Local News

Adoption Law Change Snags Thousands of U.S. Couples

Posted January 1, 2008 8:49 p.m. EST
Updated January 1, 2008 9:07 p.m. EST

— 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.