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Guatemalan Officials Release 2 Orphans


Guatemalan Officials Release 2 Orphans

August 17, 2007


The Associated Press

GUATEMALA CITY -- Authorities investigating an adoption home in Guatemala said Friday they had released two 6-month-old babies to a U.S. couple after determining their adoption was legal.

Carmen de Wennier, director of the Presidential Department for Social Welfare, which has been overseeing at least 45 children staying at the Casa Quivira home, confirmed the adoption of the little boy and girl, of different mothers.


She said legally she could not release the parents' identity.

U.S. would-be adoptive parents have flooded the U.S. Embassy with desperate calls and sent e-mails to The Associated Press asking for help after police raided Casa Quivira on Aug. 11 as part of a national attempt to bring adoption agencies in line with international standards.

Guatemalan officials argue the home's paperwork didn't meet legal standards. But parents and the home's directors say the raid was politically motivated by U.S. pressure to clean up a largely unregulated, multimillion-dollar industry in which some brokers steal babies.

Outside experts familiar with the situation have said that Casa Quivira has a spotless record.

Clifford Phillips of Deland, Fla., who owns and runs Casa Quivira with his Guatemalan wife, Sandra Gonzalez, e-mailed a statement to the news media Friday saying the two 6-month-old infants were handed over to the parents "after much pressure from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala and lawyers from Casa Quivira."

De Wennier denied any pressure from the United States. A spokesperson from the U.S. Embassy who was not authorized to be quoted by name said U.S. officials have assisted the adoptive parents in general but "just as a way to see their rights are respected."

Phillips and Gonzalez, a Guatemalan attorney, say all of Casa Quivira's babies have been properly surrendered for adoption since it opened in 1996.

The U.S. has pushed for a crackdown in an industry that has placed more than 25,000 Guatemalan children in U.S. homes since 1990 _ so many that every 100th baby born in Guatemala grows up as an adopted American.

2007 Aug 17