28 September 2007

The Letter I Used

For those of you who don't like to write or who don't have much time, here is the letter I sent to my elected officials. I also sent it to a few that I knew would likely be supportive of this particular issue. You can contact senators and representatives who are not your own, you know. :)

Anyway, do it right now. Go to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov, copy my letter in, and sign your name. That's all you have to do.

Thanks so much, my friends, and here is the letter:

Dear [name of US official]

You most likely know the common story repeated often in the press of U.S. citizens adopting from Guatemala: pay $30,000, wait three to five months, make one visit to Guatemala City, pick up a child, go home.

I know many families with a very different story to tell. They are stories of families that have given 8 months, 10 months, a year or more to the life of a child in faith that one day the adoption nightmare would be completed and they would take their children home. They have lived in Guatemala. They have scraped together every penny they’ve had. They have tested their marriage and strained their other children. For the life of one child in need of a home.

These cases have been impaired by internal Guatemalan politics that have nothing to do with the adoption itself. Civil servants have blocked judicial orders. Actions taken on advice of the attorney general’s office have been then denied by the same. Now, the backstage collusion or at least silent cooperation of our own Department of State with the Guatemalan presidential administration is threatening to terminate their adoptions and the adoptions of approximately 5,000 other families who have already begun to think of these children as their sons and daughters.

I am writing to alert you to this unjust, intolerable situation and to ask your help in changing the actions of our Department of State.

In short: Guatemalan President Berger’s administration has declared that all adoptions not completed by December 31, 2007, will be terminated. Allegedly, this move is because of Guatemala’s accession to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions. Compliance with the Hague is a slogan that has justified anything this administration wishes to do regarding adoption, whether that be authorizing the police to stop foster parents on the streets, declaring everyone involved in intercountry adoption to be members of organized crime, or conducting a raid on a legitimate adoption home.

Senor Berger has been assisted in his actions by our DOS and the U.S. press. The DOS has consistently taken a hands-off approach, even when the rights of U.S. citizens were being violated or, at least, abused. The press has so often and consistently told the story of quick adoptions, baby-buying, and corruption in the system that they have succeeded in shaping the public mind to believe that everyone associated with Guatemalan adoptions is either naïve or criminal.

I know that there are problems with Guatemalan adoptions. But the unseemly exchange of money about which I have heard most is not by “greedy private attorneys” but by the very officials charged with upholding the law. From what I can tell, the Hauge Conventions will do little other than to empower more corruption within government offices. I expect that the imposition of the December 31 deadline will only provide the fuel to escalate the forest fire of how often money is extorted from adopting parents.

The very plan to terminate adoptions not completed by December 31 is a case in point. Hague practices call on acceding countries to grandfather existing cases. The Berger administration is ignoring that rule. In fact, the Berger administration’s plan, which also contains NO PROVISION for caring for children who have been relinquished by their birth mothers but not yet adopted, violates the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, particularly articles 7, 9(a), 9(b), 20, 24, 33, 35, 44, and 46, which our DOS is charged by law with implementing in the U.S. and has promised to assist Guatemala with implementing.

Please work with your colleagues in the House and the Senate to make certain that the Department of State protects the rights of U.S. citizens and gives support to those involved in U.S.-authorized and approved adoption processes, who want nothing more or less than to bring their children home through adoption. This is a time for family-friendly action. They are relying on you, their elected representative, to take such action.

Thank you very much.

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