The concept of adoption and the global issue of child trafficking have been questioned by many people who are of the belief that such activities are too sensitive to be studied from a singular perspective of charity and crime respectively. This report includes the observations that we have derived after studying the works of Julian Vigo, a scholar, film-maker and human rights consultant, and understanding his views on the continual problem of displacement of children in Haiti owing to various reasons. Vigo targets a global audience, particularly the adults who take the responsibility of adopting a child, by highlighting not only the reasons that lead to such actions (of both legal and criminal nature) but also how these actions consequentially lead to the downfall of the humanitarian values pertaining to “bare life”, as they are solely defined by the notions of bio-politics.
Thesis Statement: This report includes an extensive study of the adoption and trafficking of Haitian children to other parts of the world from various perspectives. This report is primarily based on the report by Julian Vigo and various other scholarly sources which have been cited accordingly.
The global issue of child trafficking and adoption is not something that happened overnight. The concept of inter-country adoption owes its inception to the early 50s. After the concept originated, many nations deemed it legal to adopt a child belonging to an entirely different nationality, culture or race, on the basis of some predetermined rules and regulations. Even though the concept was common for many nations, the ones it affected the most were the third-world nations like Haiti where poverty and population did not act favorably towards each other. According to a government report pertaining to the United States, the effect was of such magnanimity that the number of adopted children was known to be more than 21,000 in the year 2003 (Bartholet).
Even though the concept of inter-country adoption was formulated keeping in mind the possible well-being of underprivileged children, this seemingly legal act soon became a cover-up for its criminal counterparts. The act of child trafficking became an easy task under the pretense of inter-country adoption. Although, not all the transfers are deemed to be illegal, and some are of indeed a genuine nature, however, after the inception of this concept, the number of children trafficked from Haiti has seen a stark increase. An UNICEF Report states that approximately 300,000 Haitian children are living the lives of slaves and 3,000 children are trafficked out of Haiti every year.
The Impact of Child Trafficking or Inter-country Adoption:
It is a commonly known phenomenon that when laws are not abided by, the consequences are harsh. This is root cause of the peril of Haitian children. The laws for inter-country adoption require many criteria to be fulfilled before a legal adoption can take place. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, “all children have a right to a family” and this clearly indicates that the process of uprooting a child from his familial and social environment needs to be done only in case of emergence or extremities, like rescuing children in the aftermath of a natural disaster (Bromfield, and Smith). The act of separating a child from his/her family is known to have various kinds of adverse effects on the overall growth of the child. In order to understand the overall impact of such a displacement on a child, we need to address the concepts of child-trafficking and inter-country adoption separately.
When it comes to child-trafficking, the criminal intensity of the act itself speaks of the fact that it is nothing but a heinous crime. Children are trafficked to other countries for immoral and unsocial various purposes like prostitution, forced labor and servitude, fraudulent transactions and many more (Smucker and Murray). Such unlawful activities not only deteriorate the physical, mental, emotional and psychological growth of the children but also lead to believe that their existence has no value whatsoever. Such children grow amidst a world of such monstrosity that by the time they reach adulthood, they are already on the path of self-destruction or are deemed to be victims of irreparable damage. Child-trafficking, even if seen from every possible facet, is not known to have any sort of merit attributed to it.
On the other hand, the concept of adoption, shrouded in the seemingly softer blanket of legality, is also a destructive act. The process of adoption, which is followed in the modern times, includes taking care of the overall growth of the child. It is in no way to be confused with providing for the child’s basic requirements and being done with it. The culture of adoption in the United States is growing rapidly in the recent times owing to the introduction of health and safety measures like birth-control and contraceptives and this is the reason why many Americans are relying on Haitian children in order to fulfill their parenting desires. It is also to be noted that some of the Haitian children have indeed experienced a better way of life owing to their surrogate parents. However, the issue which is seldom noticed is that this sort of “displacement” for a child leaves the child unsure of his/her own identity. As the law of bio-politics, a child who is attributed the social status of an “orphan” is considered to be a “bare life”, merely a body sustaining a life within, one which has no significant purpose or value. The adoption procedures don a charitable face owing to its claim of providing a certain degree of value to an otherwise “useless” child. The “value” is determined by the individual growth of the adopted child, both in terms of efficiency and intellect, and the acceptance of the child in the society. This transition is known to help a child attain a dignity and acceptance which he/she would have not attained otherwise.
In the scenarios, adoption and trafficking, the fact which is seldom discussed is how these acts affect the child and what are the possible repercussions of the same. For a Haitian child, the prospect of having a well-defined lifestyle may sound promising enough, but what is often not realized by both the biological and the surrogate parents is that the discomfort a child goes thorough in this entire process of so-called “well-being”. The Haitian children lack the sense of self-confidence and self-dependence as they are too poor to either mend their own lives or refuse the offer of adoption. Consequentially, many innocent lives are played with in this vicious cycle of mutual help and “charity”.
The Ideologies Leading to Such Transfers:
For criminal acts like child-trafficking, it would indeed be cumbersome to find out an ideology behind it which can be validated on moral grounds. But for the process of inter-country adoption, many people nurture the belief that it is for a common good. For instance, many Westerners think that since they are financially stable, they are capable of raising a child who is least familiar to their culture. With the intention of improving the child’s future, such parents incline towards the procedures of inter-country adoptions. However, this seemingly kind act of alleviating the poverty from a child’s live often leads to disastrous outcomes as the very foundation of parenthood is supposed to be based on “love” and not on “charity”. The acceptance of a child on the basis of “love” provides him/her a sense of security and belonging, which is seldom found in cases where they are adopted only to be fed, clothed and raised under a different name.
Based on our reading of Julian Vigo’s article and many other reports pertaining to the same issue, it would not be incorrect to state that the adoption and trafficking of Haitian children has more adversities related than what is fathomed by the global audience. Therefore, to conclude, we may state that even though the process of inter-country adoption seems to be a fair enough, and legal, process; the possible repercussions and threats should always be ascertained before validating the entire concept.
1) Bartholet, Elizabeth. "5 International Adoption." Harvard, 2014. Web. 15 Feb 2014. <http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/bartholet/pdfs/IAChapter5FINAL.pdf>.
2) Bromfield,, Nicole Footen and Karen Smith. "Human Trafficking and the Haitian Child Abduction Attempt: Policy Analysis and Implications for Social Workers and NASW." 2014. Web. 15 Feb 2014. <http://www.jswvearchives.com/spring12/spr123.pdf>.
3) Smucker, Glenn R. and Gerald F. Murray. "THE USES OF CHILDREN: A STUDY OF TRAFFICKING IN HAITIAN CHILDREN." (2014): Print.