Atala Ruíz Manzur
Fellow Since 1993
Tiempo Nuevo de Guadalajara
This profile was prepared when Atala Ruíz Manzur was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
In 1986, Atala Ruiz set out to change the way adoption is handled in Mexico. In contrast to the existing system, which is characterized by obsolete legislation, bureaucratic red tape and cultural taboos, she has developed a wide-ranging program that supports all the parties to adoption and lobbies for needed legal changes. Her model begins to protect the rights of unwanted children before they are born and continues through their permanent placement as the members of new families. She assists both biological mothers and adoptive parents through the entire adoption process. By simplifying the process and affecting changes in the legal requirements for adoption, she is reducing the underground "gray market" in adoptive babies. Atala works through an organization that she founded, which is the first in Mexico to standardized an effective, all-encompassing approach.