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Congressional letter to John Kerry about Guatemala


Dear Mr. Secretary:

We write to express our deep concern and to ask for your direct involvement in resolving the final 112 transition adoption cases of Guatemalan children by American prospective adoptive parents. The children involved in these cases, not one of whom is now under 6 years of age, have languished in institutions without a legal family for more than 5 years. Though Guatemalan officials have conveyed their intention to resolve outstanding cases within the next 5 months, we have heard similar assurances before to no avail and ask for your immediate intervention.

In April 2011, the Congress began to advocate for the completion of the then 700 outstanding adoption cases stuck in this bureaucratic limbo. After four congressional delegations to Guatemala, numerous diplomatic notes, and hundreds of meetings and telephone conferences, approximately 20 children have been connected with families in the United States and 112 cases remain unresolved. It has become clear to us that many challenges characteristic of Guatemala's justice and child welfare systems, as well as the lack of specific direction and timelines from the new Guatemalan administration, are preventing these cases from moving to completion. It is disheartening to know that hundreds of Guatemalan orphans will continue to languish in institutional care because of official inaction. We are particularly concerned about reports of actions taken by individual Guatemalan officials that may have contributed to unnecessary delays in completing the pending adoptions of these children.

A recent amendment filed by Majority Leader Reid, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez, and Senators Landrieu and Cornyn indicates that this issue has become a growing irritant in the bilateral relations between our two countries. It is important that this issue is resolved as soon as possible so we can move forward and address other matters of mutual interest. We believe an appeal from you to President Perez Molina to convey the importance of resolving these cases quickly would be fruitful. We also request that you ask President Perez Molina to provide a comprehensive list of the Guatemalan officials who are currently responsible for making decisions in resolving each of the pending 112 adoption cases, including the name, job title and agency affiliation of each individual. Without the ability to hold these individuals accountable for resolving these cases in the best interests of the children, we are concerned that the delays will continue.

Mr. Secretary, we know that you share our concern for these vulnerable children. We look forward to your engagement on this issue.


[list of signatures]

2013 May 13