Over the weekend CNN reported "Guatemalan Army Stole Kids for Adoption," a story that cannot go unnoticed here at Birth Mother/First Mother Forum because apparently the corruption in Guatemalan adoption is much worse than reported earlier:
"The Guatemalan army stole at least 333 children and sold them for adoption in other countries during the Central American nation's 36-year civil war, a government report has concluded. Many of those children ended up in the United States, as well as Sweden, Italy and France, said the report's author and lead investigator.The number of corrupt adoptions--333--involving stolen children in the government report came from examining a mere 672 adoptions between between 1977-89, the time of peak adoptions from that country. Those numbers mean that roughly half of all adoptions examined during that period involved stolen children sold through state-run agencies. So the 333 number has got to be the mere tip of the iceberg. During the country's protracted civil war, about 45,000 people disappeared from 1960 to 1996, about 5,000 of which were children.
"In some cases, the report stated, the parents were killed so the children could be taken and given to government-sponsored agencies to be adopted abroad. In other instances, the children were abducted without physical harm to the parents."
The story also noted that Guatemala has the world's highest per capita rate of adoption and was one of the leading providers of adoptive children for the United States: "Nearly one in 100 babies born in Guatemala end up with adoptive parents in the United States, according to the U.S. consulate in Guatemala. As we reported earlier on E. J. Graff's piece in Foreign Policy, many, if not nearly all, adoptions from poor nations are suspect.
Guatemalan adoptions can cost up to $30,000, providing a large financial incentive in a country where the World Bank says about 75 percent of the people live below the poverty level. The report concludes that the lawyers and notaries who were the middlemen for this human trafficking (yes, it is human trafficking) were the driving force for the babies stolen from their parents. Many induced the women to give up their babies, or simply paid soldiers for product, i.e., a baby--because they knew they had a place to market the kid.
While those who push international adoption decry when this kind of baby-selling is called trafficking--they want it only to refer to the sex market--they are kidding themselves. Taking children for filthy lucre is trafficking in human flesh, period. They just don't want to see themselves as baby sellers, promoters of baby selling, or human traffickers, but that is what they are.
Okay, we have known this has gone on for a long time. We've written about corruption in international adoption several times before, including here and here. But you know what is the most amazing thing about this sickening report?
How little attention it has gotten in the United States. Where most of those stolen babies have ended up.
My husband says it was on the AOL story board on Saturday, but only for a couple of hours. A Googgle search seems to indicate that the news reports on what should scare of bejeesus out of all adoptive parents who have children from abroad were scant. CNN, Reuters, UPI wrote brief stories, but the report has largely disappeared from the public consciousness here in America--everyone is more interested in what will happen to foul-mouthed Serena Williams after her bad behavior at the U.S. Open this weekend.
Why? Call me crazy, but it's because we here in the country where these kids are sold into DO NOT WANT TO HEAR THEY MAY HAVE A STOLEN CHILD. I guess I wouldn't either, but how long is the world going to be deaf to what is happening? I still know people who are looking into international adoption.
Are the folks at the Holt International Agency doing a review of the Guatemalan adoptions they processed? Is international adopter and promoter Elizabeth Bartholet rethinking her position that all international adoptions are good ones because children are not raised in poverty, but in countries where people are wealthy enough to buy somebody else's baby? Are there going to be more conferences promoting international adoption such as the one at New York University earlier this year?
Guatemala has suspended all adoptions, but here's what you get at the Christian World Adoption website:
Guatemala AdoptionCan these people be stopped? Do they never learn? We are, quite simply, sick at heart. Real forever families are waiting all over the world to be reunited with their stolen children. We grieve for the mothers.--lorraine
CWA is hopeful and optimistic that one day the precious children of Guatemala will again have a chance to unite with a forever family through international adoption. Due to the continuing issues with Hague Treaty requirements, Guatemala adoption is not possible at this time, and there is no way to know when it might be possible. We continue to monitor the situation, and we continue to pray for the waiting children.
The Heart to Heart retreat over the weekend in Boston was a wonderful, enriching experience. I want to thank everyone who was there for making it so. Report coming soon.