Friday, October 2, 2009

DOS Adoption Alert: Guatemala Update

Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

Notice for Guatemala “hogar” adoption cases

In Guatemala, a number of private child care facilities or “hogares” have traditionally provided care for children. Some of these hogars were closely associated with the intercountry adoption process and provided care specifically for children awaiting adoption. Allegations of adoption irregularities have prompted Guatemalan officials to conduct a wide-ranging investigation that has included many of these facilities. A number of hogars have been investigated to determine if they were properly licensed, if the operators had appropriate documentation for the children in their care, and if there were illegalities in the adoptions arranged by the hogars. Some of the hogars have been accused of baby stealing and selling. These investigations have had a direct impact on processing of adoptions for children destined for the United States. It should be noted that the Embassy is not informed when these investigations are undertaken and is not a party to the legal process. Therefore, the Embassy is not formally notified of the legal status or the outcome of the investigations or of any legal determinations that may result. The information below is a summary of what we have learned informally.

The United States recognizes the responsibility of the Guatemalan government to ensure the protection and wellbeing of its citizens, particularly of Guatemalan children who are its most vulnerable citizens. We have and will continue to urge the Guatemalan government to conduct its investigations as expeditiously as possible and to ensure that any decisions made are with the best interests of the children as the foremost criteria.

Casa Quivira

According to our records, adoptions petitions are still pending for 16 of the original 46 children who were taken into custody from Casa Quivira. For several of the cases, the Solicitor General’s Office (PGN) has identified irregularities and will have to be processed as abandonment cases through the CNA. The Guatemalan government has agreed that these cases (if all requirements have been complied with) can be processed as transition cases and will not have to wait for the new procedures to be drafted and implemented.

A decision was issued by Judge Mena earlier this year determining adoptability of the children including those already adopted and living in the United States. However, some errors were found in the final resolution and the Office of the Solicitor General (PGN) appealed the judge’s decision. An appeal hearing by the Sala on August 12 did not lead to a final resolution on the adoptability of the children. A legal representative for some of the parents urged a swift resolution to the cases.

Semillas de Amor

In March of this year, the Guatemala judiciary scheduled hearings for more than 50 Semillas de Amor cases to determine the eligibility of the children for adoption, including some who were already adopted and living in the United States. On the last day of closing arguments, a petition was filed with the Court of Appeals (Sala) asking the presiding judge to be removed.

On September 10, we learned that the Sala ruled against the removal request, allowing the original judge to resume her proceedings at the same place where they were stopped, which was the last day of closing arguments. This will likely result in a more prompt resolution of these cases, since the hearings do not have to start over again from the beginning. However, we cannot predict how soon the judge will announce her final decision.

Santa Lucia de las Flores

The Embassy has learned that Asociacion Santa Lucia de la Flores Silvestres has been under investigation by the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office since last year. The Embassy has been in contact with some of the prospective adoptive parents. We understand there were at least five children indentified for adoption by American citizens being cared for at this home. Many of the children taken from this orphanage are now living in various private hogars until a judge decides on their cases.

Asociacion Primavera

On August 13, the Embassy learned about an action by Guatemalan authorities involving 16 children from the hogar Asociacion Primavera. We have since learned that the children were transferred to the following private hogares: Casa Alegría, Casa Bernabé, and Amor del Niño. As a result of the investigation, the judge in Esquintla who approved the abandonment cases from Hogar Primavera is now under criminal indictment.

Rosalinda Rivera’s Hogar

On May 6, 2008 an action was taken against a hogar on 11 Avenida 7-51, zona 11, Quinta Samayoa, Guatemala City. Rosalinda Rivera was apprehended at this location and 9 infants were removed from her custody. Ms. Rivera did not provide the necessary paperwork to prove this was an authorized home. The children are all living in new hogars awaiting a decision on their case.

Released to public September 29, 2009

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

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