Police rescue babies from child traffickers, but parents don't want them back

Stories of babies being trafficked in China break my heart every single time, but not in a million years did I think that the story of 10 trafficked babies being rescued would break my heart as well. I would have thought the babies being rescued would be a happy story, but it's not. In late August, when police in China's Jiangsu province apprehended and arrested seven members of a child-trafficking ring and rescued 10 babies that had been sold by the operation, not one single parent of any of the rescued babies came forward to claim them. WHAT?! How can this be?

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All 10 of the rescued babies came from Liangshang, a poor region of China's Sichuan province. It turns out none of the 10 babies were kidnapped. The babies were sold to the traffickers by their parents. People in this region have an average income of less than $400 a year. Traffickers will pay 10 times that amount for a healthy baby and then turn around and sell the baby to people in wealthier areas of China.

Police speculate that the reason none of the parents of the "rescued" babies came forward is that they fear that they would have to return the money they were given. These people are poor, subsistent farmer kind of poor.

The other thing to keep in mind is that all of these families have other children. If they were to claim another child, they would be subject to taxes and fines under China's one-child policy. The fines, called Social Support Payments, are HUGE and can vary from two times the parents' annual income in some areas to 10 times their annual income in other areas. I'm thinking that if the parents were desperate enough to sell their children for money, then they probably don't have the money to pay any fines.

So what's going to happen to the babies? Well, since their parents won't take them and local child-care institutions won't either, these babies will be staying with the people who bought them. Ugh! This makes it seem like it's just totally okay to buy and sell babies. It's hard not to think that China's one-child policy doesn't have a dehumanizing effect on how children are treated.

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Topics: parenting  crime  baby