Illegal Adoption

Should you mention the word "money" in the same sentence as "adoption," you're bound to receive a wide variety of responses. In the United States, the practice of private adoption is often attacked. The focus of this criticism tends to be related to the amount of cash that changes hands and the purpose for which this money will then be used.

But international adoptions are not immune from criticism, either. The wide range of prices offered by various agencies for exactly the same services raises eyebrows no matter where you're from. Then there's also the problem of accountability: adoptive parents don't always know the identity of those who take payment in an international adoption, nor do they know for sure that the money they pay out isn't in direct exchange for the child.

Criminal Acts

To be clear, baby-selling and baby-buying are criminal acts. These practices are illegal in the U.S. and in other western nations, and are also illegal in third world countries, too. But sometimes it's hard to distinguish between adoptions and baby-buying/selling. Compounding the problem is that baby-selling dealers are so common in some places so that their actions seem to be a matter of "business as usual," even though they are patently illegal.

Let's take a look at some common scenarios that help illustrate how little clarity there is on the topic of baby-selling and buying:

*A poverty-stricken family from a poor region of a very poor nation can't feed their many children. A baby girl is born to this family and they are so desperate they think about killing her. Instead, someone offers them what seems like an enormous sum of $50 for the baby. Money is exchanged for the baby who is placed for adoption to the tune of $15,000.



Should this be considered baby-selling, baby-buying, or baby-saving? 

If this is indeed baby-buying and selling, is the agency in the U.S. to be considered a conspirator in an illegal act?

Should the adoptive parents be condemned for illegal acts or praised for saving a life?

*A large adoption agency has various programs available for prospective parents wishing to adopt an infant. But the costs of the programs show wide variation and the disparity is based on the infant's ethnic and racial background. Children of "undesirable" ethnicities or races go for a lower rate.

Market Value?


Is setting prices on children according to a perceived market value a form of baby-selling or should this be considered a logical business practice?

*Prospective adoptive parents working with a private attorney agree to pay fees totaling $30,000 but the papers have not yet been signed. Meantime, the attorney is offered $40,000 by a different client who has learned of the deal that is pending with the other prospective parents. The attorney accepts the new bid (for the same child).

Reasonable Transaction?


Is the attorney guilty of baby-selling?

Is the new, second client engaging in baby-buying?

Is this a reasonable business transaction?

Perhaps the only issue that is clear-cut in all of these scenarios is that the subject of baby-selling and buying is and will continue to be controversial.