Thursday, March 01, 2007

About Guatemalan adoptions

OK, this is going to sound a bit like another commentary and I kinda promised myself, and perhaps any readers of this blog, that I would not get controversial. This is about the struggle and joy of bringing home our baby girl. Being able to keep you all updated with this technology has been a blessing - I've had several people approach me and say - congratulations on getting on the waiting list after having seen it on the blog! Your thoughts and prayers mean more than I can ever express.

So, I want to address some of the difficulties and concerns about foreign adoptions in general and Guatemalan adoption specifically. There are all kinds of issues surrounding domestic adoption as well, an addition so specific worries for each of the countries that allow Americans to adopt. I'm sure most of you don't pay as much attention to these things as I do, but Guatemalan adoptions have shown up in the news lately, and not totally in a positive light.

The Problems:
If you really want to know the specifics, start googling, but I can tell you I've read just about all of it and it does NOT in any way apply to the process we are going through. The various proposals and controversies MAY, however, impact our process at some point as they lead to closer scrutiny of international adoption cases. We, and our agency welcome the scrutiny because we KNOW we are doing everything legally and ethically. This is not always the case, and sadly, it's these cases that make the news and lead to political blather and even harsh legislation. Never will you see the headlines, "Happy family brought together from thousands of miles apart!" or "Well respected agency assists family and child to unite!"

I really want to stay positive, but think along with me about it as I describe the safeguards in place for our own process.

What are we paying for exactly?
Our agency provides a legal disclosure of their fees up front, and opens their books to us so we can see specifically the destination of those fees. They do not pay off birth mothers to "give up" their child. In fact, the birth mother is counseled extensively to ensure she understands and truly desires to make an adoption plan for her child. Some of the fees we pay will be used by Bethany for the care of Carmen (formula, medical care, diapers!) while she is with her foster family - similar to the stipend that the government provides for foster parents here in the States. Some of the fees are used for the processing of paperwork in both the US and Guatemala and for the services provided by the Bethany social workers in both countries as well. Just like any legal process, there are fees involved. Just like caring for any infant, there are quite a few expenses.

How does the agency know the child is really an orphan?
As you have read in much detail, the red head and I have already gone through quite a bit of screening to ensure that we are fit to be be parents and to bring a child into our home from another country. Similarly, the birth mother will end up signing off 3 separate times and submitting to a DNA test to match the baby before things can be finalized in Guatemala. Every time I think about that, I wonder how hard it must be for her. First to come to the realization that adoption might be the best thing, then to not legally be allowed to just get it over with in one shot. Let me tell you, birth mothers in this process are not abandoning their children, they truly are making plans for them to be raised by someone else.

What happens to CJ between referral and coming home?
Similarly, foster parents go through extensive screening and training by Bethany staff, ensuring that they understand their role and provide a safe and loving atmosphere while the legal process continues. It truly takes a dedicated and strong family to foster under any circumstances. They are responsible for so much, and I read over and over how emotional the "hand over" day can be for them. Many of the foster parents are empty nesters, or have teenage children still at home, so they are able to provide good temporary homes, but may not be able to adopt. The foster parent's role is to be honored and valued as well.

Why does it take so long?
Actually, I'm pretty sure the discussion above answers that question. CJ cannot simply be whisked away as soon as her birth mother initiates the adoption plan. 3 main things must happen that each take 1-3 months. 1) DNA test ensuring a match. 2) The Guatemalan government must review the case, interview the birth mother and sign off. 3) The US government reviews the case, provides a medical screening of Carmen, and signs off for the immigration. These are all legitimate and necessary safeguards that are necessary to protect the rights of all parties involved.

Alrighty then. I hope that wasn't too heavy, and I'm sorry if that seems to have come out of left field. There really has been some news and commentary lately, so it's been on my heart to share that with the blogosphere. Because I already feel a sort of connection with Guatemala and Central America, I actually have a lot more commentary in my head in relation to adoption legislation, US-Guatemalan relations(both current and historic), and government and private aid. E-mail me or ask me in person if really want t know - I'm leaving it out of the blog.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home