Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Bartholet’

Harper’s article

Monday, March 18th, 2019

I’m posting the link to an article by Rachel Nolan in April 2019 Harper’s, “Destined for Export: The Troubled Legacy of Guatemalan Adoptions.” The piece focuses on a 27-year-old man from Belgium, Jean-Sebastien Hertsens Zune, who searches for his birth parents and discovers falsified paperwork. (Zune’s adoption occurred pre-DNA days.) In addition to telling Zune’s story, the article includes an interview with Susana Luarca (from the Guatemala City women’s prison), references “The Embassy Files” by Erin Siegal McIntyre, and quotes Harvard professor and adoptive mother Elizabeth Bartholet and an unnamed searcher.

None of the information is surprising. I just wish they’d included input from one of the thousands of adoptive and birth families who have reunited in a healthy way. But this is the legacy we must live with. We make sense of it as we can.

The photo above shows my daughter at age seven, reunited with her birth mother and grandmother.


YouTube video, Abandoned in Guatemala

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

If you care about adoption from Guatemala, please watch this powerful YouTube video, Abandoned in Guatemala: The Failure of International Adoption Policies. The video examines the aftermath of the December 2007 shutdown, and its effects on children sentenced to spend their lives in orphanages.

Every line in the film is telling and significant, but for me, one in particular resonates. It’s spoken close to the end, by a man who helped institute the new regulations:

“As a Guatemalan, I’m very proud that… our image of being the number one exporter of children has changed. The children have dignity. Guatemalans have dignity.”

How does a child sentenced to 18 years in an orphanage retain more dignity than a child adopted to a family who will love him? That is logic I don’t understand. As I’ve written on this blog in previous posts, I believe the issue of dignity–and its corollary, shame–is central to the debate of international adoption. Quite simply, countries are “ashamed” they cannot “take care of their own.” Instead of enforcing existing adoption laws and prosecuting those who break them, countries shut adoption systems down.

Certainly, in-country adoption by Guatemalans in Guatemala must be encouraged. Women in Guatemala must be empowered through access to family planning, education, and equal opportunity. In the meantime, what happens to the children who are abandoned every day, in Guatemala and around the world?

This video depicts the very bleak reality.