Dark Side

Babies for Sale

In an unstable market, traffickers in China have found a reliable—and frightening –source of income: children. The L.A. Times spoke with Duan Yuelin, who was recently released from prison after a child-trafficking conviction in 2006, and worked with his family for several years finding abandoned or unwanted children and selling them for high prices to orphanages that would, in turn, sell them to wealthy Westerners for adoption. “They couldn’t get enough babies,” said Duan. “The demand kept going up and up, and so did the prices.” In the wake of the Communist Party’s one-child policy and frantic efforts by parents to get rid of their infant daughters, Duan’s family sold 85 baby girls for up $600 each to six different government-run orphanages between 2001 and 2005, a practice authorities say contributes to China’s rampant kidnapping problem. Particularly attractive or strong babies would garner higher prices. In spite of widespread condemnation, Duan’s mother defended the practice, saying, “Many of those babies would have died if nobody took them in. I took good care of the babies… am I a bad person for what I did?”