Guatemala’s Stolen Orphans

Last July news broke that Esther Sulamita, a baby up for adoption in the United States, had been previously kidnapped by armed men from her birth mother in their native Guatemala. In order to better investigate potential corruption in the system, a moratorium was placed on all potential adoptions in Guatemala, the second most popular country for international adoptions after China.


Now government reports reveal that potentially hundreds of orphans from the country’s 36-year civil war were put in government-run orphanages and sold to parents. Marco Tulio Alvarez, director of the government’s Peace Archive, reported in a press conference Monday that with so many cases, there is reason to believe that “the business was very profitable.” (Thaindian News)


The Peace Archive is a government project set out to “reconstruct the country’s historical memory” by investigating the files of citizens who “disappeared” during the country’s brutal war from 1960-1996, with the final report set to be published next month. Human rights groups estimate that about 40,000 disappeared and 200,000 died.


This is not the first time a nation has had generations of “stolen” children. Spain, Australia, El Salvador and Argentina have histories of mass abductions. Some of the “stolen” have been fortunate as adults to be able to reconnect with their families or discover their roots, but many hold their histories as question marks. With Guatemalan children, reconciliation may prove to be even more challenging given that many have been adopted across borders, particularly by American families.


However one encouraging sign is that Guatemala’s own government is actively involved in investigating the thousands of stolen citizens. Guatemala witnessed countless human rights abuses during its war; identifying the stolen orphans and possibly reuniting them with family are two key ways to move forward as a healing nation with its historical memory intact.



Nona Burnett
Nona Burnett8 years ago

Birth control is not available to women in poor nations! Many "Spanish-speaking" countries are predominantly Catholic and birth control is discouraged by that faith.
Most adoptions from third world nations are "Black Market" babies, or females in nations that do not value females, or their nation limits parents to only one child and the parents want and need a son to take care of them in their old age. They opt to either abandon their daughters in the wilderness for animals to devour, or for the weather to take the child's life. Many parents in third world nations give their children away to foreigners like Madonna & Brad Pitts' wife, or their sell their children into prostitution rings. Americans naively refuse to believe pre-teen children are smuggled into America specifically for prostitution rings or to pedophile clubs (which are akin to 'swinger' clubs of the 1970's).
Wealthy pedophiles love Thailand for obvious reasons and it is also currently the leading nation for 'sex change reconstruction' (the Netherlands were formerly).
Whenever the parents surrender their sons to foreign adoption agencies it often is to save them from genocide. If children need corrective surgery to enable them to walk instead of crawling on the ground, their parents relinquish their children to church adoption agencies because they cannot afford to help their child. The impoverished of the world need our sympathy and our help--- not sanctimonious judgment or criticism.

Susan S.
Susan S8 years ago

We must do all we can, we are, supposedly the wealthiest country in the world, to stop fighting wars but fight the wars that are against the children in this world.

roseann s.
rose s8 years ago

More birth control for these women - who are uneducated, poor and are at the mercy of these baby brokers who are the ones making profit of an immoral trade.A concern is - are the children end up as adopted children or anything sinister?

Miguel S.
Miguel S8 years ago

Guatemala was the second country in adoptions until about a year ago when, under international pressure, a new adoption law was passed. Countries like Spain had put restrictions on their citizens adopting Guatemalan babies because of the widespread reports of abuse. The US did not and waited until the Guatemalans acted. Not surprisingly, adoptions in Guatemala are now few because the local courts are doing a better job of policing the agencies involved and the paperwork on the babies.

penelope p.
penelope p8 years ago

human trafficking is all too real a possibility in some of these cases, quite possibly more than we would care to entertain. slavery is alive and well, even in the usa.

Dolly Austin
Dolly Austin8 years ago

Sorry to let this out but...the US does deal in human trafficking!!!

Tanya B.
Tanya B8 years ago

Stephanie M.,
I don't believe it is as simple as that. In the U.S., there are certainly cases of abuse of birth parent (and children's) rights by the social welfare system and that is a deep and horrifying tragedy. But there are also many children removed from their birth homes for good cause. Many suffer abuse and neglect, often severe. If the birth family is unable to change and stop the abuse, then the children need a safe, loving family where they have a chance to heal and grow. Personally, even in those cases, I support as much contact with birth parents as is safe and healthy for the child. A child will want to know his/her birth parents regardless of circumstances. Of course, for many, many reasons, that is sometimes easier said than done.

marie T.
marie C8 years ago

what happens to these babies if they are not adopted???

marie T.
marie C8 years ago

Think what happens to these babies if they are not adoptd birth control is the answer

Jessica Min
Jessica Min8 years ago

very unfortunate...