Black markets, abandoned children: the devastating impact of prohibiting private adoption

Up until prohibition, Guatemala, China, and Russia were the last three remaining countries with a well-developed legal market in international adoptions. All other nations that had once allowed children to be sent to new families abroad had already succumbed to UNICEF pressure to put an end to the practice.

But UNICEF had in effect restricted supply without doing anything about demand. Its campaign caused a worldwide shortage of babies for inter-country adoption and made it an expensive business in Guatemala, where at least 3,000 infants a year were adopted. On average, fees and expenses alone came to $25,000.

I had seen Guatemala’s booming adoption scene firsthand on earlier visits. I had been struck by the large numbers of American women and couples at western hotels with Guatemalan toddlers and a local nanny. The adoption paperwork took a year – evidence that the process was both regulated and exhaustive. In the meantime a local nanny looked after the baby and the prospective parents had to make regular weeklong visits to prove their seriousness and bond with the child.

There was a darker side too, with unscrupulous baby traffickers profiting from the dearth of infants. But the result of outright prohibition was predictable and downright disastrous. The cost of adopting soared to a black-market price of $60,000…

Read the full article in The Freeman.