Guatemala orders DNA tests prior to all adoptions to prevent stolen-child cases

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Guatemala orders DNA tests prior to all adoptions

GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemalan authorities said Monday they will require DNA tests for all babies offered for adoption following allegations of child theft that led the government to impose a two-year freeze on international adoptions.

The National Adoptions Council said the new rule will apply only to adoptions whose paperwork started in 2008 or later. The tests will be administered by Guatemala’s Forensic Anthropology Institute.

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala already requires such tests for children headed to American families.

Previously, Guatemala was the world’s second-largest source of babies to the United States after China due to its routinely quick adoption process.

Authorities suspended adoptions in 2007 after discovering evidence some babies had been stolen, others had fake birth certificates, and women were being coerced to give up their children.

The Central American country reworked its laws in 2008 to reform a system in which adoption agencies and notaries worked with relatively little oversight. The ban on international adoptions will be lifted in June.

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