Consternations of Trafficking in the Adoption World; The Elephant in the Room

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Adoptees have sent clear messages that warrant those of us who are anti-trafficking advocates to sit up and pay attention.

Discussing trafficking is a distant thought—a subject for another industry. In the foster system, 60 percent of child sex trafficking victims have been in foster care. Neurodivergent children, disabilities, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, rape, exploitation, sex trafficking, incest, and domestic servitude, are some reported incidences involving foster care. You can select this link and listen to the information about runaways. This same link has a report to Congress: The Child Welfare Response to Sex Trafficking of Children.

Every school district, public and private schools, could use continual training on trauma-informed care, not just for gun violence and deadly school shootings but also for the reasons described throughout this essay. What are school systems doing to address these areas directly involving adoptees and foster children?

What about adoption agencies turning a blind eye when red flags are noted, potentially engaging in what may be perceived as child trafficking or adoptions rushed to meet adoptive parents’ requests?

Organizations become complacent when these values are overdriven and misguided by competitive practices. Opportunities are missed when assuming that addressing the un-populace would mean a loss of funding.

Years ago, I sat and spoke with one of the EDs in a nonprofit organization who lost sight of why they did their work. It all filtered back into the fear of losing funding. This fear is real, but at what point do we step away to serve as leaders setting examples for others to follow?

Complacency is one of those descriptive words that pull forth comfort, satisfaction, and feelings of familiarity – trusting the good, the bad, and the ugly because it is predictable. However, it is also a state of mind that disconnects from the rest of the world. Complacency takes care of the “ego” and “self” and is familiar with the “issues” but ignores what falls outside of this perimeter, dismissing what others face because of harboring a false sense of security that settles into permanence, ignoring the social issues fought and overcame. It also means that complacent people could potentially miss the danger that harms them and others. Read more about the definition of complacency.

Complacency discards any nuance that might get in the way of feeling comfortable, satisfied, and safe. The minute classism infiltrates these boundaries, marginalized communities face obstacles that the privileged do not. Complacent communities may have fought for rights but disregarded equality because they reconstructed their narratives and are tired. They are tired of the so-called allies who were nothing but pomp and circumstance, capitalizing on their rights to seek a right to passage, rights to healthcare, housing, adoption, education, workforce, and a place to belong. Unfortunately, their tiredness stops short of helping others attain equal rights. Not all alleys are pomp and circumstance. Many have helped us get where we are today. However, in the adoption industry, might there be a concern for pomp and circumstance? Who benefits from transactions between buyer and seller? Have some adoptees been fortunate and ended up with wonderful adoptive parents? Of course. There are those stories as well. However, why are adoptions ranging in costs from $70,000 to $150,000?

Embracing diversity and addressing transracial issues, including disability, sexual violence, incest, and trauma, are necessary discussions since infants grow up, form identities, and eventually attend school. How are adoptees and foster children treated in school systems? Several adoptees will attest that they came from trauma. Some experienced trauma due to separation at birth or negative statements about the birth parent, rejection, secrecy, alcoholism, and drug use in the family.

Stories about kidnapping and transnational adoption involve parents coerced into giving up their infant and finding out later in life that their child was rehomed. They never were contacted to be given the option to reunite with their birth child.

United Nations’ definition of human trafficking balances the following words: Prevent, Suppress, and Punish, Trafficking in Persons. Adoptions without the biological parent’s consent have been a global problem. Also, a problem in the US. Human Trafficking Adoption Scheme

Another area of adoption practice that needs ethical reconsideration is placing a child with adoptive parents prior to all birth parents’ full consent. Here is an article whose authors, Daniel Pollack and Steven M. Baranowski, discuss this issue. Ethical Challenges Remain in the World of Private Adoptions

Rehoming is a buzzword for trafficking. Stories of adopted parents using social media to advertise rehoming a child using grooming language, such as describing the child as “Willing to wash dishes,” “Enjoys housework,” and “Loves to garden,” need to be investigated. How do we get the attention of Homeland Security or Internet Crimes Against Children to recognize that these types of advertisements place a child at risk? One advertisement read the State pays $2,000 a day.

Unfortunately, no one wants to address the elephant in the room because of the political issues. Such as the organization risking the loss of votes, rights, funding, or reputation when taking a position. What about companies taking a stand against human rights violations? Ten brand campaigns that took a stand on social issues

Is there any reason why adoption agencies should not take an oath against human trafficking?

Other organizations Globally and in the US receive score cards.

Is it time to regulate private adoption agencies and stipulate the need to score agencies for performance and committing to take a stand against human trafficking?

An estimated 24.9 million people worldwide are victims of forced labor, generating $150 billion in illegal profits in the private economy.

So, how do we talk about the elephant in the room?

State why you are exposing the elephant in favorable terms. “I am concerned …” statement. When the ostrich sticks its head in the sand, it does not see any more than we would if we ignored these uncomfortable discussions. The conversation is predictable when people turn a blind eye or when the elephant stays hidden. Predictable because the message is “Turn off this conversation!” Instead, try forming committees of interest whose members can work together to address changes and challenges. Invite people with experience in these subjects, and even more importantly, either serve as experts or have lived experiences.

Lift the veil and put complacency into action. Take the leap of faith. Embrace differences no one else wants to address.

©An Goldbauer