Guatemalan Adoption and DNA Tests

Reuters yesterday reported on possible efforts by the Guatemalan government to seek DNA testing of children adopted by American families from Guatemala.  The headline reads, “Guatemala pushes for DNA tests of kids adopted in U.S.”  However, the article is unclear as to whether the request represented an official position of the Guatemalan government beyond a letter Guatemala’s Attorney General reportedly sent in April regarding three specific cases.  It is also unclear whether any such request has been received by the U.S. government.  Instead, the article highlights two tragic stories of apparent child trafficking, and the efforts of the bereaved mothers to bring their children home.

As with previous reports on Guatemala’s international adoption system prior to its closure and current reforms, the article gives rise to many troubling concerns.  First, that any mother would know the fathomless ache of losing a child to human trafficking in any form.  Second, that the extensive challenges with corruption faced by many parts of Guatemala’s government also infected some of its international adoptions.  Third, that exceptional cases would overly color the Guatemalan adoptions performed “by the book”—adoptions that brought hope, new life and a loving family to thousands upon thousands of children.  And finally, that problems with Guatemala’s pre-reform adoption system would not merely serve as a spur to combat corruption in international adoption, but would be used by opponents of international adoption as an excuse to prevent adoptions even in the most legitimate and necessary of cases.  Any and all of these outcomes would be tragedy indeed.