Stalled Adoption Program in Guatemala Leaves American Families in Limbo
The little boy flies like an airplane through the hotel, his arms outstretched. Then he leaps like a superhero, beaming as the red lights on his new sneakers flash and flicker, while the American couple he is with dissolve in laughter.
He calls them Mamá and Papi. They call him Hijo — Son. He corrects their fledgling Spanish. They teach him English. “Awe-some,” he repeats carefully, eyeing his new shoes.
To outsiders, they look like a family. But Geovany Archilla Rodas, an impish 6-year-old boy with spiky black hair, lives in an orphanage on the outskirts of this capital city. The Americans — Amy and Rob Carr of Reno, Nev. — live a world away. They are the only parents he has ever known.
They have been visiting him every year, usually twice a year, since he was a toddler, flying into this Central American city for a few days at a time to buy him clothes and to read him stories, to wipe his tears and to tickle him until he collapses in giggles at their hotel or in the orphanage.
Yet half a decade after agreeing to adopt him, the Carrs still have no idea when — or if — they will ever take Geovany home.
“There’s this hope in you that doesn’t want to die,” said Mrs. Carr, who arrived here last month with her husband, more determined than ever to cut through the bureaucracy. “In my heart, he’s my son.”
The Carrs are among the 4,000 Americans who found themselves stuck in limbo when Guatemala shut down its international adoption program in January 2008 amid mounting evidence of corruption and child trafficking. Officials here and in Washington promised at the time to process the remaining cases expeditiously.