When baby buying stops, the selling will too

DECEMBER 2 ― The Al Jazeera documentary on the baby selling trade in Malaysia was quite horrific, showing women with unwanted pregnancies and even sex workers selling their infants.

Although legal adoption may be perceived as a lengthy and complicated process, OrphanCARE and a woman who is trying to adopt a three-year-old girl told me that it’s actually quite straightforward if the baby was born in Malaysia and if the necessary paperwork is available.

What seems to be the real reason why wannabe parents buy babies is because they want a child with a certain gender (boy), skin colour (fair) and looks (attractive). They also likely prefer to adopt younger children. Otherwise, they could easily go to one of OrphanCARE’s baby hatches, a halfway home for unwed mothers or an orphanage to adopt a kid.

The woman I interviewed who was in the process of adopting a three-year-old said there is still a stigma against adoption in Malaysia, which could push some people to buy babies who look like them and falsely list themselves as biological parents in the birth certificate.

If people genuinely want to be parents, they should be willing to adopt a child who may not necessarily be attractive or who may not look like them.

Buying a baby seems antithetical to the purpose of parenthood, which is to love a child no matter how they turn out or even if they are (physically or mentally) deformed in some way. It turns the purchased child into a product or commodity, except that they’re non-returnable.

Purchasing a child is not the solution to the stigma against adoption. We should fight it instead of succumbing to societal pressures.

Childbearing is excessively glorified sometimes. It’s also strange how having your own child is considered selfless (as opposed to couples who intentionally remain childless), when you’re producing another human being that will take up the earth’s limited resources.

Adopting an existing human being and taking it out of the cold, loveless environment of an orphanage seems far more selfless.

The debate on adoption and baby selling cannot ignore contraception or abortion either, as desperate teenagers who get knocked up are supplying some of the infants in the trade.

If schools and religious leaders taught young people about contraception instead of just harping on abstinence, then there would be fewer unwanted pregnancies, and hence, fewer babies for sale.

Making abortion services widely available would also cut the supply of babies for sale. Caring about the life of a child means exactly that ― wanting the best in the child’s entire life and not just wanting her to pop out from the womb, which seems to be the point at which pro-lifers stop caring about the baby.

Unwanted children grow up unloved in a state institution. If they’re lucky, they will get legally adopted or maybe even bought by a decent loving couple.

But what if they’re bought by abusive parents who never had to undergo the background check required in a legal adoption? Worse still, what if traffickers buy them and use them for prostitution, labour or other nefarious purposes?

If you’re a scared teenage girl, you wouldn’t ask too many questions about the person buying your baby as you’d just want to get rid of it.

Is aborting a fetus at 12 weeks really more cruel than possibly leaving a fully formed human being in the hands of people who would do it harm for years?

Baby selling will only stop if the demand stops.

As long as people prioritise biological parenthood above adoption and see children as commodities to show off, then the shopping for babies will not stop.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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