All 46 children at the Casa Quivira orphanage in Antigua, Guatemala have been taken into the custody of the Guatemalan government. Among those children is a 7-month-old whom Johnston planned to adopt. Dylan, as Johnston calls him, is being held in an undisclosed location.
Surverying the brightly-decorated nursery he's built in his Denver home, Johnston worried that Dylan's long-anticipated homecoming could be delayed or never happen at all.
"I'm terrified that maybe this room is going to sit empty a lot longer than I was expecting," Johnston said.
Just two weeks ago, he was frantically preparing for the arrival of a child he planned to raise as a single parent. Now, Johnston constantly searches for news of Dylan's whereabouts.
On August 11, Guatemalan military police raided Casa Quivira, investigating claims that some of the children there were stolen or bought from their mothers. Johnston claims to have proof that Dylan's biological mother gave him up willingly.
The worst part, Johnston said, is not knowing where Dylan is and if he is being cared for properly.
For years, U.S. officials have pushed Guatemala to reform its adoption procedures. One out of every 100 babies in Guatemala is adopted by an American family.
"I don't want to get in the way of the legal process," Johnston said. "If they need to investigate to prove the legality of this, I'm absolutely on board with that. But it's not right that children are being made the pawns in this process."
Johnston knew there were risks to adopting in Guatemala, chief among them the increasingly-scrutinized adoption industry there. He and other families adopting from Casa Quivira are pushing U.S. officials to pressure those in Guatemala to resolve the allegations against the adoption house quickly. That way, those adoptions deemed legal could continue.
On Saturday, Guatemalan authorities said they have released two children to their adoptive families.
Johnston said he avoids stepping into the empty nursery in his home. It brings up difficult emotions as he anxiously waits for word on Dylan.
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