Sun, Aug 19, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Babies handed to US pair after adoption home probe

AP , GUATEMALA CITY

Authorities investigating an adoption home in Guatemala said on Friday they had released two six-month-old babies to a US couple after determining their adoption was legal.

Carmen de Wennier, director of the Presidential Department for Social Welfare, which has been overseeing at least 45 children staying at the Casa Quivira home, confirmed the adoption of the little boy and girl, of different mothers.

She said legally she could not release the parents' identity.

US would-be adoptive parents have flooded the US embassy with desperate calls and sent e-mails to The Associated Press asking for help after police raided Casa Quivira on Aug. 11 as part of a national attempt to bring adoption agencies in line with international standards.

Guatemalan officials argue the home's paperwork didn't meet legal standards. But parents and the home's directors say that the raid was politically motivated by US pressure to clean up a largely unregulated, multimillion-dollar industry in which some brokers steal babies.

Outside experts familiar with the situation have said that Casa Quivira has a spotless record.

Clifford Phillips of Delan, Florida, who owns and runs Casa Quivira with his Guatemalan wife, Sandra Gonzalez, e-mailed a statement to the news media Friday saying the two six-month-old infants were handed over to the parents "after much pressure from the US embassy in Guatemala and lawyers from Casa Quivira."

De Wennier denied any pressure from the US.

The US has pushed for a crackdown in an industry that has placed more than 25,000 Guatemalan children in US homes since 1990. Every 100th baby born in Guatemala is put in a US home.

The adoption process has, however, slowed since the US warned in March about risks including scam artists pressuring women to sell their babies.

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