MIRACLES REALLY DO HAPPEN
Co-Founder and attorney, Misty Hedspeth saw early on that in order to make real change in the broken orphan care systems in the government of Panamá, a new Adoption Law needed to be in place. After three years of tireless work and numerous committee reviews and revisions, Misty was able to see Law 46 go to legislation. While praying the law would pass, Heart's Cry Children's Ministry was not only present for all the public debates, but we filled each meeting with supporters, worked with a photojournalist foundation, PhotogenX, to make and broadcast a 15-minute documentary titled "Dear Panamá - A Letter from your Children", which exposed the urgency for Law 46, and had people praying from all over the world FOR 3 YEARS! God heard our cry and in 2013 Law 46 was signed by the President, and is now the official Adoption Law in Panamá! Now, by God's amazing grace, the orphaned and abandoned children of Panamá have much less time they must wait in limbo at the orphanage until a permanent family is found for them. Also, Law 46 initiated the creation of Panamá's new Foster Care program titled Programa de Familias Acogentes, and in 2014 Heart's Cry Children's Ministry entered into a formal contract with SENNIAF (Panamanian Government) allowing Heart's Cry to help SENNIAF facilitate all aspects of this program.
That means Heart's Cry is the only non-profit in Panamá that can legally represent individuals or couples wanting to adopt or foster. In order to stand against the stigma which exsists in Panamá that adoption is a business, Heart's Cry decided to provide all our services to Panamanians AT NO CHARGE. Therefore please prayerfully consider donating toward this wonderful program so that these services can continue and more and more waiting orphans can be placed into loving homes.
OLD ADOPTION LAW (LAW 61 OF 2008)
Ø No time limits for steps in the process of children's cases: children can spend anywhere between 1-18 years living in an institution before their family investigation is judicially considered complete and they are declared adoptable.
Ø Undefined number of family members to investigate prior to child being declared adoptable.
Ø No department to establish and monitor a foster care program, forcing the children to live their lives in overcrowded/understaffed institutions for long periods of time. This is particularly detrimental to babies and young children as it is an important stage to form meaningful attachments. Attachment Disorders are one of the many side affects we are seeing as a result.
Ø Law does not allow foster families to adopt foster children.
Ø Defines time limits for cases to be processed: government administrative officials will now have to complete the family investigation within 60 days, after which the petition for parental rights to be terminated will be filed, and the child will be declared adoptable.
Ø Redefines the perimeters of family members who are to be investigated so as to include immediate family and grandparents only (and not 2nd, 3rd cousins, members of the community, etc.)
Ø Establishes a foster care department to execute and monitor large-scale foster care in Panama.
Ø Permits foster families to adopt foster children.