If there’s anything that social media has taught us over the years, it’s that for everything, there is a market.
There’s a market for children’s toys, a market for kitchenware a market for outdoor enthusiasts and a market for video gamers, just to name a few.
These days, as unconventional as it may sound, there’s a greater market than ever before for orphaned children in third-world countries. And with more than one million U.S. families trying to adopt each year, it’s a market that human traffickers have taken notice of.
As someone who feels like God placed international adoption on my heart from a young age, it’s easy to understand why so many Americans, and people all over the globe in developed countries, would open their families and lives to children in need. Adoption isn’t just giving the child a better life, it’s giving a family a better life.
At least, that was the experience for Adam and Jessica Davis, an Ohio couple who adopted 5-year-old Namata from Uganda in 2015.
The family paid $15,000 to European Adoption Consultants (EAC). The agency, which is based in Strongsville, Ohio, has arranged thousands of adoptions and matched the family with a 5-year-old girl, who they called Mata.
The Davises were told that Mata had been abandoned by her mom after the father passed away. She had been placed in an orphanage called God’s Mercy Children’s Home, and the Davises were able to fly to Uganda and meet her. In September 2015, they brought her home to Ohio.
But what most would see as a new life for Mata and the Davises quickly turned into an adoptive parent’s worst nightmare.
As Mata became more fluent in English, she began telling Jessica about her life back home in Uganda. She talked about her mother in ways that made everything the Davises had seen on paper sound like a lie.
That’s because it was.
It turns out Mata and her mother had unknowingly become victims of a new form of human trafficking, in which parents in third-world countries are told their child will be temporarily sent away for a better education with the promise of a later return.
What those parents don’t know is that they’re voluntarily putting their child in the hands of traffickers—con artists who are making a hefty paycheck off of the abduction, then adoption of a Ugandan “orphan.”
Mata’s stories led the Davises to question their adoption agency, as well as their own involvement with what they now believed to be human trafficking.
All too often when we hear the term “human trafficking,” we automatically associate it with sexual violence. But that’s not always the case.