Posts Tagged ‘U.S. State Department and Guatemalan adoption’

Guatemala 900, still waiting

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Since I began blogging, I’ve logged many posts on the group known as the Guatemala 900, American families waiting to finalize the adoptions of the Guatemalan children to whom they’ve been matched. Now numbering around 300, the Guatemala 900 cases have been stalled since the shutdown of adoptions between Guatemala and the U.S. in December 2007, nearly four-and-a-half years ago. Since then, the waiting children have remained in care in Guatemala, while their adoptive families support them from afar in the U.S.

On May 10, 2012, Senator Mary Landrieu hosted a public conference call, in which the Senator relayed information about her most recent trip to meet with Guatemalan officials to discuss the pending adoptions, and her plans to advocate for families in the future. On May 14, the State Department issued its official statement on the conference call and the current situation; you can read about it here.

In the meantime, I’ve posted two photos of my children, one taken in November 2007, and the other taken a few days ago, to demonstrate how long four-and-a-half years means in the life of a child.

After hearing Senator Landrieu deliver the news of how little progress has been made in the last four-plus years, the temptation for me would have been to run sobbing from the room, giving up all hope of resolution. Yet the families of the Guatemala 900 soldier on, believing that one day soon their cases will be finalized.

I just want to say, again, how much I admire the Guatemala 900, for their loyalty to the children they understandably consider their own, and for holding fast to their dreams of providing those children with permanent, loving families.


In Guatemala, 2 women sentenced in adoption case

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

From the Associated Press on October 25, 2011, Guatemala Court Sentences 2 in Adoption Case, an update on the contested adoption of Anyeli Liseth Hernandez Rodriguez:

A Guatemalan court sentenced two women to 16 and 21 years in prison on Monday for trafficking a stolen baby who was given for adoption to a U.S. family.

Special prosecutor Lorena Maldonado said the sentences handed down to a lawyer and the legal representative of an adoption agency will reinforce the birth mother’s bid to get her daughter returned from the United States.

“Even though the criminal proceedings are separate from the adoption process, these sentences help, and confirm the argument of the mother, Loyda Rodriguez, that this girl is her daughter and was stolen from in front of her house, and that there is a criminal structure in Guatemala that steals children,” said Maldonado.

Guatemalan authorities have asked that Anyeli, now named Karen Abigail, be removed from her adoptive family in Missouri and returned to Guatemala. Such an occurrence would be a first in any international adoption case. Adoptions from Guatemala to the United States closed in December 2007, with some 300+ cases still pending. Read the article here.


Four years later

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The end of this year will mark the four-year anniversary of the shutdown of adoptions from Guatemala. Hundreds of cases are still pending, and orphanages in Guatemala continue to function as permanent homes for thousands of children. This week, the U.S. State Department posted yet another alert about new regulations for pending cases (“CNA Processing Framework for U.S. Cases Under its Authority“), which you can read here, if you haven’t already.

Is there any positive news to report? This interview, “10 Questions with Kathleen Strottman, Executive Director of Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute,” strikes me as one bright spot of hope. In her answers, Ms. Strottman doesn’t sugar-coat the reasons why international adoption needed reform. At the same time, she reveals a deep understanding of the challenges facing children in Guatemala who legitimately need homes, and why and how governments need to focus their efforts to help them and their families.

Change will occur only when leaders of countries decide that it must. May that day arrive soon.


Mamalita called a “page-turner of a memoir” by Marin Independent Journal

Monday, February 7th, 2011

A wonderful article about Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, titled “The Power of an Adoptive Mother’s Love” and written by Paul Liberatore, appeared in the February 4, 2011 online edition of the Marin Independent Journal. I especially love that Libertore places adoption within the context of Guatemala’s history of political turmoil, alluding to the country’s 36-year civil war that ended in 1996.

O’Dwyer’s memoir is an inspiring tale of a woman’s fight for her child, but it’s also an indictment of the international adoption system. In Guatemala, a culture that was foreign to her and with only high school Spanish to rely on, she found herself up against the dark, seedy even dangerous forces that have infected adoption in a country that is still healing from decades of civil war and political unrest.

For the past few months, I’ve traveled around the country discussing Mamalita, and I’ve been struck by how many adoptive families describe an emotional roller-coaster ride similar to the one we rode during our adoption journey. Liberatore writes:

In the beginning, O’Dwyer had reason to be hopeful. “I’ve never given birth,” she writes, “but I know the exact moment when I became a mother: 10 a.m. Sept. 6, 2002.”

That was when she and her husband got their first loving look at their infant daughter in the lobby of a hotel in Guatemala City. Their joy was short lived. Getting the baby home would involve dealing with endless red tape, official corruption, attempted extortion, bribery and the gnawing fear that her baby could be taken from her at any time. Or worse.

“That was the biggest threat,” she remembered, “that someone would take the baby that you were now in love with, that you now regard as your child. And you have no idea what could happen to her.”

She recalls one terrifying instance when she and her husband and their daughter were triple locked in a sleazy lawyer’s office in a menacing section of Guatemala City.

“At that moment, we realized that no one in the world had any idea where we were,” she recalled. “We could just disappear off the face of the earth and who would know? What we were afraid of was that we never knew what could happen.”

Although the details of our adoption might be unique, the feelings of helplessness seem almost universal. As posted on this blog many times before, the families known as the Guatemala900 are still waiting for resolution of adoptions started before December 2007. During my interview with Libertore, he asked me, How exactly did we turn the tide? Why were we able to succeed? That’s a question my husband and I have asked ourselves many times. If I hadn’t moved to Antigua, if we hadn’t done what we did, would Olivia have remained in Guatemala even now? Here’s my answer:

“I believe the reason I was able to succeed was because the people in the bureaucracy saw that I was not going away, that I was dedicated to my daughter, that I was trying to be a good mother and that I was willing to do whatever they told me to do and that I was going to keep doing it until I succeeded,” she said. “They saw that I was sincere, and I think they respected that.”

For families who are waiting: You continue to press for resolution and advocate for your children. That has to count for a lot.

To the Marin Independent Journal: Thank you for helping to raise awareness about international adoption.