Guatemalan children in institutionalized care? This includes the approximately 200 children whose adoption cases remain unresolved and whose lives are suspended in limbo, members of the group known as the Guatemala 900. Maybe I’m missing something, but I haven’t read or heard anything about Unicef in Guatemala since intercountry adoption closed in December 2007.
 
“Alternatives to the institutionalization of children are essential.”
 
Agreed. But where is the leadership from Unicef?

 

ShareThis

The Russian adoption ban

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

The Russian adoption ban. What’s to be said? That it dooms hundreds of children who might have been adopted to a life lived inside the four walls of an institution. The reality is almost too heartbreaking to think about, except that, around the world, millions of children have no other choice.

Here are links to two articles that I found compelling. The first, because it describes conditions inside orphanages in Russia; and the second, because it addresses the ramifications of summarily closing a country’s international program.

Russia’s Adoption Ban Is Cruel and Vindictive to All, by Dr. Jane Aronson in the Daily Beast.

Russia’s Adoption Ban Plays Politics with Most Vulnerable, by KJ Dell-Antonia in the New York Times.

I’m pasting here the text of a letter to the New York Times, written in response to a Times cover story about the situation, because the same can be said about the waiting children and families of the Guatemala 900.

Many facets of international adoptions are debatable, but one is not. Stopping nearly complete adoptions is cruel. To let human bonds form and then destroy them shows a level of callousness uncommon even for politicians.

When an American adoptive mother sent her child back to Russia with a note saying she was abandoning him, Russians were rightly outraged. Treating children as objects is offensive. Treating them as political pawns is no less so.

ILYA SHLYAKHTER
Cambridge, Mass., Dec. 28, 2012

Amen, and Is anybody listening?

 

 

ShareThis