February 6, 2008

John Stossel on US intervention in the Guatemala adoption system

Over at the conservative website Townhall.com, John Stossel (formerly of 20/20) writes an eyebrow-raising piece called USA Makes Adoption Harder. I want to be very clear that some of Stossel's statements make me uncomfortable, and this is not an endorsement of Stossel's article. But much of what he says is a simple reality, however unpopular it is to say. Incidentally, notice that Stossel adopts the language of adoption opponents when he uses the expression "baby broker"; he's not endorsing the idea that actual baby-brokering is moral.

Here are some highlights from the article:

The State Department says the Guatemalan adoption system "unduly enriches" so-called baby brokers and that "Guatemala has not established the required central authority to oversee intercountry adoption."

"Central authority"? This from our government? They sound like Soviet apparatchiks.

[A] UNICEF representative ... huffed to The New York Times that adoption "has become a business instead of a social service."

Oh, yes, everyone loves "social service." But when adoption was a government-run social service in Guatemala, the results were disastrous.

I happened to be in Guatemala City last month visiting the Americas' most free-market university, Universidad Francisco Marroquin. UFM's president took me to visit Ines Ayau, a nun who runs an orphanage that was formerly in the hands of the government. The children are well cared for now, but before her church took over, Ayau said, the government staff had forced some children into prostitution. The orphanage itself was rat-infested and without electricity, and the government used the facility to funnel money to cronies. "Thirty-six persons were working, (but) 105 were on the payroll,"

Yet U.S. officials want adoption back in the hands of government?!

There's little reason to expect the current government to do much better. Guatemala is one of the more corrupt nations in the world, 111th out of 179 countries, says Transparency International.

If you read the article, keep in mind my reservations. But also remember the almost inevitable consequences of a corrupt government taking over all of the orphan care social services.

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