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Letter to President Colom

U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, (D-NJ), a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoptions and a longtime advocate on children's issues, announced a bicameral letter today to top officials in Guatemala urging them to institute a transparent and predictable adoption process for pending American adoptions.

Identical letters, signed by Lautenberg and 75 other members of Congress, were sent on Monday to the President of Guatemala, the Chief Justice of the Guatemalan Supreme Court, and the heads of the two Guatemalan adoption-processing agencies. The letters commend the Guatemalan government's efforts to reform the intercountry adoption system and requests the institution of an adoption process that will allow the nearly 400 American families trying since 2007 to adopt children in the country to have their cases resolved.

"We hope you agree that establishing a transparent and predictable process for all pending adoption cases is necessary to protect Guatemalan children, their birth parents, and adopting families," the letter stated. "We believe it is possible to establish a process that is both thorough and fair and encourage you to take immediate steps toward the establishment of such a process."

Senator Lautenberg's office has been working with several New Jersey families who have pending adoption cases in Guatemala.

A copy of the letter to President Colom can be viewed here: http://lautenberg.senate.gov/assets/GuatemalaAdoption062110.pdf

June 21, 2010

Dear President Colom:

As members of the United States Congress, we represent hundreds of American families who entered into adoptions of Guatemalan children prior to the passage of Guatemala's adoption reform legislation in December 2007. As you know, a provision of this law allowed for families whose adoptions were in process as of December 2007 to continue processing their cases under the existing law. Since that time, a significant number of families have not only waited several years to complete these "grandfathered" adoptions but also are without clear guidance from appropriate government agencies on what steps are still required to resolve their cases. We write today to respectfully ask that you institute a transparent and predictable process for these pending American adoptions that will allow them to be resolved both fairly and expeditiously.

We applaud the Guatemalan government's efforts to reform the intercountry adoption system and we share your goal of ensuring that all children in Guatemala and their birth parents are protected from exploitation. We also recognize and appreciate that your government is working to review all aspects of every pending case in light of allegations of irregularities. In addition, we understand that certain cases are currently being decided by the Guatemalan judicial system and we fully respect the independence of your courts.

However, we remain concerned that approximately 400 American adoptions initiated under the old adoption laws have been subjected to inexplicable delays, new legal and procedural requirements, multiple field investigations and birth parent interviews. The lack of a transparent and predictable process has forced many children to remain in orphanages in Guatemala outside the care of a permanent family, which we fear could result in long-term physical, emotional, and psychological harm. Additionally, we are sure you can appreciate the substantial financial and emotional burden these inexplicable delays have had on the adoptive parents, many of whom have been providing assistance for foster care and support services in Guatemala.

We hope you agree that establishing a transparent and predictable process for all pending adoption cases is necessary to protect Guatemalan children, their birth parents, and adopting families. We believe it is possible to establish a process that is both thorough and fair and encourage you to take immediate steps toward the establishment of such a process.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

FRANK R. LAUTENBERG
United States Senator

BARBARA BOXER
United States Senator

RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD
United States Senator

ROBERT P. CASEY, JR.
United States Senator

ARLEN SPECTER
United States Senator

MARY L. LANDRIEU
United States Senator

ROBERT MENENDEZ
United States Senator

CARL LEVIN
United States Senator

HERB KOHL
United States Senator

SAM BROWNBACK
United States Senator

DEBBIE STABENOW
United States Senator

BARBARA A. MIKULSKI
United States Senator

PATTY MURRAY
United States Senator

MAX BAUCUS
United States Senator

JOHN F. KERRY
United States Senator

JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN
United States Senator

SHERROD BROWN
United States Senator

AL FRANKEN
United States Senator

RICHARD J. DURBIN
United States Senator

BENJAMIN L. CARDIN
United States Senator

KIRSTEN E. GILLIBRAND
United States Senator

CHARLES E. GRASSLEY
United States Senator

DIANNE FEINSTEIN
United States Senator

GEORGE V. VOINOVICH
United State Senator

BLANCHE L. LINCOLN
United States Senator

CLAIRE McCASKILL
United States Senator

AMY KLOBUCHAR
United States Senator

BILL NELSON
United States Senator

CHRISTOPHER S. BOND
United States Senator

PAT ROBERTS
United State Senator

KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON
United States Senator

MARIA CANTWELL
United States Senator

JIM WEBB
United States Senator

EVAN BAYH
United States Senator

CHARLES E. SCHUMER
United States Senator

JOHNNY ISAKSON
United States Senator

JON TESTER
United States Senator

MARK L. PRYOR
United States Senator

SAXBY CHAMBLISS
United States Senator

TAMMY BALDWIN
Member of Congress

RICK LARSEN
Member of Congress

MIKE ROGERS
Member of Congress

DANIEL LIPINSKI
Member of Congress

TIM RYAN
Member of Congress

DORIS O. MATSUI
Member of Congress

SCOTT MURPHY
Member of Congress

JERROLD NADLER
Member of Congress

TODD RUSSELL PLATTS
Member of Congress

CHRIS SMITH
Member of Congress

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER
Member of Congress

JERRY MORAN
Member of Congress

BEN CHANDLER
Member of Congress

JAMES P. MCGOVERN
Member of Congress

VIC SNYDER
Member of Congress

JOHN BOEHNER
Member of Congress

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN
Member of Congress

JERRY McNERNEY
Member of Congress

W. TODD AKIN
Member of Congress

J. RANDY FORBES
Member of Congress

PETER HOEKSTRA
Member of Congress

BART GORDON
Member of Congress

JOHN SARBANES
Member of Congress

ROY BLUNT
Member of Congress

HOWARD P. MCKEON
Member of Congress

FRANK M. KRATOVIL JR.
Member of Congress

ZACHARY SPACE
Member of Congress

DAN LUNGREN
Member of Congress

DAVE CAMP
Member of Congress

BILL FOSTER
Member of Congress

MIKE THOMPSON
Member of Congress

ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS
Member of Congress

RUSS CARNAHAN
Member of Congress

DENNY REHBERG
Member of Congress

STEVE DRIEHAUS
Member of Congress

TOM LATHAM
Member of Congress

LLOYD DOGGETT
Member of Congress


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