Sunday, May 27, 2007

Trends of Abandonments in China

A lot has been made of the recent surge in wait times for families adopting from China. The causes for this increase have been sufficiently addressed on this blog. Recent rumors of changes in the number of orphanages that will participate in the international adoption program require us to take a look at the history of the orphanages from the six main areas that have traditionally provided the majority of children in the International Adoption (IA) program. Those Provinces, in order of declining contribution and with their 2005 IA figures in brackets, are Jiangxi Province (2,900), Guangdong Province (2,600), Hunan Province (2,400), Guangxi Province (1,400), Chongqing Municipality (1,200) and Hubei Province (700). These six areas contributed 11,200 of the approximately 14,000 files submitted for international adoptions in 2005, or 80% of the total.

Jiangxi Province
Jiangxi Province provides more children for international adoption than any other Province in China. Largely rural, Jiangxi's orphanages submit twice as many children for international adoption per capita as the other major adopting Provinces (67.6 children submitted for IA in 2005 per million inhabitants verses around 30 children per million for Guangdong, Hunan, Guangxi and Chongqing Municipality, and 13 per million for Hubei Province).

Submission records are not available for Jiangxi in 2000, so 2003 and 2006 were used. In 2003, the top five adopting orphanages in Jiangxi were Fuzhou, Fengcheng, Xiushui, Hengfeng and Jianxin, each of whom submitted more than 100 children for international adoption, and who collectively submitted nearly 950 children, or a third of the entire Province.

Participating orphanages submitted approximately 2,700 files to the CCAA in 2003, a number that dropped to around 2,450 in 2006. To compensate for the 10% decline in submissions, the CCAA added new orphanages to the IA program, and these five new facilities submitted a little over 300 files in 2006, causing Jiangxi Province’s total submission rate to remain flat over the four years.

In 2003, 37 orphanages were involved in international adoption in Jiangxi. By 2006, nineteen of those orphanages had seen their numbers decrease, four remained constant, and fourteen saw an increase in submission rates. The largest decrease was seen by the Xinyu orphanage, which saw its numbers fall from 96 submissions in 2003 to just 9 in 2006. The largest increase in the Province was in Shanggao, which saw its submissions rise from just eight in 2003 to 63 in 2006, a 687% increase.1The average number of submissions in 2003 was 74 per orphanage, a number that dropped to 66 submissions per orphanage in 2006 as smaller orphanages were brought into the IA program.

Guangdong Province
Second only to Jiangxi Province in IA submissions, Guangdong Province contains large areas of both urban (eastern) and rural (western) populations.

The top five adopting orphanages in Guangdong Province in 2000 were Guangzhou, Huazhou, Lianjiang, Maoming, and Zhanjiang, each of which submitted in excess of 100 files for international adoption. Collectively, these five orphanages submitted 720 children for adoption in 2000, or 40% of the total for the Province.

By 2005, only two of the top five from 2000 remained there – Zhanjiang and Huazhou. Huazhou had experienced a 33% decline in the five years, while Zhanjiang had increased by 28%. Maoming’s place in the top five was replaced by her sister orphanage Maonan, which was created in 2002 as a district of Maoming, and whose geographical boundaries were once part of Maoming City’s. Taken together, Maonan and Maoming City’s submissions for 2005 were 232, the second highest submission for all of Guangdong.

The highest number of children submitted in 2005 were from the Yangxi orphanage. Yangxi joined the IA program in 2002, and submitted 262 files to the CCAA in 2005. The last orphanage in the top five was Gaozhou, which saw a 265% increase in submissions between 2000 and 2005. Thus, by the end of 2005, the top five orphanages in Guangdong Province were the Yangxi, Gaozhou, Huazhou, Zhanjiang, and Maonan orphanages.

Taken collectively the ten orphanages that experienced increases more than offset the twenty-two orphanages in Guangdong that remained the same or decreased. In 2000, all 32 orphanages in the IA program submitted 1,813 children for international adoption. In 2005, those same orphanages submitted 1,908, a 5% increase. Additionally, the CCAA added a total of 21 new orphanages to the program, which submitted nearly 700 children of their own to the CCAA. Thus, for 2005 Guangdong Province submitted a total of 2,603 children for adoption, a 44% increase over 2000.

The increasing submission rates in western Guangdong from 2000 to 2003 drew the attention of the CCAA, and an investigation was launched in early 2004 at several orphanages in Western Guangdong Province. Files were inspected, and finding records verified in Maoming, Gaozhou, Huazhou, DianBai, Wuchuan, and several other orphanages. Apparently no impropriety was found, although record-keeping irregularities were found in Huazhou. Most orphanages reached a submission peak in 2003, and have been declining since then, although submission rates in 2005 were still generally higher than 2000.

Hunan Province
In 2000, Hunan had 23 orphanages participating in the international adoption program. The top five orphanages in adoptions for 2000 were Zhuzhou, Yueyang City, Changde, Yiyang, and Shaoyang, all of whom submitted in excess of 120 children each in 2000. The remaining 18 orphanages ranged from eight (Yuanjiang, Miluo) to 98 (Xiangtan). With 663 submissions, the top five orphanages represented nearly half of the adoptions for all of Hunan Province.

By 2005, only Yiyang remained in the top five, although IA submissions had risen nearly 50%. Zhuzhou’s adoptions for 2005 were 74, a 47% decline from 2000. Yueyang City fell 76% to 33, Shaoyang fell 58% to 51. Although Changde was unchanged over the five-year period, a new group of orphanages rose to push Changde out of the top five.

Taken as a group, Hunan’s orphanages active in the IA program submitted almost 1,400 files to the CCAA in 2000. These same orphanages actually increased their submissions through 2005, but the increase can be mostly attributed to a small number of orphanages. Of the 23 orphanages in the program in 2000, ten of them remained unchanged or decreased the number of submissions made in 2005 when compared with 2000. Changsha First saw its numbers increase over 100% to 142 files submitted in 2005. Yueyang County saw its numbers increase 150% to 75, even while her sister orphanage, Yueyang City, saw its numbers drop 76%, resulting in a net decline for the area. The CCAA invited more orphanages into the IA program, adding Yuanling in 2001, Hengdong and Zhijiang in 2002, Zhishan in 2003, Hengnan, Linxiang, Huaihua and Lanshan in 2004, and Xiangxi, Fengyu, and Ningyuan in 2005. These additions boosted the number of files submitted in 2005 by over 500, for a total of nearly 2,400 submissions in 2005, a 71% increase from 2000.

In looking at Hunan, one might draw the conclusion that this is one Province that is actually increasing their adoption rates, and while it is true that a majority of Hunan’s orphanages increased submissions from 2000 to 2005, a deeper analysis of the numbers shows that the bulk of Hunan’s increase can be attributed to just six orphanages, three of which are the principle orphanages involved in the Hunan trafficking scandal: Qidong, Hengshan and Hengyang County. The two other orphanages involved in the scandal were not in the IA program in 2000, but by 2005 both of these orphanages were submitting in excess of 100 files each, the largest number of any of the new Hunan orphanages that joined after 2000.

Qidong submitted 30 files to the CCAA in 2000, roughly half of the Provincial average of 60. By 2005, however, the trafficking of children had boosted Qidong’s submissions to almost 150, a four-fold increase. Qidong’s partners in the trafficking ring experienced equally impressive increases. Hengshan’s numbers jumped from 40 to over 120, a 200% increase, and Hengyang County, the ringleader of the trafficking ring, saw its numbers skyrocket from 13 submissions in 2000 to over 118 in 2005, an 800% increase. Only one other orphanage in Hunan saw similar increases. Although not implicated in the trafficking story, Yongzhou saw its adoption submissions jump from 35 in 2000 to over 185 in 2005, an increase of 431%. It is perhaps not coincidental that Yongzhou2 lies in the same vicinity as Qidong, Hengyang, and the others. One must also wonder why no alarms went off in Beijing like it had with Guangdong.3

Given the complexities of the baby trafficking case, and its unknown breadth in Hunan, it is difficult to assess if Hunan’s numbers naturally increased or decreased over the 2000 to 2005 time period.

Guangxi Province
In 2000, thirteen orphanages were participating in the IA program in Guangxi. The top five orphanages in 2000 were Nanning, Baihai, Wuzhou, Mother’s Love, and Guilin, which together submitted almost 600 files for adoption, or 60% of the nearly 1,000 submitted by the entire Province. Only three orphanages submitted more than 100 children for adoption, Baihai, Wuzhou and Nanning, which was the largest orphanage for adoptions with over 200.

Total adoptions increased slightly from 2000 to 2005, but average submissions fell from 76 per orphanage in 2000 to 53 per orphanage in 2005. The orphanages participating in 2000 collectively submitted a little over 1,000 files to the CCAA in 2005, a 4% increase. As a group, slightly more than half (7) of the orphanages experienced declines, and six increased their submission rates. Additionally, the CCAA added eleven additional orphanages to the IA program, which collectively submitted around 250 files for adoption. With the addition of these eleven orphanages, international adoptions increased 30% in Guangxi from 2000 to 2005.

Several orphanages saw substantial increases over that period, however. Baihai increased its submissions 42% to 142 file submissions in 2005, while Yulin City more than doubled their adoption rate from 40 to 125. Hepu also more than doubled its submissions to 64, while Guiping experienced the largest growth of all of the Guangxi orphanages, increasing 240% from 2000 to 2005. In 2005, the top five orphanages were Baihai, Yulin, Nanning, Guilin and Guiping, three of whom were also in the top five in 2000.

Chongqing Municipality
Prior to 1997, Chongqing Municipality was part of Sichuan Province, and many adoptive families still refer to Chongqing in that way. In 1997, Chongqing City was merged with Fuling, Wanxian and Qianjiang to form Chongqing Municipality in a desire by China’s central government to increase development in the western regions of China.

In 2003, the CCAA began opening orphanages in the various districts around Chongqing, including Qianjiang, Hechuan, Liangping, Wanzhou, and others. The number of orphanages in Chongqing Municipality tripled in 2003 to nine. An additional three orphanages were opened in 2004, one in 2005, and two more in 2006 (although these two have not yet adopted internationally). By the end of 2006, 14 orphanages were adopting, or in the process of adopting, children internationally in Chongqing.

Prior to 2003, the largest adopting orphanage was Fuling District, which submitted 569 files to the CCAA. Chongqing City was the next largest, with 173 submissions in 2003. The rest of the top five were Dianjiang, Qianjiang, and Liangping, each of which submitted over 100 files to the CCAA. In all, 1,367 children were submitted for adoption in 2003.

Like most Provinces, Chongqing Municipality-area orphanages as a whole saw its numbers decrease. In 2006, the total number of files submitted for international adoption had decreased 33% to 910. The change was sporadic and inconsistent: Fuling’s adoptions dropped 76% (to 135), while Xiushan increased over 600% (to 153). In 2006, the top five orphanages were Xiushan, Fuling, Qianjiang, Dianjiang, and Banan, with two of that group submitting less than 100 dossiers to the CCAA. On average, Chongqing's orphanages submitted 136 files in 2003, an average that dropped to 60 in 2006.

Hubei Province
Hubei has the lowest ratio of IA submissions per capita of any of the main Provinces (13 submissions in 2005 per million people). In 2000, the largest submitting orphanage was Huanggang, the only orphanage to submit more than 100 files to the CCAA. The other orphanages in the top five were Wuhan (94), Dawu (44), Daye (44) and Wuxue (43). The top five orphanages submitted in total 327 files in 2000, comprising nearly half of the children internationally adopted in the entire Province (676).

Like Guangxi, Hubei’s adoption rate stayed nearly constant among the orphanages participating in the IA program in 2000. Six orphanages joined the IA program, and these orphanages submitted only 73 files combined in 2005.

By 2005, Huanggang remained in first place, increasing submissions 22% to 124, still the only orphanage in Hubei to submit more than 100 files. Wuhan remained in second place, practically unchanged over the five years. Third place was a relatively unknown orphanage in 2000, Tuanfeng, which saw a dramatic increase of over 240% in the five years, submitting 65 files in 2005. The remaining orphanages in the top five were also newcomers: Qichun (58) and Chongyang (35).

In all, eighteen orphanages had their numbers decrease from 2000 to 2005, while twelve had increases.

From the analysis of the six primary Provinces involved in the International Adoption program in China, one can see that the submission rate is generally trending lower, but with pockets of exceptions (see table below). Taken collectively, two Provinces experienced declines (Chongqing, Jiangxi), two remained essentially flat (Guangxi, Hubei), and one was slightly higher (Guangdong). Hunan was substantially higher, but a large part of that increase was due to trafficked children.

In 2000 (2003 in the case of Chongqing and Jiangxi), nearly 9,000 files were submitted by the six Provinces to the CCAA for international adoption. That number fell to a little over 8,700 (a 4% decline) for those same orphanages in 2005 and 2006 (including the Hunan orphanages), and totaled almost 10,700 when the orphanages added to the program since 2000 are added in. This increase tracks with the increasing numbers of adoptions conducted in China (5,053 by the U.S. in 2000, 7,906 by the U.S. in 2005). One can clearly see that as file submissions decline from participating orphanages, additional orphanages are “invited” into the program. Thus, a delicate supply-demand balance is maintained.

But these orphanages, on average, brought fewer and fewer children into the program. Whereas in 2000 the average number of files submitted by each orphanage was 61, by 2005 that number had decreased to 49. If there were hidden pockets of thousands of children, it seems the CCAA would have drawn on them. Instead, new orphanages are, with a few exceptions, small facilities that bring relatively few children into the program. Additionally, many of the new orphanages are simply district orphanages, drawing children from the larger city and county orphanages. This is the case with such orphanages as Maonan district (taken from Maoming City), Qianjiang District (taken from Chongqing City), and so on.

Unfortunately, several factors prevent us from drawing too many conclusions as to how accurately the submission rates of the individual orphanages reflects trends in abandonment rates, since we are not able to determine the other major component in the equations: Domestic adoption rates from these same orphanages. It is possible, for example, that the abandonment rates might be increasing in some areas, but that domestic adoption rates are increasing faster, thus lowering submissions to the IA program. This would lead one to falsely conclude that abandonment rates were decreasing in that area.

Conversely, if abandonment rates are falling in an orphanage’s jurisdiction, but that orphanage is doing fewer domestic adoptions, naturally their submission rate to the CCAA would increase, falsely leading one to conclude that abandonment rates are increasing in that area.

Therefore, one can not make any firm conclusions on abandonment rates on the basis of IA submissions unless other information can be factored into the equation.

One such additional source of information are the directors of the orphanages themselves. In early 2006 I conducted a survey of all of the directors involved with international adoption at that time. In the course of the conversation, seventeen directors directly spoke about abandonment rates, indicating in every case that abandonment rates were falling.

In a few cases, there are orphanages that do only international adoptions, domestic families being barred from applying. This is the case, for example, in Liangping and Qianjiang orphanages in Chongqing. In these two cases we don’t need to wonder if domestic adoptions are impacting our perception of abandonment rates, for nearly every child found in these areas are submitted to the CCAA for adoption.4 Between 2003 (when these orphanages opened) and 2006, both Liangping and Qianjiang orphanages experienced declines in adoption submissions (68% and 12% respectively). Thus, we can safely conclude that at least in these two areas, abandonment rates are declining.

In the case of one orphanage, we do have the number of domestic adoptions that were performed, and we can thus determine its core abandonment rate. Guangzhou orphanage in Guangdong performed a total of 680 adoptions in 2000. Of these, 547 were domestic and 133 were international. The total number of adoptions fell to 194 in 2005, with 148 of those being domestic adoptions, and 46 being international. Thus, although Guangzhou shows a decline in international adoptions from 2000 to 2005 of 66%, total adoptions fell 71%, showing that the abandonment rate in Guangzhou fell more than the international adoption rate.

This example illustrates one problem with drawing conclusions of abandonment rates based on international adoption rates. It seems likely that a director could, upon recording declining numbers of children entering his or her orphanage, shift a greater percentage of those children from the domestic adoption program to the international adoption program. The reason for doing so is obvious: International Adoption provides more funding to the orphanage than domestic adoptions, since few Chinese can match the $3,000 adoption fee required of international families. Thus, even though abandonment rates in a given orphanage district decrease, that orphanage might respond to this decline by submitting a greater percentage of the children to the international adoption program. This would result in our analysis showing an increase over the five year period, falsely leading us to assume abandonment rates are increasing in that area, when in fact the opposite is true.

That this is occurring is supported by the results of our 2006 survey of directors, which revealed that over 90% of the more than 250 orphanages surveyed refused to adopt a child to a domestic family. In fact, the vast majority of orphanages report long waiting lists of domestic families seeking to adopt, even while those same orphanages continue participating in the IA program.

Another component in the equation is the ratio of healthy to special needs children being found in China. This ratio was addressed by many directors in our survey, when they stated that the number of “special” children to healthy children was increasing. Thus, an orphanage may submit 100 files in both 2000 and 2005, but if the number of special needs children is increasing, a declining percentage of those 100 files will be for healthy children.

Files submissions, interviews, anecdotal evidence, and economic and sociological trends in China all point to a reduction in the number of healthy children being abandoned in China. While the number of healthy children being abandoned is decreasing, the number of special needs children being abandoned seems to be increasing. But this trend is not universal. Western Guangdong Province, for example, seems to have experienced increasing abandonment rates in recent years, to the point where investigations were conducted to rule out trafficking.

Thus, it seems that although the CCAA can take limited steps to increase the number of children available for international adoption, trends in China show that the number of healthy children will continue to decline.

For 2006, Guangdong Province orphanages submitted a total of 1,906 files, a decline of 27% from 2005 figures. Interestingly, all of 2005's Top Five orphanages saw significant declines: Gaozhou declined 74%, Huazhou declined 57%, Zhanjiang declined 56%, Yangxi declined 18%, and Maonan-Maoming declined 37%.


1. For the purpose of these calculations, only orphanages that submit more than five files in any given year are considered in high and low classifications. This is to prevent a distortion of trends, such as using an orphanage that submitted one file in 2000 and 4 in 2005. Although the orphanage did increase its submissions by 400%, I felt such an increase is not representative of the true conditions.

2. I have no solid evidence that Yongzhou trafficked children, but I am impressed by the increase this orphanage has experienced. The orphanages implicated in the trafficking were "shut down" for most of 2006, and thus had very few files submitted to the CCAA (they began to submit again in the fourth quarter 2006). Yongzhou, however, submitted children throughout the year, with its numbers falling to 114 in 2006, a 38% decline from 2005.

3. It is, of course, possible that the CCAA was already aware of the trafficking problems in Hunan when the story broke in late 2005.

4. The only children that are not submitted to the CCAA are those with debilitating deformities or severe mental incapacities (see my blog essay "Creating Paper-Ready Babies" on the procedures and constraints for submitting files by the orphanages).

Table of Provinces:
Province 2000/ 2005a/ 2005b
Jiangxi = 2,735 (’03)/2,453(’06)/2,769 (’06)
Guangdong = 1,813/1,908/2,603
Hunan = 1,397/1,875/2,396
Chongqing = 1,367 (’03)/837 (’06)/910 (’06)
Guangxi = 988/1,026/1,288
Hubei = 676/650/723

Total = 8,976/8,749/10,689

a denotes totals for those orphanages that were involved in the IA program in 2000. This column allows a true “apples-to apples” comparison in submission rates between 2000 and 2005.
b denotes totals for the Province, including 2000 orphanages plus orphanages added to the IA program since 2000.


Anonymous said...

Brian, would you give the numbers for Yiyang in Hunan please? You noted the numbers for the other top 5 and their decrease, but would like to know Yiyang's.

Also, when you say that you cannot tell if Hunan increased or decreased given trafficking, I'm curious. It looks as though Hunan increased by 500 some adoptions - surely you're not saying that 500 or more were trafficked, are you? That seems quite different than all the reports, so would value clarification from you.


Research-China.Org said...


Yiyang increased from 130 submissions in 2000 to 194 in 2005, a 50% increase.

No, I'm not suggesting that there were 500 trafficked children in 2005, just that given the uncertainty of Hunan's "natural" submission numbers for 2005, it is difficult to get a fix on it would have done absent the trafficking. It seems likely it would have increased.


Anonymous said...


While I understand the caution at which you view Yongzhou's increase in submissions, one thing must be kept in mind. Yongzhou is a complicated orphanage system with nine orphanages participating under the umbrella name of Yongzhou SWI. Since many of the smaller orphanages are not approved to do IA, children's files are transferred to the main Yongzhou SWI and then submitted for adoption. This may account for the increase in numbers as families since 2003 have learned of more county orphanages entering the "umbrella" and sending children's files.


Anonymous said...

Excellent summary;informative....

Anonymous said...


What is your source for # of IAs from each orphanage? I would be interested in seeing the numbers for my daughters' orphanages, Lengshuitan in Yongzhou and Xiangyin in the north of Hunan.


Research-China.Org said...

Dear SRM:

Thanks for the information on Yongzhou.


Research-China.Org said...

Each child has a finding ad placed prior to submission to the CCAA. By counting the number of finding ads placed by each orphanage, their submissions can be tracked.

Yongzhou's numbers are in the essay, but was flat, with 45 in 2000 and 46 in 2005.


travelmom and more said...

Under the Hague convention has the processing for domestic adoptions changed? I thought I had heard that the CCAA now overseas both domestic and international adoption.
When I was in YangXi, Guangdong last July the director said that since opening three years ago the number of domestic adoptions has increased a lot. She said the first year they were open all the children were being adopted internationally, but now about a quarter to a half were being adopted domestically. She said she thought domestic adoptions would continue to increase. She also said that they were finding more children as word was spreading that the SWI was in the area.
I think there is also an increase number of found babies in areas where population inforcement is more prevelant than in those where it is not as common. It would be interesting to see founding data coupled with population campaigns.

Research-China.Org said...

Although officially the CCAA controls both international and domestic adoption through control of the local Civil Affairs Bureaus, in actuality it is still very much a local program. "On the ground" nothing has changed as far as the process for domestic adoption (see my "Domestic Adoption in China" essay for the details).

The Yangxi director's comments that abandonment rates have increased as word has spread of the orphanage opening is interesting, and seems to be supported in many other areas. In Maoming, for example, total numbers of children have increased as each new orphanage has opened, making one wonder why China is opening new facilities. In many cities and counties the new orphanages are simply cannibalizing children from the city or county orphanages, and all remain severely under-utilized.

And yes, it would be VERY interesting to overlay abandonment patterns with Family Planning campaigns. If anyone can figure out how to do that, let us know!


klem said...

Very interesting piece--thanks for all the work you put into it.

Since you are basing your figures on the number of finding ads (which I think probably has a lot of merit), do you have any idea what percentage of those with finding ads get adopted?

If a finding ad is placed, does this mean the child is only available for IA? Do they run finding ads for SN children?

Also just an editorial comment: I don't think you ever mention where in the article where you get your submission figures from, and it might be helpful for you to do that. Or use the phrase "finding ads" instead of submissions or in conjunction with submissions.

All along I was wondering were your info was coming from--thought maybe CCAA. I couldn't figure out why you just didn't compare the number of finding ads--which IS what you were doing.

Research-China.Org said...


Finding ads are placed for every child submitted for international adoption. If the child is healthy and young (under 2 years) there is a virtual certainty they are adopted. Special needs children have less certainty, depending on their need.

I did bring up the finding ads in a comment (see above), but appreciate your comment.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the numbers for Yiyang, Brian, and for the clarification that you're not saying 500 children were trafficked in Hunan. Given the press reports, then, I think one CAN say that Hunan DID increase over that period of time.


Anonymous said...

Bryan, as mother of o wonderful Huazhou daugther I am really worrie about the Houazhou irregularities you are wirting about. Please, could you explain more details about this issue? It is really important for me to know everything in order to be able to explain to my daugther in the future when she will find out this kind of information in internet. Thank you.

Research-China.Org said...

Unfortunately, we don't know much. I was simply told that the CCAA (through the Provincial Civil Affairs office) audited the finding documentation from many orphanages in Western Guangdong, and that Huazhou's files had issues. I have my own suspicions, but all we know is that there was at a minimum sloppy record keeping.


Anonymous said...

Hi Brian,

Thank you for posting these numbers and naming the orphanages involved. We are interested in this information because our daughter was at Changsha First during the latter part of the period for which you are reporting. From the information that we have been able to obtain, Changsha First appears not to have been investigated as part of the baby trafficking scandal. Nevertheless, we wonder what you think the 100% increase in files for this period might be attributed to?

Also, we have asked for information about the Hunan trafficking scandal through our Adoption Agency and have received nothing of substance. They do not comment on individual orphanages at all and give very sketchy information about the story in general. They are certainly not attempting to educate their membership about what went on there. From reading the chat groups I gather that this is quite typical. Given that the agencies present themselves as acting in the best interest of the adoptees, and one would hope that they are relatively well informed about the details of what when on in Hunan, why do you think they are so reticent to provide information that relates so intimately to our children's past?

M.Miller said...

I would just like to comment on your comments regarding the Yongzhou SWI, I did see that someone posted regarding the Yongzhou system. It is indeed made up of about 9 SWI's that feed into the Yongzhou name. We can determine what facility the children come from by the naming system. My daughter is from the Dao SWI and had a name Yong Dao Yu for example. Now that trend for Dao is different as beginning 1 year ago (June 06) Dao was approved to submit directly to the CCAA withough going thru the Yongzhou system and the naming has changed since that date. We saw the first referrals for DaoXian show up in Dec 06, I believe. I have followed the Hunan scandal from the beginning and have read your thoughts as well. I also have a close friend with a child from Hengdong adopted in the time frame of the scandal with lots of things that don't add up and have talked thru a lot of different scenerios and what ifs. Having said all that, I truly don't believe the conclusion you infere about Yongzhou to be on target. Because these children are coming from so many different SWI's the increase would not be out of the realm. And now we will have a few of those SWI's submitting indepentenly, the numbers will decrease for Yongzhou SWI. Please feel free to contact me if you need more info on the Yongzhou system as we know it.
M. Miller

Anonymous said...


Do you think the referrals have gotten so much slower because there are truly fewer babies being abandoned, or do you think the CCAA has imposed quotas?


Research-China.Org said...

I know there are people asserting that there are quotas, but these people have obviously never spoken with a single director about this topic. There are no quotas.

The orphanages are providing as many children as they can, and there are fewer of those children available.


Research-China.Org said...

M. Miler:

I appreciate your input on Yongzhou. I tried to soft pedal the assertions on Yongzhou because I realize there are factors that I am not aware of.

However, aside from the scandal orphanages, no orphanage has increased in adoptions as much as Yongzhou. It could very well be that abandonments in that area are increasing dramatically.


Research-China.Org said...

In reply to Anonymous regarding agencies:

I think that agencies are in the unenviable position of being caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand they are interested in helping families as much as possible (hopefully), but on the other hand the CCAA has clearly communicated to them that "rocking the boat" will jeopardize their future ability to do adoptions in China. Thus, agencies generally discourage families from contacting the orphanages prior to adoption, discourage families from traveling to orphanages while adopting, and require all post-adoption contact to channel through the CCAA.

The agencies feel they must obey these restrictions out of fear of the CCAA. Thus, questions regarding the Hunan scandal, etc. are fraught with problems for agencies since asking the CCAA about these issues will likely result in reprimands.

The final result is you will not get much cooperation from agencies on these matters. But understand it is really not the agencies fault, since the restrictions are placed by the controlling force -- the CCAA.


malinda said...


Do you draw any conclusions as to why abandonment rates might be falling?

It wouldn't be surprising that more families are choosing to parent their children given the better economic position of some families in China -- China is touting the 1.3 million people it raised from poverty last year. It also seems that the gender imbalance is softening the central government's stance on enforcement of the one family, one child policy. And some provinces are heavily promoting the value of daughters.

But it could also be a lower birth rate because of more contraceptive use and more abortions.


Ray said...

The largest increase in the Province was in Shanggao, which saw its submissions rise from just eight in 2003 to 63 in 2006...

In 2004, we adopted our daughter from Jiangxi province, Shanggao orphanageSWI2003. In our travel group, there were six or seven other families who adopted children from that orphanage. Some, like ours, were in foster care for most of the time. All were about the same age, or at least had 2003 birthdays and/or "found" dates.

Is it possible that our group adopted all of the children Shanggao SWI submitted in 2003? That seems strange. I visited that orphanage in March 2004 and there seemed to be quite a few children there, most of them found in 2003.

Research-China.Org said...

It would be possible to determine if your group adopted the eight files submitted in 2003 (as seems likely). I have never been to that orphanage, so have limited insight into its adoption patterns. The lead-time from the finding ad publication (the first step for international adoption) and actual referral averages 6-8 months. Thus, children in the orphanage in March 2004 may have had ads printed in early 2004 or later. We would need to compare Chinese names, etc. to determine exactly when your group's finding ads were placed.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Brian. Your post provides important data about the declining numbers of children admitted to Chinese orphanages, especially those orphanages involved in China’s foreign adoption program.

Orphanage data may or may not reflect overall abandonment trends, however. Additional recent studies continue to be published that also relate to abandonment by examining birth sex ratios and the variety of cultural, biological, and other factors that might contribute to the “missing girls” in China’s population figures. It’s difficult to learn much from these about the degree to which the wide gaps between male and female births identified through China’s 2000 detailed census may be holding steady, but these types of studies still don't collectively indicate a narrowing of China’s gender gap. This would at least seem to leave the door open on the related question of abandonment.

With orphanage figures, even the Chinese government has noted that its state run orphanages address only a comparatively small number of children abandoned. Indeed there is research to suggest that the government policy for directly addressing abandoned children in rural areas is really an informal one, mostly leaving the problem up to villages and families to solve. It was likely a spillover from this inadequate policy that helped to flood orphanages in cities and “county towns” with children for many years. But add to this the domestic market or demand for children spread across provinces that has been discovered by baby traffickers or “intermediaries” and one gets another significant factor that might affect the number of children who today find their way to state run orphanages, this in addition to increasing numbers of even rural families that studies have shown are now interested in domestic adoption—even if only “informal” rural adoption. On the other hand, there are clearly ways in which the gender gap could hold steady and abandonment decrease. For instance one recent study in Anhui Province attributed most of the high 1.5 to 1 male to female gap among a study group there directly to selective abortion, although it’s unclear whether the method used to select families involved in that study could easily have included those who could admit to illegally abandoning children.

The abandonment picture still seems a very murky one to me, although the decline in children admitted to orphanages that you point to is encouraging. I hope abandonment is significantly declining; it sure needs to be stamped out altogether.


notyetamama said...

Great site. If you don't mind I like to include it in my "Other Resources" section on

Anonymous said...

Do you think China will ever close their doors to IA? And if not with few children being placed for IA what will happen to the China Only agencies do?

Research-China.Org said...

"Ever" is a long time, but my hope is that China will continue to adopt any child that they are unable to adopt domestically. For that reason, I think the China program will be around for a while, because Chinese attitudes and financial abilities make many children found in China unadoptable inside China.


Cathy said...

Hi Brian, when speaking of Chongqing you say "The change was sporadic and inconsistent: Fuling’s adoptions dropped 76% (to 135), while Xiushan increased over 600% (to 153)."

I adopted from Xiushan and I am curious as to what your feelings are about the amount of babies found in this area now and also about the very generic referrals and repeat finders.
Does the information point to trafficking?
In such a remote area where adoptive families never get to visit, is this not a red flag situation?

600% and rising based our yahoo group memberships.
Thanks for all your hard work!

Research-China.Org said...


I was just in Xiushan late last year, and was impressed by the director and his staff. Xiushan, like Qianjiang to teh north, both have experienced rapid growth, but in and of itself that doesn't mean something is wrong. The pattern I am seeing is that areas with no orphanages experience fewer abandonments. When word gets out that an orphanage has opened, it seems that abandonments rise dramatically. That could very well be the case in Xiushan.


Samantha said...

Thank you for the data.

You have referenced in recent blogs a drop in paper ready available children not evident in the tables above (but much of the data is two years old) - Has the last two years really seen a huge drop in children or has an increased number of prospective parents for the children increased the wait time? Or is it a combination of both? I read somewhere that in Nov 2005 the CCAA received 2,000-3,000 applications and they are just now placing children monthly for only a few days or 1 week based on LID dates.

Research-China.Org said...

It is evident that both decreasing numbers of healthy children and increasing IA demand for those children are combining to increase the wait time.

Unfortunately, the CCAA has little latitude to increase the number of available children. Although they continue to add new orphanages to teh program, these bring relatively few additional children. The increased wait time is certainly having its impact on the demand side, as will the new requirements.

Although some agencies are speculating that the wait will reach 5 or 6 years, that seems unlikely. After peaking at around 3 years (or slightly less), wait times will slowly return to the 18-24 month range, where they could remain for a while.


Anonymous said...

Brian,would you tell us about what is the percentage of chinese children internationally adopted whose finding ad are published?.
Do you think finding ad can be an evidence of the legality of the procces of one particular adoption?.

Research-China.Org said...

A finding ad is published for every child adopted in China, whether domestically or internationally. The publication of a finding ad gives no evidence to the legality of a child's coming into the orphanage. Thus, the orphanage published finding ads for all of the trafficked children in Hunan, for example.


Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine a 2 to 3 year wait for an adoption and cannot in good faith recommend the China program to anyone interested at this time. Even though we had as good an experience as possible, due to the unknown wait times i would havws to say don do it.

People have to keep going on with life and not put their lives on hold or their marriage and life will suffer.

At some point the CCAA and the US adoption agencies are really going to have to come clean on the supply / demand issue. How did the CCAA get so blind / backed up with our making the recent requirement changes earlier?

Anonymous said...

I read the last post and can only offer that life is what happens as you wait for your child and truly nothng should be on "hold."

In the past I'm sure I gave a long-winded answer when someone asked me/ us why we adopted from China. The answer is no very easy; how else would we have met our daughter Gianna Wan-Fen.

The wait from DTC for refferral was about 7 months the first time round and this second time I'm sure it will total to what will be two years from DTC to having our second daughter in my arms.

All told, it will feel like a moment and as I said before, life is what happens in between. I'm certain adopting from China with what seems like the same amount of babies but more people in line is worth it beyond description for all parties involved.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

The long wait is hard on everyone but the atitdude we have will make a big difference in how we deal with it. Our LID is Feb. 15/07 so I know the wait will be long for us. If someone can't deal with the long wait than they should look at other countries for IA. I try to stay positive. Whatever happens was meant to be.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian,

Would you mind clarifying your comments about Qidong?

You said "3 principal orphanages involved in the trafficking scandal, including Qidong"

Yet it was my understanding that the Qidong SWI was NOT implicated in the scandal.

I seemed to understand that one of the SWI was Hengyang, which is in Qidong County and that the trial took place at the Qidong County Courthouse.

Additionally, you wrote that in 2000, Qidong submitted 30 files to CCAA and in 2005 they submitted 150 files.

I ask for a number of reasons.

First, my daughter was adopted from Qidong SWI in 2000 in a group of 5 babies. Later that year another agency facilitated about the same number of babies for adoption.

So I wonder where the other 20 babies went?

Our list is a very small list and while I understand many families choose not to join their orphanage listserve, I think based on the numbers, the numbers you say were submitted seem to be high.

Again, if 150 were submitted from Qidong SWI in 2005, these babies just weren't adopted, as in the past 2 years only about 15 people have joined to say they were adopting from Qidong.

I also ask because I travelled to Qidong last year and visited the orphanage, met with the director who facilitated my daughter's adoption, another man who was the director subsequently as well as a few nannies who have been there since 2000.

It seems to me that if these people had been involved in a trafficking scandal, they wouldn't still be at the orphanage!

So, I was just wondering if you had other information directly related to Qidong SWI. The numbers just don't seem to add up.

Thanks so much!

Research-China.Org said...

According to the investigative pieces published in China (and published on this blog in English), the following orphanages purchased children from the Duan and Chen trafficking families between 2002 and 2005:

Qidong Welfare Center
Hengyang County Welfare Center
Hengshan County Welfare Center
Hengnan County Welfare Center
Hengdong County Welfare Center
Changning Municipal Welfare Center

It is of course impossible to determine where the children adopted from Qidong, or any orphanage, end up, and few families subscribe to their orphanage newsgroup relative to the total number.

One would think that the individuals involved in the Hunan scandal would no longer be in their positions, but as far as I know not a single director has been fired or otherwise held accountable for the actions in this regard. It is my understanding that Jiang Jianhua, director of the Hengyang County orphanage, still serves as its director, although he was convicted last year in the case, and sentenced to jail time.


Anonymous said...

I am confused, Brian.

You say, "A finding ad is published for every child adopted in China, whether domestically or internationally. " If that is so, and it certainly appears to be, then how are you able to separate out with such certainty the humber of files submitted for international adoption?

In other words, your posts often confidently assert numbers of children submitted to CCAA, and you sometimes speak as though all those children go into the international queue.

From what you've now said, that BOTH int'l and domestic kiddos have finding ads, you cannot (correct spelling, by the way - a bugaboo of mine on this word!) confidently talk about numbers of children available for int'l adoption.

Or can you?

And if so, how??


Research-China.Org said...

The finding ads for international adoptions are almost always published in different papers than the domestic ones.

In the rare cases when they are published in the same paper, the issuing authority is the orphanage for international, and the Civil Affairs Bureau for domestic.

Thus, it is fairly easy to break them apart.


Anonymous said...

Thanks - appreciate that! Is that how you determined the number of int'l and domestic adoptions for the Guangzhou SWI, by the respective paper?

Research-China.Org said...

Yes, the domestic adoptions are placed in a local paper in Guangzhou, while the international ads are placed in a Provincial paper.


Anonymous said...

I have been adopted from from the hunan providence. I'm still looking for my birth parents. After reading this article I wondered if I was abandoned. My adoptive parents said they have no info about my birth parents. I was disappointed,because I wanted to know why I was at the orphanage. It also stresses me out that I don't know my real birthday or age. I have done many test and it said I was around the age of 12. But that didn't help me out to my age one little bit. For all I know I could be nine.