What do you mean?

My post yesterday was an attempt to look at a horrible situation - the kidnapping of a child from a mother who desperately wants her back – from the perspective of that child.

I think I made a dog’s breakfast of it, at least the comments tell me it caused some confusion. My focus yesterday was on the how, not the if, of Anyeli’s return to her family, which certainly may have given the impression that I was equivocating on the subject of whether or not she should return to Guatemala. Today I’d like to clarify a bit by saying what I didn’t say or say clearly yesterday.

To cut to the chase: Anyeli should be returned to her family in Guatemala. She has a human right to be with her mother, father, brothers and extended family. If I didn't say that clearly enough in yesterday's post, I apologize and say it now.

She has, however, lived for four years with a family she now considers Mom and Dad, following two years in which she was moved around in Guatemala. I believe her relationship with her adoptive parents should not and cannot be ignored, not in deference to them, but out of respect for her. She has suffered a lot of insecurity and trauma in her young life, and it simply seems inhumane to me to return her to her family in Guatemala without careful preparation, support and access to the people she now believes are her parents. I truly believe another abrupt change would harm her more than she has been harmed already.

I do not acknowledge Anyeli’s relationship with her adoptive parents to justify their efforts to keep her. I also do not mean to diminish the crime against Loyda Rodriguez when I suggest she help her daughter through the impending transition. I simply believe that everyone, including the adult victims, needs to focus on Anyeli, the greatest victim of this crime, and her needs. No question that it's pie in the sky, and is certainly not going to happen.

There were a couple of comments that I also would like to respond to here.

In response to my suggestion that Anyeli’s adoptive parents should have a role in her transition, an anonymous commenter asks this:
Why do they [Anyeli’s adoptive parents] have to be "present throughout her life"? Her mother never agreed to have her daughter adopted. They have no business in any of their lives, aside from a possible occasional update. They should have returned this child as soon as they discovered she was kidnapped. They chose not to do this and STILL garner public AND government sympathy. This is astonishing to me and speaks volumes about entitlement because one party is perceived as being "better" or "wealthier" than the family in Guatemala who have been victims of this crime against humanity. Their daughter has as well.
To clear up a detail: I’m not sure where the presumption came from that I believe the adoptive parents are “entitled” to Anyeli because they are “better” or “wealthier.” I didn’t say it and don’t believe it.

As for any future role of Anyeli’s adoptive parents: yes, commenter, you are right, they don’t have to be in her life, nor should they have ever been. But they are, which is as important to Anyeli as it's distasteful to pretty much everyone else. Anyeli can be brought back to Guatemala and told – well what? That they’re dead? That she’s just not allowed to see them anymore? That they’re bad people who stole her from her family?

What does that do for Anyeli’s future trust of adults? Far better in my opinion for everyone involved to come together for Anyeli's sake, and with the help of support from mental health professionals competent in this type of trauma, prepare her for the transition in a way that doesn't destroy her trust in all adults.

You are also right that the adoptive parents have made choices that are morally reprehensible, particularly continuing with this adoption when they knew Anyeli's DNA test had been falsified. If they have acted illegally or in collusion with an agency that knowingly committed fraud, then I hope they are charged and tried in a court of law. Right now, I also hope they do right by Anyeli, and also hope the system recognizes they are still needed to do right by her.
AquaticNote asked a similar question:
An adopted child can never have two legal sets of parents. If both sets of parents are in her life, one set would end up being a "visit" but not intimately involved as if they were living in the same household as the child in question.
I am not suggesting a co-parenting role, but rather access until Anyeli has made the emotional transition back to her biological family. She needs to be allowed to continue some type of relationship, even something as simple as phone calls, skype sessions, photo exchanges, and possibly visits, until she, with the guidance and support of mental health professionals, chooses to end it.

The likelihood is that it wouldn’t be long. Watch Wo Ai Ni Mommy and consider how long it took Fang Sui to forget her foster family in China to see what I mean.

AquaticNote asked one more question that gets to the core of what I tried to say yesterday:
If the decisions made on her behalf are reached based on an analysis of who legally “owns” her, she is doomed to suffer.

What do you mean?
Human beings aren't objects to be owned. Decisions in child and family law, however, sometimes made following rules of personal property ownership, which places the rights of parents above those of children. Many of the comments I've seen in reaction to this story have followed this reasoning in the way they focus on righting the crime against Loyda Rodriguez above all by returning Anyeli to her. If this reasoning is applied in Anyeli's case, I fear her needs will not be fully explored, understood or met.

Comments

Myst said…
Issue is however, that a crime was committed and these adopters are now implicit in that crime. I find it impossible to feel sad for them when many people KNOW that children are kidnapped from places like Guatemala for adoption purposes and yet many chose to close their eyes to the truth in order to get what they want.

This is not about who "owns" this little girl.

And this is not a disruption - it is a solving of a crime and reuniting of a mother and her child.

As for the adopters being involved in her life - that would be entirely up to the mother. But I feel in this case something needs to be facilitated to allow a smooth transition. Maybe the mother could stay nearby for a couple of weeks visiting her daughter and build up the contact until the daughter is with her full time and the adopters are visiting her. Then wind back the contact and allow mother and daughter to return home. This is a messy situation and therefore trying to find a nice, neat outcome is not going to be possible. People are already hurt and it is only going to get worse.
Margie said…
Absolutely there was a crime, and it needs to be solved. The kidnappers must be brought to justice (and I believe that is happening in Guatemala), the adoption agency and facilitators in Guatemala and the U.S. must be brought to justice, and the adoptive parents, if they indeed are guilty of allowing what they new to be a fraudulent adoption, must be brought to justice.

I just hope all this happens without dragging Anyeli through another trauma. That really is the point of all my blathering.

"But I feel in this case something needs to be facilitated to allow a smooth transition. Maybe the mother could stay nearby for a couple of weeks visiting her daughter and build up the contact until the daughter is with her full time and the adopters are visiting her. Then wind back the contact and allow mother and daughter to return home. "

Yes, exactly what I have in mind.
Kris said…
Once again, commenters on your last post are focused on the adults and the crime in this case and not on Anyeli herself. I wholeheartedly agree with you on both this post and the last one.
Margie said…
I actually think I did a really bad job of making it clear that a crime was committed here, because I think most are taking issue with the fact that I'm even giving a thought to the adopters. It's not really them, though, it's their presence in the child's life. I learned some stuff about them today which, if true, paints them in a different light, too. They may have known before they brought Anyeli home that her DNA test had been falsified. That is just plain wrong, and it would seem to me might even render their adoption illegal.

Unfortunately, none of this changes a thing for Anyeli. She will still view what's happening to her as a separation from the people she believes are her parents, which will undoubtedly stir memories of her original abduction. For that reason alone, I think the APs need to remain in the picture somehow, not as parents, but in some capacity that allows Anyeli to have access to them until she has transitioned back to her family and the separation can become permanent or the two families reach some mutually-agreeable arrangement.
Anonymous said…
Oh Margie - you really do tackle the tough issues head on. My first experience as a potential adoptive mom was in 1971 -I have been at this a long long time. I know now that this egregious crime needs to be fixed and this poor little child returned to her parents. My mind knows it and of course it is the only logical way of dealing with the crime of kidnapping. Of course it is!

You wrote:
"I’m honestly not sure. When I think back to when my children were Anyeli’s age, I don’t know if I would have had the strength to let them go, even if my head told me it was the right thing to do."
This part is hard to talk about but I know in my core that I would have been one of those entitled aparents who would have lacked the strength to do the right thing. I would have fought tooth and nail to keep "my child". I am not proud of it but its the truth. I was one of the ones we hold in contempt.
Ages ago I got a picture of the child that would be my daughter. I remember while waiting for my little girl I had her picture on the mantle and I had claimed her in my heart. I totally fell in love with her picture. About the same time she was due to arrive from Korea I learned she wasn't coming - she had been found and reclaimed by her father. Rather than rejoice in the fact that this little girl was where she belonged in her family, my thoughts were about ME and my loss. I greived for me - I was her mother!

It took many many years to understand adoption. Back then - if it were me - I would have fought for "my" child. Is it "ownership" - i am not sure - its more about bonding I guess. But I know I would not have done the right thing.

I hope that all the adults in this situation are more mature and more ethical than I was and that the needs of the child come first. She needs all of these people who love her to work together to lessen the impact of this change for her. I do hope that they can put their own rights and needs aside and make it work for her.

Thanks Margie for making me be honest with myself.

Maggie
Margie,
Thank you for these posts. This story is so traumatic. I am so hopeful that her families will ensure her reunification is managed gradually and with adoption competent, bilingual, mental health professionals on board through every step of the process.
Susan
andrea said…
Yours is the most intelligent commentary I've read about this case in English. It is heartbreaking. Just one clarification: the adoption WAS ruled illegal in Guatemala. It's sickening that the u.s. did not respond appropriately to guatemala's petition and facilitate this.

From what I've garnered (interviews with the parents, hearsay, etc.), the aps have disappointed their daughter at every step. It seems to me that they could have tried to communicate with the mother and foundation sobrevivientes early on and have only chose to thwart justice and their daughter's well being at every juncture.
Mirjam said…
In these cases (eg. a discussion about http://blogs.rnw.nl/southasiawired/2010/06/11/indian-parents-want-dna-test-in-dutch-adoption-row/) I always opt what has to be done when Madeleine McCann http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Madeleine_McCann will be found, who's maybe living with another family for 5 years already. No discussion about that: return to parents.

That usually opens some eyes...
AquaticNote said…
The needs of adoptive parents outweigh the needs of the children. Why? Because all around us, parenthood is an expectation - only further increasing the desire of "*I* want to be a mother."

This is why I don't believe any adoptive mother could ever return a child to their homeland. Adoption works on the woman's desire to be a mother, which is obviously going to outweigh the other side of the coin - because the system works against the mother who gave birth and of course, the child is too young to have any response.

Adoption in itself really just fuels this.
AquaticNote said…
Further clarification: Anonymouse 7:16pm illustrates this - that motherhood is expected, motherhood is innate, and one should *want* to be a mother.

If one cannot have a biological child (or chooses not to?), one must look into other ways to have a child, because otherwise the desire to be a mother will never be fulfilled - and we are "brainwashed" to believe one can never truly be ever happy unless we become parents.

So for the prospective parent who hears the original mother was able to keep her child, it's not so much about the mother's happiness as it is about the prospective parent who doesn't get to be mommy.

I should note here that I don't "blame" Anonymouse 7:16 for illustrating what she felt, because like I said, society's expectations is that everyone should plan to become a parent and that that is the only way to achieve real happiness.

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