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Changing Rules Complicate Overseas Adoptions
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Changing Rules Complicate Overseas Adoptions

U.S.

Changing Rules Complicate Overseas Adoptions

Prospective Parents Struggle with Longer Wait for a Child

Changing Rules Complicate Overseas Adoptions
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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1478980/1479106" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
The Mahons: Jeni, Tim, Tommy

The Mahons: Jeni, Tim and Tommy. Photo courtesy Tim and Jeni Mahon hide caption

toggle caption Photo courtesy Tim and Jeni Mahon
Deborah and Noelle Capone

Deborah Capone and her daughter Noelle. Photo courtesy Deborah Capone hide caption

toggle caption Photo courtesy Deborah Capone
Jeni Mahon and baby Miguel

Jeni Mahon holds baby Miguel during a June visit to Guatemala. Mahon and her husband Tim are in the process of adopting the child. They want to name him Michael. Photo courtesy Tim and Jeni Mahon hide caption

toggle caption Photo courtesy Tim and Jeni Mahon

Californians Tim and Jeni Mahon are the proud parents of a son named Tommy, adopted in Guatemala two years ago. And now the police sergeant and his wife hope to add a second child to the family.

But as NPR's Steve Inskeep reports, Guatemala has become one of many countries tightening adoption regulations after a flood of would-be parents from overseas and fears that some children were being kidnapped for sale on the international adoption market. The new rules are keeping the Mahons waiting, even as they spend thousands of dollars on the services of the adoption agency, a Guatemalan lawyer and trips to see baby Miguel who they would like to name Michael.

Guatemala has remained one of the more popular places for American families to adopt children. Russia, China and South Korea are among the others. But legal battles, rules changes and other concerns create an ebb and flow in some markets. Honduras has waned as an adoption destination. And last year the United States shut down all adoptions from Cambodia, amid reports that brokers were tricking poor mothers into surrendering their babies.

Deborah Capone adopted daughter, Noelle, now three, from China. Capone writes books for adopted children, and expects to adopt a second child. But her agency tells her that China's rules have changed, making it harder for single mothers like Capone to get a child. Now she's considering a journey deep into Central Asia, to a new frontier for prospective American parents: Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government plans to issue new regulations on international adoptions. Currently, the State Department is in the midst of a public comment period that ends Nov. 14.

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