Charles Senteio

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Children of Guatemala

Guatemala has a serious human rights issue, through a very nefarious network of lawyers and sanctioned operatives, babies are sold. The US is their most popular destination.

Jim, Ken and I spent most of Saturday visiting Love the Child, Steve and Shyrel Osborne’s orphanage where 26 orphans live along with their 11 year old son Josh. They’re all family.
On the left is Gerson. Gerson is 8 and a wonderful little boy whose mother was too poor to care for him and his sister because his dad took off for the US. The Osborne’s got to know her through her son and hired her as part of the staff that helps run the orphanage.

I spent most of Saturday with Gerson, he spent most of the day with my camera taking of pictures of the kids there. His family. This is he and Brian, a deaf boy about his age who oozes personality. I took this shot just before turning the camera over to Gerson.
For more pics go to my online photo album.

Google Guatemala Adoption and you’ll see the number of agencies who are involved in the baby trade. Stroll through the lobby of the Guatemala City Marriott where we stayed and you’ll see customers picking up their kids. It is a surreal sight. I spent some time with Steve and Shyrel separately to learn a bit more about this issue. They are in the middle of it. They’ve lived there for about 10 years and know this issue up close. Both agreed. Make no mistake, adopting a baby from Guatemala involves all sorts of nefarious characters, the lot of which are shady to say the least. According to a November, 2006 New York Times article (let me know if you’d like a copy) from 1995 to 2005, American families adopted 18,298 Guatemalan babies. It can cost up to $30,000 and given that Guatemala has nationalized health care and a OB/GYN visit costs less than $100, there are obviously many different hands in the supply chain. In most countries adoptive parents are sought out for abandoned kids, in Guatemala children (product) are sought out, and the young girls who can manufacture them, for foreign parents seeking to adopt and given up by baby brokers who pay from a few hundred dollars to $2,000 for a baby. According to Steve these babies are manufactured or acquired’ the following ways. Lawyers and other guys impregnate poor girls with the promise of payment for their babies. Shyrel told me of a lawyer who was busted recently for impregnating 7 girls for this purpose, “He had to be really stupid to get caught” she said. She also shared that he didn’t really get punished. Also a child is brought to a clinic sick. The folks at the clinic say the baby must be kept overnight and when the parents come back in the next day they tell the parents that the baby died. In fact the baby is sold to brokers who then eventually get the kid to the Marriott for shipping (via couriers like American Airlines and Continental) back to the US.
Neither Shyrel or Steve said that they have recovered babies from this network for sure, however what makes their job harder is that this business puts a very intense strain on the ‘normal’ adoption capacity of the orphanages in the area.
I did share with Shyrel that I think that the US parents who adopt this way probably are not aware of these practices and are so far down the path of getting their baby, financially and emotionally, they really don’t know the underground aspects. She agreed.
“So what should people do who want to adopt a baby and can’t seem to get anywhere in the US or other countries?” I asked. “Have them get in touch with us,” she told me.


  • Thank you for the accurate distillation of our talks. One point I want to clarify is that the practice of deceiving a mother and taking her child has been by and large curtailed by the DNA test required by the US Embassy...although the existance of the test suggests the practice was prevalent.

    Also, our URL is under construction, and our interim site can be seen at

    Keep it real, Charles!

    Steve Osborn

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:16 PM  

  • Steve,
    Thanks for the clarification and more for the work you do. Know that I do not consider you and Shyrel missionaries. You guys are two people committed to those kids and your faith, and I have a deep appreciation for the connections you've made. Keep fighting!

    PS - the package was delivered Monday afternoon ;-) Anytime!

    By Blogger Charles Senteio, at 10:50 PM  

  • Very interesting, but sad as people we should not buy in to things of this nature. It's crazy the world can buy anyting as loong as the PRICE IS RIGHT, but why take something so presious a gift from GOD and sell it for a sick profit. In the words of the great Marvin Gaye "WHATS GOING ON" and I mean that what is really going on with our world today.

    By Anonymous Justin Simmons, at 11:13 PM  

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