The idea that the developing world has millions of healthy infants and toddlers in need of new homes is a myth. In poor countries as in rich ones, healthy babies are rarely abandoned or relinquished — except in China, with its one-child policy. The vast majority of children who need adoption are older, sick, disabled or traumatized. But most Westerners waiting in line are looking for healthy infants or toddlers to take home.

The result is a gap between supply and demand — a gap that can be closed by Western money. In some countries, Western cash has induced locals to buy or kidnap children or defraud or coerce their families into giving them up, strip the children of their identities and transform them into orphans for Western adoption.

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