45 kids are missing, and no one's talking

If any of you have, or know someone who has, gone through the process of international adoption, you will know that it ranks right up there with full-tilt Spice Girls in the world of inhumane torture. The pay off? Huge. The getting there? Horrifying. If you haven't, or you don't, please, just for today, throw away your preconceived notions about it. It's arduous. Not only do you end up paying the cost of a small civilization, you wait. And wait. And wait. Your country of choice just doesn't tell you anything, and they don't tell you anything for what can be years. The people who sign up for this do it for their own very personal reasons, reasons that are not ours to judge. In the end, they just want to be moms and dads. They just want a child. It's an uphill battle that I am watching a few friends go through right now, and I am totally in awe of those people.

Now, just imagine....you've decided after a long and exhaustive process to adopt from, oh, say, Guatemala. You do everything you're asked to do, gotten all the proper DNA testing, things move along slowly, and then you finally receive word of your child. You start getting pictures. You put together the baby's room. You have a date set to go meet your son, and a date following that to bring him home. And then, one day, you find out that the government has raided the orphanage and are blocking the entrance, with assault rifles. And then you find out a week later that someone has come in the night and taken all 45 children out of the orphanage.

And that's all you hear. The children are just gone.

Until, of course, you hear that 9 of the babies have shown up in hospitals.

The problem here is that this is not a hypothetical situation. It's very real and very happening right now. How does this affect you? Not one bit, probably. But 9 out of 10 of you, dear readers, are in Denver and this is really affecting one Denver man, who happens to be one of my very best friends. 9News has run a story on this. You can also watch the interview here. Another families' story is here.

Casa Quivira is the adoption agency in question, and since this event there have been many statements coming out about how the children housed there were obtained illegally, how the care of the children is substandard, and so on. Now, there is precious little coming out of Guatemala about this, but the parents who have already adopted from there are saying loud and proud that these allegations are false and that their children were healthy and loved and cared for. Like this family:
With regard to the allegations that the children were in poor health before
"bienestar" took over - while I know that data is not the plural form of
anecdote - my pediatrician described my son (home from CQ in July) as "one of
the healthiest internationally adopted kids I've ever seen."
There is a battery of DNA testing run on the children, and I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that Russell's child's testing all matched the proper people.

The long story short is that 40-some children were taken in the middle of the night, and no one knows where they are. One of those children has a home in your community, with a wonderful man who just wants to be a dad. There is almost not one thing we can do about it, but we can
contact the Guatemalan Ambassador to the United States and ask questions. We can start talking about this. We can make a stir. Maybe we can spread the word through the Internet and get some answers. Even if they end up being the answers we don't want, some news is better than no news and missing children. And so, I guess I'm asking for your help in getting this around.

Here's the letter Russell has sent out to his elected officials. It's much more eloquent than I could ever hope to be.

I ask your help with a frightening and urgent situation. My name is Russell
Johnston and I am adopting a baby boy from Casa Quivira in Antigua, Guatemala.
Casa Quivira housed 45 babies and small children, and provided a peaceful and
loving sanctuary and exemplary care for these children, including formula, food,
medicine, and most of all, individual and specialized attention. The care Casa
Quivira provided our children has been witnessed by other adoptive parents that
have visited Casa Quivira personally, along with video feeds and pictures we
have all seen of the orphanage.
On August 11, 2007, the Guatemalan government
conducted an unannounced, forceful and violent raid on Casa Quivira, and are now
standing outside the orphanage doors with assault rifles. The government took
over complete control of the orphanage and it’s inhabitants and arrested
orphanage attorneys illegally. Subsequently, the care and attention to the
children and cleanliness of the orphanage has deteriorated rapidly since the
government took control. The President’s Office on Social Welfare refuses to
allow orphanage workers to administer such basic things such as medicine, food,
formula, and hygienic care. These children were perfectly healthy in Casa
Quivira’s care before the government’s raid. Since the government took control,
9 of the 45 babies have been hospitalized.
Last night (August 23, 2007) the
situation became even more frightening. The Social Welfare Department removed
all children from Casa Quivira and have taken them to unknown location(s) –
nobody knows where they are. Most of these babies legally belong to their
adoptive families here in America, including my son, Luis Alberto Hernandez.
They also removed all the caretakers from Casa Quivira. This situation continues
to worsen daily and now seriously threatens the innocent lives of 45
children.
I desperately need the following help from you. Please contact the
Guatemalan Ambassador to the United States, Honorable Guillermo Castillo, and
specifically ask Mr. Castillo the three following questions.
1. Why were the
children removed from Casa Quivira?
2. Where specifically were they
taken?
3. What is being done to advance the investigation of cases at Casa
Quivira?
Honorable Castillo’s contact information is:
Phone:
202-745-4952
Fax: 202-745-1908
e-mail:
ambassador1@guatemala-embassy.org
If Ambassador Castillo hears from our
elected officials repeatedly, hopefully he will take action to obtain this
information
This is a dire and urgent situation. I ask that you, as my
elected official, do something in your power immediately to locate my infant
son.
Parents involved in apotions in Guatemala are sounding off here.