Russia and Guatemala: a legislative update

Guatemala

In May 2010, a large number of families representing the Guatemala 900, an advocacy network for families whose cases still await processing, came to Washington, D.C. and held a briefing for Members of Congress. During this briefing, adoptive families laid out reasons why these cases continue to be delayed as well as ways Members of Congress might act on their behalf. Motivated by the passion and commitment of these families, several members including Senators Boxer (D-CA), Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator Feingold (D-WI) have been actively engaged in efforts to unite these families with their children. In late June, 76 Members signed a letter to President Colom and three other high ranking officials asking for them to take immediate action to resolve these cases.

Russia

Over the past several months, the U.S. State Department has been involved in negotiations with officials in Russia . These negotiations have been focused on coming to a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on additional safeguards that can be put in place to better protect adopted children and their families. For the most part, the dialogue between the two countries, has been positive and it is hoped a final agreement can be reached and signed soon. The events leading up to the current situation in Russia, most notably the case of the 8 year old returned to Russia by his adoptive mom, has prompted Members of Congress to introduce legislation to strengthen pre- and post-adoption support services for American adoptive families. The Supporting Adoptive Families Act (introduced by Senators Landrieu (D-LA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Brownback (R-KY) and Johnson (D-SD) would develop and expand training and resources for families adopting domestically or internationally, ensuring that both parents and children have the assistance and care they need to remain together. The bill would also address the current shortage of adoption services available to families prior to and following adoptions.