The indigenous and impoverished population of Guatemala is at high risk for exploitation. The 2012 trafficking in persons report by the U.S. Department of State says:
Guatemala is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Guatemalan women and children are exploited in sex trafficking within the country, as well as in Mexico and the United States. Guatemalan men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor within the country, often in agriculture or domestic service. Guatemalan men, women, and children also are found in conditions of forced labor in Mexico and the United States in agriculture, the garment industry, and in domestic service. During the year, 19 Guatemalan women and one man were subjected to domestic servitude in Jordan and Israel. Indigenous Guatemalans are particularly vulnerable to forced labor. In the border area with Mexico, Guatemalan children are exploited for forced begging and vending on streets, and forced labor in the majority of municipal dumps throughout the country. Women and children from other countries in the region, including El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, and Nicaragua, are exploited in sex trafficking in Guatemala. Child sex tourism is prevalent in certain tourist areas such as Antigua, Puerto Barrios, Rio Dulce, around Lake Atitlan, and in Tecun Uman on the Mexican border. Child sex tourists predominately come from Canada, Germany, Spain, and the United States. According to NGOs and government officials, organized crime networks continue to be involved in some cases of human trafficking, and gangs recruit children to commit illicit acts, sometimes using force or coercion.
What does Guatemala do about this?
During 2012, authorities in Guatemala maintained anti-trafficking progress with. the aid of law enforcement efforts . They also continued to fund dedicated shelters for adult victims. Additionally, a new program was launched by the government which provides services to the victims of trafficking and sexual violence.
Like many other adoptive parents with children born in another country, I harbor a fantasy of someday packing up our family and moving to the land of my children’s birth. In this dream scenario, my husband and I rent a house, enroll the kids in school, and get jobs to pay the bills. Once situated, we learn the language, shop in the local market, experience traditional holidays, and eat authentic food. We transcend the rank of tourist, and become regulars in the neighborhood. More important, so do our children.
The book opens with Aminta and her husband, Chris, as parents in a blended family: two teenage sons from Chris’s first marriage, and three young children together, including their middle child, Grace, a preschooler whom they adopted from China three years earlier. When Chris retires from his 26-year military career, Aminta, who studied in Japan and holds a master’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins, gets the couple hired as teachers of English at Taishan Medical College in the province of Shandong, south of Beijing.
As Chris observes after he, Aminta, and their three youngest children settle into their new, small apartment, “It’s China out there. We are in the real China.” Almost everything in the family’s life and world is different, from the alphabet (there is none; they use characters), to child-rearing (for starters, a one-child policy), to philosophies of education (a single textbook, on which is based the dreaded “test”), to politics (a changing economy, where Mao remains an influence). But after the expected shaky start (which really isn’t that shaky, considering), Aminta, Chris, and their children adjust remarkably well. Before long, everyone speaks, reads, and writes Chinese. Six years later, the family lives in Beijing.
Aminta Arrington is the best kind of guide to a foreign country: curious, open-minded, and observant. She befriends many of her students, who reveal their innermost thoughts on Chinese attitudes and mindsets while participating in her informal, after-school salons. Arrington is also a gifted linguist, fascinated with the Chinese language. Among her many lucid explanations on the origins and meanings of pictographs, she relates that the title of her book comes from the Chinese character meaning “home,” rendered as a roof over a pig.
In an effort to keep the flame alive for the Guatemalan children who are eagerly awaited by their adoptive parents in the U.S. (it has been well over four years - much longer for most) I am posting ongoing information as it becomes available.
From The Department Of State
“Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC July 2, 2012 “
Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs is visiting Guatemala from July 1-3 as part of a Congressional Delegation led by Senator Mary Landrieu. The delegation, which includes officials from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is meeting with Guatemalan officials to discuss progress in resolving the remaining intercountry adoption transition cases.
While U.S. citizens have adopted thousands of Guatemalan orphans in the past, Guatemala announced in 2008 that it would not accept any new adoption cases. Processing of transition cases slowed dramatically in 2010. The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Office of Children’s Issues and the U.S. Embassy are working with the Guatemalan authorities to resolve the remaining cases. This is Senator Mary Landrieu’s fourth congressional delegation visit to Guatemala since April 2010.
Follow Susan Jacobs on Twitter: @ChildrensIssues
Image Credit: Lisa S - Solidario Orphanage Guatemala 2010
Aside: The idea for Adoption Under One Roof was Sandra's and we are forever grateful for her starting this website. Due to circumstances beyond her control, Sandra was unable to continue with us shortly after our start up in January 2008, but we are delighted when she sends us guest blogs about adoption.
Sandra is a published author and talented writer. She resides in Seychelles with her son Sam and her daughter Cj. And in addition to all that, she is the sister of the famous Tom Hanks! ...Lisa Shahar
Over the years there have been a number of shocking stories in the news that plop the 'A' word into headlines and follow trails from abduction to adoption almost as if the two fit like soup and sandwich. The Zoe's Ark fiasco in Africa and the Baptist illegal child boost from Haiti come immediately to mind. Those were dragged across global media like snot from a virus-infected nose for quite a while and some attempted to target adoption itself as the culpable culprit.
Like a couple of stories in today's news however, the topic is actually crime and horror and has no more to do with adoption than cancer has to do with wigs … both may end up covering for some of the damage, but neither had anything to do with what caused the need in the first place.
Victoria Montenegro lived for 25 years under the name Maria Sol Tetzlaff, until she knew the truth. She was one of Argentina's "stolen babies". In 1976, only days after her birth, she was taken away by the security forces along with her parents Hilda Torres and Roque Montenegro, both left-wing activists. The couple was arrested as part of the crackdown on political dissidents carried out by the military government at the time, which is known as the "dirty war". Victoria's parents were taken to clandestine detention centres, where they were likely tortured and killed. Hilda was never seen again and Roque's remains were only identified a month ago - 36 years later.
My daughter has been aware of her beautiful brown skin from an early age. Like all young children, she was not colorblind, but was yet unaware of the stigmas and prejudices assigned to skin color other than white.
Ella became verbal about being dark skinned about three years ago, comparing her skin to mine and doing things like rubbing soap all over herself in the bathtub and saying, “Look Mommy, now I have white skin like you.”
Last night she was “doing my hair and my makeup” for fun when I heard her say quietly, almost in a whisper: “...and I have a little tool that will make your hair black and your skin brown.” I felt a tingle down my spine and responded: “That would be wonderful Ella.”