First Guatemalan Adoption in Several Years

Recently, the American press reported the story of an American family finally completing the adoption of their son from Guatemala. The article, written by Associated Press staff writer, Romina Ruiz-Goiriena, relays the experience of the Hooker family. The article heart-achingly traces the family’s five year struggle to adopted a child they met while on a mission trip to Guatemala.

The narrative makes for a good story, which I am sure is part of why Ms. Ruiz-Goiriena wrote this article from the point of view of the Hooker family. By focusing on the details of the family’s painful process, the article presents international adoption as an unpredictable and unreasonably expensive process. To a certain extent, this portrayal is true. There are many moving pieces involved in any adoption, and the adopting family or their agency has limited control over many of them. However, many countries have established stable and predictable processes.

The article also implies that the cost of international adoption should be governed by the cost of living in the sending country. By comparing the price of adoption to the average income in Guatemala, Ms. Ruiz-Goiriena implies the cost of an adoption is inflated. This implication overlooks the fact that many highly trained professionals are involved in any international adoption, and many government fees must be paid before an adoption is complete. These costs are entirely separate from the cost of living in the sending country.

Additionally, the article distorts the role of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and the process of adoption. The Hague Convention was designed to ensure that international adoptions are made in the best interests of the child, prevent kidnapping, selling or trafficking children, and that each country prioritizes the child remaining in the care of the his or her family of origin. Previously in Guatemala investigations into international adoption raised some of these issues of corruption. One part to the Hague Convention puts in place a central authority to oversee the international adoption process to try and eliminate corruption. According to Nicole Skellenger, MLJ Director of Operations and adoption attorney, Guatemala has developed an appropriate plan to meet these requirements; however, they lack the resources to implement it. The challenges to implementing the legislation mean Guatemala is still closed to international adoption.

We are thrilled that families who started the adoption process prior to the closing are starting to successfully complete their adoptions. We are grateful for the efforts of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu for taking initiative and using her position on the Senate appropriations committee to enable these families to complete their adoptions. Her efforts and the team she assembled will connect 180 children without families with forever families. We hope someday Guatemala will be able to fully implement their new adoption laws and reopen their international adoption programs. MLJ Adoptions will continue to monitor Guatemala’s progress in meeting Hague Convention requirements and re-opening under new adoption laws.

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.