WASHINGTON — The United States Tuesday refused to return to Guatemala a girl illegally adopted by a US couple in 2006 because at the time the South American nation had not yet signed onto an international treaty.
“We can’t accept cases under the Hague Convention on abduction if the treaty was not enforced at the time of the alleged wrongful removal or retention,” said State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland.
A Guatemalan judge in August 2011 ordered the repatriation of Anyeli Liseth Hernandez Rodriguez, asking the US embassy to find the girl and return her to her natural mother, Loyda Rodriguez.
Anyeli Hernandez, now seven, was abducted in November 2006 and wound up, illegally, with an adopting American couple.
The Hague Convention on child abduction was ratified by Guatemala’s congress in 2007 and went into effect there on January 1, 2008.
Nuland said the “appropriate venue” in the United States for pursuing the case was the state courts.
“They’re the competent organ for holding a full hearing on the merits and the best interests of the child,” Nuland said.
She added the United States remains committed to “ethical” and “transparent” adoption.
“We’re obviously deeply concerned about allegations regarding stolen children and inter-country adoptions wherever these cases come up,” Nuland said.
Guatemalan authorities have prosecuted three people for kidnapping and for placing Anyeli Hernandez up for adoption.
Before 2008, when the new law went into effect, adoptions were a big black-market business in Guatemala that generated some 200 million dollars a year from 5,000 adoptions, 95 percent of which were by American couples.