Abandoned in Guatemala: The Failure of International Adoption Policies

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More than 52,000 children have been caught crossing our southern border since October of last year, including several thousand children from Guatemala. Until 2007, more than 5,000 Guatemalan children were adopted by parents from other countries each year. Under pressure from groups like Unicef, however, Guatemala shut down intercountry adoptions. Today, the only way Guatemalan children can come to the U.S. is to cross the border illegally.

Reason TV took a critical look at Guatemala’s intercountry adoption policies back in 2011.

"Abandoned in Guatemala," produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning. Approximately 20 minutes.

Original release date was October 6, 2011. Original writeup is below.

"If we shut down international adoptions, that’s 5,000 kids a year whose lives we are ruining, whose lives could have been wonderful, and we’re dooming them by shutting them into these institutions. So, to me, that’s fundamental evil."

—Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet

In 2007, Guatemala’s privately run system of adoption attorneys, orphanages and foster care providers helped nearly 5,000 abandoned children find homes with loving families around the world. But then the Guatemalan government shut down international adoptions, created a centrally controlled adoption agency and nationalized the orphanage system. The plan was to promote in-country adoptions, but that plan hasn’t worked. Last year, only 35 children were adopted by Guatemalan families.

Why did the Guatemalan government put an end to a system that was giving thousands of abandoned children a chance at a better life? And what did UNICEF have to do with it? Reason.tv producers Paul Feine and Alex Manning went to Guatemala to find out.

"Abandoned in Guatemala: The Failure of International Adoption Policies" is a film about the promise of international adoption and the sad reality that international adoptions around the world are decreasing, largely due to the influence of UNICEF. It’s also a film about a privately run system that worked and a state-run system that is failing. Most of all, "Abandoned in Guatemala" is a film intended to raise awareness about international adoption in the hope that in the near future more abandoned children will be placed with loving families, wherever they happen to live.

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