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Family and government orphans children: they leave them, they want to adopt them, but they are trapped in the legal bureaucracy

When an infant is in custody of the authority, this is responsible for resolving if it could be adopted.But in Mexico, those who do not prioritize define the legal situation of minors who, for the most part, are trapped in legal limbos until they reach the age of majority are not to be sanctioned.Thus they lose the opportunity to have a family and end in the street.

For days the residents of a housing unit listen to cries of a baby in one of the departments.They are restless, but they fear doing something.Finally, one dares to call the patrol.

When the patrol arrives, the neighbors explain what happened.They tell, worried, they have also observed that the little girl's mother leaves early and leaves for many hours.

After the patrolmen talk to the neighbors force the door and find a baby of months sitting on the floor.She is in a very poor state of hygiene, with an empty dish with remains of old food around her.The baby is crying and fear.They decide to take it to present it to the Public Ministry.

The mother will then explain to the authority that is alone in Mexico City;that she came from Chiapas, that she does not know anyone else and that she got a job as office cleaning personnel and that she does not take care of her daughter.She also explains that she tries to leave food and return at her time.That she didn't want to hurt her.

The woman, who has one or two degrees of primary school and cannot check her identity because her papers are in her town, is arrested.She accuses her of "care omission."Then they will free it, but it is pending to check her identity.She will never appear again.

Thus began the intricate Camino de Sara, an eight -month -old baby who had to be withdrawn from her mother.Although the crime varies in each case, in Mexico the omission of care is very common nationwide.

It is the Government, through the National System for the Integral Development of the Family, known as DIF, which decides in which alternative care institution will place the minor in question.The Social Assistance Institution can be public (of the DIF) or private (supervised by the DIF).

The possibility that an infant is adopted depends on whether its legal status is resolved.If not resolved, as happens on many occasions, the minor in question will remain until the age of majority in an alternative care institution and then will be sent to the street.

Both the DIF and the Public Ministry assigned to the case of each minor and, in some cases, the institution that receives them has the power to resolve the legal situation of each child.Each of these instances has power, legal faculty and authority to achieve it, but in the law there are no deadlines or the obligation to do so.

In case of, first, not being able to be reimbursed to your family, the judgment of loss of parental rights must be carried out and, later, if possible, the adoption judgment.

Legal path to nothing

Once a crime is committed against an infant and the police intervene, the minor is available to the Attorney General of Mexico City.The Attorney General's Office notifies the DIF, but the DIF does not have its own facilities in Mexico City, so it has to channel the infant to an alternative care institution, commonly called household houses or shelters.

However, before arriving at a home, minors without parental care, such as Sara, which are currently in charge of the capital government, travel a long way.Once retired from the adult who was in charge, the minors are transferred by police to the agency 59 of the Public Ministry - specialized in children and adolescents.

The agency 59 houses the lowest victims of some crime that, in theory, must be there up to 72 hours, waiting for some adult to be responsible for their custody.The reality is that, in this agency, children of all ages - from babies to teenagers - remain in place without contemplating their specific needs and, sometimes, until weeks that are achieved, they are channeled to an institution for their care orto the Transitory Stay Center (CET).

The day Sara was alone, nobody came for her.So she was channeled to the CET of the Attorney General of Mexico City.

The CET, as the name implies, is a passenger center from which a minor is channeled to a particular shelter, according to each child's profile.That is, your age, gender, if you have any special need.Each institution has the lower profile that in theory aspires to be able to take care.In fact, there are institutions that receive the same as children than adults, which further complicates the possibility that both minor and adults are properly served.

Sara's mother has not been located again.And there is no contact data or names of another relative of the little girl who spent seven months in the center of transitory stay, and once the authority exhausted the possibility of probable family reintegration, the DIF chained an alternative care center: In this case, the home and future house, A. C.

Authority, overwhelmed

Home and Future, A. C. was founded in 1993 and is a home home that, as the name implies, considers to provide a home to the children who arrive with them, who forge a future and have the opportunity to grow in a family.

To do this, they have decided to resolve the legal status of each of the minors who are channeled.That is, they resolve that they are reimbursed to their family of origin and, if not possible, they promote their adoption with a "heart of heart", as Mariena Hernández, director of the home.

Adoption is one of the options contemplated by the Convention on Childhood Rights promoted by the UN, since 1990, as an alternative means of care by countries to protect infants without parental care.

In theory, no more than six months must pass to determine the legal status of a minor, but it is very rare that this happens."The reality is that the authority is totally exceeded, and when they reach an institution [the infants] cease to be a concern and become a file," says Hernández.

Alternative care institutions have signed agreements with the DIF and with the prosecutors to take their registration and based on it, supervisions are carried out;But this does not happen regularly.The degree in Pedagogy and a teacher in family therapy points out that the visits they receive are erratically.Sometimes they receive supervisions from the Ministry of Health, of the Attorney General of the Federal District (PGJDF) and the DIF almost consecutively or sometimes they spend years without them taking place.

Mariena Hernández points out that the first right of a child who becomes careful by the State is to restore her right to live as a family.So, the institutionalization of a child "should not be a destination, but a step."

Niños huérfanos de familia y gobierno: los abandonan, los quieren adoptar, pero quedan atrapados en la burocracia legal


Not there is a law that sanctions that legal proceedings are not carried out to define the legal status of minors, these are defenseless for the second time.First, at the hands of the family in which they were born biologically and from which they were expelled;Then, at the hands of the government itself.

For this omission in the law, the vast majority of healthcare institutions do not seek to resolve the legal situation of infants who are channeled to them, turning what should be a passenger of the minor in the only stay they will know in his life.

In addition, they can benefit financially for having these children, being able to receive private donations and government aid.

To the economic benefits it is added that some institutions can save the expenses for contracting lawyers - who could initiate a special judgment of loss of parental rights for those minors in helplessness, received by a public and private institution of social assistance and monitoringto the process until its definition.A judge could resolve the legal situation of a minor, who would have the opportunity to live as a family if he could be adopted.

The Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico (REDIM) indicates that the Mexican State received an observation by the United Nations Children's Rights Committee that states that there are not enough policies to support families inthe fulfillment of their responsibilities;that the number of private children of a family environment is unknown;that institutionalization continues to be the prioritized option and that there is inappropriate supervision on alternative care institutions.Take as recent examples the cases of abuse and negligence found in the South and Mamas Rosa shelters.

The Casitas del Sur case came to light in 2008 when a judge granted the parental authority of the slightest Curiel Martínez to his maternal grandmother, who when attending home home learned that he was not there.This scandal allowed several disappearances of minors to be discovered at the hands of members of the restored Christian Church: people who founded the home and delivered the minors to other members of the Congregation.In 2009, the Attorney General of the DF initiated an investigation and 126 minors were rescued.

On the “Mama Rosa” case, in 2014 the Attorney General's Office (PGR) carried out a search and began an investigation into the La Gran Familia shelter, administered by Rosa del Carmen Verduzco, better known as “Mama Rosa”.Almost 500 children who were in a state of malnutrition, living in unhealthy and deplorable conditions were rescued.In the hostel more than 600 people lived, from newborns to 40 -year -old adults.Some declared to have been forced to ask for money and also have been victims of sexual abuse.

The UN has asked the DIF to, as legal responsible for the more than 30,000 children and adolescents that were until 2015 in 879 alternative care centers in the country, publicly report on the progress in the certification of alternative care institutions.The REDIM has warned that there are also 29,000 minors without family or institutional care.

“Without the fulfillment of the General Law on the Rights of Girls, Children and Adolescents (promulgated in 2014) our country will continue to discover hells such as the City of Salamanca, Guanajuato, or the great family of 'Mama Rosa' in Zamora, Michoacán, that in similar circumstances of mass institutionalization maintained under the complicity of local and political authorities in turn an inhuman treatment of hundreds of girls, boys and adolescents sent to these places by the state DIFs, ”explains the United Nations document strongly.

For his part, Edith Díaz Milanesio, a specialist lawyer for adoptions, adds: “There is a lotThey remain institutionalized until the age of majority. ”

Abandonment of fact, not of law

Between 2014 and 2017, the DIF of Mexico City received 1,590 infants.In 2017, only 11 were adopted.In home and future, A. C., Institution where little Sara arrived, 12 adoptions of a population of 25 minors have been achieved during 2017.

To have the power to resolve the legal situation of minors, institutions interested in doing so request the “general mandate”, faculty that are acquired with a signature before a public notary.However, it is reiterated, there is no law that forces the stay of minors in a welfare institution to be just one step and not a destination.The majority arrive as children and in the institutions become adolescents and then, at 18, stay in the helplessness of the street without having the opportunity to live as a family.

In most of the civil codes of the states, the prerogative by decree to regularize the legal status of minors has it exclusively the DIF that, automatically, is tutor of all minors.

The National, State and Municipal DIF System is exceeded in human and economic infrastructure to carry out the quantity and quality of legal processes to define the legal status of minors according to Mariena Hernández, director of home and future.

The Latin American Family Coism (Relaf) network indicates that the rights of infants who are at risk of losing parental care, as well as minors who have already lost them, receive systematic violations, starting with the right to live in family and community.

“Many families in our country want to adopt and many institutionalized children in abandonment want parents, but unfortunately the indefinite legal situation of these girls and boys becomes the impassable‘ Berlin wall ’that separates them.In that legal indefinition that makes them not susceptible or adoption candidates, there are many Mexican children, 'abandoned in fact but not of law' then, unfortunately, their absent parents retain parental rights and rights over them, ”explains lawyer Díaz Milanesio.

Díaz Milanesio works with several healthcare institutions.He observes that the priority for authority in Mexico is that the child "be reinstated to his family nucleus."However, there is no time limit to conclude investigations regarding the possibility that the child is reinstated or not.By the way, the lawyer emphasizes: “It would be important for the laws to establish terms for the corresponding legal actions to be carried out and the indefinite or permanent institutionalization of minors is avoided and that, in case of finding themselves in helplessness, it is restoredImmediately your right to live as a family and can quickly access adoption. ”

The first phase, the reintegration of each minor, lasts on average one year by the DIF and the Attorney General's Office.“When we started making a loss of parental authority it is because we have a trade by the authorities, in this case by the DIF of CDMX, where it is stated that the minor could not be reinstated to their family nucleus,process that also has time and effort to achieve, ”says Mariena Hernández.

With trade in hand, now the institutions that have decided to find a family for minors must collect the legal documentation of the child.Once they manage to collect these documents, the lawyers hired with the resources of these civil institutions can begin the process of loss of parental rights.

"Here what happens is that all the procedure that has already been done before is repeated because the judge needs to ensure that there is no alternate family member who could exercise parental rights or be head of parental rights," says the director ofHome and future.

In the instance of the parent loss judgment, it is rare that a relative is presented, but due to the willingness to prefer the reintegration to the loss of parental rights, the procedures can be extended without an effective resolution for minors.

"If a relative appears in the loss trial, sometimes they express some interest and the judges usually give many opportunities to try to restore children," explains Mariena Hernández.Each new audience or assessment implies time.

Therefore, the loss trial can be many months or even years.“There are cases in which it is necessary to repeat studies, searches, citations and deadlines with months between one and the other, work overload in the courts and the issue of different criteria in the courts.Although in theory there should be some uniformity, each judge has its concerns, ”he says.

The more time passes in each judicial process, children are growing and remain in an institution, so the possibilities of being adopted are reduced.

Until an institution, as is the case of home and future, manages to conclude a judgment of loss of parental rights, begin to look for an adoptive family for the minor in question.And, “by not having the absolute certainty of being able to promote the adoption judgment, we cannot put at risk the emotional well -being of that child, and as until the last moment a family member may arise, until theWe do it, ”says Hernández.

Forging love and future

When a new phase starts, there are sometimes many options for the minor whose legal situation has managed to be resolved.But it's not always like this.The head of Hogar and Future explains that age and characteristics influence, "because apart we intend not to meet adoption requests, but to look for families for our children."

In the home and future, which concentrates babies and children from zero to three years, reads in toys: "Sara, María, Yoselyn, Carlos ...".And when a minor arrives a new toy is given, also on his birthday and the day they leave.Each toy is marked by the child's name, or in most cases, of which its owner was.Sara, as she arrived from baby, has several toys marked with her name, babies are helped to choose a toy suitable for her age, but older children can freely choose their toy from the "room of theWonders ”.It is actually a small room and three of the four walls that make it up are full of toys for all tastes and ages.

Some children already live as a family and those who have not been able to have their legal status resolved, are now with "the greats" - three to six years.

Schedules, specification of special diets for each minor and other considerations are written on white blackboards.Many, although due to their age they should eat solids, cannot be done because of the degree of malnutrition in which they arrive.They must change their diet, little by little, until they can eat everything as long as they are not allergic to any food.On another blackboard reads: "Luis is in the escort, every Monday he goes white."

When there are no need to divide clothes, but while they grow, especially girls, they like to choose their clothes and differentiate themselves.Each girl of three to six years has a separated place with her name in the closet.There are also her favorite shoes, those who stayed and chose since they could express it, apart from the new ones.

In most occasions very little or nothing is known about the past of children who arrive at an institution.The crime that was committed against him is known, but not what happened in their day to day: what did they ate, what words they listened, they had a toy they slept with?

Sara arrived from eight months, but little is known about her past.Now all the energy of her tutors is concentrated, in this case home and future, A. C., in the present of it but, above all, in the future of it.

At the end of 2017, the home and future was almost empty.Earlier this year there were 12 babies.Now there are only three left because the others have already found a family.This is a reason for celebration for all: their guides who care for daily, the director, the psychologist, the doctor, the lawyers in charge of the case, the cooks, the vigilantes, the lady in charge of the laundry, the volunteers, all congratulate.

The care of children and babies is achieved with agendas, shifts, school, food, apapachos, birthday cakes, piñatas, teacher's day celebrations, friendship.No important celebration is left behind.However, it is in the subtleties where the love and dedication with which each of the infants that arrives is found.

The guides are experts in understanding each one and getting to know them.There are two symptoms with which most children or babies arrive: with lice and malnutrition.The first is almost immediately arranged, but to manage malnutrition, guides are tested in their patience, ingenuity and affection.

Many of the babies who already have their teeth do not know how to eat.This is the case of Ana, one year, which arrived earlier this June and only agreed to drink water without problems.She neither milk nor solid foods wanted to eat despite being very skinny.Although she didn't walk, she seemed more girl than baby because her face was thin just like her complexion.

In the Ciero there are three guides and, so far, six babies.Each guide has tried to his personal way that Ana is interested in eating.They applaud, they say "mmm, how rich" they touch "the door" on the table so that their attention returns to the food plate.

The home has a nursing in which a doctor makes visits to review and cure the children and babies that require it.The new income is always attended immediately by the doctor.On a blackboard she has left pointed out: "insist that Ana coma, alone, accompanied or as it is.""She has to be doing stomach," explains one of her guides.

Three weeks have passed since Ana arrived and already eats.Not everything on the plate, but she already does.One of her guides discovered that she likes to take the milk lying down and alone, not sitting at a high or loaded table.

Another advance that they found with the little girl is that they noticed that when he arrived he was very fearful around the world - of adults, children, and babies with whom he shared the chero.Not a month has passed and distrust of others has not completely disappeared, but progresses.She hardly cries when she meets an adult, and she no longer fears children and babies.She begins to form slapping with color and her countenance is cheerful.

There is another girl, Anahí, who reached 1.8 years.Despite having several teeth and a good countenance, she when eating she was choking.She didn't know how to chew.She gradually showed her to do so and enjoy her every bite of her to avoid choking.Three months after her arrival she eats alone, she chews well and enjoy her food a lot - almost always repeat dish.

A bridge, a family

In 2016, in home and future, as an extraordinary case, three adoptions together were held.For the most part, the adoptions are celebrated individually, but the times allowed to make a great celebration on that occasion.There were three cakes, one for each minor and in each one was read: "That you are very happy."

That day they departed in a family two children and a five -year -old girl.His friends from the home house celebrated him by eating cake and playing.They were also given balloons with happy faces to release in the sky and ask for a desire.

A year later, in 2017, Mónica, another five -year -old, was adopted.In her adoption trial, the little girl told the judge that she was worried because she had not been able to say goodbye to Leti, one of her guides that she had the turn of night and sometimes the morning of the purposes ofweek.The judge ordered that the necessary arrangements be made to say goodbye to it.

His now mom left Leti's voice from Moni where he told her that she loved her very much.Leti had already explained before the day of her surrender for her adoption that she her parents were a gift from God and that she was going to be very careful of her.That God had taken to send her parents because he was looking for the best for her.

This July was achieved more adoptions.And there are still other children who expect.As Miguel and Carlos, who await their legal status to be defined.They are the older ones: they are seven and eight years old, respectively, and they are already going to primary school.

Although the children who are received are from zero to six years, if time passes and they reach the age limit, in home and future exceptions are made to get children to live where they are loved and careful.Miguel and Carlos love football, the couple of friends take them to practices twice a week.In one of the white signs of the home house you read in down: "Monday 2 (July, day that Mexico Vs. Brazil played), all with shirt from Mexico, Miguel and Carlos go out to school with a shirt of Mexico."Between balls his life passes, while his legal situation is defined.

“Unfortunately anyone has occurred to it, and it is a shame, that there is no obligation within the law that says it rains, thunder or flashing, the year that a child was abandoned, or at six months, it has to be carried outyour case to a court.There is no obligation, ”explains the lawyer for adoptions Edith Díaz Milanesio on the absence in the law that delimits in time and form the legal situation of minors without parental care.

Sara is already three years old, and since some twin sisters of her age range with whom she grew up in the Ciero, a daily question: "And my mother, is my mother?"

"There is a family for everyone and when your heart is ready, your family is going to arrive," is what Mariena Hernández responds to children who work on their future.She explains what home and future, where they now live, is like a bridge where "everyone walks through him until she finds her family."


* The names of children and babies have been changed in this report to respect their privacy.

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