Monday, February 27, 2006

The Rest of the Story

Information continues to trickle out about the Hunan story, and I wanted to provide a brief update because this information is of vital importance to all families that have adopted children from China.

I must first come to the defense of NPR reporter Anthony Kuhn. Many adoptive families have disparaged him for the minor inaccuracy in his report regarding the adoption fee paid to the orphanages ($30,000 instead of $3,000). Because of this inaccuracy, many sought for "more reliable" information.

Anthony was the only reporter posting reports from the trial. When his identity became known (the trial was closed to reporters) he was held for over 5 hours in police custody and questioned. He filed the report broadcast on NPR in the early hours of the morning so that it could be heard by us on "All Things Considered". He did an outstanding job, and we owe him and NPR a huge debt of gratitude.

Proved in the trial, but ignored (intentionally) by the official Government press release are the following facts:

The first person in the chain of transport from Wuchuan (actually, from Anthony's description of her town I believe it to be Huangpo Town, an area that falls under the jurisdiction of both the Wuchuan and Zhanjiang orphanages. Having researched in this area, I can attest to its being an area where many children are found) was Liang Gui Hong, a 56 year-old woman. Families with unwanted children approached this woman, due to her well-known connections for finding homes for unwanted children (she apparently has been facilitating adoptions for over 10 years). These parents would give Ms. Liang a "Lucky Money" envelope with 20 or 30 yuan in it as thanks for locating a family to care for their children. No money was paid to the birth parents for their children, and no birth parents were ever approached about giving up their child. Ms. Liang initially took in some of these girls herself, caring for them until she could locate adoptive families.

A connection was made when Ms. Liang met one of the children of a Mr. Duan of Changning City, Hunan. This person worked in Wuchuan, and another of Duan's children worked at the Qidong orphanage in Hunan. Ms. Liang was convinced that the Qidong orphanage worker could provide connections so that all of these children could be adopted through the orphanages.

It is unclear how much each of the participants were paid, but a total of 400 yuan seems to have been paid by the orphanages for each child ($50). It is, however, clear that the orphanages obtained these children to adopt internationally, as that is where the largest benefit is derived (see my earlier blog "The Finances of Baby Trafficing" for more background on why this is so). I doubt that this was done with any degree of malice, but rather viewed as a win-win by all involved.

Let me again re-emphasize that these children were not kidnapped, abducted, or purchased from birth parents. They were given to Ms.Liang because she had perceived connections, and because she eliminated the risk to the birth family of abandoning their child themselves. In all likelihood, as one adoptive parent writes (and was repeatedly stated in the trial), all concerned viewed this program as a benefit to the children involved.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brian All of this is rather perturbing....

Why did even Xinhua said "abducted infants " so?

Marianne pour "les cousines de Xuwen" said...

Many thanks for this most interesting blog, Brian. All ot this is ever so acurate and precise. Nothing to do with answers I received for an email posted to How can I contact you directly to discuss briefly my special quiery? Best regards.
Marianne, adoptive French mum (

Anonymous said...

Brian...We have a daughter from the Heng Dong SWI and I was wondering if you know why Chen Ming is the only orphanage director being singled out. I'm I to infer that most of the children in question from the trail ended up at the Heng Dong SWI? You mention 18 children. Do we know when these children spent time at the orphanages in Hunan? Thanks, Lee

Patty Meier said...


Thank you for continuing to try to unravel this disturbing story for the adoptive families who don't have your connections.

I have two questions for you:

1) Were all of the 18 girls named in the trial at Hengdong SWI and is that why Chen Ming was the only orphanage director sentenced?

2) What is the range of birthdates that you mention in your Feb. 23 post? (It says all 18 girls had birthdays within a few days of each other.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping us informed. I appreciate the information you provide.

Mei-Ling said...

Thank You for all your work to kkep us posted and all the information in this case !


Anonymous said...

thank you Brian, for putting yourself out here and trying to shed some light on this topic (and others) despite the heat you often take from commenters!

Susanna said...

Thanks for keeping us updated. Does anyone know where Chen Ming is? Is there any way we can help him? He and his staff took very good care of our daughter. There was much love at Hengdong. I'm wondering if the light sentence means he didn't know what was going on or ???

kim said...

Thank you, Brian for providing some more information and clarity to the situation in Hunan.

Anonymous said...

...but they were charged with kidnapping since no money changed hands... and no mention of international adoption was made at the trial.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, the light sentence was because he was charged as an accomplice, not the instigator.