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Adoptions in Guatemala


Adoptions in Guatemala

You rightly reported that Guatemala is one of the biggest providers of children for international adoptions and that it has inadequate legislation and poor control over the out-of-state adoptions of its orphans ("A Place to Call Home," world affairs, July 15). The problem in developing countries, however, is not that there are too many adoptions, but that there are not enough. Vast numbers of orphaned and abandoned children grow up in institutions, denied their right to a family. According to UNICEF's 1999 report, between 23,000 and 25,000 minors are living permanently in Guatemalan orphanages with no contact with any relative. Another problem is that lawyers can and do make money by looking for women who can be talked into giving up their children. This must be stopped. Only those with the best interest of the child in mind should be allowed to counsel mothers at risk and help decide the fate of unwanted, abandoned children. The case of Rico, adopted at 7, is not typical. Few abandoned or maltreated Guatemalan kids get adopted. It's debatable if adoption was the right choice for a battered child like Rico. But where was Rico's father, who now wants him back, all these years? It would be sad if the attention given to Rico's case results in fewer older Guatemalan children's being adopted.
Ketil Lehland
Adoption Forum
Oslo, Norway

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