President Oscar Berger is expected to sign the measure, enabling Guatemala to comply with an international agreement designed to protect adopted children from human trafficking. The country sent 4,135 children to the U.S. last year, making it the largest source of babies for American families after China.
Many adoptive parents feared that the changes would leave in limbo about 3,700 pending adoptions, and the State Department had pressured Guatemala to make exceptions.
Adoptions have been handled exclusively by notaries, who charge an average of $30,000. One in every 100 Guatemalans born in recent years has been growing up as an adopted American.
Critics claim the system has allowed birth mothers to sell their babies for profit, and the new measure expressly prohibits birth parents from being paid.
The legislation would also create an oversight agency responsible for setting any fees.