Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Urgent: Urge Senate to Redefine Human Trafficking to Include Illegal Adoption

I've posted before about the fact that illegal adoptions are not considered human trafficking by the U.S. government.  Even when a child is procured for adoption through kidnapping or fraud or outright purchase, it isn't human trafficking.

Ethica is seeking to change that, lobbying for an addition to the Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011:
This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be marking up the Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011, a lifesaving measure that establishes human trafficking as a crime in the U.S. Ethica supports this measure, but we also think it could be strengthened with a tiny, one-line amendment that includes trafficking for the purposes of adoption in its language.

It seems crazy, but trafficking for the purposes of adoption – procuring a child through force, fraud, or coercion, and then finding her a new home overseas – is not seen as trafficking in the eyes of U.S. law. Although the tactics traffickers use are identical whether the child is destined for the sex trade or a new home overseas, current law sees them as very different. Under current U.S. law, the ends justify the means.

Under current U.S. law, child traffickers like Lauryn Galindo, who brought almost 800 children into the U.S. from Cambodia on falsified paperwork, using such tactics as paying for the children with a bag of rice and telling their biological and adoptive parents lies about the children’s futures and histories, only go to jail for 18 months on charges of money laundering and visa fraud. Money laundering and visa fraud were certainly committed, but children lost their entire identities, too.

This type of horrific malfeasance has no place in the U.S. It is not an ethical adoption if the child was not intended to be adopted; it is not ethical adoption if the child or his or her parents were the victims of force, fraud, or coercion. This type of fraud is the type of fraud that shuts down entire country programs, as it has in Guatemala, Nepal, Vietnam, and Cambodia. This type of fraud must end.
Ethica asks that you contact members of the committee:
Senator Klobuchar’s office
302 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
phone: 202-224-3244

Senator Leahy’s office
Washington D.C. Office
437 Russell Senate Bldg
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4242

Senator Grassley’s office
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224 – 3744

Senate Judiciary Committee
Majority side: 202.224.7703
Minority side: 202.224.5225
Ethica's website also includes some helpful talking points to help you explain your position.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this for Ethica! We appreciate your support in this!

Anonymous said...

If I thought Ethical was anything but anti-adoption I would support this. But I'm sorry I don't trust Ethica as all their recent reports of adoption trafficking refer to cases years ago (some of the photos appear doctored and some of the interviewed people are paid). There are many other organizations to support instead. Lastly, the cases are FEW and from YEARS ago so I cannot support this change. As an FYI, if UNICEF, Pear and Ethical could show a little support or objective/supportive reporting on adoption perhaps more support would come from PAP's and AP's. That goes for you as well - I used to love your blog but it's so one sided these days. Children who are abandoned and living in an institution deserve a loving family.

Anonymous said...

Seems it would be very difficult to define illegal adoption, for the sake of the child. Especially since birth parents can then say they were never planning on it....one person's word against another's. At that point, (as it stands now) the case would most likely go to court, to determine if the adoption was illegal or not....I don't see that part of it changing with a broader definition of "illegal adoption". I just see that it would make it easier for the birth parents to change their minds after the fact, and then using the "illegal adoption" card to trump anything else (Domestic as well).
Perhaps if Ethica were lobbying to have stricter consequences if found guilty, it might be a cause worth supporting. But to just have a definition of illegal adoption and to have illegal adoption included in laws against it...doesnt the term "Illegal Adoption" mean just that?? After all, the word illegal is right there in the term itself.
And I tend to agree with the first Anon....after looking over Ethica's pages, it seems they are against adoption in general, in particular, international adoption.

Anonymous said...


Ethica IS lobbying for stricter consequences for trafficking - my including it as part of the definition of trafficking - so there is actually a law being broken. Surely you can agree with that - that when a child is trafficked for adoption it should be just as illegal as when a child is trafficked for the sex trade etc?

Anonymous said...

by not my

Sharon said...

I don't like the wording here, where it says the tactics of all traffickers are the same for all purposes. Having spent time in the developing world, there are plenty of adoption-related scenarios that I can imagine that could be defined as trafficking, but differ substantially from,say, certain sex trafficking scenarios.

Let's say a woman brings a child to an orphanage for relinquishment, and they give her a bag a rice. Is that trafficking? Is it the same kind of trafficking as going into a slum looking for young girls and offering a father cash for his daughter and then re-selling the child to a brothel? Both scenarios I've described are horrible, but different people may interpret them differently. I've also been present in an orphanage in India when a poor woman came to the door to relinquish her child. She was turned away due to a legal ban on relinquishments. I've often wondered, what happened to the mother and baby? Did she dodge a bullet when she was turned away, that allowed her to actually raise her child? Or was she desperate enough to leave the baby in a dumpster later that day? Did she later sell the baby to someone, hoping that at least her child would get fed? No one supports trafficking, but I don't think this bill is going to do anything to combat it in adoption. The problems are more nuanced than that. working to eradicate the poverty that drives all kinds of trafficking is a better approach.