Tag Archives: sex trade

Looking for a Big Picture

When I first asked my ethical question last week, it was with a very specific reason in mind. Before I move on from discussing  human trafficking, I want to do full justice to that topic (as well as touch on a couple of things brought up in the comments on these posts).

As a review, my initial question was:

If you were offered the chance to buy a child, knowing that if you did not, they would be sold to slave owners as laborers or sex slaves, would you do it?

Some of you said no. Some of you said yes. Those who said yes frequently said that you would view it as an adoption. This, interestingly, touches on the root of what I wanted to discuss.

The first time that I heard adoption linked in any way to human trafficking, I was incredulous. I suppose that what my family always accused me of growing up may have some truth–I can be naive. It is hard for me to look at an institution created to make families and see anything other than the positive. And, I believe, the institution of adoption is overwhelmingly positive. That doesn’t change the fact that corruption can, and does, exist.

Before choosing domestic adoption as my initial route to motherhood, I did a lot of research. That research included looking into the programs of just about every country that was doing international adoptions six years ago. Certainly, I knew that there were problems at the time. There were a lot of questions about the practices in Guatemala and Cambodia. The expectation of bribes in former Soviet countries was discussed openly (I remember reading that you should go with cash and vodka).

The information was there but, somehow, I really missed the significance of it.

As I said last week, there is a definite correlation between some of the worst countries for human trafficking and countries that have been investigated or closed to international adoption over concerns of baby buying. My initial disbelief of the idea that babies are bought, then placed for adoption, is gone. I accept that it happens (although, again, this is not a majority-of-the-time issue–I truly believe that most adoptions are done ethically).

I just don’t know the right solution for the problem.

Here’s the thing: If someone is desperate enough to sell a child, they are going to sell a child. Unethical adoption agencies are not, by far, the only option for doing so. While the method is wrong, the adoption itself may just end up saving a child from a much worse fate. However, as some of my commenters pointed out, human trafficking is a supply and demand industry. No one would be buying these children (for adoption, sex slavery, forced labor…) if the market didn’t exist.

So, which is worse? Certainly, children should not be bought and sold. Buying a child, even for a “good” reason, is wrong. Let me make it clear that adoptive parents do not go to other countries and buy babies–adoption would cost a heck of a lot less if that were the case (Average cost of a person being trafficked? Ninety dollars. That’s it.). In fact, potential adoptive parents can take every precaution possible against unethical adoptions and still end up in the middle of one without knowing it. The countries where these things occur are notorious for misinformation and scant or changed documentation. The parents are generally acting ethically, while the governments and orphanages/agencies are doing shady things.

Shutting down a country for adoption, however, does nothing to benefit the children caught in this crisis. I found it interesting that, from the comments I received on my other posts, the perception seems to be that people being trafficked are sold by “others.” I believe people kept referring to them as “the traffickers.” The thing is, while there obviously are the middle men that deliver slaves to their destinations, the initial traffickers, very frequently, are family. Parents. Siblings. Aunts and Uncles. In some societies, it is not uncommon for a family to find a wealthy “benefactor” for their daughter when she is still very young. This benefactor will give the family monthly stipends until the child comes of age, at which point she will go “visit” for a couple of weeks. Even in countries that are notorious for sex tourism, little impact would be felt if outsiders stopped paying for their unique brand of services. The cancer, largely, comes from within.

So, what can be done?

I wish I had answers. In the realm of adoption, certainly, accountability is important. Unethical agencies are sometimes more obvious than you would think (and, sometimes, not). Sometimes, however, people choose not to see the signs or question the actions. Obviously, the answer is for everyone to always act with integrity–but that can seem a tough road to travel. Choosing to wait longer for a referral from an ethical agency is hard. Worrying that something will happen to your paperwork that might prevent you from bringing your child home if you don’t pay a bribe is terrifying. But, if the problem is going to stop in the adoption world, it is necessary.

And in the rest of the world? Well, that’s a tougher question. The fact is, deeply held social mores have to change. Bone crushing poverty has to be alleviated. Things like prostitution need to be seen as a much greater evil than is currently the case. Organizations that help keep former slaves free need to be funded. Beyond that–I don’t know. People who do know more have made proposals for ending slavery. I plan on reading Ending Slavery by Kevin Bales to see what his suggestions, after many years of researching this issue, are.

I understand that this is an issue that is so large that it seems overwhelming. If you are capable of nothing else (and so inclined), pray for these people. Sometimes, the biggest changes are started by the smallest acts of faith.



Filed under adoption, Books, Faith, modern slavery, politics

Heck with the Polar Bears–Save the People

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
– Edmund Burke

I have been amazed, over the past couple of days, by how little response I have gotten to my ethical question and follow-up information. Or, at least, how little response by way of comments. My blog stats have been up, so I know that people are reading. But the silence has been somewhat deafening.

As I was feeding my children lunch today, a commercial came on wherein Noah Wiley entreated me to donate to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF–even if the wrestlers don’t use it anymore, I couldn’t imagine making that my organization’s initials) to save the polar bears (who, presumably, dress up in lycra and body slam each other).

Now, I don’t have anything against polar bears. I’m sure they are lovely. And, since I live well into middle America, I’m not concerned about them trying to eat me (and now I have a recent SNL skit stuck in my head). In short, lack of polar bear extinction is a good thing–even if the risk of polar bear extinction anytime soon may be questionable.

But you know what isn’t questionable? Human trafficking. And when is the last time you saw an add to donate money for that cause?

I’m going with “never.”

I noticed today that I got a referral to my blog from Alltop’s slavery section for my reminder about the ethical question. My reaction to that can be summed up in one word.


Really, are so few people discussing this that a reminder to give an opinion on the topic is enough to make a post part of the “top of the web”?

Wow. (I’m betting this post won’t be enough to get me on some Alltop page for saving the polar bears.)

To some extent, this astonishes me. There are currently more people enslaved on this planet than at any other time in history. Every country has laws against slavery, but so many do not enforce them. It is seen as the price of business.

We tend to look at the problem and think, “Wow, that’s sad, but it is happening in other countries. I can’t change what happens there.” Only it doesn’t just happen there. It is estimated that about 50,000 slaves cross our borders every year. Some are sex slaves. Some are laborers (I must admit suspicion over the numerous Chinese buffets in our area–so many Chinese women that you never see anywhere other than inside the restaurants). But they are here. In the open. And they continue to serve unwillingly because we don’t want to think about the fact that this happens under our noses.

And I think that has something to do with the lack of response that I’ve seen. Even when I have talked to people in real life about what I’m learning, I’m frequently met with ambivalence. Most of the people I’ve talked to have said something along the lines of, “That’s fine if you want to read about that, but don’t give me details. I don’t want to think about it.”

Here’s the thing. I’m going to challenge you to think about it. While doing some research on the web, I saw something that said October 18th was something like International Day to Fight Human Trafficking. I can’t find it now, so I’m not sure if that was exactly what it was called, but that’s what we’re going to call it here until I can find the real name (I’ve been looking all over–I swear I didn’t make it up, though). So, this Saturday, I want you do do something to educate yourself about modern slavery, or even do something to help fight it.

Buy a book. Read a website. If you live in a big city (Like Washington DC, Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver…) go see a movie. Buy yourself a new piece of jewelry.

Do it. Blog about it. Give a voice to 27 million people who aren’t being heard.


Filed under modern slavery, politics, The Me Behind the Mommy

Another Perspective on The Question

OK, OK, I get it. I’m not going to get some of you to answer my question.


While I’m still going to keep my opinions close to my vest, I am going to give you a little more information to mull over.

This is me, dipping my toe into very murky waters.

The reason I asked my ethical question is directly related to the countries that are considered some of the worst in the arena of human trafficking.

India. Moldova. Cambodia. Vietnam.

They are all countries that, now or in the past, have had international adoption* agreements with the USA. They also all, now or in the past, have been seriously investigated for, or shut down, based on suspicions of human trafficking affecting those adoptions. (OK, admittedly, I’m not positive that that was why Moldova was shut down but, considering the State Departments warning on their website to not do anything that might be interpreted as baby buying during the adoption process, I’m going to go out on a limb…)

Does this change your initial response to my ethical question? Why or why not? How?


*Please, do not get the wrong impression. I believe in international adoption. I do not support unethical adoptions (although I acknowledge that they happen). I’m asking this because I’m seeing dots that connect, and I’m trying to find the big picture.


Filed under adoption, politics, The Me Behind the Mommy

Reminder: Ethical Question

OK, I know you all are reading it. But only a few of you have answered my question. I am, of course, curious as to why. Do you not care? Are you afraid of being trapped by your stance? Do you suspect that you know where I’m going and don’t want to go there?

This isn’t the senate, folks. No voting “present.”

Seriously, read my question. Tell me what you think. I do have a reason that I’m asking, but there is so much more to it. Really, this is an important topic. There are currently about 27 million people enslaved throughout our world, and half or more are children.

This is a topic that isn’t discussed enough. It needs to be.

1 Comment

Filed under politics, The Me Behind the Mommy

Ethical Question

This weekend, I started reading the book, Not For Sale, by David Batstone. It is a frank look at modern day slavery. Obviously, it is a tough read (emotionally). Since I started it Saturday morning, I can’t stop thinking about the millions of people who are bought and sold in our world.

So, I’ve got a question.

I want everyone to tell me what they think and why. Discuss amongst yourselves all you want, but I’m not going to give my opinion for a day or two. I just want to see what everyone out there thinks. I suspect that some of you will have strong opinions on the matter.

My question: If you were offered the chance to buy a child, knowing that if you did not, they would be sold to slave owners as laborers or sex slaves, would you do it? Would you be justified by the fact that you would be saving them from a horrible fate, or would you be condemned by the fact that you had purchased a human, no matter what the reason?

Ready. Set. Go.


Filed under Books, politics, The Me Behind the Mommy