01 Oct 2011

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Author of the award-winning book Finding Fernanda. Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Redux Pictures photographer. Read more here.

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“David v. Goliath, or birth mothers v. attorneys” -US Embassy Guatemala, 1996

From a November 1996 US Embassy cable:

“…According to US immigration law, a child whose mother refused to voluntarily consent to an adoption clearly would not qualify as an “orphan.” As such, when a birth mother changes her mind and refuses to sign a relinquishment for the Embassy it generally means that the case has reached the end. Yet, for the mother herself, her refusal to relinquish the child often means her problems are just beginning. While some Guatemalan attorneys will willingly return the child to its mother, other make the process extremely difficult, if not impossible, by pressuring, threatening, and even petitioning the court for an abandonment order. Because of the lack of control in the Guatemalan adoption process, a birth mother cannot rely on the legal support or intervention of the Guatemalan authorities in an effort to regain custody of her child. Poor, uneducated and unsophisticated, she is “David” to the savvy, unscrupulous “Goliath” of an adoption attorney. Unfortunately, the birth mother’s ultimate fate probably will not mirror that of David, who was the final victor. Without an understanding of the legal system or the as-of-now unavailable resources of a family advocate, she will likely never regain custody of her child…”

Read the full cable here (9-page .pdf): http://findingfernanda.com/documents/nov-96.pdf

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