International Adoptions

News, information and statistics about international adoptions and the black market in child adoptions from foreign countries. Data collected from security agencies and other public information sources.

Chinese orphanages earn around $3,000 per child in fees from parents adopting a child.

Source:  Ethan B. Kapstein, “Babies Onboard,” Foreign Affairs, May 6, 2010.

In 2010, there were 4 million orphaned or abandoned children in Russia.

Source:  Scott Simon, “From Russia, With Love,” NPR, April 17, 2010.

More than 60 percent of children in orphanages in Nepal have living parents, according to a study.

The high level of children with parents demonstrated abuses within the system where many children were trafficked for illegal adoptions.

Source: “Nepal ‘should suspend’ adoptions,” BBC News, February 4, 2010.


According to the Chinese Government, between 30,000 to 60,000 children go missing each year.

Most of them are believed to have been kidnapped by child trafficking rings and sold to orphanages who sell them to Western Families for adoption.

(More China crime statistics and intelligence.)

Source:  Barbara Demick, “A family in China made babies their business,” Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2010.

According to a report by Save the Children, 4 out of 5 children living in an orphanage around the world has a living parent. The report states that some organizations trick or force the parents to give up their child, leading to risks of trafficking and abuse.

Source:  “Most ‘orphans’ have a living parent, says charity,” BBC News, November 24, 2009.

According to UNICEF, between 1,000 to 1,500 Guatemalan babies are trafficked each year for adoptions by couples in North America and Europe.

(Prices paid by human traffickers worldwide.)

Source: UNICEF, “Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse: Child Trafficking,” Page updated: March 12, 2007. Accessed: August 26, 2009.

The average cost to adopt a baby from Vietnam is $25,000, according to the New York Times.

This high cost has created a black market in baby-buying which lead to the US State Department issuing a warning on adoptions from Vietnam.

Source:  Elizabeth Olson, “Families Adopting in Vietnam Say They Are Caught in Diplomatic Jam,” New York Times, February 11, 2008.

Children are illegally sold  in China at prices between $1,000 and $5,850 (7,000 yuan to 40,000 yuan), with the price varying to factors such as age and sex.

Children are bought and sold for various reasons.  Boys may be sold to beggar gangs or families with no boys, while girls may be sold to poor men who are unable to find a wife in their village.

(Additional child trafficking statistics.)


Foreign Policy Magazine has an article on the unregulated market of international adoptions, and the misconceptions amongst those who adopt foreign babies.

From Foreign Policy:

We all know the story of international adoption: Millions of infants and toddlers have been abandoned or orphaned—placed on the side of a road or on the doorstep of a church, or left parentless due to AIDS, destitution, or war. These little ones find themselves forgotten, living in crowded orphanages or ending up on the streets, facing an uncertain future of misery and neglect. But, if they are lucky, adoring new moms and dads from faraway lands whisk them away for a chance at a better life.

Unfortunately, this story is largely fiction.

The 2005 EU Organized Crime Report stated that an estimated 1 million children are involved in illegal adoptions. The market value of these adoptions are estimated to be worth EUR 1 billion ($1.3 Billion) a year.