Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Economist - Malnutrition in Guatemala: A national shame

There was an article published in "The Economist" yesterday entitled, "Malnutrition in Guatemala: A national shame." The article expands on the fact that, "according to Unicef almost half of Guatemala’s children are chronically malnourished—the sixth-worst performance in the world. In parts of rural Guatemala, where the population is overwhelmingly of Mayan descent, the incidence of child malnutrition reaches 80%." The article has had me crazed and the reality of these facts has had me sick ever since my first trip to Guatemala.

The thought of children suffering because they do not have enough to eat is despicable. Food and clean drinking water are basic human needs and there is absolutely no reason that in the year 2009 there should be malnourished children, never mind almost half of a county's children.

An article like this makes me really look inward and makes me feel so bad for how much I take for granted. It is not uncommon for me to throw food away because we had had too much food in our refrigerator for the week, had not had a chance to eat it, and it went bad. Pathetic.

This article makes me crazed because UNICEF was a leader in the fight to shut down inter-country adoptions, including Guatemalan adoptions. Their main stand was that children should be raised in their own country. How ironic that UNICEF has miraculously discovered the problem of malnourishment in Guatemalan children only after taking this stand and leading this effort! Now, inter-country adoptions from Guatemala have ceased and thousands of Guatemalan children continue to be malnourished without the hope of a life in which basic needs could actually be met. I have seen these children with my own two eyes during my numerous trips to Guatemala and it is heart-wrenching to essentially "walk away" from the issues.

I will soon be ready for my second baby and, although conception is a possibility for me, I will choose adoption again. There is nothing I desire more than to adopt again from Guatemala and have countless reasons as to why. But, Guatemala is not an option because it is closed and I am having such a difficult time trying to decide whether to move forward with an adoption from another country and, if so, which country to adopt from. Believe it or not, there is a very disproportionate number of adoption options as compared to the number of children in need (I will not even get into how few Central and South American countries are open for adoptions. I have my theories as to why but will table this topic for another day.). I have a loving home and I have the means and support system to be a wonderful mother to another child. Yet, I am not allowed to provide a home to one of these Guatemalan children who is currently malnourished! I am not alone in this. I personally know at least five other families who would jump at the chance to adopt again from Guatemala but cannot - five more children who are denied the opportunity for a wonderful life with more than their basic needs being met. Instead these children are homeless, literally living in dumps or walking the streets. Absurd, right? Makes my blood boil.

Prior to adopting from Guatemala, I tried to pursue an adoption in the Dominican Republic. I hired a private attorney in the DR because, from what I understood, there is no law against single people adopting, but CONANI, the agency that oversees DR adoptions, does not approve single adoptions. I obviously got nowhere even with an attorney. There is potentially a child in an orphanage in the DR who needs a family and could have been my son our daughter, but is still sadly without a family. Nonsensical.

When I began Gabriella's adoption, an adoption professional who I was working with was simultaneously beginning an adoption from a South American country. This family was maybe a month or two ahead of me in the process. I waited thirteen months for Gabriella to come home and she has now been home almost one year. For 25 months and counting, this family has been waiting for a referral of a child. I do not know the details of their situation, but I would bet my house that it is not because they do not meet the country's requirements or that there are no children waiting. Doesn't make sense, does it.

I am listing all of the frustrations of how the systems are broken in pursuing an adoption. This does not even get into the frustrations that arise when all does go well and an adoption is initiated and in-process - the background checks, the social worker reviews, the medical reviews, the home visits, the recommendation letters, the tens of thousands of dollars to lawyers. How Angelina Jolie seems to be able to bypass all of these steps is beyond me, but this is also another rant for another day! I understand that many of these systems are in place to protect the children being adopted, but the systems are clearly broken.

I could go on and on because this topic is so near and dear to my heart and I am insanely passionate about it. I feel guilty that, up to now, all I've done is rant and have not actually done anything to initiate change. I feel so insignificant to this enormous issue, but if everybody does nothing, nothing improves.

1 comment:

  1. The Aug. 29 article on the National Shame of Guatemala includes a little girl's picture. How can I find out who she is, where she is and how I can contact her. I'm sureI can help her. Please advise.