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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 21:15 GMT 22:15 UK
'Babies at risk' in Guatemala row
Babies in bouncers at the Casa Quivira home, Antigua, Guatemala
Staff are said to be being prevented from caring for the babies properly
The owner of a children's home raided by the Guatemalan authorities has warned that the infants' health is deteriorating while the row continues.

Police raided the home near Guatemala City on Saturday, amid concerns the babies might have been taken from their parents for illegal adoption abroad.

Clifford Phillips, a US citizen who owns the home with his Guatemalan wife, has rejected those claims.

He is backed by adoptive parents in the US who fear for the children's safety.

They say the officials temporarily in charge of the Casa Quivira home are failing to give more than 40 children being cared for there the right food and proper medical attention.

The Guatemalan authorities have denied those claims.

'Hygiene suffering'

The nannies and nursing staff at the home were being prevented by government officials from caring for the children properly, Mr Phillips said in a statement.


"Reports from the Casa Quivira lawyers are that the health of the children is deteriorating along with the hygienic conditions of the home," he said.

He and his wife Sandra Gonzalez, a Guatemalan lawyer and co-owner of the home, have mounted a number of legal challenges to the government.

Mr Phillips has said birth mothers are given several opportunities to change their minds about giving their children up for adoption and that all the necessary paperwork is complete.

He and a number of the prospective adoptive parents have said they believe the raid on Casa Quivira was politically motivated.

The home, which is in the tourist town of Antigua, has been placed under the direction of the Guatemalan President's Office for Social Welfare.

Tighter rules

The attorney general's office said on Monday there was so far no evidence that the children at Casa Quivira had been stolen or their parents coerced into giving them up.

Guatemala's Attorney General Mario Gordillo has since told the Associated Press news agency that his office was simply preparing for the tighter rules that will come into effect in 2008 as a result of the Guatemalan Congress ratifying The Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoptions.

The convention sets out a series of measures guaranteeing greater transparency in the process of adoption.

Mr Gordillo told the AP that people would still be able to adopt from Guatemala but that it would take longer because birth mothers would have to appear for a second DNA test to prove the child was theirs and reaffirm they wanted to give up the child for adoption.

The US embassy in Guatemala last week tightened up the visa regulations for couples trying to adopt and began requiring a second DNA test.

The US state department issued advice earlier this year against adopting from Guatemala because of reports that many mothers there face pressure to sell their children into adoption.

Last year, couples in the US adopted more than 4,000 infants from Guatemala, second only to China.

'Stolen' Guatemala children found
13 Aug 07 |  Americas
Potential pitfalls of adopting abroad
18 Oct 06 |  Special Reports
Guatemala's baby business
01 Sep 00 |  Crossing Continents
Country profile: Guatemala
11 May 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Guatemala
19 Jul 07 |  Country profiles

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