Friday, October 16, 2009

UPDATE to DOS Adoption Alert Guatemala

On October 15, 2009, the DOS published the following Addendum/Update to their Adoption Alert on Guatemala:

Notice for Guatemala “Other Pending” Adoption Cases

The following are brief updates on issues or related developments on pending non-hogar adoption cases.

*The Embassy continues to approve an average of 4-6 visa applications of completed adoption cases per week. Consular officers and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Guatemala City have been in regular contact with Guatemalan officials about the current situation and to look for approaches that could reduce unnecessary requirements, coordinate the flow of information to adoptive families, and permit all adoptions to move forward. In some instances, the Ambassador has been directly involved in discussions with Guatemalan officials on the adoption situation in Guatemala.
*In a recent meeting with the new head of the Procuradoría General de la Nación (PGN), the Consul General was informed that the PGN will establish a new unit to work exclusively on adoptions and to make sure that decisions are reached quickly. This new unit began working September 21.
*Consular and USCIS officers report that investigations continue, both on individual adoption cases and on the hogars.
*In light of allegations regarding the integrity of Guatemala’s former adoption process, Government authorities are making a concerted effort to confirm all aspects of every case. Because of the large number of investigations, progress overall is likely to be limited.
*The Embassy’s USCIS Field Office currently has 597* active cases, of which:
437 are pre-approved and pending action by the Government of Guatemala
160 are pending pre-approval by USCIS
45 are pending submission of 1st DNA results
15 are pending USCIS or other petitioner action
*Note: This total may include cases in which the petitioner has subsequently decided to abandon the case but did not inform USCIS.
* USCIS Field Office Guatemala City received final Guatemalan adoption documents for 10 cases during the period from August 1 to September 1, 2009.
* USCIS Field Office Guatemala City also reminds prospective adoptive parents of the new DNA procedures for the 1st DNA test required in relinquishment cases. All 1st DNA appointments must be scheduled by USCIS. For more information or to schedule an appointment for DNA collection, please contact USCIS at:
* The Department of State received a letter signed by 52 Members of Congress regarding transition adoption cases that are still pending Guatemala. The Department does not generally release the contents of congressional correspondence. We will be responding to that letter and reviewing it once again to see if there are any new or additional actions that could be taken to encourage a resolution of the remaining transition cases.

In The News

The following are summaries of Guatemalan newspaper articles (often in Spanish) that relate to adoption issues. By citing these articles we are not endorsing the content or information; we only wish to provide a sampling of information currently being published.

On September 1, an Oaxaca, Mexico, newspaper reported that police officers in southern Mexico arrested two people who confessed to attempting to smuggle a baby into the United States to sell. According to the report, the child, born in Guatemala on June 20, had been taken from a nurse who charged $1,000.

On September 2, two of Guatemala’s leading newspapers reported on the letter from 52 Members of Congress to Secretary of State Clinton. According to the articles, the letter highlighted that Guatemalan adoptions begun in good faith by constituents of these Members had now been delayed as much as 18 months. According to the news stories, the letter requested that an effort be made to reach agreement on a standardized process to resolve these cases; it also requested that officials in the Department of State keep adoptive families informed of the efforts they are making.

September 8, 10. The Guatemalan daily newspaper Prensa Libre carried two articles covering the International Conference on Adoptions being held September 7 and 8 in Antigua, Guatemala. According to the article, experts at the conference believe Guatemala’s recent law on adoptions and its accession to the Hague Convention on adoptions puts in place a transparent and responsible process for adoptions. In the opinion of speakers at the conference, “There has been a clear evolution” and Guatemala has succeeded in removing itself from the list of countries that “improperly” export children.

The website deals with an international appeal for a hunger strike (September 1-3) requesting that the adoptions of three Guatemalan children be voided and that the children, now living in the United States, be returned to their Guatemalan families from whom they were allegedly taken.

Until there is greater clarity on the adoption process in Guatemala, the Office of Children’s Issues will be providing monthly updates.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

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