Affiliate Programs

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Information about Guatemala (Statistical information taken from the 2000 CIA Fact Book)

The Republic of Guatemala, roughly the size of Tennessee, is located South of Mexico and North of El Salvador and Honduras. Two thirds of the country is mountainous, with the exception of the coastal lowlands. You can expect the climate to be hot and tropical in the lowlands, with milder temperatures in the highlands. Guatemala has many volcanoes, some of which are still active. Deforestation and water pollution are two of the greatest environmental threats to this country. The leading occupation is agriculture, and the major products Guatemala produces are coffee, cotton, cacao, sugarcane, corn, and bananas. Tourism has also become a crucial part of the economy.

Guatemalan people and culture.
The population of Guatemala is roughly 12.6 million. It is comprised of peoples of Mayan descent and those of mixed Mayan and Spanish descent. Over 60% of Guatemalans are Catholic, with a growing percentage (about 30%) of Protestant faith. There are also minorities of traditional Mayan beliefs. The official language is Spanish, but indigenous languages are still spoken.

Guatemala is in transition after years of civil war, so there is a very distinct disparity between the more cosmopolitan capital, Guatemala City, and the villages in the highlands. More than 75% of Guatemalans are living in poverty, and 65% of those are in "dire poverty." What this means for the children is that 50% are undernourished, and have little access to education and the opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty. There is a clash of cultures between the Ladinos and the Maya. Cultural toleration is slowly improving, however, this is a consciousness that goes back for generations, and is a slow process. This awareness of class in Guatemala dissuades upper or middle-class families from adopting. Therefore, they must look to America and Europe to provide adoptive families for the children. Some of the abandoned and relinquished children are in orphanages, while others are in the foster care system.

The basis of the Guatemalan diet is the tortilla. It is served with every meal, and is usually accompanied by black beans, plantains, rice, tamales, or whatever the family has available to them. It is very typical for each region to have its own unique dish that contains an ingredient that is indigenous to their area.

Frequent visits to friends and relatives are not only common but they are expected. Making a visit is a way of building and retaining relationships, and is therefore an important part of Guatemalan life. It is completely normal for neighbors to stop by unannounced, and they are always welcomed with some type of refreshment.

Most Guatemalans in the urban areas wear western-style attire, and typically the rural Maya wear traditional dress. The traditional dress for women is a wrap-around skirt and blouse, while the men wear calf-length trousers.

Children Available
Most children who are adopted are infants (under 12 months), although some toddlers and older children are also available. They are Hepatitis B and HIV tested. Our agency works with licensed attorneys in Guatemala who oversee every aspect of your adoption. The children placed are primarily infants who receive one-on-one attention in private foster care.

Adoptive Parent Requirements
To adopt a child from Guatemala, couples or singles must be between the ages of 25-50. There is a more flexible age requirements for the adoption of older children. There is no length of marriage requirement for couples.

Travel to Guatemala
The length of time from acceptance of referral to travel is approximately 8-10 months. Clients can make their travel arrangements, or the Adoption Avenues can assist clients by connecting them with the travel agency Adoption Avenues families often use.

Families usually stay at a hotel next door to the Embassy. Some families choose to arrive early and have a vacation before the adoption takes place. There are many interesting sights to see and families can take pictures to share with their children at a later time. The stay in Guatemala is generally no more than 5 days.

Only one parent has to travel for one three-five day trip. Escort Option Available -- Parent(s) not required to travel (if their state of residence/ INS laws allow).

DNA Testing
Due to pressure from sources including UNICEF (who alleged that children were being relinquished by people other than their birth mothers), the U.S. Embassy has initiated DNA testing on all birth mothers and their children being released for adoption in Guatemala.

Health
Birthmothers are tested for HIV, and the baby is tested for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B (there is no testing for hepatitis A or C -- this is not available in Guatemala).

Referral comes by way of a phone call to the family. Medical reports and photos follow. Referrals generally include a medical report, photo(s) and sometimes limited background information on the birthmother.

Medical Care & Foster Care
Guatemala is a very poor country -- 85% of the population lives below the poverty line, and 60% of the population cannot provide their families with an adequate protein intake.

If a child is in foster care it may be possible to get updates of a child's development during his or her stay in foster care. Some children, however, are in orphanages.

Post Placement Reports
For Guatemala you need to send two Post Placement Reports (done by the Social Worker) at 6months and 12 months after the adoption was completed. Pictures in each report: 6-8 pictures.

To see some pictures from Guatemala please click here.