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Sen. Norm Coleman plans Guatemala trip to aid adoptions


Senator will attempt to aid U.S. families whose adoptions are threatened by changes in in international adoption rules.


Last update: November 15, 2007 – 1:10 PM

WASHINGTON--- U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman announced Thursday he will travel to Guatemala after Thanksgiving in response to concerns about adoptions there. The country, second only to China for U.S. adoptions, plans to temporarily stop processing American adoption applications at the end of the year.

The government of Guatemala has announced its intent to comply with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, an international agreement enacted in 1993 intended to safeguard adopted children from trafficking, and stop processing applications from non-Hague countries.

Many fear the new rules would result in far fewer adoptions from Guatemala, which last year sent more than 4,100 children to the U.S.

Meanwhile, existing adoptions are being delayed. The U.S. is expected to implement the Hague treaty next year.

Coleman will meet with Guatemalan government and U.S. State Department officials during his trip to discuss possible solutions to protect adoptions currently being processed. He also plans to meet with Minnesota families and the Guatemalan children they've adopted during the trip.

"I will use my visit to Guatemala to help ensure that U.S. families currently in the adoption process, as well as the affected children in need of a home, are not left out in the cold by the pending changes," Coleman said in a statement.

Controversy has stemmed from adoptions with Guatemala due to claims of fraud and extortion. In March the State Department recommended Americans not adopt children from the country.

"The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala has occasionally received reports of Guatemalan police in and around some of the major hotels in Guatemala City attempting to extort money from adopting parents by threatening to take the biological or foster mother and the prospective or adopted child into custody," according to the State Department's website.

That announcement was met with outrage from adoption officials and waiting parents, who were concerned their planned adoptions would be delayed or rejected.

Last month, Coleman sent letters signed by hundreds of members of Congress to Guatemala President Oscar Berger and UNICEF leadership requesting an interim measure for adoption applications filed before Jan. 1, 2008 to continue after that date. Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), a co-chair of the House adoption coalition, circulated identical letters in his chamber.

Nina Petersen-Perlman • 202.408.2723

© 2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

2007 Nov 15