Where did they go?

According to the US Department of States, Bureau of Consular Affairs the following number of children where adopted by the United States of America from Guatemala:

2000 1518
2001 1609
2002 2419
2003 2328
2004 3264
2005 3783
2006 4135

According to Guatemalan authorities as they published their figures to the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the following number of children were sent to the USA for adoption:

2000 1612
2001 1829
2002 2548
2003 1823
2004 3572
2005 no figures
2006 no figures

With the exception of 2003 all years show Guatemale saying they are exporting more children to the USA than the USA says they import.

Altogether there are 247 children missing from these figures.

Where did they go?

Maybe they accidentally got shipped to the United Kingdom, cause they, according to their book keeping,  have (except for 2004) imported more children from Guatemala than Guatemalan figures say:

UK figures:

  UK figures Guatemalan figures
2000 24 16
2001 13 11
2002 28 19
2003 29 14
2004 16 27
2005 21 no figures
2006 10 no figures

A quick check of some other European countries revealed the figures don't match. In general Guatemalan book keeping records mention more children being adopted by foreign countries than those countries say the have adopted from Guatemala.

Maybe they got mistaken for Colombian children, cause Spain claims to have adopted far more children from that country than Colombia says they have sent for adoption to Spain:

  Spanish figures Colombian figures
2000 414 no figures
2001 319 248
2002 271 223
2003 285 169
2004 256 161
2005 no figures no figures
2006 no figures no figures

Whatever is going on here, it is clear the international community is incapable of keeping track of  children in the circuit of international adoption. How can the child's best interest be served when no one is capable to count the children? Something even a goose can do.

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Discrepancy of figures in International Adoption

Underneath are discrepancies as found in the number of children involved in international adoption, as reported to The Hague Conference on Private International law, Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption, often referred to as The Hague Convention.

Both receiving and sending countries were asked to report the numbers of children involved. For seven countries we made a comparison of the figures.

Small discrepancies can arise due to difference in reporting period. Eg. Australia's reporting year is from 1 July 1 to 31 June and the USA's reports for fiscal years (1 October to 30 September), while many other countries report 1 January to 31 December. The difference in the definition of what a year is cannot account for the many large discrepancies found.

A preliminary conclusion we draw from the findings: Matching figures is the exception.

Ecuador

2001 2002 2003 2004
Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Belgium 4 10 6 3 3 0 2 5 3 2 2 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Denmark N/A 5 7 2 5 7 5 2 3 2 0
Finland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Iceland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 14 13 1 16 13 3 6 1 5 10 6 0
Netherlands 7 2 5 3 6 3 0 0 0 2 2 0
Norway 6 3 3 3 4 1 5 4 1 0 2 2
Spain 16 10 6 10 13 3 6 5 1 2 5 3
Sweden 0 5 5 5 5 0 10 2 8 0 1 1
Switzerland 5 2 3 6 2 4 5 0 5 2 0 2
United Kingdom 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 50 22 28 48 34 14 45 20 25 28 23 5
Total N/A 72 57 101 82 33 86 42 50 49 43 1

Chile

2001 2002 2003
Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Belgium 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Denmark 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Finland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
France N/A 12 N/A 11   15 17 2
Iceland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 32 36 4 40 35 5 44 39 5
Netherlands 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Norway 13 12 1 12 12 0 10 10 0
Spain 20 18 2 18 16 2 14 10 4
Sweden 4 0 4 2 0 2 0 0 0
Switzerland 7 0 7 3 1 2 1 0 1
United Kingdom 0 0 0 2 0 2 1 0 1
USA 3 N/A 16 N/A 19 N/A
Total 18 13 13

India

2001 2002 2003
Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff
Australia 40 27 13 40 37 3 33 29 4
Belgium 32 8 24 18 28 10 12 22 10
Canada 113 17 96 127 19 108 70 12 58
Denmark N/A 88 93 116 23 65 36 29
Finland 8 7 1 6 6 0 4 5 1
Iceland 26 0 26 8 9 1 7 7 0
Ireland 0 2 2 1 2 1 2 3 1
Italy 145 81 64 102 100 2 121 113 8
Netherlands 53 54 1 34 29 5 32 24 8
Norway 40 33 7 37 40 3 28 23 5
Spain 129 100 29 109 104 5 100 111 11
Sweden 75 31 44 60 51 9 37 39 2
Switzerland 61 24 37 42 34 8 80 22 58
United Kingdom 19 16 3 24 13 11 24 17 7
USA 543 341 202 464 381 83 472 429 43
Total 829 549 1165 969 272 1087 892 245

Poland

2004
Received Sent Diff
Australia 0 0 0
Belgium 0 0 0
Canada 6 4 2
Denmark 1 1 0
Finland 2 2 0
France 36 39 3
Iceland 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0
Italy 194 187 7
Netherlands 22 23 1
Norway 4 4 0
Spain 2 3 1
Sweden 18 22 4
Switzerland 9 6 3
United Kingdom 0 0 0
USA 102 84 18
Total 396 375 39

Guatemala

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff
Australia N/A 9 N/A 0 N/A 2 N/A 0 N/A 3
Belgium 0 7 7 0 6 6 0 5 5 0 1 1 0 14 14
Canada 68 67 1 22 19 3 N/A 13 N/A 0 N/A 0
Denmark N/A 2 N/A 4 1 1 0 1 2 1 2 1 1
Finland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
France N/A 238 N/A 189 N/A 238 N/A 199 72 50 22
Iceland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland N/A 22 14 16 2 18 15 3 11 10 1 17 13 4
Israel N/A 4 16 11 5 4 6 2 4 0 4 N/A 4
Italy 2 28 26 8 15 7 20 20 0 8 8 0 16 14 2
Netherlands N/A 53 46 49 3 3 1 2 4 1 3 4 5 1
Norway 9 6 3 5 2 3 7 5 2 5 1 4 0 1 1
Spain 90 94 4 46 34 12 28 27 1 8 10 2 3 1 2
Sweden 0 2 2 0 7 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
Switzerland 5 15 10 10 13 3 11 8 3 12 1 11 14 4 10
United Kingdom 24 16 8 13 11 2 28 19 9 29 14 15 16 27 11
USA 1518 1612 94 1609 1829 220 2419 2548 129 2328 1823 505 3264 3572 308
Total 2175 155 2205 273 2908 156 2070 547 3709 377

Estonia

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Belgium 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Denmark N/A 0 N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Finland 9 5 4 12 5 7 7 6 1 3 3 0 5 4 1
France N/A 0 N/A 0 N/A 0   N/A 0   0 0 0
Iceland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland N/A 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Netherlands 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Norway 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Spain 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2
Sweden 21 7 14 7 8 1 15 15 0 6 4 2 6 3 3
Switzerland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
United Kingdom 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 10 6 4 10 4 6 13 11 2 13 8 5 13 9 4
Total 18 22 18 14 32 3 15 7 26 16 10

Colombia

2001 2002 2003 2004
Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff Received Sent Diff
Belgium 3 12 9 5 14 9 3 3 0 1 13 12
Canada 36 5 31 38 6 32 31 8 23 38 12 26
Denmark N/A 21   81 8 73 59 7 52 38 8 30
Finland 41 5 36 36 5 31 37 3 34 22 3 19
France N/A 241 N/A 225 N/A 148 314 204 110
Iceland 0 0 0 2 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0
Ireland 3 3 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0
Italy 162 94 68 205 124 81 273 194 79 330 178 152
Netherlands 190 99 91 197 108 89 171 85 86 104 57 47
Norway 118 43 75 129 65 64 103 45 58 86 79 7
Spain 319 248 71 271 223 48 285 169 116 256 161 95
Sweden 138 4 134 122 17 105 0 14 14 47 13 34
Switzerland 54 21 33 60 31 29 66 18 48 73 18 55
United Kingdom 4 0 4 2 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1
USA 407 19 388 334 35 299 272 33 239 287 54 233
Total 815 940 863 863 730 750 1598 801 821

The Hague's response

This is the response we got from the Hague Convention when asked to clarify the above discrepancies.

Thank you very much for your email and for drawing this matter to our attention. We realize that our collection of statistics is not the most reliable one or consistent source. The reason is that we only obtain these adoption statistics every 4 years, at the time of the Special Commission on the practical operation of the 1993 Hague Convention. At that time, we ask the different countries attending the Special Commission to send us their own statistics, but for the moment there is not a common way for all countries to prepare and present their statistics. 

However, we would like to develop a more reliable and consistent way of collection of statistics, but regrettably until now we did not have the time and the resources to do so up to do so up to this point. However, it is a matter of the highest priority and we hope it will be possible to begin work on this question on 2008. 

Yours sincerely, 

Laura Martínez-Mora

Adoption Programme Coordinator

Primary links

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