Saturday, November 24, 2007

None Are So Blind As Those Who Will Not See
Part 2

Guatemalan Babies Adopted

There are those who are convinced that babies in Guatemala are "bought" . Well, let's take a look at this shall we?

If they knew anything about the culture, there is stigma for a single woman to have a child. Their culture does dictate how things are done (just like most countries). As much as we would like to "enlighten" them, they are slow to change and hang on to their tradition and customs. The women who are expecting are afraid to keep the child and will stay at a maternity home until they have the child or they will have the child and drop him/her off at the home. So, these children are without families.....

People go to Guatemala to adopt these children and yes, the government may take a lot of money, the police may take bribes but it doesn't change the fact these kids still need homes because the mothers will not take them hard as it may be for them. The mothers don't get any money, they don't get anything but the heartache.

So if anyone needs to be chastised it's the Guatemalan Government and officials, not the adopted parents.


MomEtc. said...

Oh, I've read the same about adoption from China of various blogs. I've read that China has no real orphans. All of the children were stolen from families who wanted to raise them. Heck, I was called an abductor on my own blog when I announced I was adopting my son from China!

Most of these comments are from people with an agenda. They know nothing about what they talk about. My son lived in an orphanage for three years. I have a copy of the local newspaper in China where he was found with his PICTURE in it (yes, it's him)...where officials were desperately trying to find his family of origin. But, somehow you see, I STOLE him. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Market forces. Demand creates supply:

petunia said...

Kippa I must respectfully disagree. This is not a case of which came first the chicken or the egg...
There ARE abandoned children in orphanages so there must be parents to adopt them. There were not the parents first waiting on children to be abandoned.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there's no paper trail to show how some of those 'abandoned' children in orphanges got there.

petunia said...

Are you trying to say the mothers made money? Sold their babies? If that were true there would be A LOT more women bringing in their children. The poverty level is so bad and the stigma is so strong for single women that they choose (however sad it is) to take their babies to orphanages. There is no government assistance, no one to help them keep their children. I'm sure they love their children and want a better life than they can provide. So---back to children being in need of parents....

clwarfel said...

Okay, so let's look at countries that do not have foreign adoption programs, and see how many children are abanded there. If there is no foreign adoption program, then there are no market forces.

In Romania, an average of 10,000 children are abandoned per year (2006 stats). Foreign adoption has not been in operation since 2000. No market forces and yet children are still abandoned.

In China (even where there are these "market forces") only 2% of abandoned children are adopted. I'm gonna bet that those who are not adopted aren't loved, and aren't living happy lives with a family.

In Russia (again, a place where "market forces" are leading people to abandon their kids) the average life expactancy for a child who ages out of an orphanage is 26. They die young because of drug/alcohol abuse, crime, and homelessness. If market forces play such a huge role, why were there any children aging out of an orphanage only to die at the age of 26?!?!?!

There are thousands of orphanages throughout the world, where millions of kids are living without families.

Ecador, Honduras, Belize, Armenia, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Thailand, Laos, India, Panama, are all countries that do not have highly active foreign adoption programs**, and there are still abandoned children who are raised in orphanages (or the street when they are kicked out or run away because of the abuse in the orphanages.)

The idea that children are only abandoned because of adoption is just plain stupid and it shows how uneducated and ignorant you are.

**Not highly active adoption programs as defined by fewer than 50 orphan visas issued in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Petunia asked, "Are you trying to say the mothers made money? Sold their babies."

No. I'm saying that because the country is so desparately poor and some powerful people there so desparately greedy, the poor are being exploited to produce children for the lucrative adoption industry. There is incontravenable evidence for this.
Anders Kompass, head of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala (and he should have a better idea than most) says that corrupt lawers in Guatemala are fomenting an illegal business.
"They force poor people to make children" he says.

I realise that there are many, many people who have adopted from Guatemala in good faith and I am not passing judgement on them in any way. I also know that there are real orphans as well as children who really have been abandoned for reasons of poverty and that those children are in need of loving homes.

But it seems to me (and we may have to agree to disagree on this one) that as long as there remains evidence of corruption in the system and as long as legitmacy cannot be guaranteed, to continue to allow adoptions from that country is to become complicit in the corruption.

MomEtc. said...

Let me add to what clwarfel said about China.

Market forces are NOT at play here. This is obvious to anyone who knows anything about the history of child abandonment in China. It's only recently that IA has existed in China, yet for centuries there has been infanticide and abandonment. The number of children abandoned far outnumbered those available to raise them.

More recently the Chinese have tried to encourage domestic adoption despite an overwhelming number of couples overseas who would love to adopt their children. So, even though there is a huge demand, IA is slowing down. This doesn't sound like a program that is driven by market forces to me.

Anonymous said...

"The idea that children are only abandoned because of adoption is just plain stupid and it shows how uneducated and ignorant you are. "

Oh my, Pet! I though being 'respectful' was one of your pet criteria. Yet that disrespectful post gets thru' while my respectful disagreements don't.
And actually I never said or even implied such a thing.

Indeed, as you said yourself, there's none so blind as those that will not see.
So even though I know you aren't going to post this, I offer it to you for serious consideration, in the hope that you might just catch the merest glimmer of the truth:
'The United States is pushing for a transition period so that the 3,700 adoptions now under way can be concluded under the existing law.

But scrutiny of the pending adoptions has turned up problems in about 1,000 cases, said Victor Mejicanos, a federal official who oversees adoptions.

"We have everything from altered birth certificates to birth mothers who change their minds and want their babies back," Mejicanos said.

And with only seven investigators, who deal with everything from parental neglect to domestic violence and other family issues, Mejicanos predicts adoptions will take much longer now.

Anticipating the new rules, the Guatemalan government has begun cracking down. In one high-profile case, it closed down the Casa Quivira adoption agency and took custody of 46 children. Ten of these have been cleared for adoption, Mejicanos said.'

I don't think there's any doubt that there's something rotten going on with adoptions from Guatemala, and that they should be discontinued. No, of course not all those who adopt from that country are guilty of actually 'buying' children, but as long as there's a question about the legitimacy of the process I think you should be more careful about appearing to defend a process tainted by unethical practices.

petunia said...

The governments are making money - for sure....what government do you know that isn't at least a little corrupt? However, governments do not have to "encourage" woman to have sex, be poor or live in poverty. The government does not have to exploit them to give up children....they are doing it on their own and get nothing in return...what is the incentive the government is offering to these woman to abandon their children? Yes, it's poverty, let's blame poverty. Adoptive parents offer hope to these kids. Without being adopted they are just abandoned kids with no you really think the money given to the government for adoptions is even a drop in the bucket to them? They are making much more money from other industries - what do they care for the pittance they get from the adoption industry? Come on? People are really stretching it to believe this notion of supply and demand for children. Is their corruption....sure...are there bad people? sure but a conspiracy? A government getting more woman to relinquish - That is just ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Petunia said, "Adoptive parents offer hope to these kids. Without being adopted they are just abandoned kids with no families.."

Petunia, the point is that there are children who are *being created for the sole purpose of being adopted*.
Once again, Desirée Smolin's blog:
Martha is a 14 year old girl *whose job it is to produce babies to be adopted by Americans.*

I'm not going to argue this any more.
There's none so blind as those who will not see.

Oh, and who claimed there was a conspiracy?
Not me.

petunia said...

I don't want to argue this either but Children being born for the sole purpose of being adopted out? That is what I'm saying is just ludicrous. Who does this benefit? Like I said previously, the government could care less about the small amount of money this brings in compared to the billions from other industries. Who is convincing women to do this? and what do the women get out of it? This is why is sounds conspiratorial and preposterous.
I'm sorry, I think people need to open their eyes here and see Guatemala is not "baby farming".

Anonymous said...

You wrote, "I don't want to argue this either but Children being born for the sole purpose of being adopted out? That is what I'm saying is just ludicrous. Who does this benefit?"

Part of the problem is that sexual exploitation of minors is not classified as a crime in Guatemala

The United Nations is trying to change this

By prostituting their daughter out to produce babies, poor families can earn extra income.

"If you adopted a young infant from Guatemala in the last year and were told that your child was given up for adoption by an unmarried teen, Martha or one of her unwed housemates could possibly be the birthmother of your son or daughter.

If you think that you understand something of Martha's story based on the above description...think again. It is NOT what you think.

Martha's story is the not the archetypal story of a teenager who became pregnant by accident.

In fact, Martha doesn't even have a boyfriend.

And no, her pregancy can't be blamed on a failed teen marriage.

Nor was Martha pregnant by a violent act--not by rape or even incest.

Martha was, in fact, even at age 13, pregnant by design. And before she ever became pregnant, she understood that she would not keep her baby. Her firstborn son or daughter, would have to be surrendered for adoption.

Martha knew that once she had given birth, she would likely never see her child again.

Two years ago when she was 12, Martha's father was approached by a man who came to their slum in a car.

For what it's worth, you should know that Martha's father is a man who works very hard--back-breakingly hard--and long hours on a nearby coffee plantation in order to try to support his family. Unfortunately, however, Martha's father's hard work falls woefully short of supporting his family. This is because he earns very low wages--wages so low that they have his family living in a cardboard box, wages so low that he has watched six of Martha's eleven siblings die from starvation and the related ravages of severe and grinding poverty. Martha's family's poverty dogs them like a lion guarding its prey. It is always there, watching them, lying in wait until the right moment--and then one by one, it leaps forward and devours them.

Anyway, this man in a car offered to take Martha away to live with him and his wife in their little house. It wouldn't be just the three of them, but Martha and the man and his wife would be living with several other young teen-aged girls. Martha would be looked after and be well fed. In terms of manual labor, Martha's work load would be light--she would be given household tasks like caring for the couple's garden and doing their and the other girls' laundry. However, the financially valuable work that Martha would be doing--the work for which this man in the car was willing to pay Martha's father-- would be unseen, showing only over the months as her belly grew to bulging proportions.

And if and when Martha succeeded in producing and successfully giving birth to a live, healthy baby, then the man in the car, would then pay Martha's father $300--the equivalent of a year's salary (at his coffee plantation wages). In fact, Martha could continue to live with this man for several years, producing babies, one after another. There would be money for Martha's father for every baby that Martha produced."

Just because something sounds preposterous doesn't mean it isn't so. It may just offend our sensibilites so deeply that we are unable to believe it.

petunia said...

Kippa, I'm not trying to say there is no corruption. There is corruption in every country and some little group of individuals or just one person is making a lot of money exploiting someone. But it is NOT the large percentage of these groups/ adoption agencies. There are people that sell their organs on the black market for money too... It's all sad.

clwarfel said...

Is there corruption in governments? Yes, in Guatemala, in the US, and in every country in the world. Does corruption touch adoptions, I'm sure there is at least one instance where the answer is yes.

I was addressing the belief that children abandoned and adoptable because of market forces. The idea that market forces is the only reason for the existance of foreign adoption is a laughable belief.

Anonymous said...

Clwarfel said, " The idea that market forces is the only reason for the existance of foreign adoption is a laughable belief."

I'm not sure where you got the idea that anyone said it was the *only* reason. I certainly didn't say that, and I don't think it's the case.
But I do think that some children are funnelled into the adoption pipeline for reasons of greed and not need.
The poorer the country of supply, the less governmental control and the greater the demand from richer countries, the more that is likely to happen.

petunia said...

Kippa, I have to agree with you there - the poorer the country the less regulation of any law and the more greed there is. I know the US has MANY regulations and there are still people who abuse the system....I can't imagine what it would be like in a country where there is such lawlessness. Thank goodness there are good people, good agencies and good orphanages (if you can call them that) in all of these poor countries. There are people who really do care about these birthmothers and the children.

Anonymous said...

Indeed you are right that there are good people who care and struggle to do things right under very difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, in countries where a strong infrastructure of corruption exists, it is difficult for them to operate without becoming, however unwittingly, party to that corruption.

This is the latest I've found on Guatemala:

Guatemala Study Shows Baby Adoptions Controlled By A Criminal Ring
November 22, 2007 8:43 a.m. EST

Vittorio Hernandez - AHN News Writer
Guatemala City, Guatemala (AHN) - A study by experts from the government, church and charitable agencies said the rise in international adoptions of Guatemalan infants is due to the presence of a criminal ring controlling the baby trade. Since 2004, more than 18,000 adoptions have been approved by the state, involving millions of dollars.

With each adoption transaction generating from $13,000 to $40,000, the total amount involved between $234 million to $720 million. It is shared among participants of the infant trade that thrives because of the state's indifference, the study said.

Among the people involved in the whole adoption process are lawyers, doctors, nurses, midwives, social workers, hotel owners, interpreters, public registrars and state workers. Of the 18,376 adoption cases registered since 2004, only 0.5 percent of the babies were placed with Guatemalan families, while 94 percent were given to American parents.

The Daily Journal of Venezuela, quoting portions of the report, said, "The leaders of the criminal economy have crafted mechanism to assure the procurement of babies and later coordinate the adoption proceedings before the PGH (Attorney General's Office) and guarantee economic benefits for all the members of the adoption networks."

Because of the increasing demand overseas for Guatemalan babies, child traffickers at times seize babies at gunpoint from poor Guatemalan mothers.

The Survivor Foundation, one of the groups behind the study, said it will lead this week protests in front of the Supreme Court and Congress to push for the passage of adoption laws that are in line with The Hague Convention on International Adoptions.

Victims of the adoption ring have started the protest Monday in front of the Public Prosecutor's office. One Guatemalan mother, Ana Escobar, said two armed men beat her and took away her son. She told EFE News, "Before leaving, they told me they would kill me if I reported the kidnapping."

Norma Cruz, president of the foundation, pointed to lawyers benefiting from adoption deals as the authors of a lobby group that will block the legislation of such a law. The ease of adoption process in the country facilitates inter-country movement of children. Only few questions are asked during the process.

While Guatemalan officials insist there was no force or coercion involved, they admitted most of the processed adoption cases had improper documentation and the adoption house handling the infants did not even have licenses.

GDS said...

OK, somehow I missed this post, and I very rarely address such specific issues because I don't feel the need to defend my adoption. So please don't read my comments as such. I'm just approaching this as someone who is experiencing the process, and has some contact with people who have gone through it both ethically and unethically.

Some of the comments on both sides are not even close to representing the truth, or even the majority of Guatemalan adoptions.

The first thing I can say is that if the Guatemalan Government had the resources and the will to enforce their own existing laws, the corruption would be an even smaller percentage. However, since this is not the case, I do agree they must reform their system to be more transparent, and the must do a better job protecting mothers and children from exploitation.

But scrutiny of the pending adoptions has turned up problems in about 1,000 cases, said Victor Mejicanos, a federal official who oversees adoptions.

This is a total misnomer. The problems PGN "turns up" are 99% typos on birth certificates, translation mistakes, and last minute changes in requirements. Anyone involved in Guatemalan adoption knows about he infamous KO - that simply delays the case while some bureaucrat reprints a document. There's almost never any real problem with the process, it's literally just a delay. Virtually all of these cases are approved eventually without additional investigation. In fact, other reports indicate that something like 80 out of 4800 cases were actually rejected last year. If 1/4 of cases were actually rejected - this would be an even bigger news story, trust me. I have made contact with dozens, maybe 100 people who have adopted from Guatemala over the last couple of years. Not a single one of their cases was rejected.

There are also mentions of babies being stolen at birth and their mothers never see them again. This is also a misnomer because the combination of Guatemalan and US regulations requires they appear for an interview with family court and take a DNA test assuring the child is hers. Could she be coerced or paid to do these things? Absolutely, but any baby stealing case would be an abandonment proceeding (totally different process), which takes years and only represents a tiny fraction of adoptions. This is precisely why people generally don't adopt of out of Guatemalan orphanages. The majority of children there simply are not allowed to be adopted.

Also, there's talk of adoption houses and cartels. I'm not blind to the fact that this happens, but I can tell you first hand that over 90% of cases are not handled through adoption houses, they are through American agencies that coordinate their Guatemalan cases individually and use single family foster homes. There are few government run orphanages in Guatemala - let alone any other social services - that's part of the problem.

As far as the UN goes, all I'm going to say is that few in the adoption world take anything they have to say seriously. Do the googling, check out Doctors Without Borders and you'll see what I mean.

I could go on...

GDS said...

Now, as far as corruption goes, I figure it's only fair to mention that I do often see and hear about things regarding Guatemalan adoptions that are cringe inducing.

I cringe whenever I hear about a case with a minor mother. I cringe when I hear about cases where the mother has relinquished multiple children. I cringed when I met an American woman in Guatemala who was taking home her 4 month old daughter. Based on how the system works, this is literally impossible. I also cringed when I read a news story once where some American parents literally told a reporter they didn't really care about their child's relinquishment situation.

So, as you can see, there are situations where something just isn't right. These cases are "following" the regulated process, but in most cases are breaking existing laws. But the system is not structured enough and Guatemala does not have the resources to do anything about it.

As I understand it, the Guatemala government isn't actually making any money on adoptions. It is essentially a private system. While there are some advantages to this, it does lead the doors open to corruption and greediness. However, anyone involved in a Guatemalan adoption can tell you that you are not "paying" for a child. There are tons of legal and document fees, foster care, diapers, formula, doctors appointments, etc going on. The process is far from easy. What makes it seem easy is that its a short flight, and you can pick up your child with a 4-5 day trip. If done by the book, everything else involved is very difficult, and emotionally draining.

Sorry for the long winded responses - I just wanted to clear up a few items. I think most of us agree that the media generally does a lousy job reporting on adoption related issues. International and Guatemala adoptions fare no better.