Friday, June 11, 2004

What could possibly go wrong?

During our Wednesday community group meeting (bible study/home group/small group), Andy expressed our high level of excitement about Kevin which is tinged with hesitance due to the possibility of something going wrong. One of our friends asked what could go wrong to make them say that we can't adopt Kevin? That was a good question.

  1. Kevin's birthmother could reclaim her parental rights. I don't know the legality of how/when she is able to do this except that I know she may not once our adoption of Kevin is final in the Guatemalan courts.
  2. A local (Guatemalan) family could choose to adopt Kevin. A local adoption has precendence over an international adoption. Again, this is only valid until our adoption is final in the Guatemalan courts.
  3. Our paperwork could be denied by the Family Court or the PGN in Guatemala. There are various reasons why adoption cases are denied, but that is rare. More often, a case is kicked out of the courts because the paperwork is somehow not complete or correct (according to whichever particular judge or secretary is looking at it) and then the adoptive family makes corrections and additions and their case is reinstated. This causes a slow down far more often than a complete halt.
  4. Guatemalan or U.S. laws could change. Both Guatemalan and U.S. laws affect all of the paperwork that we have done and all of the processes that are still to be done. A change in law could slow down or even completely halt the process. For instance, last year Guatemala ratified the Hague Adoption Treaty (proponents of which want to move adoptions into the state's hands rather than the private sector) and all adoption proceedings ground to a halt while the new laws were being worked out. Those people who already had referrals (as we now do) had to wait an indefinite period of time, after which their paperwork would no longer be valid. However, Guatemala's Constitutional Court ruled that the treaty had not been implemented properly and adoption proceedings were restarted via previous methods. There are various changes both in the U.S. and Guatemalan governments that could affect the rest of our process, from the paperwork and court case to visa and traveling issues.

I do want to point out the last sentence of the first two items above. Once our adoption is finalized in the Guatemalan court, Kevin is legally our child according to Guatemalan and United States law. Therefore, Kevin cannot be "taken away" from us after that point (unless Maryland finds us to be abusive or neglectful parents as they could with any parents).

With each step of our case, we will be closer to certainty that this will work out. The first step is Family Court. Once our case leaves that it moves into the PGN (Secretary General's office) where a DNA test will match Kevin with his birthmother to make sure that someone else didn't place Kevin for adoption without his birthmother's consent. Once that match test comes back positive and our case moves out of the PGN, we will feel far more secure. It is then that we will likely feel "safe enough" to send a small photo album and a letter to Kevin to introduce ourselves.

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