Adoption and trafficking: What is your definition?

The Trafficking Protocol defines human trafficking as:

[…] the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs; the removal of children from rightful parents through coercive tactics, lying, stealing, manipulation and/or modifying and falsifying paperwork/documents/birth certificates for adoption purposes.

How do you see/define trafficking as regards adoption, both personally and in the big picture?

7 thoughts on “Adoption and trafficking: What is your definition?

  1. A quick answer to start things rolling….there was a speech given at the last Adoption Initiative Conference by the head of the Office of Children’s Issues in the U.S. Department of State. To paraphrase her, she basically stated that the U.S. government did not consider adoption to be trafficking because it has “a happy ending”. Luckily for me, and perhaps for her, I did not attend her keynote. But the definition certainly seems to be defined by, well, the definers.

    Recently on Twitter I’m noticing dozens of organizations whose aim is an end to “trafficking”. Like much in the way of NGO-ization of U.S. State policy, there is an ignorance of the major centers of trafficking—industrialized centers of Capital—to focus on places of origin. To me this is quite backwards, but there is a reason for it.

    Locally in Lebanon, everyone knows we were all trafficked. The street implicitly knows what the local centers of power did and continue to do, profit from the trade of children. I’ve just started with a new organization here, formed mostly of adoptees, but trying to bridge out into other kinds of traffickings and displacements. We are focusing on the argument that a child has a right to know origins. Because otherwise we are challenging a power based on their definition of the term, and this longterm will not work.

  2. “To paraphrase her, she basically stated that the U.S. government did not consider adoption to be trafficking because it has “a happy ending”.”

    When it comes to ANIMAL trafficking, we all know it is the process that is important, not the outcome. If a trafficked animal’s final destination was to live in luxurious surroundings, it would make not different at all – a trafficked animial is a trafficked animal. The ends does not justify the means.

    • Sharing this on my blog Lara/Trace- human trafficking is adoption yet cleverly disguised as “doing good.” Exploiting women to take their children is trafficking, definitely. (It strikes me how poor mothers are so easily convinced.)

  3. Pingback: adoption trafficking | lara (author-blogger)

  4. “the removal of children from rightful parents through coercive tactics, lying, stealing, manipulation and/or modifying and falsifying paperwork/documents/birth certificates for adoption purposes.” This whole section applies directly to many, if not most, international adoptions. I know, or highly suspect, that the adoption records I have of my own adoption were fabricated. The orphanage “had” to provide identifying information for me in order for me to be eligible to obtain an Indian passport and be adopted. You can’t adopt someone who doesn’t exist.

    Given this definition of trafficking I would consider myself to have been trafficked (not a label a welcome). I think the definition does an ok job of telling people what trafficking is so that they know if they are committing it or not. The problem, and I suppose this isn’t the job of the definition, is that it is very difficult to know what circumstances the adoption took place in. Meaning it is hard, when information is scarce, to know if someone was trafficked or willingly given up (we can also argue what constitutes “willingly”). I merely bring this up because I believe the reason, or motive, of creating such a definition is to prevent such trafficking from occurring. I am not sure the definition addresses the difficulty of deciding who is at fault for committing trafficking. I certainly don’t think that my parents are guilty of trafficking and I do not blame them if I was taken unwillingly from my first family. So, if I don’t blame them who do I blame? The orphanage? The US and Indian governments for allowing such transactions to occur? The adoption agency for participating, and ultimately perpetuating, human trafficking?

    This has certainly got me going and thinking, but I am still unsure how the definition could/should be altered to more effectively condem those who perpetuate such trafficking. Thanks! Great question, I’ll definitely reblog this!

  5. Like you, Kumar, I have been loathe to admit to myself the facts of the likely coercion and trafficking that lie behind my own story, but there is no other way to look at it and I prefer this truth than consider any other myth used to camouflage what really happened. Especially when that myth is even worse, namely, in my case, the police report that implies I was abandoned (to die) which culturally doesn’t jibe.

    It’s interesting to me that the mediation of trafficking has grown by leaps and bounds ever since the adoption reform/anti-adoption movements have started gaining ear and force. CNN is probably the worst here, with its ridiculous disempowering mediation of trafficking and slavery, from the nation that traffics and enslaves most on this planet. I’m noticing, however, on Twitter especially, a huge rise in anti-trafficking advocates, NGOs, organizations, church groups, etc.

    When we realize that trafficking is centered within the economic and political powers of the world, and that the countries most guilty of trafficking are the highest on the economic totem pole, then there is something extremely suspect in the finger-pointing at the “Third World”. Jean Bricmont calls this Humanitarian Imperialism, this “call to action” against such “criminals”.

    40 years ago I spent every morning eating breakfast cereal staring into the faces of “missing children” ignominiously plastered onto the backs of milk cartons. Now, finally, we are concerned about this? I wasn’t sure whether to put this in this item or the Adoption Mafia item. It seems as if the Powers That Be prefer to put their competition out of business by pretending to be concerned about the very crimes they themselves are committing.

  6. Pingback: adoption trafficking | lara

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