Friday, December 2, 2011

Colombia blocks gay father from taking legally adopted sons to U.S.

From Colombia Reports:
Colombian authorities have denied a U.S. journalist the right to bring home two young Colombian boys he had legally adopted, after learning of his sexual orientation, according to La Semana magazine.

The authorites acknowledge that his sexuality was an issue but claim it was the that fact he kept it a secret from the children that they objected to -- a claim Chandler Burr says is totally false.

Speaking on CNN's American Morning on Wednesday, Burr -- a novelist, former New York Times columnist, and museum curator -- described his stuggle to get his boys back, after the adoption process was halted at the last minute.

The story began in 2009 when Burr travelled to Colombia and, through the Colombian Family Welfare Unit (ICBF), began the process of adopting the two boys, now aged 9 and 13. The institute approved the application, allowing the children to spend the summer of 2009 in New York.

It was only during the final preparations in May 2011 that problems arose. According to Burr, after mentioning his sexuality in an informal conversation, a lawyer representing the ICBF removed the children from his care and interrogated them on the issue, before notifying Burr that he would not be able to take them back to the U.S.

Responding to yesterday's CNN program with an interview on Caracol Radio, the new director of ICBF, Diego Molano, has defended the decision on the basis that the children have "a right to know who their father is", and that Mr. Burr had hidden this important information about his sexual orientation from them.

Mr. Burr says the children knew that he was gay and didn't have any problem with it. Burr reported, "When the lawyer asked them if they knew I was gay, my eldest son Brian, who is 13, responded 'I know and I don't care.'"

According to former judge Eduardo Montealegre, "Colombian law allows a single person to adopt a child. Furthermore, there is no prohibition or limitation restricting adoption based on the sexual orientation of the individual." In practice, however, adoption by gay men in Colombia is seldom allowed.

Burr has vowed to fight the Colombian authorities on the issue, claiming that his rights are being violated. The case is currently under review in the Constitutional Court.


Birth Parent Search said...

That really is a very big subject. Should or not gay men adopt children. Probably in many cases gay men could be better parents than staright ones, and in many others the opposites stands as true. I really cant take a stand on any option in this subject.

Anonymous said...

The article states that the children have a right to know who their father is but then does not provide any information about what the children want. Do they want to stay with their father or are they asking to be left in Columbia?

Anonymous said...

it sounds like the gentleman was not honest about his status and that's what i have a problem with. too many people adopt and hide things. there were so many single people adopting when i did and a majority were gay and hiding it. there is one family still hiding it from the social worker. i don't think that is fair to the birth country, to the child or anyone involved. many of the kids were older and were told that someday they might have a dad only to be told in the states that they have 2 moms. starting a life of lies. i think it's a lot for an older child who has gone through so many changes. in my opinion gay adoption should be for kids under 2, not older kids who have expectations of what their family will look like in the states. lastly, i know you talked about single adoption before and i really do feel that 2 parents make the best families for internationally adopted kids under school age, same sex or not. these kids need 1 full (or almost) full time parent to work through the transition which is life long.

Anonymous said...

When I adopted from China, I was single and did not disclose my status as gay. I did have an off-the-recird conversation about being gay with my social worker. She said, "Should I put down my pen?" and I said "Yes" and we had a candid talk. Then we went back to the business of doing the homestudy. In her eyes, sexual orientation was completely irrelevant and whether I would disclose such a thing to my child in the future (of course, I would) had NO bearing on being considered fit or not fit to adopt. I think your last commenter honestly feels that gay and single just doesn't cut it.

I felt no compunction to share this information with China. I ask you: how much information about our daughters' real whereabouts and route to the orphanage did they share with us?

Anonymous said...


I think the real issue here is that these children, older and not likely to be placed in an adoptive setting ( based on stats )were legally adopted and are now being prevented from entering the U.S. with their legal father. Colombian law does not prohibit a gay person from adopting, only discriminates in practice then?

These boys spent an entire summer in New York in this father's care and its highly unlikely they believed they would be entering a traditional setting with both a Mom and Dad given that extended visit, as Anon. 2 suggests.

I find it appalling that Anon. one presumes that the boys may not wish to go with their Father; that was not implied or stated at all. In fact, the one boy is quoted as saying he knew his father was gay and simply does not care. Does that sound like a child desperately wishing to remain in Colombia? How easy it would have been for him to alert officials that he had been kept in dark. End of story, he stays in Colombia. But he didn't....

I also find it irritating that Anon. #2 suggests that so many adoptive families mislead and lie about important facts. That simply is not true for the vast majority of us who trot out every scrap of our private lives for the Homestudy process and various legal hoops we must complete before being considered as suitable adoptive parents.

Finally, as a straight married gal, I can attest that I personally know SEVERAL marriages that have dissolved after many years when one or both members of the couple come to terms with their true gender preference.

Are those parents also living a lie? Hiding their "real" selves from their children? Should those children then be taken away?

Of course not...that's absurd. As is this case keeping this family apart based on sexual preference.


Anon 4

P.S. I normally feel that every country has the right to do as they feel best with their children with regards to setting adoptive practices/laws. What bugs me about this case, is that no law exists eliminating this man as a suitable adoptive candidate. If the law was there and he deliberately deceived officials then that would be a different matter altogether.

Sarah said...

It's interesting that "sexual orientation is irrelevant." At least in our home study, we had to answer a question related to the quality of our (mine and my husband's) sexual relationship. Is this type of question not in all home study forms?
Just wondering. I don't think something that significant should be hidden.

Anonymous said...

anon 4 - you said: I also find it irritating that Anon. #2 suggests that so many adoptive families mislead and lie about important facts. That simply is not true for the vast majority of us who trot out every scrap of our private lives for the Homestudy process and various legal hoops we must complete before being considered as suitable adoptive parents.

YES, many families mislead and lie about important facts. i just went through an adoption within the last 2 years and met MANY families that lied about their sexual orientation. at least 50% of the 'single' parents i met had a better half waiting for them at home or a 'sister' traveling with them to complete the adoption. again, my opinion is these families are better off as parents in many cases than single parents. the problem i have is the lying that is going on.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3 here. Just to clarify, my homestudy was completely accurate and mentioned a couple of my older BFs and the man I had almost married. My social worker said, "You're lucky you have enough hetero history to go here" (in the romantic history spot) and to bring the information up to date, it simply said that I had no major relationship at the time (100% true) and a variety of friendships with men and women. Also true.

The unspoken rule at the time with China (1996 - 97) was "no questions asked". That changed as time went on and at one point I think you had to swear you were not gay or in a gay relationship.

Why adopt from China if lying is such a big deal for you, though? The entire process is one long misrepresentation in which you agreed to take part and hold your nose.