We have mentioned Panama's Adoption law to you on several occasions, as well as the work we did in order to draft proposed changes to the Law (See previous Newsletters
). As you may recall, after months and months of work with a committee of attorneys on this project, the proposed changes were sent to the Legislature. It has been sitting there for months since then. Finally, some movement has begun - however it is in a very challenging way. In a strange turn of events, UNICEF has written a 60 page Memorandum on all the reasons why this law change should not
For those of you who are not aware, UNICEF has many great programs, yet their emphasis on reuniting an abandoned child to his or her biological family in our opinion ends up violating the child's right to a family - due to the government's inability to investigate family members in a reasonable time frame (especially with governments of third-world countries). This philosophy typically results in an abandonment of the "rights of the child" for the sake of a never-ending search for an immediate or distant family member that is willing to care for the child. Whenever it is possible, reunification is in fact the best placement option for abandoned children. However, the UN and UNICEF seem unaware that governments in third-world countries like Panama inevitably spend years doing these investigations. All the while the children they are supposed to be helping are mentally, physically, and spiritually deteriorating in orphanages. This is not upholding the "rights of the child", rather this is upholding the "rights of the family". What normally happens is that years later, after the family investigation is completed...guess what...no biological family member wants the child! Also, at this point the child is past the point of the desired adoptable age for most waiting adopting families, as the strong effects of institutionalization have taken a toll. So the child's fate is set and they become innocent prisoners in the orphanage suffering from a life of rejection and the numerous, horrible effects of institutionalization.
Don't get me wrong, a few of UNICEF's comments actually made sense, the insight was important and we want to make some modifications. However, by in large, their response to this law change simply reflects their apparent unawareness of how dysfunctional the "termination of parental rights" process is in Panama, and how the actual "rights of the child" are currently being violated for the sake of "family reunification". A change in the law is necessary.
The Director of SENNIAF (department of government in Panama over children and adoptions), Gloria, is at a Convention this week in Geneva, Switzerland. While there, she was confronted by the Convention for this proposed change. PLEASE PRAY. Pray for Gloria. For her discernment and strength. Pray for the law to be changed in a manner that will effect real changes in the time to which it takes children to be placed in a loving family (whether back with a safe biological family member or a suitable adoptive family). Pray for God to move the hearts of many leaders and government officials in order for this to happen. One example of the things that are so important to be changed in this law, is the right for foster parents to adopt. Currently it is illegal for foster parents to adopt in Panama, which is completely against psychological and legal standards on what is in the best interest of the child.
We are currently working on drafting a Legal Response to the UNICEF Memorandum. It is ironic that internationally the "powers that be" are trying to stop this law change... which can make the difference to so many kids lives. Pray for our Response, as well. To me, this scenario is a picture of the Enemy at work. Satan hates adoption, as it is a depiction of us being placed into God's family. He wants to stop it at all costs. Please fight with us in the spiritual realm through prayer (James 5:16
Misty and Matt Hedspeth