Jeff and Diana Kerr fell in love with the Guatemalan baby girl the moment they saw her photograph. The Minnesota couple decorated her pink and white nursery with pictures of flowers and butterflies, but now they don't know if the 8-month-old will ever become their daughter.
The Kerrs are among thousands of Americans trying to adopt 3,700 babies who are caught in limbo as Guatemala's lawmakers debate new rules that could all but shut down a largely unregulated system that has become the speediest place in the world to finalize an adoption.
"It's an emotionally taxing process," said Jeff Kerr, a 44-year-old financial adviser from Lino Lakes, Minn. "Every day you look at her picture and wonder if you're going to bring her home."
As early as this week, the legislature is expected to debate new rules to eliminate potential fraud in Guatemala's adoption process, which until now has been run from beginning to end by notaries who work with birth mothers, determine if babies were surrendered willingly, hire foster mothers and handle all the paperwork.
These notaries charge an average of $30,000 for children delivered in about nine months — record time for international adoptions. The process is so quick that one in every 100 Guatemalan children now grow up as an adopted American.
The small Central American country sent 4,135 children to the U.S. last year, making it the largest source of babies for American families after much-bigger China.
The adoptions are a $100 million a year industry for notaries.
Full report: Adoption Changes Wrench American Parents