Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trafficking in Unborn Babies

No, I'm not talking about the San Diego baby-selling ring, though it would be an apt title for that egregious episode.  This is out of the Philippines, from the Philippine Daily Inquirer:
Pregnant Filipino women have been recruited to travel overseas legally as tourists then sell their newborns to waiting adoptive parents, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said on Wednesday.

Social Welfare Undersecretary Alicia Bala disclosed the newest form of child trafficking at the 11th Global Consultation on Child Welfare Services in Makati City.

Bala said that two cases had so far been reported—one in Austria two years ago and another in Malta last year.

Speaking about the latest case in Malta, Bala said: “The mother who’s pregnant [was] sponsored to go to that place with the intent of having the child adopted.”

“This is a form of trafficking… Our attention was called by Malta authorities,” she told reporters.

The mother has returned to the country but her child is now undergoing procedure for adoptive parents to keep the baby in custody.

“This is just one instance but, who knows, there may be other cases that are not brought to our attention. It is a prearranged plan of giving birth there, then they give the baby up. They don’t keep the baby because there is already that intention to have the baby adopted abroad,” Bala said.

As the mothers are able to exit the country legally, such cases are hard to detect unless reported by the receiving country, Bala said.

“You can’t stop anyone from traveling. There’s no reason for immigration agents to be suspicious about why a pregnant woman is going overseas. Maybe there’s a facilitator here,” Bala said.
Not the first time I've heard of prospective birth mothers as portable incubators -- see here and here. It's easier to smuggle pregnant women than helpless infants, and it's easier to do a domestic adoption by moving the potential birth mother in-country than to do an international adoption.


Anonymous said...

IS this a legal adoption because the baby is born in the U.S.? Even if the mother isn't a legal citizen?

malinda said...

Yes, it would be a legal adoption so long as the state law is followed. The mother or adoptive parents would have to be residents of the state, but no requirement that any of them be citizens of the U.S.

Reena said...

I'm not really clear on why this is child trafficking. Is it because the mom travels from another country to give birth?

In the US it is fairly common for a mom to travel to another state to give birth (usually a state where the number of days to adoption finalization is quite few).

How is this different?

And please-- don't misunderstand-- I am not implying that I think either of these situations is ethical-- just asking about the legalities.

Anonymous said...


I think one reason that it is trafficking is because it circumvents the Hague Convention for adoption and that the US is a signatory to it. It also bypasses the non-hague requirements if the mothers country is not a Hague signatory. I can't point you to the specific rule(s) but will look if you are interested.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Reena addressed this as well as TheAdoptedOnes: thank you both.

My thoughts reflected the same questions: its hard to determine if these women are under any kind of coercion since they must knowingly obtain passports, VISAS, etc.....make a concious effort to locate a family in another country and make/follow through on travel plans.

Hmmmm....I see though where abuses could occur. I also didn't see that this was happening in the U.S. but rather in other countries; I wonder what the stats are on it happening here?