Saturday, July 29, 2006

What's Happening in Guatemala?

Related to Chinese adoption insofar as both China and Guatemala have ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions, which takes effect in mid-2007. In short, the treaty will require a government agency to regulate adoptions. Guatemala has ratified the treaty but has yet to implement it. A link to the article and salient quotes follow. And yes, I am put off by language that makes children out to be mere goods to be bought and sold.

Treaty likely to slow Guatemala adoptions
Every 100th baby born in Guatemala grows up as an adopted American, making the Central American country the richest source of adoptees in the Western Hemisphere. But U.S. ratification of an international adoption treaty is likely to choke off the supply next summer.

Critics say Guatemala has become a baby farm where adoptions are too easy and prone to corruption. Defenders say it offers the children a better future, and that legal corners are cut only to spare Guatemalan women the stigma of unwed motherhood or relieve them of another mouth to feed.

For now, willing parents can get Guatemalan babies by paying thousands of dollars to notaries who act as baby brokers, recruiting birth mothers, handling all the paperwork and completing the job in less than half the time it takes elsewhere. The process is so streamlined that Guatemala outpaces all other countries in the percentage of its children put up for adoption in the United States.


Berta Morales, 35, has given the last five of her 10 children to Americans.

"It would have been more of a sin to abort them," said Morales, who lives in Coatepeque, west of Guatemala City. "I'm poor ... but maybe one of them will become a professional."


Every profession has unscrupulous people, "but that does not mean everything is rotten," added Luarca, who is currently handling 40 adoptions. "Some people have tried to make the case that, just because a business is lucrative, it's bad."

It is lucrative: Notaries charge a "country fee" of up to $19,000. With U.S. paperwork and plane trips, the typical Guatemalan adoption costs as much as $30,000, adoption agencies say.

But in the last six months alone, the government has brought 30 criminal cases against notaries for falsifying paperwork, allegedly providing false birth certificates and even creating false identities to avoid having to involve the birth father or the parents of underage birth mothers.


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