Posts Tagged ‘Guatemalan adoption shutdown’

Craig Juntunen on Huffington Post

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

On March 13, Craig Juntunen, founder of Both Ends Burning, posted a pro-international adoption essay on Huffington Post, “We Need to Help Orphans Find Families.” If you’re reading this now, you probably know where I stand on this issue: I agree with Craig, so much so that I wish I had written these words myself:

Instead of letting this conversation get swept away in politics, let’s start with the universally accepted fact that institutionalization is an emotional — and sometimes a physical — death sentence for a child. During my travels to Haiti, I met Roberson, a 13-year-old boy who maintains the social, emotional and physical well-being of a 6-year-old. Roberson is unfortunatelyonly one of millions of orphans worldwide that fail to develop critical human functions due to institutionalization.

If we aim to save Roberson and other kids like him from a life behind the bars of institutions, we have to fix the international adoption system. Far too many eager families are simply deciding not to adopt because the system has become so burdensome. Today, the average wait for adoptive families to welcome their children home is 33 months, and costs average $25,000.

Leadership is the answer for these kids, but unfortunately, there is no sense of urgency among those who hold the power to make the necessary changes. For every Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), who relentlessly pursue justice for these children, there are many others who are content to let The Hague be their excuse for doing nothing.

There must be a way for us to improve the adoption environment without sacrificing safeguards and child welfare. We need to focus on getting kids safely out of institutions, in part by streamlining the time and cost of international adoption. If we can all agree that these children’s lives matter, then why aren’t we doing something to give them a better chance of realizing the dream of joining a loving family?

I share Craig’s frustration. Adoptions from Guatemala to the US closed in December 2007. Since that time, more than 300 cases remain unresolved, and thousands of children remain living in orphanages. And that’s just one country of hundreds.

Where is the leadership?


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.