Writer-Counselor-Wellbeing Coach

Tag: human trafficking

Human trafficking dressed up as beautiful adoption

The 14yr old's perspective

Imagine being 13yrs old living on the street because you ran away from an abusive home, used for sex by men who see you as an object to do with whatever they please while money changes hands and you barely get to eat. But the man who takes that money puts a roof over your head most nights and looks out for you to make sure you are at least relatively safe... within reason of course.  A few bruises here and there are part of the fun for some of the men, but it isn't good for business if they are allowed to go too far.

At barely 14, and 6 months pregnant you are arrested for soliciting on the street.  You are given an option to go to a maternity home where, you are told, you will be cared for until you have your baby.   You arrive and are welcomed with fresh clothes, a comfortable bed, people who tell you how wonderful you are.   You experience hope for the first time in a long time.  Maybe your life can actually be different.  Maybe you can even keep your baby with the help of all these people who seem so kind and caring.  Maybe it won't be all that bad to have your baby live with that nice couple who gushed all over you.  After all they promised you could visit as often as you want.  You'll still kind of be the baby's mother and you'll have a reason to pull your life together.. to make your new little daughter proud of you, and then maybe you'll even be able to get her back one day, or maybe even move in with them.   The couple seem so kind, perhaps they would be happy to help you both.

You have a long, scary and painful labour, finally giving birth to an actual baby.   An actual baby girl.  You hold her, marvelling at everything about her.  She has the biggest eyes, you see yourself in those eyes.  She cries and you want to nurse her but the social worker who sits beside you says it isn't a good idea.  It will make it harder to let her go.   You feel panic.  Let her go?  Of course, you have to let her go.  You ask, hesitantly... do I really have to? 

Your social worker reminds you that the baby's parents are right next door waiting for her.  You agreed.  You can't let them down. Where would you live with your baby?   Doesn't she deserve better than to be back on the street?  How would  you take care of her?  She tells you how brave you are.  What a good thing you are doing.  What a wonderful life your little girl will have.    You'll be able to see her remember.  She'll only be a few hours away by bus.   You'll have photos, you'll know how loved she is.

You don't want to let her go, not for a second.  You wonder why it is that there isn't someone who wants to help take care of you so you can take care of your baby, but of course the couple only want the baby.  And you did agree.

The social worker is right.  You can't take your baby onto the street with you.  In fact she said you probably wouldn't be allowed to.  The baby would be taken anyway, but this time she would go to foster parents and you know what foster parents can be like.  That's what you ran from.

You stare at the nurses, willing them to help you.  "You are brave.  You are selfless." they tell you.   You are a loving mother.  You sign your child away forever.  

You return to before.  The only way you can ever visit your baby is if you can get enough money to cover the bus fare each way and you want to be able to stay over so you can have a proper visit.  The only way to do that is to go back.   Now you put up with the men because the men are the means to seeing your baby.

You catch the bus and arrive to visit your beautiful baby girl.  It has been 9 weeks.  She has grown so much.  The couple look at you strangely.  You realised you're a bit messed up looking.  You had a shower, but you didn't have shampoo.   Maybe they will offer you to stay there for the night so you can snuggle your little girl.  But they don't.   In fact, they tell you they only have an hour because they are on the way out to a family event.  They tell you how grateful they are.   The baby cries.  You ache to hold her, to comfort her.  But the couple take her from your arms, they say she needs a nap.  You watch her leave the room.  You ask if you can come back the next day.  They look at each other.  They tell you they are busy, that maybe next time they will have more time for a longer visit. 

You know they are lying.

The nurse's perspective:

"I'm a nurse that works in a birthplace.  I've witnessed several adoptions. I've held biological moms as they cry and I tell them how brave and selfless they are.  I've also handed an adoptive parent their newborn and said "Meet your daughter/son". This is by far the most magical moment. There is not a dry eye in the room when this happens. I am a huge proponent of adoption."


"I do believe open adoptions are the best for the child in the long run but that is not always possible of wanted. I see many situations in the birthplace, many types of families and difficult situations.  I've taken care of 14 year olds that are homeless, that have no family support and are sleeping on their pimp's couch.. when he lets her..  and yes we involved social services but I think a child put in that situation if going to have a lot more trauma in their life than being raised by parents that have longed for a child for years.

Adoption is beautiful... that is my opinion."

These last 2 quotes are real.  The story of the 13/14yr old is made up, but has come from true stories.  It may be the real story of one of the 14 year olds mentioned by the nurse.   Or maybe the real stories are even worse.

What I want to know is how this isn't simple child trafficking?   How does a 14yr old who can't even 'choose' whether she gets a couch to sleep on, or whether multiple  men rape her each day, 'choose' to sign a contract relinquishing her newborn baby?

How can any decent human being see anything beautiful in such a tragedy?   Maybe this is an extreme adoption story, but maybe not.  It is clear that most adoptions are not freely chosen, but are the desperate decision of mothers with few resources who are groomed to believe that adoption is braver, more selfless, more loving than parenting.  How can any woman hold a new baby in her arms and feel 'happy' that she has severed that baby from the only person he/she knows and longs for?  How can she ignore the grief and trauma of the woman who carried and birthed this baby? 

The nurse quoted above is from the USA where adoption occurs at a much higher rate than in Australia, is privatised, and couples and agencies advertise looking for 'birth mums' to fill the need of infertile couples.   For those advocating more adoption in Australia, is this what you want?  Because this is where you will end up if we continue to talk about the 'tragedy' of low adoption numbers, or worse still the long waiting lists that prospective adoptive parents must endure.  

There is no entitlement to children.  We can't allow this to take a foothold here.




Advertising babies

Mothers and adult adoptees alike are angry about an adoption system in the USA that they describe as coercive and run on profits.   With a privatised adoption and what appears to be little regulation, the following advertising of babies, by advertising the qualities of their pregnant mothers is not uncommon.

"Tanya is caucasion, 26 years olf, 5f 5in tall, 140lbs. She has brown eyes, brown hair and describes herself as compassionate and energetic."
What follows is her tragic childhood history and the fact that she is 'open to all families' to adopt her baby.
"Karen is a very pretty young lady with a beautiful smile. She is 33 years olf, of Italian/German descent 5ft 2in tall, 189lbs with green eyes and brown hair"  
We then learn that Karen already has one child she is unable to support so she too is open to most adoptive family types.

"Gina is 30 years old, 5ft 2in tall, 120lbs, with hazel eyes and light brown hair."

Perhaps this is a way of getting around posting photos of actual babies, which could look a little more like the selling of human beings, and of course we'd be pretty unhappy about that.

It is hard to tell what is being sold here until you read the entirety of each sales pitch.   It sounds much like back page advertising for prostitution or perhaps surrogacy advertising where couples want to find someone similar in appearance to themselves.    In fact, surrogacy appears to be a lot closer to the way in which these mothers are treated with their babies made 'available' to others before their mothers have even given birth.    

There are many arguing for more adoption in Australia today as though this addresses the social problems of women in any way.  I've argued vehemently against the idea that adoption is a solution to abortion here and here (basic maths tells us this isn't so), but it is also time to consider if the USA path is one we really want to travel.

Children have an absolute right to loving stable, 'for life' families.  They also have an absolute right to the truth of their identity, connection to their family of biological origin, and the right to have their needs prioritised over the needs of adults who believe they have a 'right' to have children.   Until we have agreement on these most basic positions, we are in danger of further drifting from any value for the mother child bond, and toward marketed distribution of children from the needy to the rich, no different from teh exploitation of women in developing countries who are so desperated to feed their families that they are forced to sell their children to wealthy Westerners.  

Someone somewhere has to stop this commodification.   Women and children are not worth more when they are for sale.  They become worth less

Adoption coercion

I've found myself having a few conversations about my position on adoption lately, specifically in relation to my stance that adoption should not be proposed to abortion seeking women as a solution to their current 'problem'.   

When we do this, we are telling a woman that we also don't believe in her capacity to parent, which further reinforces whatever feelings she is struggling with.    We are in effect saying, 'hey, of course you can't have a baby, but don't have an abortion, it would be better to give your baby to strangers to raise'.    

What we need to be saying is, 'how can I best help you to manage the circumstances you are in today?'    'How can I best help you to mother your child when he/she is born?'   'You'll be okay, we will help you'.

These are very different words to those that would propose adoption as some kind of solution.

Adoption promotion can also be incredibly coercive, even when wrapped in otherwise empowering language.   Take this example from a US pregnancy support agency

"However, adoption is not “giving up”; it’s not “giving away”. Adoption is making a parenting plan for your child by choosing another family to raise him or her. It is a brave choice. It is a courageous choice. It is a selfless choice. It is a choice that will not only change your life, but the life of your child and the life of the family that you choose to raise your child. Adoption can be a fresh start for everyone. Women who choose adoption give their babies a hopeful future in a loving home, while creating a hopeful future for themselves."

Not only do they use words that suggest a woman is a better mother by 'making a parenting plan' then by parenting, but they emphasise them.  


They are telling a woman her baby is without hope with her, that she is without hope raising him or her.  They perpetuate the long-told lie that adoption is a 'fresh start', something that women move on from with barely a backward glance.   In the era of forced adoptions in Australia and elsewhere, this was the expectation of mothers, to move on, to forget about their child.  When they weren't able to do this, they felt that there was something innately wrong with them, that they were somehow failing.  

We need to do better than to advocate for the separation of mothers from their children, whether through adoption or abortion.  We need to acknowledge the drivers to a decision that a woman feels she is not good enough, or doesn't have any resources to parent.  We don't address inequity by taking babies from their mothers, either during pregnancy or after birth.

It is brave, courageous and selfless to be a mother.   It isn't something women need to be doing alone.  Children need more than one or two primary people in their lives loving them, so do mothers.   What are you doing to be part of a village for someone?  

© 2024 Debbie Garratt

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