Interim staff

Many couples looking to adopt a child have turned their attention to Third World countries. Some are finding success in Latin America, particularly Guatemala.

The Stratford, Ontario-based Saint Anne Adoption Centre is doing its part to facilitate adoption from Guatemala. The centre opened its door in July, 1989. It was the first agency in Canada doing adoptions from Latin America, and in just over seven years, the agency has completed nearly 300 adoptions.

Today, the Saint Anne Adoption Centre handles 80 per cent of all the Guatemala-Canada adoptions.

Founders Kenneth Plotnik and Beryl Mercer came by the adoption agency work in a natural fashion. The married couple first sought to adopt internationally in 1987, and by 1989, they had completed the adoption of five children.

Hoping to help other couples, and at the same time eager to relieve in a small way the suffering of destitute children in Guatemala, the couple looked to formalize their adoption services. The country is a prime choice for adoption. A respect for life and family is strong in the country, resulting in a lack of access to abortion. At the same time, many children are born in poverty. It is estimated that every year, more than 25,000 children under age five die in the country due to the poor sanitation, and the lack of adequate food and shelter.

Kenneth and Beryl look to involve the efforts of churches, particularly the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Guatemala, to facilitate the adoption process. They are also concerned with the high cost of international adoption.

“it is our view that families who adopt the children of the poor should not be penalized financially,” Kenneth said. The philosophy of the Saint Anne Centre is summed up in a passage from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical The Gospel of Life: “A particularly significant expression of solidarity between families is a willingness to adopt or take in children abandoned by their parents or in situations of serious hardship.”

For more information about Saint Anne Adoption Centre, write 122 Downie St., Stratford, Ont., N5A 1X1, tel. (519) 273-7121, e-mail