Guatemala Makes Adoption more Difficult

In 2005, over 3,700 children and infants from Guatemala were adopted by American families. The ease of their adoption process drew many couples and individuals to this nation to seek for adoption opportunities. With the ease of the adoption process in Guatemala and the willingness for Americans hoping to adopt to shell out significant cash, improprieties were bound to occur.

Lax investigations across international boundaries meant that people who should not be allowed to adopt due to sexual and other problems were able to secure adoptions. Some of the children became little more than slaves once they entered their new nation. While many families were thrilled to get the opportunity to solve their desire to have children, a few others saw this as a chance to satisfy a darker purpose.

In addition to this, agencies in Guatemala realized that the American market represented a significant cash cow for them. Adoption fees were increased and scavengers began to search for new sources of children to feed the market. Young women were recruited to give birth. Large sums of money were paid to the “birth” mothers to carry to term and surrender the child for adoption.

This created a human “puppy mill” for the adoption agencies to exploit. Since the majority of the thirteen million residents of Guatemala exist far below the poverty line, finding recruits for this effort was not difficult when the cash was waved about. Selling children under these circumstances is being made illegal.

An even more sinister action than paying for births is the practice of sending out people into the villages to locate infants and steal them. Because of the high demand and lucrative nature of the adoption market, the baby black marketeers were able to secure infants, falsify papers, and sell them to the next high bidder in the adoption line.

The new parents were generally unaware of these practices. In 2007, Guatemala took steps to limit the ability of unsavory adoption agencies to do business in this way. Following the agreements reached in the mid 1990’s in the Hague Conventions, Guatemala has dismantled its adoption system and rebuilt it with new safeguards.

While this has delayed the adoption process for a while, it will create a better atmosphere for parents seeking to adopt a child or children from Guatemala. It will also offer more safety for the children and families of Guatemala. Any law that stops human trading is good for society.

Guatemala has made the right choice although parents who are already involved in the process may experience severe delays. Some of these parents may even be denied the right to adopt pending the outcome of proper hearings and investigations. Others may have addition costs, but as the process matures, the cost may actually decrease due to diminished illegal activity.