Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Help Stop Child Trafficking for Adoption

Reprinted from

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be marking up the Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011, a lifesaving measure that establishes human trafficking as a crime in the

U.S.  Ethica supports this measure, but we also think it could be strengthened with a tiny, one-line amendment that includes trafficking for the purposes of adoption in its language.
It seems crazy, but trafficking for the purposes of adoption – procuring a child through force, fraud, or coercion, and then finding her a new home overseas – is not seen as trafficking in the eyes of U.S. law.
Although the tactics traffickers use are identical whether the child is destined for the sex trade or a new home overseas, current law sees them as very different.  Under current U.S. law, the ends justify the means.

Under current U.S. law, child traffickers like Lauryn Galindo, who brought almost 800 children into the U.S. from Cambodia on falsified paperwork, using such tactics as paying for the children with a bag of rice and telling their biological and adoptive parents lies about the children’s futures and histories, only go to jail for 18 months on charges of money laundering and visa fraud.  Money laundering and visa fraud were certainly committed, but children lost their entire identities, too.

This type of horrific malfeasance has no place in the U.S.  It is not an ethical adoption if the child was not intended to be adopted; it is not ethical adoption if the child or his or her parents were the victims of force, fraud, or coercion.  This type of fraud is the type of fraud that shuts down entire country programs, as it has in Guatemala, Nepal, Vietnam, and Cambodia.  This type of fraud must end.

Ethica believes this amendment can only strengthen intercountry adoption by giving federal authorities actual tools to prosecute offenders.  Please join Ethica today in calling on Senate offices to include this small but urgent amendment in the language of the TVPRA of 2011.  It is a tiny amendment meant to adjust the definition of trafficking, and it costs taxpayers no additional money.  The language we are proposing is also very limited in scope; it would be very difficult for the language to be interpreted to mean anything other than outright criminal trafficking activity related to adoptions.  Although we would be the first to say that this amendment is not a panacea for all that plagues intercountry adoption, it is a solid first step in the process to reforming the international adoption process.

Thank you for your continued commitment to ethical, transparent adoptions.

With gratitude,
Ethica Board of Directors

Senator Klobuchar’s office
302 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3244
Fax: (202) 228-2186

Senator Leahy’s office
Washington D.C. Office
437 Russell Senate Bldg
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4242
Fax: (202) 224-3479

Senator Grassley’s office
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3744
Fax: (202) 224-6020

Senate Judiciary Committee
Majority side:  (202) 224-7703
Minority side:  (202) 224-5225


For Klobuchar:
1)  Thanking her office for their commitment to children’s issues and adoption in general.  Emphasize that she is committed to adoption and we appreciate that.

For Leahy:
1b)  Thanking his office for their commitment to anti-trafficking efforts and the safety of women and children around the world.

For all:
2)  Emphasize that this is a tiny, tiny, three-sentence amendment that is really important, but very very tiny.
3)  Emphasize that you know it is very last-minute, but this is a critical amendment and we would really appreciate the time they take to consider offering it.
4)  Emphasize that you support Ethica’s amendment to the TVPRA to include trafficking for adoption in the definition of human trafficking.  Here are some reasons why:
a)  There is no law against trafficking for adoption currently, so perpetrators cannot be prosecuted for these crimes.  Instead, they are prosecuted for things like money laundering, which diminishes the gravity of what they’ve done.
b)  Trafficking for adoption is virtually indistinguishable from human trafficking as TVPA currently conceives it WHEN IT HAPPENS.  In both instances, children are abducted, or their parents are told that they will be getting an education and returning, offered money, assaulted if they try to object to the child’s removal from the home, or forced to sign a piece of paper that they can’t read.  In both instances, power is wielded over someone who is less powerful to attain a valuable commodity:  a child.
c)  This is not an adoption issue, it is a trafficking one.  It is not a legitimate adoption if the child was not meant to be adopted.
d)  (If applicable) – As a parent, can you imagine turning around and seeing your child whisked away into a car, never to be seen again?  What if you found out that there was no law in place to punish someone who did this?  Forcibly removing a child from her home, whether first or adopted, is a trauma.
e)  This type of adoption fraud shuts down country after country:  in recent years, it has shut down Vietnam, Guatemala, Cambodia, and Nepal.  It is threatening to close Ethiopia.  This type of fraud MUST STOP.
f)  This amendment will be a first step in securing the integrity of adoptions.
g)  This amendment will be the first step to ensuring that adoptions will remain an option for the children who truly need it.

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