Monday, August 9, 2010

Call it what it is: Child Trafficking as "Adoption"

Pro-adoption forces do not want to call taking children from poor countries in great quantity: trafficking. They are wrong. It is child trafficking, plain and simple, and only the "not necessarily for sex" codicil applies; though as we know, sometimes it is for sex. But those cases are rare. Most people, one assumes, go to great lengths to get a child simply because they want to have a child, and treat that child as their "own." But if they looked behind the dirty curtain of international adoption and found out how so many children came to be available for the taking (after hefty fees for all the "arrangers" along the way) they would be appalled. They are "good" people with the "best" intentions, right? 

Many of them simply want a child, no matter how, no matter what. My blood is up today after just spending a few minutes looking at the the website of the Pound Pup Legacy. A commenter, using the name Henry Scobie*, yesterday left the link at our previous blog, about the United States ending adoptions from Nepal, due to the continued and widespread corruption and child trafficking practices that still are rampant there. What I found at the link he left will make your hair stand on end, starting--starting--with the incident of a father searching for his son who was adopted from an agency called Balmandir, which is openly selling children.

According to a Nepalese weekly, Taja Khabar, two children were sent to Balmandir (reasons unknown), and when the father went to get this sons back, he was told that one had been already sent to America. According to the translation: 
This is not the only case in Balmandir -- more than 20 children a month in the name of adoption are sold to foreigners and are given permission to be taken abroad, and thus the hefty amount gained in this process is divided among them. 
...The institution in which Her Majesty Queen Mother Ratna Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah is the sponsor ("preserver") [of Balmandir] and Rita Singh Baidya, the daughter of late Ganeshman Singh, is the President [and] has involved itself in selling children and taking commission.
The article is from 2004; God only knows where the child ended up, but it could be your neighborhood; it could be anywhere. After reading that I put in "Nepal" in the website's search engine, and came up with this also disgusting factoid: After inter-country adoptions were suspended in Nepal (see chart below or link to website here) from May through June of 2007, the number of children in the Kathmandu valley who were found to be "abandoned," plummeted from 80 to zero; as soon as adoptions were again available, the number began rising again. 
Nepal Abandonments  

Also from Pound Pup:
There are over 500 children's homes and 60 orphanages in Kathmandu whose registration details include the stated intention of providing children for foreign adoption. Children are in demand, and every time a child is rescued from the streets the Administration Office gets phone calls from orphanages.
From the UNICEF/TDH report about adoption in Nepal:
This research found instances of undue pressure, coercion, inducement and solicitation of birth families to relinquish a child. Parents were misinformed about adoption, and misled, deceived or solicited with financial inducements. They were led to believe that their children would be sent abroad for a period of time only in orderto obtain a good education and upbringing. They were led to believe that their children would return to Nepal when they reached the age of 16 or 18 years. The legal consequences of intercountry adoption were either not explained at all or not explained fully. As a result, biological parents were unaware that once the intercountry adoption procedure was finalized they would lose custody of their child forever. They were also unaware that their child would lose his or her Nepali citizenship. In other cases, biological parents were not informed that their child had been sent abroad for adoption.
But there's more there. I clicked through to child trafficking cases and found a long list of child kidnapping and outright buying of children in numerous poor countries of the world: Cambodia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Chile, China, Vietnam, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Georgia, Ghana, all to supply the foreign market for children. Our previous post links to the stories we have written about child trafficking from these countries. To say that I am disgusted and appalled is understating the visceral reaction I am having to learning more about the corruption in international adoption. Our friend, Mirah Riben, has also written an excellent expose about the situation, The Stork Market: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry.

Perhaps this business about Nepal hits me so hard is because I am aware of an acquaintance's significant other having recently adopted a child of three from Nepal. Through the grapevine, I heard that it was an arduous process to determine the child's true status, many officials and lawyers were involved, but after being further educated at Pound Pup Legacy, one wonders how that child actually ended up "available" for export to a wealthy American woman. My other thought was, what if the situation were reversed: what if children were kidnapped from say, the streets of poor neighborhoods and sent to France, Brazil, China, wherever, for the benefit of wealthy families there. There would be an international scandal, a UN investigation, a million outraged voices urging it be stopped, the children returned. Let us hope that indeed the meek will inherit the earth.--lorraine
The Heart of the Matter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)__________________________
*Henry Scobie is almost certainly a pseudonym, as that is the name of a highly principled British police officer in West Africa after World War II in Graham Greene's wonderful novel, The Heart of the Matter. I think I'll read it again; I remember loving it when I read it the first time many years ago. Time for a revisit. 

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Adoption IS human trafficking whether it is foreign or domestic sales. Location is irrelevant, the transaction is the same: flesh for cash.

Von said...

Good to see the truth coming out at last! great but shocking post.

Anonymous said...

Child trafficking: A short definition

A child has been trafficked if he or she has been
moved within a country, or across borders, whe-
ther by force or not, with the purpose of exploiting
the child.

http://www.unicef.org/southafrica/SAF_
pressrelease_notetrafficking.pdf

Denise said...

The Heart of the Matter is my all time favourite, have read it many, many times. Do re-visit it, you will enjoy it more than the first time, I am sure.

Denise

Lorraine Dusky said...

Dear Anonymous (why are you always anonymous when you are critical?)

Taking a child from its mother and culture for the purpose of completing another person's family, or sometimes otherwise for the best of intentions, is child trafficking. Not sure what your point was. Where it can be shown that the number of abandoned children goes down to nothing, or that children are kidnapped for the purpose of sale to adoption agencies who say they are then "available," it is trafficking in human flesh. You may not want to call it that because it makes your skin crawl, you may not want to see it that way, but the kidnapping and sale of children is what it is: Trafficking.

Anonymous said...

Lorraine Dusky wrote "You may not want to see it that way, but the kidnapping and sale of children is what it is: Trafficking."

Who said it wasn't? Not me.
If you are talking to *this* Anon (3:17 PM) there was no criticism implied.
I was simply quoting UNICEF in response to Anon (7:23 PM) who said adoption IS human trafficking.

I just happen to disagree that *all* adoption is human trafficking.
Do you think it is?

Lorraine Dusky said...

No, I do not think all adoption is trafficking.

I do have qualms about the wholesale system of international adoption, obviously. It's a fine line to walk and without being in country, it's hard to know the facts about every single adoption. We do know the pressure to supply children creates kidnappers and baby snatchers, even if it is done in the name of "God."

Anonymous said...

OK, just one more thing. You said you don't think all adoption is trafficking.

That makes it even harder for me to understand why you posted Anon 7:23's comment without question, yet interpreted my contribution as criticism when it was nothing of the sort.
Check out the link I supplied.

I am the same Anon (4:10 PM) who posted on your previous blog post "International Adoption: Corruption as Usual"
Clearly, I have the same qualms about the wholesale system of international adoption as you do.

Anonymous said...

The comment I sent last night seems to have met with a glitch, so I am trying again.

Lorraine said, "No, I do not think all adoption is trafficking."

Then on that we agree.
But I still don't understand why you consider my first comment to be "critical" of your post.
Or why you brought up God on your latest response.
It is as if beliefs and opinions that I do not hold are being attributed to me in contradiction of the evidence, and I would appreciate an explanation.

As I said in my comment posted on the previous thread yesterday, I am pleased that adoptions from Nepal have been halted.
I also made it clear how I feel about the connection between money, religion and adoption.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Sorry anon, if my comments are confusing. It's just that when someone posted the link and description of child trafficking without further explanation, I interpreted it to mean that that person did not agree with my definition of "trafficking." And the God reference had nothing to do with that in particular, it was just a further comment about the organizations such as "Christian" World Adoptions that trick parents in poor countries such as Ethiopia into giving up their children. It appears that basically we agree, but so many anonymous comments add to the confusion. It would be more helpful to all if more people either used their names, or made up a moniker that ID them.

One last note: two of us who post comments. We are not at the computer day and night, we have other lives, we do our best to be timely. Please understand.

Anonymous said...

I am the first Anonymous and I will repeat myself so Anonymous 2 hears me loud and clear:

Adoption is Child Trafficking.

If money is exchanged for the possession of a child, it IS trafficking.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2 here.
Thank you for reiterating your position, Anon 1, but I can assure you that you were heard clearly the first time.

I think most people who read here will not have missed the point that you do not agree (to paraphrase from the previous blog post on FMF: http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2010/08/
international-adoption-corruption-as.html )
that while the wholesale adoption of kids from poor countries to supply the American market is deplorable, not all international adoptions are wrong.

What is your opinion about adoptions where there is no financial exchange?
Would you call that child trafficking too?
Or do you believe all adoption to be wrong, regardless of circumstances?

maryanne said...

So. anon who says all adoption is child trafficking if any money is involved, I assume you would want all adoption to be illegal. Or would adoption where no money was paid for anything, legal fees, travel expenses etc be acceptable to you?

I fear if you just hate adoption and want it stopped altogether, which is not going to happen, you fail to see the distinctions between real corruption and abuse, which I agree is rife in adoption, domestic and foreign, and ethical adoptions where a reasonable fee is charged for services, not for the child. If you see all adoption as child trafficking, how do you distinguish truly abusive and exploitive practices that have no regard for children from adoptions that are necessary, ethical, and a better choice than remaining in orphanage care forever?

Wouldn't putting in strict regulations on how much could be charged and for what services take a lot of the corruption out of both international and domestic adoption?

Jessica Pegis said...

Interesting. What DO people think of the compulsory orphanage donation to China tacked on to every adoption. It is the "fee" that subjects the system to corruption (if you want to pay your agency a lot of $$ for pushing the paper around, that's your problem but China will never see that money). However, it has been shown that the $$ does improve orphanage life dramatically, especially for kids who will be staying permanently.

I have always been of two minds about the fee. It started out $3000 and is now $5000. Making a-parents pay on the back of every adoption doesn't seem so bad to me but it cannot be denied that this $$ has also corrupted the system, making the process very close to trafficking (and turning it into outright trafficking in some instances).

mamamargie said...

I have a hard time with the statement, "All adoption is trafficking." While there is corruption in adoption, it also supplies a need for children who cannot be raised by their biological parents. My son, for example, was taken from his birthmother because she was hallucinating while giving birth to him and he tested positive for drugs. After a string of foster homes and group homes, I got him when he was 9 and adopted him when he was 12. He is now 22. When he wanted to find his birthmom, I encouraged him to do so. But SHE COULD NOT REMEMBER HIM!!!! All she could tell him was that his name sounded familiar. He was a child who needed to be adopted, either locally or internationally. I do not believe it would have been trafficking to do so. Unfortunately, there are many more children like him around the world.

Kristi said...

Maryanne, I DO believe that all adoption should be illegal. At what point should it be legal for a human being to sign away their rights to a part of them? It is illegal to, at any age, give a person an organ that is integral to our emotional and/or physical survival. Do mothers and their children not suffer a lifetime, emotionally and physically, when separated? And can you tell me what other legal document allows for a minor/addict/mentally unstable individual to sign? I have more questions and few answers, but I know that adoption, under any circumstances, should be illegal. No person should ever have the right to sign away their human rights, much less their humans. That being said, I wholeheartedly agree that some children are better-off in a home other than that of their birth parents, for many reasons. Fostering should be the answer, not adoption. Social services that encourage and support the creation and health of the birth family should be the answer. And I will bring up God, even though that hasn't been popular in this thread, "Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible..." (Isaiah 49:15, New Living Translation). It is impossible for a mother or child to forget one another, save for drugs or mental injury or instability. And, yet, millions are encouraged to do so every year, "legally".

KimKim said...

Margie,
I wonder how it would have been for that poor drug addicted mother if she'd been given a lot of love, support and excellent health care to help her with her disease? If she'd had cancer or a different disease we wouldn't see it as a moral issue.

You won't find many brain damaged drug destroyed mothers here, it's not relevant or appropriate to associate adoption with abuse here.

We are all intelligent, spiritually beautiful women who are excellent mothers. There is no real good reason for us to have been separated from our children.

I appreciate that you think adoption is wonderful and that you believe it's what God wants (as seen on your blog) but perhaps you can appreciate that our children would have had wonderful lives with us.

maryanne said...

Kristi,

Should adoption still be illegal if it is fully open, with identities known? Do you object to a child being raised by people other than biological relatives, or to the secrets and lies inherent in the current sealed records adoption system?

Nobody "forgets" they had a child, but that does not mean they regret surrendering or want to meet that child. Most mothers who surrendered want to meet their child, but not all. Yes, I believe they owe their child information and one meeting, but that is a matter of conscience, not law. Not all adoptees want to meet their mother either. They should have that choice, but the outcome can differ greatly depending on the people involved and their circumstances.

Blanket statements like "adoption should be illegal" are not taking into account the realities of life that are much messier and more complex than any ideology.

mamamargie said...

KimKim,

I do believe wholeheartedly that your children would have had a wonderful life with you. When one of my foster daughters became pregnant at 18, I encouraged her to keep her baby. And, although it has been hard for her in many ways, she does not regret her decision at all. She has become a wonderful mother and I'm so proud of her.

However, I did bring up the subject of abuse in response to the statement made that "all adoption is trafficking." I believe it is simply naive to think that there is no place for adoption in this world. Orphans, abuse, and neglect are very real. There are mothers who, although hard to believe, do not want their children. Reunification, education, and love works in some of the situations and I am thrilled when a birth-family can stay together. However, there is the dark reality of birth-parents who will not pick up their responsibilities. In these cases, adoption is necessary.

Maryanne has some good comments as well.
Regards, Margie

Henry Scobie said...

Nepal -- Paper Orphans documentary posted on the web:

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal.blogspot.com/2011/10/paper-orphans-documentary-posted-on-web.html

Terrific documentary on the Bal Mandir kidnappings.

By the Swiss INGO -- Terre des Hommes.