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  Guatemala: no adoptions through private lawyers
Family Helper editor
(Aug. 22, 2000) An Ottawa Citizen article of Aug. 20, 2000 reported that Ontario's Ministry of Community and Social Services is banning adoptions through private lawyers, and allowing only adoptions processed through Guatemalan courts. These "judicial adoptions", in which the court declares a baby has been abandoned, account for only about 10% of adoptions out of Guatemala.

The Citizen quotes Bruce Harris, regional director for Casa Alianza. (Casa Alianza / Covenant House Latin America works with street children in Mexico and Central America; its head office is in San José, Costa Rica.) "What they're saying is ... they will only accept court-abandoned children," said Harris. He said that the ministry informed Casa Alianza of the rule change within the past several days. The article cites a U.N. report earlier this year which concluded, "legal adoption appears to be the exception rather than the rule."

Pat Fenton of the Adoption Council of Ontario is quoted, "The report by the United Nations raised some considerable concern about the practices there." She said that since the report, the Ontario government has focused its attention on how to ensure adoptions from Guatemala are above board.

In a posting to the CanadiansAdopting email list on Aug. 22, Pat Fenton wrote: "Contrary to the report in the Ottawa Citizen, Ontario has NOT made any ruling about Guatemala. In my conversation with the reporter I indicated that Ontario had not yet licensed any agencies. The article gave the erroneous impression that Ontario had taken action to prevent adoptions from Guatemala. That is simply not the case. The Ministry is working on licensing."

The Intercountry Adoption Act in Ontario applies to all countries, not just Guatemala.

Article: "Ontario acts against illicit baby trade -- Province will ban most adoptions from Guatemala," Colin Grey, Ottawa Citizen, 20 Aug. 2000,

News release: "Casa Alianza / Covenant House Latin America Press Release", Aug. 18, 2000. It said in part, "The authorities in the Canadian province of Ontario have changed the rules regarding adoptions from Guatemala in an effort to stop babies being illegally adopted into Canada ... " and " ... authorities in the Province of Ontario will now only permit international adoptions from Guatemala if they have been made through the courts and not through a private lawyer. ..." The release concludes: "BBC Radio Four in the UK will carry an investigative report on the trafficking of Guatemalan babies on August 31 (on Internet at: The report will be rebroadcast on the BBC World Service in October." Casa Alianza, Costa Rica;;

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