The interview below with the executive director of the National Adoption Council (CNA) here in Guatemala was published in the local newspaper (See the original article written in Spanish here). In the article, the director explains how the adoption process works now in Guatemala, after the passage of the Adoption Law in December of 2007.
What is adoption?
The general adoption can be seen in many ways. In principle, one can say that it is a measure that exists in order to restore a child’s violated rights. The child has a general principle of living with their parents, but there are times when this cannot be. However, you have the right to live in a family environment, and adoption is the way to restore that right.
What is the process to adopt a child?
It require that you first submit an application with details of the adopters; note of their income, health certification, and willingness to undergo a process of psychological and social evaluation. After the evaluation, they receive a certificate of suitability, which allows them to participate in a related session where the National Adoption Council assigns them to a child.
Following the enactment of the act, what has changed in the process?
Practically the law came to break the paradigms of adoption. Before, it was mainly private and had little control by the State. From the effective date of the new law, the State assumes a monopoly of the adoptions, and that means establishing strict control on the adoption process. Now it is free, before it was expensive. Before December 31, 2007, adoption was directed primarily to the interest of a family. Not today, today it is made in the interest of the child, and it is he who determines the stages of adoptability.
How long does this process take?
The time to obtain a certificate of suitability takes three to six months, and the time when a child is integrated into the family is given in the next three months. Now, how long it takes depends on the expectations the family has about the adoption. Why? Because the family must state which child they want to adopt, as far as general characteristics, for example, girl or boy, age, physical appearance, ethnicity, or with or without a medical need. Because, based on the expectations the family has, we will consider the child’s needs and identify the one that is the best suited to that family.
How long does it take the State to declare a child adoptable?
First, the child will be subject to a protection process. That will determine if their right to a family was violated. If that right was violated, they will be declared adoptable. But, as this is the last option, first it takes an investigation process to locate the parents and try to determine if the child can live with their parents, because they have the right to not be separated from their biological parents. From there we can say that the protective process in Guatemala takes about two years.
Is it required to have sufficient resources in order to make an adoption?
Yes, you need to have sufficient resources. As for the variety of resources to consider, what they look for is that you have parental strengths. That means you have emotional capability, and economic resources, not in abundance, but what is necessary to meet the child’s needs.
Do adopted children need special treatment?
In principle, we must consider what children are declared adoptable. For example, in the five years of implementation of the Act, there have been 932 children declared adoptable, of whom 350 have special needs, are more than 7 years old, or belong to a sibling group.
What are the generalities of children who have been adopted?
We managed to locate children older than 3 years and younger than 7 years. In general, healthy children that aren’t a part of a sibling group. Here it has been easy for the National Council of Adoption to locate and identify a family and proceed to include it in the selection process.
What are the places in the country where there are the most adoptions?
The families that have adopted the most are from urban areas, but we also have some from rural areas, too. They are usually families that couldn’t conceive a child themselves, or who have given birth and time has elapsed so nature doesn’t allow for conception, but they are interested in expanding their family.
How many families have approached the Council?
During these five years, there have been 980 families, approximately. When one compares how many families there are and the children that are able to be adopted, there seems to be no problem. However, I reiterate that what you have to consider is that not every family who submits an application will find a child immediately. We struggled to find a family for those 350 special needs children.
Where are these children?
As the child has not had their right to live in family environment restored, there are two options, one is to live in a group home and the other is to receive a foster family. The time a child spends in a group home brings damage to its development, a delay and, consequently, we should make sure the child is there for as little time as possible.
How many foster homes are there and what are the controls?
Under the Adoption Act, the CNA is responsible for authorization and supervision of the homes. There are currently 133 operating, located throughout the country, and there are approximately 5, 367 children living in them.
What happens with their education without a birth certificate?
Not all children who are in homes lack identification, many are enrolled in the National Registry of Persons. Education, whether private or public, is taken care of by the child’s home.
Where can those interested in adopting go?
Those interested in adopting can reach the headquarters of CNA, Avenida de La Reforma 6-64, Zone 9, Corporate Plaza building, Tower 1, Floor 2. And the phone number for consultations is 2415-1600, from 8 to 4.
Hope for Tomorrow lost one of its founding members this past week. Larry Ledbetter passed away on December 14, 2012. Larry was Brenda’s husband, and Brett, Lee, and Clarita’s dad. At his funeral, the ministersaid that he suspected that, as a teenager, Larry never dreamed that one day God would lead him to Guatemala to become a father or to help start a Children’s Home. Beginning in 2004 the Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home Steering Committee met regularly in Larry and Brenda’s dining room. Larry never had a great deal to say, except to tell us how much – or how little – money we had in the Children’s Home account! However, when Larry talked, everyone listened. He was never afraid for us to take chances if it meant that the children of Hope for Tomorrow would have a better life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Brenda and family during this very sad time. We share their loss of this very special man.
For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
In mid March, Brenda and Jennifer, founders of Hope For Tomorrow Children’s Home, were here in Guatemala visiting. For Brenda, who hadn’t been here for almost a year, it was especially wonderful because she was able to meet for the first time so many of our new children. Here are some pictures from there trip. Enjoy!
Remember, once you click on an image and it enlarges, you can navigate to the next image by clicking on the right side of the image (a “NEXT” button appears) or return to the previous picture by clicking the left side of the image (a “PREV” button appears). When you are done, click the “CLOSE” button or click outside of the picture.
We are always looking for unique ways for people to support our ministry and with the help of a few friends (Susie, Christy, and Mary Louise), we have come up with the best yet: our Online Gift Catalog. If you are looking for a unique way to give a gift to a friend or loved one, look no further than our gift catalog. Our gift catalog has multiple gifts at different prices that all benefit the children of Hope For Tomorrow. It’s a perfect way to give a gift that will not only bring a genuine smile to the recipient’s face but also impacts the lives of orphaned children in Guatemala. Not to mention it saves you the time and trouble of searching for something he or she probably already has. It’s a win win!
After choosing your gift, you also have the option of personalizing a card that explains the impact their gift has on our ministry. It’s easy to email or print and is the perfect complement to the gift you have given.
One final idea is to combine a Hope Birthday with our Online Gift Catalog. The next time you have a birthday or anniversary party, instead of requesting gifts, point people to our online gift catalog and have them purchase their gifts for you there. A Hope Birthday and our Online Gift Catalog is a match made in heaven!
After driving more than 3000 miles over two weeks, I am back, and what an incredible trip. Over the entirety of my travels I saw the Lord answering the prayer requests I had asked people to be lifting up. I had wonderful travels to and from the States and even as I drove from State to State, I saw God’d protection. Each visit with the churches and small groups that had been lined up went off wonderfully and it was a pleasure to share with them about our ministry and children. Honestly, things couldn’t have gone better. And despite the long trip, the late nights and early mornings, and being away from my beautiful wife for an extended time, I returned from the US refreshed and rested. Thank you all for your prayers and support during this trip. Thank you for helping to set up the numerous meetings and speaking engagements. Thank you to all the host families that allowed me to stay the night in their homes. Finally, thank you to all the churches that gave me time to share about our ministry. God bless you all!
Most people don’t look very forward to their 50th birthday. I was certainly one of those people. However, my 50th birthday turned out to be a red letter day for me. Co-Founder of Hope for Tomorrow, Brenda Riddle worked with my family and friends to throw me a surprise party that I will long remember. Around 50 of my family, friends, and co-workers surprised me at the Alumni House at the University of Kentucky on April 28th. We had wonderful hors devours, birthday cake, and a special slide show developed by my “longest” friend, Rita Rector. The biggest surprise of the evening was a special performance by my second family; the children of Hope for Tomorrow. They sang “Happy Birthday” to me in both Spanish and English. The children prepared a choreographed dance for me and each child introduced him or herself to my friends in Lexington. I felt so blessed to share this important day with my entire family. In honor of the occasion, Brenda asked that attendees make a donation to Hope for Tomorrow in lieu of birthday gifts. I am excited to report that my HOPE Birthday party raised nearly $2,000 for the children’s home.
This was not the first HOPE Birthday party in my family. When our son Kendall turned 11, he decided to forego gifts and asks friends to make a donation in his honor to Hope for Tomorrow. With the help of party-planner and steering committee member Diane Haynes, we had a carnival at my sister’s farm and invited his entire 5th grade class. The children played “roulette”, corn hole, and other carnival games. In return for their success at the games, children earned tickets that they could “cash in” at the store we set up. There they could “buy” candy, toys, and trinkets with their tickets. At Kendall’s party, $400 was raised.
If you are looking for a creative way to celebrate someone’s special birthday, consider a Hope Birthday Party. It is a wonderful way to honor someone’s commitment to children in a way they will never forget. Please contact any of us on the steering committee if you need ideas!
This past Saturday, Kristina, a college student from UK, came to Guatemala to start a month long journey with us at Hope For Tomorrow Children’s Home. After a trip here in 2008 with her church, she felt called to come back and serve over a longer period of time. In just the few days she has been here she has already been an important part of the team. With the addition of 5 new children in less than past 2 months, having her extra hands and presence has made caring and loving on the children easier for us all. We are so thankful to have Kristina with us and look forward to seeing how the Lord uses her among our children.
In the meantime, I have asked Kristina to share a little about her story and what she expects over the next month:
For the past three years, I been praying about returning to the Children’s Home in Guatemala. I went with a team in 2008 and have wanted to return ever since. I have been waiting for the right time and have been praying about the children and my return. I fell in love with the children and learned so much from them. The experience really impacted the decisions I have made since, for example, my decision in wanting a career in teaching and missions. I knew that those were my passions prior to the trip but the experiences in Guatemala helped me to find the path I wanted to take to merge these two passions together.
The memories from my previous trip combined with the impact the children had on my life, made me want to return. I strongly believe in what the organization is doing for the children that are under their care. The workers there truly excel when it comes to caring for the children, and all of this, along with some anxieties, were on my mind, as I traveled to the airport.
I did not know what to expect upon my return. I knew that many of the children were still there from my previous visit, and I was really looking forward to seeing them again. I knew, however that this time it was not going to be as simple. The last time I came to the Children’s Home, I came with a group and the trip was only for one week. This time I would be traveling alone, and staying for one month. I would also be staying there 24/7, spending all my time with the children.
I hope to gain a lot from this experience. I feel that there is so much I can do during my stay. I would like to think that the children will gain a lot by my spending time with them. This is at least my goal. However, I will probably gain more than they will. I feel like I learned so much about myself the first time I went. I will never be the same after my first experience with the children. They will forever be a part of my past and future. They have inspired me to do so many things and I want so much to be able to give to them as well.
I will be staying at the orphanage for the month that I am there helping with the children in their daily routine. I am honored to accompany the women that work at the Children’s Home in their daily activities. The children have the upmost respect for them and they are all amazing women. I believe strongly in this organization, and am proud to be a small part of it for a while. I know that each one of the employees are working to enrich the lives of the children, and during my stay here, I will too.