First of all, the global baby trade is a market. Adoptive families pay a lot of money -- to the sending country, adoption agencies, and lawyers. For many years, South Korea was the leading sending country, and the hard currency it earned from international adoptions helped the country recover from the Korean War's devastation.Reactions?
Like any market, the unscrupulous find plenty of ways to make money.
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For the most part we try to do everything possible to obscure the fact that international adoption is a market. Adoption agencies paint a pretty picture of children saved and adoptive families enriched. Much of this is true. The international adoption business has certainly saved children from poverty, stigmatization, and even death. It has created thousands of hybrid families that are just as happy, sad, and complicated as any other family. But it's still a business, which suffers from all the problems of a business (and then some).
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Businessman Ted Turner recently proposed adding a new twist to the baby trade. Rather than pay families for their babies, he wants to do the opposite: pay them not to have babies. The global population is expected to peak around 10 billion people in 2050. More people will produce more carbon emissions, Turner argues, so an obvious solution is to control population increase the Chinese way: by adopting a one-child limit globally. Imposing such a rule would be neither popular nor feasible, so Turner proposes a market incentive system. By selling their fertility rights, poor families could profit by their decision not to breed. Turner's proposal sounds suspiciously like a modern eugenics program.
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What Turner ignores, of course, is that Americans are responsible for nearly five times the global average for per-capita carbon emissions. Even the most environmentally responsible Americans have a carbon footprint twice the size of the global average. In other words, our consumption of things -- not their production of babies -- is the problem.
The solution to climate change, therefore, is obvious. The countries that have the smallest carbon footprints should adopt U.S. babies. We should send our children to Cambodia, Guatemala, and Moldova where they won't have such a damaging effect on the global environment. Reverse the baby trade now! It's not likely, however, that Ted Turner, the environmental movement, and the international adoption agencies will adopt this slogan any time soon.
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