Guatemala Adoption Halt Creating Interest in Central and Latin America


Almost daily I speak to families with a desire to adopt from a Central or Latin America country. Most of these families either:

  • Have a connection to the culture
  • Speak Spanish
  • Have been on a mission or service trip to the area
  • Have adopted a child from Guatemala previously and want to adopt another child with a shared heritage

Guatemala closed its doors to international adoption in January of 2008, and since then many families have continued to seek avenues of adoption from Central and Latin America. Countries such as:

  1. Honduras
  2. Nicaragua
  3. Mexico
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Columbia
  6. El Salvador
  7. Panama
  8. Peru

Many of these countries have either closed their doors to international adoption, have only older children available or have a very long, difficult and/or restrictive process which leaves families with few choices when it comes to adopting. I am happy to say that our Nicaragua Adoption Program is a bright spot in adoption from Central or Latin America. We have recently had several referrals of young children, all under the age of two! Nicaragua also offers a vacation-like setting with a very laid back process!

Many families initially feel that they cannot accommodate the 12-16 weeks in-country stay that is needed to complete the Nicaragua adoption process. However, upon further discussion and more detail, families that previously thought it was impossible have figured out a way to make it happen. Families who have children have taken them along and truly benefit from the adaptation period that Nicaragua requires. Beautiful sunshine, pools, beaches, and a relaxed atmosphere lend to the process of bonding with your new child. Both parents are not required the whole 12-16 weeks and can split the time if needed. Families have used combined vacation time, FMLA, as well as utilizing the opportunity to work from a remote location (internet is available in Nicaragua) in order to accomplish the time off.

Another negative often voiced about the long stay in-country is that families want time at home to spend with their new child before going to work. My opinion is the time in Nicaragua is best – life gets very busy when we are home. Work, school, family, friends, and many obligations often interrupt what should be a quiet bonding period. In Nicaragua, the family is almost (for lack of a better word) forced to slow down their life and spend time with their child – which is of utmost importance and a great gift to the child as well as the family. Families that chose to approach the process with an optimistic outlook, and take advantage of the opportunity to learn their child’s culture enjoy their experience.

In conclusion, I feel that Nicaragua adoption is filled with great possibilities for those families wanting to adopt young children, older children or even special needs children that previously hoped to adopt from Guatemala or other Central or Latin American countries. Sit back on the beach, enjoy the sunset, and relax as your family builds the bonds of love and trust.

Lydia Tarr works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Bulgaria and Ukraine. She is the adoptive mother of four children from Ukraine and was recognized as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption Program.