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Hungary: Reports of parents selling their children for purposes of adoption; prevalence of this activity and which social groups are commonly associated; average price received for the sale of a child

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 18 November 2002
Citation / Document Symbol HUN40383.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Hungary: Reports of parents selling their children for purposes of adoption; prevalence of this activity and which social groups are commonly associated; average price received for the sale of a child, 18 November 2002, HUN40383.E, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Research Directorate found several references to adoption schemes involving Hungarian children sold for the purposes of adoption (Budapest Sun 1 Aug. 2002; British Medical Journal 9 Aug. 2002; AP 4 June 1999; RNC Agency 10 July 1996; Reuters 16 July 1996; CNN 23 June 1996).

Reports from 2002 and 1996 referred to "[p]rominent Hungarian geneticist Dr. Endre Czeizel" (Budapest Sun 1 Aug. 2002) as being suspected (RNC Agency 10 July 1996) or charged with complicity in a child smuggling ring between the United States and Hungary (Budapest Sun 1 Aug. 2002; British Medical Journal 9 Aug. 2002). Along with eight co-defendants, Czeizel was found guilty of four counts of violating of Hungary's Family Act as an accessory to an infant adoption scheme in July 2002 (Budapest Sun 1 Aug. 2002). The Budapest Sun reported that

Czeizel was charged with encouraging pregnant women, most of them impoverished and from the countryside, to give up their newborns for adoption in the US in exchange for a trip to that country where they would enjoy a few weeks of upmarket accommodation, give birth, and receive cash for relinquishing their infants (ibid.).

Marianne Gati, variously referred to as a Hungarian-born Canadian (CNN 23 June 1996), a Canadian (RNC News Agency 10 July 1996) and a Hungarian with American citizenship (RFE/RL 18 July 1996; Budapest Sun 1 Aug. 2002), was reported as a co-conspirator of Czeizel and was alleged to have devised the scheme with him "10 years ago" (ibid.). Gati was accused of running a California-based baby-selling ring (RFE/RL 18 July 1996; Reuters 16 July 1996) and in 1996 was jailed for, among other charges, harboring illegal immigrants and conspiracy relating to alleged baby selling activities (CNN 23 June 1996).

In 1999, the Associated Press reported the attempted sale of a Hungarian child for the purposes of adoption brokered by Tamas Kovacs, a Hungarian lawyer living in New York (4 June 1999). The report also linked this lawyer to the exchange of two other babies before his arrest in March 1999 (ibid.). According to reports, the child was allegedly brought to the United States by its Hungarian mother and Kovacs had made repeated attempts to sell the baby before he and the mother were arrested (ibid.; The Three Village Times 9 Apr. 1999; MSNBC 24 Dec. 1999; Salon 19 Jan. 2001).

With respect to financial transactions, in the New York case, the asking price of the child was reported to be US $60,000 in the agreement that resulted in Kovacs' arrest (ibid.); however, he was reported to have requested as much as US $125,000 from other potential adopting parties (AP 4 June 1999). According to one report, the mother was to have received $16,000 of the $60,000 asking price (Zenit News Service 1 Apr. 1999).

In the California case, the Budapest Sun reported that women were offered "between $1,000 and $8,000" in exchange for their infants (1 Aug. 2002). In 1996, RNC Agency reported that since 1994 more than 100 babies were sold to American couples for a reported US $80,000 per child with birth mothers receiving US $18,000 for "white babies" and US $1,000 for "mothers of Roma babies" (10 July 1996). Other reports noted that mothers received US $1,000 for dark-skinned children or US $12,000 for white-skinned ones and agents charged American couples US $20,000 per child (RFE/RL 18 July 1996; Reuters 16 July 1996; CNN 23 June 1996). CNN cited a US Internal Revenue Service agent as providing the latter information (ibid.).

The Research Directorate found no reports among sources consulted that provided analysis on the prevalence of this activity in Hungary or, beyond the aforementioned information, socio-economic indicators of participants.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Associated Press. 4 June 1999. "Stillwater Couple Says Chances of Adopting Baby Used in Scam Aren't Good." (NEXIS)

British Medical Journal. 3 August 2002. Vol. 325, No. 7358. "Ethics: Distinguished Geneticist in Baby-Selling Scam." (Australasian Bioethics Information Weekly Newsletter 9 Aug. 2002) [Accessed 5 Nov. 2002]

Budapest Sun. 1 August 2002. Vol. X, No. 31. Carl Kovac. "Adoption Doctor Found Guilty." [Accessed 5 Nov. 2002]

CNN. 23 June 1996. U.S. News Briefs. "Woman Accused of Selling Hungarian Babies." [Accessed 6 Nov. 2002]

MSNBC. 24 December 1999. "Mom, Lawyer Arrested for Web Baby Sale Scheme." (Shared [Accessed 12 Nov. 2002]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 18 July 1996. No. 138, Part 1. Zsofia Szilagyi. "Hungarian Police Investigates Sale of Babies to U.S. Couples." (Friends and Partners) [Accessed 5 Nov. 2002]

Reuters. 16 July 1996. Blaise Szolgyemy. "Hungary Police Probe U.S. Baby Selling Scheme." (NEXIS)

RNC Agency. 10 July 1996. "Circle Widens in Baby-Trade Affair." (Roma News Network) [Accessed 5 Nov. 2002]

Salon [New York]. 19 January 2001. Dawn MacKeen. "Babies for the Highest Bidders: Private Adoptions Rewards Wealth, not Fitness and Abuses Abound." [Accessed 12 Nov. 2002]

The Three Village Times [Long Island, New York]. 9 April 1999. "Sting Operation Nabs Baby Seller." [Accessed 12 Nov. 2002]

Zenit News Service [Rome]. 1 April 1999. "A Holy 'Hacker:' Father Fred -- Hacker in Defense of Children." [Accessed 12 Nov. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


Internet sites including:, Adoption Resources

Association for Research in International Adoption

Centre for Europe's Children

Eastern European Adoption Coalition

Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

Miramed Institute


The Protection Project


Social Alert

World News Connection

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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