No, this isn’t one those questions intended to corner pacifists. This is a question that I actually have, based on experience I actually experienced, and a question I would actually like to have an answer to, although I understand that a solid answer to what I am pondering is allusive at best.
Here is the scenario: I am a youth pastor, and not too long ago I was at a youth pastor peer meeting with about five other youth pastors. It was a good meeting, refreshing to hear other people’s joys and frustrations that I can relate to. We ended the meeting with a homemade lunch which was really good, but over the lunch the conversation turned towards everyone’s family. One of the younger married youth pastors began telling of how he was just finishing up the adoption process and he and his wife were about to get their first child: a cute little Guatemalan baby, they had pictures, a name and everything. Then one of the other youth pastors chimed in that her sister (or other close relative, I forget exactly) just recently adopted a Guatemalan baby, so needless to say, the table conversation was about Guatemalan adopted babies for at least fifteen minutes. For these fifteen minutes I kept my head down, and didn’t speak.
Now, rewind a number of months backwards to July of 06. I went to Guatemala with the youth of my church (I was an intern at the time) and helped lead an “MCC Learning Tour” as I think these trips are called now. We spent some time in Guatemala city and some time in the country with some tenured MCC missionaries down there. On the very last day, just hours before we went to the airport to leave, we went to a touristy market. At the market there were numerous North Americans with Guatemalan babies that they had freshly adopted. The tenured missionary looked at the happy couples with the new additions to their families and said something along the lines of, “look at those happy couples, supporting one of the worst kinds of human rights violations.”
Guatemala is second only to China in its number of babies adopted to foreign couples. It is understandable that China is number one, but Guatemala number two? This is because Guatemala has a thriving infant market. Guatemalan babies are stolen from their mothers and sold to adoption agencies, or young women get pregnant and sell their infants as a form of revenue. Then whoever can afford all the adoption fees (North Americans) adopt the infants. This isn’t the case with all of Guatemalan adopted babies, but it happens enough that Guatemala’s adoption numbers are disproportionately higher then they should be.
The question remains, what would you do? I chose to look at my plate and feel sick to my stomach. I said nothing. Would you have spoke up and let these joyously expectant parents know that there is a good chance they are supporting an atrocious human rights violation? Would you have congratulated them on their new child? Would you have stared at your food?