Okay I am cool with the government stepping and regulating this. After all it is for the protection of all involved. A sort of buyer beware kinda thing. I get the biggest kick out of the fact that the NCFA and its adoption agencies are throwing a hissy fit over it. Awww too bad, one less source of income for you. People you have got to realize this kind of thing has been happening in the United States as well. This is why we need to regulate both domestic and international adoption.
March 19, 2007 - State Department advises against further U.S. adoptions from Guatemala
NEW YORK (AP) - Citing rampant problems of fraud and extortion, the State Department says it no longer recommends that Americans adopt children from Guatemala - the No. 2 source of orphans coming to the United States.
Some adoption officials are outraged, calling the move a de facto suspension and an overreaction that will cause more harm than good, leaving hundreds of children stranded in Guatemalan foster homes.
"It's inflammatory, it's insensitive to people's feelings," Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council for Adoption, said Friday. "People all across the country in the process of adopting from Guatemala are frightened right now."
Adoptions from Guatemala are popular because of relatively swift procedures and have increased steadily in recent years, reaching 4,135 in 2006 - second only to China. Yet U.S. officials have pressed Guatemala for anti-corruption reforms, saying there were frequent cases of birth mothers pressured to sell their babies and adoptive American parents targeted by extortionists.
This week, the State Department issued a new, detailed advisory saying, "We cannot recommend adoption from Guatemala at this time. ... There are serious problems with the adoption process in Guatemala, which does not protect all children, birth mothers, or prospective adoptive parents."
The advisory stopped short of imposing a ban on adoptions from Guatemala, but said cases would be scrutinized more closely than before and reviews would take longer.
"Adopting a child in a system that is based on a conflict of interests, that is rampant with fraud, and that unduly enriches facilitators is a very uncertain proposition with potential serious lifelong consequences," the advisory said. "When you decide whether to move forward with adoption in Guatemala, you should consider factors beyond timing."
Atwood said the advisory amounted to a "de facto suspension."
"What parent now is going to enter an adoption program for Guatemala?" he asked. "What's going to happen to 2,000 kids waiting in foster care there?"
Atwood said his council, one of the nation's largest adoption advocacy groups, shared the State Department's concerns about Guatemala, but wanted to continue adoptions to the U.S. while encouraging in-the-works reforms. Pending proposals would create a central authority in Guatemala to tighten regulation of an adoption industry long dominated by notaries who function as baby brokers.
"We ought to give the reform process time to work," Atwood said. "For the children's sake, with appropriate added scrutiny, let's get as many of them adopted as we can."
Catherine Barry, deputy assistant secretary of state for overseas citizens services, said the State Department had not given up on the prospect of reforms in Guatemala and would continue to review - with extra scrutiny - adoption cases already in the pipeline.
But for parents just considering an adoption from Guatemala, the message should be clear, Berry said.
"If you're at a preliminary stage talking to adoption agencies, then we think you can draw the fair conclusion not to start a new application," she said in a telephone interview.
The notary system was one of the major problems cited by the State Department; it said these officials often have conflicts of interest and are poorly regulated. The notaries recruit birth mothers, handle paperwork and often complete proceedings in less than half the time it takes in other countries.
"The U.S. Government is concerned that social services to birth mothers are extremely limited (in Guatemala) and that their consents may have been induced by money or threats," the advisory said. "Monetary incentives and high fees drive completion of the adoption process more than protecting the children."
Americans adopted 20,679 children from abroad in 2006, including 6,493 from China - where authorities have proposed tighter restrictions on overseas adoptions. Russia and South Korea currently trail Guatemala as the No. 3 and No. 4 sources of adopted children; some experts expect a surge in adoptions from Africa and Southeast Asia.
Among the parents alarmed by the State Department advisory was Kellie Porter, a single woman in Atlanta who has already traveled to a Guatemalan foster home to meet the 6-month-old girl she hopes to adopt.
"I have not experienced any of the problems they're talking about," she said of the State Department advisory. "Everything has been very transparent."
She now worries her planned adoption will be delayed or rejected.
"I'm fearful for my daughter's future," Porter said. "If her adoption is not finalized, she's going to end up in an institution or on the street."
Pressure for reform in Guatemala has been mounting because of a pact called the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions, which is to be ratified in the United States later this year. The U.S. will then require all foreign adoptions to meet the tougher standards demanded by the pact, which Guatemala ratified in 2003 but has yet to implement.
Already, several countries that observe the Hague Convention have stopped adoptions from Guatemala.
In its advisory, the State Department addressed the argument that some U.S. adoption agencies perform honorably in Guatemala.
"The lack of oversight and regulation over the other actors in the Guatemalan adoption process make it extremely difficult for even the most ethical agency to be completely certain that everything has been done in accordance with the law," the advisory said.
On the Net: State Dept advisory