Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dutch Report on Trafficking in China

Yesterday, the Dutch Ministry of Justice issued their report on their sixth month investigation into baby trafficking in China. The investigation was initiated following the broadcast of Netwerk's "Adoption in China" in which allegations of corruption were leveled against China's international adoption program.

Predictably, the Dutch report is largely exculpatory of the Chinese, but several important points must be emphasized. These points will be discussed in the order they appear in the Dutch report, the full report of which was generously translated by Roelie Post.

1) The Dutch conducted their investigation by holding discussions with "the China Centre of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) that falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Also discussions were held with representatives of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, the Embassies of France and Spain in Beijing, Save the Children UK in China and some individuals working on the field of adoptions in China."

It is not clear what possible good might come from having discussions with the Spanish and French embassies in Beijing, but it is clear that asking the CCAA or Population and Family Planning Commission would bring little verifiable truth to the table. It is akin to asking the fox about conditions in the hen house. What is clear is that no investigations were conducted, no interviews of farmers in China's countrysides, no discussions with orphanage foster families or nannies to discover if what the CCAA is saying was actually true. No, the Dutch simply asked the CCAA if anything was amiss in their program. The answers, of course, were predictable.

2) With the Hunan scandal in mind, the Dutch discussed the possibility that other orphanages were still purchasing children. "Many homes are in poor regions, where according to our standards small payments can be of big meaning. In aforementioned American study it is noted that children's homes have great interest in the donations of foreign adoptive parents. It could lead them to tempt Chinese parents to place their children in their home, in stead of foster care placement or to promote national adoption or – even worse – instead of raising the child themselves. Also, children could become more often the victims of kidnappers who take children for profit from their parents to offer them to children's homes. It is of importance that the Chinese authorities are aware of this and where necessary react strongly against such practices. The scandal in the province Hunan where the programme of EO-Netwerk dealt with extensively, shows that the authorities do so."

These statements are in fact highly ironic, given the measures the CCAA went to hide the problems in Hunan, and to minimize the extent of that problem. Given ABC News's report, for example, of Fuzhou's aggressive baby-buying program, one might expect the CCAA to have "react[ed] strongly against such practices." In fact, nothing has been done in Fuzhou to end their program, and no notice has been sent to orphanages condemning such programs. I can provide the names and phone numbers of over 300 orphanage directors so that they can call and ask if ANY directive has been issued by the CCAA since Hunan prohibiting the payment of money for children.

In this regard the Dutch have been misled by the CCAA.

3) Faced with incontrovertible evidence provided by myself and others, the CCAA admitted to the Dutch that monies are frequently paid for children: "CCAA acknowledges that in practice the giving of a certain amount to the finder of a child as reward for the fact that he or she brought the child to the Children's Home, does happen. It concerns, according to the Chinese authorities, mainly symbolic amounts."

Adoption reform advocates can at least applaud the CCAA for opening the door that allows us to see how the system might work in China. Again, however, the problem is minimized. While it is true that many orphanages might only offer "symbolic amounts", it is nevertheless true that many orphanages have systematically offered large amounts of money. Orphanages in Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guangxi, Chongqing, Hubei and other Provinces can be shown to pay between two and three thousand yuan, over a year's income in many areas. This can't be seen as "mainly symbolic amounts." It would have benefited the Dutch in their investigation if they had simply visited some rural areas in China and inquired of local farmers instead or relying on the testimony of the CCAA. If the Dutch need help in investigating the extent of China's incentive programs, I can provide a list of over 30 orphanages, which collectively account for nearly half of the international adoptions from China. Evidence suggests all have baby-buying programs in place.

4) The Dutch then inquired about Netwerk's allegations that unregistered children had been systematically confiscated by Family Planning officials and adopted internationally. The CCAA unequivocally denied that this had happened. Rather, according to the CCAA, "the families concerned have, according to the law and after agreement with the families involved, transferred the guardianship of the by them illegally adopted foundlings voluntarily to the state." One must ask why, if this was all done voluntarily, the families involved filed a petition to sue the Family Planning. One must wonder why, if this were done voluntarily, the children were taken from their families at 3:00 in the morning. One must wonder why, if this was done voluntarily, Yang Li Bing was told he could have his daughter back if he paid a large sum of money. One must wonder why, if this were done voluntarily, the CCAA would lie and say the confiscated child of Yang Li Bing is still in the orphanage, when in fact she was adopted to an American couple.

That the Dutch Justice Department took the words of the CCAA at face value in light of first-hand testimony and adoption records is amazing.

5) The Dutch conclude that "The Netherlands can let themselves be informed by the Chinese authorities and if irregularities appear they can ask for clarification and if necessary insist on measures to be taken."

We have seen how such "inquiries" are made. As with Hunan, the Dutch will discover through the media a story of orphanage corruption. Rather than launching a transparent investigation (perhaps looking at a sample of police reports, interviewing finders, talking with rural families, etc.) they will simply ask the fox is things are alright in the hen house. The fox will smile and insist that the cackling was just another hen joyfully singing in the new day.

The Dutch will then go home, confident that the hen is safe and not being eaten for dinner by the fox.

___________________________________________

What followings if the complete report submitted by the Dutch Ministry of Justice to the Dutch Government.

http://www.justitie.nl/actueel/nieuwsberichten/archief-2008/80910versterking-samenwerking-met-china-inzake-adoptie.aspx?cp=34&cs=578



Ministry of Justice
The Hague
Netherlands

10 September 2008

Subject: Intercountry adoptions from China

The Chairman of the Second Chamber

On 14 March 2008 I have informed you, with reference to a broadcasting of EO-Netwerk, about intercountry adoption from China. In this broadcasting worrying images were shown of the way in which the People's Republic of China would deal with intercountry adoption. In aforementioned letter I have warned for the drawing of far-reaching conclusions in anticipation of a reaction of the Chinese authorities. During the broadcasting such a reaction lacked. I announced to discuss the concerns with the authorities and for this to send a delegation to China.

A delegation of my ministry has visited beginning of May 2008 the China Centre of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) that falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Also discussions were held with representatives of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, the Embassies of France and Spain in Beijing, Save the Children UK in China and some individuals working on the field of adoptions in China.

Also a children's home was visited. As a follow up to the discussions a number of additional questions was made up, on which the Dutch embassy had a follow-up meeting with the CCAA on 12 August 2008.

Goal of the discussions was to obtain clarity about the question if in practice the situations as shown by EO-Netwerk's broadcasting are structurally happening, and if intercountry adoptions from China are implemented in accordance with the Hague Convention on Adoption. The discussions were also used to reinforce the ties between the authorities and to discuss together the further improvement of the cooperation in intercountry adoptions. During these discussions a lot of background was obtained which makes it better possible to judge the developments in China.

Anticipating the visit a meeting was organised with some experts and with the adoption agencies who work in China. Also the reporting of EO-Netwerk was put to the Permanent Office of the Hague Conference for Private International Law and contacts were made with the Central authorities of from China receiving countries with the question if they were aware of facts and circumstances that could be of importance for the working visit.

Finally, a study of two American students about the practice of intercountry adoption in China and the US was used. This study points to a number of vulnerabilities in the system and gives recommendations that could also be of importance for The Netherlands.

It concerned a joint initiative of the Dutch and the Flemish authorities and took place between 5 and 9 May 2008. The Central Authority of Flanders, where the EO-Netwerk broadcast was also aired, participated to all meetings. The discussions with CCAA were done separately, which gave the Flemish Central authority the opportunity to raise additional questions during the second discussion, making use of the discussions held in the mean time with other organisations. The visits were actively supported by the mutual embassies. At the discussions with the Chinese authorities has been participated by the accredited minister from the Netherlands in China and by the consul of Belgium.

The discussions took place in an open ambiance. CCAA appeared to have studied the broadcasting of EO-Netwerk intensively and had reacted as well as in writing before the visit, also during the visit. During the visit also the aforementioned American study was brought to the attention of the CCAA.

Findings

The Hague Adoption Convention has the following principles:
1. The mother who relinquishes the child for adoption must have done so voluntarily and after the birth of the child (according to an established procedure);
2. None of the concerned may have had the intention to make a profit; the payment of costs made is allowed;
3. First a solution needs to be found in the surroundings of the child, respectively i hte country of origin, before intercountry adoption can get into the picture (the principle of subsidiarity)

These principle must guarantee that international adoption takes place in an integer manner in which the interest of the child constitutes the first consideration. The findings of the Delegation are explained according to these principles.

Ad. 1: the manner of relinquishment

It is in the interest of children that they, if possible are raised by their own parents. If parents nevertheless relinquish their child it must be clear that they do so voluntarily. There may not have been any improper pressure on them.
The children who are made available for adoption are according to the Chinese authorities almost all children relinquished by their parents by leaving the child as foundling. This is being said to be the result of the 'one-child-policy'. The Government has, with as objective to control the population growth, an active form of 'Family Planning'. Parents in cities are in principle only allowed to bring one child into the world on punishment of often severe sanctions. In the countryside there is a more lenient rule. A second child is allowed if the first child is a girl. Especially girls and children with a deficiency are placed as foundling. Tradition and the fact that boys support their parents work in the disadvantage of girls. The last years the rules concerning the one-child-policy have been somewhat eased.

Children with a deficiency (so-called special needs children) are furthermore placed as foundling as parents cannot carry the costs of care. As far as adequate medical treatment is offered, the costs are not or not fully covered by the government or an insurance system.

The relinquishment is mostly the result of need. According to the Chinese authorities there is, however, no pressure to relinquish children, also not in the framework of the one-child-policy.

The relinquishment of children is punishable by law. The authorities do not take children away from parents in view of the one-child-policy, this was ensured to the Delegation [Dutch sic.] This has also been confirmed by other speaking partners.

In order to exclude that parents did not voluntarily relinquish and are possibly still looking for their children there is always an investigation into the place of origin of the child and data considering the finder and the circumstances in which the child was found are registered. Also an advert is placed during in a provincial newspaper during which parents have 60 days to react. In practice parents to not react to that.

Ad. 2. No intention of profit

The making of profit is generally considered unethical. In Western countries, and by now also in China itself, there is a large demand for adoptable children while the offer worldwide, also in China, is declining. There is therefore a risk that despite the prohibition money or other favours are offered to get children for adoption. The Hague Adoption Convention explicitly prohibits the making of profit by anyone involved in adoptions. Reimburse costs and donations to children's homes are allowed. Donations are usually for the benefit of children in the children's homes that do not qualify for intercountry adoption.

In China the payment for children is in principle prohibited. The government has set up rules for the hight of donations and the use of these. The provincial authorities are monitoring this use.

Ad. 3 Preference for care in own environment

The Hague Adoption Treaty stipulates that a child is in principle better of with care in the own environment, than abroad. Before a foreign adoption is considered, therefore first a solution needs to be sought in the country itself.
During recent years the number of international adoptions from China increased substantially. The amount was mostly dedicated to the one-child-policy. Nevertheless the impression arose that the Chinese authorities gave insufficient priority to the promotion of national adoptions. In the recent period the number of national adoptions has however strongly increased. The rules to adopt a child have become more flexible and in China more people can afford to adopt a child. Also policy is and will be developed to allow children more and more to be placed in Chinese foster families. The number of children that is offered for intercountry adoption has because of that strongly decreased. Only the number of 'special needs' foundlings that become available for intercountry adoption is still high. The Chinese authorities started some years ago with a major project, the 'Tomorrow Plan'. The goal of this project is to collect money for correctional surgery for 30.000 children in the whole of China. CCAA now gives priority to the intercountry placement of these children with adoptive families. The impression exists that with this the offering of healthy children is consciously hampered. The expectation is that in the coming years the offer of healthy children from China will further decrease. With increasing prosperity this will possibly also count for 'special needs' children. For the moment for this group of children there is however still a large need for intercountry adoption.

Vulnerable

The legislation and the policy of the Central Authority in China is, as far as could be established during the meetings, in accordance with the Hague Adoption Treaty.
The 'one-child-policy' puts a heavy price on the Chinese population, but enforcement to relinquish a child is according to the Central authority not the case. The payment for children is in principle prohibited. There is more and more space for national adoption and placement in foster care in China. That is a positive development. Further improvement seems possible by better aligning the systems of national and intercountry adoptions. Still also then the system shows to be vulnerable.

Many homes are in poor regions, where according to our standards small payments can be of big meaning. In aforementioned American study it is noted that children's homes have great interest in the donations of foreign adoptive parents. It could lead them to tempt Chinese parents to place their children in their home, in stead of foster care placement or to promote national adoption or – even worse – instead of raising the child themselves. Also, children could become more often the victims of kidnappers who take children for profit from their parents to offer them to children's homes. It is of importance that the Chinese authorities are aware of this and where necessary react strongly against such practices. The scandal in the province Hunan where the programme of EO-Netwerk dealt with extensively, shows that the authorities do so. Still, on a regular basis possible new irregularities show up. Also a delegation of the Association Wereldkinderen who beginning of July visited China, pointed this out to me. So it is important that CCAA remains alert on possible irregularities and acts convincingly when rules are overstepped. CCAA has shown during the meetings in May to be aware of this importance. CCAA acknowledges that in practice the giving of a certain amount to the finder of a child as reward for the fact that he or she brought the child to the Children's Home, does happen. It concerns, according to the Chinese authorities, mainly symbolic amounts. Also it happens, like in other countries, that the finder is reimbursed for travel, care or medical costs. About the admissibility of such payments there are in China different interpretations. CCAA is of the opinion that in no case many may be paid to finders. For this reason CCAA has started recently a campaign to create awareness that anyone who brings in a foundling will need to involve the local police, instead of bringing the child to a children's home.

CCAA indicated in this meeting also that it could agree to many of the recommendations of the American study. According to CCAA on many points actions have already been taken, for example on the issue of the improvement of control mechanisms, the promotion of national adoption and the substantial increase of government financing of children's homes.

CCAA also showed awareness to the importance to document as good as possible the origin of children. The files that were shown gave a professional impression. Also the Chinese side showed to be prepared to accompany children in their request to see their adoption file when in the interest of their personal development.

In the framework of increased transparency the possibility was also raised to promote the legal relinquishment of children. In this case the data on the parents are known and it can be established with great certainty that the relinquishment was done in total freedom. CCAA was not unwilling to this idea, announced that discussions on this are going on in China also and that they are looking at the situation in other countries. CCAA, however, indicated that China for the moment is not ready to legalise relinquishment.

Reaction to the EO-Netwerk programme

With letter of 7 April 2008 the CCAA announced to have taken note of the content of the EO-Netwerk documentary about adoption from the province Hunan, which was broadcast on Dutch television on 11 March 2008. The authorities reacted as follows on the situation as shown during the broadcasting.

1. In case of adoption via the Shaoyang Social Welfare Institute in all cases the legal procedures for adoption were followed as in force in China, whereby the Public Security Bureau traced the natural parents and public announcements were made, and in case the natural parents could not be found, according to procedures agreement at all levels was gotten before adoptions were started.

2. Concerning the news in the Dutch media that the too many born babies (reference to one-child-policy) were taken by local officials and subsequently offered to foreigner for adoption: according to research it was found that this news is not in accordance with the facts. Fact is that the citizens of Gaoping Village, Longhu county of the commune Shaoyang had illegally adopted twelve foundlings and one child from a non married couple. According to the Chinese adoption law these families did not fulfil the conditions for adoption. In order to protect the interest of the children, the families concerned have, according to the law and after agreement with the families involved, transferred the guardianship of the by them illegally adopted foundlings voluntarily to the state. In the case of the child of the non-married couple, it appeared that the biological mother left for unknown destination, and the family of the biological father appeared not to be (financially) able to care for the child and he agreed voluntarily that he child will be cared for by the State. The child still lives in the Shaoyang Social Welfare Institute.

It is not so that the local officials with force take so-called too many born baby's from their parents to offer them subsequently to foreigners for adoption. Of the above mentioned children none has been adopted by Dutch families. The news that from twins one child would have been taken by force and transferred to the orphanage, is not based on the truth. In China it is not against the one-child-policy to have twins or multiple children, and poor families who get multiple births can request financial support form the State.

From the before it may be clear that the reading of Netwerk on important points differs from that of the Chinese authorities.

Conclusion

Iin case of adoptions from Treaty countries, the responsibility for the control of the question if the prerequisites of the Hague Adoption Convention are fulfilled, rests with the competent authorities in the country of origin. That means that the cooperating countries in intercountry adoption are highly dependent on mutual trust. In my reaction to the report of Mr. Oosting about adoptions from India of 7 November 2007 (Second Chamber 2007-2008, 31265, nr. 1) I discussed this extensively. Also for China counts that I have to be able to trust on the integer manner the Chinese authorities implement the principles of the Hague Convention. The Netherlands can let themselves be informed by the Chinese authorities and if irregularities appear they can ask for clarification and if necessary insist on measures to be taken.

The meetings with the Chinese authorities and other named institutions, organisations and person in China enable me to create a reasonable image of the policy followed on intercountry adoption in China. According to the report of the delegation and on the bass of what was discussed on 12 August, the legislation in China is in accordance with the principles of the Hague Convention and the authorities in Beijing are making the necessary efforts to have adoptions from China done in accordance with the Hague Convention. This is also the view of the other speaking partners and colleague Central Authorities. The authorities, moreover, show to be open to possible shortcomings. In the discussions that the delegation had with organisations outside the government in China and in contacts with other foreign Central Authorities that image has been confirmed. They point to the fact that Chinese authorities are making much progress and are open to advise of foreign organisations and authorities. The discussion the delegation had does not allow, however, to express opinions on the way the policy is implemented at provincial level. The situation differs from province to province. With a certain regularity cases come up that indicate an insufficient implementations of the rules in certain provinces of the People's Republic. These are worrying sounds. According to the authorities the rules are implemented as they should be by the provinces. They acknowledge however that in practice irregularities took place and my continue to take place when persons (criminals) consciously bypass the regulations. When such behaviour comes to light strong actions are taken. The way authorities acted at the time as a result of irregularities in Hunan confirms this.

UNICEF staff with whom the delegation spoke in China points out that in their view it concerns exceptions and it would regret if because of these one would not see the structural improvements. The reporting about the way in which CCAA is dealing with the children who lost their parents due to the recent earthquake is in this matter a reason for trust.

Also where it concerns the addressing of trade in children – which happens in China, but according to UNICEF relatively not on big scale – there is progress. China has a population of 1.3 billion people. Compared with this the number of incidents, however serious these each as such may be, is extremely modest. Also the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference for International Private Law points to that. News from the Chinese media about the active persecution of baby-traders in the Province Yunnan makes clear that it hereby does not stay with just words.

The worrying sounds about the practice of payment by homes, especially the news of the ABC-news of May this years, I have brought to the attention of the CCAA.
CCAA has taken the incident in Hunan at the time as occasion to convince all Child Welfare Institutes and Social Welfare institutes from where children are adopted that payments for children are prohibited. The news reporting of ABC-news calls for the question if that approach was sufficient. That is from the Netherlands of course difficult to conclude. Save the Children UK has told the delegation that if payments would be something that happened often, this should have been known to this organisation. That appeared not the case. Save the Children and UNICEF have committed to the delegation that they would inform the Dutch Embassy in case they are confronted with signals of payment. The fact that CCAA in the conversation acknowledges that the interpretation of certain rules in practice differ, has shown conciousness that payment incidentally happens and sets up a countrywide campaign to make clear that payments are not authorised, makes clear the the Chinese authorities acknowledge these problems and are not getting away from their responsibility.

Overseeing the whole I conclude that there is no reason to reconsider the currently existing adoption relation between the Netherlands and the People's Republic of China. It is, however, important to continue to follow development in China and improvements made by the authorities. For this I consider a reinforcing of the cooperation between the Netherlands and China the way to go. The importance of more frequent contact was also subscribed to by CCAA and again confirmed in the meeting hat took place on 12 August 2008. This fits into my intention to intensify international contacts surrounding intercountry adoption. For this goal, as of 1 September 2008, a special advisor for international cooperation in intercountry adoption has been appointed at the Central authority who will take care of improvement of the information position in ensuring the rules of the Hague Adoption Treaty.

It speaks for itself, that the risk of incidental irregularities at provincial level, as lined out before, require continuous alertness and the critical following of adoption, as well from the side of the Central authority and the Dutch diplomatic representation in China, as well as from the side of the adoption agencies who mediate the placement of children from China.

As indicated before, it is in the interest of the children that irregularities in procedures are prevented as much as possible, and fought. I am of the opinion that there is also a responsibility at the Dutch side and consider it important that, if there are indications of ongoing irregularities, in all cases immediately these will be brought to the attention of the Chinese authorities. In case there would be new developments in the relation with the Chinese authorities that would require a change of my in position as outlined in this letter, then I will inform the Chamber about this immediately. In this way I mean to do justice to the joint interest to have adoptions done in an integer manner, in the interest of the children.

The Minister of Justice

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Brian,

In the translation by Mrs. Post a mistake has been made.

In the second alinea the original text says: "...the Embassies of France and Spain in Beijing, Save the Children UK in China, Unicef, and some individuals working on the field of adoptions in China." In the translated text, Unicef is not mentioned... How reliable is your translation, considering that Mrs. Post is known as anti-IA?

Research-China.Org said...

Readers are of course encouraged to point out major inaccuracies if they exist, but Ms. Post's biases are not relevant to any discussion of the translation since a link is provided to the actual report. Missing "Unicef" hardly constitutes a display of bias.

Brian

Anonymous said...

The Dutch Authorities have also discussed the matter with representitives of Unicef and other welfare organizations. With all respect, you are not the only authority in this matter.

Research-China.Org said...

When asked if Unicef had any information on China's adoption program, they responded thusly:

"Currently UNICEF China office doesn't have a project on adoption as such but we are including this component to be looked into through one of the
"mini"- situation analysis that we are conducting as part of our Mid Term Review of our Country Programme with the Government of China - an initial step leading to perhaps a more comprehensive study that we may want to consider conducting in the future."

Not exactly a statement of knowledge and comprehension as to these issues.

Brian

Anonymous said...

I contacted UNICEF with information about the incentive program and also issues of baby trafficking into Canada and U.S. from China and I was told that there was simply nothing they could do about this issue and that it would be wise to go to a media source when dealing with China.
The woman directed me towards a couple of media sources and that was the end with Unicef.
They advised me that Unicef had minimal access into China's IA program and the only real way to investigate and expose would be through media.
This was not what my hope was, however this was the reality with the Unicef staff who was in charge of these issues.
This was only month’s back, so not really considered outdated.

I am surprised to see Unicef now being named here- really very ironic.

Why does CCAA or China need organizations to police its own program? If the program is this untrustworthy then some larger changes should be made rather than opting to hire babysitters.

As for the translation attacks, I am grateful that Roelie offered this service so we can all have access to this 'interesting' report.

Quite possibly we have more to learn from those who were deemed "anti-adoption" than we once thought,
Sort of like the past attacks on those "angry adoptees". IMO they have many reasons to be "angry".

Cathy

malinda said...

Thanks for posting the translation, Brian -- extremely helpful!

Is this the investigation you mentioned in the previous post, or are there other investigations into the IA program ongoing?

Research-China.Org said...

We had hoped the Dutch would do some kind of investigation, but didn't hold out much hope. The investigations I am aware of are by large media organizations.

Brian

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

Hi Brian ! So grateful to you about the translation... Thanks so much.
I am trying to make out the reason why American amabassy (or any other American body) did not attend the meeting?
Are American not interested in the question? Rather surprising for the 1st country of residence for Chinese orphans worldwide, don't you think?.

Longing forward to reading your view...

Best regards
French Marianne

Research-China.Org said...

I'm not sure why American Embassy personal were not there. Perhaps they were not invited, or maybe they were invited but didn't attend.

I do know that it is difficult to get governments interested in this kind of things -- the general attitude is not to rock the boat with other countries.

Brian

Sallymander said...

brian,
so sorry to see the attacks on your article. you are too kind in publishing them. if people really think you are wrong, they should supply evidence of their contrary views, not just emotional backlashes without basis. thank you for posting about the inadequacies of the dutch "report."

i probably should read more of your blog to maybe find the answer to my question, but do you know if money is given for unhealthy relinquished children? our boy, who we don't have yet, is minor special needs.
thanks,
sally

Research-China.Org said...

Intuitively I question whether orphanages pay money for SN children. However, I have a hidden-mike recording with the gate keeper of the Changde orphanage in which she offers 1,000 yuan for a cleft-affected boy. So, I can't say for certain that minor SN children are not also being purchased.

Brian

Sallymander said...

this is very ugly and disturbing. thank you for answering my question.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brian,

Please can you help me understand this situation? When I read your blog, this morning I thought about key issues the report of the Netherlands and I could see clearly why you feel as passionately as you do about this issue of dishonesty in the program .

Later today, I read a post of a woman who is Chinese. I always read his posts because I think they should be a good reflection on the rights and opinions of Chinese citizens.
Sometimes she uses your blog to reference and sides with you today his post your blog made me question about this situation Dutch.
Explain please.

What is your real motivation to denounce the "conclusions" that you have done? Is this just a publicity campaign, as suggested by this person?

It is said that you are not actually on the ground inside China? You are pretending. Using local alternative to deceive or persuade people?
Are you simply try to get a media person to work with your information and have failed? Is this why we have not seen "expose"?

The woman said that you refuse to go to the government because you know that you do not have what it takes to meet the standards of investigation? Is this true? Why do not you take this evidence the government?

You say the Dutch would get to the bottom of this according to this source, and now it seems that the Dutch are not taking this seriously? Why not?

please explain. Is this a game of manipulation and why a woman who is Chinese defend the China program so strongly if it was really as bad as you claim?

Who am I to believe or should I just go ahead and trust that governments have done what needed to be done?

I do not want to adopt a child victims of trafficking or add it to a bad program. I want a baby and I think a woman Chinese understand this situation better than anyone else.

Research-China.Org said...

I am aware of the comments of this "Chinese woman" concerning this subject. It is always a bit humorous that some families look to people who have been to one orphanage on an adoption trip as an authority in these matters.

As far as not "being on the ground", I have been to China 20 times in the last five years, or on average four times a year. In that time I have visited and met with over 50 orphanages directors, spoken with thousands of orphanage employees, interviewed hundreds of finders. When it comes to being "on the ground" there are few more connected to China's orphanages than I am.

The Dutch report proved nothing about the integrity of China's program because there was no investigative component to their report. The Dutch went to China, sat down with the CCAA, were given an orphanage tour, and somehow feel this demonstrates that the allegations of child trafficking were baseless. It is a pathetic attempt to cover their collective asses.

The Dutch report is instructive, however, because it shows how pointless it is to bring allegations and evidence of corruption to any government. The Dutch are not unique in their response -- it has been repeated many times over, and most relevant to us with the Hunan scandal.

My evidence has been submitted to every agency I am aware of -- Ethica, Unicef, Amnesty International, U.S. Department of State, and the Dutch Government. All of the NGOs (Unicef, etc.) simply stated that they had no ability to investigate, and that I should go to the media. We see what the Dutch Government did -- asked a few questions, were openly lied to, and came home happy.

I am in near constant contact with scores of orphanage directors. So I am able to confidently say that contrary to the assurances of the CCAA to the Dutch government, no action has been taken since Hunan to curb baby-buying programs. No effort has been made at all to stop this practice. The girl stolen by the Family Planning in Gaoping is not still in the Shaoyang orphanage, but lives in the States. Having personally spoken with the Gaoping families (and others who have had children taken) I can tell you the children were not willingly given up by their parents, adoptive or biological. The Dutch Government was fed a pile of bull.

But, the sad reality is that it is difficult to get a major news organization to commit to an in-depth investigative report about China's program. Many (like ABC News) are willing to grab the easy story, but I am trying to get someone to commit to investigating the over 50 orphanages I have evidence for of trafficking.

So, people can go on about how this problem probably exists, but is isolated and infrequent. Since these people have seldom set foot in an orphanage little weight should be given to their opinion. The sad reality is that a majority of adopted children from China come from orphanages that buy babies.

Brian

Anonymous said...

While a majority of babies come from orphanages that buy babies, do you have any kind of estimate on how many of these babies were abducted or otherwise taken from their birthparents without the birthparents' consent? (I don't consider outside pressure or official taking "consent.")
I'm wondering 1) how many birthparents give up their children voluntarily, 2) what percentage of us with children from China have children not given up voluntarily, and 3) how many of the babies adopted out from Chinese SWIs were bought (whether abducted or not). I know you cannot know exactly, but any rough ideas?

Research-China.Org said...

I think, in general, most of the children are relinquished willingly by birth parents (if you don't consider offering money undue pressure). However, the Dianjiang orphanage case shows how easy it is for someone to kidnap a baby and sell it to the orphanage for international adoption, so such cases are not unheard of. But I do think they are in a very small minority.

Brian

Anonymous said...

"The relinquishment of children is punishable by law."

-We continue to see children left at orphanage gates or civil affairs offices. If the laws were being enforced, would these parents walk up and place a child at a gate when many orphanages have gatekeepers or staff present. The question would be whether these kids are truly left in these locations or is this false information recorded during the processing information.


"In order to exclude that parents did not voluntarily relinquish and are possibly still looking for their children there is always an investigation into the place of origin of the child and data considering the finder and the circumstances in which the child was found are registered. Also an advert is placed during in a provincial newspaper during which parents have 60 days to react. In practice parents to not react to that."

-Orphanage directors have reported that they routinely alter information to hinder a birth parents ability to reclaim their child. The finding ads are not being properly used to locate and have shown to be unsuccessful.


"The making of profit is generally considered unethical. In Western countries, and by now also in China itself, there is a large demand for adoptable children while the offer worldwide, also in China, is declining. There is therefore a risk that despite the prohibition money or other favours are offered to get children for adoption. The Hague Adoption Convention explicitly prohibits the making of profit by anyone involved in adoptions. Reimburse costs and donations to children's homes are allowed."

-Agencies routinely set up charity funds and channel money directly into orphanages. Families are often encouraged by agencies to offer gifts and donations in excess of the mandatory donation. Despite the large revenue that many IA participating orphanages make, they continue to claim that they need more financial assistance. Adequate nutrition and medication is often not made accessible for the children by orphanages and rely on outside organizations to provide these. Low staff ratio is all too often an issue and life-saving surgeries are not done enough without outside assistance.
Adequate heat during cold months is also not provided in most orphanages and issues of deprivation and neglect continue to be prevalent despite financial growth.
It is obvious that many orphanages are profiting from the donations offered. The money is simply not reaching the children.


"CCAA acknowledges that in practice the giving of a certain amount to the finder of a child as reward for the fact that he or she brought the child to the Children's Home, does happen. It concerns, according to the Chinese authorities, mainly symbolic amounts. Also it happens, like in other countries, that the finder is reimbursed for travel, care or medical costs. About the admissibility of such payments there are in China different interpretations. CCAA is of the opinion that in no case many (money) may be paid to finders. For this reason CCAA has started recently a campaign to create awareness that anyone who brings in a foundling will need to involve the local police, instead of bringing the child to a children's home."

-CCAA knew that children were being paid for in orphanages. They knew there was an incentve program set up and utilized to gain access to children. They did nothing despite the issues seen with the Hunan orphanages. The rewards offered are not symbolic, but represent a years salary in the rural areas where most children’s homes are found. Therefore trafficking did occur routinely and CCAA has knowledge of this practice. There is no way to ensure whether these children paid for were true orphans or snatched children. This also hinders the ability to know for sure what the date of birth was of the child in order to successfully find true parents in finding ads. Children could have been brought from different provinces in large batches and orphanages were still taking them in without properly processing them.
CCAA has only recently begun to stress the importance of police reports. This is also another serious infraction that is shown. Without a proper police report filed, the adoption should not have been processed.


"Also the Chinese side showed to be prepared to accompany children in their request to see their adoption file when in the interest of their personal development."

-All files should be open information to adoptive parents and children. Police reports and hospital records should also have been open to adoptive parents at time of adoption.
CCAA owes the children a copy of all information in the files for past, present and future adoptions. Access into orphanages and communication between staff and adoptive families should also be mandatory.


"They acknowledge however that in practice irregularities took place and may continue to take place when persons (criminals) consciously bypass the regulations."

-If the Chinese program is this vulnerable, then massive reform needs to happen before adoptions continue. Any agency or country that continues to work with China while knowing this should be held accountable for any irregularities in adoptions.


"The worrying sounds about the practice of payment by homes, especially the news of the ABC-news of May this year, I have brought to the attention of the CCAA.
CCAA has taken the incident in Hunan at the time as occasion to convince all Child Welfare Institutes and Social Welfare institutes from where children are adopted that payments for children are prohibited. The news reporting of ABC-news calls for the question if that approach was sufficient. That is from the Netherlands of course difficult to conclude."

-The Netherlands and all other countries cannot safely conclude that the Hunan situation had any success on curbing corrupt practices by orphanages. Without access to investigate and noting that CCAA had used Hunan to convince Social Welfare Institutes that payments are prohibited, shows how little control CCAA has over how each province chooses to run and how each SWI chooses to operate.
The Hunan scandal did not correct the issues of baby buying for ICA. ABC proved this. All countries that continue to work with CCAA are now aware that payment programs are happening and the receiving countries have no way to verify whether CCAA is finally going to begin to oversee orphanages and enforce the laws of the Hague.


"The fact that CCAA in the conversation acknowledges that the interpretation of certain rules in practice differ, has shown consciousness that payment incidentally happens and sets up a countrywide campaign to make clear that payments are not authorized, makes clear the Chinese authorities acknowledge these problems and are not getting away from their responsibility."

-This clearly shows that the Chinese adoption program has serious issues and is getting away with much more than any other country is able to. CCAA is not being held accountable for the lack of proper oversight and at this point the China international adoption program is shown to be corrupt, irregular and in breach of many Hague laws. Children and birth parents are not being protected under this program and too much room for corruption is presented.


"It speaks for itself, that the risk of incidental irregularities at provincial level, as lined out before, require continuous alertness and the critical following of adoption, as well from the side of the Central authority and the Dutch diplomatic representation in China, as well as from the side of the adoption agencies who mediate the placement of children from China."

-If the Dutch government has reached this conclusion, then why would they continue to allow ICA from China without reform?


"As indicated before, it is in the interest of the children that irregularities in procedures are prevented as much as possible, and fought. I am of the opinion that there is also a responsibility at the Dutch side and consider it important that, if there are indications of ongoing irregularities, in all cases immediately these will be brought to the attention of the Chinese authorities."

-How will the Dutch government find these irregularities? It is the CCAA’s job to police it’s own program and they have now proven that they are unable to do so effectively. This program is not a reliable program and due to China’s resistance to change relinquishment policies and allow for total transparency a suspension should be made until China’s adoption program reforms to meet the standards of the Hague agreement. If the Dutch government if of the opinion that there is also a responsibility on the Dutch side, then they must be ready to legally deal with the responsibility of future corruption if they choose to proceed with ICA from China.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post.

While it is evident that no ajency wants to be the one find the smoking gun - do you feel that some pressue will be or has been made on the local orphanges to straighten up?

Research-China.Org said...

Possibly, but I have seen no evidence of any. If Fuzhou's adoption numbers decline by 60-80%, then it will be evidence that something was done, for example.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Is it not possible to identify the "high volume referral of healthy infant" SWIs in Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Hunan, as highly suspect SWI in regards to likely baby-trafficking.
Could this information then be used to recommend that referrals from those SWI be considered suspect by adoption agencies and PAPs. Perhaps that would be the impetus for the CCAA and authorities in China to do something more iimpactful?

Research-China.Org said...

Volume is one indicator, but there are several others. Your idea is a very good one, however.

Brian

Anonymous said...

I have been hearing anecdotal stories of parents returning recently from adoption trips to China where the nannies or SWI workers are pulling them to the side asking them to help find hte childrne families. Mostly healthy kids over 2 years or so. One family brought back photos of about a dozen healthy 3-4 year olds that the director hoped could find families. This is a huge SWI in a major city. So why are the locals not adopting them? Why are they not submitted for oeverseas adoption? Where is this child shortage?

Research-China.Org said...

I am unable to comment on "anecdotal" evidence that lacks specificity. If a family has experienced something like this, please contact me with the name of the orphanage and we can investigate it. But personally, I doubt this situation exists on a significant scale.

Brian

Anonymous said...

"But personally, I doubt this situation exists on a significant scale"
I would rethink this doubt. I have seen multiple posts as well talking about people who pre-identified children or lobbied to get certain kids adopted from orphanages.
This is not part of the regular process and should be considered unethical.
Nannies and directors should not have any part in matching children.
Agencies should not be in orphanages and checking over children.

All too often agency staff pre-identifies a child during visits. Also rules are bent so that they can bypass the strict regulations that others have to pass with China. Artificial twinning is another issue reported, where a person is offered 2 children in their adoption and they are legally made to look like twins on paper even though they are not. DNA tests should be manditory for twins.

Bottom line, the China program is not being controlled and the loopholes have become large gaping holes!

Anonymous said...

As a PAP, I am so confused regarding my feelings toward China's program. I find myself wondering, is it legitimate for me and my family to adopt from China? Are we "stealing" a child, not necessarily from her biological parents, but from her birthland, from people of her birthland that COULD adopt her? Is it all moot anyway with a 2007 LID? (i.e we will never see a referral.) And if there isn't the need, why doesn't China close the shut the program down? I don't for a minute believe they wouldn't close it due to any outside pressure. Since when has China or any closed societal system bowed to "outside pressure?" Brian, why doesn't China end the NSN adoption program? If there isn't the need for international adoption (and I am not challenging you that there is or there isn't that need) why continue the program?

Research-China.Org said...

I believe the Chinese are trying to ramp down and close their program. I would be surprised if it was still in place through the next year. I think most of the reluctance to close it more quickly is that the CCAA is not confident a Special Needs program will be workable by itself.

The next 12 months will be very interesting.

Brian