Trafficking into adoption, and the wish to deny the facts

As many other adoptive parents, I was once deeply convinced, and I believed from from the bottom of my heart, that the institution of adoption is a proof for the good in people, and an act of humanity. I was also convinced  that it would be helpful not only for the child himself, but for his entire community.

What I have learned throughout the roughly five years I was involved in an adoption process and the building of an adoptive family, is, that apart from all these whishes, there is a reality hard to bear:

For some, adoption is a business they make a living of. Not a frugal one, that’s for sure.

For some, adoption is a natural right of infertile adults, consequence of an entitlement to be a parent, no matter what.

For some, adoption created circumstances in their lives that are beyond imagination.

For some, adoption is a fact of life they will have to deal with throughout their lives. They see themselves as survivers.

For some, adoption simply hurts.

For some, adoption is something the Lord has told them to pursue, not only to support orphans, but to „spread the Word.“

For some, ethics in adoption is a term to ridicule – mentioning it means interfering with the Lord’s plan for each child and with the personal dedication the PAP has.

For some, ethics in adoption is a contradiction in terms; they believe there are no „good guys“ in adoption.

For some, adoption means to save lives.

For some, adoption means to create a family with life long relationships between the two families of an adoptee.

For some, adoption means to take over responsibility within their childrens‘ country of heritage.

All of these very different concepts of adoption are something that one learns to see as a given variety of views.

There is one reality in the concept of adoption I have been finding hard to accept as a reality. It is that of trafficking into adoption.

An organisation has been trying to lobby for the inclusion of this crime in the definition of human trafficking within the US, and they had lots of supporters.

This crime is something that belongs to the history of some countries, such as Spain, Greece, and Australia.

It is something that has been happening until today, in China, in Nepal and currently in many countries of  Africa.

I guess the reason why it has been taking me personally  such a long time to accept there is more that just  multiple unrelated cases of trafficking into adoption at different times and in different places  is this: Trafficking into adoption contradicts not only human decency, but also the concept of adoption as an institution itself, at least as far as I have always understood it. Call me naive:

Adoption is supposed to serve a specific child in a specific situation. Common sense logic would tell you there are enough children truly in need of adoption.

The reality check tells you they often remain in orphanages, while elsewhere, children are actively recruited from families or even trafficked as infants.

It is this contradiction that is so hard to bear. At least for me.

It is hard to bear because it makes it so hard to draw the line between what is legitimate, and what is just following a demand-supply-structure in a global market.

It is heard to bear, because it makes you ask yourself wether the two, adoption and trafficking into adoption, have an intrinsic and  systemic and not only a historical relationship.

It is so hard to bear, because it gives adoption, adoptees and adoptive families a bad name.

It is the contradiction in information that some PAPs will offer you on their adoption plan that is so hard to bear: On the one hand, they wish to be part of the solution of the orphan crisis and fantasize about a specific child, somewhere all alone, who just needs a mommy, and nothing else. On the other hand, the child in question needs to be an infant, as young as possible, preferably female.

It is the contradiction of what was once  said and written down about the family background of so many children adopted out of Ethiopia, and what has shown to be the truth, sometimes years later.


While I still believe there are cases in which adoption is the best solution for a certain child, and while I still believe it is well worth requesting transparency and demanding the adherence to ethical standards in all procedures, I have  come to accept that cases of trafficking into adoption are a recurring reality, if not more.

It seems to me that it is not enough that some „bad guys“ are taken out of the scene. It is always the same conclusion I come to:

It is good to control procedures. It is better to ban money from the process. And it is still even better to take care that the expectations people have, when they begin the process of adopting internationally, match the needs of the children who are  in need of adoption.

While we cannot controll all criminal activity and each and every greed driven faciliator, we, the parents, can try to become educated on the many aspects adoption includes.

We can try to make responsible and educated decisions.

Long term interested readers may say this post repeats so much of what has been said before, and in better words. I agree whole heartedly with that.  It is just ment to show how my personal learning process works.


One Response to Trafficking into adoption, and the wish to deny the facts

  1. b. says:

    Reblogged this on International Adoption Reader und kommentierte:

    A post from a year ago.

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