Adopting a baby can be a huge responsibility. I just came across an old article in The Times called “Baby trafficking may not be all bad.” It spoke of the line between wealthy celebrity adoptions, and the demand this potentially creates for trafficking in babies. I am about to summarize a few ideas from that story.
International baby shopping has become fashionable over the years. Many well off westerners, usually celebrities, are able to go abroad and select for sex, beauty, race and country of origin of their baby. There were reports around the time Madonna adopted her one-year-old boy from Malawi, that she had flown to southern Africa by private jet to “locate a suitable candidate” after inspecting a shortlist of 12 tiny orphan boys. Like Madonna, many well-off western women have gone as far as Latin America, the Far East, Africa, and to the poorer parts of Europe.
But do these women encourage the rich world to spare a thought for lost and abandoned children in poor countries? There is a paradox between the glamorous side of adoption (accompanied by charming maternal longings, compassion for the poor and non-racist credentials) and the fact that adoption in reality can be a hard, demanding and potentially risky practice. The risk I am interested in is when demand is so great that in some places it promotes baby trafficking.
Human rights activists have been outraged with the money exchanged in the process of wealthy celebrity adoptions and the idea that this might encourage trafficking. Of course it is wrong to buy or sell a person, but is this fear of adoption misplaced and exaggerated?
As the article says, it is no surprise that where there is demand there will be dealing. In some parts of the world like Bulgaria, some mothers are forced to sell their babies to dealers to pay debts, and others are cruelly tricked into handing them over for ever. Baby trafficking has only been a crime in Bulgaria for a few years. In Romania, where there are countless orphans in need of a loving home, the government stopped international adoptions in 2001 after allegations of trafficking.
Thousands of western families were anxious to adopt orphaned and abandoned children in Romania, especially when the media exposed the terrible conditions of orphanages. But when a black market grew up around adoption, the government with pressure from the EU, stopped foreign adoptions altogether in 2001. Many of the teenage orphans, who were approved for adoption but caught up in the ban, actually ended up being sexually abused and beaten for many years in their orphanage.
Just because rogue traders get involved, is that any reason to deny unwanted children the chance to be loved? Where do you think we should draw the line on adoption?
Read the original article here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/minette_marrin/article664922.ece