Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A Matter Concerning Indigenous Children: Intercountry Adoption of Children from Guatemala

Intercountry adoption from Guatemala has again hit the headlines of the mainstream press. I have not read any indications one way or the other as to whether the child that is at heart of the current controversy is indigenous. She may or may not be. Nevertheless, this controversy raises again the spectre of the convoluted controversies about intercountry adoption of children from Guatemala, during and after a very long and drawn out war that was aimed in part at the extermination of the Mayan peoples—and when it was apparent they were not going to go away, to force them to the margins. Part of that included the kidnapping of Mayan children even during the conflict. Intercountry adoption of children from Guatemala has involved indigenous children and families, and was part of the dynamics of marginalisation.

It is historic fact that indigenous children have been forcibly taken from their families and communities by states across the globe. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples addresses this by stating that forced removal of indigenous children is a form of genocide-- see Article 7(2).

This is a very complex topic—so it is one that I will address over several blog posts. I will look at the current stalemate between the United States and Guatemala over the adoption of children, the public and private international law instruments that come into play, issues raised about intercountry adoption itself, and what Mayan peoples themselves have endured during and after the Guatemalan civil war. As a starting point on the polarised positions on the efficacy of intercountry adoption, the debate between Professor David Smolin and Elizabeth Bartholet is informative.
Summary here
Link to full written debate here
The blog Fleas Biting also has a wealth of information on the way in which the intercountry adoption industry operates.

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