Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beware Orphanage Scams

At E.J. Graff's Prospect blog, a warning to those who want to donate to orphanage and to biological families who think they are dealing with reputable orphanages:
Beware of overseas orphanages seeking donations. If you're not careful, you may become the victim of an orphanage scam—in which a savvy entrepreneur in a poor country hustles up some children so that he or she can ask developed-world humanitarians for money for the children's support. In some of the notorious cases, the orphanage director pockets the money while the children are left to starve or sold for sex. Few people know that they may be underwriting kidnapping or other modes of defrauding local families out of their children. In other cases, the traffickers put the children—who are neither abandoned nor orphaned—up for international adoption, which can bring in astonishing fees.

One version of the orphanage scam has just been uncovered in India by the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation. Several years ago, a now-infamous child-trafficker traveled through Nepal's Humla province, asking families to pay him to take their children to boarding schools in Kathmandu. Instead, according to information I received from Joseph Aguettant of the child welfare NGO Terre des Hommes, many of the boys were sold into international adoption, while many girls were sold into the sex trade in India. (You can see Joseph Aguettant's documentary of the Nepal adoption issues, "Paper Orphans," on You Tube here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4).

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