Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Are the Problems in China?

I receive inquiries on almost a daily basis asking if I feel a particular child being adopted has been trafficked or stolen. One thing that is apparent from these e-mails is that there is a lot of confusion among the adoptive community as to what the issues are with China's adoption program.

China's international adoption program began in 1992 at the behest of foreign aid organizations concerned with the care of orphans in China's orphanages. It was presented as a win-win proposal -- China would receive funding to improve their social welfare system, something they were apparently unwilling or unable to do themselves, and the orphans would find homes with loving families.

The program began with 252 adoptions in 1992 (to the U.S. and Netherlands). The number increased to 679 in 1993 when Canada joined the program, and doubled in 1994 to 1,328. In 1995 the program exploded, with nearly 3,000 children adopted internationally, and adoptions increased each year following until reaching a peak of over 14,500 children in 2005, when children were adopted to the U.S. (7,906), Spain (2,753), Canada (973), the Netherlands (800), Sweden (462), France (458), Norway (299), Denmark (207), the United Kingdom (165), Australia (140), and Belgium (63) (Non-sourced numbers available in "Intercountry Adoption in the New Millennium: UK Experience in a Global Context," Peter Selman, Paper presented at Imperial College, London, March 1, 2008).

The China Myth
China’s international adoption program has historically been attractive to adoptive parents for several reasons, outlined succinctly by Chinese Children Adoption International (CCAI), one of the largest China-only adoption agencies in the U.S. CCAI emphasizes the attractiveness of the China program due to its consistency and predictability (no surprise fees, delays, etc.), the overall health of the children referred, and the fact that children in China are largely abandoned, and thus have no birth parent records:

Children placed through China adoption are abandoned children. Because child abandonment is illegal in China, birth parents leave no trace of their identity. During their trip to China, adoptive families receive a certificate of abandonment that proves the biological parents have relinquished their parental rights through abandonment. There is no legal avenue for the birth parents to reclaim custody. (http://www.chinesechildren.org/Adoption/WhyChina.aspx)

Families have historically been told that the number of children abandoned each year numbers in the hundreds of thousands. One adoption agency states that “There are over 15 million orphans in China. Most are healthy young girls, abandoned due to China's one child per family law.” (http://www.achildsdesire.org/chinaadopt.htm). Another charity states that “upwards of 200,000 children are abandoned each year.” (http://www.hopesheart.com/AboutHopesHeart/newspaper.lsp). Joshua Zhong of CCAI writes that there are 573,000 orphans in China, but “Interestingly, the study showed that fewer than 69,000 orphans are living in Chinese orphanages, compared with 450,000 living with their relatives” (http://www.chinesechildren.org/Newsletter%5CWindow%20to%20China/WTC_03_2006.pdf).

With propaganda such as those described above, most adoptive families from China have seen little reason to question the reality of their child’s orphanage story, or the integrity of the program itself. The conventional wisdom of the past 15 years has been that without the international adoption program, thousands of children would remain in China’s orphanages, and have no chance of finding or experiencing the love of family.

But is it true?
In 1991, a year before international adoptions formally began in China, New York Times reporter Sheryl Wudunn reported that in Changsha City in Hunan Province "the proportion of baby girls given up for adoption -- most come from rural areas -- has been increasing each year." However, Su Kejun, director of the Civil Affairs Bureau in Changsha, was quick to add that "the number of couples who want kids exceeds the number of kids we have to give."

While I harbor the same long-held traditions as most adoptive families, I do question these assumptions in light of growing evidence. Was there ever a true need for the international adoption of China's healthy young children? Do we truly think that in a country of China's population domestic families could not be found for the seventeen thousand children adopted internationally from 1992-2000? Wudunn's article, as well as a companion article by Time's writer Nicholas D. Kristof, show that prior to the introduction of the international adoption program a healthy domestic adoption program existed. This program was enhanced in 1999 with a major overhaul of China's laws concerning domestic adoption.

China Adoption Law Changes
China began legalizing and codifying laws regulating domestic adoption in 1992: “In April 1992, the Chinese government published the Adoption Law, the first law of its kind in China’s modern history, to legalize and promote domestic adoption.” (http://www.chinesechildren.org/Newsletter%5CWindow%20to%20China/WTC_03_2002.pdf). Initial requirements that Chinese adoptive couples be childless and over 35 limited the number of families able to adopt. As Chinese demographer Kay Johnson states, “This was hardly a law aimed at finding adoptive homes for abandoned children within China.” Because of the inadequacies of the 1992 Adoption Law, the regulations were changed in 1999, reducing the parental age requirement to 30 years old, and allowing couples with another child the opportunity to adopt (ibid.). Statistics published in 2001 indicate that domestic adoption increased significantly in 2000 (ibid.).

Orphanages participating in the international adoption program saw demand for healthy children increase substantially after 2000. Increasing domestic demand as a result of the 1999 adoption law changes, coupled with increasing international demand from families being drawn to the China program by positive press and favorable program qualities (outlined by CCAI above), created a situation that put domestic families inside China desiring to adopt in competition with international families seeking to adopt the same children – healthy young infants. International families had a distinct advantage, however -- they donated $3,000 for each adoption, something many Chinese families couldn't afford. Thus, long lines of domestic families formed while healthy children continued to be adopted to foreign families.

Problems Begin to Appear
It wasn't long before directors of orphanages began to realize that adoption represented a lucrative business -- financially and professionally. Much like city managers gain prestige by governing a larger city over a small one, directors sought to increase the size of their programs in order to obtain prestige in their communities, obtain larger and more elaborate facilities, and to obtain higher adoption donations to fund their programs and to increase their personal incomes.

Beginning at least in 2002, but most likely going back years earlier, orphanage directors in Hunan began to create financial incentives for employees to procure children for international adoption. The extent of the program wasn't known until late 2005 when the Chinese press revealed that at least eight orphanages (6 would end up being prosecuted) in Hunan and neighboring Guangdong Province had aggressive baby-buying programs in place. It might be useful in the following discussion to define some terms that will be used in recounting these episodes of malfeasance on the part of various orphanage directors.

The most common activity instituted by orphanage directors is the creation of "incentive" programs in the areas around their facilities. The development of this type of program involves contacting area hospitals and informing doctors and other medical personnel that the orphanage is willing to offer rewards to anyone referring a birth family to the orphanage. Doctors then communicate this information to birth parents that have children in the area hospitals, or who come in for pre-natal exams. Families are made aware that they can receive substantial sums of money (usually around 2,000 yuan) if they relinquish their newborn child to the doctor or the orphanage directly.

Additionally, orphanage employees, including foster families, are offered incentives to be on the lookout in their villages for pregnant women. Rewards are again paid for referrals.

In addition to the initial story of incentive programs revealed in the Hengdong, Hengnan, Hengshan, Hengyang County and Qidong orphanages, recent Media expose's have shown the incentive programs are in place in Changde and Fuzhou orphanages. My own experience leads me to believe that over 50% of the children adopted from China come from orphanages that offer incentives to birth families or finders.

"Incentive" programs do not directly involve kidnapping of children, or forced relinquishment of children by birth families. Rather, they involve the free-will abandonment of children in return for a financial reward. While the Hague Agreement allows the payment of a "reasonable" fee to finders, it strictly prohibits the payment of any money to birth families.

The following conversation (recorded in April 2008) explains the reasons why many orphanages get involved with incentive programs. This interview with an orphanage worker in Jiangxi's Fuzhou orphanage, illustrates how the incentive programs operate.


video

This is a classic example of an incentive program being needed to bolster adoption rates falling as a result of the success of a Family Planning program. The more successful the Family Planning office is at reducing unwanted children in their area, the fewer babies are found, so the orphanage feels it necessary to increase the money offered to draw children in. Clearly without the financial incentive Fuzhou would have few babies rather than being the largest adopting orphanage in China.

The problem, as this video also clearly articulates, is that there is no checks on who sells the child to the orphanage. Anyone -- a finder, a kidnapper, or a birth parent -- can turn in a child for the reward. It is a "don't ask, don't tell" arrangement, opening the door to substantial abuse. One recent example of this occurred in Dianjiang orphanage in Chongqing. There a small child was kidnapped off the street and brought to the Dianjiang orphanage. She was submitted for international adoption. When her birth parents inquired if their daughter was in the orphanage, they were denied access to see. Finally, after many attempts to see if their daughter was in the orphanage, the birth mother finagled her way in and found their daughter. Such are the problems of offering money in China -- everyone responds.

The biggest issues, in my opinion, have to do with these incentive programs. By offering such a large sum in the poorest areas of China, orphanages open the door to people kidnapping children for the "ransom". Orphanages open the door to women producing children simply to sell, creating "baby farms." I must be clear that I don't believe that orphanages create these problems in China -- these problems are much larger than the orphanages. But in promoting incentive programs to bolster adoptions, orphanages become participants in the baby trafficking problems in China. They become a piece of the overall puzzle.

Evidence also suggests that orphanage directors frequently launder the children brought into their orphanages. The Qichun orphanage, according to one adoptive father from that orphanage, reported that the director “admitted to us that this orphanage deliberately changed the date of birth, so that no family could later come back (though none ever did so) to claim a child that they claimed was born on a particular date: no such child would ever be recorded in the orphanage registry” (correspondence in files). On a recent research trip to the Fuzhou orphanage (Jiangxi), a majority of the “finders” listed in the adoption paperwork of the children denied ever finding a child. In the Fuling District (Chongqing) orphanage, children brought from neighboring Youyang County are listed as “found” at the gate of the Fuling orphanage, the finding location for virtually every one of the children adopted from Fuling since May 2006. Thus, it is clear that orphanages systematically launder the children to prevent birth families from locating lost children and adoptive families from interviewing finders and obtaining pre-adoption histories. Of course all of the laundering activities are designed to keep illegal trafficking hidden and to prevent birth families from retrieving confiscated or lost children.

In conclusion, let me be clear -- I do not believe that most children adopted from China are kidnapped from their birth parents, although press reports show that some are. I believe that a majority of children, however, originate from orphanages that offer incentives -- "baby-buying" programs. I do not believe that the orphanages are a primary cause for infant trafficking in China, but willing participants in this larger issue.

Detecting Trafficking
How might an adoptive family find out if their child's orphanage is involved in trafficking of children? There are several tell-tale indicators to watch for, including:

1) Higher adoption rates than the other orphanages in the area -- If your child's orphanage has increasing adoption rates while orphanages nearby have declining rates, that should be cause for concern.
2) Common finding locations -- Fuzhou had many kids found within sight of hospitals, for example. Other orphanages with baby-buying programs list all of their children as being found at "the gate of the orphanage." An unusual finding location pattern is strong evidence for an incentive program, since finding locations should be fairly random.
3) Frequent finders -- Xiushan in Chongqing, for example, has a handful of people finding most of the kids, while Fuzhou's finders were almost all employees of residence committee offices.
4) A reluctance by the director to answer questions -- If a director seems to obfuscate during questioning at the time of adoption, it may be that they are hiding information about their program.
5) Most kids healthy and young -- Orphanages that have a very low special needs rates are suspect, since a growing majority of true foundlings possess special needs. Thus, if an orphanage adopts a high percentage of healthy children, they probably have incentive program in place.
6) Larger than average number of male adoptions -- Much like a skewed Healthy-SN ratio is a tell-tale sign, so is a large number of male adoptions. Healthy male children are greatly prized in China, and a woman that gives birth to an unwanted male child has many options available to her -- family friends, village "mediators", and traffickers. Thus, simply abandoning a healthy boy is fairly rare. Therefore, if an orphanage begins adopting significant numbers of healthy boys, it could mean they are offering incentives to birth parents.

Of course, discovering these indicators involves sharing information among other families in your orphanage group. Unfortunately, there is a long tradition of adoption agencies and others instilling in adoptive families a feeling of secrecy -- "Your child's story is private, and should not be shared." This mentality accomplishes one thing -- it disallows families from discovering evidence of trafficking, and thus keeps them ignorant of their child's true history.

84 comments:

Sharie said...

WOW! Thank you once again for sharing. I'm always interested in learning more about pieces of the puzzle.

Anonymous said...

They can't take my princess back - but I would have a hard time going forward again with what we know now.

Julia said...

Thank you for an articulate explanation. As the mother of two Indian children who were trafficked I have first-hand experience of the harm this causes. Child laundering is a huge problem and adoptive families must develop a zero tolerance stance on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Brian, do you think your girls were stolen or sold as babies?
Frankly, I don't see what difference any of this really makes.
1. IF the birth mother could put a price on the child, no matter how poverty stricken, then so be it. IMO they don't deserve to be that child's parent.
2. IF the child was trafficked, unless adopted, that child is going to be raised in an orphanage.
3. I think now with the long waits, only the die hard PAPs are going to continue on the path for adoption of NSN children. Trafficking is no longer very profitable.
However, I still believe that very VERY few of the children in orphanages were trafficked there. So, if most of the corruption is centered around the birth family giving up their children due to devaluing the gender or getting a set price for the child, if it were not for doing that, they would be doing something else. Morality and conscience is something that comes from within, regardless.
All that said, I really see no reason to know the why's of how my children became orphans. All this does is add guilt or shame to something that is not for guilt or shame. I still feel that the majority of adoptions out of China are worthy of happening.

Research-China.Org said...

Your feelings are common. The problem, as I tried to point out, is that paying for children (besides being illegal) allows someone to kidnap a child from a loving, committed family and sell her to the orphanage for the reward. This is EXACTLY what happened in Dianjiang, and no doubt happens elsewhere.

Additionally, paying encourages poor women to INTENTIONALLY get pregnant just to have a kid to sell to the orphanage. Thus, orphans are created on purpose as a result of a reward program.

Lastly, paying a reward devalues the children. It becomes nothing more than buying or selling apples.

I am not sure what you base your opinion on, other than a hope and a prayer, because the evidence certainly suggests the contrary.

For all of these reasons, reward programs MUST be stopped. This is not an "end justifies the means" situation.

I have no idea whether my girls were trafficked or not, because China's program is so secretive and non-transparent that I am unable to find out. That is one of the major problems. Few of us know.

Brian

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

Dear Brian,
One word only : BRAVO !!! for this terribly accurate and documented analysis !!!
Best regards french Marianne

Anonymous said...

A couple in the U.S. gives birth to a child. The child is snatched and sent overseas for adoption. The family pleads and works hard to find their child. Finally they are successful- however the child now lives in another country being raised by the people who paid substantial money for the child and legally adopted him or her.
Would you deserve your child back? Could they say that you were not getting their child?!
Whose child is it if the child was taken or adopted under false terms?

I think the privileged mind has some serious rethinking about how we view our rights in this world and how we view the rights of others.
This is the biggest issue with this situation. Not only are crimes being committed in the China adoption program, but also then people continue to justify or ignore them.
There will come a day when a woman in a developing country will win her child back and once this happens people will finally begin to look harder at the corruption out of plain self-preservation.

None of us want to lose our children. We love them, but how can we be so sure that a couple elsewhere is not feeling the same love for the same child considering the lack of structure and lack of safeguards in this program?

Thank you Brian for offering this information, it sure gives us all something to think about.

Anonymous said...

I thought there was a rule now that all abandoned children should be brought directly to the police? Both my children where brought directly to the police stations by the finder (sais the paper). One of the police stations brought the child to the SWI the same day. The other police station kept the child in care for two weeks, before she was brought to the SWI. (Two different parts of China).

Does the bringing directly to the police station reduce the probability of trafficing?

Research-China.Org said...

One can assume that involving the police would reduce this problem, but I have heard of no directive requiring orphanages to work with the police. Additionally, one of the interesting aspects of the Hunan scandal was that the orphanages worked with the police in their areas to produce false police reports. So, while it might reduce problems if the police are ethical, police reports in no way guarantee an ethical finding.

Brian

Anonymous said...

I was wondering why when problems were discovered with Vietnam adoptions - that the program was in essence shut down. Why is it that China remains open and the US never seems to question anything? I just don't get it. Thanks for any thoughts you might have.

Research-China.Org said...

No doubt a lot of the reluctance to make any waves is the fact that China holds half a trillion dollars of our debt, while Vietnam holds little, if any. Additionally, we import a third of a trillion dollars of goods from China, but only 10 billion from Vietnam.

That might have something to do with it.

Brian

Hope said...

Brian,

Do you think then, it is wrong, at this time to be in the China adoption process?

We are in the Uk,where it is very hard to adopt from overseas, we began the process last July, it will be roughly April 2009 before our papers finally reach China. Here it is an
impossibly long and painfull process which we began in very good faith. I found your blog quite by chance and have been quietly reading it for the last two months.

I know that if we were now beginning on this road we would not choose China due the rumours of a 4 year wait but we have invested hugely in every way to China now.

How many of the children do you believe are now available for adoption for genuine reasons?

Research-China.Org said...

It is hard to tell how many children are truly abandoned verses "found" due to incentive programs, but the issue is not just that.

When asked, 93% of orphanage directors refused to allow a domestic Chinese family access to any of the healthy children in their orphanage.

So even if there are children truly being found, directors are refusing to allow Chinese families access. For that reason, almost every orphanage has a long waiting list of willing families ready to adopt, yet they continue to adopt children internationally.

For that reason, I strongly discourage families from entering China's NSN program. Adopting a SN child reduces a lot of these problems.

Each family must your question for themselves, and I understand the struggle. All I can tell you is as accurately as possible the current state of China's program.

All the best!

Brian

Anonymous said...

I hope this post gets accepted because none of my posts seem to make it on here!

'How many of the children do you believe are now available for adoption for genuine reasons?'

I dont think we can justify anything by this question. As long as there are ANY number of children becoming available for non-genuine reasons, then we need to think about the 'demand' as a whole.

Cheers,
Donna

Anonymous said...

(...) The program began with 252 adoptions in 1992 (to the U.S. and Netherlands). The number increased to 679 in 1993 when Canada joined the program (...)

Where does this info come from? Our agency (http://www.enfantsdumonde.org) completed their first adoption from China in 1989...

Diane
Montréal, Canada

Research-China.Org said...

There were sporadic adoptions before 1992, but the Chinese Government established a defined program in 1992. Previous to that time, agencies and individuals were able to perform non-governmentally approved adoptions, but in 1992 the program formally began.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Did Quebec have an older relationship with adoptions from China? I thought they were the first province in Canada to have adoptions from China and then the rest of Canada joined once the defined program was established.

Research-China.Org said...

Perhaps some of my Canadian readers can tell us how the program developed in their country.

Any input is appreciated!

Brian

Research-China.Org said...

The following link was forwarded my by a Canadian adoptive parent:

"Canada in many respects has had a head start in international adoption from China, with the province of Quebec in particular having strongly encouraged these adoptions since 1991. There are more than 2500 children in Quebec who have been adopted from China, with the rest of Canada now only gradually catching up."

http://www.fwcc.org/canadian.html

My thanks!

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian, I have a completely different kind of question: One of my coworkers is Chinese and lives/works in China. We were discussing my daughter's adoption and he mentioned that he and his wife had looked into adoption there but were denied due to the one child policy (they have a child). I thought this seemed very strange but am sure he wouldn't make that up. Then, upon reading the following from your article: "Because of the inadequacies of the 1992 Adoption Law, the regulations were changed in 1999, ... and allowing couples with another child the opportunity to adopt", I'm beginning to wonder just who's lying to him or has that domestic law changed back?... Any ideas?

Research-China.Org said...

You should ask him who gave him that information and when. If it was recent, there is clearly a problem. Nearly half of all domestic adoptions in China re to families with a biological child already in the home, so there should be no misunderstanding.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian,

I've been reading your blog for several years now. Can you tell us how your views on trafficking and finders' incentives changed over the past few years and why?

It seems that when the Hunan scandal first broke, your view was that the payment of a finders fee was actually a benefit to the children because it meant that abandoned children were more likely to end up at an orphanage than die in a ditch somewhere. And that in general, "traffickers" and orphanage directors, while making a profit for themselves, were also improving the chances and outlook for the babies.

Since then it seems that you have done a 180 degree reversal.

Also, while the Hague doctrine does not agree, you seemed to indicate that many Chinese felt that a baby being adopted internationally would be better off than one adopted domestically.

So please tell us how your thoughts on this subject have changed and evolved and what bits of evidence were key in changing your views?

Thanks.

-J

Research-China.Org said...

J:

You are confusing my views with those of the orphanage directors involved in the trafficking. It has never been my view "that the payment of a finders fee was actually a benefit to the children because it meant that abandoned children were more likely to end up at an orphanage than die in a ditch somewhere." This was the justification used by those involved in the Hunan trafficking.

In my "Open Letter to the CCAA" I presented an opportunity for the CCAA to come clean about the trafficking. Although there was already evidence that things were amiss in other areas, I gave the CCAA the benefit of the doubt.

In my first essay on the Hunan scandal, I stated that what was interesting was not that Hunan had occurred, but that it didn't occur more frequently. Subsequent events show that to be the case.

Following the events in Hunan, I began testing the protocol from Hunan on the evidence I saw in other areas. Every time I saw the characteristics that were present in Hunan, subsequent investigation showed that baby-buying programs were in place in those areas.

So while my perspective did change when Hunan was revealed, the only thing that has changed in the following years is my conviction that Hunan was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Brian

mrkmommy said...

Brian, regarding the payments to the mothers for their babies. Do you believe the mothers are being paid AFTER they have the babies or being paid TO get pregnant?

I have long wondered about my daughter's orphanage. Only 6 years old, and very nice with a lot of healthy baby girls in Guangdong province. However, there are NO boys and the abandonment sites seem very sporadic. In fact, my daughter's finding ad was definitely not a copy-cat in that it contained specific and odd information.

So how does a parent make conclusions on this type of information?

Also, one last question. You said that over 50% of the children come from orphanages that offer incentives. Is this figure for the entire 20+ years or just the most recent 6 or so?

Research-China.Org said...

mrkmommy:

All of the programs I have seen give money for finding children, not to get pregnant. There are reports in China of women getting pregnant to sell the children to traffickers, but again payment is always given when the baby is delivered.

I have seen no evidence to suggest that trafficking was occurring before 2000, but no one was really paying much attention back then. Given the abandonment-adoption dynamics before 2000, my inclination would be to assume it wasn't a large problem back then, but no investigations have been done so we can't know for sure. It would be interesting to have an open discussion with a variety of orphanage directors to gain more insight into this.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian-

Can you please explain how the information provided in your article that comes from CCAI is "propaganda"? I can see your reasoning in other agency statements who are qouted, yet CCAI's quotes seem very straight forward and honest. Again, please explain. I don't work for CCAI or anything, but your comments seem unfair and unbalanced here.

Research-China.Org said...

Adoption agencies often promote information that creates the impression that there is larger need than there in reality is. Joshua does this by claiming the 573,000 "orphans" in China. There are nowhere near that many orphans in China, and Joshua knows that. But like other agencies, he is marketing his program to produce an image among potential families that there is a dramatic need to adopt these orphans.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your answer. I am well aware of many agencies use of the "facts", as they choose to state them, in sometimes shady ways.
Again, I do not see how you can lump CCAI in this one, though. How does Joshua "know that", as you say? In the same quote YOU are refering to in your own article, he also says only 63,000 are in orphanages. I guess if I was trying to inflate adoption need I would have stopped at 573,000 number. Why would he include the 63,000 "IN ORPHANAGES" as well? I would be willing to believe the given numbers are wrong, this is China-supplied numbers, after all. You don't seem to be arguing numbers though, you are arguing Joshua's motives in stating numbers. However, I think your zeal for conspiracy has led you astray on this one. You are stating that Joshua purposely manipulated numbers to keep adoptions going, correct? That is really pretty strong, certainly if it is based on that one quote. (Which you defended with half of in your reply.)
Brian, you owe Joshua and CCAI an apology on this one. While I know you will not be giving one- I have yet to see you do so in any of your blogging, even when dead wrong- you do need to be careful to not project your strong feelings about some truely shady people onto the WHOLE adoption community. Impeaching someone's motives should NOT be done lightly, and it makes you look that much less credible.

Research-China.Org said...

While I can appreciate your spirited defense of CCAI (and I do support their program generally) one can't avoid the spin Joshua puts on the China program. For example, in his January/February 2007 newsletter, Joshua discusses how the Hunan scandal prison sentences "sent a shock wave through the orphanage community in China." As a result, according to Joshua, directors felt it was "not worth risking their lives to “help a few children.” With this assertion, Joshua seeks to persuade readers that the problem of the long wait times is not with the children in the orphanages, but with the directors. The only problem with this scenario is that it lacks any evidence (other than Joshua's testimony). In my conversations with many directors since the Hunan scandal, no one has ever expressed a reluctance to send in adoption files.

Joshua goes on to repeat his claim "revealed in my June 2006 Circle
Newsletter article, there are more than 573,000 orphans in China today, a figure that has since been confirmed by the Chinese government." He makes no distinction that the overwhelming majority (over 500,000) are not orphans at all, but informally adopted children living with adoptive families. The casual reader would read the article and feel that China is trying to find homes for over half a million children. This is incorrect. China has repeatedly stated that only about 50,000 children are in the orphanages needing homes. Why doesn't Joshua focus on that number?

Brian

Anonymous said...

Sigh, I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one, Brian. I, again, think you are assigning alot of shady motives here unfairly. However, I don't want to further hijack your comments as I realize it is not really on topic. I will close by saying Joshua is very open to communication in any instance I have ever seen. Perhaps you should write and ask him? Even if you disagree with the numbers or even the way they were presented, it may be enlighening to get the other view point. (Preferably BEFORE an impeachment of someone's motives are handed down next time.)

Research-China.Org said...

I am not "assigning alot of shady motives here unfairly." In fact, I am simply stating that CCAI and most other adoption agencies try to make the need for adoption seem bigger than it is. I don't think Joshua is lying or anything like that, simply re-enforcing an impression that is not completely factual. It is no different than politicians, missionaries, and sales-people do -- present a limited data set to support their objective.

Brian

Anonymous said...

"U.S. (7,906),
Spain (2,753),
Canada (973),
the Netherlands (800),
Sweden (462),
France (458),
Norway (299),
Denmark (207),
the United Kingdom (165), Australia (140),
and Belgium (63)"

Ofcourse reading your blog makes all of us with Chinese children at home feel uncomfortable. How would we truly feel if we were to find out that our child had been taken away from a mother who wanted him or her? It is a disturbing and terrible thought.

However in order to feel any kind of sense of integrity and honesty while looking into the eyes of my son, I just have to have faith that the governments and authorities of all the countries listed above (and some active countires are missing from the list, Flnland for example) are still confident that the children legally adopted into these countries are children in need of a home.

Does corruption exist? I wouldn't deny it doesn't. Is the system flawed? I'm sure it is. Humans are involved after all, and I'm sure things aren't 100% above board. But, at the end of the day I still believe there are children even in China in need of a home and there are children who deserve the best possible care available to them (whether locally or overseas).

Will China close it's program to the IA community? I wouldn't be surprised one bit if they did. Would that mean that all NSN children would end up in a loving Chinese home...I don't know. What do you think?

kakslc said...

Brian:

Thank you for this thoughtful, if painful-to-read-and-consider post. Our orphanage group has started a poll to look at the finding places of our children. It will be interesting and possibly painful to discover.

I have recently watched "China's Stolen Children". It deals quite intently with the baby trafficking issues in China. While tragic, however, it did leave me with a sense that in some cases (such as the young, unmarried couple in the film), young parents have little choice given the laws in China... Do you have any sense/idea how often such a scenario might be the case vs. women truly becoming "baby factories" and having babies just to be able to collect the incentive?

Do you think that there will ever likely be a time when information will become available / more open?

Thank you again for raising this difficult topic.

Research-China.Org said...

I didn't include Finland, because, as far as I know, they didn't complete any China adoptions in 2005 (although they did in previous years).

I want to emphasize again that I feel the majority of children entering the China program are willingly given up by birth parents in return for financial incentives. However, history has shown that not all of them have been, and that is a concern.

We don't know what will happen to the special needs children in China. Perhaps with proper medical attention and a guarantee against future medical liabilities, Chinese families would be willing to adopt most of the special needs children in the orphanages. We don't know. But I think China should make an attempt to find homes for all of her children.

Brian

Research-China.Org said...

Sharing information with each other is a first step, but most parents won't cooperate with your poll. That is why I track the finding locations of all the children adopted from China. When one that large of a forest, the peculiarities jump out at you.

Adoptive parents often look at stories coming from China as if all of the problems are isolated from each other. Unless IA is specifically mentioned, many assume that the problem is not related to adoption. This was the case with many who saw "China's Stolen Children." I was amazed that many watched that documentary and came away saying "Well, it didn't have anything to do with the IA program." Such viewers demonstrate little understanding of the problems in China.

Two examples: In the film, the trafficker is discussing the history of his business. He states something to the effect that "Baby girls used to be abandoned on the sides of the road, but not any more." This is a direct reference to the children that at one time entered the international adoption program.

Another example is the unmarried couple. In our traditional understanding, we would assume that this couple would be glad to just find a home for their child before getting caught by the government. Do we see this in the film? No, Indead we see them actively bargaining for the child, seeking as much money as they can from the traffickers (and mentioning IA in the process). Clearly this couple is well aware of tre market demand for their child.

Both of these epidoeds relate directly to the IA program -- few families in China are willing to simply discard a child when such an active market exists for them. Thus, all these stories relate to the IA program in one way or another. Rather than being isolated events, they are in fact all pieces to the same puzzle.

Brian

Kay Johnson said...

A question that has come up frequently on this blog is whether or not there are healthy infants in Chinese orphanages that can find homes only through international adoption. I recently posted on this topic on a yahoo group list and Brian has asked me to repost here. I am happy to do so.

As I posted on the yahoo group, there is plenty of evidence that many Chinese families are more than happy to adopt female foundlings as daughters. In our research we found this to be true even in the 1990s when many birth families abandoned daughters in order to have sons. (For more recent evidence see the work of sociologist Zhang Weiguo on the increase in female adoption in many of the villages he has studied over the last two decades.) While it seems that some orphanages, for whatever reasons, still have healthy female infants available for international adoption, the two big orphanages I visited this summer (Hefei, Wuhan) had almost none. Ten years ago both places were awash in healthy infants, a time when abandonment was high and restrictions on domestic adoption from orphanages tighter than today. It is hard to believe there is a need for international adoption of healthy infants today (special needs children are a different matter). As long as there are domestic families waiting to adopt these healthy non-special needs children from orphanages, it is a violation of the Hague convention to send them abroad.

Like Brian and others, I hope that this practice may finally be coming to an end, at least as long as the current situation continues, as seems likely. International adoption can still play an important role in providing families for SN children who cannot readily be adopted in China at this time (whether due to prohibitively high health care/special education costs or continuing stigma against certain kinds of special needs). Thus I think it is too early to bring international adoption to a halt, but I would like to see US agencies take greater care to insure that the placements they receive are coming into line with Hague requirements.

Kay Johnson

Anonymous said...

I think you are right Brian! I just returned from China with my SN boy and have one dd adopted from China in 2005. From talking to my guides both in Peking and in Chongqing I know there is a LOT of deacrease in NSN abondments and their believe that NSN adoptions will come to a halt in few years, but of course SN will continue but for how long nobody knows!

wondering said...

Brian, you are right that orphanage groups don't seem to want to talk about the information that might point to uncomfortable truths. I have found that to be the case for my own daughter's group. I have been unable to gain cooperation for sharing this information.
Would you be willing to publish your studies of finding location patterns and other data from the finding ads? At this point, I see no other way to get at this information. If you do indeed have every (or nearly every) finding ad published in the last several years, you can easily help the China adoption community understand the patterns to which you refer by posting the numbers. (OK, the analysis obviously is not easy given the volume of data, but it sounds as if you've already done it). Right now many of us are stuck with only a sense of vague discomfort.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think more people would be inclined to adopt from the special needs program if they realized that China's definition of "special needs" differs from ours. Two of my three children were adopted through the waiting child program, and both are smart, wonderful, beautiful, and healthy! One had a heart condition, easily repaired. The other has HepB, which is monitored regularly and has caused no problems whatsoever in our lives. Many, many children who wait in China because of so-called "special needs" have fairly minor medical conditions that are easily repaired/treated in the U.S. I truly wish more people would consider this program.

Bernice said...

We just returned from a SWI visit ... of 60 kids at the SWI (several in foster care), only 4 appeared to be NSN (2 infants, 2 teens) ... however, I was told that the SN babies were not having their files submitted to CCAA for adoption (of any kind) ... and these babies were either heart, cleft or Hep, certainly SN that would get them families outside of China ... I agree that the path for international adoption these days should be SN so it was sad to see these kids not having their files put forward.

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

I totally agree with 'wondering'...
I thought that my orphanage group would want to talk about Finding Places. I have created a database last week, and only 8 families answered ... not very representative (our group counts 90 members).
I also think that if you could publish your studies of finding location patterns and other data from the finding ads, it would be most helpful.
Best regards
French Marianne

Anonymous said...

Brian:

Finns adopted 136 children from China in 2005. Our daughter was one of them.

Research-China.Org said...

Excellent. Can you provide a source for the 2005 adoptions to Finland? I will add it to my database.

Many thanks!

Brian

Cathy said...

I agree that the time is past due to end NSN adoptions.
In regards to the SN adoptions, I do think that even these adoptions need better safeguards and more oversight.
It is too easy at this point to launder files to create a child with SN's. Too many people and agencies seek minor SN’s and the reality is that often the demand determines the supply.

The entire China program is in desperate need of attention.
A centralized database to oversee irregular patterns, DNA samples taken to allow birth parents to find children, police reports filed for each child, transparency when it comes to costs and quality of care.
Better proactive attention to prevent or help repair SN's so parents can keep children if desired.

The solution to China's orphan situation can't depend on IA and the money that comes from it. This creates too much dependency and allows for too much corruption.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Here are the sources for the statistics about Chinese children adopted to Finland. Actually, I gave you the wrong number. In total, it was 140 children in 2005.

There are only 2 agencies in Finland who work with China, so you just need to combine the statistics

http://www.interpedia.fi/adoptio/tilastoja.html (Table no. 6 at the bottom of the page, "KIINA")

http://www.pelastakaalapset.fi/fi/toiminta/lastensuojelutyo/adoptiot/kansainvalinen-adoptiopalvelu/tilastot (KIINA)

Anonymous said...

" Such are the problems of offering money in China -- everyone responds."

Isn't that the truth.

Anonymous said...

"I want to emphasize again that I feel the majority of children entering the China program are willingly given up by birth parents in return for financial incentives… However, .”

If there were no "incentives" offered (and it seems that everyone is making a shiny dime except the birth mother) I would hope that making sure a child is left to a presumed good home though an orphanage (either domestic or IA) has to be a better choice than an unknown where a child’s chances of being trafficked in the black market into servitude or worse, is a very real possibility. I do not condone trafficking, but maybe a finder’s fee is a part of the evolution in a program of this magnitude before it fades away

My daughter is from Fuzhou and adopted in 04. I hope that the workers and foster parents who are reportedly pushing for children to be adopted, in addition the to the pocket money, in some way genuinely appreciate the opportunities that IA offers these children and the majority of these people see IA as overall positive ( I don’t now if they have a domestic program) .

Perhaps most birth families in the region are infact aware that IA or DA as what will happen to the child - in the past you have said that most BP’s do not understand what happens once the child is abandoned but would be happy to know that they are in the west with good opportunity and future. It is not all about the money and just dumping off the kid - but to be able to somehow provide for that child.

This approach may not be completely above board with the Haugue, but as you have said in the past, there is a genuine win-win belief by many in the system and most of the SWI director are not a heartless group of thugs selling children with no moral compass.

My hope is that humanity is basically good and we are dealing with exceptions to the norm. I may be way off base and this is nothing more than hear no evil - see no evil - speak no evil. For my daughter’s sake and that of her Fu Sisters I hope not.

Research-China.Org said...

I agree with you to a point. I don't put much stock in stories of families adopting girls to raise for their sons or to turn into sex slaves. I think those stories, like stranger kidnappings here in the U.S., are blown out of any rational proportion to the overwhelming majority of outcomes -- an adoption by a loving family and a good life in China.

While I choose the Fuzhou video because this orphanage has already been "revealed" by ABC news, Fuzhou is only one of hundreds of orphanages doing this type of business. We can try to rationalize the incentive programs by asserting that they are good because they keep children from being abandoned in dangerous locations, the reality is that incentive programs were instituted AFTER abandonment rates began to fall. Thus, they are used to RAISE abandonments. Fuzhou has escalated their "reward" as a result of falling abandonments. It is not about safety.

Some naive readers question how widespread the incentive program can be if IA are falling, somehow thinking that there can't be an incentive program is adoption rates are declining. This thinking is simplistic and uninformed. Orphanages are only one part of the orphan-demand equation. Declining abandonment pressures overall, competition from other traffickers, increasing domestic adoption due to increased incomes, all play a role in the equation. Changde, which has one of the most aggressive incentive programs I have ever seen, has had a substantial decline in IA over the past five years.

Falling adoption rates do not refute evidence of incentive programs, only make it more difficult to detect statistically. But given the wise-spread participation in these programs, it is demonstrable that elimination of incentive programs would result in the collapse of the China program.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian-
On a personal note, what would you do if you found that your own daughters were sold to the orphanages before you adopted them?
If you found out when they were 2....4......8 yrs old. If you found out that the birth mother was coerced.
And more importantly, if you felt your daughters were torn or even mentally tortured by the thought of losing you, even if your decision was only to share custody.
In your opinion, who's rights are more important? Your childrens' rights to the family they know?

Research-China.Org said...

Well, you set up a difficult situation. First, if I found out my daughters were sold, I would work to expose the orphanage and stop that program. If I found out one of my girls was kidnapped, I would work to form a relationship with her birth parents, keeping them updated with her progress, etc. When the day came that she approached me wanting to make contact on her own, I would encourage it. At some point I am confident she would seek a relationship on her own.

In other words, I would work to minimize the damage to all parties involved.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian,

I read your blog and most of the time I have been very upset with you. I'm usually looking at you as someone that has had his dreams fullfilled and now he's ready to have the China IA program shutdown.
However, I have recently had a change of heart. I am angry. I am angry at the CCAA. I am angry at our adoption agency. I am angry in general for all of the lies. I am willing to let go of our dream of adopting to have this program shutdown. It just seems that there is corruption all around. I can't stand how the CCAA keeps accepting dossiers and the adoption agencies keep accepting applications knowing darn well how backlogged it is and how unlikely all of these people are going to receive their referrals. Don't even get me started on where the children are/have come from. So, what can we do about this????? Who is going to listen?

Research-China.Org said...

I am not sure what needs to happen. I have been collecting evidence of corruption for years, but it is very difficult to get anyone to listen or invest money in researching. Additionally, most members of the adoption community have reasons to keep it going -- agencies, NGOs, many adoptive families, etc. Additionally, those that HAVE adopted are castigated for, like you said, getting their dreams and now turning on the program.

So it is difficult. But most people are slowly coming to the realization that corruption exists, and, like you, are having their eyes opened. You should not keep quiet, but rather inform other families whenever possible.

All the best!

Brian

Anonymous said...

I'm reading your blog for the last year and want to compliment on your persistent and thorough work! We are from the Netherlands, and I guess as in the UK, its a very long process to adopt. We started the adoption process 5 years ago, and probably have to wait another 3 or 4 years. As we got our papers to China in 2007, we were like most of the people not aware of what is going on and only a year later I found your blog.
Now weare in limbo what to do:
the SN waiting lists are currently closed down here, and it would take us another year to have it changed from NSN to SN, to start the whole process again. So we were wondering:
As we will probably adopt an older NSN child because of our age, are the same problems (trafficing, kidnaping, domestic adoption) applying to older children (+3 years old) ? Are there domestic families who want to adopt older children?

Research-China.Org said...

Many domestic families prefer as young as possible, so older kids face fewer prospects for adoption. You face a difficult decision, but adopting an older child reduces most of the risks.

Good luck!

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian,

You have mentioned that by adopting a sn's child, a PAP would be reducing the risk that they are adopting a child that was trafficked versus legitimately abandoned. However, there are many sn's that are not visible, such as minor heart conditions, Hepaptitis B, etc. Couldn't it be that children in those sn's categories entered the system with the adults involved assuming they were healthy? I can understand how once the sn was detected, finding an adoptive placement for that child domestically could be considerably difficult. But for children without an obvious sn, how would a PAP be able to feel reassured that the child did not illegally come into the care of an SWI? My husband and I are currently paperchasing for a sn's adoption from China (we have a 2 year old adopted through the nsn's program), and although we feel that the need for IA is still there for children with sn's, we don't feel at all sure that by adopting through the sn's program our future child necessarily will have come into care legally. What are your thoughts?

Research-China.Org said...

You bring up some very valid concerns. Not all SNs are identified at birth. For that reason the risks are reduced, not eliminated.

Thanks!

Brian

Anonymous said...

People seem to be looking for a way to adopt and still feel great about their decisions.

Even if everyone requests a child with special needs or an older child, without proper regulations, there are no guarantees.

There is no clean system right now with China. Until the millions of dollars are removed and until ethics become more important than profits, corruption will remain.

For those who are waiting and are now questioning their decision to adopt, this feeling will not disappear and nor can it be eased once your child is home. It only gets stronger when you fully understand this program.

If you have concerns now, trust your instincts and do what you can to push for ethical changes.

The supply follows the demand.
Brian can't say whether an older child or a child with SN's has not been trafficked.

The program needs better regulations and ethics and until then, all children are equally at risk for corruption- laundering, trafficking, neglect etc.

Research-China.Org said...

Sadly, what you write is largely true. In a recording I obtained from the gatekeeper in Changde (Hunan) approaching women about buying children, she offered money for a cleft-affected baby boy. Not as much as for a healthy child, but a substantial amount nevertheless.

The supply truly follows the demand, not just in China's program but in nearly all programs.

Good luck!

Brian

Anonymous said...

Ok, Brian, I know you aren't the "be all end all" on this subject but I am asking you as someone who is obviously very involved in this arena,do you think it is morally reprehensible for the Western world to continue to adopt children from China? Would, in deed, every child that is adopted abroad be adopted domestically if not for the IA program? We are a family with a LID and I struggle with this question everyday.

Research-China.Org said...

I can say this with complete and total conviction:

1) Most orphanages are offering money for people to bring them kids. These children would remain in China (either with their birth families or other adoptive families) were it not for the incentives.

2) Collectively, the orphanages have more families waiting to adopt inside China than they have children. Thus, I am confident that healthy children can easily be adopted domestically.

The above beliefs dictate that should the CCAA prohibit the payment of rewards for children and tell orphanages to adopt domestically before internationally, the program would end tomorrow.

That said, I don't know how to answer your "morally" question. China is doing many things illegally (against Hague), but I'm not sure how one can measure if it is "morally reprehensible".

Each family must decide that on their own.

Good luck!

Brian

Anonymous said...

If a woman in China choses to have a child for the sake of placing him or her in an orphanage and collecting the fee, how is that ANY DIFFERENT than the surrogacy program that is alive and legal in the United States? I am not talking about the illegal trafficking and kidnapping of children. I am speaking mainly of a woman who does this due to economic need. We sit here and act so intellectually superior. As if these "poor dumb farm women" don't know what they are doing or are making the choice out of ignorance. If you need money and you have the ability, as gross as it sounds, to provide the "commodity" of a baby, is it wrong? I don't know; I am not raising the question. I am simply pointing out that babies in exchange for money happens right here in the United States, it's legal and "everyone" stands around and says, "oh isn't that so wonderful a surogate would do that for a couple who can not have a baby on their own." Additionally, what is the entire business of fertility based on: MONEY!!! It is VERY SIMPLE - if you have the MONEY, the doctors will "make" a baby for you or at least go to all lengths to try to make that happen. Again, where anyone stands in terms of "assisted reproduction" is up to them and never, never, never would I suggest the kidnapping of children is is anyway justifiable. But to say women are "just" having babies in China for the money and hence, don't "deserve" to be parents anyway, to me, is taking a very gradndiose and morally superior stand.

Anonymous said...

I think that the problems within China's adoption program, and the doubts that they conjure up in PAPS, are indicative of the issues inherent in all adoption. Even if I had a guarantee that our daughter was not trafficked, and came into care by being abandoned without anyone profiting from it, is that supposed to make me feel better? Should I feel reassured if her birthparents made the choice to leave her without any monetary gain? Should a family adopting a child from a country where poverty is the main reason for relinquishment or abandonment feel better? How about a family adopting domestically because the birth mother was unwed, raped or simply did not have the resources at the time of the child's birth to parent?

Anonymous wrote, "People seem to be looking for a way to adopt and still feel great about their decisions.

Even if everyone requests a child with special needs or an older child, without proper regulations, there are no guarantees.

There is no clean system right now with China. Until the millions of dollars are removed and until ethics become more important than profits, corruption will remain.

For those who are waiting and are now questioning their decision to adopt, this feeling will not disappear and nor can it be eased once your child is home. It only gets stronger when you fully understand this program.

If you have concerns now, trust your instincts and do what you can to push for ethical changes.

The supply follows the demand.
Brian can't say whether an older child or a child with SN's has not been trafficked.

The program needs better regulations and ethics and until then, all children are equally at risk for corruption- laundering, trafficking, neglect etc."

Is there any "clean" adoption program? All adoptions are rooted in someone else's loss, whether the birthparent's or the child's.

For the past 19 months since we adopted our daughter, I have read this blog, and others, with growing alarm and unease. At the beginning of our process it seemed so simple: we wanted more children and there were children who needed homes. Now I feel that there are NO easy answers, no matter what situation we might have adopted from. In no way am I attempting to say that the Hague violations occuring within the China adoption system are not worthy of note because there are problems in other programs. I am saying that, for us, no matter what system or country we adopted from, I would feel bittersweet about the idea of adoption in general. Yes, I feel that adoption is in the best interest of children in many cases. But that only comes after great loses: to the child, birth parents and sometimes the adoptive parents as well. We cherish our Chinese-born daughter and cannot imagine our family without her. But I will forever be haunted by the unknowns, and question whether the wool had been pulled over our eyes four years ago at the start of our process.

bytheriver said...

Thanks Brian - I had not heard of that law change allowing a broader spectrum of domestic families to adopt. This makes sense and gives me solace as a child we saw at the orphanage was reported to us as having been domestically adopted - this was a while back and the first we'd heard of domestic adoption - she was a waif, then she went to foster care and became a beautiful animated child - anyone would have wanted to adopt her. We only hope she is happy in her new life.

wondering (still) said...

OK, Brian, you published my question but didn't answer it. Will you publish your analysis of finding ads and clue us all in on which orphanages have suspicious patterns of the types you have mentioned in the article?

Research-China.Org said...

I have considered publishing a list of the suspect orphanages, but have not done so for one simple reason: The CCAA will simply fix those particular orphanages and leave the problem intact.

What is needed if a large-scale investigation. I don't believe revealing a list of orphanages would solve the problems because the CCAA is interested only in putting out the hot-spots, not in putting out the main forest fire.

But families are getting smart at looking for the signs. One recent adoptive family asked their guide in China if my assertions were true, and this guide confirmed that the incentive practice was wide-spread and common. Eventually this will all come out, it is just a matter of time.

You are welcome to e-mail me privately for information on a specific orphanage if you like.

All the best!

Brian

Anonymous said...

Hard chioce. Leave children with parents who would sell them for a bit of money or have them adopted by foreigners. I dont think parents who really want to keep a child can be forced to sell them to traffickers. I think if the option is there the parents who dont care either way will sell them. Do you think that the numbers of children in the orphanges, not to be adopted by the Chinese would plummet if we get rid of the overseas adoption program? Would they adopt the special needs kids too? I thought the bloodline snobbery was alive and well in China. Has that changed too and now lots of parents wants to adopt an abandoned child of the poor? Every Chinese born person I know cannot understand how I could raise a child born of someone else. One even said, "But she is not yours. Who were her parents?"

boncuman said...

wew....thanks a lot..

Anonymous said...

I thought the IA program began in China in 1991 with 61 children?

Research-China.Org said...

Most researchers mark the beginning of China's international adoption program in April 1992, when China implemented is new adoption law, which had been passed in December 1991. However, adoption of Chinese children by foreigners started much earlier. Amy Klatzkin, in the forward to Kay Johnson's "Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son," shows that orphan visas were issued by the U.S. for 12 children in 1988, a number that climbed to 61 in 1991, as you pointed out. These adoptions were not officially performed by the central government. The beginning of State-sponsored adoptions began in April 1992, being processed through the China Adoption Center (later the CCAA) in Beijing.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian

in your blog you list a number of signs to look out for in the patterns of adoptions from SWI's. You do not however address the age of children - or did I miss that? How does the systematic and widespread practices you outline mesh with the issue of older children who for whatever reason (I need help with this!) are not adopted at the 'optimum' ages that so many parents seem to prefer? Our daughter was nearly three when she came to us, and yet was found at birth. Your thoughts would be appreciated. I am not looking for an 'out', but simply trying to understand why a lovely little girl might spend so much time in an orphanage. Why would she not be adopted locally if demand for healthy young babies is so high? We have photos of her at a much younger age, so we know she was there.

thank you!

Research-China.Org said...

There are many possible reasons, but one that I came across in Holland was similar to your story.

A woman approached me with exactly the same questions as yours -- she had adopted a healthy 3-year old and wondered why she had been delayed. I told her a possibility was that perhaps she had been referred before, but for one reason or another that adoption had been disrupted.

After she walked away, a man that had overheard my conversation approached and told me that what I had told her was in fact true, and that the first family was actually in Holland also. There had been no contact between the two families, so the "second" family had no idea what had happened.

Some clues can be found by determining when the finding ad was placed. If it was placed normally (within 3 months of finding) a disrupted adoption might be the explanation. If it was published later (over 1 year after finding) it might be that she was adopted domestically and then disrupted, or illness may have played a factor.

One explanation for which there is no evidence is the idea that directors are holding kids back and not making them "paper ready" until they are older. Having researched scores of "late" adoptions, I have never found this to be the case.

If you would like more specific information about your daughter, contact me privately.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brian,

Even if you don't believe that SWI Directors are purposefully holding children back from becoming paper-ready, do you think that perhaps some SWI's are simply in no big hurry to send children's files to the CCAA? I ask because I find it interesting that in my agency's referral batches, every couple of months there's a group of children all referred from the same SWI who are all around the same age (between 15-24 months) yet found at birth. In the same referral batch, our agency will receive a group of referrals from a different SWI (sometimes in the same province, sometimes not) and the children are all very young (6-12 months). This leads me to believe that some SWI's are very proactive in sending children's files in for IA, and others are not. Could they be waiting for the children to be adopted domestically? I would find it hard to believe that several slightly older babies referred from the same SWI in the same referral batch to the same agency would all have been prior referrals/disruptions.

Research-China.Org said...

It is possible that some directors are actually trying to comply with Hague and trying to find domestic homes for their children before submitting them for international adoption. I am speaking to the idea that some directors hold children back with the intent that they will NEVER be submitted for international adoption (to keep a program going, etc.). Some people explain the increasing wait on this idea, that there are plenty of kids, but most are not being submitted for IA. Thus, somewhere in this mythical world there are orphanages backlogged with abundant children.

Speaking to specific orphanages the pattern you recount is indeed interesting. It would be interesting to explore why this might be happening -- when are the finding ads from this orphanage placed (is the delay at the orphanage level or the CCAA level). Is the delay consistent from one batch to another, or infrequent. There are many possibilities, both ethical and unethical, but further investigation would need to be done to decide the primary causes.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that a SWI being in IA as a double edge sword. While you have rightly expressed concern with IA and finders fees, a SWI in IA can get an $ 3,000.00 (Now 5000.00) documentable donation fee that is shared with regional powers. But you also have to provide a certain level of care and are under high scrutany.

Or you stay under the radar and do what ever you want and avoid the scrutany. I suspect that most of the children get better care in IA SWI's than non IA ones.

In the end it is obvious that these children are nothing more than opprotunity and potential dollars to SWI's be they IA or domestic.

I agree that the system is bad but IA is not he cause or root of all that is wrong - it is greed and lack of morality.

Research-China.Org said...

I agree that the IA program is not the root or cause -- but it continues and propagates the problem. Confiscations, baby-buying, and kidnapping would all be reduced (but not eliminated) if the demand from the IA program was removed.

Brian

Anonymous said...

With the recent publication of the state department numbers from last year it appears that the system will take care of it's self.

At the end of the day (in the not to distant future) China's IA program will be a thing of the past, and all this will be forever brushed away....No Harm - No Foul.

Anonymous said...

"No Harm - No Foul" for all of those who got what they wanted!!!

The thousands of families in China who wonder whether their children are child laborers, in the sex trade, organ harvesting or sold for illegal adoptions- they have experienced harm.

The children who lost their natural parents and their true identity, their birth country and roots- they too have experienced a great deal of harm.

"No Harm - No Foul" is a callous comment on such a serious situation. You must be one who got what you wanted out of this program! These self-serving attitudes are nauseating to say the least.

Anonymous said...

my comment no harm no foul is not a slight on anyone nor ment to be.

I said that while there are problems, the program is obviously going to close down in the near future. At the end of the day it will be over an no one is going to be accountable for any of the issues Brian has brought up.

That is the no harm no foul - it just goes away unless you want it to remain an issue... one that you have absolutly no abilty to change or make it better.

As Brian has said in the past, the vast majority of children trafficked (which is the core of his discussions)are done so willing by the birth parents helped along with western dollars -

The stoires of kidnapping / abduction / organ / transplants / sex trade while these problems exist and are blown out ofproportion. These actions are caused by greed and behavor by chinese citizens on their fellow people and these actions are not caused by adoptive family's.

Rosie said...

find a error in your thoughts.You have stated that for along time that domestic adopters in China are overlooked by international adopters .Yet I believe a country like China that is now an economic powerhouse and will soon over take the US in wealth would feel ashamed to keep allowing children to be adopted by what they consider "foreigners".In fact I have a Chinese student living with us that has stated that her Govt would not want international adoption.Thus thats why I believe they have reduced the programme as they want to "save face" in all ways.I believe they do want more adoption internally and this is infact happening under Hague.Yes there is corruption and wrong doings and people making a quick buck...doesn't that happen in the US aswell!!!(not that it makes it right and yes any corruption should be stamped out) Yet I believe the Chinese are a proud people and want to do their best for their children.
The IA programme will close in a few years and it is now trickled , they know that many will pull out naturally and thus its a very clever move.
They don't want to upset the apple cart,so by taking a steady course and reducing numbers ,IA will come to an end naturally .

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian, thanks for this report.

Question: but how do they get the papers??

Regards, Susanne

Research-China.Org said...

Suzanne:

What papers? Adoption paperwork?

Brian

Anonymous said...

I ask this as a serious question: is there currently a means of adoption that is not coercive at some level? US domestic adoption seems to involve 2 basic paths: either foster-to-adopt a child who has been removed from his/her birth family, often against the birth parent's wishes, by the government; or pay exorbitant fees, i.e. financial coercion, for a domestic infant adoption. Within the US there is also resentment among some communities that privileged white people are taking minority children out of their communities by adopting them. Surrogacy is also fraught with potential coercion, as anyone who read the NYT magazine a couple of weeks ago can see.

Brian, you have made us quite aware of the problems with China, and some posters have shown that we can't completely assume that this is limited to NSN. We all know about problems in Guatemala and Vietnam. Seriously, what is a PAP to do?

I always correct people who suggest that I'm some kind of a saint because we adopted a child. For me, it was never about rescuing a child, it was about becoming a parent. We would like to bring another child into our family as a sibling to our daughter (China, 2005) and have basically given up on China NSN. But I am really completely at a loss now as to how to proceed ethically.

Research-China.Org said...

Anonymous:

Your question is very, very important. To be honest, when I began adopting I was a strong advocate for international adoption, but 8 years later I no longer am. By and large, I see that the money that feeds EVERY adoption program is inherently corruptive. The problem is that I can find no way to certify and protect a program. Even China's shift to the Special Needs program is now allowing orphanages to fabricate problems to allow them to continue to place children. Corruption is like water, it will find a place to go no matter how hard we try.

Brian

Holly said...

I have a lot of thoughts on this issue, but I will refrain from saying most of them, because you don't really care what anyone says unless they agree with you. (And I do think you are right on many points, by the way.) Anyway, what I will say is this. You said that you cannot advocate for IA anymore, and I am assuming you mean anywhere. That is such a tragedy, when there truly are thousands of orphans in this world who live out meager existences in orphanages, and then go out into the world with no one to care about them. It sounds like in China there are plenty of parents willing and able to adopt children. But this is not the case everywhere around the world. Africa, for example, is full of orphans who truly need parents. I am aware that this world is not perfect, and corruption happens. The Bible correctly states that the love of money is the root of all evil, and yes, it is terrible that people have to ruin beautiful things because of greed. But if international adoption is universally shut down, that would be the tragedy of all tragedies. In fact, I think many more countries should open their doors to it. Plenty of internationally adopted people would agree with me. Sometimes I wonder about you.