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.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:
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.
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.