SPECIAL REGIONAL CONSIDERATIONS - GUATEMALA
WARNING - ADOPTION ALERT
HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
The major reasons that children in Guatemala are available for adoption are due to endemic poverty, high fertility rates, and the stigma of unwed motherhood. U.S. citizens began adopting children in significant numbers from Central and South America in the 1980s. Since 1992, U.S families have adopted more children from Guatemala than from any other country in Central or South America, while in the 1980s, Colombia was the leader. 2 After Guatemala's long civil war ended with a peace treaty and new laws in 1996, adoptions to other countries began to increase each year. 3
By the late 1990s, reports were circulating that some Guatemalan adoptions involved intermediaries who were buying, defrauding, coercing, and kidnapping babies for the purposes of adoption. Because of concerns that some babies being offered for adoption were not knowingly relinquished by their birthparents, in 1998 the U.S. Embassy began requiring DNA testing of a birthparent and the relinquished child, to determine whether the person signing the child away was in fact the child's mother. 3
In 2000, UNICEF commissioned the Latin American Institute for Education and Communication (ILPEC) to conduct a study of Adoption and the Rights of the Child in Guatemala. The ILPEC report concluded that these direct and private adoptions were what they called a "labor market" conducted for financial gain, not for the child's best interests. 3 A copy of the study (which will open in a new window) can be found here.
2 The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, International Adoption Facts, www.adoptioninstitute.org/FactOverview/international.html
3 Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Adoption: Guatemala, www.brandeis.edu/investigate/gender/adoption/guatemala.html