Orphan. When most people think about an orphan child the first thing that comes to mind is a child with no parents, with no one to love them. The definition of an orphan has changed over the years to include children that even though their parents are alive, they are not and will not be fit parents and it is best for those children to be raised by others. An orphan can also be a child that has been abandoned because their parents can’t provide for them due to extreme poverty.
Guatemala is a beautiful country, known for its rich heritage, majestic sites and rich indigenous culture but it faces high levels poverty.Today, 70% of Guatemalans live below the poverty level and there are more than 370,000 orphans and 5,000 children living on the streets.
Antonio and his sister were taking away from their mother because of neglect. When the police showed up at their house these two had clearly been left alone for days. Antonio was strapped in his high chair and Carmen was on the floor crying. Antonio was nearly 2 when he was taken to an orphanage and was not able to walk or talk.
The adoption process in Guatemala was easy, mainly because the leniency and quick processing in the past, it was a leader right behind China in adoptions. But the laws have changed over the past years due to child trafficking. Mothers were being told that their kids were going to be taken care of and that they would be able to visit them, others were simply being stolen. The reality is that these children were later sold to people who wanted to adopt in other countries. Due to this, on September 2008, the national council of adoption announced that they would no longer be accepting any new adoption cases. This has drastically affected the adoption rate. In 2007, 4,726 children were adopted and just 4 years later it dropped to 32.
In 2011, a Guatemalan judge ordered a couple from Liberty, Missouri to return their adopted 7 year old daughter back to Guatemala. The child’s mother, Loyda Rodriguez Morales, stated that her 2 year old daughter, Anyeli, was snatched out of her hands by a woman as she was entering her home. She reported it to the local police and they did nothing to help her find her daughter. She searched for her relentlessly until she finally got a break when she was allowed to look through government adoption records, it took her almost a year to find her daughters photo. They later found out that Anyeli’s adoption was approved in July 2008 even though her photo and missing persons report was in the Solicitor Generals hands since February. Nearly 5 years after her daughter disappeared, a human rights group Survivors’ Foundation, helped Mrs. Morales win the case in a Guatemalan court which is requiring the adoptive parents to return the child within 2 months. After a thorough investigation 9 people were arrested in this case including a judge.
There’s not much we can do to change the situation, all we can do is hope and pray that the borders of adoption once again open up with Guatemala with the improvement of the government regulations and the prosecution of those that saw children as commodities. Not only did they make adoption a business for adults to make money but they betrayed the trust and hearts of many families who anxiously wanted to give love and a home to a child that really needs one.