US lawmakers urge easier Guatemalan adoptions

September 3, 2009
(AFP)

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.

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9.1.09 Sec. Clinton on Guatemala Adoptions.pdf1.63 MB

hrc

Unfortunately Hillary Clinton is better known for caving in to the pressures of adoptive parents than for paying attention to the right cause. Damn those women who had their children stolen, there are affluent constituents to pander to.

hrc

There are children who could have been in loving homes 3-5 years ago if the red tape wasn't so tangled up in Guatemala. It truly is not fair to the children who need homes and love. Being placed in several different hogars (orphanages) in one tiny lifetime is unfair to the child. Who can deny a child access to healthcare, and basic necessities? Only those who would deny the child's rights after relinquishment from a birth parent. These families who are waiting have been in limbo and their hearts are heavy knowing that they should be home.

We know that these ladies with the stolen babies have been taken advantage of by their attorneys and some have had their relatives involved. It is sad. However, know who you are dealing with and if there is a glimmer of untruth, then adoptive parents need to tell the truth and I believe the majority of them do. They are the ones who understand the burdens placed on a heart that is ready to love a child in need.

I have an older child whom we adopted through the "system"...she remembers the hard times and no clothes, no food, no doctors, no toys to play with, and no school whatsoever. I am so glad to be her mom...someday we will go back when she is ready. But, for now, she has gained 50 lbs in 1.5 years, goes to school, and is having fun being a kid. I say, bring them home, now!

deaf dumb and blind

Guatemala had the most lax regulations for inter-country adoption the world has known so far, Elizabeth Bartholet even praised them for that. The result of which was rampant fraud and corruption.

This is not about children in need of families, this is about keeping the pipeline of infants open for American families.

Why did so many people continue adopting from Guatamala when countries like Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany closed their borders for adoptions from Guatemala many years ago? Why did so many people close their eyes to the red flags for so long?

It's a shame the US did not put a hold on adoptions from Guatemala a long time ago. The fact there are so many people that want "their" child to come "home" is only sign of how many people deliberately continued adopting children from Guatemala, while knowing about the corruption.

"Bring them home"

Uh... isn't Guatemala "home" for these children born in Guatemala?  Sure.. it may not be the nicest of lands, but it still is the original home-land to these sold, migrated adopted children.  As one who never knew my own first family culture/lifestyle, I truly believe a child's religious and ethnic roots needs to be respected, even if it's a life-style you would not choose for yourself. 

With that, I'd like to share one of the most moving examples of humanitarian efforts, done "at home", I have ever seen:

People helping people within their own communities... you know, that "it takes a village" mentality.  That's how I would like to see people treating others... with kindness, respect, and compassion.  After all, had my first mother and her baby been given such empathy , perhaps I would not have been adopted and years later, sexually abused by someone called "family".

In any case, I don't buy this idea that only the children living in poor nations need help from (relatively) wealthy American groups/ families.  [I see hidden selfish motives all over the place]  There are still WAY too many children in the US who need loving homes.  There are many many American children who need to gain weight, go to school, be protected from sexual predators, and have decent health care, too.  There are many homeless children in our own towns, states and regions who need "some good".  One does not have to become a world-traveler and REMOVE a child through adoption in order to help the poor and the needy.  One does not have to cross oceans or ponds to find a village that needs a helping-hand.

Government plans

When a country voices an interest in maintaining international adoption as a "positive option", I find myself asking the rhetorical question:  what is each side (each government) getting out of this deal?

In a very well-written piece, called "The Price We All Pay:  Human Trafficking in International Adoption", author Kevin Minh Allen points out the following:

separate bills have been recently introduced in the U.S. House and the Senate under the name Families for Orphans Act (FFOA) (HB 3070), sponsored by Diane Watson (D-CA) and John Boozman (R-AR) & SB 1458, sponsored by Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) whose purpose is to broaden the term “orphan” and ostensibly encourage foreign countries to place more of their children up for adoption.

(7) ORPHAN- The term `orphan' means any child--

(A) who lacks permanent parental care because of the death, the disappearance of, or the legal, permanent relinquishment of such child by both biological parents;

(B) who is living in the care and custody of an institution;

(C) whose biological parents' rights have been legally terminated; or

(D) whose country of origin has determined lacks permanent parental care.

The Bill uses the figure “more than 132,000,000 orphans worldwide” from a 2006 UNICEF report. Howevever, in an article entitled “The Lie We Love”, published in the November/December 2008 issue of Foreign Policy, the author, E.J. Graff, debunks the shock factor behind this statistic:

But the organization’s definition of “orphan” includes children who have lost just one parent, either to desertion or death. Just 10 percent of the total – 13 million children – have lost both parents, and most of these live with extended family. They are also older: By UNICEF’s own estimate, 95 percent of orphans are older than 5. In other words, UNICEF’s “millions of orphans” are not healthy babies doomed to institutional misery unless Westerners adopt and save them. Rather, they are mostly older children living with extended families who need financial support.

If this bill passes through Congress and is then signed into law by the President, the result would be that the United States would provide financial and other assistance to countries if they, in turn, place more children up for adoption. The existence of this bill reveals the perpetual conflict between two fundamental rights that the world community feels children are endowed with: a safe and secure permanent home and their authentic identities.

If the United States

If the United States provides financial assistance to a poor country, in return for its children, what does that say about the President of the United States?

Guatemala Adoptions to re open in June 2010

Guatemala to resume int'l adoptions in June

GUATEMALA CITY — International adoptions will resume in Guatemala this June after a nearly two-year suspension prompted by the discovery that some babies were being sold, officials announced Wednesday.

Four foreign adoption organizations will be selected to be part of the pilot program, said the president of the National Adoptions Council, Elizabeth Hernandez.

Until the door to adoptions slammed shut in 2007, Guatemala was the world's second-largest source of babies to the United States after China due to its routinely quick adoption process.

Authorities suspended adoptions after discovering evidence some babies had been stolen, others had fake birth certificates, and women were being coerced to give up their children.

At least 25 cases resulted in criminal charges against doctors, lawyers, mothers and civil registrars.

As a result, thousands of adoptive parents, most from the U.S., were forced to put their adoptions of Guatemalan children on hold — many after paying thousands of dollars.

Last year, the National Adoptions Council began requiring birth mothers to personally verify they still wanted to give up their children.

Nearly 1,000 of 3,032 cases investigated were dismissed, however, because no birth mother showed up. Prosecutors suspect many of the babies in those cases never existed — that Guatemalan baby brokers registered false identities with the council in hopes of matching them later to babies obtained through fraud.

There will be a significant difference between the old and new systems.

Previously, potential adoptive parents requested children with certain characteristics. Now, the National Adoptions Council will simply present a list of children who are eligible for adoption and ask that its foreign counterparts find families who would be best suited for them.

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