Paper Orphans: Exploring Child Trafficking for the Purpose of Orphanages

Kathryn E. van Doore - The International Journal of Children's Rights

“Paper Orphans: Exploring Child Trafficking for the Purpose of Orphanages” serves as a legal analysis of child trafficking for the purpose of filling orphanages. Children trafficked into orphanages, known as paper orphans, make up a large portion of the global orphanage population. van Doore points to a Save the Children survey, which stated that four out of five children in orphanages were not orphans.  This paper focuses on the displacement of the child and intends to determine whether or not this displacement can be determined as trafficking under international law.

van Doore’s analyses examine guiding legal instruments for this topic, which include the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.  The paper also discusses the strong marketability and profitability of orphanages, as well as their exponential growth over the past 25 years.  van Doore points out how families are often deceived or coerced to give up their children to orphanages.  The paper emphasizes the importance of determining legal guidance because without it, governments are less likely to face the problem.

The practices of child trafficking and child laundering, along with the implications therein, are discussed for the purposes of supporting legal conclusions.  van Doore discusses Smolin who points out that the process of inter-country adoptions that send children to adoptive families in other (mostly western) countries legitimizes an illegal process. Smolin states that the international adoption system treats children the same as a criminal organization treats money laundering.