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Lisa Munro @llmunro
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Part of the reason I'm so worried about migrant kids being trafficked into adoption is because of the trafficking of Guatemalan kids into international adoption in the 2000s.
Guatemala became one of the largest sending countries in terms of the number of kids being adopted out, third only to China and India. (Compared the size of those countries to Guatemala, total population 15 million)
Along with actual child stealing, a corrupt cabal of judges and lawyers declared kids orphaned, even those with parents.
Records got falsified. Babies left the country with their new (generally white and middle to upper class) adoptive parents under incredibly shady circumstances. Corruption at every level made this all possible.
And here's the truly gross part: people made millions and millions of dollars from facilitating international adoptions. And by facilitating, I mean selling babies for upwards of $30k.
When I was serving in Peace Corps in Guatemala, there were rumors (likely true) of women roaming the countryside to find pregnant (often indigenous) women and pay them a little money for their babies.
Thousands and thousands of babies left the country this way, not in adoptions because people were willing to ignore corruption and pay a lot of money for those kids.
Remember that market forces drive adoption. People paid $30k plus because that's what people were willing to pay to adopt them. I can't even explain to you what $30k would do for a Guatemalan family. There are plenty of people who somehow survive on less than $2 a day.
There is so so so much money to be made in adoption. It is literally an unregulated for profit billion dollar industry, no matter how much it may try to convince anyone otherwise.
May we all keep our eyes on the border kids (many of whom are Guatemalan). They need to bring reunited with their families.
Should also add that the book Finding Fernanda, about Guatemalan kids trafficked into international adoption, does an excellent job explaining how adoption becomes legal child trafficking.
I should also note that the Guatemalan adoption program closed in 2007, largely because it became increasingly obvious that international adoption was just a cover for child selling.
Because I'm a historian, here are some citations. Here's the NYT in 2006. Look at the numbers--1 in 100 children was adopted internationally. That's a massive flow of babies out of Guatemala.
CS Monitor in 2000 reported that it cost $24K to adopt a Guatemalan baby and that international adoption generated $60 million/year for a group of 200 lawyers. SIXTY MILLION. Zero government oversight. [CS Monitory, Oct 17, 2000]
Here's some information on what the U.S. state department knew about this situation and when:…
This U.S. woman stood trial for child trafficking and arranging adoptions out of Guatemala. She was found innocent, but that doesn't mean that the system wasn't corrupt af.…
Should also note that corruption +adoption in Guatemala isn't unique or unusual. Recall that Ethiopia just closed its adoption program. Cambodia. Those kids that were trafficked out of Haiti in 2010. Where there's $$$$ to be made, there's corruption and trafficking in adoption.
Also some numbers, just in case you're wondering. About 30K kids (mostly babies) adopted out of Guatemala, around 5000 a year. [More info at Brandeis:…]
Here's how murky, tangled, and possibly illegal international adoption could be in Guatemala:…
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