Welcome to No Place Like Home.

This blog is a place for information, answers and support for families who are considering international adoption, waiting or are home with their children. My name is Kimberley and I am the coordinator of this site. This blog is truly a network of families who are willing to support others along their journey to their child. The blogs listed on my sidebar are arranged by country and these families have volunteered to act as a resource to anyone who needs one. These are amazing people who are dedicated to helping families who are on the journey to their children in another country. If you are looking for someone to talk with or if you have a blog and would like to be available to help others, please feel free to e-mail me at timnkim@gmail.com.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stolen Baby Found in Guatemala Adoption System

This article is from Welt..Online

24. Juli 2008, 10:18

Illegal Adoptions

Stolen baby found in Guatemalan adoption system
Adoption officials said Wednesday, July 23, that DNA tests indicate a Guatemalan baby reported stolen from her mother was being adopted by a U.S. couple, the first strong sign that the Central American nation’s troubled adoption system relied in part on abducted children.

An employee of Guatemala's National Adoptions Council, left, greets a child held by his adoptive mother after a press conference in Guatemala City. The child, whose real name has not been revealed in order to protect his identity, is the first case of adoption under the new Guatemalan adoptions' law.
Authorities have long believed that children were stolen or bought to supply Guatemala’s US$100 million-a-year adoption industry before thousands of pending adoptions were frozen in May.
Previously, dozens of mothers reported stolen babies and at least two were found in orphanages, although they had not yet been put up for adoption. But adoption officials revealed to The Associated Press on Wednesday, July 23, that DNA tests identified toddler Esther Zulamita, who was reported stolen on March 26, 2007. The girl was in the process of being adopted to an unidentified U.S. couple.
Jaime Tecu, director of a team of experts reviewing all pending Guatemalan adoptions, said the DNA test results represent the first time officials have directly linked a baby reported stolen by its mother to the fraud plagued adoption system. "This is the first time that we’ve been able to show, with irrefutable evidence, that a stolen child was put up for adoption,“ Tecu said.
Guatemala City adoption industry Guatemalan baby DNA adoption process The baby’s mother, Ana Escobar, said armed men locked her in a storage closet at the family’s shoe store north of Guatemala City and took the 6-month-old. "When I got out, my daughter was gone,“ she told the AP in an earlier interview about the case.
She spent months searching hospitals and orphanages, looking for the child. In May, Escobar says she was sitting in the National Adoption Council’s offices, hoping to get access to the babies whose adoption cases were being reviewed. She looked up and saw a toddler who looked like her baby.
The image of the child being carried by an official haunted her, and she asked officials to see more photos. Soon she was sure the baby girl was hers. All of the girl’s papers were in order, including DNA tests showing that her birth mother was someone other than Escobar. But Escobar convinced officials to take new DNA tests. "She was so sure that the child was hers that we agreed to search the house where the baby was kept,“ Tecu said.
The baby was placed with a caretaker while her adoption was pending, but Escobar convinced a Guatemalan judge in May to let her care for the child while the new DNA tests were performed. "I can’t explain how excited and happy I am,“ Escobar told the AP on Wednesday. "It’s a miracle.“
Tecu said officials will investigate the lawyers who handled the adoption, the doctor who signed the falsified DNA tests, and anyone else associated with the process. "This was run by a mafia, and we're going after them,“ he said.
Guatemala froze all 2,286 pending adoptions in May, and officials are reviewing each case to confirm there is no fraud.
At the same time, Guatemala is just starting to adopt babies under a new, more stringent system run by an independent adoption commission. Before the reform, foreign couples, mostly from the U.S., paid up to US$30,000 to adopt children. The previous system was so quick and hassle-free it became the second-largest source of foreign babies to U.S. couples after China.

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