'Saving' Lost Children

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(BBC picture of Guatemalan indigenous women and children randomly paired with adoption articles)

Guatemala made the international press, today, and as usual the reporting has done more to misinform than to inform, it has done more harm than good.  The BBC and the Associated Press are reporting on a raid of an adoption house, Casa Quivira, supposedly full of stolen children.  The local Guatemalan press, however, has not even reported on it.  Couple that with shoddy international reporting and it's likely that all of this is bogus.  As far as I can tell this is just a stunt by the Guatemalan government that the international press fell for hook, line, and sinker.
The BBC's reporting has been the worst on this.  First of all, they've put out two seperate articles.  One is titled 'Stolen' Guatemala children found and the other is titled Guatemala launches adoption probe.  I think only the second one is now accessible through their website, I got the first one through an RSS feed.  That's a problem in itself.  Where is the correction?

The first glaring problem I noticed with the BBC articles is the picture they put up.  The BBC just put up an entirely disconnected picture (shown above) of Guatemalan indigenous people with the subtitle "Guatemalan children are cheaper and easier to adopt than most".  There are so many problems with this that I don't even know if I should go through them all.  Who says the adopted children were indigenous?  Why is it okay to put up this picture of unrelated people in connection with stolen children?

They should have just gotten a picture from the local press, but wait, they didn't even report on it.  That in itself should have sent up flags for the international press reporting on this.  The fact that Reuters got photos (Taken here from Al Jazeera's website) of the Sandra Leonardo Lopez, the person in charge of Casa Quivara, makes me look even further down on the BBC's reporting of this.

Let's talk even more about the BBC articles.  They didn't even get quotes or comments from local officials.  The first and most extensive comment the second article online is from someone in Michigan who is looking at adopting Guatemalan children.

Katherine, a US citizen from Michigan who is in the process of adopting twin boys from the home in question, told the BBC News website she was confident it is being properly run.

She visited the home with her husband in May and was impressed by the quality of care offered by the staff there, particularly for children with medical problems.

She believes the government probe has been ordered for political reasons ahead of the presidential elections due to take place next month.

While the adoption process in Guatemala is not perfect, she says, most of what they have read in news reports about this orphanage since the raid "goes against what we have known or seen".

"It is very difficult, the uncertainty and not knowing what is going to happen next to the children - our kids," she added.
I'm not going to beat up on these parents that must have such huge hearts, but I hope people can see the problems with this commentary.  The major problem I do want to bring up is that the BBC should not be quoting this person as an authority on Guatemalan political happenings, or as an authority on the status of Guatemalan children.  I don't have a problem with a parent making these comments, because she is right to identify this as a political stunt, even if I think she cites the wrong reasons (If the Guatemala was trying a local political stunt wouldn't the local press have reported on this?)  I do have a problem with the BBC giving these comments the authority that they have in this article.

I like the second source better but his comments are completely taken out of context.  Guatemala-based journalist Martin Asturias said:

Rumors can spread, especially in small Mayan villages or towns, that children are being stolen to be sold as adopted children.
This is a fear that indigenous people have had for years in Guatemala.  Often when white people come in contact with indigenous people they become visibly frightened.  Indigenous communities have rioted and killed tourists because of these fears.  This is because there have been rumors of white people taking indigenous children away.  It's hard to say where these rumors originated.  I tend to see it as something people just told their children to keep them from getting into mischief sort of like the boogyman.  Really, I think their fears are legitimate though, because Guatemalan children are essentially being stolen from the country and being raised in a foreign land.

People don't understand when I make arguments about Guatemalan dignity and how adoption undercuts it, but adoption have a real tangible affect on the population.  When an indigenous person comes back to the country having been raised in the United States it is easy to see how people would consider them "stolen", if you will, from their countries.

It looks to me as if the Guatemalan government staged this to make it look to the international community as if they were getting tough on adoption and the international press fell for it.  The international press has failed yet again, and the world suffers for it.

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hugo said:

I am a journalist wanting to make a film about adoption process in Guatemala. Could the author of this piece get in touch? I'd like to get their thoughts. Many thanks - hugo.macpherson@qsmedia.tv

Oxford, UK

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on August 13, 2007 4:52 PM.

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