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Adoption Law Change Snags Thousands of U.S. Couples

Posted January 1, 2008

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— A new international adoption law in Guatemala is delaying the adoption of 5,000 children by U.S. families.

The change was designed to make adoptions more transparent and eliminate the small percentage of illegal adoptions.

"Families who are in the process right now are very worried. Rightfully so," said Gail Stern, executive director of Mandala Adoption Services, in Hillsborough. "Having a central authority, although on paper it sounds great, in practice in a Third World country where the resources don't exist, it stops adoption."

Heather and Randy Chambers are among the families snagged in the legal tangle. The Durham couple had hoped to have an 8-month-old Guatemalan boy named Coby adopted by Christmas.

"He's cute, he's adorable, he's perfect," Randy Chambers said.

The Chamberses started the adoption process in March and get monthly updates on Coby through videos and pictures.

"It's been very stressful and very uncertain," Randy Chambers said.

"We all just want our baby home," Heather Chambers said. "That's my child, and I could not imagine then being told, 'Well, because you're not this far along in the process or because the laws are changing, you can't have him.' I mean, that would be taking my child away from me."

The couple learned a few days ago that their adoption has finally been approved, and they said they hope to bring Coby to Durham within a few months.

"I'm excited to hold my son for the first time and to bring him home and introduce him to his sisters and help him grow in the world," Randy Chambers said.


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  • -info- Jan 2, 2008

    Fact is, other countries have the right to dictate their laws and regulation and the USA has little or No right to interfere...anymore than we would allow them to dictate our laws...

  • anneonymousone Jan 2, 2008

    As someone who is not the result of a planned pregnancy, I've often thought that adopted children are fortunate to be loved enough to be given a chance by one or more biological parents who couldn't raise a child AND loved enough by one or more adoptive parents to be chosen just as he or she was. Naiv e and overly romanticized, perhaps, but let's allow it to counter unkindness.

    The circumstances under which a woman gives a child up for adoption need to be taken into account by someone considering adoption; it's not merely fashion, when one thinks of maternal health and nutrition, poverty, social conditions, fostering of children before adoption, etc. It's not easy for anyone, and I admire people who raise a child (adopted, fostered, or born to them) lovingly and thoughtfully.

  • stephba Jan 2, 2008

    Claudnc-sorry your one aunt had a hard time. We were lucky in our agency and social worker. But yes, some have preconceived notions that they unfortunately use to judge people. This can be race, religion, education, finances, sexual orientation, marital status, physical and mental health and even weight are often used to discriminate. These are usually the individual social worker's attitudes and are often not an entire agencies' or others. I do not deny that plenty of people have difficulty with some agencies, but I sure wasnt about to let a little prejudice from our first agency stop us! And as far as worrying about biological parents changing their minds, remember, the media only reports on exceptions or it wouldnt be news. Normal things, like a positive adoption experience would never make the news. Adopting overseas is fine, a child needs a home regardless. I dont want to detract from that, just get rid of some harmful myths about domestic adoption.

  • claudnc Jan 2, 2008

    steph - I agree with you on the throwaway comment. Folks just dont think before speaking. In Ny the increased the age for foster care to 21. You can stay in the foster care system until you are 21 - which is great. They need transition time. Its just an awful thing to just release them at 18. Most are still in high school and it just makes no sense. There are so many kids here waiting in the US for a perm home. I still think as easy as it for some - for some it has been ordeal. My aunt adopted a family of 4 in NY, I have another aunt who adopted two in Onslow county. Then on the flip side I have a older aunt who attempted to adopt in J'ville and was not able to too. I still say she should have tried several agencies. It just seems like cross the water you can just grab one and claim as yours - at least thats the appearance given on TV. Plus its fashionable to go across the waters and adopt.

  • stephba Jan 2, 2008

    Sorry, you can tell I am passionate about this, but I was just going to add that when teens turn 18, they have two choices. IF, and that is a big IF, a foster family that had them before allows them to come back they can stay there. The other choice? The social workers ask which homeless shelter they want to be taken to. That is the cold hard fact. So next time you worry about the 'efforts' you might have to go through to adopt a child in the US, then think what efforts these children go through just to survive!

  • stephba Jan 2, 2008

    First of all I would like to address the 'throw-away children' comment. My son would surely not benefit in his emotional healing by hearing things like this. Perhaps you could take into consideration that an adopted (or waiting to be adopted) child may read your comment. They already feel like they are not good enough because someone somewhere decided they couldnt/wouldnt keep them, please dont add to their poor self-esteem issues by perpetuating comments like that. Secondly, as I have posted before it is EASY to adopt in this country. As long as you are open to any child your chances are VERY VERY great that you can get a placement quickly. The more selective you are in what you are and are not willing to accept in a child will affect how easily you get a placement. Most that say it is hard are looking for a perfect, blond haired blue-eyed one day old. Even bearing a child biologically does not guarantee those odds. Email me if you want some true info. stephba@earthlink.net

  • homer s Jan 2, 2008

    why is it so hard to adopt throw-away children in this country? it's not like we don't have them.

  • BUCKEYEnNC Jan 2, 2008

    Mrs. Fabulous, I think it has alot to do with birth parents changing their minds and going to court to get their child back. I don't know how often it happens, but some of the cases that make the news scares many would be adoptive parents away.

    My wife and I plan to adopt and are looking at overseas adoptions because of this.

  • atozca Jan 2, 2008

    From what I understand, it is easier to adopt outside of the US. We have so many laws and bs in the US that we aren't able to take care of our own.

  • Mrs. Fabulous Jan 2, 2008

    I never understood why people would go out of the US to adopt children, when there are children in our own country waiting to be adopted. I am grateful that my parents just adopted a 3 yr old, 5 yr old and a 6 yr old, in our country! I never understood why people did that.