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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

International Adoption: Guatemala

International Adoption: Guatemala
by Erin

Note that the continuation of adoptions of Guatemalan children to US citizens is in jeopardy due to the US ratification of the Hague Convention in 2007. More information can be found at

Advantages to the Guatemala Program
  • Foster care: Most adoptable children in Guatemala are in foster homes living in a family environment, not orphanages in which they may have very little one-on-one time with their caregivers. We know that a person's early months are crucial to later development; the more physical, mental, and emotional stimulation an infant gets, the better.
  • Information about the birth family: For relinquishment cases, which make up the majority of adoptions in Guatemala, a social worker interviews the birth mother to learn about the circumstances of the relinquishment and make sure she understands the decision to terminate her parental rights. Information about the birth family (in addition to a photograph of the birth mother and child taken at the time of the DNA test) is given to the adoptive family, who can then share this information with their child.
  • Possibility of meeting the birth mother: It is uncommon in international adoption for adoptive parents to have the opportunity to meet the child's birth mother. In relinquishment cases in Guatemala, however, it is possible if the birth mother agrees to it and your agency/attorney allows it.
  • Infant referrals: Newborns are available for referral in Guatemala, and by the time the process is complete, the children are generally between 5-8 months old.
  • Healthy children: Most children are relinquished due to circumstances of poverty, not because of they have physical or mental disabilities. Disorders such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are not prevalent in Guatemala.
  • Frequent updates: Many agencies provide adoptive parents with monthly medical updates and photos. Adoptive parents find joy in the new photographs and comfort knowing that the child is receiving regular medical care.
  • Relatively predictable timelines: Although timelines certainly fluctuate, adoptive parents do have a rough idea of how long each step in the process takes.
  • Short in-country stay: Whereas some countries require at least one adoptive parent to stay up to a few months in the country, in Guatemala the stay is only a few days (adoptive parents can also choose to have an escort bring the child to the US in their stead). This means fewer food and lodging expenses for adoptive parents; if you are taking a leave from work, it also allows more time with the child once you are back home in the U.S.
  • Ability to visit: For adoptive parents who are eager to visit the country of their child's birth and begin the bonding process early, the ability to visit their child during the adoption process is a wonderful opportunity. Adoptive parents are encouraged to visit the baby in Guatemala before taking custody, so you can bond with the child very early in his or her life. In fact, if they wish, they can stay in Guatemala for 6-8 months and foster their own child.
  • Geographical proximity: Being in Central America, Guatemala is closer than most other countries that allow international adoption to the U.S. This proximity makes it more viable for adoptive families to travel back to Guatemala as the child grows older.

The Process

The Resource Center provides very detailed information about the steps in the Guatemalan adoption process.

Resources Provides news, message boards, and information about the Guatemalan adoption process.

Soul of Adoption Guatemala forum

GuatemalaAdopt listserver, otherwise known as "The Big List". Directions to subscribe can be found on

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