Adoption Abandoned in Guatemala—The Failure of International Adoption Policies


"If we shut down international adoptions, that's 5,000 kids a year whose lives we are ruining, whose lives could have been wonderful, and we're dooming them by shutting them into these institutions. So, to me, that's fundamental evil."

–Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet

In 2007, Guatemala's privately run system of adoption attorneys, orphanages and foster care providers helped nearly 5,000 abandoned children find homes with loving families around the world. But then the Guatemalan government shut down international adoptions, created a centrally controlled adoption agency and nationalized the orphanage system. The plan was to promote in-country adoptions, but that plan hasn't worked. Last year, only 35 children were adopted by Guatemalan families.

Why did the Guatemalan government put an end to a system that was giving thousands of abandoned children a chance at a better life? And what did UNICEF have to do with it? producers Paul Feine and Alex Manning went to Guatemala to find out.

"Abandoned in Guatemala: The Failure of International Adoption Policies" is a film about the promise of international adoption and the sad reality that international adoptions around the world are decreasing, largely due to the influence of UNICEF. It's also a film about a privately run system that worked and a state-run system that is failing. Most of all, "Abandoned in Guatemala" is a film intended to raise awareness about international adoption in the hope that in the near future more abandoned children will be placed with loving families, wherever they happen to live.

Approximately 20 minutes.

Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning. Additional camera: Anthony Fisher. Graphics: Sharif Matar. Voice-over translations: Rin Palmer. Special thanks to Lissa Hanckel, Ana Isabel Maria-Gadala Centeno and Madre Ines. Music by Jason Shaw ( and Vate (

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  1. Many years ago, my future ex-wife worked at a private school, and we were asked to help raise money for Unicef.

    I said offhandedly that I wasn’t interested in doing anything for such a scummy organization that helped dictators impose their will on poor indigenous communities by breaking down traditional support networks. The look of horror on the coordinator’s face was priceless. She wanted to tell me to go to hell, but I’d spewed out the right buzzwords.

    I take some pride in the fact that the little coin boxes my kids get every year around Halloween are rarely assembled and are never, ever presented to anyone to solicit a donation.

  2. Its sad, but when I saw that there was a quote from a Harvard professor, I assumed it would be the usual prog-tranzi gibberish (in this case, opposing international adoption). I had to read it twice to realize that it wasn’t.

  3. Does the UN do anything that isn’t fundamentally evil?

    1. Does the agricultural city-State do anything that isn’t fundamentally evil?

  4. If we shut down international adoptions, that’s 5,000 kids a year whose lives we are ruining, whose lives could have been wonderful…

    Uh, no. “We” aren’t ruining these kids lives. These kids were born into shitty circumstances and if anyone is to blame it’s their parents.

    By shutting down adoptions we’re denying them opportunities, but there is no guarantee of a happy life even if they are adopted by a US couple.

    1. guarantee? No. But the odds of having a happy life here seem a hell of lot greater than having one there. Besides, this program was a remedy for the “shitty circumstances” the kids were born into and, evidently, even their parents knew that.

  5. a privately run system that worked

    Sure did!

    Now get back to work, kids. That cotton needs picked! *crack!*

    In short, we must face the fact that the purely free society will have a flourishing free market in children. ~Murray Rothbard

    1. He’d like more than anything else to boss me around, and then whip me…If voluntary slavery is legal, we can consummate this financial arrangement, to our mutual gain. If not, not, to the great loss of both of us. Slave-master Rafe would never shell out the cold cash if, after he paid, I could haul him into court on assault and battery charges when he whipped me. Then, without this financial arrangement…

      Voluntary Slave Contracts
      by Walter Block

      Whipping people is ok, because all people are is the Ultimate Resource – property.

      That’s exactly what Libertarians are trying to get you to accept when they use their proselytizing angle of “Do you own yourself.”

      They’re trying to get you to dehumanize, to objectify, yourself.

      And then they can own you, use you, whip you. Partially, via “wage slavery” or completely via “voluntary slavery.”

      1. Riiiiight, because being owned by the state, or the king, or the gods has worked out so well.

        So. Much. Fail.

        1. People aren’t property to be “owned” except in non-egalitarian sociopolitical typologies.

          Abstract ownership of Mother Earth (and her children) is a recent development in human history, related to the rise of the agricultural city-State.

          1. I was slamming LW for saying that self-ownership ultimately leads ultimately to slavery. Generally, this is a statist argument where it is posited that the benevolent state “owns” its citizens and is therefore the protector of their liberties.

            “Mother Earth (and her children)…” LOL. STFU, Hippie.

            1. Premise Fourteen: From birth on ?and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case? we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes?and our bodies?to be poisoned.

              ~Derrick Jensen

    2. Why, yes, Asswipe, children have been used for agricultural labor for much of human history. This used to be known as family farming and was held to be a good thing, or morally neutral at worst.

      1. Held to be a good thing? Most people consider drudge work bent over in fields to be a curse.

        “…the curse of perpetual work, via agriculture…”

        Agriculture: Demon Engine of Civilization
        by John Zerzan…..ilization/

        1. “Drudgework bent over in fields” is indeed tough, but it beats the hell out of starving which was the alternative.

          1. Wrong.

            Famine is a hallmark of agriculture.

            Hunger wasn’t the reason agriculture began.

            Thesis #9: Agriculture is difficult, dangerous and unhealthy.
            Thesis #10: Emergent elites led the Agricultural Revolution.
            The Thirty Theses

            1. So, all those people who were dying in india in the 60’s- that was agriculture’s fault?

              1. Don’t waste your time, Spencer. Learn from my mistake…

                1. Rule number 1, do not waste your time on Rather’s insane gibbering.

                  Her sickness hungers for conflict with people. The more one feeds it the more powerful it grows.

                  1. Hmm, never take advice from a man who starts a story with my future ex-wife ..

    3. The lies of White Indian:…..nt_2503582

      “Now that the doctor says I can use my body again physically to preserve and improve soil, to garden and nurture Mother Earth, it’s time before winter approaches. Again, thanks folks, for allowing a former Fibertarian to test the integrity of his newfound ideas.”

      So what happened White Idiot? Had to go back on the teat of modern medical science? I really love all your “impending nuclear war” psycho-babble. What will you do when it doesn’t happen? That will be a sad day…

  6. FFS, eminent domain your own asses…..-childrun/

  7. Libertarians Want to get the “Word Out About Failed International Adoption Policies!” -For Teh Childrun

    LOL, good title, rather-man! Thanks again for exposing the Koch Pravda for what it is, a mouthpiece for privileged abstract ownership of privation property.

    There is nothing their eyes see that they don’t want to be their privation property.

    1. You keep using this word “privation” but I do not think it means what you think it does.

      1. I know precisely what it means, and you’re getting a bit of an etymological lesson.

        1. Anybody want a peanut?

    2. You like holding discussions with yourself, rectal?

      Fuck, you’re stupid.

    3. Privationization, epi is delusional; as he told you about his magic banhammer power et?

      1. And FFS, watch out for his Harry Potter wand

        1. Holy shit, I thought the wand picture was a painted popsicle stick….poor epi, no wonder he’s bitchy

  8. My, my…
    this discussion board
    looks just like the others
    littered about the Internet.

    Let’s try again.

    This time
    with some comments that are
    a bit more inspiring.

  9. this film appears very poorly named. Seems the policy was working just fine; it’s the govt’s ending it that is at fault.

  10. If someone wants to sell their parental rights to me, why not? They aren’t selling the CHILD. They are selling the rights to be a parent of that child. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

    1. But it’s not even about selling parental rights…these are kids in orphanages whose parents have definitionally already abandoned their parental rights.

      1. Wrong, that’s what you are told but not what they have been

        1. This is true in some instances (although by no means all). Some so-called abandoned children are not actually abandoned:



          Those are just a couple of links; there are unethical adoption practices, up to and including outright kidnapping, in most every country that is a “sending country” for adoptions.

          1. (And by unethical, I don’t just mean unethical in regards to birth parents, but also things like misleading adoptive parents about a child’s potential health problems.)

  11. Yes, so it’s like picking up the parental rights out of the dumpster (not the kids, the parental rights). Now someone’s trying to tell you that you can’t even take it out of the trash.

  12. Holy shit, I think your serious

    1. Me? I am serious. Why can’t I sell the right to being my kids parent? On top of that, if I have abandoned my kid, why can’t someone else pick up the job?

  13. I like to read your article. I wish you can write more better articles for us.

  14. Thank you so much for covering the work of the nuns at Hogar Rafael Ayau. I have family and friends that donate their time and resources to help this wonderful place of refuge.

  15. Regardless of blame, children deserve homes. International adoption agencies and private adoption agencies help children find families, what could be wrong with that?

  16. this film appears very poorly named. Seems the policy was working just fine; it’s the govt’s ending it that is at fault.

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