Boys love surprises. That afternoon of Saturday, May 30, one of the five brothers who wanted to be children of Mariana and Matías was waiting for them. Adults and children sat at the computer and on the other side of the screen the family judge appeared Agustina Diaz Cordero, together with the official defender Atilio Álvarez and other judicial officials.
-We want to know why the zoom was put together, asked one of the boys.
-The zoom was put together for a very wonderful thing, replied the defender
-What is the sentence going to be signed? Is the adoption signed? -The most inquisitive minor came forward, opening his mouth with a gesture of amazement and happiness that occupied his entire face.
Then it was all screams, smiles and applause from the five brothers who spent six years in different children’s homes waiting for a family. They thought the coronavirus pandemic was going to slow down the last step they needed to be adopted. But, in some cases, Justice managed to accommodate the times and the digital formats imposed by isolation in the search for the most important thing: that an abandoned boy can find his parents. For this one Father’s day, Infobae collected four stories of those who succeeded and were able to complete a quarantine adoption process and interviewed its protagonists. Everyone emphasizes that it is only about will.
Adoptions in Argentina
A child or adolescent is in a position to be adopted when ordered by a judge. Most of the time the reasons for the separation from their family of origin and abandonment must be found in problems of addictions, abuse or violence. The boys live in homes or with foster families until someone appears who wants to adopt them. For this, there is a whole regulated process: the registration of applicants in a registry, the choice of potential adopters, the initial relationship with the minor, the pre-adoptive guard and finally the adoption.
But in all this accumulation of steps established by the Civil and Commercial Code, there is an unwritten motto that governs the law: it is the boy who is looking for a family and not a family looking for a boy. They are two paths that unite but in which the priority is always for minors.
Each province of the country has a registry of applicants for adoption that are grouped in the National Directorate of the Unique Registry of Aspiring Guardians for Adoptive Purposes (DNRUA), which depends on the Ministry of Justice of the Nation. In the city of Buenos Aires there are about 800 files of people or families who want to adopt and at the end of 2019 there were 209 children or adolescents in conditions to be adopted.
According to data from the city’s Unique Registry of Aspirants to Adoptive Guardians (RUAGA) – to which it agreed Infobae– 80 percent of applicants want boys between the ages of zero and three. But only 15 percent of children are under the age of two. Six out of ten of those boys are over six years old. And more than half are sibling groups, many of whom have a complex health problem due to their life history. In addition, 74 percent of applicants enroll to adopt boys without any kind of illness. A painful but true fact: there are no applicants for boys with complex pathologies.
The baby who stared at her parents
Pablo Glanc, 36, and Alejandro Styk, 39, wanted to be parents since they met. After three years of being in a couple, in October 2015 they got married (because at that time the law required it to adopt) and in January 2016 they registered in the registry, they had talks, interviews, visits to their homes. The call they were waiting for came in May 2019. « They came from civil court 76 to tell us that they wanted to interview us because there was a five-month-old girl in a situation of adoptability, » they tell Infobae.
« We thought it was just one more interview of a potential couple to adopt, » they say. But in the meeting there was the judge, the ombudsman, the social worker, the RUAGA lawyer and “we, there, sitting in an armchair. They told us a little about the baby’s story: where she came from, her family of origin and they told us that they gave us the link. ” The baby had come into the world prematurely and had a neurodevelopmental problem. The Monday after the hearing, they met her. “It was the most special day. It’s like a birth, but you don’t have 9 months to think. I grabbed her, I started singing to her almost without realizing it and she, who did not fix her eyes well, stared at me for the three minutes that the song will have lasted. And we were both like this and Ale was hugging me, ”recalls Pablo.
Within two weeks, they gave him the guard and asked the justice for full adoption. « And in the middle the quarantine broke out and we thought that everything stopped »says Pablo. Like the whole country, they entered stand by and waited a bit. But when the quarantine began to spread and also the judicial “limbo” in which the girl had been left, with only the last step missing, Pablo, who is a lawyer, asked for the authorization of the judicial fair.
“The court always had a very active and positive role in what was the adoption process. But one did not know to what extent the court had the possibility of passing sentence at a fair, ”he goes on. I really thought they weren’t going to be able to do it. But the next day the court’s social worker called me saying that the judge authorized it and that they were going to try to resolve it as soon as possible, ”they recall. On May 28, they were summoned to the last hearing via Zoom that the law provides before passing sentence. And the next day the long-awaited failure came: « Congratulations », said the court ruling. The 18-month-old girl had already found her family.
« Ten days, a month of waiting, for a baby it is a lot and not to speak until this ends. The Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of the Child say so, that in the face of a social interest of adults and of a boy or a girl, it is necessary to see what is most important for the child ”, Pablo points out the importance of adoption processes not being slowed down during the pandemic. With the baby playing between them, Pablo and Alejandro tell Infobae who are looking for a brother. The first courses were already recorded in the registers and started in the middle of the quarantine. They know that the road can be long, but they trust.
The folly of starting a family
« He’s crazy », thought Matías Cifuentes while listening to the youth advocate Atilio Álvarez proposing to him and his wife, Mariana Rojas, become dads of five brothers. Married 17 years ago, Mariana, 46, and Matías, 53, decided to adopt after losing a pregnancy. “Since we got married, the idea was to start a family. Biologically it could not be given and the subject of adoption was always in our minds. But we never think of such a large family, « they admit with an enlightened gaze.
They were registered in the registry to adopt two brothers from zero to five years old. But time passed and they had no answer. One day, when she saw a call, Mariana sent an email to get interested, but those children had already found the way to have a family. The email, however, « bounced », they say, and called them for a meeting.
« When he said 5, I said ‘no.’ Inside I thought ‘he’s crazy, impossible. ‘ But ‘Marian’ looked at him with an angelic smile, ”Matías recalls in dialogue with Infobae. Defender Álvarez told them about the lives of those five brothers, three boys and two girls – who today are between eight and 16 years old – who lived in three different children’s homes, from which they were abruptly removed, without warning, without power. take part of their things or see their friends again. Too much time had passed: if they didn’t get a family soon, they would be separated.
« We left that interview saying that no, it was not possible, that they did not give us the accounts, that we did not have the space, or anything, » they recall. The defender demanded that they think about it: if they say yes, I would not accept them because they are irresponsible. But don’t tell me no, talk to each other and then they answer me, said the official.
The story of the five brothers was left inside. “That flame lit from everything the defender had told us. I couldn’t rest easy thinking that those guys were going to split up. Every so often the story would appear in my head and would not let me sleep, ”they recall. They circled between matte and matte without being able to forget. That it was crazy, that five were many, that they were not going to be able. But those five brothers were a chip that could not be removed. « Until one day we look at each other and say let’s cheer up and let it flow to see what happens »says Mariana.
First they met the two girls, the older ones. “They were 14 and 11 years old and we took an album of ours, things that we liked to do, where we had traveled, things to learn about our history and our families. They also asked us questions. At the beginning they were more distant, looking us up and down, they looked at us and later, when we left, they hugged us very tightly, ”says Mariana. Later, it was their turn to meet the three boys: « As soon as we opened the door to the office, they said, ‘Hi mommy, hi daddy.’ And we were frozen. It was their need to say ‘Mom and Dad’ and they didn’t know us yet. ”
The bonding began in June 2018. The boys continued to live in a home. For four months, Mariana and Matías visited them first, took them for a walk later, and authorized them to go to sleep at home on the weekends, last. Every goodbye was a tragedy, remember. Finally, the pre-adoptive guard came out and the seven lived together. Once Matías went to spend the weekend with friends in Uruguay and one of the boys told at school that his father had abandoned him. He felt this way until he knew that this time he was not going to leave it again.
What was missing was the adoption sentence but the pandemic arrived. “The boys with great anxiety here in quarantine asked you every day. We have already told you that when it is signed we are going to be a family completely. And it occurred to me to send the lawyer ´che, what happens in quarantine, can we do nothing? ´ And he told me ´I am going to ask for a fair authorization´, ”says Matías.
The court authorized the adoption to continue and on Friday, May 29, they did a Zoom in which the boys said they wanted to be Cifuentes. The responses surprised and moved the adults. The oldest said that with them she learned that she did not have to hit, that she did not have to be aggressive. « They never raised a hand to me, they gave me love, I changed it little by little and that is why I want to stay in this family, » she told the judge and the defender. The youngest made everyone laugh. « They always gave me food here, » he said. « We do not know why he said that, you see that at some point that will have been missing, » they noted.
The next day, surprise came in a new virtual audience. Everyone in front of the screen. « Is the sentence going to be signed? » one asked. It was already signed. Cheers and hugs filled the scene, with judicial officials on the other side of the computer.
“The joy we have since that happened is incalculable. The struggle we had from the beginning was a lot but now we feel that everything is a reward. The boys were emotionally stabilized. As we function as a more harmonious family, with much more joy ”, analyzes Mariana.
The five brothers today have the security of a father and a mother of those who will not be able to separate them, as happened when they were taken out of the homes. “One as an adult can understand that it could be delayed by the quarantine. In fact we thought that the adoption was going to come out at the end of the year. But the guys out there didn’t get it. The little ones suffered a lot, they asked all the time, but are they going to take us? Why is it late? something bad happened? They were very anxious ”, they analyze.
“The eldest who suffered a lot because she feels like she didn’t have a childhood, because she had to take care of the boys. When we started with all this she was 14 and now she is 16 and when they went to the first home she was 7. When she came home, she kept taking care of her until they started taking her out of that role and we told her enjoy your adolescence if you did not enjoy your childhood ”, says Matías.
Matías is a musician and in a sleepless night with his oldest daughter they began to write the lyrics of a song to which the next day the seven were already finishing composing. It will be the song that reminds the definitive family that has just been quarantined.
Florence Brea, 46 years old and Micky Murray, 47, have five children between the ages of 10 and 19 and are all together a foster or transit family. This is what those who care for a minor in their home are called while looking for an adoptive family or working on the process to return them to the biological family. Contact with the court is with the NGO Hogares de Nazareth. They only see to it that the baby is doing well throughout the process. Six boys in custody have passed through their lives. They say it is a process of tearing when that creature leaves but at the same time of happiness for having found a family.
“Our job is to give you love the time you have. It is painful when you leave because you are very committed and from each role in the family you give what you have to do. But there is nothing more magical, more complete, than the moment the adoptive parents meet the baby and gives meaning to any effort that one may be making ”, they count. « It is those caresses to the soul that one gives oneself in life ”.
Since August of last year, the Murrays – parents and children, because it is a « family decision », they point out – cared for a baby who had arrived with just a few days to live and who found his parents in the middle of the quarantine. Although the law prohibits knowing details of their origin history, it is known that there was no opposition from the biological family to make the adoption happen. That sped up the paperwork.
While they were on guard, the court found a family. Technology and the judicial decision to move the process forward made it possible. It was only when the quarantine had barely started. “Parents first saw it via Zoom. He was sleeping, he woke up, we brought him in and they could see him, « recalls Micky. Then, yes, the personal encounters came, that which Florence describes as « magical » moments where the creature meets those who will be her family. This time, the care required by the pandemic had to be taken into account: the family went to the house of Florencia and Micky, then the marriage to theirs, the baby stayed one day with his new parents and finally the adoptive guardian arrived. and the departure of the « fat man », as they mention when reviewing what happened.
“There are many things that we as a family had to work on so that this was a beautiful experience for everyone and not that it was taken in a traumatic event. You have to know that from one day to the next a baby can arrive and that from one day to the other you can also go « , Florencia says, but together with her husband they want more families to be guardians because many children need it: « I hope it reaches the hearts of other families, that they dare to join in and remove their doubts and ask why it is a very nice experience. »
When technology is not enough to know each other
V. and J. prefer to keep their names confidential because they are in the process of being adopted. They were married in 2014 because the adoption project was theirs and they did not want it to be single parent. They were enrolled in RUAGA in 2015, in full change of the Civil Code. She had ovarian cancer in 2012 that prevents her from getting pregnant but the desire to start a family was always intact. So great was it that when they enrolled in the registry they did so for a group of brothers.
But it was not easy. Year by year they ratified their file in RUAGA, changing their adoptive availability and raising the age of the brothers. Before the lack of the call on the part of a court the possibility of appearing in some public summons began to mature. They presented to several but they did not remain as the chosen family.
Until in December of last year they were called to start bonding with three brothers, two girls and a boy, ages 6, 10 and 11. They met them in February but it was not easy. Due to the health emergency, children’s homes have a very strict protocol in which they limit the entry of people from outside the institution to prevent the spread of the virus.
« The first meetings were wonderful, » says V. « The first time they received us with drawings, we gave them gifts and we prepared a snack, » he recalls. But from March 19 to April 30, in-home visits were suspended due to compulsory social isolation. Since then the contacts were by phone or video calls. “We played games, we read stories to them, but after 40 days they told us they wanted to see us and we told them we were here to stay,” says V. Sometimes the children cried and asked when they were going to see them again.
Technology is useful for keeping links formed but not for initiating them. And the five needed to be face to face to build the family they long for. Therefore, they asked the monitoring team for an exceptional measure to modify the linkage system. And in late April they were allowed to go home once a week in compliance with all protocols.
But barriers continued to tighten the bond. At home they were asked to keep their distance. “We were dying to hug each other,” says V. As the weekly meetings ran, despite the protocol at home, they continued to build the family and strengthen ties. Last week they added one more day of bonding and they are already thinking about the next stage: the boys’ departure from home to live with them. One more step in the longing for the five that the quarantine made uphill.
Justice and adoptions in times of quarantine
The national government of Alberto Fernández announced for March 20 the start of compulsory isolation and justice was no stranger to the parate suffered. There was an extraordinary fair in which the Supreme Court prohibited the circulation of people in the courts, established a minimum presence of personnel and that urgent cases are dealt with. Those of family enter urgent cases because minors’ rights are at stake. Can a pandemic suspend the bond between a boy and the family he is meeting or stop an adoption sentence with anxiety and the desire to overcome that last stage? It can’t but it can delay it a bit.
“When you are in that final stage, technology serves you a lot. You can complete with virtual audiences or video calls the cause because you already know the family, you were with them and the boys face to face on other occasions. And the current difficulties of face-to-face hearings cannot prevent the completion of a file « he says to Infobae Diego Coria, head of the family court 76 and who had the case of Pablo and Alejandro. For this stage of the pandemic, Coria opened an account on the court’s Instagram social network (@ jncivil76) to be able to connect with those who do not have the possibility of going to court.
Judge Díaz Cordero also ventured with her court on Instagram (@ jncivil23) and appealed to videoconferences to advance with the causes of adoptions. « The problem occurs with the first hearings established by law in which the pretended adopters must be known. In that case the interview has to be yes or yes face-to-face because it is necessary to see the expressions, the gestures, that is, to have a real meeting. Those experiences cannot in principle be replaced by technology ”, explains the judge. Both Díaz Cordero and Coria held hearings in their courts at this stage to meet families. « Always respecting distance and hygiene measures, » they explain.
« We never interrupted the work and we did continue it with the means that were within our reach, » he says. Sandra Veloso, Judge of Family Nº 1 of Tigre. Veloso had the case of the baby who was with Florencia and Micky. « While certain rights may be restricted by the pandemic to protect public health, those restrictions must be proportionate and never an obstacle to the recognition of a child’s universal right to have a family and grow up in a loving environment. That could not be relegated in any way, and we are the judges who guarantee that they can enjoy this exercise of essential human rights ”he adds.
“When I proposed to zoom, the technical team told me‘ do you think, doctor? ¿can we do a zoom interview? And I told them that the worst thing is for the child to be left without a family so we tried and the sum of all the wills made this baby already have the guard for the purpose of adoption ”, Velasco tells his experience.
The three magistrates agree that the best interests of the boys cannot be relegated in the face of the pandemic situation and that the use of technology allowed it to be skipped.
« We are living something unique in the country and in the Justice, so we have to find the tools to continue working, especially in the cases of minors, » explains Coria. “In family matters everything is urgent. And problems occur every day, and require an immediate solution. We cannot wait for the pandemic to end. This is a global concern, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued Resolution 1/2020 on the Pandemic and Human Rights in the Americas, emphasizing our institutionalized children. Judges and society must all have the best interests of the child as the north, ”analyzes Díaz Cordero.
At this stage, not only the justice uses technology for adoptions. Also the records that work on the topic. RUAGA, which reports to the Council of the Rights of Girls, Boys and Adolescents of the City of Buenos Aires, ordered that Mandatory Informational Meetings (EIO) for applicants are made by videoconference. The first virtual meeting was on June 10 and 200 people participated via Zoom and there are already dates given until November.
In the meantime, From the DNRUA, which depends on the Ministry of Justice of the Nation, they will also implement from July 7 the videoconferences for the meetings with the aspiring guardians for adoption. And due to the isolation measures, he kept the public’s attention by the line 5300-4090 and by email email@example.com.
A phrase that is often heard when someone doubts to move forward in an adoption process says: “blood makes relatives love makes families » Those who dare to take the legal and emotional path so that an abandoned boy is no longer alone know what that means.