A Hamilton couple is considering its options after being rejected in a two-year bid to adopt a daughter from the former Yugoslavia

Karen Ann Moore and her husband Rudy Guerra learned July 4 that Canadian Embassy officials in Belgrade have formally refused an application for permanent residence of two-year-old Ishara Cays Jelena Guerra.

The child was put up for adoption when her 14-year-old biological mother was attacked by soldiers in Knin, war.

As reported in the May, 1996 Interim, Karen Ann and Rudy have grown increasingly frustrated with Canadian embassy and immigration officials who threw up countless roadblocks in their effort to bring Ishara to Canada. The latest rejection only adds to the couple’s disenchantment.


During the protracted adoption process, the child lived in institutions with her foster families near Belgrade. Ishara is now residing at an institution in Subotica, a four-hour drive from Novi Sad.

Although Ishara’s physical wellbeing is no longer an issue, Karen Ann and Rudy believe Canadian government officials have been less than generous throughout the affair. The couple successfully adopted a son, Aidan, from Yugoslavia in 1992, and anticipated a similar result with Ishara. They also traveled to Belgrade last November in hopes of speeding up the process. Karen Ann and Rudy believe they have complied fully with departmental regulations, yet they were thwarted at every turn.

“We’ve been let down by people who are supposed to represent us,” said Karen Ann, a medical researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton. “We don’t see the human element in any of these decisions.”

In a July 4 letter Karen Ann and Rudy, Renald Gregoire of the Canadian embassy in Belgrade said the problem stems from Canada’s failure to recognize the Serb Republic of Krajina, the state which initially approved the adoption process.

“The ‘adoption’ was not legally valid for Canadian immigration purposes because it was not made in accordance with the laws of a country other than Canada.” Gregoire said he can’t issue an immigration visa for Ishara under the present conditions. “The child can only be considered as being adopted if the adoption is in accordance with the laws of the country,” he added. He suggested Karen Ann and Rudy reapply through Croatia.

A lawyer who has been advising the couple said the next step is to have the Croatian government recognize the adoption process. He said the former Serb republic of Krajina; along with Croatia and Yugoslavia all follow the same adoption rules. As a result, if Karen Ann and Rudy are willing to begin the process all over again, they may find success within the next 12-24 months

Allowed to appeal

The couple is allowed to appeal the immigration department’s decision, but Karen Ann and Rudy are not certain if they can endure another prolonged bureaucratic struggle. They were also disappointed with the delays and lack of information which have accompanied each step of the adoption process. The letter advising the couple of their immigration department’s decision was seven months being schedule.

“I’m not a quitter,” Karen Ann said,” but we’re really not sure what we’re going to do at this point. We can take some comfort in the fact that we did as much as we could for Ishara.”