‘Baby Sellers’ on Lifetime

…Television for women who don’t have enough to worry about.

So this movie (sadly) reflects some awful scenarios: Single mothers being coerced and deceived by profiteers who want to sell their newborns. Toddlers in grinding poverty whose newborn siblings are sold or kidnapped for adoption. Orphanages that use older children, raised in unconscionable conditions, as the justification for large cash donations from adoptive parents.

These things are real, and they happen every day.

But the American face of this profiteering isn’t represented as accurately. Kirstie Alley makes the best of this script; she’s credible as the cackling adoptive mom who withholds snacks from her 14 year old (nice touch!) between jetting around the world to buy newborns she plans to sell through her adoption agency.

What’s commonly true about the agency directors I’ve met and interviewed, though, is that they are not evil. They aren’t paper-doll ‘bad guys’. They are flawed people who think that they’re helping kids.

The real baby sellers are complicated people. They often start out with the best intentions. But soon they learn that adoption as we know it relies on a predictable supply of children who can be placed for profit. They may begin by cutting corners, unsure about the consent or custody release, but hey, the kid’s better off in the US than he would have been otherwise, right?

They tell themselves it’s just paperwork. What can it hurt to make up a new identity for a child whose parents can’t raise her? They tell themselves that paying parents for kids who were evidently for sale–because hey, we have the receipt right here–is saving the child from a sale to a procurer or trafficker, later.

But if I can’t be sure about my child’s identity, I can’t be sure that nothing worse that child laundering happened to her. And taking children away from their families and communities by purchasing them isn’t saving them There’s a word for that: Child trafficking.

It’s wrong but it’s not illegal…yet.