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.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.
What do you mean?