In 2021 Tamuna Museridze, a journalist in Georgia, Europe discovered she was adopted and started a Facebook group to search for her family. As reported by the BBC, she ended up exposing a black-market baby trafficking scheme spanning decades and affecting tens of thousands of people, two of whom were identical twin sisters. The girls were sold at birth and adopted by separate families and were unaware until recently that they were adopted.
As many as 100,000 babies stolen and sold
According to Museridze’s findings, between the 1950s and 2005, up to 100,000 babies were sold by organized criminals through a trafficking scheme that involved players at multiple levels of society ranging from taxi drivers to government officials. Families were told their children had died and adoption documents needed for the illegal adoptions were then faked by corrupt officials.
One mother shared her experience with Museridze:
She was told they had both suddenly died. A doctor said they had respiratory problems…in Soviet times you didn’t question authority. She believed everything they said.
Museridze’s Facebook group was responsible for helping twins Amy and Ano find each other and their birth mother. When they met their birth mother, she explained she had gotten ill after giving birth and went into a coma. After waking she was told that both her babies had died shortly after birth. They were in fact sold for an amount roughly a year’s salary for most Georgians at the time and the details on their official birth certificates, including the date they were born, were faked. Both adoptive mothers were told the baby girls were unwanted and if they paid the doctors, they could take them home and raise them as their own. Neither was told the girls were twins or realized the adoption was illegal. They assumed the adoption was legitimate since hospital staff were involved in the process.
Laws have been tightened but no justice for families
Museridze started the Facebook group to help her find her own parents as she is also a survivor of the baby trafficking scheme. In addition to Amy and Ano, she has helped reunite hundreds of families but so far has not found her own. Her research also uncovered evidence that some children ended up with families in the US, Canada, Cyprus, Russia and Ukraine making it harder to reunite those families. The exact number of babies trafficked through the scheme may never be known.
The article states:
…a lack of access to documents – some have been lost and others aren’t being released, makes it impossible to verify the exact figure.
An investigation on the child trafficking was launched by the Georgian government in 2022, but after speaking to more than 40 people the BBC was told the cases were “very old and historic data has been lost”. Museridze has shared all the information she gathered with the government but so far, the government refuses to say when its report will be released. Previous investigations by the Georgian government into child trafficking have led to a few arrests, no prosecutions and little information being made public, so Museridze has joined forces with a human rights lawyer to try and seek justice for survivors. They plan on taking the cases of a group of survivors to the court to demand access to their birth documents which current Georgian law makes impossible.