Guatemalan women demand justice for children stolen for adoption

I have been given permission to post an email I was sent via Marie from Stephen Osborn, who along with his wife Shyrel have been working in Guatemala with their organization, Love the Child/Amor del Niño. For more information, check out Stephen's blog.

As long as adoptive parents turn a blind eye to this, then they are condoning these practices.

consider sharing this wherever you can.  The good name of
adoptions is being ruined because the "Christian" adoptions agencies
and fearful adoptive parents will not distance themselves from those
who would perpetrate and profit from serious crimes.   While
the U.S. Adoptions community debates the rights of the adoptive parents
to privacy, the rest of the world lumps all Americans together, and
believes we condone stealing babies from their mothers.

I just left my wife, Shyrel, in
the middle of Guatemala city, and drove away with more than a lump in my throat,
past prostitutes and pimps, and drunks, and all sorts of night people..  She is sleeping in a small tent in front of
the Supreme Court of Guatemala.   She and
a small number of women have engaged in what the press is calling a hunger
strike.  The participants say it is
fasting and praying.   They are seeking
justice.  They are so vulnerable there in
that tent tonight.   The “Palace of
Justice” towering above them is locked tight, with a high tech security
system.  They look so helpless during the
day too.  Among the hustle and bustle of
the high court litigants and supplicants, they maintain a humble stance, and a
broken hearted vigil.  In other words, she
is practicing true religion.  But it is
out of step with the Christian world in Guatemala.    There are no Pastors here, no church
leaders.   Just my wife and these other
women.  Three of them are mothers whose
children were stolen.   They have not eaten since Tuesday, and will
not until the judges respond to their request for a review of the cases of
their stolen children.


Shyrel’s determination to do this
has moved our theological discussions from theory to reality.  Once again, I find myself trying to wrap my
head around her motives.  Frustration at
a failed system?  Yes.  Sympathy for the completely helpless
women?  Yes.  But I think in the end, she knows it is what
Jesus would have her do.   Love your neighbor
as yourself.  What does love look like
when your neighbor’s child was stolen? 
Maybe it looks like empathy.  
Jesus put himself in our shoes, didn’t he?

What would you do if someone stole your child?   What would you do if you knew where your stolen
child was?   As a Red Blooded American
male who believes in truth, justice, and the American way, I would take up my
constitutionally assured arms, and go resolve the issue.  If that might not be the best tactic, then I
would go to my police, the FBI, or Interpol if needed, and they would for sure
hear my case, or my congressman and Senator would be all over them.  I would have my child back.   When something bad happens to us who are privileged,
we have resources.   We will get justice.

Now, try to imagine you are a poor Kachikel woman in Guatemala.   The last thing you remember is that you were
offered a cool drink on a hot day by a woman who offered to help you walk from
your bus stop to the bus stop that would take you to a relative’s house.  Seeing your Bible, she had remarked that she
too was a Christian.   Now you realize she
drugged you, and stole your child.   When
you went to the police station, they laughed at you.  The Justice Ministry suspected you were one
of those women who sold your baby, and now want to complain when the lawyers
tricked you out of what was promised.  
Spanish is not your first language, so your attempts to explain your
predicament are difficult.  You are
humiliated rather than helped by the authorities.  Then you learn that your child was sold to
people in another country.  You identify
her from a series of pictures presented to you. 
But still.  No one will do
anything.   Justice is a word that has no meaning in your

Now; imagine you are a follower of Jesus. 
You have promised, that in exchange for salvation of your soul, you will
obey Him, and live by His rules.   You
hear that there might be a number of poor women who have been robbed of their
children.  You hear the testimony of this
mother.  You wince as you fear that their
children may have been put into the frenzied market that is the Guatemalan
adoption world.   But you know people who
have adopted from Guatemala.  And isn’t
adoption a good thing?  You heard for
years that there were rumors of “corruption”. 
You relegated those rumors, if true, to be simply that of government
officials accepting bribes.  You didn’t
ask why there would be a need for bribes if everything was above board.   Let it lie, you say.  Focus on the good.  Ignore the bad.

There are way too many Christians in the United States, that pre-eminent
country, who heard rumors about Guatemalan adoptions, but went ahead, and got
that baby.  Now, with at least 3 cases
proven of stolen children having been processed for adoption, these helpless,
hopeless, vulnerable women make them feel very uncomfortable.   This may be only the tip of a sordid ice
berg.  So they do not want justice.  They want it all to go away.

In Matthew 25, Jesus relegates to outer darkness those who ignored the needs
of the least of thes.  He doesn’t say
they actively engaged in anything wrong. 
I think He would approve of the saying that for evil to prevail, all
that is required is that good men do nothing. 
I don’t think, as I read Jesus, that He would approve of Good Men who do
nothing.  I don’t think He would buy the
excuse that it would be dangerous to do something.  I also don’t think He will accept our excuse
that the situation was too universal, or too complex, or too distant.  Or too inconvenient.

As we think about the incarnation of the Word of God, and the fact that
Jesus bids us follow him in ministering to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives,
those who are bound, and mourn, what do we really think He is asking us to
do?   Praise harder? Sing louder?   Protect ourselves with more alarm systems in
our church buildings and wish this world wasn’t so desperately evil, but so
glad we will one day be out of here in the hereafter.   According to Amos, God thinks otherwise.

Amos 5:21-24 (Contemporary English Version)

21I, the LORD, hate and despise your religious celebrations
and your times of worship. 22I won't accept your offerings or animal
sacrifices–not even your very best. 23No more of your noisy songs!
I won't listen when you play your harps. 24But let justice
and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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