Sunday, July 30, 2006

Guatemalan Baby Adoption Boom To Be Halted Under New Rules

An AP report takes a look at the impact the ratification of an international adoption treaty is likely to have on the number of babies being adopted by Americans in Guatemala. The AP's Juan Llorca says one in every 100 babies born in Guatemala are currently adopted by Americans. He writes:

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.

All this will likely end once the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions takes effect in the United States. The U.S. will then require all foreign adoptions to meet tougher international standards, which Guatemala ratified in 2003 but has yet to implement.
The story tells of one mother who has given the last 5 of her 10 children to American parents. Mothers who give up multiple children are suspected of being paid for the children. What is clear is that the notaries are making a lot of money off the adoptions. They charge up to $19,000 for notarizing the paperwork required for the adoptions, which typically cost $30,000. Their work is not, however, always above board. Lloca writes:

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.

Reading this story in the Indianapolis Star this morning I was reminded of a controversial incident which arose during the confirmation hearing of Chief Justice John Roberts. FOX News' Brit Hume reported that the New York Times had been looking into a legal way of unsealing the adoption records of Roberts' and his wife's two adopted children, who were both born in Latin America. The NY Times later said that it simply was asking questions and that it only made initial inquiries.

The New York Times was roundly condemned for looking into the Roberts children's adoption records. I now wonder if reports of the unseemly manner in which some Americans have essentially purchased babies in Latin American countries like Guatemala is what prompted the New York Times to begin asking questions about how Chief Justice Roberts and his wife were able to so easily adopt two Latin American children.


Anonymous said...

Some people I went to high school with have gone this route to adopt. They filled out an order form, and then flew down to Guatemala to pick out their baby. They literally shopped for it like you might buy a car or a sofa.

The situation for Romanian adoptions used to be the same way. I have 2 Romanian cousins thanks to the ease at which the post-Soviet-puppet-government gave away the youth of Romania for cash.

As an adoptee myself, I do understand the pains many couples go through to adopt a child. However, when there are thousands of children in this country waiting for good homes, I'm a little sickened by couples going overseas just to insure they get an infant, and not a toddler or an older child.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little bit sickened that you don't know what you are talking about having never adopted from another country. I would adopt from the U.S. if someone could guarantee me that the birth mother won't come back to claim the child later. We chose Guatemala because we wanted to bring a child from a 3rd-world country and give him a better life.

We did NOT just fill out an order form. Maybe the people you know did not go through a reputable agency. We had to complete hundreds of pages of paperwork, get approved by the state we live in, the US and Guatemala and then we were referred a child. We did not "Shop" for the child. We are still waiting to go down to pick him up. It is NOT as easy as it sounds.

Just because you are an adoptee you do not automatically understand the pain and agony a couple goes through to first, decide to adopt, and second to choose to go outside the U.S. to do so.