Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Like Watching a Train Wreck

The Department of State has issued its strongest warning ever “urging” American citizens not to commence an adoption from Guatemala at this time.

According to the DOS warning, Guatemalan officials have informed the DOS that Guatemala intends to require cases “pending” or filed after December 31, 2007 to meet Hague standards, “even if the adoption procedures commenced before that date.” Guatemalan officials have also informed the DOS that Guatemala will stop processing adoptions to the United States beginning January 1, 2008 until such time that the U.S. accession to the Hague Convention has taken effect.

In turn, the DOS states that there may be a period of time when it will not be able to approve adoptions from Guatemala, until Guatemala becomes Hague compliant.

The DOS notes that some American citizens are already experiencing delays in the Guatemalan adoption process and references the several dozen children at Casa Quivira who were to be adopted by Americans and who were taken into custody by Guatemalan authorities "because of alleged irregularities in the adoption process and concerns about the care of the children." Once again, the DOS warning also cites the current investigations of adoption services providers for Guatemala adoption in the United States. According to the DOS, “prospective adoptive parents face the real possibility that current, pending cases may be disrupted by legal investigations.”


Department of State Warning on Guatemala Adoptions, September 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ethics in Adoption Conference

We here at Fleas Biting and all those who are concerned about ethical adoption practice, are excited about the upcoming Ethics and Accountability in Adoption Conference to be held next month (October 2007) in Arlington, VA.

Co-sponsored by Ethica and the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, the conference will feature more than 80 confirmed speakers, including among others, our own Usha from here at Fleas Biting.

There will be also be time to meet and mix with several bloggers including Usha and I, during the "Meet the Bloggers" reception.

Please consider joining us and others concerned about adoption ethics and accountability for this conference.

Adoption Ethics and Accountability Conference
October 15-16, 2007
Arlington, Virginia

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and Ethica, Inc. are co-sponsoring an exciting and timely conference, Adoption Ethics and Accountability, in Arlington, VA. This is the second conference hosted by the Adoption Institute that focuses on critical ethical issues in the field today.

Join us as we explore ethical issues in adoption with adoption experts and members of the adoption community. Conference participants will have the opportunity to attend panel discussions and workshops focusing on a variety of issues including birthfamily rights, transracial adoption, birthfamily and records searches, industry regulation, and best practices.

Dates: Monday/Tuesday - October 15-16, 2007

Fee: $325 full conference registration ($162 one day)

Location: Marriott Crystal Gateway
1700 Jefferson Davis Highway,
Arlington , VA
1-800-228-9290 or 703-920-3230

When making your hotel reservation, reference Adoption Ethics Conference to get your reduced rate:
$179 for single/double; $189 for triple and $209 for quad.

Book now - Rates are normally $269 to $329 and higher.

If you are interested in sharing a room with another conference attendee, please contact kjohnson @ adoptioninstitute.org (remove spaces). We will provide your name and email address to those interested; however, you are responsible for making your own payment and accommodation arrangements.

For more information, please contact Mari Cochran at 617.680.0808.
Conference Organization:

The conference is divided into four parts; each part will concentrate on a single topic:
The conference format will focus on four key topic areas presented first by a panel in a plenary session, followed by facilitated workgroups comprised of a panel of speakers to address and explore each aspect of the topic in greater depth. It is our desire that this “open dialogue” format involving over 75 adoption professionals will be the cornerstone to compiling recommendations for a concrete action plan to be presented following the conference.
Plenary Topics include:
  • Accountability to Families of Origin
  • Accountability to Children and Adopted Adults
  • Accountability to Prospective and Current Adoptive Families
  • Summary: Regulation, Protection, and Ethical Practice
For additional information on the subtopics covered in the "open dialogue" workshops in the first two plenary topics, go to Adoption Ethics and Accountability Conference, Schedule for October 16, 2007.

For additional information on the subtopics covered in the "open dialogue" workshops for the last two plenary topics, go to Adoption Ethics and Accountability Conference, Schedule for October 15, 2007.

For a list of conference speakers, go to Adoption Ethics and Accountability Conference, Speakers

Conference organizers would like YOUR INPUT in the form of your participation in the conference. Remember, this conference is not just a sit and listen to someone else's ideas conference, but a listen, contribute, converse, and dialogue conference. Organizers are not looking for passive bodies to fill chairs, but active and involved participatants, whether they are speakers or attendees. Speakers will speak and listen. And attendees will listen and speak. This conference promises to be one that helps everyone grow and learn and expand their minds and broaden their knowledge base.

We here at Fleasbiting would love to see and meet you there and hear YOUR ideas.

"Ya'll come now, ya hear?"

For more information and to read more about the conference, click on any of the badges on this blog page.


Friday, September 14, 2007

India: Baby Farming for Domestic Adoption Using Young Household Servants

An investigative team from CNN-IBN in Delhi, India has uncovered a trafficking scheme in which impoverished rural village girls, many of them tribals, are being recruited by employment agencies who ostensibly place them in larger cities as domestic servants. Subsequently cut-off from contact with their village families, the girls also fall victim to a much more sinister, profitable (for the agency) scheme.

According to allegations, the girls, while working for minimal or non-existent pay, also reportedly become unwilling baby-producers for the placement agency. Reportedly arranging to have the girls raped so that they become impregnated, the agency supposedly continues to monitor the girls (who continue working as domestic servants) as the babies are gestated. When the girls give birth, the newborns are, according to news reports, taken by the placement agency and sold on India's thriving domestic adoption black market.

The racket was busted when, after receiving a "tip-off," two members of CNN-IBN's Special Investigation team posing as an adoptive couple wanting a baby for domestic adoption, visited a particular Delhi placement agency with a hidden camera.

While negotiating a price for a baby, the investigative couple met both the mother of a child who had previously been adopted out and also the midwife who had delivered her baby 20 days earlier. During the meeting, the midwife and the agency representative, with the mother in question looking on, had a disagreement about the mother's age--was she or was she not an minor?

Apparently the CNN-IBN investigative team later followed up with the midwife who told them not only that the mother was a minor but also that:

"They [the placement agency] have been involved in getting young girls pregnant, making them give birth to children. Whoever they give the baby to, they take a lot of money from them."
The midwife insisted that she had been "smelling a rat for some time."

The investigative team called the local police who proceeded to conduct a raid. With information from the midwife, the police and the investigative team were able to locate the family who had bought the young mother's baby.

"The family [who had adopted the baby] claimed that they had no clue as to where the baby had come from. According to them, they collected the baby from the chamber of a lawyer..."
The infant was taken into protective custody.

Police subsequently returned to the placement agency. By day's end, they had arrested and/or taken in for questioning, the placement agency director and some agency personnel, the young mother, and the adoptive family. The lawyer who supposedly effected the transfer of the infant from agency to adoptive family was also located, but denied all knowledge of the situation.

The racket and similar ones involving other placement agencies, are being investigated by Delhi police. According to press reports, since the original arrest, several other young women who were being similarly exploited as baby producers have been taken into protective custody.

At last press report, according to North-West Delhi DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police--the ranking police chief of the area), the crimes that were to be booked in the case included kidnapping, rape, confinement, abduction (of the baby), intimidation, and the intention to commit all the above crimes.

The discovery of this racket has created special concern among those on the Delhi Child Welfare Committee. They have "asked for strong action against the culprits."

The racket has also created serious public concern in India, bringing into sharp public focus at least three related areas of concern--areas of concern that have helped make possible the exploitation of these minors as baby-producers for the adoption market:
  • the activities of placement agencies who routinely comb villages to recruit older children

  • the plight of domestic servants within India

  • the adoption climate--the market for and supply of adoptable children within India

  • and finally, the state of Indian laws that govern these activities
This blog post will look quickly at each of these concerns so as to better understand the news story.

According to news reports, an abundant number of placement agencies recruit children, mostly from rural areas, to work in larger nearby cities, most often as domestic help. Many of these placement agencies are not registered businesses, but rather transient entrepreneurial "mom and pop" operations run by a husband and wife team. Most placement agencies are not registered businesses; most do not keep records of their own activities. Many hire young tribals as agents to go from village to village to find the child workers and are paid according to the numbers of children they find.

"Supplying child laborers as domestic workers is big business for agencies in Delhi.
Once taken from their villages, the working children and their families are frequently, purposefully cut-off from communication with each other. A placement agency calling care is the only way parents have to trace their child and check on his or her whereabouts and safety. However, when an anxious parent concerned by the lack of subsequent to work placement communication from his or her child calls to check on the child, the parent is shocked to discover that either the calling cared phone numbers do not work at all or else the person on the other end of the line has no information on the child--in fact, he/she has never heard of the child. Concerned parents who continue to trouble agencies about missing children often meet not only with non-cooperation, but also threats.

One press report tells of a man named Ghusari who is missing both a son and a daughter:

The agent took my daughter later he threatened me that if I register a complaint with the police, I will not be able to see my daughter ever again.
In spite of nasty threats like these and a police force that is not always kindly nor responsive to the concerns of impoverished rural folk, rural parents DO file police reports asking for help in finding missing children taken by recruiters.

"The list [of missing children taken by recruiters] available with CNN-IBN shows that over 700 children are missing from Sarguja district in Chattisgarh. And this village, Cheerapara, is missing no less than 64 of its children....
What are the chances that these parents will see never see their children again? Father Theodore Lakda, director of an NGO which rescues children trafficked from Chattisgarh reports that 20-30 percent of the children taken by recruiters will never be seen again.

Some who manage to come home again, tell of long work hours, abuse, and all too often of failing to get paid for the work they have done. As for justice for these children and their families, it is rare.

In the last two years, reports of crimes committed against domestic help, many of them young people, have increased by forty percent, but during the same period, conviction rates for the same have stayed steady at ten percent of the total.

"Many activists feel believe that there's a predominant feeling within the civil society that because it's a domestic help--perceived to be a helpless creature--anyone can get away with anything. 'Yes, they sometimes feel that they are feeding and clothing a young person and there is no control or no standards imposed. They don't pay the salaries of these people; it's a total question of bonded labor.'

--Leila Baig of the domestic arm of CARA.
It is in this climate of exploitation, injustice, and disregard for basic human rights that the racket of exploiting young domestic servants to involuntarily produce adoptable babies for the black market takes place.

But what of the adoption climate in India?

According to Western popular knowledge and press reports, India is fairly overflowing with adoptable young infants--so many infants that Western adoption agencies beg for parents for these children. In such a climate, why would there be an adoption black market? Why, if there is an overabundance of adoptable infants, would anyone bother to gestate yet more adoptable babies and in a way that was clearly criminal--and so put themselves in danger of criminal prosecution?

With some thought we could imagine many possible answers to this question--perhaps Indians don't like the formal process for one reason or another, perhaps some people are shut-out of the process for one reason, perhaps the cost of a formal adoption is too high, or perhaps some people want to adopt in such a way that their adoption is secret or hidden, etc. etc. etc.

Rather than speculate as to the reasons why someone would go to the trouble of hatching such a scheme if the country were overflowing with adoptable babies, let's let an expert on Indian adoption--an official spokesperson of the Indian government's agency charged with overseeing and regulating the adoption of Indian children both domestically and abroad, answer the question herself.

Leila Baig, Secretary of CEVARA (the Central Voluntary Adoption and Resource Agency), a domestic arm of CARA (Central Adoption Resource Agency), was a guest on a segment of CNN-IBN's Sunday Special, an in-depth TV show that examines critical issues in India. The show's host posed this question:

'Just why do such cases [of exploiting minor domestic help to gestate babies for the adoption trade] happen? Are laws--or the lack of them--to blame? Is that the reason why trafficking of children is now becoming a part of adoption practice in the country [of India]?'

And Leila Baig of CARA answered thus:

"It's not entirely adoption laws which are at fault over here but there is a huge demand for children now. There aren't enough children coming into the regulated system."
A "huge demand for children now?"

"There aren't enough children..."??

Hmm....how interesting.

And it comes straight from the lips of a CARA official. You can watch the video yourself by clicking on one of the links below.

Demand for legally adoptable infants exceeds supply.

Something that we who have been watching the adoption climate in India--both domestic and international--have suspected for some time.

It could make sense of a good many things.

More on this later in another post.


Initial Video Which Broke the Story:
Exposed! Delhi's Baby Sellers Exploit Minors, IBNLive.com, 2 Sept 2007

Corresponding Text:
Exposed! Delhi's Baby Sellers Exploit Minors, IBNLive.com, 2 Sept 2007

A Series of Four Videos which comprise CNN-IBN's Sunday Special "Babies for Sale" (a longer investigative TV format looks at the issue in more depth and with expert guests):
Video Part I--Babies for Sale, CNN-IBN's TV show Sunday Special, IBNLive.com, 2 Sept 2007

Video Part II--Babies for Sale, CNN-IBN's TV show Sunday Special, IBNLive.com, 2 Sept 2007

Video Part III--Babies for Sale, CNN-IBN's TV show Sunday Special, IBNLive.com, 2 Sept 2007

Video Part IV--Babies for Sale, CNN-IBN's TV show Sunday Special, IBNLive.com, 2 Sept 2007

Corresponding texts for four part video report:
Text--Minor Mothers: Ill-Fated Girls Pawns for Sex-Racket, IBNLive.com, 3 Sept 2007

Domestic Help: How Trafficking Takes Place?">Domestic Help: How Trafficking Takes Place?, IBNLive.com, 2 Sept 2007

Follow up report:Welfare Board Takes Abused Minors into Protection, IBNLive.com, 2 Sept 2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

China: Police Bust Baby Trafficking Ring

Chinese government officials announced on Friday 7 September 2007 that they had busted a child trafficking gang in Yunnan province in southwestern China, arresting a total of 57 gang members, 47 in Yunnan province and 10 in Shandong province.

Nanding railway police had been investigating the ring for more than three months. The police had became suspicious of four women traveling together, each with newborn babies, and each failing to breastfeed the infants on a trip from Kunming, capital of Yunnan, to Nanjing. The four women were taken into custody for questioning and one of the women confessed to having bought the infants. She said that she and two other suspects had been buying babies from Yunnan province since 2005; her husband and ten other "human traders" had responsibility for selling the babies in Shandong province. Based on this information police uncovered the wider child trafficking ring.

There was no suggestion that any of the babies were meant for foreign adoption.

--from Javno.com's article as listed below
Indeed it appears that all the babies, who were about one month old at the time of their transportation, were trafficked to adoptive families within China.

According to one news article, according to details released by Chinese officials, baby girls were usually bought for 1,500 yuan (US $200) and sold for 8,000 yuan (US $1,067 ); baby boys were normally bought for 8,000 yuan (US $1,067) and sold for 20,000 yuan (US $2,667). Children were apparently bought in the rural Gejiu region of Yunnan and sold in the rural areas around Shandong's Tancheng city.

However, according to another report, it was not necessarily clear that the children had been bought:

The report did not say whether the natural parents had sold the children or were victims of abductions. Child trafficking cases in the past have involved both payment and abduction.

--from Javno.com's article as listed below
The particular gang of women and traders arrested on the train had "bought 27 newborn babies in Yunnan during 16 trips and then sold them in Shandong."

However, investigators believe that the larger gang had bought and sold more than 60 babies over the last 2 years. Officials have thus far "recovered" more than 40 of these children from the families to whom they were sold and are attempting to "recover" the rest.

As to the domestic adoption market within China:

China has a thriving trade in babies that are stolen or bought from poor families and then sold to couples who want another child, a servant or a future bride for a son.

--from the Pravda article as listed below
In regard to past child trafficking arrests in China:

In another high-profile scandal that exposed the rampant trafficking of children in China, 54 people in southern Guangxi region were convicted in 2004 of trafficking 117 girls.

That case broke when police found 28 drugged and tied-up baby girls--none over three months old--in bags on a bus bound for nothern [Chinese] cities.

At least three people were executed in the case, while more than 100 people outside of Guangxi were arrested for buying the children.

--from the Herald Sun article as listed below

Gang Trafficking Over 60 Babies Cracked, China Daily.com, 7 Sept 2007

China Police Break Baby Trafficking Ring, The Associated Press, 7 Sept 2007

Baby Trafficking Ring Busted, Herald Sun (of Australia), 7 Spet 2007

China Cracks Suspected Baby Trafficking Gang, Javno.com, 7 Sept 2007

Baby Trafficking Ring Destroyed By Police in China, Pravda, 7 Sept 2007

And 77 other articles, mostly repeats of AP articles, at Google News stories on China Baby Trafficking Ring

Guatemala: Big Picture--The Need to Clean Up International Adoption

Time Online "in partnership with with CNN" recently published an article entitled "Cleaning Up International Adoption."

The recent raid of the Guatemalan orphanage Casa Quivera provides the context for a rare and thoughtful exploration of different perspectives on the problems current in Guatemalan adoption, and also, of some of these problems' "bigger picture" causes.

The article begins by describing the recent raid of a Guatemalan orphanage, Casa Quivera, in which the Guatemalan government took custody of 46 infants destined for international adoption in order to scrutinize their paperwork and determine if they had been legally relinquished. The article follows the different ways that this raid is perceived by different parties within Guatemala and the US.

For Carmen de Wenner, Guatemala's Secretary for Social Welfare, the essential thing is to determine if the children were trafficked and if therefore, they are legitimately available for adoption:

"'If these children were bought in the womb,' de Wenner says, 'that is a crime."
For Ana Escobar, a Guatemalan mother whose six month old was stolen from her at gunpoint and who believes that her child was likely conveyed into the thriving international adoption system where the infant could fetch a small fortune for Guatemalan middle men, the raid on Casa Quivera offered hope. At first that hope took the form of hoping that her own beloved Baby Esther was among the children of Casa Quivera; when that hope was dashed, it morphed into a more abstract, political one--a hope for the future safety of fellow Guatemalan families and children.

For Guatemalan citizens, the raid on Casa Quivera represents hope that the Guatemalan government might finally be starting to take serious measures to investigate and control an international adoption trade that many Guatemalan citizens have come to feel threatens in a very real way, their own families' and children's safety.

In Guatemala, where 1 of every 100 children born last year was sold in adoption to Americans, the threat can feel—and be—very real.

So real, in fact, that some Guatemalan citizens are beginning to fight back...

There have been an increasing number of cases, especially in small towns in Guatemala, where suspected child traffickers have been beaten or even killed--by lynching or being burned alive--by angry mobs seeking to protect themselves and their children from becoming victims of the child trade.

"We are not animals to be bought and sold," [Ana Escobar] says, clutching [her stolen baby] Esther's photo.
For American adoption agencies whose posture in this increasingly difficult situation seems to be to deny all wrongdoing and declare that reports of corruption are simply “political” and/or a figment of the imaginations of the ever-present forces of evil—those “anti-adoption” activists who would groundlessly, needlessly and coldly deny homes to worthy orphans around the world and a livelihood to themselves, the Casa Quivera situation has become yet another thorn in the side—a harbinger of the even more troubled days ahead for international adoption from Guatemala.

Although many agencies fear an eventual, serious country-wide Guatemalan slow-down or shut-down, the likes of which have taken place in countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, or Nepal, still, American adoption agencies plunge ahead, continuing to do business with Guatemalan adoption attorneys who can supply them with the ever-in-demand-healthy-young-paper-adoptable-infants ….and continuing to offer referrals to American adoptive parents--adoptive parents, who are assured of the fact that they are giving needed homes to the legitimate orphans of Guatemala. Parents who are assured that the reports of corruption are unfounded (and certainly don't involve their own agencies or its suppliers).

De ja vu... I seem to recall similar assurances from our agency before we adopted our stolen children.
"The activity is driven largely by surging US demand. With adoption in the U.S. still a bureaucratic nightmare and with few babies available in distant places like China and Eastern Europe, Guatemala has become an increasingly popular source for U.S. couples. Almost 5,000 babies were adopted last year from [Guatemala, a] nation of 13 million--the world's highest per capita adoption rate--and 95% of them went to the U.S. Since 1990, in fact, more than 25,000 Guatemalan children have been placed in American homes."
--from the Time Online article listed below
Despite agency reassurances, some adoptive parents have already been caught up in corruption related problems in Guatemala. Having already paid their money and accepted their Guatemalan referrals, many have experienced various administrative delays in "bringing their [Guatemalan] children 'home'," as the U.S. and Guatemalan governments have put additional checks and system-wide controls in place to try to stem fraud and corruption.

As for the perspective of adoptive parents caught in the midst of slow-downs---this is the favorite stuff of American media adoption coverage. Parents who have spent their life savings plus more, cast their lots with an agency that promised smooth sailing, became emotionally attached to referred children, and who are now left with empty wallets, empty cribs, empty promises, and broken dreams--the disappointment and heartache of these parents is real and understandable.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, [Ann]Roth had been waiting with her husband David to adopt a boy and a girl from Casa Quivera--but now, after having paid half the $30,000 fee, she finds everything in a precarious state of limbo. "I feel, says Ann, 37, "like someone has kicked me in the stomach ten times."
What has not been so prevalent in the American media and which makes the Time article stand out as different--perhaps a harbinger of change for the American media, in a way similar to the way that Casa Quivera is a harbinger of hope to Guatemalans citizens worried about losing their children--is its willingness to look at:
  • the perspective of other international adoption stakeholders, including the Guatemalan people and those who have been the victims of corruption

  • the "big picture" reasons for Guatemalan adoption problems
Of the "big picture" reasons, Time says this:

[The]feeling, which more and more Guatemalan mothers and adoptive mothers in the U.S., are experiencing these days, reflects the growing awareness that adoption Guatemala is all too often a multi-million-dollar underworld trade. The nation's ill-regulated adoption business, run by private lawyers and notaries, is rife with corruption, including forged paperwork, payoffs to women who agree to hand over their children and, in some cases, newborns stolen from hospitals or mothers' arms, according to the government human rights ombudsman's office. One U.S. couple spent almost two years and $50,000 to find out later that her biological mother "was essentially a baby factory" who had sold many of her eight children to a dealer, says the adoptive father. "It felt dirty, like we were involved in a child brokering deal."
From all accounts, including those of the American government, the Guatemalan adoption trade has indeed become a "dirty" one. Still, American agencies doggedly continue to convey children in adoption from Guatemala to the U.S. even amidst such overwhelming evidence of corruption.

Agencies don't seem to see--or rather, perhaps don't want to see--the bigger picture; remarkably they apparently see nothing but unfounded and irrational fear and anti-adoption hysteria.

"Florida resident Clifford Phillips, who runs Casa Quivera with his Guatemalan wife, insists they're victims of the spreading anti-adoption hysteria and persecution. 'This [this hysteria and persecution] is an injustice that needs to be stopped now.'"

Myopic American agencies apparently accept no responsibility for the climate they've created in Guatemala; for the fact that they and their Guatemalan agents have made Guatemalan children pricey commodities, the procurement of which can make Guatemalan middle men into rich men overnight. Agencies see only individual orphans whom they faithfully believe were legitimately relinquished and who are "in need" of homes. Publicly they "see" only their humanitarian good deeds in "finding" these children homes.

Calls from Guatemalan citizens and Guatemalan government officials for an end to their country, their citizens, and their children being ravaged by the international adoption trade fall on agency ears that hear only meaningless, unfounded "political motivations."

Things will certainly get worse in Guatemala before they get better--for everyone concerned. Already, the US and Guatemala are working on implementation of Hague regulation (due to go into effect on January 1, 2007).

Guatemalan press reports allege that child-traffickers are stepping up their efforts to procure children for international adoption and get them processed before the new regulations take effect.

This alleged step-up in the illegal acquisition of children will doubtless cause more suffering for Guatemalan mothers and families.

According to press reports, reports of the alleged step-up in illegal procurements has already caused Guatemalan citizens to be more aggressive in protecting themselves against child traffickers and has led to more mob violence.

It will doubtless also lead to American adoptive parents being further cautioned to be careful as they travel to and in Guatemala to claim their adoptive children. Already the press has reported that at least one traveling adoptive couple was attacked for their adoptive activities while in Guatemala.

As the governments of both countries clamp down in an effort to convince the citizens of Guatemala that someone is watching, that someone cares, and that it is not simply open season on Guatemalan children, there will doubtless be more orphanage raids and additional layers of administrative procedures to control corruption. It already seems that each new layer is simply another layer to be circumvented; every circumvention needs its own new layer of protection.

These added layers of safeguards will result in more children being caught up in investigations and in more delays in homecomings.

Some safeguards may even result in some children never being permitted to leave Guatemala.

According to some perspectives, this may be a good thing. According to these people, trade in children from Guatemala needs to slow or even come to a stop.

Certainly most would agree that some individual children should not be permitted to leave Guatemala--children like Ana Escobar's Esther.

"I won't give up until I find my daughter, says Escobar. "There are a lot of people who adopt children without really knowing if the mother wanted to give them up or if they were stolen. Without knowing if the mother is suffering."
The real question is, does anyone--adoptive parents looking at their referral photos, adoptive parents gazing on the longed-for child sleeping in their arms, the American agency who has stayed in business another year and been honored for their humanitarian work, the US government that has responded to the demands of a vocal voters that demand that adoption remain open despite problems--ANYONE--care about the grief of a Guatemalan mother?

And if they do care, what are they willing to do about it?

As a mother who has indeed cradled in her arms children stolen from a Third World mother, I say, you'd better hope that you care.

Care or not care, eventually there *will* be a day of reckoning. Guatemalan adoptive children will someday no longer be cuddly infants and toddlers, but a new, very large generation of adult adoptees, full of questions about the reported injustices that brought them to their families. You have but a few years to come up with your answers, for children grow quickly into independent adults.

I hope that your answers are good ones.

There is, in the end, nothing more awful than looking your adoptive son or daughter in the eye and having to give them an accounting for their adoption. (except maybe having to do that with their birthmother from whom they were stolen and who has mourned long years for them)

There are no adequate excuses.

Only apologies and guilt and sorrow for the pain that you, in your ignorance and gullibility, caused another human being.


Cleaning Up International Adoption, Time online, 29 Aug 2007

and its reprint at Yahoo News.com:
Cleaning Up International Adoptions, Yahoo! News, 31 Aug 2007

To read fleasbiting blogposts about Guatemalan adoption: Fleasbiting Blogposts about Guatemalan Adoption

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ireland Suspends Adoption From Guatemala Because of Child Trafficking Concerns

The Adoption Authority of Ireland has said that it will no longer permit applications for adoption from Guatemala to Ireland because of serious concerns about the corruption of the Guatemalan adoption process.

Previously approved Guatemala adoption petitions will, however, continue to be honored and those Guatemalan adoptions still-in-process will be allowed to be completed.

This temporary action is based on several stated concerns including the following:
  • the lack of a prohibition in Guatemalan law against improper payments at various stages of the adoption process

  • lack of a system in Guatemala to accredit adoption service providers

  • lack of a Guatemalan central authority to oversee and safeguard the integrity of intercountry adoption process
Guatemala to Ireland adoptions are not yet governed by the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoptions because neither party has both signed and fully implemented the treaty requirements.

Ireland has signed the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoption but has yet to ratify and implement it.

Although Guatemala had signed the Hague Treaty, its legal status within Guatemala was questioned in a series of Guatemalan court cases. On May 16, 2007, the Congress of Guatemala clarified Guatemala's status within the Hague and affirmed its intentions to implement it. However, implementation has been slow and Guatemala continues to fall seriously short of the standards of the Hague Treaty.


More about Guatemala's status in regard to the Hague Convention

Temporary suspension of adoptions from Guatemala, The Irish Times, 16 August 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Adoptions in Lesotho Halted

On August 29, the U.S. State Department reported that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare confirmed that the Lesotho Cabinet has suspended both domestic and foreign adoptions effective as of June 4. Adoptions were suspended due to reports of trafficking or abuse of Basotho children. The reports are as of yet unsubstantiated but according to the Ministry, the Cabinet intends to convene a “Commission of Inquiry” to investigate these reports as they relate to adoption. Although only a handful of U.S. immigrant visas have been issued to “orphans” from Lesotho in recent years (a total of three from 2003-2005), the U.S. Embassy reports that a number of adoptions by American citizens are currently in various stages of processing.


U.S. State Department summary of international adoption requirements for Lesotho

U.S. State Department Notice, Suspension of Adoptions in Lesotho, August 29, 2007

U.S. State Department Notice, Suspension of Intercountry Adoptions in Lesotho, August 9, 2007