Posts Tagged ‘Kyrgyz 65’

“The Global Adoption Threat” in TIME

Friday, January 18th, 2013

The January 21, 2013 issue of Time magazine features an in-depth article by Kayla Webley titled The Baby Deficit. I paused when I read those words, “Baby Deficit.” From my observation, people who wish to become parents will find a way—if not through the “usual channels,” then through in-vitro fertilization, embryo transfers, sperm donors, or surrogates. Some other people, like my husband and me, will choose adoption. While I’m not sure there exists a “deficit” of babies being born, there definitely is a shrinking number of babies available for adoption. From the article:

The number of international children adopted by American families has dropped some 60% from its peak in 2004. That year, Americans adopted 22,991 foreign children, according to the State Department. In 2011, despite long waiting lists at adoption agencies, the total was 9,319—the lowest since the mid-1990s.

Then I read the subhead, ”How changing attitudes about international adoption are creating heartbreak for American families,” and agree that much is true. Many American families are heartbroken, especially the families of the Guatemala 900, whose adoptions have been pending for more than five years, and families of the group known as the Kyrgyz 65, whose cases have been tied up in Kyrgyzstan for only slightly less time. I would add another group whose hearts may be broken, and that is children who will grow up in institutions, without ever being part of permanent families. In the article, nobody asked them how they feel about losing the possibility of ever being adopted.

The article focuses on one particular couple, Frank and Gabrielle Shimkus, who readers of this blog will recognize as members of the Kyrgyz 65.  The Shimkuses have been trying to adopt their son for more than four years, demonstrating a steadfast dedication that would be unbelievable except for the fact some 60 other couples adopting from Kyrgyzstan have endured the same anguishing slog. In 2011, I wrote about Frank and Gabrielle here and here.

The Time article is thorough, comprehensive, and definitely worth reading—a kind of International Adoption 101. Maybe it will educate a few readers on the insane roller coaster ridden by so many of us adoptive parents. I read the piece the old-fashioned way: bought a copy standing in line at the grocery store. I’d post a link, but that option seems available only to subscribers.

We can argue all day about whether or not international adoption should continue, and when night falls, still not agree. But one point that seems undeniable is that children should not be used as pawns in long, drawn-out processes. Sadly, this is precisely what’s happening around the world: in Guatemala, in Kyrgyzstan, and soon in Russia. What good possibly can come from institutionalizing a child for four years while bureaucrats stall to make a point?

At least for now, the world is paying attention, with coverage in The New York Times, the Russian press, and this week, Time magazine. The question is, will anything change before focus shifts to the next big story?

 

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Hope at last for the Kyrgyz 65

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Back in February of this year, I posted a blog about Frank and Gabrielle Shimkus, who along with other families known as the Kyrgyz 65, were waiting for their adoption from Kyrgyzstan to be finalized. Their plight sounded sadly similar to that of families waiting for children in Guatemala, the group known as the Guatemala900. Gabrielle explained:

We received our referral in Aug. 2008. A little boy, 2 months old, with a cleft lip and palate. He was as frail as could be. We had all of our paperwork here in the US approved and our dossier in Kyrgyzstan. We went for our first visit in November 2008, and spent 2 full weeks with him, loving him.

It was only supposed to be one more month before we returned to go to Kyrgyz court and take him home with us for good, but that didn’t happen. One day the Kyrgyz government heard rumblings of people forging paperwork. It turns out to be vaguely true, but of another country, not ours. That day they decided their adoption laws were too easy and in one fell swoop got rid of every law on the books. They did not consider that there were 65 families in the immediate pipeline to adopt—families, like ours, who were weeks away from that one court hearing that would have allowed us to take our kids home. Their government refused to allow our adoptions to go forward because they no longer had the laws to finish them.

Still they dangled the carrot in front of us. “Just give us a few months. 6 months we promise. You will have your kids by Christmas.” They then placed a moratorium on international adoptions.

After months of hanging by a thread, the country elected a new president, who was the first female Asian president. She heard our pleas, told us to be patient. Months more went by.  A new Parliament was elected and we were promised our legislation would be one of the first to go through. It didn’t happen. The US State Department has been involved all along, but provide us with no concrete answers.

We are now 2 1/2 years since this tragedy began. The 65 families have a forum where we keep in daily contact with each other. We have contacted every Senator, Congressman, and person of influence we can think of. Some of the families have dropped off. 2 of the children have died waiting. Yes, 2 children are dead because they succumbed to illnesses treatable here in the US. It is horrible, beyond words.

The crazy thing is that all along they have said we can have our kids. Very few people are against this. They just don’t have the know-how to finish our process. Crazy to still hold on to hope when everytime it gets ripped out from under us. Still, no one will tell us “NO YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR KID.” Maybe if they did things would be different. Maybe some of the parents could heal and move on. But the carrot is still out there dangling. We get pictures every few months, and that is the closest we come.

I’m thrilled to report that Radio Free Europe has posted an article titled Kyrgyzstan Lifts Ban on International Adoption. The family profiled is none other than the Shimkuses. As my children would say, Yippee!!

Read the Radio Free Europe article here, and another regarding the official announcement by the Kyrgyzstan government here.

And please keep sending positive thoughts for the Guatemala900.

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Guatemala900 on FOXFiles; and the group known as the Kyrgyz 65.

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The TV segment on FOXFiles in St. Louis, Missouri begins like this:

Imagine adopting a baby, but not being able to bring him home. For several hundred couples across the county, it’s a sad reality that has been going on for years, including Carri and Jason Kern of Wentzville. “We were told it would take 4 to 6 months for him to come home,” said Carri Kern, adding “it has been over 3 1/2 years.”

The have named him Hudson. He is still living Guatemala, which is where he was born. For a long time, adoptions from Guatemala were quick and easy, but the system there had become so corrupt, in 2007 the Guatemalan government shut it down, agreeing to grandfather in hundreds of couples whose adoptions were already in progress. And one of them was Hudson’s. But because of that past corruption, adoption judges there are under now such scrutiny they have made the process cloudy, unpredictable, and long.

The Kerns have been to Guatemala for court dates 13 times. “It is a very emotional attachment, seeing him every time. You can’t let go and you can’t stop fighting,” said Jason Kern.Though Hudson has never seen his new home, he knows it is waiting for him. He already calls Carri and Jason mama and papa. They talk on Skype, and visit him in person on special occasions like Christmases, and birthdays.

Readers of this blog recognize the Kerns as belonging to the Guatemala900, families who have been waiting for their adoptions to be finalized since adoptions closed in December 2007. It’s heartbreaking to watch the TV segment and see the Kerns stand in the cozy but empty bedroom they have prepared for their son, filled with toys and books and mobiles, and to listen as they verbalize their grief. 

I’ve recently been made aware of another group, known as the “Kyrgyz 65,” who also wait for their children. Gabrielle Shimkus found me on the Mamalita Facebook page and wrote: 

We received our referral in Aug. 2008. A little boy, 2 months old, with a cleft lip and palate. He was as frail as could be. We had all of our paperwork here in the US approved and our dossier in Kyrgyzstan. We went for our first visit in November 2008, and spent 2 full weeks with him, loving him.

It was only supposed to be one more month before we returned to go to Kyrgyz court and take him home with us for good, but that didn’t happen. One day the Kyrgyz government heard rumblings of people forging paperwork. It turns out to be vaguely true, but of another country, not ours. That day they decided their adoption laws were too easy and in one fell swoop got rid of every law on the books. They did not consider that there were 65 families in the immediate pipeline to adopt—families, like ours, who were weeks away from that one court hearing that would have allowed us to take our kids home. Their government refused to allow our adoptions to go forward because they no longer had the laws to finish them.

Still they dangled the carrot in front of us. “Just give us a few months. 6 months we promise. You will have your kids by Christmas.” They then placed a moratorium on international adoptions.

After months of hanging by a thread, the country elected a new president, who was the first female Asian president. She heard our pleas, told us to be patient. Months more went by.  A new Parliament was elected and we were promised our legislation would be one of the first to go through. It didn’t happen. The US State Department has been involved all along, but provide us with no concrete answers.

We are now 2 1/2 years since this tragedy began. The 65 families have a forum where we keep in daily contact with each other. We have contacted every Senator, Congressman, and person of influence we can think of. Some of the families have dropped off. 2 of the children have died waiting. Yes, 2 children are dead because they succumbed to illnesses treatable here in the US. It is horrible, beyond words.

The crazy thing is that all along they have said we can have our kids. Very few people are against this. They just don’t have the know-how to finish our process. Crazy to still hold on to hope when everytime it gets ripped out from under us. Still, no one will tell us “NO YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR KID.” Maybe if they did things would be different. Maybe some of the parents could heal and move on. But the carrot is still out there dangling. We get pictures every few months, and that is the closest we come.

How can you respond to an email like this one? Or to the TV segment about the Kerns? By sending positive thoughts and prayers and solidarity? The faithfulness of hopeful adoptive parents like Carri and Jason Kern and Gabrielle Shimkus and her husband, Frank, nearly flattens me. These are people dedicated to their children.

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