Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Statement from the State Department

The US State Department issued the following statement on January 16:

"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."

The good news is that on Wednesday, January 16, 2008, new members of the Central Authority were appointed. They also released the forms necessary for in-process adoptions. Because we were not able to file the necessary forms by December 31, we are considered a new adoption. The Central Authority has not stated what the process for new adoption will be but it is encouraging that they have already named their new members and released the processed for in-process adoptions. We'll keep you posted if we hear anything but as it stands now, it looks like we can't do anything until the US installs the Hague treaty on April 1.

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