Monday, September 07, 2009

Orphanage Submissions for 2009

The article below is an abbreviated version of a more detailed analysis of orphanage submissions for 2009. The full article is available on our new "Subscription" blog, "The Rest of the Story". To become a member of this more detailed blog, join here.


Last August we took a look at the orphanage submissions for the first six months of 2008, and concluded that "waiting families should not expect any appreciable speed-up in referrals." In fact, the wait time has since increased from 30 months in August 2008 to the current 40 months in 2009.

An analysis of orphanage submissions from the nineteen largest Provinces participating in the international adoption program shows that the supply-side of the equation is not going to change in the foreseeable future. While many observers (including myself) believed that the increased adoption donation that took place in January 2009 would increase orphanage submissions, overall this increase has failed to materialize. Of course, analyzing only six-month samples can result in significant swings in data (newspaper print cycles, for example, can create large "bumps" and "valleys" over the short-term, although these even out when one looks at longer data horizons). Generally, however, discernible trends can be seen when comparing January to June 2008 with the same period in 2009.

The table below details the combined submissions of every orphanage in each of the main Provinces involved in International adoption. Overall ten Provinces saw declines, and eight saw increases. Taken together, orphanage submissions fell from 3,971 submissions to 3,922 submissions over the same period in 2009.



While total number of submissions tell one part of the story, another component that is interesting to look at is the gender composition of the children from each Province. Viewed in total, thirteen of the nineteen Provinces submitted a higher percentage of boys in 2009 than they did in 2008. Taken together, the number of boys submitted in 2009 increased 11% from that submitted in 2008 (1,146 vs. 1,271) Guangdong, the largest Province for international adoptions, saw its submissions increase from 193 in 2008 to 306 in 2009, accounting for nearly all of the increase in total male submissions. Guangdong's gender ratio climbed from 25% in 2008 to fully one-third in 2009, one of the highest increases of all the Provinces.

Guangdong Province
In the first six months of 2009, Guangdong orphanages have submitted 937 files to the CCAA, of which 306 (33%) were for boys. This compares to 745 files submitted in the first six months of 2007, which had 111 boys (15%), and 785 files submitted in the first half of 2008, which had 193 boys (25%).

Even with the volatility associated with small samples, three orphanages jump out for having unusually large increases in adoption submissions -- the Zhongshan, Longgang, and Guangzhou orphanages. Collectively, these three orphanages submitted 205 more files in the first six months of 2009 than in the same period of 2008. If one eliminates these three orphanages from the pool of Guangdong orphanages, submissions in 2009 declined 2.5% from 2008 (2,732 files in 2008 verses 2,663 files in 2009). Thus, the entire increase in Guangdong submissions can be tied to these three orphanages. We will look at the largest of these three, the Guangzhou City Orphanage.

Guangzhou
A glance at the submission statistics of the Guangzhou City orphanage from early 2007 through May 2009 reveals some interesting anomalies. Prior to July 2008, the average lot size for international adoption submissions from the orphanage was fourteen children, with the largest submission batch being 30 children in May 2007. Unusually large batches were sent to the CCAA in July 2008, and January and March 2009, when 48, 35 and 35 children were submitted for international adoption.


Additional peculiarities appear when one analyzes the ages of the children submitted. In 2007, the average child submitted for international adoption was under 50 days old when found, with the highest average age for a batch being eight months (246 days) in August 2007. This batch's high average was the result of one six-year old special-need female being submitted. Without her file, the average age would have been 30 days old, in line with the other months. The same exception occurred in August 2007, with one three-year old skewing the average up. Taken broadly, between January and December 2007 only four children over one-year old were submitted for adoption, or 4% of the total (4/100).


Submission characteristics remain fairly constant into 2008. From January through June 2008, the average age at finding remains below 100 days, and no child found over one-year old was submitted.

The pattern changes substantially in July 2008, when forty-eight children were submitted for international in three batches. Not only is the number of batches in one month unusual, but the average age of the children when found jumps to just under one year. In fact, over one quarter of the children in these batches were found over one-year old, with two children being five years old when found.

But the "age when found" jumps even higher in January and March 2009, when two more large batches of children were submitted for international adoption. In January, thirty-five children were submitted for adoption, over a third of whom were found at over a year old. March 2009 saw another peculiar batch, with another thirty-five children being submitted, over 45% of whom had been found over a year old. Interestingly, only seven of the seventy children had been found within the past year, and every one of those seven were over three years old. Taken collectively, the seventy submissions ranged in age from a low of 608 days to thirteen years old when their file was submitted to the CCAA.

Aside from their ages, the health of the majority of the children is good -- only six are listed as having any special needs. The January and March 2009 batches beg the question: In an orphanage that has been conducting international adoptions for over fifteen years, where did the forty-four healthy girls and twenty healthy boys come from?

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One Province stands out for its conspicuous lack of male submissions -- Jiangxi. Jiangxi Province is the only Province with a gender ratio below 10%, meaning that the vast majority of IA submissions are for females (92%). The total number of boys actually fell in 2009, from 66 male files between January and June 2008 to only 56 in the same period of 2009. Given that Jiangxi is the second largest adopting Province in the IA program, this is highly significant.



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Given the number of files submitted by IA orphanages across China, it appears unlikely that any significant speed-up in referral rates will occur in 2010. At the conclusion of 2009 we will look at whether the sharp increases in Shanghai, Guizhou, and Mongolia indicate a sharp increase in abandonments, or whether they saw only temporary increases due to small sample sizes. It is possible that submissions will increase as we move further into 2009, but as things stand at the moment, no significant increase in adoption rates will occur.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see that Guizhou province is one of the provinces that had an increased number of submissions from 2008 to 2009, and an alarmingly higher number of boy submissions from 2008 to 2009. How do you predict the Zhenyuan story will affect this trend? Do you expect Guizhou's numbers to start to plummet for the second half of 2009?

Anonymous said...

Brian -

How do you reconcile all this information (about unethical practices and such) with raising your adopted children. What do will you tell them when they are old enough to understand all this?

I am currently grappling with this. My child is home now. However, I know so much more now about IA than I did when I started the process. I might've chosen a different route to parenthood if I'd known all this. Not that I would ever change the fact that my child is here now - love her dearly.

Just not sure how those of us who have adopted are supposed to reconcile all this information after we have participated in the system. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

-J

Research-China.Org said...

Comment #1: I doubt the Zhenyuan story will have much of an impact at all, for the following reasons. First, no action was seriously taken against the Family Planning officials involved, showing that the Chinese government didn't find the abuses serious. Although the government issued statements that officials had been "demoted" and "reprimanded", in fact all of the participants are still in their same jobs. Nothing really happened.

Second, Zhenyuan hasn't been submitting any significant numbers of children for a few years. The last submissions were for seven children in early 2007. No children were submitted in 2008, and so far only three children have been submitted in 2009.

Thus, I don't see Zhenyuan or its story having any impact on adoptions from Guizhou.

Comment #2: My children obviously hear a lot more about adoption, orphanages, etc., than most children. Few families know for certain how their child came into the orphanage, who the birth family was, etc. Even the most recent story from Luoyang is filled with sub-stories that cloud what actually happened. My intent is to simply communicate that uncertainty to my children -- I don't know. My youngest daughter comes from Luoyang, an orphanage for which there are many questions. When she is old enough to ask those questions, I will give her as much as I know. But at the end of the day most families don't have easy access to the circumstances behind their child's finding. Our Birth Family Report is specifically designed to bring actual data to these kind of questions.

Brian

Anonymous said...

I think every child should be told they might have been stolen from their parents. It is obvious with the falling numbers that less are being stolen and what few abnadonments there are have tapered off to almost nothing. Ony 196 orphans in Chongqing the largest city in China is fantastic. When I visited in 2004 there were over 600 kids in one orphanage. I am glad they all have homes now. When my daughters are old enough I will try to find their parents in China. They already suspect they were either bought or stolen. I will wait until they understand better to let them know they might have been.

Research-China.Org said...

I don't think it is healthy to introduce possibilities to our children that may not be (and probably aren't) true. While there are cases of kidnapped children being adopted internationally, these are in the vast minority. I prefer to keep quiet what I don't know, acknowledge my lack of definitive truth, and leave it open for my children to sort out.

Thanks for your input!

Brian

Christopher said...

Brian

Can you please clarify the relationship between the age of the child when found and the age when referred? I noticed a slide in your article and was a bit confused. When a file is submitted for IA are you simply taking into account the age when found as stated in their file? ...In other words, that children might have remained in SWI's for a long time despite their having come into the orphanage at a very young age?

cheers,

chris

Research-China.Org said...

Yes, the time from when a child is found to when their file is submitted is an indication of an orphanage program's "efficiency". Often a file for a healthy child may be held for a month or two, but for a file to be held a year or more is very unusual. So the question in Guangzhou is why were the files held for healthy children for years when they could have been submitted much earlier?

The only conclusion I can come up with for such a large number of children is that they didn't enter the orphanage on their finding dates, but much later.

Brian

Anonymous said...

I agree with your analysis, however, I want to bring up two points.

In July 2009, a US adoption agency made a special trip to try and place older healthy (8-13 year olds) and older SN children from Guangzhou. A number of these files would probably have been submitted in the spring of 2009, in preparation for the agency's trip. This could skew the analysis a bit.

Also, Zhongshan in Guangdong Province has only recently started to place kids for IA, and so far they have been SN. I have heard that the orphanage has 500-600 children living there with a very large % being SN. This may also skew some of the analysis.

Research-China.Org said...

I appreciate your input. Zhongshan has been part of the IA program since before 2000, but took a five-year hiatus from 2002 through 2006. In 2007 they submitted six files, and 44 in 2008. You are correct that a majority of the children are SN (only 7 of the 50 submissions were healthy children).

The trip by the adoption agency leaves the primary question unanswered: Why were the files for healthy children apparently held back? (We go into the probable origin of these kids on the Subscription blog). My question is: Why were their files not submitted earlier?

Brian

Anonymous said...

Regarding the possible reasons for the files of nsn's children being held back...could it be that the SWI's are under some sort of quota system?

Research-China.Org said...

No, there is no quota system. In fact, the CCAA has been repeatedly pushing the orphanages to submit as many files as possible.

Brian

Anonymous said...

No quota system? I've heard that CCAA wants to control (ie. lower) the numbers that go out through IA. Is that not true?

So what is the reason the numbers in the IA program have been dropping? Are there truly less children in the orphanages? If anyone knows the answer to this - I would imagine you do! :)

Research-China.Org said...

Well, we all hear a lot of things. I can only say what I know -- having spoken with many, many directors, no one has ever confirmed a quota; in fact, all have stated they are under pressure to place as many kids as possible.

Second, in February 2006 the CCAA held a large director's meeting in which they pushed directors to submit as many files as they can. Other things were talked about, but that is the most pertinent here.

Third, there is no evidence to support the contention that the CCAA is actively working to reduce international adoptions.

The program is dropping for one simple reason -- the number of foundlings is declining (due to various reasons).

Brian

NE said...

Thanks for the info.

What percentage of the submissions was SN vs. NSN? I suspect we are seeing a further reduction of NSN children for the IA program.

Guangdong and Jiangxi have to be suffering some economic woes with the world economy issues, particularly the high population of migrant factory workers and construction workers out of work– I am pleasantly surprised that the numbers did not increase more in those areas.

Anonymous said...

Brian - many of the children referred from Guizhou (and I know there are few), are often older at the time their files are submitted to CCAA because many of the NSN children in the surrounding rural SWIs live with foster families in the capital city - Guiyang, for some time after their arrival at the SWIs. There's a very stuctured foster network there - run within Guizhou, by Chinese folks, that works very closely with the foster families to prepare the kids for their transition to their adoptive families. Many children are over 17 months old at the time of referral - in the NSN program.

- S

Christopher said...

Brian,
Evidence on our child's SW1 orphanage group site stated that files were held back there due to a prominent case of an early referral when the child turned out to have sever developmental problems, resulting in criticism of the SW1 and the decision to wait until children were older for referral. Take it or leave it; but I know of at least two or three children of around 2.8 to 3.5 from my child's SW1. Yes, I know, just another anecdote. But one of the more tangible effects of mounting albeit well-founded statistical generalisations (abstracted for the good of all)l is that individual cases become subsumed in the greater general narrative. This is a much-remarked effect of broad analysis and shows how incommensurate the two realms can be. Statistics tell an important story, no doubt. But surely one must be so careful in extrapolating from within those statistics.

In our child's case (abandoned at birth, if you believe the documents) the finding photo is of an infant around 3/4 months or less, and there is another of her in crib at around 1.4, asleep and anonymous taken by a visitor, and one more at a later age of around 1.9. So our child's referral at nearly three does not (unless you ascribe to very tricky malevolence and manipulation) add up to the kind of scenario you paint, although of course I can see that you are spot-on in pointing out some of the gross anomalies.

Sigh.

One feels inevitably that one is simply mounting a frenzied non-mea-culpa. However, I do feel it necessary to assert the import of tempering the axe with the feather, so to speak, because the emotionally embedded individual speaks in such a different tongue to the rational group.

best wishes

Chris

Research-China.Org said...

Chris:

One problem with anecdotes such as yours (as much as I appreciate your contribution) is that they lack specificity with which one could test theories. If you gave me the orphanage name, I could test the idea that children are "held back". Be that as it may, even if the it is determined that such a case is true (and it could very well be!) that would have little relevance to the Guangzhou orphanage, which has had many years of experience, refers younger children when available, etc. I was not attempting to paint all orphanages with such a broad stroke -- there are specific reasons Guangzhou's numbers have changed, it is not an unknown.

But your overall assessment is completely accurate. The more general one speaks of a subject, the more the trees are lots in the forest. There are of course many exceptions to the rule, and those exceptions are often lost in the broad strokes we are forced to paint when discussing these issues.

I appreciate your input. Keep them coming!

Brian

Maria said...

Brian,

I miss submissions from Beijing. It looks like there have been many referrals for older children(3/4 years) from the Beijing CWI in recent months, mostly healthy boys. Can you explain this?

Research-China.Org said...

Beijing gets children from a wide area. My data isn't complete for Beijing, but it appears to be adopting more children also.

Brian

Anonymous said...

I am a parent of an adopted child from Inner Mongolia and I can tell you that in Hohhot there have always been more SN boys there. I have the photos to prove it. Most of them live in the orphanage and the many of the girls are fostered. In addition, children that are fostered in other cities in Inner Mongolia are adopted through the Hohhot SWI but they are from other orphanages like Chifeng, Baotou etc. My child at one time was likely an SN child and when her supposed medical issue resolved itself was submitted to the CCAA for IA. I found all of this out by accident, not from the orphanage or my adoption agency and when I pressed them for truthful information about her past, I got it. How I wish I had known more how much leverage I truly had prior to signing papers and I would likely have even more information. In any case I would have adopted her anyway and she is the best thing that ever happened to me.
There have been a significant number of boy adoptions in Inner Mongolia because they have more SN boys than NSN boys or NSN girls available at most times. I don't know why. Also I have heard that at one time, the Hohhot SWI had mostly SN adoptions.

Anonymous said...

what I don't understand is from where do you get all these data... how do you know how many submissions does every orphanage?

Research-China.Org said...

Before a child's paperwork is sent to the CCAA, a newspaper finding ad must be placed. I have collected all of these "finding ads" from all over China. These allow one to know with precision how many children are being submitted by each orphanage.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all of this information.

I adopted my daughter from Hunan province in 2003.

The city where she was located actually has two different orphangages: a Children's Welfare Institute and a Social Welfare Institute.

Have you found any difference between the two in your research on trafficking?

Research-China.Org said...

No, I haven't seen any correlation between the type of orphanage and the quality of their programs.

Brian