Adoption as Human Trafficking

Just another story of how fragile the international adoption process can be.  Thanks again to K@W for this lead.  GS

Talk outlines risks in international adopting
By: Ashton Shurson – The Daily Iowan
Posted: 3/25/08
As Chinese adoptions increase around the world and especially in the
United States, a few UI students have been looking into the darker
side of adoptions in the Asian country.

UI law students Patricia Meier and Joy Zhang gave a presentation
Monday on the Hunan baby-trafficking scandal and how it exposes
vulnerabilities in Chinese adoptions to the United States.

In November 2005, police in China uncovered a baby trafficking ring
involving six orphanages and babies primarily from the southern part
of the country.

It is unclear how the children were obtained, but defendants claim
the babies were abandoned while prosecutors in the case accused the
Hengyang Social Welfare Institution of knowingly buying abducted

Zhang said that the primary reason for the adoption trafficking was
to garner more money – Hengyang received roughly $1,000 from the
orphanages for each child and the orphanages could collect
approximately $3,000 for each adoption placement.

While many involved with this specific case were arrested and
punished, many questions remain about the whereabouts of the children
and if Hengyang was an isolated case.

Either way, it has illustrated that the Chinese adoption process is
easy to corrupt, Zhang said. Meier said inter-country adoption means
large incomes for orphanages that are often misused.

In 2006, 10,000 children were adopted from China, with 7,000 going to
the United States. Adoptive parents usually pay around $15,000 to

Meier said that adoptions are just one part of human trafficking in
the large country. Traffickers often target migrant worker families
who aren’t connected with politics or the government.

While many grass-roots organizations search for missing children,
Meier said, international law is lacking in the effort to stop baby
trafficking. The United States leads the world in prevention of human
trafficking, Meier said, but its human-trafficking law doesn’t
directly address adoption trafficking.

Iowa Writers’ Workshop student Michael Potter, who was domestically
adopted and was at the lecture, said adoption should be scrutinized
in the United States as well.

“I believe the international adoption industry is a form of cultural
imperialism,” he said.

Meier said prospective adoptive parents should do research before

“If you’re looking into inter-country adoption, be aware these acts
happen and do everything possible to ensure you do not adopt a child
obtained illicitly,” she said.

E-mail DI reporter Ashton Shurson at:


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