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Guatemala: Children Caught in the Middle of Adoption Debate

In Guatemala City, one can see one of the approximately 2,500 children working in the streets, some without shoes or a clean face The situation is no different in rural areas, and some say that investment or strong interest in protecting them are not priorities. Even those with a roof under their heads have to face the violence inside and outside their homes every day. And things are getting even more complicated with the lobbying in favor of implementing the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and cooperation in respecting inter-country adoption. Almost 5,000 Guatemalan kids are adopted by couples from other countries each year, since the procedure is relatively easy. The requirements include hiring a Notary to follow the steps, along with a social analysis to approve it, without the Hague Convention in force. Some bloggers are totally against the system, others are in favor:

Principios [ES] blog stated on Vidas Robadas:

Urgen adopciones, no legislación que las entorpezca, sea o no avalada por expertos del Buró de La Haya.

It is urgent to have adoptions, not laws to interfere with them, supported or not by the bureuacratic experts of the Hague.

Her opinion rejecting the new requirements that the law will provide is supported also by Jorge Jacobs who said on his post “Is it a business?

Por supuesto que sería mejor que todos los niños nacieran y crecieran en hogares modelo, pero la cruda realidad es muy distinta, y la adopción les permite, por lo menos a algunos miles de guatemaltecos, aspirar a un muchísimo mejor futuro del que se le presenta a la gran mayoría de los otros 13 millones de guatemaltecos.

Of course it would be better if all the children will be born and raised in perfect homes, put the crude reality is very different and adoption allows, at least for few thousand Guatemalans, to have a better future than the majority of the other 13 million of them.

But there is not always a happy ending, as Guatemala Daily Photo said in his post “Guatemala Adoptions could be mixed blessings

There could be complications and contradictions when you take an adopted child away from his birth country, culture and society. Guatemalan adoptions are not as easy as you might have been inclined to believe.

There was also concerns raised regarding a foster home and the origin of the children inside. Some are referring to the children as “stolen kids” as Inner Diablog said on his post “Stash of stolen kids in Antigua

46 children, including several new-borns, were rescued this weekend from an illegal foster home in Antigua, apparently run by one Clifford Phillips from Florida. Neighbours called the police after observing a succession of foreigners turn up and then leave with children.

He also reports “Ireland suspends guatemalan adoptions” where he adds:

Whether or not this operation is technically legal under current Guatemalan law, there seems to be substantial investment behind it, which leads me to suspect that it represents a violation of the spirit of the Hague Convention which requires that inter-country adoptions may take place only where it is in the best interests of the child and where no profit is made.

Misleading information is an issue, specially in areas like Sayaxché, where was few weeks ago huge chaos resulted when some individuals suspected of abducting children to be sold were almost lynched by the community [ES]. The issue of media information is also discussed by Guatemala Adoptions Blog:

If these children were taken forcibly from their birth parent(s), they should be returned immediately and the owners and lawyers punished severely for all the pain and suffering they have caused…. Stop sensationalizing every little bit of information you get on Guatemalan adoptions. Stick to objective reporting and do whatever you can to get to the truth behind the stories you are publishing. You owe it to the country of Guatemala, the adoptive parents, and especially to the children.

Child hunger is a problem, but social concerns only arise when someone mentions it, as El Charakotel [ES] writes about a hunger crisis in Tzununá, where small children are starving in his post

En estas y otras comunidades vecinas de “el lago más bello del mundo”, la pobreza extrema es solo otra carga que el campesino engancha al mecapal de la vida. “Así ha sido siempre” le dijeron sus padres y eso replica a sus hijos cuando estos le increpan sobre el porqué de la lapidante realidad.

In this and in other communities surrounding “the most beautiful lake in the world”, extreme poverty is just another weight carried by peasants on his “mecapal” (backpack) of life. “This is the way it has always been,” said his parents and it will be repeated to their kids, when asking about their reality.

In a country where complex problems authorities concerns are worth to be examinated. Un chapín en Japón [ES] said in his three posts analyzing Guatemala:

El problema de la pobreza y desnutrición van a persistir en Guatemala, mientras no sean prioridades para las autoridades, haya desconocimiento de la situación, exista apatía por la población y muchas otras causas. Quiero resaltar el comentario del actual presidente de Guatemala cuando aseguraba que no había ningún aumento a los precios de la canasta básica. El comentario lo copio textual del articulo de el periódico “La Hora”

Berger aseguró que el precio internacional del petróleo golpea las diferentes actividades del país, no obstante mencionó que afortunadamente el incremento no era muy importante.

The problem of poverty and malnutrition will remain in Guatemala, as long as the authorities do not consider these issues as prioirities. The unknown situation will persist because of apathy by the people and other reasons. I want to highlight the comment of the President of Guatemala, when he asserted that the prices of the basic goods will not rise, in the Newspaper La Hora:Berger asserted that the international price of oil affects the different activities of the country, but he mentioned that fortunately the increase in the price was not so important for us.

I will like to close with the remarks of blogger Oscar Mendizabal, regarding child labor, said on his blog ESCAPARATE [ES]:

Hay que pasar de la teoría a la práctica y así superar la alarmante situación de riesgo, pobreza, marginación y abandono en que viven millares de niños, niñas y adolescentes en el mundo.

Todos estamos entendidos que la mejor inversión que un país puede hacer, es en capital humano y sobre la base de esta premisa, la niñez nunca debe dejar de ser una prioridad mundial.

We have to go from theory to practice and overcome the alarming situation of risk, poverty, marginalization and abandonment in which millions of children and teenagers around the world live. We all know that the best investment that a country can do is in human resources, under such premise, childhood has to be a global priority.

1 comment

  • Patricia Quinci

    Please support Guatemalan adoptions. I, along with many others, are currently in the process of adopting a child from Guatemala. I have already bonded with my son, I love him. I am now being told that adoptions may cease as of Jan 1 – please support in process adoptions. We are already families. I have followed the law, filed out countless pieces of paperwork, and my adoption is very much legal. Give my son, and other children, the chance at a happy, healthy and prosperous life. Most of all give him a chance to live.

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