Sunday, March 1, 2020

Our Adoption Journey in Guatemala

James and Ellie Carr
During our time serving as directors of an orphanage here in Guatemala, we were always looking for ways to make a deeper and more personal impact on the children we work with. We often felt limited in our relationships and the focus that we could give to each child while we were busy managing a home of nearly 60 children. Though the work we were doing was good, God began stirring in our hearts to do something more.

As you may be aware, Guatemala is currently closed off to international adoptions meaning that only current residents of the country are eligible to adopt. This law was established after years of corrupt adoptions took place. Currently, there is one government agency (CNA) that processes all adoptions at minimal cost to demonetize and deter corruption. In years past private agents and agencies would charge exorbitant amounts of money in comparison to the average income here in Guatemala.  Parents were often persuaded by these private entities to allow children whom they could hardly provide for to move to orphanages, where their kids were promised a better life.  Unfortunately, we've seen this occur even in our time here.  Other impoverished pregnant women were brought to "maternity homes" for lack of a better term, and were promised food, shelter, and sometimes even money in exchange for their baby once it was born.  For years, lawyers and adoption agents prospered at the cost of poverty stricken families, who were left destitute, and missing their sons andaughters.  

Knowing the tainted history of adoption in Guatemala, we were hesitant to enter the process, not wanting to fuel more corruption.  At the same time, we knew about the need for adoptive families after working in a children's home for several years, and our hearts had been prompted by God to care for the orphan.  So we proceeded extremely cautiously.

We entered into the adoption process out of obedience in May, 2018, not even fully sure if we were qualified to adopt in Guatemala. The process itself was long and tedious. When we returned to the States in July, 2018, we gathered the required documents our family needed, and in September we officially submitted our application. In November 2018, CNA completed our home study and the following January CNA carried out our psychological exam- all in Spanish, of course.

After that we expected to receive approval from CNA to be matched, but instead our process hit roadblock after roadblock. We spent nearly all of 2019 jumping through a number of hoops including resubmitting lost paperwork, proving we were no longer directors of an orphanage, and mostly just waiting.

It was during this time that we did research- a lot of it.  We wanted to be sure we were not feeding into a corrupt system of adoptions that perpetuated the systems of poverty and broken families we witness day in anday out here.  We read books, looked up public records, tried not to let our own dissatisfaction with CNA taint our views, and we prayed.  Praying, crying, and reading made up a good portion of our nights in 2019.  We were thirsty for truth, and truth is evasive in Guatemala, we have come to know.
While our research was putting us at ease, we were largely discouraged by our adoption process.  We had several friends fly past us in the process.  Those who began the process when we did, already had their sons andaughters home with them.  Those who started the process way after us, hasurpassed us, and had also received children.  It wasn't until December that we received a call to give us documentation that we had been approved to be matched.  The next month we got a call for a match, and on January 31 we learned that we would be parents to another son, Mateo. We met Mateo on February 6, and spent several days visiting him in the orphanage where he was living.  On February 10 we welcomed him into our home, and even better, into our family for good.

Since that time, the adoption council here has signed off on his case.  We still need two judges to do so.  After that, we can work on officially giving him our last name.  After that we will focus on his U.S. citizenship.  There are still a lot of unknowns in that process, especially with the current strain relationship between the U.S. anGuatemala.  Pray for us as we face those challenges.  Pray for Mateo as he adapts to life with our family, and for our family as we adapt to life as a bigger family.
Thank you for all of your prayers for us.  We couldn't be here without your support, and we are so grateful.

Much love,

Carrs, family of five.

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