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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

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In Kids & Family

Guatadopt.com's Kevin Kreutner with his children, Samuel and Isabel.

Guatadopt.com works to provide truthful info


In the past couple of years, many media sources unearthed the corruption involved with international adoptions from Guatemala. Some of these stories of birth mother coercion and baby trafficking are true, but rarely is the whole story told.

To distinguish reality from the sensationalized, Kelly Caldwell started Guatadopt.com in 2002, and today, Milwaukee's Kevin Kreutner serves as the group's spokesperson and lead writer.

At this point, the future of Guatemalan adoptions is uncertain. In May, Guatemala lawmakers ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions, requiring that government agencies regulate adoptions to ensure babies have not been bought or stolen.

Prior to this legistaltion, U.S. officials urged Guatemala to tighten the adoption procedure due to the concern that brokers were paying or threatening mothers to give up their babies.

Recently, another new law was approved in Guatemala that will undergo amendments in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, thousands of waiting parents fear their half-processed adoptions will not be finalized.

"Usually, these laws do not make adoption illegal, but they restrict them in such a way that they become next to impossible to complete one," says Kreutner.

More than 4,000 babies from Guatemala were adopted by U.S. parents last year, making it the second highest source of international adoptions after China.

Recently, Kreutner spoke to OnMilwaukee.com about the actual happenings in Guatemala.

OnMilwaukee.com: What exactly is the mission of Guadadopt.com?

Kevin Kreutner: The mission is to be a source for true news and information, to be a forum that brings together all stakeholders in the Guatemalan adoption process, and to push for ethical adoption reforms.

OMC: You and your wife have two children adopted from Guatemala, right?

KK: Yes. Isabel came home in December of 2003, and Samuel in August of 2005.

OMC: Did you have any problems during either of your adoptions?

KK: Other than going through The Hague fiasco in 2003 (for three months there wasn't a system in place to finalize adoptions in Guatemala) where we didn't know for months if or how Isabel would ever come home, our adoptions were pretty smooth. We were fortunate to be able to form strong relationships with both foster families during the process. This made it much easier.

OMC: Do you think Guatemalan adoption will be stopped completely?

KK: It depends on what you mean by "stopped." I think that in-process cases will be completed with some additional requirements. There will not be any new cases started at least until the U.S. ratifies The Hague Treaty.

Right now, myself and others are doing all we can to engage the Guatemalan authorities to implement the new law in a manner that allows adoptions to continue. But, if we look at history and what has happened in other countries with similar legislation, it does not make me optimistic that intercountry adoption will continue to be a viable option for children from Guatemala.

OMC: In your opinion, does the media do a fair job covering the issue of Guatemalan adoptions?

KK: I don't think the media is very balanced. They tend to show sensationalized stories and worst of all, they never seem to devote enough time to really understand the dynamics. But when a reporter is given two days to pump out a piece, what can we expect to happen?

OMC: Would you recommend that a family start the Guatemalan adoption process at this point?

KK: Not right now. I think it is way too risky!

OMC: Would you agree that there is corruption involved with some Guatemalan adoptions?

KK: Yes. There is definitely far too much corruption currently in Guatemalan adoptions. That is not debatable. The question is how you go about removing it.

OMC: Would you say that most Guatemalan adoptions are corrupt?

KK: No. The vast majority of Guatemalan adoptions are clean. The country has some of the highest rates of extreme poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality, etc. It is no surprise that many women realize that adoption may be the best option for their child. So please keep that in mind when you come across a Guatemalan adoptive family. There are many of us that are truly concerned about what the impact will be of all the publicity on our kids. We know our kids' stories. We've met their biological mother and siblings. We know that they were relinquished voluntarily. It is wrong to cast a shadow over all adoptions because a small minority may have issues.

Molly Snyder Edler adopted her son from Guatemala in 2003.


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