Stop the blackmarket demand by sorting out legitimate supply of babies
ON Feb 7, 2010, the New Sunday Times ran its editorial, republished here in the following paragraphs. Back then, as now, the baby trafficking trade was thriving. So, three years later, we find that every word we said then still resonates today. Now, what does that say about how far the authorities have gone in sorting out the legal adoption process?
"IF MONEY were the only criterion by which a child's welfare can be gauged, then a baby bought for as much as RM40,000 on the black market would seem set for life. For money-rich but child-poor couples, it is a small price to pay to introduce a small life into their home. The cot is gilded, the blanket monogrammed, the college fund filled to the brim. All that's wanting is a bun in the oven. And where there is a baby-for-sale racket, money can indeed buy happiness.
"And after all, why not? Legal adoption procedures are extremely tedious. Couples must undergo a strict vetting process to prove, among others, that they are legally married, that the marriage is stable, and that they are financially and emotionally capable of looking after the child. The whole process can take two years. By that time, the baby that was identified through the window is now a toddler and the chance to hold a wee one in one's arms is past. Some couples never make the cut and have to learn to accept their fate. Much better then, to break the law, pay some money and get a baby fast.
"But a baby is not a commodity. A baby is not even a possession. A baby is someone to be loved and cared for. And while it might be argued that something that is paid for holds greater value, a life should be beyond price. A baby on the black market is a life with a price tag attached. And, like all products, babies can be mass-produced to meet demand and stolen even, if demand exceeds supply.
"The legal adoption process, thought tedious, is there for a reason. And that reason is to ensure that the child joins a family that genuinely wants children and who are truly prepared for the responsibility of having children for life. To make the process too simple risks the baby going to an unsuitable home. But, at the same time, to make the process too difficult also defeats this purpose, since the illegal procedure asks no questions -- and so, babies are even less protected. Estimates have it that for every one legal adoption, there are at least 20 illegal adoptions. When any legal procedure is too tight, it drives a thriving underground market. Therefore, the legal process must, at the very least, be speeded up. Childless couples and parentless children must be matched; speedily and, most of all, legally."