A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!


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May 23, 2006 — I’ve been procrastinating a little on answering this question because it’s far from a simple situation. Any comments from my readers who have lived in Mexico would be welcomed. Here’s the question, with the specific location removed for privacy’s sake. (It’s a place I’ve never been.)

I wondered if you could guide us as to the best way to proceed on our proposed trip to Mexico next year. We adopted (in the US) two girls of Mexican birth parents. We are planning to go back and meet the birth parents next year. We very much want to get together with them, but we also want to be safe and to feel that we are not exposing ourselves to too many dangers on a trip to a country where we have never been, with two small children who will be 5 and 7. Any support you could give us would be much appreciated. I am trying to learn Spanish!!! But it is slow going.

Hmm… there are pros and cons about a trip like this. I’ll start with some cautions.

First, I would be 100% positive that your daughters’ papers are in order IN MEXICO so that you run absolutely no risk of encountering Mexican objections to the adoption. The Mexican court system can be quite a hassle for anything, and I know a situation where a judge turned down an adoption for reasons that were specifically disallowed in Mexican law. The system here generally is more of who you know and less a matter of abstractions like “fairness” or “impartiality.” (BTW, that judge’s decision was not the end of that story, and for my friends who might think they know who I am referring to, it was someone else.) So I would think you would want to have signed papers from the parents from the time of previous paperwork, that they had given up the children willingly and without coercion, etc. Legal advice or a good talk or email conversation with the adoption agency you worked with is in order here. I imagine you have perfect passports for the girls, but if they have dual citizenship with Mexico, do ask advice.

Another caution would be regarding the parents themselves. If you were to be at risk of anything more than the usual tourist problems of diarrhea and so on, it seems to me (paranoid as I sometimes am) that the first question would be the parents. This is where your intuition is important, but cross-cultural communications can make intuition trickier. If they did give up the girls willingly, what is their attitude now? Do they have their lives in better shape and secretly hope that the girls will want to live with them (if they live together)? I don’t know, of course. But you can be sure that some parents or cousins or other relatives will feel that the girls belong with their blood family. Do you have any ways of learning more about the parents before you go there? Rather than going to their home, you could arrange to meet in a place that was more secure for you, such as a good downtown restaurant or some such, during daylight hours.

A third caution concerns your not speaking the language. It’s good to keep studying, because when you know almost nothing, every word you learn expands your vocabulary! BUT if I were in your shoes, I would hire a bilingual Mexican who lives in that general region (but not a friend or member of the family) to accompany me during the time of the visit and perhaps for more of the time. This would not have to be terribly expensive, and you could find someone who was recommended in a variety of ways. One way would be to join the useful forums (which have a paid membership) at mexconnect.com, a website about Mexico in English for foreigners. Another could be word of mouth. Such a person could be a tremendous help, and I would check out in advance their attitudes about adoption.

Well… you asked for support. I hoped I haven’t scared you silly! Mexicans LOVE children, and travel with your girls should generally be fun, if a bit confusing as you deal with the exuberance of a Latin culture. I was 9 the first time I went to Mexico, and my sister was 5. Many foreigners travel in Mexico with kids.

The potential positive effects on your girls are another factor. To experience the culture from which they came at young ages could be terrific for them. My sister and I have lots of memories of that trip we made.

I remember once when I was a teenager and was dithering over some decision which I have now forgotten, my mother said, “Whatever you do, you’ll learn something!” I’ll echo that thought here.

2 Comments from the old blog:

  • At May 24, 2006 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Rosana,
    I have a somewhat different slant here. Let me preface this by writing that my wife is Hispanic – her birth mother was born in Mexico. My son is 16 and of course half Hispanic. Aside from being 6’2″ he looks Mexican. We three have crossed over the border many times with absolutely NO problems going into or being in Mexico. He has only been asked for his visa at the check point beyond the border once or twice – NEVER been asked fo any ID while moving about Mexico beyond that check point. I just can’t see there being a problem – if they have their papers in order – no problem in my estimation.

    Coming back into the US is where we have been under more scrutiny. Obviously they want to be sure you are NOT bringing in Mexican Nationals – again proper documentation is the key. Beyond this rehearsing the kids for the return at the border a little is good – the US Border Patrol people always ask our son questions- they want to hear him speak English. Recently when we came back in the US our son had picked up Spanish quite well. He started to answer in his newly adopted Spanish – I stopped him and warned him to NOT practice his new second language at the US Border where they are trying to determine if he is an American (kids).

    I guess what I am writing is my belief there are no worries when you have proper documentation – be sure and bring several extra copies of everything; keep them in different places. Enjoy Mexico; it is safer than you think. They are a warm, kind and family oriented people who will most likely respect your having adopted homeless Mexican children.

    John Calypso

  • At May 24, 2006 10:08 AM, Blogger Rosana Hart said…

    Thanks very much, John! I felt the need to voice my concerns but your post adds a good balance.

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