We're in Washington D.C. tonight, but just saw this AP report....
Guatemalan president says he's not trying to stop U.S. families from adopting babies
The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemalan President Oscar Berger said Tuesday that his government is simply working to make adoptions more secure and not trying to interfere with U.S. families already in the process of adopting some 3,700 children from the Central American nation.
Guatemalan lawmakers are debating how to fulfill their promise to comply by Jan. 1, 2008, with the Hague Convention, the international standard for legal adoptions. A key requirement is the creation of a centralized adoption-monitoring agency.
Would-be parents — many of whom spend US$30,000 (€21,000) or more to adopt Guatemalan babies — are on edge, worrying that adoptions already in process will be blocked by the impending legislation. But Berger denied that.
"I have never said that I want to stop the adoptions," Berger told The Associated Press. "All my government wants is for the adoptions law that is about to pass to be respected and for Guatemala to comply with the Hague Convention."
U.S. families adopted 4,135 Guatemalan children last year, making the Central American nation second only to China as a source of babies for American couples. One in every 100 Guatemalan babies born annually is adopted by U.S. families, thanks to a speedy private adoption system in which notaries handle the entire process, from scouting for pregnant women to filing all the paperwork.
The Hague Convention requires that a government agency control the process, not independent notaries.
It remains unclear exactly what parents who are already adopting Guatemalan babies will have to do to comply with the new rules. But Rep. Rolando Morales, one of the main backers of the adoption bill in Congress, also said adoptions under way won't be blocked.
"All we ask for is an investigation to make sure that the woman giving the baby up is the biological mother and that the infant was not obtained under coercion or, worse, stolen," Morales said.
"We don't believe an adoption should cost more than US$7,000 (€5,000)," he added. "The difference is the profit the lawyer makes."
UNICEF's Guatemala office also wants cases already in process to be re-examined to ensure that babies were not stolen or obtained under duress. And the U.S. State Department has warned U.S. families not to adopt from Guatemala until the U.S. Embassy can examine each case more thoroughly. The embassy recently began requiring DNA tests at the beginning and the end of each adoption to verify the child's identity.
In response, a notaries' lobbying group has run radio ads praising adoption as a way to get children out of orphanages and help those living on the street. Meanwhile, adoptive parents have deluged U.S. government offices with calls and e-mails calling for Guatemalan adoptions to continue.
Guatemalan lawmakers are determined to pass the bill before the nation's presidential elections on Nov. 4.