Friday, July 06, 2012

Adopting "Children in Plight"

Today's announcement that China will now begin officially adopting children with living relatives to foreign families may seem like a new policy for many outside the adoption community, but this program has been quietly taking place for years. Families of older children from Luoyang, Henan, one of the "trial" provinces, have known about such a program there over a decade. What can be hoped is that with this official acknowledgement an accurate awareness on the part of birth families and adoptive families will be possible. In the past this has not been the case.

Abandonment patterns suggest such programs have been going on for years in orphanages scattered across China. Children adopted from these orphanages seem, in nearly every case that has been investigated, to have been relinquished by birth parents or other birth relatives to the orphanage under the guise that their child would simply be educated in the orphanage school and returned to the family at the end of their schooling. This "education program" is pitched by orphanage officials as a way to have the expenses of raising the child subsidized by the government, and having the child receive a good education, usually in the "big city". For parents struggling to provide these opportunities, such an offer is hard to resist.

Only after the child has had its papers submitted by the orphanage for international adoption and is about to be internationally adopted are the birth families made aware that their child will be leaving China. The orphanage officials then pressure the child's guardian (parent, grandparent, etc.) to sign over guardianship to the orphanage. "You want your child to have a good life, right?" and other such manipulators are used to coerce the family into giving up their child.

In the past, all of this was done behind the scenes. Adoptive families were not told their children had been relinquished to the orphanage by their birth families; rather, they were given adoption paperwork stating the child had been found "abandoned" in a park, railway station, or found wandering the street. Birth families were deceptively told that their child was going to the U.S. for an education, and would return after graduating to get a good job and take care of the family. All of the players in the adoption were deceived into believing the adoption was something it was not.

Perhaps that will change now that the Chinese government is officially embracing the adoption of "Children in Plight". Perhaps birth families will be told when they relinquish their children that they will probably never see them again. Perhaps adoptive families will be told that the child they are adopting had not been abandoned, but had been relinquished by its birth family with the expectation that the child will return to China one day to reunite with their birth family. Perhaps all the parties involved will be truthfully told the true nature of the adoption they are undertaking.

And perhaps a tiger truly can change its stripes.


Research-China.Org said...

I have had people ask me why China is making this change if there are so many children already waiting to be adopted.

The answer is that there aren't many children waiting to be adopted. As the number of children coming into the orphanages has declined since 2005, China has sought ways to increase the numbers. Thus the clamp down on unofficial adoptions, prohibiting hospitals from arranging adoptions, etc. All of these actions are designed to increase the number of children coming into the orphanages, allowing them to be adopted internationally.

Jade said...

I applaud the Chinese government's initiative of wisdom & transparency.It will reduce lots of useless sufferings for all concerned especially the children uprooted from their birth country & family.

Shari said...

If only so much effort would go toward keeping families together in China, then I'd really rejoice at China making progress.

wm said...

Tell me the REAL reason China is all of a sudden "coming clean" and supposedly being so transparent. There has to be a reason. China doesn't so this on her own, for no good reason. Was news leaking about the previous older children adoptions, who were really never abandoned and still had birth family and they just needed to "save face?"? Inquiring minds want to know!!


Research-China.Org said...

I think China is fighting to keep their program alive. The point that is lost on many adoptive families is China's program in NOT about finding homes for abandoned children; it never really was. It is to move children from uneducated, impoverished families into higher income and more educated families. In this way, China believes that "all boats will rise" -- there will be fewer "hicks" and more professors. When seen through this lens, coming forward with this "truth" (again, it has been going on for years unofficially) allows China to openly broadcast this opportunity to the rural families inside China, something it couldn't do effectively before (it required one-on-one recruitment). I think this is simply allowing China to actively and aggressively go after these families.

When one looks at the events of the last few years -- the increased propaganda publicity surrounding returning adoptees (to show that adoptees are happy and healthy, a big concern inside China), the crackdown on illegal adoptions through black markets, hospitals, etc., all is designed to make the international adoption program more attractive, and move children from unofficial to official channels. Those who promote the idea that China is actively moving to end their adoption program are not seeing things properly.


Stacy said...

Would adoptive parents be told up front that the child they are adopting is a child in plight or after the fact?

French Marianne said...

Hi Brian!

Sorry for the silly question... but English is not my native language...
What is the difference between "abandoned"
and "relinquished" ?

Research-China.Org said...

To answer your question, I posted an article from our subscription blog: