Carmen Monico delivers workshop on illegal adoption & child abduction to Guatemalan Council on Adoption
The assistant professor of human service studies had studied the topic as part of her doctoral dissertation and it remains one of her areas of scholarship.
Historically, as demand for children in industrialized nations increased, the commercialization of children in intercountry adoption followed and a multi-national, million dollar industry emerged. This trend persisted in spite of the enactment of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption in 1993, and its broader implementation around the world beginning 2004.
Child abduction turned into a major concern as adoption irregularities became evident in countries suffering substantial stress from famine, endemic conflicts, pandemics or natural disasters, and Guatemala became a prime country of origin of intercountry adoptions in spite of growing evidence of illicit practices.
This became the topic of Assistant Professor Carmen Monico’s dissertation research and one of her continued areas of scholarship, and one that has taken her to make presentation internationally and in Guatemala, such as one she made in late January 2015.
During the height of adoptions globally, about 4,000 Guatemalan babies and small children were being granted visas to the United States for their final adoption by American families. Guatemala became notorious for child abduction and child trafficking for intercountry adoption.
Meanwhile about the same number of children stayed under state care, most of them in orphanages, and without much hope of being adopted. When a moratorium was placed on intercountry adoptions in December 2007, about 700 cases remained pending of investigation, and about half of them were found to have irregularities in the adoption processes.
Soon after the new adoption law went into effect, the National Council on Adoption was established. The Council was entrusted to implement the Convention, which emphasizes child protection. The Council seeks to promote permanency for children, including family reunification when possible.
Since its inception in 2010, the Council has received 1,413 applications for national adoption and processed 790 national adoptions, as of March 2014. In total, 673 families have been assisted with psychological, social and legal assistance; of those, 270 families have been reunited with their children, and 172 families have consented to their adoption. In addition, the Council has assisted in the processing of the pending cases; process that is now almost completed.
Monico was invited to discuss the findings of her research on illegal adoptions with staff and board members of the National Council on Adoption in Guatemala as they consider reopening intercountry adoptions starting with the special children (older, with siblings, and with physical and emotional disabilities) that are still under state care.
While child protection is improving with the implementation of new legislation and the creation of new institutions, the Guatemala legal system is handling an increasing number of cases of illegal adoptions completed prior to the moratorium.
About 40 Council members participated in the workshop and critically discussed the possibilities of lifting the moratorium on intercountry adoption. Monico made the presentation while traveling to Guatemala to teach the Practicum Away WT15 course.