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August 09, 2011


Mei Ling

It's because it's a double standard. The first/birth family are The Other, the people who Did Give Up A Child. The adoptive parents couldn't - wouldn't *ever* do such a thing.

Because no one EVER gives up a child. All the logic as to WHY doesn't matter - the kid was abandoned as a baby, the first/birth family clearly didn't want him/her, and if they did, they obviously didn't want him/her *enough.*

So there is no actual good reason for giving up a child, because no AP could ever imagine ending up a scenario where you'd be jailed or evacuated for not having enough support to keep your child.

"I could NEVER give up my child!" they say.

Right. So why do you think it's any different when it comes to the first/birth family? Just because you would "never" give up your adopted child doesn't mean the first/birth family "wanted" to do so, either.


This story is heartbreaking on every level. And truth be told, my worst nightmare would be to be in the shoes of any of this little girl's parents (I have two kids, one bio, one adopted). What is in the "best interest" of the child here? To be rent, again, from a family she loves, to return to a land and culture, language and family she probably barely remembers? To stay where she is, deprived of her first family, who love her wholeheartedly and have fought tooth and nail for her return? As always, the truly guilty will no doubt go unpunished, but even that pales in comparison to all the hurt and loss here. I just wish there was *some* way for all involved to come together in their shared love for a little girl, but is that even possible?

American Mamacita

Oh, I would object to the assertion that it's ONLY because the first/birth family are "the other".

As APs - long before this story came out - my husband and I talked about this (in the context, at the time, of realizing that our adopted kids had not yet bonded to us; they since have.).

Little kids are very in-the-moment. They don't consciously remember their toddler or preschool years, for the most part. This little girl does not remember her first family, and she most recently and most fully feels like a U.S. American. And unless there's some other issue about which none of us are aware, she is fully attached to her most recent, adoptive family.

Does that mean her first family doesn't have the right to re-gain their daughter? No.

But it's not so simple. Reunifying her with her biological family to the exclusion of her current family will be traumatic for her. And she WILL feel "foreign" to her Guatemalan family. She no doubt has forgotten Spanish and all the cultural nuances and is accustomed to her life in the U.S.

The conclusion we came to (hubby and I) was that if our children were ever taken (God forbid!) and we found them, and they were attached to their new family, and that family was a loving and supportive one, we would appeal for shared visitation rather than disrupt what they had with their new parents. As hard as that would be, as much as we would want to assert our "rights" to "our" kids.

And probably that's what the adoptive and birth parents need to do -- at least for the coming few years -- come up with a shared solution, so this little child doesn't have to be ripped from ANY of the parents to whom she feels attached.

Because it's supposed to be about HER, right?

Paula O.

American Mamacita, I've had the same thoughts re: a joint, cooperative parenting arrangement that would first and foremost address the emotional, social, physical and psychological needs of this little girl.

I immediately think of "First, do no harm" and agree with you that any immediate severed contact with her adoptive family would only re-traumatize her. That being said, there is no doubt in my mind that ultimately she should be with her Guatemalan family. I hope and pray that both families do whatever they need to do to support this young girl in the many years to come by putting her needs first.

Mei Ling

"The conclusion we came to (hubby and I) was that if our children were ever taken (God forbid!) and we found them, and they were attached to their new family, and that family was a loving and supportive one, we would appeal for shared visitation rather than disrupt what they had with their new parents"

Who does that? Because it's not the way adoption works, and it's not the way adoption has been socially standardized.

Adoption transfers immediate rights and legal ownership.

Mei Ling

"Reunifying her with her biological family to the exclusion of her current family will be traumatic for her."

And... being transitioned as a baby has no traumatic effects? Being transferred from biological parents to adoptive parents has no repercussions?

The "only family a baby has ever known" at the time IS the biological parents. But this defense, funnily enough, also *only* comes up when there's talk of a child being transferred from adoptive parents back to biological parents.

A baby knows its mother prior to adoption.

Paula O.

Mei Ling - you hit upon a recurring theme that I've read in many of the comments regarding this case - the whole notion that time spent with one's adoptive family bears greater importance than being carried by one's own mother for 9 months. I'm not saying that being with one's adoptive family for a signficant amount of time doesn't carry weight - of course it does. But so does being with the first and only woman you've ever known.


I'm an adoptee and also an adoptive mother of a child from Guatemala. When these stories were starting to hit the news, my heart broke. Mostly for these poor (and they are terribly poor), helpless women who had their children forcibly removed from their care only to be sold to a dirty adoption attorney.

Our attorney in Guatemala was one of the few left standing after the investigations and she's still able to conduct adoptions in the country because she was very ethical. That does give us some peace. If we discovered that our son was stolen, we'd be devestated. I guess we'd have to go to Guatemala and sit down with the first parents/family to discuss how to proceed. We could see about moving there or, if they'd rather, we'd sponsor their visa to come here and set them up. I could never see myself excluding the people we have so much love and respect for from our son's life and if he was stolen.... my Gd I just can't even imagine.


My heart aches at the thought of my daughter being removed from me. I can only imagine the pain the birth mother went through. The adoptive mother would also go through this same ache. There is no good answer. I'm not going to speculate what the answer is because I don't feel I as an outsider can even guess what that might be. It is heartbreaking. The only thing I can think is the adoptive parents need to fly there and talk in person without the adoptive child present. I'm a adoptive mom and often wish I had the privilege to know my daughters birth mother and knew if there was an adoptive plan or some sort of intent.


Suggesting that the adoptive parents 'fly there' to hash out child ownership with the bio parents assumes that the adoptive parents are culturally competent enough to have a conversation with someone who speaks a different language and has a completely different world view based on geography and life experience. It is possible that the Guatemalan parent would not try quantify (i.e. compare resources like money, etc) what is right for the child, but rather take a qualitative stance that represents the values and mores of Guatemala.

The adoptive parents may feel like the loss of the child would be similar, yet they are technically (unknowing) accesories to a crime.


I couldn't have said it better myself! AMEN to the writer of the story!

American Mamacita

@ Mei-Ling & Paula - I didn't mean to minimize her first attachment to her first family and the subsequent trauma of being kidnapped (1), moved around in Guate as a trafficking victim (2), and then being adopted by strangers (3). Of course that was all trauma. I just meant that, given the past, it would be ideal if there wasn't a 4th sudden separation. She's only 6, and it would be great if her a-parents and b-parents could work this out to ease her back into her first family, rather than another rending of her heart.

But as for "who does that?" - I think more and more of us, thanks to many of you out there who have given us fuller perspectives on adoption. It's the difference between thinking of parenting as "guardianship for a season" versus "possession." Our family is doing our best to keep the boys' tie to their first country as strong as we can and to find their first family, so that when they're adults, they have the reasonable opportunity to pick where they want to live and work and to move between their families as they want. It'll be harder for them to "feel" Guatemalan than if they'd never left, certainly. But if you ask them where they're from, they don't answer with our city or state. They say "Guatemala." And that's fine with us. We're "just" their adoptive parents, but that's blessing enough!

@ Beth - I'm there with ya! If I'd only known THEN what I do now, I would have insisted on contact with the bio family from the start.

Paula O.

@American Mamcita: Just speaking for myself, I didn't get the feeling that you were marginalizing the attachment to the first family. I was just underscoring something that Mei Ling touched upon - a sentiment that basically asserts that the time spent with one's adoptive family automatically entitles them to be more of a parent than the woman who gave birth to their child.

@Julie - thank you for sharing your perspective - I feel you on all of it.

Mei Ling

"It'll be harder for them to "feel" Guatemalan than if they'd never left, certainly."

They won't be seen as Guatemalan. Not unless they have legal Guatemalan parents who have parented them. The law places priority upon the adoptive parents.


What I can't fathom is why people aren't imagining what you'd do or want done if your child were kidnapped and then illegally adopted to a family in another country.

Could anyone imagine the adoptive parents coming visit you without your child to negotiate over who gets to parent the child, who gets to visit the child, etc? Inviting or even paying for you to come visit them (with the idea that you'd return home without your child)? Would there be any chance you'd believe that because your child spent a few years with the other family that it would be better to leave the child with them? (In this case, the child has spent about equal time in Guatemala and in the US.)

Also, consider the child as she grows up and learns that her APs kept her from her biological family from whom she was kidnapped. In that child's place, what would any of us do as we learned the truth? What would we feel was in our best interest if we were the child grown into an adult in this situation?

If this child had been kidnapped from a middle-class US family and was being raised by wealthy people in Guatemala would the same discussions be happening?

I can't imagine any alternative to reuniting the child with her biological family from whom she was kidnapped AND doing anything I could to develop a relationship with that family in order to hopefully maintain a relationship with the child and help ease the transition for her.

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