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By Patricia Clemente and Gustavo Calderon; translated by Solomon Freimuth




Being able to adopt in Mexico is considered, by international standards, as difficult, say some authorities to shelter them from being subject to sexual exploitation, organ trafficking or slavery.  Quintana Roo, particularly, is considered one of the worst states to adopt and one of the states least active in the matter. According to the Center for Adoption Studies (CdEA for its initials in Spanish), during the years 2007, 2008 and in the beginning of 2009, only 26 juveniles were adopted in this state, while in Jalisco a total of 461 minors were adopted.  One could assume that this has to do with the number of habitants, although that is incorrect: If we compare our state with Campeche, during the same period, Campeche granted adoptions for a total of 38 youths, and Campeche has a population 40% smaller than that of Quintana Roo.


Based on telephone interviews with diverse state and municipal authorities on the material, during the previously signaled period, in the State of Quintana Roo, only one adoption was issued to a couple of foreign origin, in which case the procedure took more than 3 years.  It is worth mentioning that the CdEA has no documentation to back up this information, because even though the organization solicited said information from the State-level Whole Family Development (DIF in Spanish) system, using the mechanisms of the state-level Transparency Law, said information, regarding international adoptions, was omitted.




The adoption process, even though it is changing and clearly it is improving, is long, cumbersome and on occasion is subject to the discretion of a public authority, who without any real knowledge about the topic, can deny or reject the viability of the application on their own personal criteria, not derived from any real systemized, trustworthy, secure or agile process.  As we saw in the antecedents, the ultimate objective of the figure of adoption has changed and now encompasses a greater moral burden and social responsibility for the adoptive parent, while for the adopted child it implies an opportunity of an alternative of a more dignified life, in accordance with the international standards on the material: So much so that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation in Mexico determined that the adoption should have as its principal purpose “the higher interests of the child”  (Supreme Corte, Full Session, 2010), which should be the parameter to follow, however in many cases it is not that way.  Cases exist where couples have, after spending time and, because of the complexity of the procedure, money, decide to abandon the legal route and resort to the so called “Private Adoption”, which today, according to some non-government organizations, is much more frequently used than the process outlined in the law; therefore, are the interests of the child really being protected?


Embarking on this theme is the article by E. Jimenez published the 31st of January of 2010 in Milenio weekly, “Adopting in Mexico: An Issue Without Law”, which states: “The lack of control in Mexican adoptions gives breath to the black market for boys and girls, who on occasion are sold to couples with good intentions and in other cases are used as slaves who realize forced labor or sexual exploitation…In Mexico the Federal Authorities have do not possess updated information on how many children are housed in shelters, public and private assistance homes, nor in state and municipal orphanages, nor how many of these are apt for adoption.  Until the first week of the last year only 13 states had sent pertinent information to the National (Whole Family Development) organization, and the numbers are varied:  Chiapas indicated that they only had 400 children, while Tijuana claims to have three thousand.”


In his 2010 article, A. Martinez indicates, “with the argument of the decentralization, the state-level DIF systems have been permitted to act upon their own free will.”  In the words of Cecilia Landerreche Gomez Morin, the then head of the National System of Whole Family Development (SNDIF in Spanish), in a speech which she offered during the Regional Roundtables on the Acceleration of the Adoption Process, in the city of Durango on the September 6th of 2009, manifested alarming data, such as the fact that during recent years many adoptions have been realized with very little supervision from the DIF, as much at the federal level as state and municipal.


Still yet, according to information given by UNICEF in 2005, that year there were in Mexico 1.6 million children in a high state of vulnerability, be they partially or completely orphaned or victims of accidents, HIV, post-partum death of the mother or labor-related immigration, as well as other causes.  Even graver, according to the same report, these children are living on the street, in clandestine shelters, in the homes of other family members or in the process of immigration.  En other words, these 1.6 million children never are presented in the proper institutional setting.  The same national DIF system, the 32 state systems and the diverse private institutions operated, at the end of 2010, a network of 657 attention centers, of which approximately 10 percent are managed by the DIF system (68) and the rest belong to private institutions (589).


It should be mentioned that, according to the information obtained by the CdEA, the number of institutionalized minors is 17,759 children, practically half of what is reported by the SNDIF and less than 11% of the amount estimated according the data given by UNICEF.  It is also important to mention that the DIF system of Quintana Roo reported, the same year, a total of 94 institutionalized children, a quantity that, we can clearly see, doesn’t correspond with our reality.




The so-called “War on Drugs” being waged by Mexico’s Federal Government which has resulted in the severe damage to various criminal organizations, has brought forth the recruitment, by delinquent gangs, of youths with little or no expectations for their future.  Through the diverse communication mediums we have become acquainted with children who work as part of a criminal band as messengers, dealers or even triggermen. The lack of a clear strategy, which attends to the needs and gives hope to the children and young people of our country, puts at risk not only their future, but also that of the whole nation.


Adoption is a figure that definitely can and should be promoted, not only towards persons that cannot have children of their own, but also towards any person, of any nation, sex or religious belief, as long as they demonstrate themselves to be a person or couple who can offer an alternative of hope and a better future for the child, always attending that child’s higher interest.  Promoting the figure of adoption with nationals as well as foreigners in no way implies neither disregarding the safeguards built into the process nor putting the child at risk.  It is critical that we generate strategies which make adoption an agile, transparent and effective process, which grants legal certainty to the adoptive children as well as the adoptive parents, but which more than anything, grants the opportunity for a better future to the minors who are not blessed with a home or family.


The third part of this series embarks on the theme of requirements for adoption, the adoption process and adoption by foreigners.


About the authors: Gustavo Calderón is an independent lawyer and a professor of family law.  Patricia Clemente is a law student.  Both authors are part of the firm CHF Calderón & Associates in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.  For more information about this firm, visit www.chfmexico.com or contact us via email at info@chfmexico.com. Copying, distribution and publication of this article, in part or its entirety, are permitted as long as the work is attributed to its authors exactly as mentioned in this paragraph.