On January 11 the U.S. Department of State issued a warning (dated January 9) about the status of Guatemala adoptions. (As mentioned in a previous post, Carolina Hope has put its Guatemala adoption program on hold pending new standardized procedures for adoptions in Guatemala. Of course, cases registered under the old system are still being processed.)
Particularly gratifying is the DOS's commitment (see below) to all Guatemalan adoption cases that were registered under the old law. Here is the text of the statement in full:
Warning: Adoptions Initiated on or after December 31, 2007 in Guatemala
January 9, 2008
The Department of State advises potential adoptive parents and adoption service providers not to initiate new adoptions from Guatemala because of the great uncertainties surrounding implementation of Guatemala’s new adoption law.
We do not know when the Government of Guatemala will be prepared to process cases under the new system set forth in the new Guatemalan adoption law that went into force on December 31, 2007. The Government of Guatemala is now working to put into place the infrastructure necessary to implement the provisions and obligations of the new law. The National Adoption Council, Guatemala's Hague Convention Central Authority, was installed on Jan. 11 and is expected to begin initial operations soon and to quickly ratify and publicize the registration procedure required for adoptions initiated prior to the law’s effective date. But the full process must be in place and functioning before an adoption can be completed under the new law. There is no process in place at this time.
In addition, the new Guatemalan law appears to prohibit new adoption cases with non-Hague countries. Article 39 states that "in international adoptions, the persons who wish to adopt a child must initiate the process through the Central Authority of their country of residence, which will forward the request and appropriate certifications to the Guatemalan Central Authority." Since the U.S. Central Authority will not begin processing Hague adoptions until April 1, the new Guatemalan law does not appear to contemplate U.S. adoptions until after April 1.
Finally, we cannot guarantee that adoptions will continue between the United States and Guatemala after April 1, 2008, when the Convention goes into force for the United States. The Convention prohibits all members from processing adoptions from member countries that do not have Hague compliant adoption processes. As a consequence, the United States and other Hague Convention countries will have to determine whether the new process in Guatemala meets Convention requirements. If a fully Hague compliant process is not in place in Guatemala by April 1, 2008, the United States government will not be able to process new cases with Guatemala. While we will assist the Guatemalan government as much as possible to ensure that the new processes are sufficient, we cannot at this time predict whether or when we will be able to process adoptions from Guatemala after the Convention goes into force in the United States.
With regard to currently pending adoptions (those initiated in Guatemala before 12/31/2007), the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala remains committed to processing adoptions according to previous rules. The Embassy is working closely with the government of Guatemala to help complete those cases as soon as possible.
The statement is posted at the DOS website.