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Guatemala seeks to slow exodus of babies to U.S.

Guatemala seeks to slow exodus of babies to U.S.
From Harris Whitbeck and Rose Arce
ANTIGUA, Guatemala (CNN) -- For many years, Guatemala has been a place of relatively uncomplicated adoptions for American parents. The small country's government estimates as many as 17 babies leave each day for adoptive parents in the United States.

But that number could soon drop to zero because of concerns over alleged improprieties in the Guatemalan adoption process. Guatemalan President Oscar Berger announced recently that adoptions to the United States will be suspended on January 1, 2008, a decision that could leave nearly 3,000 babies currently in the adoption pipeline in legal limbo.

"This is our heritage, our future," said Carmen Wennier, head of Guatemala's Social Welfare bureau, who has criticized the adoption system.

Guatemala has the highest per capita rate of adoption in the world and the United States represents the largest number of adoptions, with an estimated one of every 100 Guatemalan babies sent to the United States, according to the U.S. consulate in Guatemala. U.S. officials estimate more than 5,000 adoptions from Guatemala will be processed this year, an annual high which would make Guatemala the second biggest origin of adoptive babies to the United States, behind China....

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