Refers to the selling of an infant to adoptive parents or other persons by the birthparent and/or an intermediary. Baby selling is unlawful in every state in the United States; however, desperate couples and unscrupulous individuals apparently continue to risk the legal penalties.
It is extremely risky for a couple to try to buy a baby because of the distinct possibility of that adoption being overturned at a later date. In addition, the fear that state or federal authorities may eventually "catch up" with them can generate intense anxiety in the adopting parents or persons who buy the infants; however, unscrupulous individuals involved in baby selling will continue to operate as long as there is a profit to be made.
Some individuals may try to buy a baby to avoid a HOME STUDY investigation of the family because they believe they would not be approved after such a study. This is a morally reprehensible reason for buying a child and failing to protect a child's legal rights.
It is unclear how many babies are actually "sold" in the United States, although it is clear from people who are identified in baby selling rings that such practices do occur.
It is also evident that some forms of adoption, especially those involving much direct, unsupervised contact between birthparents and prospective adoptive parents, offer ample opportunity for undetected soliciting or offering of cash or other things of value in exchange for the decision to place a child with a particular family.
Periodically there are rumors of baby selling among INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION agencies. It is often extremely difficult to determine where the truth lies and how many of these reports are generated by groups opposed to Americans adopting children from abroad.
Some mistakenly equate INDEPENDENT ADOPTION with baby selling. Independent adoption is lawful in most states, and if the adoptive parents and their attorneys comply with state laws, then no baby selling has occurred.
Every state has its own laws on adoption and the lawful expenses related to adoption. Payments that would be considered excessive and perhaps baby selling in some states are acceptable in others; however, in no state is a birthmother allowed to accept a direct payment solely in exchange for her baby.
States that allow pregnant women to receive any sums of money consider the money to be for her support and maintenance during the latter part of her pregnancy and directly thereafter. Some states ban any payments of money at all to the pregnant woman.
In some cases, it is clear when a mother or father attempts to sell their baby, for example, if they request enough money for a worldwide cruise, car or other significant expenditure unrelated to the maintenance during pregnancy or if they request other similar payment.
In other cases, it is less clear where to draw the line between legitimate support payments and unreasonably excessive payments. It is always best to identify and rely on a reputable adoption agency or attorney's judgment on what constitutes an acceptable sum of support.
It is usually through independent adoption that attorneys or other intermediaries provide support money to indigent pregnant women planning to place their babies for adoption; however, increasing numbers of adoption agencies will also provide a limited amount of support to pregnant women needing financial assistance.
Some attorneys and social workers require an exact accounting of how the money will be spent before they will approve any payment to a pregnant women making an adoption plan for her child.
They may insist on making vendor payments directly, for example, paying the woman's landlord for her rent, the phone company and electric company for her utilities and the doctor for the obstetric bill. Other attorneys will give the woman a lump sum or a weekly payment, and she will take responsibility for paying her own bills.
Although attorneys are blamed for most of the baby selling that occurs in the United States, it is also true some agencies and facilitators charge unusually high fees for their adoptions. They claim these fees are necessary to cover advertising costs and salary expenses.
Find more information on baby selling
©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
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