Sunday, October 14, 2007

Why Wait Times Will Continue to Increase

There has been much discussion on A-P-C and various other boards as to what will happen to wait times in the next year or so. One widely read rumor board speculates that the "ceiling/quota is going to be higher next year", further perpetuating the myth that the orphanages have children to adopt, but the CCAA is restricting these adoptions. Although theories abound, most are based on speculation, conjecture, and emotion, and provide little factual analysis to the discussion. What follows are some facts to support the conclusion that wait times will increase over the next 12-18 months.

The wait time is simply an indicator of the balance (or imbalance) between the number of children available for adoption and the number of families seeking to adopt. We can discuss whether there is a quota on the total number of adoptions being ALLOWED by the Chinese Government (theoretically possible, but no evidence that such is the case at this time), or whether measures are being taken ahead of the Olympics (see above). At the end of the day, the wait times are increasing due to too many families seeking to adopt too few children.

In September 2006 I speculated that wait times would stabilize in the following months. In April 2007 I reassessed that position, and concluded that there is no foreseeable reason to maintain that wait times would be going down. My primary reasons for expecting a decrease in wait times in September 2006 was the resuming of adoption referrals from Hunan. I expected the backlog of held files to relieve the pressure on falling supply, but this proved to be incorrect. It seems that many of the children that had been held were adopted domestically, rather than being held for international adoption. Thus, the wait continued to climb.

Over the next 6 months families who submitted their paperwork in December 2005 and January 2006 will be referred children. Since it seems likely that the attrition rate of these groups has been fairly low, we must look to an increase in supply to bring wait times down. It must be remembered that from month to month the "demand" equation can vary somewhat, but in order for the wait time to decrease, the equation must change to the point where the CCAA refers more than one month's worth of dossier submissions in a given monthly referral batch.

Changing Supply Figures
A lot has been made of "new " orphanages being added to the IA program, but although some new orphanages have been added, none are bringing a significant supply of children to the program. This can be seen by the orphanage submissions for Guangdong, Jiangxi, Hunan, and Guangxi, for example, which collectively supply 60% of the children for international adoption.

For 2006, Guangdong submitted on average 161 children per month. So far in 2007, the entire Province of Guangdong is submitting 124 per month (January through June 2007). Jiangxi submitted 200 children per month in 2006, and is down slightly to 192 so far in 2007. Guangxi submitted 75 per month in 2006, a number which has fallen to only 39 per month in 2007. Hunan has also seen substantial declines, falling from an average of 79 per month in 2006 to only 36 per month so far this year. Collectively, that means the last six months of referrals from these four Provinces was about 516 per month; in the next six months we can anticipate that rate falling to 390 children per month, a 24% decrease.

It should be obvious to families that these numbers don't bode well for a substantial increase of adoptable children becoming available in the short-term. In fact, it seems likely that the number of healthy children will not EVER increase, given the increasing domestic adoption rates, falling abandonment rates, and improved economic circumstances of millions of Chinese families.

Therefore, given the falling supply and the steady demand equation for the next 6 months, wait times will only be increasing.

Given the rate of increase, it is highly likely that the wait time will hit 36 months or higher in 2008. Unless something dramatically alters the supply-demand equation as is now seen, no other conclusion is tenable.

Brian

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post--did you get your stats on the number of children from the various provinces from tallying finding ads?

klem

Research-China.Org said...

Yes, finding ads are placed previous to submitting a child for adoption.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Why can we anticipate that the rate of referrals from these four provinces will fall by 24%?

Research-China.Org said...

Fewer files sent to the CCAA equals fewer children to refer.

Brian

Anonymous said...

I think the argument against your conclusions (which, btw, I agree with) is that the kids are there, just not being submitted for IA. This to me remains the big question -- ARE they there, but not being submitted for political reasons, or are they truly NOT there due to increased domestic adoption and decreased abandonments of NSN kids?

The lack of hard stats leaves one with anecdotes rather than the 'big picture', but apparently there's a lot of unwillingness to believe the chinese official line that abandonment is really down and domestic adoption is really up. Rather, some believe it's face-saving (at best) or conspiracy (at worst) to drastically reduce international adoption even though many NSN kids still need homes.

I'm not sure where the reluctance to believe the 'offical line' arises -- some firsthand stories of orphanages that are still overcrowded? or just too good a marketing job done by all these years by adoption agencies, so the picture of 'tens of thousands of unwanted girls languishing in orphanages due to the one child policy and lack of local interest' is just apparently indelible at this point?

For sure as a waiting parent it must be a slap to be told that the win-win scenario you thought you were participating in (so many kids needing homes, not enough parents) has devolved into something more like a tough market situation (too few kids needing parents, too MANY parents in line wanting to adopt them).

I'm speaking only of NSN here; there is for sure no 'shortage' of SN kids and unlikely to be one for the foreseeable future.

Hard, hard situation. It would've been SO much better if the Chinese had imposed a real quota system a few years back, rather than asking agencies to only submit dossiers for 'the best' candidate parents, or trying (late) to reduce the dossier pool via restrictions...

JUlie H, chicagl

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. Thank you Brian. With a LID of 2006, I am again struck in the heart -- but glad for less abandonments overall.

How accurate do you feel your provincial information is as it's based on finding ads? Any ideas what your margin of error is?

Kcmjpm

Research-China.Org said...

Julie:

I have been sharing my observations for several years now as to why I don't believe one can logically argue that NSN children are not being forwarded to the CCAA for adoption. Primary in the "stats" department is the fact that the overwhelming majority (over 90%) of orphanage directors indicated no need to adopt a healthy child to a domestic family when approached.
(http://research-china.blogspot.com/2006/06/hague-agreement-and-chinas.html)

IF the CCAA was keeping healthy NSN children from being adopted internationally, there would be a great desire on the part of orphanage directors to find other families to adopt the children to inside China. Additionally, if the CCAA was keeping children from being adopted, why would the orphanage directors in Hunan have needed to purchase the children from traffickers?

I have yet to find a single orphanage, and I have looked, that has healthy children that have not been submitted to the CCAA for adoption. If anyone can provide the name of an orphanage that has a healthy 3 and under child whose paperwork has not been submitted to the CCAA, or whose paperwork was sent more than 6 months earlier and has still not been referred, I would love to hear about it. One reads "I heard from a friend" stories all the time, but no one presents any data.

The reason that many adoptive families refuse to read "the writing on the wall" is, in my opinion, due to the fact that all of us came to China's program believing we were adopting a child that would have not had a family otherwise. To realize that the opposite is in fact the case, that most of our children would in all probability have been adopted by a domestic family if not for the international adoption program, is difficult for many to accept.

Brian

David said...

This may sound accusatory, but it is not...but how do we know it will decreast another 24%...is it just because of historical data so mathematically we assume it will continue or is there some factor out there (that I'm unaware of) that says it will continue to decline. I'm just trying to understand these numbers...not pick them apart.

Research-China.Org said...

Kcmjpm:

It is of course possible that we are missing some finding ads, which would understate the number of subscriptions. However, we have a highly reliable system for locating the ads, so I feel we are very close to 100% certain.

Brian

Research-China.Org said...

David:

We don't KNOW it will decrease 24% for the next two years, only that the "supply" in these four provinces is down 25% from the average for last year. One can speculate all kinds of alternative scenarios (Hubei going up, for example, or that the first 6 months of 2007 are an anomaly, both of which are unlikely), but an object in motion tends to remain in motion, and the motion for healthy infant submissions is down pretty much across China. My next blog article on finding data for 2006 will present additional information on why this is occurring.

Brian

Anonymous said...

In response to Peter S. Goodman's article in the Washington Post, Stealing Babies for Adoption, 3/16/2006, you stated the following in a letter to the Post editor:

"...but the sad reality is that annually an estimated 250,000 children (mostly girls) are abandoned in China, 35,000 of which end up in China’s foreign adoption program. One can readily see that there is no shortage of adoptable children."

source:
http://www.outtacontext.com/life/archive/000334.shtml

What was your source for the above figures and what do you feel accounts for the discrepancy in finding ad. numbers you've recently reported?

Research-China.Org said...

Over the past few years I have been collecting the newspapers that report the findings of children in every Province in China that participates in the international adoption program. At the time of the Washington Post article, I had the ads from about half of the Provinces. Drawing on those numbers, I estimated the total number at 35,000. That number proved to be too high, as subsequent analysis has shown (my "Trends of Abandonments in China" offers a nearly complete picture of submission rates for 2005-2006). The actual rate of submissions across China was around 14,000 in 2006.

Brian

Christy said...

Brian, I totally agree with you that there are fewer abandonments,and I don't think that there is a quota as such. But I do know of a NSN baby girl whose paperwork has been sent to the CCAA several times and as far as I know has still not been placed. She just turned two a few months ago. You can see her on the Chinese Starfish Blog. I don't know why she hasn't been placed yet, but you asked if there were any children like that.
Also, I have hear firsthand from our guide in China that DA in China is becoming very common. In fact she said that it was one of the reasons for the long wait. Christy

Research-China.Org said...

Christy:

Can you point me to the specific child you refer to? It would be interesting to investigate her story.

Brian

Christy said...

Brian, her name is Antoinette. You could probably e-mail Amanda who is the foster mom for her and the other babies and she could tell you more then I could. Christy

Anonymous said...

To realize that the opposite is in fact the case, that most of our children would in all probability have been adopted by a domestic family if not for the international adoption program, is difficult for many to accept.


Brian, do you believe this is true of SN children (WC program) as well?

Lisa

Research-China.Org said...

No, I don't think most SN children would be adopted domestically. For that reason, I think the China program will be around for a while in some form.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Yep, Brian, I do believe you (I think the way my previous comment was worded mightn't have made that clear). The available evidence seems persuasive to me, also. But maybe it's easier for me to believe because a) I was at the big Nanchang SWI 2 summers ago and it had very few kids in it -- all apparently tiny babies (a handful), SN kids, or older kids in the group homes -- and the director told me that 10 years ago there were more than 400 kids under their care and now less than 150 (counting the kids in foster care). 400 to 150 in 10 years, that's pretty persuasive, esp in Jiangxi which has been the top IA 'supplier'.

And b) because I'm done adopting and not caught up in this nightmare, so I'm less emotionally invested in the situation, other than feeling very sad for those stuck in the queue who've seen their waits quadruple with no end in sight. I can only imagine their anguish -- not only to wait seemingly endlessly but also to be made to feel their love is not needed. Very hard for an AP to take. Our wait was hard in 97 -- all waits are hard -- and there was a delay then too, and uncertainty, but nowhere near this magnitude. And we had the comfort of knowing that there really WERE many more kids needing homes than available parents, and that we'd get a kid for whom IA was the best viable solution at that time.

I continue to believe a huge amount of grief could've been avoided if the CCAA had been more strict, more quickly, regarding the influx of dossiers by imposing real quotas. Maybe it was in part a massive case of bad communication all round, with them believing a 'word to the wise' in the ear of the agencies would lead to a reduction in submissions, and that request being pretty much ignored by the agencies since it was completely lacking in teeth.

The pearl in the big nasty oyster is that fewer kids are being abandoned and those who are, at least in the NSN group, have a better shot at finding a home domestically. That is inarguably a good thing, but such a hard way to get there....

Julie H

Anonymous said...

Brian-
I am a little confused about
finding ads. Are finding ads
published for children who are adopted domestically? Can you tell by your investigating, that:
"yes the number of domestic adoptions taking place this year are significantly higher than, say 5 or 10 years ago."
Are we hearing "domestic adoptions are up in number" to make the world think better of China? Is there a reliable place in China, where you look for the domestic adoption numbers? Would you guess that the total sum of domestic adoptions done "legally thru the orphanages" will be higher this year than IA?

Anonymous said...

I have visited resently Huainan SWI in Anhui -plenty of children and all ages. 2-3 babies in one crib. Very poor orphanage and very few international adoptions.

Research-China.Org said...

Determining the rate of domestic adoption is tricky, and we are largely basing our assumptions on statements of the Chinese authorities. I do believe domestic adoption DEMAND is high, since almost all of the directors in our survey last year indicated they had waiting lists of domestic families seeking to adopt. But as far a a trend goes, we have little visibility.

Another complicating factor is that the finding ads for domestic adoptions are placed when the paperwork is finalized, which can be up to two years after the child is taken in by the adoptive family.

Lastly, the notices are placed in thousands of small newspapers across China, with only a few orphanages using large papers. But we can gain a glimpse at domestic adoption from those few papers, something we will be treating in an upcoming "The Trees in the Forest" essay, where we will compare teh demographics of domestically adopted children with those adopted internationally. Quite interesting.

Brian

Research-China.Org said...

Huainan is one of my favorite cities, and we did some research there in 2003. If anyone gets a chance to go there, make sure you ask a taxi driver to take you to the war memorial museum, set up to remember the 60,000 men and women who died in the Huainan labor camps in world War II. The Chinese do not hide the dead like we do here, and it is very impressive to see the exposed mass graves, much like in Nanjing's memorial.

But Huainan does a lot of international adoption. In fact, its 68 international adoptions in 2006 places it right behind Hefei as the most performed in Anhui Province. Assuming no domestic adoptions (I'm sure they do domestic adoptions, but for the sake of this illustration), Huainan would receive on average 6 or 7 kids a month. Since most children are adopted at ten months old, the orphanage could have 50 to 60 children in various stages of paperwork at any given time. This ignores the SN children of course. But it proves an important point: Unless you know the adoption rates, the rate of NSN and SN, etc., one can't decide what is actually going on with that orphanage.

Brian

rex said...

Thanks for the "real" story. The finding ads are the only way to track this (except if the CCAA opened up the books) emotional subject. Once the 2007 immigrant visa numbers are posted we will really know what is up or down.

I find it hard to comprehend the inability of many to accept the fact that there is more demand than supply. More so , the underlying truth that IA of NSN child in China is winding down. Most likely due to domestic adoption, which is the basis of The Hague.

There seems to be a sick hope that tens of thousands of paper ready children are being hidden from us rich westerners by a mean Chinese conspiracy. The children seem to be getting younger at placement, 6-8 months, so assuming 2 months to get a child paper ready we really only have a picture out 4-6 months. We cannot hope to provide a realistic number out three years when the children are not yet born.

Thanks for you work.

terriblespeller said...

My question: Do you think the following is true - if the $3000, payment that is due to the orphanage once you travel and receive your child, was increased to say $5000 or more, we would see an increase in the number of children that were "ready" for international adoption?

Cradock said...

Brian,

Thanks for the usual excellent report. Your determination in compiling this data, thoughtfulness in presenting your analysis, and patience with our questions are wonderful to see. Projecting trends always requires a little art along with the science, and your explanations of your sources and assumptions make the conclusions more solid.

I used to try reading and participating in various Yahoo groups back when we were adopting in 2004. The amount of, um, "hooey" there was maddening. I'm not expecting everyone else to take a rational social science perspective, but the constant "I heard ..." and "OMG!!! Ladybugs!!" stuff tended to swamp what useful information was actually there. I can't imagine what it's like in there now, though I'll admit that I also can't imagine what it's like to be prospective parents who prepared themselves for one kind of system and mindset 2+ years ago, but now find themselves blindly drifitng in a very different one.

I'm looking forward to the next articles. I really want to know more about the way this happens, both for general curiosity and for the story I'll be telling my daughter (and myself) over the years.

Bob

Bonnie C. said...

Hi,
We have a DTC date of February 3, 06 for our second daughter, a 2-3 year old girl.

Do you feel we are likely to see a placement in 6-8 months?

Regards,
Bonnie

Research-China.Org said...

Terriblespeller:

The short answer to your question is yes, raising the adoption fee would result in more children being placed in the international adoption program, but not for the reason you might think.

At this time, the adoption donation required of most domestic families is between 10-30,000 yuan. This allows the domestic adoption program to remain competitive with the IA program. In other words, most directors will send the healthy children where the largest financial gain is realized, and at this time that is, on average, about 50-50 between IA and domestic.

Raising the adoption fee for IA families to $5,000 would create greater supply of children, but at the cost of those children for domestic families in China. Fewer doemstic families would be able to match the higher fee, and therefore more children would be available to place in the IA program. It is not that the directors are too lazy to do the work, they simply are trying to maximize their cash flow to provide funds for their special needs children, for the old folk's program, and other needs.

Brian

JoAnn Stringer said...

Brian,
Somehow I always imagine there are a lot of provinces in the western part of China, far from Beijing and the more prosperous cities, that still have children in need of homes. What do you hear about those provinces?
JoAnn, Austin
mom to two from China

Research-China.Org said...

Dear JoAnne:

My next essay will discuss the abandoment rates in all of the Provinces, and I think you will find the answers amazing. Not to spoil your reading of that essay, but the further north and west one goes, the FEWER abandonments occur (factoring for population). Additionally, demand for domestic adoption in these areas runs very high, resulting in some interesting abandoment patterns.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian,
Do you think the CCAA will tighten the eligibility criteria further (like they did in May 2007)?

I see the excess of applicants as an opportunity to choose the best rather than having everyone languishing in a big queue. Does the CCAA see it that way?


Quincy.

Research-China.Org said...

I think the next change will be a change in adoptability of the children, not the parents. In the next few years, I feel the CCAA will limit the number of healthy children adopted, and emphasize more the special needs children.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Hi I am new to the site,and we are currently going through for our second child. I have to agree with a previous comment on how different the process is now compared to two & a half years ago.
I am wondering what the wait times are in regard to SN children ?

karen said...

Brian,

I've run into some mathematical errors in your analysis which you may want to correct.

In 2006, nearly 12,000 children were submitted to the CCAA for adoption outside China.

over 10,600 children for international adoption, representing over 95% of all the children submitted across China.


Based on your previous total of 12,000 children submitted, the 10,621 records you looked at would actually be 88.3% of the total, not 95%.

If I use the total of 14,000 you quote in your comments then the percentage would be more like 75%.

We will begin our study by looking at an obvious demographic characteristic of the children -- their gender. In 2006, 1,648 boys were submitted for adoption, or 18% of the total. The balance, 8,973 (82%) were for female children.


Based on these numbers the correct percentages would be 15.5% male and 84.5% female.

Your graphic depicting the ratios of SN/NSN/Male/Female has the total ratio of boys to girls correct, based on the numbers in your text, but it doesn't match the NSN/SN data presented earlier in your article. Based upon the numbers you provided earlier the ratio of NSN to SN children should be 87.3% ((8,973 - 619) 8354 girls + (1,648 - 713) 917 boys / 10,621).

Anonymous said...

Good work as usual,

I do find it interesting that the drop in number of children placed in 2006 from 2005 (-1500)is the same number as the drop in children who were over 1 years old at the time of placement.

Anonymous said...

Do you think that they are submitting fewer files due to changes in the filing process? Maybe there is more paperwork involved, a fee to file maybe? I just cannot see how abandonments coudl have dropped off so drastically and suddenly. Plus it coincides with the timing of all the changes at the CCAA.

Research-China.Org said...

I have spoken with many directors since the Hunan scandal, asking if anything has changed on their end regarding paperwork, and all have confirmed that nothing has. There is no fee for submitting a file, and no additional steps. There are a lot of factors playing into the abandonment equation: increasing financial opportunities, changing preferences, etc.

Brian

Anonymous said...

I have noticed that several adoption agencies are still speculating that adoptions will take between 18 and 24 months. Given the recent activity, I cannot imagine how that will be the case. Do you have any insight on how long parents applying in 2007 to adopt a healthy child may wait?

Research-China.Org said...

It seems likely that families applying now will wait more than 3 years, and possibly more.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Do you know the wait times for expedited files (parents of Chinese descent)? Has the wait time for these people lengthened as well?

Research-China.Org said...

I don't know. Perhaps a reader can shed light on this question?

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian -

Do you have any data to suggest that there is a difference in wait times for people adopting their second child from China? If so, is it more or less time? I have heard so many different stories, it would be good to hear your comments.

Research-China.Org said...

I am unaware of any difference in wait times for families adopting the first time verses one adopting a second. As I recall referral data, it doesn't seem the CCAA differentiates the two classes.

Brian

Anonymous said...

In respect to expedited files and waiting times. We had our files expedited but we still waited 19mnths. We ended up writing a letter to CCAA after our documents were in China for about 18mnths. This was to ensure that they were considering us for expedition.We didn't think we had anything to loose. We were told at that time that China only considers a certain ammount of expedited files in a given time so we think they didn't even consider us for expedition initially. About 3weeks after we wrote the letter we recieved a phone call with the great news of our little daughter... We returned from picking her up in October this year (2007). I hope this helps.

Sandy said...

Brian,
With a LID of February 2007, I am wondering if we will indeed ever adopt from China. Will domestic adoption eventually completely eliminate the need for the international program? (Which I say GREAT if it does...I have no resentment or sense of entitlement...)

Sandy

Research-China.Org said...

I think you will eventually get your child, but I do think things will change in China. Most likely the program will become SN only, although when it will happen is anyone's guess.

Hang in there!!

Brian

Geezerparent said...

Brian, How long were adoptions in Hunan suspended? Relatives frequently ask me why 6 girls ages 4-8, all at Shaoyang (Hunan) SWI since birth, did not have paperwork submitted until late 2007 (I brought my 7 year old home in Aug 2007--the girls were healthy but Hep B carriers. Note for others: my guide told me wait for healthy infants is now 2 1/2 to 3 years. Co-traveling families reported waiting 2 years.)

Research-China.Org said...

The entire Province was haled for four months (January to nearly the end of April 2006). The six orphanages involved in the scandal were stopped for nine months, until September 2006.

Not wanting to be the bringer of bad news, but Shaoyang is currently being investigated for coordinating "seizures" of children from area villages and funneling them through the orphanage for adoption. Basically, the Family Planning office will go into an area, take any children that are not registered, and transfer them to the orphanage for adoption. More will come out on this case in the near future.

Brian

Research-China.Org said...

Geezerparent:

Please contact me privately at brianstuy@research-china.org.

Thanks!

Brian