Imagine the following scenario:
In 2006, a young mother from a suburban Chicago neighborhood takes the train into the city with her 6 month old daughter. While on the train, she meets another woman about her age, who strikes up friendly conversation. The two women chat for awhile, about children, about their favorite downtown stores. The mother wants to get a soda, and her new friend offers to get her one so as not to disturb the baby now asleep in the mother's arms. After drinking the soda, the mother becomes sleepy. She cannot hold her head up, and realizes she is ill and something is terribly wrong. Her new friend offers to hold the baby, panicked and confused, the mother reluctantly agrees. The next thing the mother realizes she is in a far away suburban station, at least an hour past her stop.
And her baby is missing.
Not until months later, the mother learns the child has been stolen by an intricate web of traffickers who have laundered the child's identity through false birth documents, and adopted her to an unsuspecting childless couple in Dubai for $50,000.
What would happen?
Most likely, an international investigation would be launched. Amber alerts and hotlines created. The media frenzy would be tremendous, the public outcry immense. The traffickers would be found and arrested. The court hearing would be an international public spectacle. The adoptive parents would be put under great public scrutiny and trial. And the child returned to the mother on the train, immediately, no questions asked, under great fanfare of justice being served.
There would be no argument, no debate of what would happen to the stolen child.
But that is not what happens in reality, when you are a mother from Guatemala. Or India. Or China. Your cries for justice are ignored, your pleas for your child dismissed. You will be told you don't deserve your child because you are not wealthy, that you cannot give them what an American can. You will be told to give up your search, you will be told you are selfish for not wanting to give your child a "better" life. You will be ignored by police, investigators and the media. You will be threatened, mistreated, bullied and slandered. You will grieve alone and your search for your stolen child will be a lonely one. You are voiceless. Powerless. And usually defeated.
Everyday in developing nations with international adoption programs, children are stolen, purchased or coerced from their families and "legally" sold to baby brokers who adopt them to unsuspecting adoptive parents in distant and more wealthy countries. Despite thousands of legitimate orphans in need of adoptive families and homes, children are routinely acquired using illicit methods, often times because it is easier than going through proper channels, the profit is higher, and there is little to no chance of being caught or prosecuted.
Families who are pressured, coerced, or have their children stolen for adoption are often severely marginalized. They often lack financial resources, protection and legal recourse. They are prime targets for the multi-billion dollar adoption industry, who hold a postive public image, governmental influence, and navigate international law with little to no oversight or regulation.
Today as you read this, there are hundreds of children from developing nations who have been acquired illicitly, entered into the adoption system by the lure of industry created profits, and are living in households of adoptive families in countries thousands of miles away from their birth. Some adoptive families know of the crimes and have chosen to ignore the pleas of the birth mothers, others are still in the dark as to their adoptive child's origins.
We name this strike after Anyeli, Heidy, and Arlene, and their brave mothers who face the most unimaginable challenges and loss that any human can imagine. They are but the tip of a huge international scandal of child trafficking and abduction, done under the guise of child welfare. Although it is comforting to think that these cases are isolated, we have learned this is not the case, and in reality, these are just three faces in a sea of hundreds, from countries around the world.
Because we value and celebrate adoption done in ethical and moral practice, we call a strike to voice opposition to those that tarnish and ultimately destroy legitimate adoption practice, rendering legitimate orphans homeless, and profitizing a once humanitarian endeavor.
We dedicate and name this strike after these three girls, who represent so many others that came before them and will come after. We cannot forget the voiceless and powerless, the oppressed and the silenced, those that walk this earth without the dignity of basic human rights. For this, we gather together in spirit to fast, to seek justice, and put an end to the illegal adoption trade.