The Guatemala 900 Campaign is a SERIES OF ACTIONS that calls attention to the stagnation of the approximately 900 remaining Guatemalan adoptions that were begun before 2008.

The Guatemala 900 Campaign asks that the US and Guatemalan governments take immediate steps to deliver timely due process and transparency for the children who wait to join their future families. It is imperative that these cases do not languish while children wait in limbo, losing their childhood one day, month, and year at a time......

We strive to take steps that will ensure all grandfathered cases will be processed to completion by January 31, 2010.

• CAMBIO Campaign : Irma

Irma

Irma

Christine and Dave Nowland of Chicago have been in process with their adoption of beautiful Irma for over six years.   When adoptions in Guatemala were shutdown in 2008, Irma’s adoption was “grandfathered” to finish using the process under which it started.  Sadly for Irma and the Nowlands, like hundreds of others, the promise of finishing on that path has been cruelly denied.

The Nowlands quickly came to love Irma deeply.  Over the years they developed a relationship with her via visits to Guatemala and of course letters and phone calls.  They supported Irma from afar while they all dreamed of the day when they would live together under the same roof.  This went on for years as the Nowlands patiently waited for the process to play out, confident that the adoption would proceed since the biological mother had relinquished Irma soon after birth and made no attempt to change that decision.  Now, almost six years later, their dream of a life together has become uncertain in a very disturbing way.

For the past 2+ years there has been a definitive push by some Guatemalan officials to forcibly reunify children in pending adoptions with their biological relatives.  Reunification can be a wonderful solution for children who need a home, but forcing it by using threats and bribery to serve a political agenda is extremely troubling and not in the best interest of the children, biological relatives, or adoptive families.  Sadly this appears to be what Irma is newly fighting now. The Nowlands are now working to prevent her from being returned to a family that has chosen adoption for her year after year. Their story:

“Since September of 2008 when our pursuit of adopting now seven-year-old Irma was interrupted by an unexpected turn of events, we have been fighting for our daughter in the Guatemalan court system. Yet, some 6 ½ years and 25 trips later, Irma still resides in a Guatemala City orphanage, and the room we prepared for her in Antioch, IL remains empty.

Snuggle with Mom

Snuggle with Mom

Most recently, after successfully gaining recusal of the previous judge, we attended our first hearing in the case in almost two years in front of a newly appointed court, only to face still more obstacles.  We were legally acknowledged as a party to the adoptability process for Irma nearly four years ago, but then suddenly notified in a hearing on December 2, 2013, that we no longer were entitled to our legal status and would have no voice in the proceedings moving forward. As we and our attorney sat muted by the judge, the Guatemalan Procuraduria General de la Nacion (PGN) filed a report and recommendation for the reunification of Irma with her birth mother, who currently lives with her parents, all of whom were, after years, suddenly and unexpectedly at the hearing.

Laughing with Dad

Laughing with Dad

Prior to the hearing, upon Irma’s arrival at the courthouse, her eyes lit up when she saw us - the only people she has known as mommy and daddy. From May of 2007, when Irma was just five months old, until September of 2008 when she was removed from foster care and placed in “protective custody” in a series of government run orphanages, we visited our daughter every six to eight weeks, establishing a bond that would endure the next five years as delay after delay, and obstacle after obstacle kept us apart.

Our recent trip, despite the new challenges in court, was particularly heart-warming. Due to an order by the previous judge, we had not been allowed to see Irma in over 23 months. Afraid that Irma would have given up, or become distant as a result of our lengthy absence, imagine our surprise when Irma immediately took Christine’s hand, her face breaking into the shy little grin that appears every time we first see each other, as if no time had passed at all! For 30 minutes it was as if we never parted after her fifth birthday celebration in January of 2012.

Happiness….

Happiness….

Since December 2nd, we have filed a number of Amparos (legal protest) with the Appellate court, among other things objecting to our removal as parties to the case. A follow-up hearing, hastily scheduled by the judge for January 9th was also thwarted, but when our legal team appeared to ensure that the hearing in fact would not occur, the judge openly acknowledged that “the Americans will never get this child”, and further asserted “if the Amparos are successful, I know what I have to do”. Separately, even CNA has interfered, illegally advising the birth mother to try and see Irma at the orphanage to try and establish a bond with the child she never once tried to find over the first seven years of her life.

Happiness

Buoyed by the love and support of our family, and literally hundreds of friends, we have resolved to never give up on our daughter, and have vowed to fight on for Irma despite the challenges and obstacles that continue to plague our journey to become a family.”  — Dave and Christine Nowland

The Nowland Family

The Nowland Family

• Guatemala900 Response to UNICEF Letter

A UNICEF Letter to the Editor was recently published in the Wall St. Journal.   The following is Guatemala900’s response…..

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Guatemala’s Pending Adoptions : A Forsaken Generation

UNICEF’s “Follow the Law, but Put Children Ahead of Bureaucracy” letter warrants a response by the families and the children directly affected.  Our group, the Guatemala900, is a grass roots group of parents and has advocated for the best interest of the involved children since the adoption shutdown in 2007. We have had front row seats to the complete failure of the new & improved systems that were touted in 2007 by UNICEF, Guatemala, and the United States as a solution for Guatemalan children in need.  Over the years UNICEF was approached repeatedly to join us at the front lines in the advocacy for these children and in a December 2009 meeting they stated that they would not help the children with pending adoptions. In their letter, UNICEF implies that they have helped or in some way assisted with thousands of children finding their way to their adoptive families since the shutdown in 2007. In fact, UNICEF has not helped and continues to be instrumental in blocking children from safe, loving families.  These children have now become collateral damage and have been held hostage in UNICEF’s crusade for children to stay in their country of origin at virtually all costs.  Meanwhile thousands more children per year continue to pile up in overcrowded, underfunded Guatemalan orphanages, white-washed as “residential care” in UNICEF’s letter, waiting for the improved system to safely deliver them into the arms of a loving family.

Although a provision in the 2008 Guatemalan law assured that cases that were “in process” at the time of the law change would be allowed to complete under the pre-existing law, UNICEF undercut this provision, fighting every single case by supporting years of repeat investigations, added steps, new paperwork and attempted reunifications with often unwilling and sometimes, tragically, abusive biological family members. State Department numbers reveal the abrupt slowing of visas, from 4726 in 2007 down to only 7 in 2012. This reduction is not because the “pipeline” cases were processed, as UNICEF’s letter implied. It is instead because the new adoption system is not working and only but a few lucky children are finding their way into loving homes. Robbed of their RIGHT to a family, these children learned the hard way that instead of putting “children ahead of bureaucracy,” UNICEF put seemingly insurmountable bureaucracy between the children and their waiting parents.

The orphan dilemma is global and will not be a quick fix. International adoptions have plummeted by 63% in the past 10 years despite the fact that the staggering number of orphans worldwide has not. If we do not learn from Guatemala then we will be doomed to repeat this abuse. Greater effort should instead be concentrated towards keeping functioning systems running as safely as possible.  Systems should be improved to help prevent atrocities like kidnapping and child trafficking, but surely this should not be done at the cost of a generation of orphans who need a solution today.  Our tragic legacy will persist until recognized for what it truly is - a choice to forsake an entire generation of un-parented children.

• In the News : UNICEF’s Letter to the Editor

UNICEF recently composed a letter to the editor of the Wall St. Journal in response to Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s article on adoptions in Guatemala. The UNICEF letter is printed below, and you can also click here to read the letter on the Wall St. Journal’s website.

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Follow the Law, but Put Children Ahead of Bureaucracy

We did not “pressure” the government of Guatemala to stop all inter-country adoption because, for some children, inter-country adoption may be the best permanent solution.

Feb. 2, 2014 4:22 p.m. ET

Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s “Guatemala’s Stranded Orphans” (Americas, Jan. 27) raises important concerns regarding vulnerable children in Guatemala but mischaracterizes Unicef’s position on intercountry adoption.

In the case of adoption, the best interests of the child are paramount-and it is those interests Unicef advocates to protect. We did not “pressure” the government of Guatemala to stop all intercountry adoption because, for some children, intercountry adoption may be the best permanent solution. Assuming it is legal and safe, it is preferable to placement in institutional care.

Today in Guatemala, Unicef continues to advocate for children to be raised in nurturing environments and to urge the government to resolve the cases of children left in limbo since the passage of the 2007 law. Currently, fewer than 30 cases remain unresolved, compared with more than 3,000 cases pending six years ago. Unicef continues to support the government to reduce reliance on residential care centers and to establish strict standards of residential care when no other solution is available. And we will continue working to support families and strengthen child-protection systems in Guatemala and around the world for the same reason: It is in the best interests of children.

Susan Bissell

Chief of Child Protection
Unicef

• STILL Missing You…..3 YEARS LATER

The Guatemala900 released the following post and accompanying video 3 years ago today on February 14, 2011.  How tremendously sad that, as so many pending cases remain in limbo, all the words and images are still are completely relevant…… Today, we sadly watch the same video, miss the same faces, and again ask the country of Guatemala to help these innocent children join their forever families.

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Feb 14, 2011

A majority of the children that loving adoptive families wrote love letters to have spent another tragic year “in process.”  It will be *at least* the 4th year adoptive families have had to send heartbreaking valentines to the children in Guatemala. The children all continue to be caught in the endless spinning wheel of dehumanizing bureaucracy with still NO end in sight.

The Guatemala900 believes that these children are suffering bureaucratic sins to the highest degree. Their stolen childhood is no longer measured in days or months, but years. Who is to blame?  One can point fingers to almost all of the organizations who are responsible for processing the adoptions in Guatemala one way or another, especially for what they haven’t done - to value, create and uphold a timely process that tries to ensure that all children in process will reach a permanent, loving home.

• G900 Editorial - “Guatemala’s Pending Adoptions : A Forsaken Generation”

The following letter was submitted to the Wall Street Journal by the Guatemala900 :

Guatemala’s Pending Adoptions : A Forsaken Generation

The tragic predicament of  “Guatemala’s Stranded Orphans” as reported by Mary Anastasia O’Grady is more longstanding and abusive than most know.  The Guatemala900 has advocated for the best interest of the involved children and has had front row seats to the complete failure of the “new & improved” systems that were touted in 2007 by UNICEF, Guatemala, and the United States as an end-all, be-all solution for Guatemalan children in need These children have become collateral damage in UNICEFs crusade for children to stay in their country of origin at virtually all costs.  Meanwhile thousands of children per year continue to pile up in overcrowded, underfunded Guatemalan orphanages, waiting for the “improved” system to safely deliver them into the arms of a loving family.

Disturbing trends in the Guatemalan court system undermine UNICEF and Guatemala officials who claim to support international adoption. Significant time and money are spent seeking biological resources of children with pending adoptions – people that in some cases have not seen the child in over 6 years. If found, these people report intense pressure from Guatemalan officials and judges to state in court that they would like to take the children back, which is often enough to trigger a devastating “forced” reunification: the child loses contact with the adoptive family who has loved, supported, visited, and cared for the child and instead enters a family who are strangers in all but DNA.

The orphan dilemma is global and will not be a quick fix. If we do not learn from Guatemala then we will be doomed to repeat this abuse.  Instead it appears that Ethiopia, Russia, and South Korea are now next on the conveyer belt of countries to be shut down that has already included Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Rwanda. Greater effort should instead be concentrated towards keeping these functioning systems running as safely as possible.  Systems can and should be improved to help prevent atrocities like kidnapping and child trafficking, but surely this should not be done at the cost of a generation of orphans who need a solution immediately.

International adoptions have plummeted by 63% in the past 10 years despite the fact that the staggering number of orphans worldwide has not. Our tragic legacy will persist until we recognize this for what it truly is – a choice to forsake an entire generation of un-parented children.

– Guatemala900

• In the News : Wall Street Journal - “Guatemala’s Stranded Orphans”

THE AMERICAS
Guatemala’s Stranded Orphans
Unicef’s pressure to stop international adoptions has tragic results.

By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY
Jan. 26, 2014 5:27 p.m. ET
Guatemala City

As I reached down to pick up the one-year-old in the pink pants, purple socks and worn-out sweatshirt, I expected her to start crying. That’s what children normally do when a stranger gets too close. Instead she only stared at me and blinked.

A moment later her tiny mouth turned up in a smile. When I gently bounced her on my hip, she laughed. Six others, about the same age, peered up at me from their little chairs, eagerly awaiting a turn in my arms.

An orphanage run by Orthodox Christian nuns

An orphanage run by Orthodox Christian nuns

Susana (not her real name) has an oval face, wide dark eyes, pale olive skin and black hair. She is an orphan, abandoned at birth. But she is not unwanted. She could easily be placed with a loving family where she would receive the nurturing that every child deserves. Instead that birthright is being systematically denied by Guatemalan authorities.

Susana has lived at Hogar Luz de Maria, a private orphanage on the western side of the Guatemalan capital, since she was two days old. It’s a far better life than she would have in the overcrowded, state-run orphanage where there are tales of violence and neglect. But Hogar Luz de Maria survives on private donations and the budget is tight. Individual attention and affection are luxuries.

When it comes to the institutionalization of Susana and thousands of other Guatemalan orphans, Unicef-the U.N. agency that bills itself as a defender of children-has a lot to answer for. It claims that it does not oppose adoption. But in 2007, with the help of the U.S. State Department, Unicef successfully pressured Guatemala, as it had most other developing countries already, to stop the large outflow of abandoned children to families in the U.S.

To control things, the Guatemalan Congress created a single government-run bureaucracy called the National Adoptions Board (the CNA, by its Spanish initials) and private adoption-agencies were outlawed. The new law put a moratorium on international adoptions, which used to give homes to thousands of children every year.

I reported on the cruelty of this “reform” last year. Since then, things have only gotten worse.

Dinora Palacios, the woman who runs Hogar Luz de Maria, was caring for 10 children when she opened the orphanage in 2004. Two years ago the head count was 20. By last year, she had 30 children under her care. Now she has 45, and government officials keep bringing her more because the state orphanage is bursting at the seams.

One problem is that Guatemala does not have a strong adoption culture. So while the CNA boasts that babies are no longer being “exported,” it doesn’t talk about the tragedy of children piling up in institutions because they cannot be placed domestically. In April 2013, Unicef reported 5,800 warehoused children in the country. Some local adoption experts say there are many more.

Bureaucrats have spent a year looking for Susana’s birth mother. She has not been found, which means that the baby could eventually be classified as “adoptable.” But since she is no longer an infant, her odds of finding a home in Guatemala are already diminished. Now she faces family courts, which are notoriously backlogged, and the bureaucracy, which moves like a snail. Could-be parents are turned off by the emotional cost of dealing with bureaucratic uncertainties.

It can get even grimmer. If authorities think they’ve found the mother of an abandoned child, she must appear before a judge and submit to a DNA test. It is not uncommon for “suspects” to dodge the DNA test for many months, delaying the process further. If a test proves maternity, the mother must enroll in “therapy” designed to force her to reunify with the child.

Mothers who have endured state therapy report intense pressure, including threats of imprisonment and large doses of guilt. If the mother relents, or some family member can be convinced to take the child, there is one less adoption on Guatemala’s books for Unicef to see. It is another victory for the CNA.

There are endless unintended consequences from this twisted policy. A Guatemalan woman who feels she cannot handle motherhood is now more likely to abandon the baby rather than offer it up for adoption and face grueling psychological manipulation by the state. Many babies are left in hospitals. But there are also regular press reports of babies found on buses and in the trash.

It is true that before the law there were some unscrupulous lawyers in the Guatemalan adoption business. But law enforcement could have closed them down without quashing the chances of thousands of children to have a caring family.

Earlier this month, the director of the CNA told the Guatemalan daily La Hora that “all of this regulation is framed in the rights of the child” to live in the culture and speak the language of his or her birth region. Anyone with such a primitive understanding of the needs of children has no business overseeing their welfare.

Write to O’Grady@wsj.com

Click Here to watch related video.

• US Congress Expresses Concerns in Formal Letter to Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Members of the United States Congress today sent a letter to Luis Fernando Carrera Castro, the Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressing deep concern of the pending Guatemalan adoption cases.  The Members of Congress specifically expressed doubt over the September 2013 promise by the Minister that all pending adoptions would be complete by the end of 2013.

It was also divulged that in the Senate Appropiations Committee Bill for Fiscal Year 2014 that the legislation conditions US financial assistance for the Guatemalan armed forces on the swift resolution of all remaining inter-country adoption cases involving Guatemalan children and American prospective adoptive parents. If the bill becomes law, the funding cut will take place on January 15, 2014.

Full text of the letter follows :

screen-shot-2014-01-17-at-60046-pm

Luis Fernando Carrera Castro
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2 Avenida 4-17, Zona 10
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Dear Minister Carrera:

We want to thank the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its continued commitment to resolving the remaining inter-country adoption cases involving Guatemalan children and American prospective adoptive families. As you know, these cases have been pending for nearly six years, and as a result the children have languished in institutions without a
legal family. While we are aware of the September 2013 notice from the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington, indicating that Vice President Roxanna Baldetli is now directly involved in resolving all outstanding cases by the end of 2013, we are reminded that similar promises made on six prior occasions were not kept. In addition, recent events cause us to be concerned that these cases may not be completed by the projected December 31, 2013 deadline.

In the past year, approximately 25 children have been connected with families in the United States and 68 cases remain unresolved. Nearly half of the remaining cases are tied up in
various cohorts of the Guatemalan judicial system. Our constituents indicate that many of the court hearings necessary to transfer a case to the Consejo Nacional de Adopciones (CNA) are not scheduled to take place until 2014, or have not been scheduled at all. Other cases are stalled because of administrative backlog. For instance, 8 children on the Universal List were declared adoptable in a hearing, yet the courts have not officially referred the cases to the CNA. Even more puzzling is that a few American families indicate that their adoption case has once again been transferred to rural courts, despite the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s May 2013 decision to  divide all remaining cases amongst the same five judges in Guatemala City. We are also concerned about the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s recent decision to remove Judge Maribel Guzman Mena from her post at the Children and Adolescents Court, even though she was scheduled to review and issue decisions on many of the pending cases. These delays are very troubling and we urge the Government of Guatemala, and the Guatemalan judiciary in particular, to prioritize the completion of these cases for the benefit of the children.

These inter-country adoption cases have been stalled for an inordinate length of time. On July 25, 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported the Department of State,
Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2014. This legislation conditions U.S. assistance for the Guatemalan armed forces on the swift resolution of all remaining inter-country adoption cases involving Guatemalan children and American prospective adoptive parents. If this bill becomes law, the funding cut is to take effect on January 15, 2014. Recent amendments to legislation sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn also indicate that these outstanding cases have become a growing irritant in the bilateral relations between our two countries. It is important that this issue is resolved once and for all so we can move forward and address other matters of mutual interest.

Mr. Foreign Minister, the Guatemalan children and American adoptive parents involved in these transition cases have waited far too long and have suffered far too much. We know that you share our concern over the fate of these vulnerable children and look forward to your direct engagement in resolving this issue expeditiously.

Sincerely,

screen-shot-2014-01-17-at-63348-pm

screen-shot-2014-01-17-at-63414-pm1

screen-shot-2014-01-17-at-63429-pm

• G900 CALL TO ACTION : Congressional Letter to Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs

Dear Gutemala900 Families and Advocates,

Senators Landrieu and Blunt are co-sponsoring a letter from Congress to the Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs!   The more congressional signatures that are on the letter, the more weigh it will carry and the greater potential it has to have an effect.  PLEASE contact your Congressional representatives and ask them to participate in helping break this terrible cycle.

The letter closes next Wednesday, November 13h, at 12 pm.

If your Congressional representative is interested in signing, please have them Libby Whitbeck at Senator Landrieu’s office.  Any questions can also be emailed to Libby, whose email is Libby_Whitbeck@landrieu.senate.gov.

The text of the letter follows :

————————————————————————

November 6, 2013

Luis Fernando Carrera Castro
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dear Minister Carrera:

We want to thank the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its continued commitment to resolving the remaining inter-country adoption cases involving Guatemalan children and American prospective adoptive families. As you know, these cases have been pending for nearly six years, and as a result the children have languished in institutions without a legal family. While we are aware of the September 2013 notice from the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington, indicating that Vice President Roxanna Baldetti is now directly involved in resolving all outstanding cases by the end of 2013, we are reminded that similar promises made on six prior occasions were not kept. In addition, recent events cause us to be concerned that these cases may not be completed by the projected December 31, 2013 deadline.

In the past year, approximately 25 children have been connected with families in the United States and 68 cases remain unresolved. Nearly half of the remaining cases are tied up in various cohorts of the Guatemalan judicial system. Our constituents indicate that many of the court hearings necessary to transfer a case to the Consejo Nacional de Adopciones (CNA) are not scheduled to take place until 2014, or have not been scheduled at all. Other cases are stalled because of administrative backlog. For instance, 8 children on the Universal List were declared adoptable in a hearing, yet the courts have not officially referred the cases to the CNA. Even more puzzling is that a few American families indicate that their adoption case has once again been transferred to rural courts, despite the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s May 2013 decision to divide all remaining cases amongst the same five judges in Guatemala City. We are also concerned about the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s recent decision to remove Judge Mena from her post, even though she was scheduled to review and issue decisions on many of the pending cases. These delays are very troubling and we urge the Government of Guatemala, and the Guatemalan judiciary in particular, to prioritize the completion of these cases in the best interests of the children.

These inter-country adoption cases have been stalled for an inordinate length of time.   On July 25, 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2014. This legislation conditions U.S. assistance for the Guatemalan armed forces on the swift resolution of all remaining inter-country adoption cases involving Guatemalan children and American prospective adoptive parents.  If this bill becomes law, the funding cut is to take effect on January 15, 2014. Recent amendments to legislation sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn also indicate that these outstanding cases have become a growing irritant in the bilateral relations between our two countries.  It is important that this issue is resolved once and for all so we can move forward and address other matters of mutual interest.

Mr. Foreign Minister, the Guatemalan children and American adoptive parents involved in these transition cases have waited far too long and have suffered far too much.  We know that you share our concern over the fate of these vulnerable children and look forward to your direct engagement in resolving this issue expeditiously.

Sincerely,
Mary L. Landrieu                                                           Roy Blunt
U.S. Senator                                                                    U.S. Senator

• CAMBIO Campaign Update - Pablo is Granted Adoptability!

After a long, tortuous journey in the Guatemalan court system, Pablo was granted adaptability yesterday in his hearing!  This is a final decision of the courts that now paves the road for Pablo to complete his adoption and join his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Alicia White, at his new home in Kentucky!  Pablo’s case will now likely shift out of the courts and move to the CNA, which after taking years to startup now appears to be processing cases as many Guatemala900 children have successfully completed the CNA process and are now home with their adoptive families.  Their should be no major roadblocks once Pablo enters the CNA!

Here are further details on Pablo’s court hearing yesterday as provided by the White’s :

Court yesterday lasted two hours.  Pablo was asked by a psychologist to talk about his family.  He told the psychologist that he had two families, one here in Guatemala and one in Kentucky.  The PSY asked where he wanted to live and Pablo said he wanted to live in Kentucky.  He said that his Guatemala family will always be in his heart, but he is supposed to live in KY.  The judge asked our foster mother if she wanted to keep Pablo.  She said that she and her family love Pablo and that this will be very hard for them, but it would not be fair to keep him and it is not what he wants.  She told the judge that we have been fighting for more than six years and she is confident that Pablo is going to a loving home.  The judge agreed.  No one tried to dispute anything.  In fact, our foster mother said that even the PGN supported adoptability.  Then the judge asked PGN where Pablo should go until the process is complete.  Thank God, the PGN worker said he should return with his foster family.”

The significance of this step cannot be underestimated - Pablo has cleared a huge hurdle in his adoption and is now on his way to the finish line!

One huge step closer to being together!

One huge step closer to being together forever!

• Update from US Dept Of State : Bureau of Consular Affairs

image001-21

October 17, 2013

Update for Guatemala Stakeholders

In response to recent requests from prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) and adoption stakeholders, the Department of State and USCIS are providing general timeframes for the Guatemalan National Adoption Council (CNA) Acuerdo process, an updated numerical breakdown of the pending transition adoption cases, and other relevant updates.

General Timeframes for the CNA Acuerdo Process

The below timeframes reflect the average, shortest, and longest amount of time for a case to complete the Acuerdo process based on the 17 cases that have completed the process to date.  We do not yet have sufficient data to provide on the time from an adoptability determination untilAcuerdo referral, but plan to provide this data in the future.  The timeframes below measure the total time from:  1) CNA referral under theAcuerdo until Form I-600 approval, and 2) Submission of the PAP’s Acuerdo packet to CNA until Form I-600 approval.  After a case is referred under the Acuerdo, USCIS sends PAPs an Instruction Letter within one to two business days explaining what information the CNA is requesting them to submit in their packet so that the CNA can then begin its administrative process.  It can take PAPs an average of two months to submit their packets to USCIS, which is why we are providing both timeframes below.

Average          Shortest           Longest

Time from CNA referral under the
Acuerdo until Form I-600 Approval 244 days 163 days 342 days

Time from PAP Acuerdo packet submission
to CNA until Form I-600 Approval
187 days          110 days          276 days

image002

Updated Numerical Breakdown of the Pending Transition Adoption Cases

The information below updates the numbers provided in the July 2013 listserv notice and reflects the status of cases as of today, October 16, 2013.  The numbers change often, so please contact USCIS at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City at GuatemalaAdoptions@uscis.dhs.gov and the Immigrant Visa Unit at AdoptGuatemala@state.gov if you have specific questions about your pending case.

· Total number on Universal List:  68 cases

¨ 20 pending conclusion under CNA Acuerdo* Process
¨ 5 post adoptability pending referral under the CNA Acuerdo Process
¨ 8 post adoptability pending court notification of adoptability to CNA
¨ 9 pending conclusion under PGN Notarial Process
¨ 26 pending other action:
· 7 family resource found, court case ongoing
· 12 no family resource found, court case ongoing
· 3 cases with appeals court
· 1 received official notification of reunite
· 1 pre-Acuerdo CNA case awaiting PAPs submission of final documents to USCIS
· 2 cases no protection measures process initiated

· Total CNA Acuerdo Cases referred to United States since August 2011:  40 cases
¨ 20 pending conclusion of the Acuerdo process:
· 1 completed family court and currently with RENAP
· 4 received CNA final approval and are with family court
· 6 in the CNA administrative process:
· 4 Empathy (bonding period) scheduled
· 1 Received CNA notification to schedule empathy
· 1 PAP is supporting foster parent adoption; pending CNA decision
· 9 awaiting PAPs submission of packet
¨ 3 closed at PAPs’ request or denied due to PAP’s lack of interest
¨ 17 completed; children in United States

· Total Notarial Cases since August 2012: 19 cases
¨ 9 pending completion under the Notarial Process
¨ 10 completed; children in United States

* Issuance of a decree of adoptability by a Guatemalan judge makes the case eligible to proceed toward adoption under the Acuerdo process.

** A transition case will only go through the notarial process if there are no anomalies and it is ordered by the judge.  A case is unable to proceed toward adoption under the notarial process if the PGN investigation yields any evidence of anomalies in the case, such as documentary fraud.  Such cases go to a Guatemalan court for a possible reunification order or a finding of adoptability.  If the court makes a finding of adoptability, the case will proceed to the CNA for processing under the Acuerdo.

Other Relevant Updates

The Department of State and USCIS have recently learned that the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington, D.C. issued a statement regarding a task force led by the Guatemalan Vice President’s office.  In meetings with Embassy representatives, Guatemala’s office of the Vice President pledged to engage the various Guatemalan government institutions with the goal of advancing cases that are under the executive branch’s jurisdiction.  To further this aim, the Vice President’s office is participating in ongoing regular senior overview meetings.  We will provide additional updates as we learn more information about the Vice President’s efforts to resolve the pending cases.

In addition, the Department of State and USCIS will be hosting another joint stakeholder call later this month.  Exact details and invitation to follow in a separate email.

If you have received this email in error and do not wish to receive future updates please notify AskCI@state.gov using the subject “Remove my name from the Guatemala listserv.”