Child laundering is a scheme whereby inter-country adoptions are effected by illegal and fraudulent means. It may involve the trafficking of children, the acquisition of children through monetary arrangements, deceit and/ or force. The children may then be held in sham orphanages while formal international adoption processes are used to send the children to adoptive parents in another country.
Child laundering rings are often expansive with multiple hierarchies of people motivated by large profits from the black markets of inter-country adoptions. With Westerners willing to spend thousands of dollars to adopt a child, enough monetary incentives are created to extend the laundering ring from the middle classes to societies’ more affluent groups. These “baby broker” families subsequently forge a new identity for the laundered child, “validating” the child’s legal status as an orphan and ensuring the scheme will not be uncovered.
Child laundering is highly controversial; while many argue that these children are being treated as a commodity and stripped of family contact, others argue that, ultimately, the children will live in a more affluent environment and have more opportunities as a result of this adoption.