Posted by: ourwildride | December 14, 2007

Guatemala Passes Ortega

Earlier this week Guatemala passed a new adoption law, generally known as the Orgeta bill. I’m not sure exactly what it means. But I’m pretty sure you can’t legislate morality – so time will tell if this is actually a law that supports the children or if it is a law that hangs the notaries out to dry and ignores the children.

It appears that all pending cases will be processed under existing laws as long as they are registered by ‘The Central Authority’ within 30 days. According to our agency, “The Central Authority will be an autonomous organization called the Consejo Nacional de Adopciones (CNA). The CNA will have a directive body made up of 1 representative each from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Supreme Court, and Social Welfare (Bienestar Social). Each organization must name its representative within 2 weeks of the effective date and write regulations with 60 days of the effective date.” Huh? I’ll let you know what all that means if I figure it out.

Bottom line – we think it is good news for T’s case.

In the midst of passing this law there has been another round of media frenzy and I can help but comment on a couple of things that are circulating in the AP articles. 

First of all this statement seen in several places: “Guatemalan adoptions are currently handled exclusively by notaries who work with birth mothers, determine if babies were surrendered willingly, hire foster mothers and handle all the paperwork.”

This is essentially correct and this is the biggest problem with the Guatemalan system. However, determining if babies were surrendered willingly is not the sole responsibility of the notary. Every relinquishment case is processed through a family court system where the birth mother is interviewed by court appointed social worker and must affirm their decision to relinquish. If relinquishment cases are approved by family court, then isn’t that a check in the existing system?

Likewise, a birthmother must submit to dna testing to prove she is the biological parent when relinquishing a child. The media has been reporting protests of women who allege that their children were stolen and then adopted internationally in baby trafficking schemes. This is an appalling allegation. Certainly if there are notaries behaving in such a way they should be punished to the full extent of the law and the children in question should be returned to their rightful families. I honestly don’t know if these allegations are true – but at the same time I look at our process and think, ‘how could that possibly be?’ And if the allegations are true then the problem lies with all levels and not just the notaries.

Finally, all cases are approved by the PGN. Why would they approve cases if there was a discrepancy in the paperwork or if there was any question as to the legitimacy of a given child’s case? This is a Guatemalan governmental office – not controlled by the notaries themselves. So, again, isn’t that a power check?

I’ve got more to say. It’s taken me all week to get this far and right now I need to chill.

Here is the AP article I quoted from above. Although I’ve seen that exact statement in other AP articles as well.

If you speak Spanish there was also an opinion in the Prensa Libre (Guatemalan newspaper) this week. Adios a las adopciones… Y lavense las manos de las consecuencias. That roughly translates to ‘Goodbye Adoptions & Wash Your Hands of the Consequences’. The opinion asserts that the new law will create a longer, more corrupt, more bureaucratic process that will result in fewer adoptions even though the number of children needing homes will not change.  

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