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Guatemala News

Don't adopt in Guatemala
April 5, 2007

Something is obviously wrong when Guatemala, the 67th most populous country in the world, ranks second to China, the country with the largest population, in the number of children it sends through adoption to the United States.

As a percentage of its population, 12.29 million, Guatemala is a larger source for adoptive babies than China, with 1.37 billion residents. Adoptions from Guatemala reached 4,135 last year, compared with 6,493 from China. Russia, with a population of 142.9 million, sent only 3,706 children to the United States.

Based on those statistics, one could logically conclude that the process for securing babies in Guatemala is expeditious and poorly regulated, perhaps involving kidnapping, bribery, extortion and fraud.

U.S. State Department officials confirmed exactly that recently when they warned Americans against adopting children from Guatemala. The department described a system in which birth mothers were pressured to sell their babies by corrupt, inadequately supervised notaries who complete all the paperwork in less than half the time it takes in other countries.

Efforts to impress upon Guatemala that it needs to implement tougher standards are underway.

Unfortunately, the National Council for Adoption wants to keep the adoptions going while negotiations on the reforms continue. The council condemned the State Department for what it called a "de facto suspension" of adoptions and for being insensitive to the needs of American adoptive parents.

If anyone is being insensitive and selfish, it's the council. The best way to stop what amounts to trafficking in human beings is to cut the flow of cash that feeds it. Should Guatemala fail to impose tighter adoption rules within a reasonable amount of time, the State Department should issue an outright ban.

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