Guatemala Adoption Alert
Update on Intercountry Adoptions in Guatemala (May 28, 2013)
Joint USCIS-State Delegation to Guatemala
During the week of May 13, 2013, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs traveled with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas to Guatemala for meetings with Guatemalan government officials of agencies directly involved in adoptions, including the Procuraduría General de la Nación (PGN) and the Guatemalan National Council on Adoption (CNA). They also met with members of the Supreme Court, the Ministerio Publico (MP), the Ministry of Social Welfare, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Their visit provided an important opportunity to meet recently-appointed Guatemalan officials and emphasize that the timely and transparent resolution of all the remaining pending transition adoption cases in the best interests of the children remains a top priority for the United States.
The meetings were also an opportunity to review the progress on completion of these remaining cases following recent administrative and personnel changes in the Government of Guatemala. In the last several months, the Guatemalan government has accelerated its completion of cases, and fewer than 100 pending transition adoption cases are awaiting resolution as of the date of this notice. Twenty-nine cases have moved to CNA’s Acuerdo process, and nine cases have concluded with the immigration of the adopted children to the United States with their U.S. citizen parent(s). Guatemala also completed an additional four cases under the notarial process and these children have joined their families in the United States. Some cases have concluded with the child’s reunification with a biological family member in Guatemala.
Officials at the PGN, which has the authority to complete the investigations in the pending cases, report having 52 cases in various stages of investigation. The PGN has received renewed funding for its investigators, allowing them to continue their work with a goal of completing these investigations within two months. Once it has completed an investigation, PGN will request a hearing with a Guatemalan court judge for a determination of the child’s adoptability , or reunification with biological or extended family. It is also possible, though not likely, that the judge will order the case to conclude via the notarial process. According to the Guatemalan Supreme Court, there currently are no backlogs at the courts in Guatemala City, so that legal process should proceed without delays. The cases with court decrees of adoptability will go to the CNA for evaluation of their eligibility for completion of the adoptions through the Acuerdo process.
The USCIS and Consular staff of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City are in constant communication with the Guatemalan officials responsible for adoption procedures. U.S. Embassy staff monitor and promote Guatemalan progress in resolving the remaining cases by attending the semi-weekly meetings of the technical group where these authorities work through the cases. Prospective adoptive parents may contact USCIS directly at Guatemala.email@example.com, and the Immigrant Visa Unit of the Consular Section directly at AdoptGuatemala@state.gov, in order to inquire about the status of individual adoption cases.
Notice: Update on Intercountry Adoptions in Guatemala (December 11, 2012)
The following is an update on issues and developments in Guatemalan adoptions. We also take this opportunity to remind adopting parents and others that the U.S. government is not a party to these pending adoption cases and cannot represent the interests of parties in private legal matters. Thus, we may not be informed of or be entitled to receive information pertaining to proceedings in specific cases.
Joint USCIS-State Delegation to Guatemala October 23-25
From October 23-25, a joint USCIS-Department of State delegation traveled to Guatemala to meet with government officials from the Ministerio Publico (MP), the Procuraduría General de la Nación (PGN), the Guatemalan National Council on Adoption (CNA),and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In case-by-case discussions of the “Universal List” of all known pending grandfathered adoptions of Guatemalan children by U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents, the visiting delegation encouraged Guatemalan officials to quicken resolution of all these cases in the best interests of the children, and to complete those cases while the PGN still has additional investigators funded through the end of 2012.
During these discussions, Guatemalan authorities reiterated that some of the notario cases may not be able to proceed under the notario process when the investigation reveals that the case does not fall within the parameters of the relevant law. However, if a judge makes a finding of adoptability for the child, such a case may be considered eligible under the CNA’s acuerdo process. USCIS and the Department of State continue to work closely with Guatemalan authorities to bring pending cases to resolution.
CNA Acuerdo Update
Since January 2012, the CNA has referred 17 cases to the U.S. Embassy for final adoption processing as acuerdo cases, and has identified others that it considered eligible to move through the acuerdo process.
Note: Only the CNA can determine whether cases are eligible under the CNA Acuerdo. The Office of Children’s Issues, USCIS, and the U.S. Embassy, if informed in a specific case, can only comment on whether or not the CNA has initiated the case, and if so, what documents the CNA requires. The Office of Children’s Issues can also provide general information on the CNA process.
The PGN and CNA have informed the U.S. Embassy of approximately 85 children who are no longer available for adoption because the child was either reunited with the biological family or placed in domestic adoption. Upon receiving written confirmation of this from the Guatemalan government, USCIS informed the U.S. families associated with those cases.
From May 1, 2012, until today, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala has issued five IR-3 adoption visas. These visa statistics represent only the cases which have completed all processing steps with Guatemalan authorities, USCIS Guatemala, and the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy.
Notice: Guatemala Update (May 14, 2012)
This Adoption Notice is a follow up to the Notice of December 12, 2011.
In March 2012, after months of meetings to gather information, U.S. officials presented a list of known pending cases to Guatemalan officials. This list is a compellation of USCIS records of all properly grandfathered Form I-600A applications and pending Form I-600s filed by U.S. citizens on behalf of Guatemalan children, and lists provided by each of the adoption processing entities in Guatemala. This “Universal List” reflects all known Guatemalan records of pending cases involving U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents. The goal is a consistent and universally agreed upon list of cases for both U.S. and Guatemalan officials to work from, allowing officials to focus on the necessary steps to bring each of the transition cases to resolution. The initial response has been positive, with all Guatemalan agencies agreeing to work from this Universal List.
Senator Mary Landrieu and Representative Karen Bass Led Delegation to Guatemala April 10-14, 2012
Senator Mary Landrieu and Representative Karen Bass led a congressional delegation to Guatemala April 10 -14, 2012. USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas traveled with the delegation along with the Office of Children’s Issues Guatemala Adoption Officer. The delegation attended meetings with President Otto Perez Molina, Vice President Roxana Baldetti, Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros, the Attorney General, the Ministerio Publico (MP), the Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG), the Procuraduría General de la Nación (PGN), the National Adoption Council (CNA), UNICEF, and Ministry of Social Development.
Senator Landrieu provided all of the above officials with a copy of the Universal List of cases. Senator Landrieu urged Guatemalan officials to resolve all of the pending cases by the end of 2012, and to move forward with adoptions involving U.S. prospective adoptive parents where there is no evidence that the child was taken fraudulently from his or her birth family. USCIS Director Mayorkas offered to return to Guatemala to learn more about the Guatemalan adoption investigation process and to encourage Guatemalan authorities to continue to complete cases. President Perez-Molina expressed his hope that the pending cases will be resolved within the next 6 to 12 months, and all other Guatemalan authorities -- as well as CICIG -- generally agreed that the pending transition adoption cases should be resolved as soon as possible in the best interests of the children, but also stated that a lack of resources is a potential obstacle to resolution. Guatemalan authorities noted the possibility that some of the notario cases may not be able to proceed as notario cases when the investigation reveals that the case does not fall within the parameters of the relevant law. However, they also advised that in these cases, if a judge makes a finding of adoptability for the child, such a case may be considered eligible under the CNA Acuerdo process.
Update on Possible Legislative Solution
In February 2012, Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros travelled to Washington, D.C. and met with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Susan Jacobs, as well as congressional leaders and adoption stakeholders. The new Perez-Molina Administration announced that they would have a plan to resolve the pending transition cases by June, and suggested that the Guatemalan Administration was looking at a legislative solution.
In April, Foreign Minister Caballeros informed the congressional delegation and Embassy officials that the Guatemalan administration did not believe it was necessary to pursue a legislative solution, and that the pending transition cases could be resolved within the existing framework.
CNA Acuerdo Update
In December 2011, the CNA confirmed the details of a processing plan for a limited group of pending adoption cases already under CNA processing authority. Please refer to our adoption notices from December 13, 2011 and September 27, 2011 for more background.
To date, the CNA has initiated only five cases under the Acuerdo process, out of 22 that it has identified as currently eligible. This is less than the number of cases that the CNA represented would be in progress by this time. Embassy officials continue to meet frequently with the CNA to identify and address causes for delay and to urge the CNA to initiate all of those cases that are eligible to proceed.
The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City submitted a formal request to the Guatemalan government in early May 2012 for extension of the Acuerdo beyond the current August 2012 expiration date to ensure continued processing of adoptions. The Guatemalan government has not responded. Embassy officials continue to press for the extension.
Adoptions in Acuerdo Process
Progress has been slow on those cases that have been initiated and submitted to the CNA by the U.S. Embassy under the Acuerdo process. After its review of the first case, the CNA requested supplemental documents in addition to those required documents confirmed in writing by the CNA in December 2011. Embassy officials responded urging the CNA to abide by their original documentary requirements. We will provide updates when they are available.
Note: Only the CNA can determine whether cases are eligible under the CNA process. The Office of Children’s Issues, USCIS, and the U.S. Embassy can only advise on whether or not the CNA has initiated the case, and if so, what documents the CNA requires. The Office of Children’s Issues can also provide general information on the CNA process.
Working Group Update
Although the working group (known as the “mesa tecnica” in Spanish) is reportedly continuing to meet on a weekly basis to investigate and move cases closer to resolution, this has not translated into significant numbers of cases moving to final adoption. The U.S. Embassy continues to communicate on a regular basis with each institution that participates in the working group on a regular basis, but the working group itself refuses to provide a comprehensive status update for those cases already reviewed.
Between June 2011 and April 2012, the PGN informed the U.S. Embassy of approximately 40 children no longer available for adoption because the child was either reunited with the biological family or placed in domestic adoption. Upon receiving written confirmation of this from the Guatemalan government, USCIS informed the U.S. families associated with those cases.
From July 1, 2011 until December 31, 2011 the U.S. Embassy issued eight (8) IR3 adoption visas. From January 1, 2012 to May 1, 2012, the U.S. Embassy has issued only one (1) IR3 adoption visa. These visa statistics represent only the cases which have completed ALL processing steps with Guatemalan authorities, USCIS Guatemala, and the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy.
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