|Kirstie Alley in The Baby Seller|
The story centers around a government agent (played by Jennifer Finnegan) who sinks her teeth into the trafficking of babies after a bust of one such ring ends with disappointment. She centers her attention on one agency called "Road to Love," run by Carla Huxley, played
convincingly by Kirstie Alley, who shows she can bare some teeth. At orientation sessions with prospective adopters, Huxley shows off her own adopted child who gives a short speech on how lucky she have been rescued by her "Mom," setting the bait. But we already know that Huxley is an evil adoption maven who gets babies wherever they are readily available--India, Brazil are the two counties shown here, as Mexico and other Latin American counties have been shut down. The scenario then, for the prospective adoptive parents, is that they will be "saving" a child from a loveless and poverty-stricken life.
Finnegan pretends to be a prospective adopter who signs up for a trip to India, where she follows the trail of a single baby with a teardrop birth mark on her cheek, a child who was stolen after her father refused to sell her. We never find out how much money actually changes hands, but in India, it probably doesn't have to be much, because there are so many hands to fill with bribes before the babies find their way to the willing pocketbooks and arms of Americans--including the local authorities who don't show up when Finnegan needs them. Because of the corruption, not surprisingly all the paperwork checks out. The babies leave India with their new and ecstatic parents.
There is never a real doubt that Finnegan will find the baby with the teardrop. A single mother, who calls the baby Catherine, will not give her up without a fight--this can't be true about her baby--but Finnegan has the DNA to prove that indeed this baby is one she can prove was stolen. Brilliant film-making The Baby Catchers is not, but it does get its point across: "Who creates this market?" one Indian doctor asks. "People like you coming her and buying our children."
Amen to that. "People like you coming here and buying our children." Adoptive parents of children from around the world are going to at least squirm at that line.
THE MOTHERS ARE POOR, NO ONE PAYS ATTENTION
India is not the only country portrayed supplying babies for a hungry market: Huxley orders a blue-eyed, blond boy from Brazil, where one is likely to be found, to satisfy a client whose husband cannot relate to an Indian girl. Yes, the baby is found, stolen and sold, his mother is informed that her child died. When a nurse not in on the deal later tells the distraught mother what happened, she tries to get the attention of someone at the American consulate, but she is ignored. "They" are the "consulate," not the Embassy, the young mother is told, and besides, what can "they" do? The mother had turned to the Americans because she knew that the Brazilian authorities will ignore her, and now the Americans do the same. It's not their problem. "The mothers are poor--that's why no one pay attention," says the determined agent as she follows this case. Right again.
By the end of the film, people have died--this is a billion-dollar business, after all--Huxley is brought down but escapes jail, the teardrop baby is returned to her mother, but blue-eyed blond? He'll never know the truth. The film does not let those adopters off easily: you see them holding the baby in bed, the father happy to have a son who will resemble him, if only in coloring.
Though I am a crier, I was dry-eyed throughout. I know this happens, and I was pleased to see that this film was made. I appreciated the script-writer's sly reference to Brave New World with the choice of Carla Huxley's last name.
The Baby Sellers is an important, timely film that unfortunately will probably not reach many of the audience that it should: people who will do anything to get a child and not investigate thoroughly the ethics of how that child came to be available. The film may cut too close to the bone for many of them. But the fact that is was made, coming close to the timing of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, is a good sign.
A $12 BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY
The movie ends with a script about the scope of baby trafficking, a phrase, we note, that people form agencies such as Holt International and adoption promoters (and international adoptive parent) Elizabeth Bartholet abhor in reference to infants. From the Lifetime website:
The global market for child trafficking is over $12 billion a year with over 1.2 million child victims. For the most up to date research on human and infant trafficking, refer to the Trafficking In Persons Report released by the U.S. Department of State in June 2013.
The trafficking of babies from poor countries all over the world is one of the great crimes of our lifetimes. Now and then agencies, such as Christian World Adoption, or women like Laura Silsby, are found out. Silsby, who led a group of ten American Baptists from an Idaho orphan ministry, were arrested at the border of the Dominican Republic attempting to take 33 children out of Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 without proper documentation. International adoption is one big dirty business and flourishes precisely as the movie depicts: because so many Americans--North Americans--want babies and do not want to look too deeply into how they babies end up here. I personally know of children from Guatemala, who ended up here; I also know how deeply corrupt was the baby train getting infants out of the country, and I cannot bear to know these single mothers anymore. I cannot bear to see these children. I wonder what their real story is; I feel that it is likely these children were trafficked.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
The question people who go overseas to get a child need to ask themselves: What would you do if you knew the paperwork was likely to be forged, the baby stolen or bought? What would you do if you knew the real parents of the child did not want to give him or her up? What would you do if a willing father wanted to raise his own child?
In this country we know how Matt and Melanie Capobianco answered: Tough luck.--lorraine
Upcoming showings of The Baby Sellers on Lifetime: tonight (Sunday) at 8 p.m.; Monday, Aug. 19 at 12 a.m., and Saturday, Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. Don't forget to set your recorders.
Child: U.S. Adoption Agency Bought Me
Laura Silsby, U.S. Missionary Leader, Convicted In Haiti, But Free To Go
Christians work to rescue world's orphans, but obstacles stand in way
International Adoption Advocates Fight Back against decline in adoptions
The Child Catchers exposes the stench of international adoption--and domestic adoption too
Adoptive Parents Decry UNICEF's Humanitarian Position about Adopting Overseas
Abuses in International Adoption: The Lie We Love
The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption
“Joyce broadens the understanding of adoption's conundrums, not only within the United States, but also internationally, with deep investigations of children from Liberia, Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda, Haiti and China…Groundbreaking investigative and explanatory reporting.”--Kirkus Reviews. Order by clicking on the title or book jacket photo.