September 3, 2009
WASHINGTON — US lawmakers have called on their government to ease red tape that has slowed the adoption of Guatemalan children since legal reforms were introduced to more strictly regulate the process.
In a letter, 52 legislators asked US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure Guatemalan measures aimed at curbing baby selling were "being carried out in a way that protects the interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents alike."
Signatories said that since the reforms passed adoptions have stagnated "forcing the children involved to remain in institutions or temporary care," with would-be parents bombarded with requests for information.
They called on Clinton "to play an active role in ensuring that their cases are completed in a fair and timely manner."
Around 95 percent of Guatemalan children up for adoption go to parents in the United States, generating 200 million dollars each year.
The Guatemalan Congress passed a law in December 2007 aimed at preventing fraudulent adoptions by regulating them through the National Adoptions Council.
Until then, adoptions were handled privately between mothers and the families seeking to adopt, with attorneys serving as go-betweens.
Prior to the reforms, Guatemala was second only to China in the number of adoptions by US parents, and had the fewest restrictions on adoptions in the region.