Home LATEST NEWS Quebec children are looking for parents… Guatemalans

Quebec children are looking for parents… Guatemalans

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When Josée Bélanger was adopted in 1982, Guatemala was popular with Quebec couples looking for children. After Korea and Haiti, this was where we adopted the most in the 1980s. Guatemala was in the midst of a civil war, a conflict that lasted 30 years and which left 200,000 dead and many orphans.

What began in the late 1970s as a humanitarian effort to save orphans from war quickly evolved into a business model led by lawyers and notaries who almost completely controlled the adoption process.

: “Don’t you have friends, cousins, who are perhaps too poor? You can encourage them to put their children up for adoption “. “,” Text “:” There is no didn’t have enough abandoned children. So […] lawyers have started looking for pregnant women and a network has grown across the country, says Alejandra Colom, an anthropologist in Guatemala City and an expert on the effects of intercountry adoption on her country. They had a system of researchers who went to towns and villages. It often started with a biological mother putting her child up for adoption and the lawyer would say: “Don’t you have friends, cousins, who are maybe too poor? You can encourage them to put their children for adoption “.”}}”>There weren’t enough abandoned children. So […] lawyers have started looking for pregnant women and a network has grown across the country, says Alejandra Colom, an anthropologist in Guatemala City and an expert on the effects of intercountry adoption on her country. They had a system of researchers who went to towns and villages. It often started with a biological mother putting her child up for adoption and the lawyer would say, “Don’t you have friends, cousins, who are maybe too poor? You can encourage them to put their children up? children for adoption “.

Numerous reports, including that of the UN Economic and Social Council published in 2000 (New window), described even more disturbing mechanisms, such as the use of nominees, the theft of children or the sale of babies to order: Notaries and lawyers buy babies while they are still in their mother’s womb […] and who benefited from the less strict laws of Central America, explains rapporteur Ofelia Calcetas-Santos.

The reports describe a system not only benefiting lawyers, but also researchers, temporary foster families, document translators and public officials who expedited the paperwork.

It was a business, a business, recalls Alejandra Colom. For these people, the history of the child, of its origin, of the biological mother did not matter. They were ready to lie about files […] they did not make an effort to find the truth.

This does not mean that the adoptive parents were aware of the situation, recalls Marco Garavito, director of La Liga, an organization which assists children adopted abroad in their research in Guatemala: Families who adopted were not necessarily informed of the situation […] It is clear that the adoptions were too quick and too easy and they might have suspected something was wrong, but I believe in their very human desire to have a child they did not see that.

Portrait of Sophie.

Sophie went to Guatemala to find her roots.Photo: Villers family

It was during one of her trips to Guatemala that Sophie Villers realized the extent of the anomalies in her adoption story.

Already, she had noticed contradictions in her Belgian file, where she was sometimes identified as an only child and, sometimes, as the last of four siblings. While digging through the civil registers of Guatemala City, she discovers that she in fact has seven alleged siblings, including Josée Bélanger. At least two others, a boy and a girl, were, like her, adopted in Belgium.

However, attempts to contact them were unsuccessful. But in the spring of 2021, she joined the son of the firstborn, Melvyn, who agreed to share his DNA.

Portrait of Melvyn.

The family ties between Melvyn, Sophie and Josée exist on paper, but scientifically they do not exist.Photo: Melvyn

Could his saliva sample solve the mystery? Is Melvyn Sophie’s nephew or Josée’s?

They received the result email simultaneously this summer, each on their own side of the Atlantic. We were virtually present at this meeting where the excitement was palpable: which of the two would finally have the chance to discover a member of his biological family?

Answer: none.

An organizational chart of the Alvarado family.

So far, DNA tests have revealed no link between Julia Alvarado’s children or grandchildren.Photo: TurnedNews.com

No common DNA has been detected between me and Melvyn. We do not share any ancestors over the past four generationsSophie exclaims, cursing.

As for Josée, she gets the same answer. Clearly, this means that at least three of the children declared by Julia Alvarado between 1970 and 1987 have no genetic link between them.

It’s disappointing, but at the same time not that surprising when you know everything that happened. In the end, it shows how rotten everything was at the time.

A quote from Sophie
Children eat at a table.

The program “Le Point” was in Guatemala in 1982 as part of a report on the Quebec adoption of Guatemalan children.Photo: TurnedNews.com

Adoptions from Guatemala to Quebec continued throughout the 80s and 90s, despite worrying signs, such as the arrest of four Quebec women accused of having profited from the falsification of documents, and subsequently exonerated. In the mid-1990s, Canada even became the third country importer Guatemalan children after the United States and France. More than 800 children have been adopted in Canada over a period of 20 years.

Faced with the many examples of corruption, increasingly stringent conditions are being put in place. In 1997, Canada even ended up asking for DNA proof to confirm the genetic link between the child to be adopted and its biological mother. In 2000, the UN report will dispel what remained of doubt, by confirming the existence large-scale trafficking and the absurdities [qui a permis] to adopt 33children born to the same mother in two and a half years “,” text “:” of a system [qui a permis] to adopt 33 children born to the same mother in two and a half years “}} ‘>of a system [qui a permis] to adopt 33 children born to the same mother in two and a half years.

In the same year, Canada and a majority of Western countries will stop accepting Guatemalan adoption applications. Only the United States will continue to allow adoptions, at high speed, for that matter. In 2007, Guatemala sent nearly 5,000 children to the United States. That’s almost as many children as China, for a population 100 times smaller.

In 2008, Guatemala completely put an end to intercountry adoptions. They have never resumed since.

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