Travelojos on Mamalita and the uphill climb

Thank you to Steven Roll of Travelojos for reviewing Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir. I’ve always viewed Mamalita as part travelogue, and I’m glad Steven saw the book that way, too. What I also loved is that Steven understood the many-layered challenges adoptive families face—not only “dishonest adoption brokers, government corruption, and endless bureaucracy,” but also a prevailing suspicion of outsiders in general. Steven writes:

“My interest in the book was piqued by my visit to Guatemala last year. I had learned about the country’s adoption reform initiative before I attended a language school in Xela for a week in May. The language school’s application asked if I preferred to stay with a family with or without children. This seemingly innocuous question gave me pause because I had read about instances of mob violence in Guatemala arising from suspicions of child snatching. Guatemala is one of the top sources of adopted children in the world. In 2007, the country tightened its adoption regulations following allegations of profiteering and infant trafficking.

“Suspicion there runs so deep concerning foreigners’ intentions with children that the U.S. State Department warns tourists against interactions with them. The tourists who do risk becoming victims of mob violence.

“The U.S. State Department’s profile for Guatemala notes that:

in 2007, two foreigners (including an American citizen) and a Guatemalan kayaking on a river near Chicaman, Quiche were accused of stealing children and seized by a 500-person mob (estimated). Although threatened, the individuals were not physically attacked. The incident occurred after the group had been talking and joking with a local boy on the river bank. In Sayaxche, Petén, rumors escalated into mob action against a Guatemalan couple believed to be involved in child stealing. The husband was beaten and burned to death, and the wife threatened, but was eventually turned over to the police. A local American resident was also seized and threatened with death when he tried to intervene with the mob. In the same area, a family of American tourists, along with several Guatemalan motorists, was held overnight at a road blockade for possible use as human shields. Mobs have also targeted police, resulting in delayed or ineffective responses by law enforcement.

“Unfortunately, O’Dwyer’s book makes clear that the paranoia surrounding this issue causes problems for families who have only the best intentions. It often makes them easy prey for dishonest profiteers.”

Read Steven’s entire review here. And if you know anyone with an interest in Central America, please tell them about Mamalita.

ShareThis

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Comment