If U.S. authorities intervene to return the child, now 6, as the Guatemalan court has asked, it would be a first for any international adoption case, experts say.I do know this much -- the presence or absence of applicable treaties will make a difference here, but it's not the only thing that would make a difference. The doctrine of international comity does obligate (somewhat) countries to accept court decrees and government acts from other countries. That's why a U.S. court will accept a foreign decree of adoption, why I don't have to "re-adopt" my children adopted in China and why my parents, married in France, didn't have to "re-marry" in the U.S.
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The U.S. State Department referred all questions about the court ruling to the Justice Department, which would not comment on the case.
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U.S. officials might simply try to ignore the order, said David Smolin, a law professor at the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama, and an expert in international adoption.
Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the Virginia-based National Council For Adoption, said he has never heard of the U.S. carrying out a foreign court order to return adopted children to their home country.
But the leading advocate in the Guatemala case said the U.S. government is obligated under international treaties to return victims of human trafficking or irregular adoptions that have occurred within five years.
The girl left the country on Dec. 9, 2008, according to court records.
"We're within the margin of time," said Norma Cruz, director of the Survivors Foundation, a human rights group that filed the court case for Rodriguez. "We don't have to contact the (adoption) family. The judge's order says authorities have to find the child, wherever she is."
But international comity is not absolute; the U.S. can refuse to honor a foreign court's judgment if the judgment is "repugnant" to the public policy of the U.S. A treaty, if applicable, won't allow the U.S. to reject a foreign court's judgment, though. I'm interested in the quote from the Guatemalan advocate: "the U.S. government is obligated under international treaties to return victims of human trafficking or irregular adoptions." The U.S. doesn't consider irregular adoptions to be human trafficking, even when the illegal adoption involves kidnapping,so that's going to be a hard sell.
So this is far from over; the Guatemalan court order is only a tiny first step toward return of the child. And that tiny step might be as far as it ever goes. Makes the vision from the article of the biiological mother planning her daughter' bedroom really poignant. Might not need those dolls for a 6-year-old, could be rock star posters for a 13-year-old, or an elegant bedroom for an adult whose come to meet her mother for the first time. . . .