Friday, March 23, 2007
Can you help?
Missing Guatemala City Signature: Searching Out Others
Thank you for your supportive comments. Unfortunately, this is not a situation for which we can contact US politicians or government bodies for assistance. It concerns a Guatemala citizen's document -- issued by a municipality in Guatemala -- that is not being accepted by a Guatemalan government body. It could even be counterproductive to attempt to bring US parties into the mix.
However, there is something you can do to help if you so wish. If you are ADOPTING FROM GUATEMALA and you are with an agency or facilitator that is not HAPS or For This Child, PLEASE EMAIL THE FOLLOWING LETTER TO YOUR AGENCY. If you are NOT ADOPTING but you have a blog, please POST THIS REQUEST ON YOUR BLOG.
If your agency has a case in process that contains a Guatemala City cedula or birth-certificate that is missing the Civil Registry signature (usually the mayor's signature), we have important information to share.
According to PGN, if your case has not yet received a previo for the missing signature, it will. The letter from the Civil Registry and/or the Mayor of Guatemala City is no longer sufficient to satisfy the previo. The four PGN assessors have made a joint decision that these unsigned documents MUST be signed. However, at this time there is NO ONE in Guatemala City with the authority to sign these documents!
We are Cheri xxxxxx and Erin xxxxxx, in the process of adopting Guatemalan babies through For This Child and HAPS, respectively. After many months working on this issue separately, our agencies are now collaborating to find a solution. They have discussed this with the PGN reviewers, Barrios, and the Mayor of GC directly. The conclusion is that the mayor does NOT have the authority to sign a document issued under another mayor's tenure. Therefore, we must file an acta with a different branch of PGN that will require the Civil Registry of GC to 1) designate and authorize a person to sign these documents, and 2) order that person to do so.
The PGN reviewer on Erin's case currently has 12 cases that have been kicked out for this reason. If all 8 reviewers have a similar number of cases, that means 80-100 cases are in this same predicament! We have been advised to find as many of these other cases as possible so that we can ALL file the acta together.
We have strength in numbers.If you have, or know of, a case that contains a Guatemala City cedula or birth-certificate that is missing the Civil Registry signature, please contact:
Karla Ordonez, with HAPS: cell 5555-3610, office 2332-9040 Traci Orr, with For This Child: US #214-370-8436, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your time,
Cheri and Erin
Friday, March 16, 2007
Things that make me go "hmmmmmm"
I’ve really wanted to comment on the recent news that Angelina Jolie has added a new addition to her family. The number of threads regarding this information have been staggering to me. There are many “that’s not fair” posts about how fast the adoption was completed. Supporters argue she started the process early last year, that she adopted an older child who was paper ready, etc. Detractors generally argue simply that she bought off Vietnamese officials and that she’s receiving preferential treatment because of her celebrity. On many of the adoption forums I’ve lurked, the majority of adoptive parents have commented a) why does it matter anyway because at least the child is out of the orphanage and b) who cares if money / fame brought the boy home early because if they had the money/fame/resources, they would have given “whatever it took” to bring their child home sooner.
My first thought was to agree because obviously I’ve wanted my son home with me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Having to wait, month after month, for the process to be completed has been difficult. There have been times when I thought I would have “done anything” to bring him home. After reading so many threads / posts, it has left me wondering, would I? Honestly, would I be willing to do “whatever it took.”
Vietnam was closed to adoptions from U.S. citizens due to allegations of serious corruption in the system. It took several years for the U.S. and Vietnam to work out a Memo of Understanding to allow adoptions to proceed again. Families were caught in the crossfire and, I believe, some families never brought their children home. Now, the country has “reopened” and agencies must be licensed by Vietnam to complete adoptions. I definitely can’t speak to whether this new system is better or worse than before because I don’t have first-hand knowledge and haven’t done enough research. However, I feel strongly that any processes in place need to be followed to the letter to ensure this “transparency” everyone talks about wanting in international adoptions actually occurs.
Back to Ms. Jolie: I’ve read several parents’ blogs who adopted children born in Vietnam. These parents’ anger stems from the idea that they had to wait two, three or more weeks for all of their paperwork to be processed, G and R ceremony, embassy paperwork, visa, etc. I perused the State Department website about the process for Vietnam adoptions. I didn’t really come away with a clear understanding of how long it “should” take. I only have the information I read, time and time again, from parents. Their trips to finalize the adoption of their child in Vietnam surely didn’t go as quickly as Angelina’s trip. Most of these parents were "in country" at least two-three weeks attempting to complete the process.
Now I understand that everything provided by the media shouldn’t be accepted as truth. I get that. I’m simply throwing out this food for thought: Let’s all assume that Ms. Jolie went through the exact same processes as any other U.S. citizen with regard to home study, I-600A, wait for referral, etc. Fine. Now all the paper-ready parents and paper-ready children are matched. Everyone has made their travel plans and has arrived in country on the same date. Great – everyone is at the same exact place in the process, right?. So how is it that the Jolie adoption is completed in a few days and the other families are waiting weeks? This is where I have to ask those saying she’s not receiving preferential treatment to explain the difference in the process. If anything, wouldn’t she have the resources to stay in country for months if she chose to? Wouldn’t it make more sense to expedite the case of Ms. Random Parent because she DOESN’T have the resources to stay in country for an extended period of time? I just don’t get it. Maybe I’ve missed something here and those who’ve adopted from Vietnam can explain it to me. I’m not arguing whether the adoption of this child is a good thing because I think it is. I’m simply asking why the finalization process in country took a CONSIDERABLY shorter time for AJ’s adoption than it appears to take for all other U.S. adoptive parents.
[I feel the need to add a small disclaimer that I happen to ADORE Angelina. I applaud her work as a Goodwill Ambassador. From what we ARE privy to in the media and IF you believe it, she appears to be a devoted mother. When I’ve heard her speak I come away with a feeling that she is a genuine human being. This is NOT a bash toward her as a person. My questions about her adoption are PROCESS questions.]
Back to doing “whatever it takes:” Adoptive parents get their panties in a wad when others criticize their adopting internationally. We freak out when people mention the POSSIBILITY of corruption, buying children, bribes, forged documents, coercion of birthmothers, etc. Yet in the same breath we make comments like “I’d do anything to bring him home.” Really? So handing an orphanage director an extra $5000 to bring your son is okay because it’s YOUR son. If I do it, it’s corrupt? Yeah, not so much. How can we expect government officials to follow outlined procedures if we take the attitude that “as long as the child gets out of the orphanage” then the behavior doesn’t matter? Of course it matters. If the behavior is wrong in the light of day, it’s wrong at night. Are we as adoptive parents helping to feed the fury when we turn a blind eye to those employing corrupt practices? I’d rather face the problem head on and make changes than bury my head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening.
Monday, March 05, 2007
So, back to the good news: After submitting the “missing” paperwork, we waited over the President's Day holiday expecting to receive our precious pink slip the week of the 21st. Nothing arrived and I emailed the embassy asking for an update. OH SILLY GIRL. I can’t believe I didn’t bother to read my own history to know that if you ask questions, you won’t like the answers. I got a quick reply – another I-72!! It seems that they didn’t like the form our attorney submitted. Our original signatures didn’t make it original enough. So another form had to be completed and over-nighted to GC. We were finally resubmitted and held our breath. Surprisingly, two days later, we received PINK!
Now, the irony is that apparently the embassy is conducting training or spring cleaning or taking some time to reorganize their Rolodexes instead of conducting visa interviews during the month of March. So we are forced to wait another three weeks before we can go get our son. Our appointment is at the end of March. Another month will go by that we can’t get back. In the end, I’m just grateful to have the pink slip. I’ve been watching others who are now being relegated to some time in April for their visa appointments. Even worse, for those still further back in the process, more delays can be expected on the Guatemala side with Holy Week being early this year. There are so many parents absolutely terrified with the goings-on of the VP of Guatemala and HRH Wendy de Berger and the whole Protocolo. My thoughts are with all those families that are faced with the prospect of not bringing their children home. Truly, I can’t imagine what you’re feeling.
So now, I am packing like crazy and planning the pick up trip. I’m also trying to get my affairs in order at work. Suffice it to say that I’m pretty much the only person at my site that does my job. If I’m not there, it doesn’t get done. I’d like to say that I will be taking off my 12 guaranteed weeks. Alas, my employer is being an ass. Personnel is saying that I’m only allowed to use my personal leave and not my medical leave. When I questioned this, I was told maternity leave requests are generally granted for the entire 12 weeks because the mother is able to use her medical leave as she is recovering from a medical event. When medical runs out, she can use her personal leave – all up to the FMLA allowed 12 weeks. For me, since there’s no medical issue, I can only use my personal leave. (I should point out that I have over 550 hours of medical leave and had planned to use most of it for this. Personal leave? I’ve got less that half of that.) So, I can exhaust my personal leave then beg for leave without pay, or just suck it up and go back to work early. Thankfully, Mr. Beans (my beloved husband) is almost through with law school. So, I’ll most likely be off work until May, and then beg for a flexible schedule until his graduation. My immediate supervisor has said she is willing to work with me on a flexible schedule. Hopefully I can take her word for it. We shall see.
Speaking of Mr. Beans, he went for a job interview out of state… hell, out of our region of the country! The interview went really well. He was told they would make a decision by the middle of the month. I don’t want to say where until we know for sure whether we’re going or not. We’ve talked about it for awhile now and have pretty much decided if they offer him a position, we’re going. So, cross your fingers! We are very excited about the idea of moving because we’re both pretty sick of living in the Bible Belt. I was born and pretty much raised in the South. It’s NOT what it’s cracked up to be. I know when I travel I find myself defending it a lot because I know what a bad rap it gets. But in the end. I’m not so sure it’s worth defending anymore. Taking a dip in the gene pool CAN be refreshing.
More to come…..