(This article is part of an ongoing series showing adult obsession in waging “War Against Children” by Fr. Jerry Novotny, OMI.)
As you know, there is a very real war going on in the world right now. It’s a war against the life of a child. In this segment, I will talk about “Child Laundering” The Bible tells us that each and every human being is made in the image of God, and the enemy would like nothing better than to attack that image by destroying each and every person he can, beginning with the preborn. It’s up to us to fight on behalf of these innocent children. It’s not easy, but God is on our side.
The legal definition of “Child Laundering” refers to an act of stealing and selling a child to adopting parents under false pretenses. This illegal act is usually conducted by an adoption agency or adoption facilitator against the child’s will or the child’s parents will. For carrying out this illegal act, the perpetrator may hide or falsify the child’s details by manipulating the child’s origin to make the child a legitimate orphan. Accordingly, the perpetrator may also, may manipulate birth certificates, intake records, or records regarding the death of a child’s parents who might still be alive. (USLEGAL.COM)
In short, a child is illegally taken from his/her birth parents. Then, through false paperwork, the child is “laundered” into a legal “orphan” and then sold on a commercialized and corrupt market. This market is supported by the demands of the middle and upper classes in rich countries. The criminals of CHILD buying, CHILD stealing or CHILD kidnaping generally focus on the vulnerable and poor who can barely earn enough money to feed themselves.
“Child Laundering” adoptions are illegal for two reasons. First, these adoptions result from illegal crimes involving abduction and sale of children. Secondly, these illegal adoptions violate multiple child rights and principles, which summarize the best interests of the child. These interests are broken when the purpose of an adoption is to find a child for adoptive parents rather than a family for the child. Ranging from the middle class up, David Smolin tells us, that these “baby broker” families subsequently forge a new identity for the laundered child, “validating” the child’s legal status as an orphan and ensuring the scheme will not be uncovered. (See David M. Smolin below)
It is easy to define “Child Laundering” adoptionsbut difficult to find any factual data since it is an illegal activity. There are individual stories from those who were adopted and the hardships they encountered, including those of their adopted parents. A recent article published by NHK World-Japan entitled, “Origin story: the truth behind an international adoption” by Tsuji Kohei, states in part: “I always thought my parents abandoned me,” says Meilan Stuy, who was born in China’s Henan Province but raised by adoptive parents half a world away in the US state of Utah. She says her US parents showered her with love, but the older she got, the more she wanted to know where she really came from. As the story of her background emerged, so too did the cruel circumstances that led many Chinese couples to give up their children. When inquiring about her biological parents, her adopted parents could not reply. All they knew was what the orphanage had told them: that the she had been abandoned.
Searching google, evidence of illicit intercountry adoptions (ICA) and similar stories of vulnerable children can be found in Guatemala, Cambodia, China, India, El Salvador, Nepal, and African countries. This is only the beginning of a long list of countries.
The following Cambodian case study, taken from Wikipedia, exemplifies the problems associated with intercountry adoptions.
Cambodia – From 1999-2011 there have been:
*2,355 adoptions of Cambodian children
*1,369 females and 986 males
*1,370 of these adoptions have been children under 1 year of age
*677 children 1-2 years of age
*308 children aged 3-18 years of age
While most instances of intercountry adoption take two or more years to process, Cambodia has made a policy of expediting this process, often in as few as three months. Human rights activists consider Cambodia to be one of the countries with the most corruption involved in intercountry adoption. LICADHO, a Cambodian human rights group, has expressed that recruiters target poor families and women in their efforts to gain access to young children. Tactics such as the outright purchase of babies for as little as US$20 or deception of birthparents into relinquishing physical custody are systematically employed. One particular case that gained media attention focused on a child laundering scheme run by an American woman named Lauryn Galindo. Galindo was prosecuted in the United States and convicted of “material misrepresentations as to the orphan status and identities” of infant adoptees over the period of 1997 through 2001.
In her paper “International Adoption: How to Prevent Child Laundering”, Diana Furtado Guerra presents an interesting idea on page 43 which is supported by both the 1993 Hague Convention and David M. Smolin. She suggests “Financial help to birth parents”.
Quote: This action is based on a priority idea which is the principle of keeping families together, thus ensuring the child’s best interest, a principle also contemplated in the 1993 Hague Convention as being one of its purposes. It consists of giving financial aid to impoverished birth families in order to keep the child with the birth family. There is an understandable similarity between aid and inducement of consent, since their distinction is so dubious and article 4 (c) (3) of the 1993 Hague Convention prohibits situations of international adoption due to financial inducement of consent in the child’s relinquishment. As we have discussed above, those cases can easily exist in situations of extreme poverty and despair, where people feel compelled to relinquish their child. Therefore, giving aid to birth families in such vulnerable situations to keep their children would be a safeguard to promote the children’s rights and best interests. This aid should, in addition, be unconditional and prior to placing a child for adoption, in other words, regardless of the relinquishment or consent of the birth parents hence this would reduce these families’ exposure to exploitation, thus would make of it an altruistic act, empowering these families at risk.
As a final word, I would like to add that “Child Laundering” is a dirty business, a dirty war against children. It is motivated by evil men solely for the purpose of making money by exploiting the poorest and the weakest. To counteract this, we need to be strong and provide a loving environment for our children. We need to be actively involved in society. Children are the most precious treasure that we have. They guarantee our future.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela
“Child Laundering: How the Interountry Adoption System Legitimizes and Incentivizes the Practices of Buying, Trafficking, Kidnaping, and Stealing Children”by David M. Smolin
Intercountry Adoption as Child Trafficking by David M. Smolin
Child Laundering and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption: The Future and Past of Intercountry Adoption by David M. Smolin
Fraud and Corruption in International adoptions by Schuster Institute