Adopting from Guatemala

This is the beginning of a series on adopting from different countries. For a basic overview of how to select a country for international adoption, please see How Do You Choose A Country?

Country Basics
Guatemala, about the size of the state of Tennessee, is located in Central America and boarders Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. The climate is tropical and the landscape boasts of mountains with some plateaus and coastal plains. The population is 12,293,545. The distribution of wealth is very uneven with an estimated 75% of the population living below the poverty line.

What Are The Children Like?
There are thousands of children in Guatemala who are waiting for homes. The children are beautiful with medium brown skin, dark hair and chocolate brown eyes. Most people who adopt from Guatemala request infants, but there are many toddlers, elementary age and teenagers who wait for a family. Most of the younger children are in foster care with low caregiver ratios. Most older children are in orphanages, but a few are in foster care.

Why Are The Children Available for Adoption?
Guatemalan children are usually placed for adoption for two reasons. The first is poverty. Many families in Guatemala find that they simply cannot feed their children and as a result they turn to lawyers and orphanages in hopes of providing a better life for their kids. The second reason that children are often relinquished is because of the stigma that is associated with single motherhood in Guatemalan culture. A single mother simply cannot raise a child on her own.

How Long Does the Adoption Process Take?
The Guatemalan adoption process is very unpredictable and so it important for adoptive parents to keep this in mind. However, most children seem to come home 6-8 months after referral if the adoptive parents are paper ready.

What is the Cost?
When adopting a healthy infant, most parents report that their adoptions cost $25K – $30K. However, the fees are often reduced for children who are harder to place either because of special needs or because they are older.

What Issues Should I be Aware Of?
There is concern that Guatemalan adoptions to the United States may be shut down at some point in 2007 because of complications with the Hague Treaty. It is the general consensus that this will be temporary, but because of this unknown most experts are suggesting that families begin their adoption process before the fall of 2006 or else wait until the Hague concerns are resolved.

How Can I Learn More?
If you are interested in learning more about adopting from Guatemala and about the country in general, here are some great places to go for more information.

The World Fact Book – Guatemala

The Guatemalan Forums at

Adopting Guatemala Website