Every 100th child born in Guatemala becomes an adopted American. 1% is the highest percentage of new born children put up for adoption anywhere in the world.
Would-be parents pay up to $30,000 for their little chapines. The notary pockets around $19,000 as a 'country fee', and although birth mothers are often remunerated, in some cases they only get the price of a bus fare to the capital.
Guatemala still allows adoptions to be managed privately, without judicial approval. As a result, the process of adoption can take as little as five months, compared to over a year elsewhere. Paperwork is often falsified. However, from the middle of next year, the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions will come into force in the United States and is likely to slow down this baby export boom. 3000 requests for adoption have already been filed in 2006 in an attempt to beat the looming deadline.