Guatemala One Year After Hague


The following is a summary of the JCICS report titled: “Guatemala One Year Later”, published on February 4, 2009. To read the full report please visit:

On January 1, 2008, Guatemala implemented the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption. This move was intended to answer the allegations of corruption, child trafficking and other unethical adoption practices.

While this move was applauded by all Convention countries, the implementation of the Hague Convention by Guatemala has literally resulted in the shut down of international adoptions from this country. As a result of Guatemala not having the resources to effectively implement the Convention, the adoption process in this country is at a stand still. Hague is intended to be a light of hope for orphans, but in the case of Guatemala it has not provided the desired outcome that was hoped for leaving children with little or no hope. There are few government facilities to respond to the needs of orphans and most private institutions that previously dealt with this need have now closed.

While the allegations have ended, the fact that adoptions have come to a complete halt has resulted in orphans continuing to be institutionalized rather than being adopted by loving and caring families. Additionally, a central governing adoption authority is now in place in Guatemala and ethical adoptions should be taking place; however, the fact of the matter is that no adoptions are taking place. There continue to be 1,000 children who had been in the process of being adopted before the shutdown who are now in limbo. Guatemala is being urged to at least complete these pending adoptions for the sake of the children

With no where else to turn, an alarming number of mothers have abandoned children, even infants, in trash dumps. Sadly, twenty children have been found that had already perished in the streets of Guatemala. These are young innocent deaths that could have been avoided.

The implementation of the Hague Convention by Guatemala was intended to protect the rights of children. However, Guatemala is floundering and the decision to become a Hague Country is in fact having the opposite effect that was intended. After joining the ranks of countries in the Hague Convention, abandoned children in Guatemala appear to be worse off than before the implementation of the Convention.

The orphan crisis in Guatemala has worsened rather than improved. Thus the question is then posed, when will Guatemala provide resources to these abandoned children and to the families who want to provide them with a loving home?

The adoption community is urging that Guatemala rectify this sad state of affairs immediately, if for no one else but the children.

Sonja Brown works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptionsā€™ programs in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Samoa. Sonja is also proud to work directly with our Individualized Country Program families who are adopting from countries where no adoption service providers currently operate.