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.

The difference between the illicit trade in infants and legitimate intercountry adoptions is at times difficult to monitor. As Ethan Kapstein writes in Foreign Affairs, “the difference may be clear conceptually, but it is not always clear in reality.”

“Buying infants is illegal covering the cost of raising then until they are adopted is not,” Kapstein writes. ” The distinction between the two can be so obscure, however, that unless parents actually confess to selling their children, adoption and immigration authorities may struggle to prove it.”


To illegally adopt a child on the black market, parents have been reported to have paid between $5,000 to $25,000.

(More prices paid by human traffickers.)


According to reports, Children from Romania were being bought for use in international adoptions for $20,000 to $30,000.

(Prices paid for human trafficking victims.)


An estimated 9.5 million children in the developing world live in orphanages and are available for international adoptions.


In Switzerland, out of the nearly 600 children adopted from abroad, 30 to 90 percent are handled outside of official channels.

(The World Black Market Value.)


The AP reports that the adoption industry in Guatemala is worth $100 Million.

Source: Associated Press, “Adoptions of Guatemalan babies in limbo,” MSNBC, March 10, 2008.

Voice of America News has an article highlighting the black market trade in adoptions that is currently taking place in Guatemala.

Every year, thousands of people from the United States visit the Central American nation of Guatemala, not just for tourism, but to adopt babies. Last year, more than 4,000 Guatemalan children were adopted by US citizens. But critics say the demand for young Guatemalan children has created an illicit market in which babies are bought and sold and, in some cases, even stolen from their birth mothers.

Prospective parents from the United States are known to pay tens of thousands of dollars to be able to adopt a baby from Guatemala.

Acquiring a baby here usually costs around $30,000, although the US embassy has evidence of local lawyers milking adopting parents for as much as $70,000. Since the adoption process in Guatemala is so lacking in controls, stories of abuse are abundant.

The 2005 Eu report on Organized Crime(PDF) stated that an estimated 1 million children were involved in illegal adoptions in a market worth 1 billion Euros.