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Guatemala study shows baby adoptions controlled by a criminal ring

Like many children, Esther was abducted when she was only a few-months-old. According to article, several thousand Americans adopt from Guatemala. The little girl was abducted when she was a few months old and reappeared under a different name. A band of armed men ripped the child from her mother’s arms. Her mother scoured hospitals and orphanages across the country. After DNA testing, the mother finally got her daughter back. Here's the link: http://www.ibnlive.com/news/international-adoption-reveals-its-dark-side/69725-2.html

Guatemala Study Shows Baby Adoptions Controlled By A Criminal Ring
November 22, 2007
8:43 a.m.
EST Vittorio Hernandez -
AHN News WriterGuatemala City, Guatemala (AHN) - A study by experts from the government, church and charitable agencies said the rise in international adoptions of Guatemalan infants is due to the presence of a criminal ring controlling the baby trade. Since 2004, more than 18,000 adoptions have been approved by the state, involving millions of dollars.

With each adoption transaction generating from $13,000 to $40,000, the total amount involved between $234 million to $720 million. It is shared among participants of the infant trade that thrives because of the state's indifference, the study said.

Among the people involved in the whole adoption process are lawyers, doctors, nurses, midwives, social workers, hotel owners, interpreters, public registrars and state workers. Of the 18,376 adoption cases registered since 2004, only 0.5 percent of the babies were placed with Guatemalan families, while 94 percent were given to American parents.

The Daily Journal of Venezuela, quoting portions of the report, said, "The leaders of the criminal economy have crafted mechanism to assure the procurement of babies and later coordinate the adoption proceedings before the PGH (Attorney General's Office) and guarantee economic benefits for all the members of the adoption networks."

Because of the increasing demand overseas for Guatemalan babies, child traffickers at times seize babies at gunpoint from poor Guatemalan mothers.

The Survivor Foundation, one of the groups behind the study, said it will lead this week protests in front of the Supreme Court and Congress to push for the passage of adoption laws that are in line with The Hague Convention on International Adoptions.

Victims of the adoption ring have started the protest Monday in front of the Public Prosecutor's office. One Guatemalan mother, Ana Escobar, said two armed men beat her and took away her son. She told EFE News, "Before leaving, they told me they would kill me if I reported the kidnapping."

Norma Cruz, president of the foundation, pointed to lawyers benefiting from adoption deals as the authors of a lobby group that will block the legislation of such a law. The ease of adoption process in the country facilitates inter-country movement of children. Only few questions are asked during the process.

While Guatemalan officials insist there was no force or coercion involved, they admitted most of the processed adoption cases had improper documentation and the adoption house handling the infants did not even have licenses.