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Guatemalan Court Order
Rattles Foreign Adoption Community
Adam Martin Aug 19, 2011, The Atlantic Wire
The story about a young, missing Guatemalan girl whose mother searched
for her for five years and eventually found she had been adopted by a
couple in Missouri has been floating around for a couple of years now.
But the latest news is that the mother, Loyda Rodriguez Morales, has
essentially won her case. CNN reported on Monday that the Guatemalan
government had ordered the girl returned, and that because it was
considered a case of human trafficking, would call Interpol to enforce
the order if the adoptive parents didn't comply. According to Erin
Siegal, a fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism
at Brandeis University who's been covering the case closely, that's an
unprecedented move in the world of international adoptions.
And as Metafilter noted, the case has been "rocking the adoption
world." On forums such as guatadopt.com, members have been debating
the case for years. On Thursday, a screed from a user named LauraLyn
blasted the way the Monahans had handled the case.
They were offered mediation, and this could have happened in Guatemala
or in Liberty. Instead they dug in their heels to hold on to 'their
daughter', refused communication, and forced a torturous court process.
They claim to want 'to protect' 'Karen Abagail' from 'further trauma'.
This is so hard to believe when they have traumatically turned the lives
of so many people upside down to keep what does not belong to them.
Perhaps other adopted children from Guatemala today are asking: Are my
adoptive parents like the Monahans?
But another, Grey, was quick to defend the Monahans' right to privacy
and due process.
They have been branded as complicit in fraud, without (to my eyes, at
least) facts and evidence. They were faced with a very uncertain
situation, and a clear threat (via email) that the little girl they were
seeking to adopt could be harmed if they did not continue with the
process. Labeling them as accomplices to human trafficking given the
nature of their situation is more that unfair; it’s slander.
As an Aug. 12 report in the Houston Chronicle pointed out,
"SURVIVORS Foundation, the human rights group representing the
birth mother, does not allege the Monahans knew anything about a
On the site Poundpuplegacy, one commenter named Kerry pointed to the
power imbalance between birth mother and the adoptive parents.
Let's pretend the mother whose child was kidnapped was a white American.
Let's pretend the person who adopted through corrupt adoption
facilitators were dark foreigners, and the adoption agency was not
affiliated with any agency within the USA. What sort of media attention
would this case get, then? What would public outcry sound like after
more got news of the story?
Color and economics aside, this is a woman's issue. The adoption
industry is slowly but surely pitting woman against woman and as far as
I'm concerned educated women who know a thing or two about the plights
of (other) women treated like sub-humans need to stand up and NOT TURN
THEIR BACKS to the corruption that takes place within the child
At the very least, the case seems to be a shocking reminder within the
adoption community that while the end goal of adoption is to create
loving families, it sometimes begins with tearing other families apart.
Unsurprisingly, many comments focused on the benefit the child would
have growing up in America, versus returning to Guatemala. Kerry's
response was thoughtful: "Have we entered an era where those who
support adoption believe no original mother living in a poor region is
fit to parent her own child chosen by corrupt child brokers?"
Adoption has been a tumultuous issue for the U.S. and Guatemala ove the
last few years. Guatemala closed its doors to U.S. adoptions in 2008
because of rampant fraud. They were reopened in 2009, but not without
controversy. According to an Aug. 6 Associated Press story, that's what
happened with the girl, who was adopted under the name Karen Abigail López
García, but whose real name is Anyeli Liseth Hernandez Rodriguez,
according to a website set up to help search for her. Her mother claims
she was snatched from her arms in 2006. The court ordered the PGN, the
Guatemalan equivalent of the attorney general's office, to work with the
U.S. embassy on retrieving the girl, who has been living with Timothy
and Jennifer Monahan in Missouri since 2007. The Monahans have two
months from the July 29 order to return the girl, under the latest order
from the Guatemalen court.
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is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are
and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there
is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting
Alex Haley, Author of Roots