Baby-Selling Scandal Accompanies Creche Shutdown

Ceres, Federation of Asteroidal Polities -- 17 May 2057:  Kidstart, a major privately-run child-rearing facility has been abruptly decertified by the FAP Department of Child and Quasi-Person Protection.  Its owners, Queeg Tripley and Marfa Tanstaafle, have been taken into police custody on charges of Endangerment, Abuse, and Improper Sale of Quasi-Persons.  The children who lived and learned in the facility are being temporarily housed in Ceres' overburdened state-run creches until their progenitors can be found, if indeed they are located at all and can be induced to care for their children.

The Department and the local police have not responded to requests for comment.  However, Stig Flamlin, a spokesperson for local child advocacy organization Invest In Children, claims to have heard disturbing rumours of child-trafficking through Kidstart.  "You have to understand," Mre. Flamlin told us in an audio interview, "this was the kind of place that preys on people in poverty, mainly primates, dogs and cats, neanders, the neuromarginal -- people who through misfortune or poor judgement found themselves unable to support a child, people who couldn't wait for a place in the state creches to open up.  They would arrange a small low-interest loan through one of the many fly-by-night banks to pay their fee, on the condition that the progenitors sign over full parental rights and never attempt to reclaim or even contact their offspring.  It was a really dodgy operation, the kind we try to warn people off of, but they did a good business and there were rumour for years that they would keep beds available by selling the kids.  

"Oh, they parade big groups of kids around outside the compound twice a day, on educational tours to this or that.  We have spotters who were watching, and they really shuffled it around as to which kids were touring when, running them in about 20 groups of 50 kids that got mixed up for each tour.  But our watchers kept careful records of what they saw, and every few weeks a child that had been consistently out on a weekly basis just stopped showing up.  We've heard stories on the child-rights grapevine of Kidstart 'product' ending up in labour camps, kiddie brothels, meat markets, and adopted by wonderful loving parents from one end of the system to the other; there's a lot of talk that they're affiliated with UniCrime, too, though it's all pure hearsay.  The police have taken their sweet time looking into Kidstart, but I hope that means they have enough evidence to nail Queeg and Marfa to the wall.  Children are our greatest asset; I hate seeing them treated like just another commodity."

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