Posted by: ourwildride | August 3, 2007

Power of Attorney

We received word this week that “power of attorney has been legalized and protocolized”.  This means that the Guatemalan attorney with whom we are working now has the legal authority to work on our behalf for the duration of the process (or until POA is revoked).

People have been asking why there are so many unknowns related to the timeline with this process.  I’m going to try to explain at a high level how Guatemalan adoptions work and why they are so different from most other countries with which people are familiar (namely China & Eastern European countires).     

The main difference stems from the fact that there is no public child welfare nor general welfare system in place.  Why?  Well, that’s a topic for another time.  For the sake of this discussion just accept that fact.  The state provides NO funding for children in orphanages or those turned out into the street for their own survival.   Therefore, adoption from Guatemala is a private and not state managed system.  Compare this to a process like China (a state run system) where everyone who had a dossier logged in on May 1 gets their referral on Jan 1 and travels together 8 weeks later (purely hypothetical dates).  Guatemala is not first in, first out. 

We are working with a private attorney.  And while our agency has employees working in Guatemala, none of the attorneys are employees of our agency.  Our agency works only with attorneys they know to be reputable.  And it is the attorney who currently has legal custody of Toby.  The foster families are generally employees of the attorney and as such do not have ‘formal’ relationships with our agency.  However, our agency has told us that to their knowledge our lawyer only works with Bethany.  Furthermore, Toby’s foster mom has fostered for previous Bethany families.  

There are many fuzzy areas and unknowns for us in the above explaination.  There is much ‘good faith’ involved.  This is why it is so important to be working with a reputable agency. 

Back to the ‘estimated’ timelines.  Toby was ‘relinquished’ by his birthmother.  This is a legal term.  It means his birthmother made a plan for his care and then voluntarily relinquished his care to the attorney with the understanding that the attorney would pursue finding an adoptive family for him. 

Most other countries require that a child be designated as an ‘orphan’ via ‘abandonment’ (again a legal term) prior to being eligible for adoption.  So, while we had Toby’s referral within 5 weeks of his birth, his eligibility for adoption had not yet been established.  That is why we don’t know how long the process will take.  Nobody knows (not even the lawyer) how long it will take to get through the legal process of establishing his eligiblity for adoption.  This also means that at any point prior to the birthmother’s final signature on the child’s new birth certificate (issued just prior to traveling for pick-up), she may legally change her mind and halt the process.       

And so we wait.  In the midst of many unknowns.  Please pray that the DNA testing and family court interview would happen in the month of August.  Please pray for peace for Toby’s birthmother during this time. 

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