Trafficking children: The baby business

Carrie West sits in her Boston home tapping away on a computer. She is logging on to websites offering babies for adoption from around the world. But her recent experience in adopting a child from Vietnam has set alarm bells ringing. 

"People have to understand this is a business.  Despite the teddy bears and bunnies that you see on the websites, this is a multibillion dollar business that is completely unregulated," she told the BBC. 

Carrie and her husband wanted to adopt an older child, from Vietnam. They went through an adoption agency and found a child on its website. 

They were told the child's mother was dead and the father had given the child up for adoption. So they signed on with the agency and set the adoption wheels in motion.

"We were then told we couldn't adopt this child because she was suffering from tuberculosis and was too ill to be adopted." But a year later, they discovered this was all fiction.

"We were able to locate this child, living in another country, with another family. She never had TB, she was incredibly healthy. And really it was just a scam on behalf of these agencies and the facilitators over in Vietnam."

The Wests did find another child, and went to Vietnam to collect her. But once again, all was not as it should have been.

"There were promises made to this mother for the placement of her daughter. There were specific amounts of money discussed with the birth mother. The mother was told to lie on documents, and to say that her daughter was in foster care when she was never in foster care.

"In fact, as I walked away with this two-year-old child, it was evident to us at that point that the grief that ensued was that of a child that was literally ripped from her mother."

It was not the way an intercountry adoption was supposed to be.

"It is clear to us that the lack of legislation, the lack of protection afforded to birth families and to adoptive families has got to change," she said.

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