Thursday, December 2, 2010

Guatemala, Russia and Haiti Adoption Updates

UN finds irregularities in Guatemalan adoptions

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 1, 2010; 10:46 PM 
GUATEMALA CITY -- A United Nations anti-corruption commission has found irregularities in Guatemala's adoption program despite government efforts to prevent fraudulent adoptions.

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala says in a report it found cases where Guatemalan children were given to foreigners who were listed as their "foster parents" to circumvent a ban on international adoptions.

The commission didn't say how many such cases occurred among the 393 children adopted since 2008, when Guatemala enacted a more stringent adoption law.

Authorities suspended adoptions in 2007 after discovering evidence some babies had been stolen or had fake birth certificates. With the new law, the ban on foreign adoptions was lifted in June.


Russian, U.S. Officials to Meet on Adoption Rules Following Return of Boy

Russian and U.S. officials will meet next week in Washington to complete talks on more stringent adoption regulations with a view to signing a treaty in the “near future,” State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said.

“We expect the process will be concluded” on Dec. 8, though “the formal agreement will not be signed,” Crowley told reporters. Officials will be “reviewing the final text so there can be a signing in the near future.”

The last round of discussions on adding safeguards to the adoption process was triggered by the case in June of a 7-year- old boy who was sent back alone to Moscow by his adoptive American mother. President Dmitry Medvedev called it a “monstrous” act and said adoptions could be banned.

Adoptions from Russia accounted for more than 10 percent of the U.S. total of 12,753 children adopted from other countries in 2009, according to statistics supplied by the State Department.

Adoption allowed for kids who survived Haiti quake

After months of uncertainty, the way has been cleared for U.S. families to adopt 12 Haitian children who've been living at a Roman Catholic institution near Pittsburgh since a chaotic airlift that followed the devastating earthquake in January.

The Haitian government had sent a letter formally approving the adoptions, State Department spokeswoman Rosemary Macray said Wednesday, and the children will be matched with U.S. families over the coming weeks.

Unlike some 1,100 other children flown out of Haiti to the U.S. after the quake, the children at the Holy Family Institute in Emsworth, Pa., were not part of the adoption process prior to the disaster and, according to some legal experts, shouldn't have been eligible for the emergency program. Most of them had birth parents still living.

However, Macray said those parents, who were interviewed by U.S. officials, have formally relinquished custody.

Since their arrival in Pittsburgh on Jan. 19, the children - ranging in age from almost 2 to 13 - have been staying at the Holy Family Institute.

Preliminary steps were taken to match the children with adoptive families, and those matches will be reviewed to ensure their viability, said the institute's president, Sister Linda Yankoski. She said the four pairs of siblings among the 12 children would be kept together.

Yankoski said the prospective adoptive families are far-flung - from Oregon, Colorado and Illinois, for example. They are not being identified at this stage, and she said it's possible some of the matches could be changed.

"We have to come up with a thoughtful transition plan for these children," she said, noting that some of the children didn't understand the concept of adoption and had grown used to living with each other.

"We're going to go at the pace of the child," she said. "We're going to follow their cues."

Initially, the Haitian children were kept largely apart from the American children at Holy Family, but this fall the older ones attended public school.

Other highlights of their stay were their first experiences with hot showers and with snow.
"No one had to teach them to make a snowball and throw it - that came naturally," Yankoski said.
She said the children had spoken by phone with their families in Haiti and were expected to remain in contact with them after their adoptions.

"It's been a privilege to be of service to these children," Yankoski said. "We're thrilled that we will be able work with them through this step to having a family they can call their own."

The children were part of an airlift of 54 youths from the Bresma orphanage in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, where two Pittsburgh-area sisters, Jamie and Alison McMutrie, had been volunteering for years. The sisters' urgent post-quake pleas for help were heeded - participants in the Jan. 19 airlift included Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.


Klobuchar international adoption bill signed

A bill championed by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota allowing American parents to adopt foreign sibling has been signed into law.

“Parents from Minnesota and across the nation don’t have to worry any more about splitting up families when adopting internationally,” Klobuchar said. “They also don’t have to risk exposing their adoptive children to unsafe immunizations in foreign countries. A child’s health and family stability are critical to ensuring successful adoptions, and this new law will allow families to keep their adopted children together, healthy and safe.”

Existing law make children 16 and older ineligible for international adoption, which can split up brothers and sisters.

Minnesota leads the country in international adoption rates.

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