7 years later, Minnesota mother brings adopted girls home

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Thousands of American families are waiting to complete the foreign adoption process, which can take years, but that didn't stop one Edina mother from trying.

Due to bureaucratic red tape stemming from corruption and child-trafficking issues, the number of international adoptions has dropped significantly in the last decade, WCCO says.

In 2006, Suann Hibbs decided to adopt twins, Savanna and Sophia, who were 11 months old, and their younger sister Sydney, who was just a baby, FOX 9 says.

"I just fell in love with them as soon as I saw them, I thought morally I cannot let them go," Hibbs told KSTP.

But the Guatemalan government put the adoption on hold after discovering a baby broker had falsified the girls' birth certificates, FOX 9 notes.

The girls were placed in orphanages. In the seven years they waited to be adopted, they lived in five different orphanages, FOX 9 says.

But finally, with help from U.S. Sen. Amy Kobuchar, who wrote letters and met with government officials on Hibbs' behalf, their adoption was approved, WCCO reports.

“A lot of times when you personally meet with the ambassador like I did, and you tell the story of these three little girls and this mother who has been trying for seven years, they listen. Human stories matter still. Even in Washington, D.C,” Klobuchar told WCCO.

On Monday afternoon, Kobuchar met with the family days after they reunited in Minnesota. The girls, now 7 and 8 years old, presented the senator with gifts – lip gloss, nail polish and earrings.

“I still feel like this is so surreal. I mean, I just have to pinch myself. When they come in, in the morning and crawl in bed with me. It’s just – I just have goose bumps thinking about it,” Hibbs told WCCO.

The girls, who have had no formal schooling, will begin school in two weeks and likely attend summer school, according to reports.

The recently reunited family is happy to be together, but Hibbs told KSTP that there are still 43 families waiting to bring children home from Guatemala.

From 1999 to 2013, 29,761 children were adopted from Guatemala, according to the U.S. Department of State, but that number has been on the decline in recent years. Just 23 children were adopted from Guatemala in 2013, compared to the 1,516 children that were adopted in 2000, statistics say.

The number of international adoptions from around the world has declined by 62 percent from 2004 to 2012, WCCO notes. Some countries have deliberately cut back on adoptions to the U.S., while others have created stricter standards to limit corruption, Adoptive Families says.


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