Guatemala: 2006

December 18, 2006

The U.S. Department of State has issued an update regarding the Hague Convention and Guatemala. Click here to view a copy of the report.

December 15, 2006

Tom DiFilipo, President & CEO, has issued an update on Joint Council activities related to Guatemala from November 3 through December 13, 2006. The update includes information on the Joint Council Delegation to Guatemala, the Joint Council testimony before the House International Relations Subcommittee, and much more.

September 29, 2006

Joint Council has been made aware of a letter that is currently circulating in Guatemala declaring that all adoptions from Guatemala will be stopped effective October 1st. This letter appears to be on Presidential letterhead with the President’s signature, but is not authentic. Guatemala’s attorney general’s office has confirmed that the letter is fake and government officials are concerned that the letter may have been created to induce panic within the adoption community. No one knows at this time where the letter originated. The Guatemalan government is working on an official communication to confirm the fraud. Please advise your Guatemalan providers and adoptive families, especially those currently in Guatemala for first trips, so they may be made aware of the existence of this letter and its inauthenticity.

September 28, 2006

The U.S. Department of State has published the following announcement:

Government of Guatemala Efforts to Implement the Hague Adoption Convention – False Rumor that Guatemala will halt adoptions

The Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala have become aware of an unfounded rumor that adoptions in Guatemala will be suspended immediately or by January 1 as part of Guatemalan efforts to implement the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (“the Hague Adoption Convention”). The government of Guatemala has confirmed that there is no truth to this rumor. The Embassy is continuing to process adoption cases.

The Department of State and the U.S. Embassy continue to monitor the situation in Guatemala closely and are in regular contact with Guatemalan officials as they take steps to reform their adoption processes in order to better protect the interests of children and families. We are encouraged by the efforts of the First Lady of Guatemala in preparing a protocol of adoption best practices that promotes protections for children and families in line with the international standards of the Hague Adoption Convention. The Department urges all interested parties to check the Dept of State website for updates on the process of adoptions in Guatemala.

September 26, 2006

The situation in Guatemala is extremely complex. The Office of Children’s Issues has appreciated the dialogue with Joint Council, including the thorough and very positive readout of the Joint Council delegation’s visit to Guatemala in late August and early September. Joint Council is planning our second International Relations Initiative trip to Guatemala in October.

September 25, 2006

Effective October 5, 2006, the U.S. Embassy will require a properly and completely filled-out I-600 form to be submitted with the Final Document’s Packet. The I-600 must be signed and dated by the adoptive parent(s). If the adoptive parent(s) has/have seen the adopted child before the adoption was finalized, please submit evidence of this, such as photocopies of the U.S. passport showing the entry stamps issued by Guatemalan Immigration authorities.

August 3, 2006

Effective September 1, 2006, the U.S. Embassy will require two additional documents as part of the initial I-600 packet corresponding to the following:

1) Letter from the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s) with original signature(s) notarized in the U.S. providing a correct e-mail address and telephone number.

2) Letter from the representative of the U.S. Adoption Agency with the original signature notarized in the U.S. providing a correct e-mail address and telephone number.

The information that needs to be filled-out in these documents must be TYPED. The U.S. Embassy has been receiving too many incorrect e-mail addresses. This change was made to better serve the families and agencies.

July 18, 2006

The Embassy in Guatemala is reporting that they are receiving cases in the same timeline, without delays. Joint Council has repeatedly brought up the delays at the PGN. The response has been that the Embassy is still under 30 days for their processing of cases, but the new Head of PGN is not signing off on cases as quickly. Joint Council has heard antidotally that it is taking on average 8 – 12 weeks for a case leave of PGN, instead of the previous 4 – 6 week average. Any updates we receive will be posted on our website.

May 25, 2006

Attention Parents -

Joint Council has recently heard from many waiting parents who are concerned about delays at the PGN in Guatemala. The PGN has recently undergone a period of transition during which some cases may have been delayed. It appears that things continue to move slowly and that there are a number of families who are currently waiting for paperwork to be cleared through the PGN. We are looking into this situation and will try to obtain more information about the possible time-frame in which things will move forward. For the time being, please note that Joint Council is unable to determine the status of individual cases that are in the PGN. Any updates we receive will be posted on our website.

Guatemala and the Hague Convention

Much discussion has taken place recently about Guatemala and the Hague Convention. Please make sure to check the Joint Council website for information. Some other sites or posts claim to have information from Joint Council but we cannot verify the accuracy of their information.

Guatemala is a Hague country, as they acceded to the Convention and entered into force in the spring of 2003. Later, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court overturned the accession, however under international law, they are still considered party to the Convention. At this time the procedures in Guatemala are not considered in compliance with the Convention.

When the United States ratifies the Convention, if Guatemala is still not in compliance with the Convention it will be difficult for the U.S. to continue adoptions. There are several alternatives, but it could be unlikely that the U.S. or Guatemala will pursue them (i.e., Guatemala could formally denounce its participation in the Convention but the current President has indicated that he does not intend to do so, or the U.S. could object to Guatemala’s accession once we ratify, but again, that may be unlikely). If Guatemala reforms its procedures and becomes complaint under the Convention, when the U.S. ratifies, adoptions would proceed under the Hague regulations.

Timeframe

With regards to timing, this is all still a ways away. The Department of State hopes to have the U.S. ratify in 2007, however Joint Council estimates that this would be late 2007 or even early 2008, given that accrediting entities need to be finalized, procedures in place and agencies need to undergo accreditation, all before we ratify.

If you are in the process of adopting from Guatemala or are thinking of beginning the process in the near future (next few months) you will most likely be fine. As with all international adoptions, there are no guarantees, but given that the U.S. will not be ratifying until 2007 – 2008 your adoption should proceed normally. We recommend that you be informed of the situation, follow any new developments, and see what progresses. Stay in contact with your agency and feel free to call our office as well if you have any questions.

Please visit our Hague page for additional information.

The US Department of State has also posted a notice on it’s website with further explanation of the impact of the Hague and children adopted from Guatemala to the United States.

February 23, 2006

Notice on Filing Adoption Papers with DHS/USCIS in Guatemala

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala announces that, beginning Thursday, February 23, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will accept final documents in adoption cases at Window #1, Monday through Thursday, from 9 to 9:30 a.m. to ensure that final documents can be processed without delay. Only final adoption documents will be accepted and stamped as received. No other documents or inquiries will be accommodated by DHS at this window during this time frame.

DHS officers at Window #8 (a wooden door with a number 8 will continue to see a maximum of 40 attorneys/representatives on a first come, first served basis, Monday through Thursday. Each attorney or representative is allowed to present up to four new adoption cases, and may present paperwork on other pending cases without limit (including the final documents). Normally, the DHS officers start receiving these individuals at approximately 9 a.m., following all of the individual interviews with adopting parents who have come that day for their immigrant visa appointment for their adopted child.

February 7, 2006

In response to numerous concerns from our member agencies Joint Council sent a letter to USCIS District office in Mexico City regarding communication problems in Guatemala’s processing of international adoptions. The letter addressed inconsistent requests, miscommunication with the pre-approval notices and lack of responsiveness. Joint Council is hopeful that these problems can be resolved and we can work together with USCIS to find mutually beneficial solutions.

January 9, 2006

Multiple Inquiries to US Citizenship and Immigration Services Delaying Process

USCIS recently contacted Joint Council regarding an influx of inquiries they have received regarding Guatemalan adoption cases. USCIS recognizes the importance of families’ awareness of the status of their respective case, however multiple inquiries regarding the same case are inhibiting the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ ability to process each in a timely manner. CIS hopes families will understand that multiple phone calls and emails, at times from multiple parties, to the CIS office only serves to slow down the process.

USCIS shares that it would be most beneficial for adoption agencies, on behalf of parents, to contact their office directly. It would be best for agencies to send CIS one email with several inquiries. Agencies should only send email inquiries once a case is thirty days past the date USCIS receives the DNA test. In cases of abandonment, please only send inquiry emails thirty days after CIS initially receives the case. This will enable CIS to process each case expeditiously.

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