Last year, we helped bring STUCK, the documentary about the difficulties of international adoption, to North Mississippi. Our hope was to raise awareness about how our government and the governments of other countries sometimes create unnecessary barriers, keeping children from their forever families. Sometimes, agency actions create the problems.
This fall, Tom met Suann Hibbs, a woman who knows first hand how difficult it can be to complete an international adoption.
Like most prospective adoptive parents, Suann Hibbs started the adoption process with high hopes. In August of 2006, Hibbs began the process of bringing home twin girls from Guatemala. Within a few months, Suann learned of the birth of another sibling, a little sister. The thought of separating the girls was unimaginable to Suann. So her heart and homestudy expanded from two to three little girls.
Just as Suann began to dream about life with three beautiful girls, the Minnesota Attorney General began to investigate the Minnesota adoption agency handling her case. As Suann would soon discover, the agency used false documents for the girls during the adoption process. They also withheld information from Suann regarding the adoption. Even before the situation with the agency was resolved, the adoption ground to a halt as Guatemala closed the country to international adoption.
Faced with an incomplete adoption, Suann decided to uncover the truth and find a way to legally complete the adoption of her three girls. Over the next 7 years and 8 months, she made over 30 trips to Guatemala to visit her girls as well as to fight for the right to bring them home.
In the end, true love triumphed. After almost a decade of wading through bureaucratic red tape, Suann finally convinced Guatemalan officials to finalize the adoption. Suann’s three girls, Savannah, Sophia, and Sydney, finally came home to Minnesota this year. They are doing very well, according to Hibbs, and are exceptionally happy little girls.
United States Senator Amy Klobuchar recognized Suann as an honoree of the 2014 National Angels in Adoption Program.
This situation underscores the need for ethical adoption work by agencies (using a Hague-accredited agency is always recommended) and for cooperation between the U.S. Government, foreign governments, and the agencies. Thankfully, Suann’s trials are behind her, but she still advocates for the sake of other children and families.