Hogar Listserve Updates
The Office of Children’s Issues provides regular updates to families and adoption service providers specifically affected by legal actions taken regarding hogares or child care centers for children in Guatemala awaiting international adoptions. If you received this e-mail in error and do not wish to receive future updates please notify AskCI@state.gov using the subject line: Remove My Name from the Guatemala Hogar List Serve. Similarly, if you have friends or colleagues who would like to receive these updates, ask them to contact AskCI@state.gov using the subject line: Add My Name to the Guatemala Hogar List Serve. These updates will focus only on recent developments; for a comprehensive review of intercountry adoptions in Guatemala, please consult the Guatemala section of the Office of Children’s Issues general website www.Adoption.State.Gov.
We remind everyone that the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala is not officially notified of investigations of individual hogares. Many of the investigations involve allegations of criminal wrongdoing. The United States Government does not have any official legal standing in these cases; thus we may not be informed and may also be officially barred from receiving routine information.
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 these cases 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 in 2009 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. The appeals Court, “Sala,” agreed with the decision of Judge Mena and sent the case back to her for the technical corrections. There was no appeal to the Sala’s decision.
Semillas de Amor
Various appeals and motions continue to delay the court hearings, underway since March 2009, to determine the eligibility for adoption of more than 50 children from Semillas de Amor (including some children already adopted and living in the United States). Most recently, on December 4, some prospective adoptive parents challenged PGN requests that some Semillas de Amor children be returned to extended families. If this plan had been accepted by the judge, it would have ended the adoption process for these prospective adoptive parents. One motion was recently decided in favor of the prospective adoptive parents, and several are still pending. Because all Semillas de Amor cases are under one court docket number, these appeals create a new timeline for all cases.
Earlier this year, the presiding family court judge who had been hearing these cases retired and a new judge was appointed. Once all the motions and appeals are decided, the proceedings will resume at the same place where they were stopped on the last day of closing arguments before the previous judge.
Santa Lucia de las Flores
The Embassy learned in 2009 that Asociacion Santa Lucia de las Flores Silvestres had been under investigation by the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office since 2008. 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 hogares until a judge decides on their cases. The case is still under investigation.
On August 13, 2009, the Embassy learned about an action by Guatemalan authorities involving 17 children from the Hogar Asociación Primavera, 16 of whom had been matched with U.S. adoptive families. We have since learned that the children were transferred to the following hogares: Casa Alegría, Casa Bernabé, and Amor del Niño. A police investigation continues, and the judge in Esquintla who approved many of the abandonment cases from Hogar Primavera is now under criminal investigation.
On December 16, the Guatemalan press reported that Susana Maria Luarca Saracho, a facilitator of international adoptions for Asociacion Primavera, was arrested by the Ministerio Publico on charges of irregular adoptions. She was later released on Q50,000 bail (just over $6,000) and is under house arrest.
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 other hogares awaiting a decision on their case.
Embassy and USCIS consultations with the Government of Guatemala
The following are brief updates on issues or related developments on pending adoption cases that are not under investigation or in the courts.
- Consular officers and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers in Guatemala City are in regular contact with Guatemalan officials about the current situation and to look for approaches that could streamline the process, 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. Senior State Department officials also regularly raise adoption issues with their Guatemalan counterparts.
- In light of allegations regarding the integrity of Guatemala’s former adoption process, Guatemalan 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 slow.
- The Consular Section continues to process visa applications as soon as the files are complete. From October through December 2009, the Embassy issued approximately 2 adoption visas per week, and in the first two months of 2010 only about one adoption visa per week
The Department would like to inform prospective adoptive parents of the new worldwide DNA procedures for its DNA testing. All second DNA tests for adoptions must be scheduled with the Consular Section. Information is available from the Consular Section at: firstname.lastname@example.org or
CNA’s announces new rules and procedures for Guatemala adoptions
On October 8, the CNA issued a statement telling parents they should not hire private attorneys or notaries to process their adoptions. The announcement applies only to cases that the CNA is processing at this time, i.e., pre-Convention abandonment cases or others that cannot be processed by the PGN.
- As of 2/28/10, USCIS Field Office Guatemala City had 433 active files. (Note: This total may include cases in which the petitioner has subsequently decided to abandon the case but did not inform USCIS.) Of these cases:
- 358 are pre-approved and pending action by the Government of Guatemala
- 75 are pending pre-approval or final decision by USCIS
- 9 are pending submission of 1st DNA results
- 66 are pending USCIS or other petitioner action
USCIS Field Office Guatemala City received final Guatemalan adoption documents for 13 cases during the period from December 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010.
USCIS Field Office Guatemala City also reminds prospective adoptive parents of the new 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: Guatemala.Adoptions@dhs.gov.
- In response to frequent questions regarding transition cases in Guatemala, USCIS developed the attached InfoSheet entitled Keeping Required USCIS Documents Valid for Transition Cases. Please note this InfoSheet is only applicable to intercountry adoption cases in Guatemala as outlined in the
CNA’s Two-year Limited Pilot Program
The Guatemalan National Council on Adoptions (CNA) – the Guatemalan Central Authority–has announced a limited two-year pilot program. One component would seek international placement for a small number of primarily older children, groups of siblings, and children with special needs. (See information in Spanish on the CNA’s website http://www.cna.gob.gt/portal/adopcionesinterncionales.html.) According to the CNA, this program will not affect Guatemala’s efforts to process already–pending Guatemalan adoptions. The pilot will identify a maximum of four receiving countries and one adoption service provider in each country to seek placements for these children.
In late February, the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (CI) submitted to the CNA the final information regarding potential U.S. participation in the proposed pilot program. According to a recent press article, a total of ten countries expressed interest. The CNA estimated the selection process would take several months. Even if selected, however, the United States must review the Pilot Program, once the final details are presented, to determine that it is in conformity with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention.
Prospective adoptive parents are cautioned not to make any new commitments regarding possible Guatemalan adoptions at this time. The United States
Central Authority has not determined that Guatemala’s intercountry adoption procedures are in compliance with the Hague Convention on Adoption.
Further, it is not known if the United States will be selected to participate, and if selected, which U.S. adoption service provider the CNA will identify to
handle placements. In addition, the CNA emphasizes strongly that the profile of children who would be placed under this pilot program contrasts sharply with the profile of most children previously adopted internationally from Guatemala.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.