Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Agenda

Every so often, I will receive an e-mail or see a comment on a blog or newsgroup questioning the reasons that I write what I write, or do what I do. In order to make my motives clear, I have decided to write this essay detailing my journey in adoption, and why I feel so passionately about the China adoption program.

I adopted my eldest daughter in 1998. My then-wife and I decided to adopt largely as a result of the publicity surrounding the "Dying Rooms" controversy, and research at that time led us to believe that we were doing a good thing in choosing China. We wanted to "save" a child, providing a home for a child we were told would otherwise not have one. Additionally, I embraced China because I supported her desires to control her population, something I strongly supported. For me personally, it was a chance to "put my money where my mouth was", and hopefully make a difference in a child's life.

Soon after returning home with Meikina, my then-wife and I submitted a dossier for a second child from China. Six months after going DTC, we divorced, and my wife told our agency to pull our dossier. I had already emotionally bonded with our new, but unknown, daughter, so the day our divorce was finalized, I resubmitted my dossier to adopt as a single Dad. In March 2002, I returned to China with Meikina and adopted her xiao mei mei, Meigon.

Whereas my first trip to adopt Meikina had been a blur of activity, my second trip was much more controlled. In the midst of the process of throwing money at just about everyone, one fee stood out: "Newspaper ad: 425 yuan." "What is this fee?" I asked the assistant director in charge of my adoption. "Oh, that is just a newspaper ad that was placed when your daughter was found to allow her to be adopted." Can I have a copy of this newspaper ad, I asked. "No, it is not given to the adoptive families. Sorry."

I was a bit peeved that I was unable to get a copy of a piece of my child's history that I had paid for, so over the next four months I asked hundreds of adoptive families if they had received a copy of their child's finding ad. No one had. Finally, the following November I returned to China to do some research in Meikina's birth city, and asked my guide (later my wife) if she knew which newspaper published the finding ads. A few days calling around to Guangzhou newspapers (Meigon was from Guangzhou) netted the name of the newspaper in charge of printing the ads.

We rushed down to the newspaper offices, located along a small street in the center of Guangzhou. When we introduced ourselves and explained why we had come, we were shown into a small room stacked floor to ceiling with old newspapers. We began looking through the newspapers, trying to find Meigon's picture. After five hours, and with no luck, I was about to abandon the search when suddenly I found the newspaper for November 2001. Looking up at me was four-month old Meigon.

It is difficult to convey the utter thrill that went through me. My referral photo for Meigon was taken when she was fourteen months old, so the finding ad photo was nearly a year earlier. It was utterly amazing!! In that moment I decided that if I treasured such an artifact for Meigon, perhaps other families would also. I purchased as many papers as I could carry, and "Research-China.Org" was born.

Simultaneous to this discovery, I had begun conducting research trips to different orphanages, beginning with Meikina's orphanage in 2000. I was anxious to discover any and all information regarding my children's early lives, such as where they were found, who found them, who cared for them, and if possible who gave birth to them. Plus, I was totally hooked on China itself. My research projects, conducted on a shoe-string budget, allowed me to return to China and gather more experience and information. As families heard of my projects, I was asked to go to more and different orphanages and do similar searches for other families. I treated each child's history as if it were my own daughter's. We visited orphanages, hunted for finders, and sometimes uncovered birth parents. It was exciting and incredibly fulfilling work.

My frequent experiences with orphanage directors, foster families, and average Chinese citizens began to add additional details to the culture and process that results in the international adoption program. I met many directors who cared very deeply for the children brought to their care, but also other directors who couldn't name any of the children they had adopted. I began to see that the adoption program wasn't the perfect system I had thought it was when I had adopted Meikina. I witnessed events that taken individually could be written off as isolated, and although they bothered me, I largely put them away. My goal in researching in China was to uncover the life-stories of the kids in my projects, and that remained my primary focus.

In the course of the intervening seven years, three events have had a big impact on my view of China's international adoption program.

The first occurred in my adoption of Meigon. We visited the Guangzhou orphanage to gather some pre-adoption history, and I casually asked the orphanage staff how many domestic adoptions they did. Their reply was that they did many, and in fact had a four year waiting list of domestic families wanting to adopt from the orphanage. I went home wondering how I could adopt a healthy young child when there were domestic families waiting four or more years to adopt from the same orphanage.

This question came to the forefront again when I met a women in Guangzhou on another research trip that had attempted to adopt a child from the Guangzhou orphanage. She had been refused, even though she was in her mid-thirties, married, with a middle-class income. She had called six orphanages around China, and been refused by all of them. In a final desperate attempt to adopt, she purchased a child from a stranger in what can only be described as a black market transaction. She lives with her daughter, still unregistered, one of millions of such families in China.

The third event, which brought the previous two events into clarity, was the Hunan scandal. With the revelation that directors of multiple orphanages were purchasing babies from traffickers to adopt to international families, the previous two events became clear. Suddenly I realized that the story I had believed in 1998 was no longer valid. Hunan revealed the "new reality" (if it was in fact new I don't know, but new to me) that China's orphanages were no longer laboring under a burden of thousands if not millions of unwanted babies, but in fact were dealing with a dearth of healthy babies, and were looking at extra-legal means of procuring additional infants, solely for the purpose of adopting them for money to foreigners.

On a fundamental basis, I have an issue with capable families inside China being denied access to children from their village, town or city so that those same children can be adopted abroad. In early 2006, I surveyed over 300 orphanages involved in the international adoption program researching my article "The Hague Agreement and China's International Adoption Program," to be published in "Adoption Today" magazine.

In that article, I convincingly show that the overwhelming majority of China's IA orphanages have created financial or geographical hurdles to prevent most middle-class Chinese families from adopting children inside China. Most simply refuse to even consider a domestic adoption. The article details one of the reasons why child-trafficking is so prevalent in China -- most childless couples have been denied access to China's orphans.

I also have an issue with the ill-conceived reward program that was in place in Hunan, and that is still in place in many, many orphanages today. It must be remembered that in China's countryside, the average farmer earns less that 2,000 yuan a year. Thus, offering a family 2,500 to 3,000 yuan for a healthy child is immoral, given the known financial pressures most families face. As one woman admitted, when it was discovered that she and thirty-nine other women in a small Yunnan village were getting pregnant simply to sell their children to traffickers, “If you want to make money, simply have a baby. Having a baby is faster than feeding a pig” (Yunnan Legal Daily, 7/28/04).

I understand the need of Western families to grow their families, and I understand the desire to ignore, and even fight against, those who might create problems in China's adoption program. Certainly I don't want the China program to end, as my entire financial house is built on that program. It would be very easy to simply tell adoptive families false platitudes, encourage them to adopt, ignore the problems and make my few dollars. Certainly that is what most other individuals do: Keep telling families that everything is alright, that there are no problems in China, that the orphanages are still full of unwanted kids. I find it ironic that people who have only seen a single orphanage can attempt to refute the overwhelming evidence that this is no longer true.

I could remain silent, but then I remember my tearful friend in Guangzhou, angry at the hundreds of Western families taking the children outside China that she so desperately wanted to adopt. I remember her asking me how I would feel if the U.S. Government systematically prevented me from adopting in order to adopt our orphans to rich families in Japan or Europe. I remember the words of the orphanage director telling me that families were waiting four years to get a chance to adopt a healthy child, even as I held the hand of one as I boarded an airplane to America. And I remember the words of the opportunists in China, who now perceive the market for these children, and are intentionally bringing orphans into the world to feed the demand. “If you want to make money, simply have a baby. Having a baby is faster than feeding a pig.”

The international adoption program is not an island, walled off from the greater society in China. Sure, we can say it is only 10,000 kids each year, a small percentage of the entire society. That is true. But it represents 10,000 domestic families that each year will be told, "Sorry, there are no children available for you." It creates 10,000 families a year that will seek the black market trade in order to satisfy their desire to raise a child. Families need to realize that the international adoption program is a piece of a grand, interconnected mosaic.

So, what is my agenda? Am I, as some accuse, in this for the money? I operate a small research firm whose sole function is to provide adoptive families with information on their children. Whether it is a glimpse of their child's birth city through my DVDs, or an early photo of their child through the finding ads, I want to allow every family the opportunity to gain what I have obtained for my children -- a glimpse into their pre-adoption lives.

But I also have a place for the disenfranchised and voiceless -- the families inside China desperate for a child, the special needs children in China's orphanages that have little chance of ever being adopted, and who face the very real prospect of growing up without a conventional family. I seek to give these people a voice -- to speak for them. This may offend some, but it must be done. It is an issue of justice and equality. It is an issue of law.

So my agenda is to provide families with as much information regarding the true state of affairs in China as I possible can. I believe that China needs to change their program, to keep their healthy children inside their own country, to eliminate the financial incentives for orphanage directors to design systems that result in more "orphans" being created. I simply am trying to shine a light on the corruption that is becoming more and more prevalent in the China program.

I love China. I love the Chinese people. But I want the program to be beneficial to all, not just the rich. For every healthy child adopted from China there is a SN child that will remain in an orphanage for her entire youth. For every healthy child adopted outside China, there is a domestic family that will be denied a family.

We should address these problems, and unitedly work to rectify them.

That is my agenda.



Anonymous said...


where are some sources where i can find support for your findings? i'm not trying to be argumentative. i understand your concerns about the china IA program IF your experience accurately reflects the situation in China in the larger sense. but i don't want to jump to a conclusion when so far you are the only one i'm aware of who is voicing these concerns.

any help you can give me in finding more support is appreciated.


Research-China.Org said...


No problem. What findings are you specifically wanting to have sources for? I have detailed much of it in the blog articles over the past year, but can help specifically if you give me the specific questions you have.


Anonymous said...


When my husband and I first began the adoption process from China, I raised these same concerns on APC, and was essentially told: "The China adoption program: Love it or leave it." I was appalled that no one wanted to talk about the problems. I knew almost instinctively that the red thread and lady bug talk- the poor neglected precious children who were just waiting for American parents- was too perfect, too self-serving, to be true. I felt very strongly that I didn't want to be part of the problem- part of the market for orphan babies. I knew I'd have to live with myself after. So we went special needs. The process took just about 18 months from the day I ordered information packets from adoption agencies to the day we received our daughter. It felt like the right thing to do; I hope it was.

Keep up the good work.


French Marianne said...

Hello Brian !

I was told there were in China orphanages 'dedicated' to AI and others (many more) for domestic adoptions. Isn'it true? Do you have clearest evidence that orphans, placed in non AI orphanages, are too few to 'fullfill the domestic demand' (dreadful expression, sorry)? Thanks for your answer.

French Marianne

Research-China.Org said...

Most orphanages in China perform domestic and international adoptions, although some are set up for international adoption only (Qianjiang in Chongqing comes to mind). I have visited a few non-IA orphanages and all have also had few kids and long waiting lists.


Anonymous said...


I understand that it is difficult to give all the answers that everyone wants. How do you prove a life's work? At the same time, how come we adoptive parents are so comfortable believing the cinderella story that's been presented to us by our agencies, facilitators, government, and China.

We are all grown up enough to know that there is corruption when there is money involved in anything. Why would international adoption be exempt from that?

Your research along with some of my very good friend's research has brought to light some of my concerns over our last two adoptions.

If you can imagine when I questioned my facilitator about a fee hike right before we left for our second daughter, I was told "I'm sorry that you don't understand the international adoption is situation that involves blind trust." I was shocked by the response to my question and I was told that "there would be no further discussion on this matter". If the whole entire system from front to back and from one country to another is not entirely transparent, then there will be corruption from every side.

In other forums I have thanked you Brian, but please do not stop your work, because our children need someone who have the ability to truly dig out the truth whether it is beautiful or ugly. I think that when people find out the truth in the next few years they will be ashamed of themselves for questioning you in a negative light, but if you are transparent then they will always know that your research is truthful

All the best.


Anonymous said...


By the way where do you think our second daughter is guessed it, Chongqing!

That says a lot!


Anonymous said...


Thanks for all of your posts. It certainly gives us all a lot to think about.

We have two girls adopted from China (both NSN). I think if I were starting the adoption process today, We would not be looking to adopt an NSN child from China.

But the Hunan scandal broke while we were waiting for our second match, and a close friend accused me of essentially shopping for a child in China and selfishly encouraging the kidnapping of babies in China by not withdrawing out application immediately. I feel bad, but what is one to do when such revelations come midway through a long and arduous process? I think when one identifies the problem the solution should not involve punishing those people who signed on in the past with only good intentions.

Since then, I have come to take your view that most if not all of the healthy babies in orphanages in China could be adopted to loving families in China. Today, I wouldn't enter the program (and not just because of the wait times) - but I do not think that we were wrong to not withdraw our application mid-process.

It seems clear to me too that the system needs to change, but surely, it's the CCAA that has to make the change, not the often uninformed or misled families looking to adopt. With the current wait times what they are for NSN children and nothing but increasing times predicted for the future, I'm surprised that the CCAA hasn't taken more drastic measures - unless there are kickbacks going all the way up the line, or unless against what the Hague convention says, the officials truly believe they are doing better for the babies by adopting them into very wealthy families (by comparison to China) abroad.

The money that IA brings into China is not even a blip to the Chinese economy as a whole. Though perhaps orphanage directors see IA is the easiest (or only) way for their orphanage to bring in enough money to provide proper care for ALL of their children: A necessary evil to serve the greater good.

If there's change, I think it needs to come from the CCAA. I think they need to put a moratorium on new applications for NSN children. It would be extremely harsh and unfair to tell people who submitted their dossiers 2 years ago that "sorry the program's now closed." But apart from their more stringent qualifications for adoptive families, the CCAA has done nothing.

Perhaps their strategy is that when the expected wait exceeds 5 years - which it practically does now, no one will be submitting dossiers for IA any more (the free market strategy). But that will only eventually bring things to an equilibrium, it will not put an end to baby trafficking or bring things in line with the Hague convention.

I'm curious to know what you think is the CCAA's seeming failure to do much of anything.

Thanks Brian.


Anonymous said...

I loved reading about your personal story because, to be honest, I can relate more to the human side of things rather than the overload of data that is sometimes presented.
I lose sight of the fact that you are a person with a strong history in the China adoption program and not just an agenda to “bring it down”.
I also did not realize that you met your wife after your first 2 adoptions. I assumed she was your driving force to adopt from China.

I have respect for the fact that you did not prostitute yourself out to serving the China program and CCAA just so sales of your business would be better. It would have been much easier, would it not have? If you played by their rules, you may have even gained more access inside the orphanages and other departments.

I am just thankful that you do what you do. Imagine if there was no other inside look into the program? Imagine if we solely relied on our agencies to tell us everything. That would be seriously scary and dangerous!

Keep doing what you are doing, as hard as it gets!
One day your kids will have the pleasure and pride of telling others who you are and what you did for the China program and for the children in China! I am sure that will be your largest payoff!

Research-China.Org said...


I have frequently told families not to second guess decisions they cannot change, and your story illustrates that well. Don't lose any sleep over your decisions to adopt, it produces no positive outcome.

Again, I want to re-iterate that we are not talking about orphanages kidnapping children, but trafficking children.

But to your main point -- why doesn't the CCAA make more dramatic changes. Although I used to also believe that China "didn't need the money", I have since changed my opinion. China has completely renovated their social welfare facilities from the monies "donated" by Wester families. In the last few years, the CCAA (which, like any government appendage, seeks what is best for itself first) has figured out that Western families are willing to give even more money than donation fees, and has thus began charging fees to visit orphanages, encouraged NGOs to come in and fund education programs, nanny programs, etc. Does anyone serious think money is the issue in most of these cases? Take Xiushan orphanage in Chongqing. In 2006, Xiushan adopted 153 children internationally, for gross proceeds of nearly a half million U.S. dollars. Are we naive enough to think they needed the extra $10,000 or so dollars recently donated to upgrade their water system?

The sad reality is that the Chinese, by and large, view abandoned children as . . . how to say it? Not worth spending the money on. It is not a lack of funds that prevents water systems, heating systems, nanny programs, etc. from being implemented in the orphanages, but a lack of perceived priority for these kids. The Chinese Government doesn't truly see the care of these kids as a priority. They are simply a commodity that can be used to achieve other ends.

That is why there was no real change made in Hunan, and why the directors involved spent little to no time in jail. It was a show to convince the world that those inside China were serious about dealing with the story. In reality, however, Hunan was a tightly scripted exercise in damage control, and the problems revealed in that episode continue unabated today.

The CCAA should make the changes. It should stop the adoption of healthy children, but I think a large part of the problem is a fear that not as many families will step forward to adopt the SN kids, who are held in even lower esteem inside China. If the CCAA was convinced that the money supply would not collapse with the termination of the NSN program, they would see the inherent advantages of having only a SN program. Families entering the adoption program would do well to communicate this attitude to the CCAA in their letter. Emphasize how willing we are to adopt children that have issues. Then maybe change will come.


Anonymous said...

It would be great if all families adopting from China were willing to adopt SN, but that is the biggest problem. Even now with the hugh rise in SN's adoptions, they still only account for less then
30% of China adoption worldwide. That's not even close to half. And when many families find out that they are referred a child through the NSN program that has a repaired SN they reject the referral and ask for a "healthy" baby. It's no wonder that the CCAA is afraid to stop the NSN program completly, people would probably abandon the China program in droves to look for a new program were they could get the "healthy, AYAP, girl" they are looking for. Many of the families that are adopting SN's are only willing to do it because they are already DTC and locked in to their agency, and have spent thousands of dollars. Since the wait is so long they decided that maybe getting a baby with minor SN's would not be too bad. I'm glad that the kids are finally getting families, but is it really in the child's best interest if the parent's are not prepared to handle their SN's? I really feel like this is a no win situation all around.

Research-China.Org said...

I don't share your skepticism. If China streamlined the SN adoption process, creating a 4 month turnaround, that would help.

If the CCAA issued TAs for SN children rapidly, allowing families to travel within a month of accepting a referral, that would help.

If the CCAA allowed families to select any SN child available, instead of forcing them to pick from their own agency's list, that would help.

If the CCAA allowed families to pre-identify a child from a specific orphanage, with a specific problem, allowing families to create "orphanage" sisters, that would help.

There are many, many things the CCAA could do to make the SN program more attractive, and draw in the required 10-15,000 families. The 30% is not from a lack of demand, rather a result of significant hurdles in the SN program.


Anonymous said...

Let me first say that I am a strong advocate for SN adoptions and that the slow down in NSN seems to be a good indicator that what you say is true - there is no longer the need for international adoptions.

However, the one thing that bothers me and that you haven't been able to answer effectively is where does the orphanges that don't do IA fit in? There are more than twice as many non-IA orphanages as there are IA (750 vs 300 approximately).

Why do domestic couples chose to wait 4 years at a IA orphanage rather than go to a non-IA where they don't have to compete with the west?

Who is adopting or what is happening to the children in non-IA orphanages if domestic couples are not going there but rather putting their names on waiting lists?

And wouldn't it stand to reason that a non-IA orphanage could essentially empty itself out by sending their children to IA orphanages, especially if that orphanage has a domestic waiting list also?

Research-China.Org said...

The answer is that the non-IA orphanages also have extensive adoption programs, and the ones I have visited also had waiting lists. But you are right, non-IA orphanages in the past have transferred children to IA orphanages (Desheng in Guangxi and Fuzhou in Jiangxi come easily to mind as "receiving" orphanages from non-IA orphanages.

Certainly, market forces would indicate that a family seeking to adopt would approach non-IA orphanages if told by IA orphanages that there was a 3-5 year wait. The fact that most IA orphanages have long waiting lists is strong evidence that the non-IA orphanages also have few children to adopt. For example, the Huadu orphanage north of Guangzhou (a non-IA orphanage) limits adoptions to only families living in Huadu, and still has a 4 year wait of families.


Anonymous said...

Hi Brian. I would love to hear your take on the breakdown of where the money goes in regards to the 3000 dollars.
Our child is from Xiushan and when you say "Take Xiushan orphanage in Chongqing. In 2006, Xiushan adopted 153 children internationally, for gross proceeds of nearly a half million U.S. dollars." I have to say it really amazed me.
Where is the money going then?
That orphanage not only qualified for the clean water treatment because of such poor conditions (it needed it very badly) they also get all formula supplied. It has had many individual donations and I have even read where it had received a massive supply of baby items such as toys, bouncy chairs, walkers...

Yet it remains an orphanage with low staff per child ratio, little resources going towards proper care for the kids and the children seem to have next to nothing. Where the heck would all that money go unless the CCAA is taking it all? Or would the orphanage get it?

And if they received this amount in 2006, then from 2003 on (I think that is when they began) it must have made so much money.

Do you have a breakdown on where money goes or who gets what? Whether the orphanage gets it all or the CCAA takes some?

Seeing this number of a half a million U.S. dollars in one year is mind-boggling considering the conditions there. said...

I have had many, many, many friends visit orphanages through various Christian nonprofits. In all circumstances there were so many children in orphanages- all with minor to no Special needs- between the ages of 1 month to 12. I do not think that these children would be there if Chinese people really wanted to adopt domestic as you say. I think Chinese families prefer the black market because it is easier to pass the child as their biological child. They do not have a system set up for private adoption ( happens here all the time- and yes money is exchanged- domestic is about 40-60K in the US- we just somehow made it legal in the US) so that is what creates the black market situation. These situations will not be solved by only offering a SN IA program. Also it is quite possible that orphanages that do IA adoptions have a long domestic list because Chinese families know that the care in these orphanages is at a much higher level- creating a higher demand. This is where all of our US$ is spent)
Remember also - China only allows you to see what China wants you to see. When you bring me the video of an non IA orphanage that is empty of babies- well then I will be happy that China is on its way to caring for all of their children.
I am not trying to personally attack you BUT
I also wonder about a man who felt it was okay to adopt a daughter from China when he was single- divorced and could not offer a supportive mother figure. It seems very self serving and toward the side of I am such a good person look what I have done. I think your morals and mine are very different. I wish you the best in your search for what you believe is the truth. Please try very hard to not confuse your truth (your opinions)with fact.

I did not adopt thinking I would SAVE a little girl, nor do I think many people adopt thinking this. Many people just want to complete their family or in our case we felt called to one child. I never saw all the Videos- China's Lost Daughters etc. I just felt that my daughter was in China - and she happened to have an SN.
I am sorry that you feel somewhat attacked. You bring up subject matter that is very emotional to many people and their opinions are not going to be exactly as yours. You will be judged according to what you did write and what you write in the future. Your research will be looked over carefully- but all in all I am happy that I can think about these issues as I go on my next trip to China - to work on Special needs education.

Donna said...

Brian, I want to have an intelligent mature discussion with you about this but I'm just so pissed off about your "Having a baby is faster than feeding a pig" comment that I'm not sure my response will live up to my own high expectations.

When we first decided to adopt from China, I tried to better understand how hundreds of thousands of Chinese women could abandon their newborns. Sure, you always know that SOME people can do that but how do you reconcile that so many can do it? And how do you keep from drawing conclusions about entire populations of women of one particular ethnicity that do it?

Until I understood the enormous social and economic pressure placed on these Chinese families (specifically the moms), I actually worried that it might be a genetic flaw unique to Chinese women because I just couldn't apply my California way of thinking to their situation and consistently come up with the options they did. Nothing in my life experiences would make me think I had no choice but to carry my baby to term then leave it in a box on the ground somewhere and walk away forever.

So I did lots of research because I didn't want to adopt a Chinese baby girl while having ugly opinions about Chinese women. Pretty quickly, I got smarter and what I learned gave me lots of reassurance but it also made me sad. I learned that these moms weren't really that different than me after all. They were just born into a culture with far fewer options and opportunities. I pretty quickly came to have empathy for these women and tried to appreciate the complexity of their situation, grieve with them (to the extent possible from my comfy life in San Jose, California) and image the depth of their incredible personal sacrifice.

I have relatively strong anti-abortion opinions (given all the other birth control options in the USA) but I can't help but wonder if abortion would have been a much more personally convenient choice for them. Then I look at my children and choke back tears of gratitude that they didn't avail themselves of this easier option.

I've been a social worker and a police officer so I've not led a sheltered life but I really do believe that a woman who would produce a baby just to sell it is the exception rather than the rule. Compared to her contribution, her cut would be so small!

As someone who has been pregnant and given birth, I can assure you that no part of it is easier than feeding a pig! To imply that anything more than a teeny-tiny fraction of the Chinese population of women would think it is that simple is incredibly insulting to every other woman in China who has suffered through a long uncomfortable pregnancy, labored then pushed a baby into the world just to learn that she's the wrong gender (or has a handicap) and can't be accepted by her family. The option to abort the pregnancy, sell the baby, kill the baby, abandon the baby or raise the baby "underground", risk being fined by your government, having your property seized, being forcibly sterilized, or being divorced or disowned by your family can't be compared to the mindless act of carrying a bucket of slop to the barn and heaving it and the freaking pigs!

Considering the millions of little girls missing from China's population and the tiny fraction that have been adopted via International Adoption, how lucrative or widespread can it be for women to willingly line up to have babies just to "feed" our IA machine?

It looks to me like someone just wants to make us feel guilty about being part of a process that might have a hungry beast living in the basement. Personally, I don't believe in monsters but if it exists let's hope it's not a pig. I understand they're damn hard to feed.

Mom to 3
2 adopted from China
1 the easy way - birth. (HA!)

Research-China.Org said...

Where the money goes is the million dollar (literally) question. 5% of the adoption fee ($150) goes to the CCAA for their role in the adoption process, but the rest remains with the Social Welfare system of which the orphanage is a part. It is generally used for foster programs, capital improvements, elderly care, etc.


Research-China.Org said...


First of all, I didn't say the feeding a pig comment, it was uttered by a woman discovered to be having children to sell to traffickers. Her "take" was about 2,500 yuan.

Nor am I implying that the majority of women in China feel that way.

That said, you would be stunned at what people in China WILL do for money. And it is not rare occurrences, but fairly common. The point is that when a market is created such as is done with the IA orphanages, where every healthy child represents a $3,000 donation, it creates an incentive to obtain more kids. We saw it in Hunan. Where there is unmet demand, people will creatively fill that demand.

As much as you want to believe that people in China think like you do, they don't. They view life differently as a result of their poverty, their system of government and their cultural traditions. Children, as I have argued before, are much more a means to an end in China than in the West.

Regarding "Dizlan"'s comments, I have heard "friends have been to orphanages full of children" ad nauseum. I have yet to have a single family communicate the name of a single orphanage anywhere in China that has unsubmitted healthy children. I don't doubt that many a family enters and orphanage and sees lots of kids. In the case of Xiushan, for example, there are about 125 kids there at any one time. If you walked into the Xiushan orphanage, you would no doubt think, Wow, this place is full of healthy kids." But return in a year, and you will see that they were all adopted internationally. Touring an orphanage provides no data unless you determine if those kids have had their files submitted or not.


Anonymous said...

I think you're right on. Keep up the good work. You'll be a great source for these girls as they grow older and come up with there own questions. As a parent of one NSN (XiuShan 2005) and one SN (DongGuan 2007), I don't see how people continue to wait YEARS for NSN kids, when there are soo many SN waiting. But that's just me...
I did visit an orphanage. A big fancy one (DongGuan), and all I saw was SPECIAL NEEDS kids.

Anonymous said...


thanks for the reply. i've read most of your blog entries. really, i'm looking for support from other sources. are you the only one talking about these issues?

to get more specific - i would love to know for a fact that the numbers of children being abandoned in china is significantly lessening and that the "demand" for domestic adoptions in china is growing. if i understand you correctly, you would say that we've been conditioned to be haunted by imagined images of untold thousands of young girls (mostly) that need homes, but that it's simply no longer the case because of better economy and a trend away from the historical preference for boys. again, i would LOVE to know this is true.

but i can't help but want to err on the side of being skeptical because of the lack of evidence. why am i not seeing these statistics anywhere else?

i want to be an advocate for the abandoned kids in china. i want what's best for them. until the recent doubt that has crept in as a result of reading your blog, i would have said with certainty that what these kids need are loving homes in the international community.

but if there are enough chinese families waiting to adopt the kids, as you seem to suggest, then i understand your sense of duty to advocate for the slowing if not outright elimination of the IA program.

sorry to ramble. i hope i've made my questions a bit more clear.

thanks for the dialogue.


Research-China.Org said...


I certainly understand your impulses, as I am always checking myself to make sure we don't mis-interpret what we are hearing or seeing.

As far as domestic adoption is concerned, here is a recent USA Today article that documents the changing attitudes in China regarding adoption, and the cooresponding increases:

China Shedding Adoption Stigma, May Tighten Rules

Another source, from inside China is here:

For me, the most convincing evidence I have is the conversations I have had with over 60 orphanage directors personally over the last seven years. I ask each and every one to describe the trends, and the vast majority confirm what is being said by the government.

Admittedly, it is difficult to truly know the situation in China. But I have been to many, many orphanages, and walked through the babyrooms. I have asked the directors "What is the story with this child," "Why isn't this child adopted." and the answer is ALWAYS the same: "This child is being adopted next month," or that child has a non-visible special need. I have NEVER seen a healthy child that wasn't in the process of being adopted.

I have people e-mail me and adamantly declare that their orphanage is "full of babies, I have seen it myself!" I have tried to explain that an orphanage is much like an auto assembly line. If you walked into an assembly line on any given day and saw the hundreds of cars being assembled, you could walk away and say, "That factory is full of perfectly good cars." Of course, and they are in various stages of "production" (adoption). Come back a few months later, and it would still be full, but all of the cars you saw before would be gone, sold (adopted), with new ones in the pipeline.

Thus, walking through an orphanage without asking important questions about the kids is no evidence whatsoever that there are healthy kids not being adopted.

Why are you not seeing these statistics anywhere else? Good question. I think the CCAA is whispering this, but at this point is interested in continuing teh current system for various financial reasons. Agencies also have a vested interest in keeping the adoption program alive, and also are burdened with the fear of saying anything that would damage their reputation with the CCAA. Adopting families are too busy while in China to do any real research, and families that have already adopted are busy raising their kids to return to China and do research.

Domestic families inside China have no ability to voice their side of the story.

So, who can/will tell the story?


Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading your articles. Thanks for explaining your story.
After adopting 3 times from China, I have so many unanswered questions. I appreciate your effort and work.
Our 3rd daughter from China was NSN, but likely should have been SN. She was premature (as told in her paperwork) and was turned down by another couple for low weight for her age, a year before we adopted her. When we got her at 2 1/2, she was still terribly tiny, underweight, and had some developmental delays... In the US, they would have called her premature with failure to thrive. I tell this to say, I am so thankful we got her. We wanted to switch after LID to SN, for the many of the thoughts you give, but as the time drew closer to referral, we were encouraged by our agency to stay where we were- NSN.
Brian, how often do you go to China to do research? On average, how long do you stay? Do you find the people you speak with in China fairly willing to speak with you, or are you "pulling teeth" so to speak, everytime you interview key people. How often do you feel an orphanage director is telling you what they think you "should" hear, and how often do you think they are truly honest? Tell us more about your encounter with birth parents. Do you presently continue to try and seek out birth parents to interview? How often do you find them? Once a year, more, less? Do they want to talk with you? Are they willing if they have no fear of being found out?
Great info.
Thanks again.
Thanks also for doing "Finding
Ads" for my family. It's really wonderful to know you care.

Research-China.Org said...

Our trips to China have become less frequent as the girls are all now in school. Last year we made two trips, and before that we averaged four trips a year. My Little Meigon (7) likes to tell her class she has been to China 13 times! We go for 3 1/2 weeks each trip, and visit 4-5 orphanages each time.

As far as gaining information, it varies from one director to another. Some are obviously bureaucratic, and have very little interest in the kids or in helping. Others are very interested in helping the families gain information. We have a group of directors that we have known for many years, visited several times, talked to on the phone scores of times. These are the ones we rely on most for information about what is happening in China. Others we know are just telling us what they think we want to hear.

In the course of our researching different cities, we do BP searches if we have approval of the adoptive family and are able to make connections. Doing individual searches for BPs is extremely time-consuming, and something that has not been cost effective in the past. I have encouraged orphanage groups to collectively search, which would make the process more cost effective.


Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for some time and appreciate what you've been saying and doing.

I have 4 girls from China, 2 NSN and 2 SN. I first adopted in 1995 when my daughter did come from a "Dying Rooms" orphanage. I have been to 4 orphanages in 4 provinces in the course of 10 years.

I have seen such a huge change in orphanage conditions and changes in the CCAA adoption program. It is unbelievable to me to see how China went from having overflowing orphanages to very few new admittances. What a terrific improvement has been made that people are not driven to abandon so many of their children. Plus all the aid that comes from charities.

But you're right, I haven't seen the government do much accept help from charities.

I recall that back before 1998 if you already had a child, you were only allowed to adopt a SN child. Why doesn't the CCAA consider going back to that rule?


Research-China.Org said...

I also agree that dramatic changes have been made in China. When I look at the first facility from DianBai and the facility now, it is obvious that much has been done to improve things. Even more remarkable, stunning in fact, is the cultural shift that has been brought about as a response to the one-child policy. A generation ago, Chinese families often had five or more children (my wife's parents had seven children!). Now, many families think two is perfect, but are very happy with one. Many profess NO desire to have kids. To be able to change public sentiment that dramatically in 20 years is astounding.

I don't know why China doesn't return to the SN rule. Perhaps they will.


Andy said...


Thanks for yet another thoughtful and thought-provoking article. My only complaint is that you don’t write frequently enough.

Yes, the baby reward programs should be outlawed, and orphanages should be incentivized to adopt domestically instead of internationally, but why completely arrest or mothball the NSN program? It has been (with generally noble intentions) painstakingly set-up and developed over many years. Establishment of the program has involved a myriad of staid bureaucracies, international laws and private and public relationships. What if China’s international NSN program is needed again, as it was before? Can a program this complex be turned on and off again on an as-needed basis?

China is, of course, huge and complex, with ever-changing politicians, policies, and social attitudes and economic climate. Who knows what the future holds? Look at the recent volatility in China’s capital markets. CCAA has gone on record as saying baby abandonments are down, domestic adoptions are up and they cannot meet the demand of international families. Even given that, international families still wish to get in line and continue to do so. Why shouldn’t China let them? Provided other measures are implemented (outlawing baby rewards, incentivizing domestic adoptions, full disclosure to prospective international adopters etc..), it seems to me the NSN program would serve as a safety net for orphans, if, god forbid, a natural, political or economic disaster were to befall China.


Research-China.Org said...


You wrote: "Yes, the baby reward programs should be outlawed, and orphanages should be incentivized to adopt domestically instead of internationally."

If those two things were accomplished, I would have no complaints.

It could be accomplished by requiring directors to turn over all funds received from adoption to the CCAA, which would then distribute the funds back to the orphanages based on their size, requirements, etc. This would eliminate the inherent conflict of interest that exists for directors to seek "the highest bidder" for their children.

It would also help if adoption fees were standardized for domestic adoptions. Additionally, a waiting period of 6 months should be imposed before a healthy child can have her paperwork submitted for international adoption, to allow domestic families the chance to adopt.

Lastly, orphanages should require additional follow-up on domestic adoptions to insure that the families that do adopt inside China truly represent a good opportunity for the children.


Research-China.Org said...


Lastly, there is no reason to dismantle anything. If the playing field is equalized, the program can continue as it now is without any changes.


Unknown said...


I too am the parent of a daughter adopted a month after your visit to Xiushan. Your impression of the director at the time was positive. What is your interpretation of the situation in Chongqing system? Are you suggesting that these children have not been abandoned but trafficked? Have they been moved to more favorable SWI with IA programs. Can I tell my daughter with any confidence that she was born in Xiushan?

I agree that despite our best intentions as adoptive families, we have become the beneficiaries of an unethical system. Can we accept that early IA allowed children to find families at a time when China did not have the means to provide even minimal care? Can we feel positive that Chinese men and women are now involved as teachers, caregivers, mentors and foster families due to the efforts of Half the Sky and the like? Has domestic adoption gained acceptance because of IA. Perhaps we are at a turning point and IA should be discontinued. A few months ago I wanted to contact Half the Sky and CCAA to see if they were willing to use funds to help Chinese families cover the adoption costs. This may help these kids remain in their birth country but would perpetuate the economy of adoption in China.


Anonymous said...

I believe what you are saying. I have a daughter from China...I loved it there, but I can see exactly what you are saying, and your research proves it.

Why WOULDN'T it be easier to have a baby then to feed a pig? If what you are saying is that they receive approximately 1 years average rural salary per baby, then who wouldn't do that? They can have the baby, be pregnant, be healthy, and STILL make their living. If we look at the US, and let's just say a $30,000 income for the year. (high in some areas, very low in others), I believe that a LOT of women/girls would become pregnant and sell their babies for the $30,000 income (as heartbreaking as it seems to most adoptive parents who are desperate for a child). In the US it is illegal....but I'm sure it's still being done. It saddens me that IA families can't see the "real" picture of poverty and want and need.....people do what they do for money....all over the world. Unfortunately, the commodity in China is babies....

Anonymous said...


Do you think that clandestine ultrasound has contributed to the decrease in infant abandonment in China? I've seen ads for ultrasound devices that are very small--the size of a TV remote control.

Research-China.Org said...

I am unable to discuss Xiushan too much at this time, but I don't think that it involves kids from outside the area.

I don't want to give the impression that the corruption I am talking about is nefarious. In other words, I don't think bad people are doing bad things (for the most part). Rather, I think they are operating within the Chinese culture doing things that violate basic human rights, and run contrary to the basic tenets of the Hague Agreement.

As examples:

1) A woman is known in the area as a "finder" of babies and families. She is thus contacted by families seeking to abandon a child, and over time obtains many kids.

An orphanage hears of this person, and decides that a win-win arrangement can be made by offering the woman a small amount of money. It is felt by all sides that this would benefit the children, since the orphanage can then adopt these children for $3,000, benefits the orphanage system.

Or perhaps an orphanage feels that if left to their own devices, birth families might abandon a child on the side of the road or in a field, jeopardizing the abandoned child. To alleviate this problem, they make it known that the orphanage will pay a "reward" to anyone that brings an abandoned child to the orphanage. This reward may also extend to employees at the orphanage who "hear" of unwanted children from medical professionals in the area.

In all of these cases, the individuals involved might say, as they did in the Hunan trial, "What we were doing was in the best interest of the children," and in many cases that might be true. Unfortunately, the potential for abuse is apparent.

The main problem is that China does not yet possess the rule of law and ethical safe-guards to protect their system against such abuse.

As adoptive families, we must be vigilent for signs of abuse and corruption, take steps to remedy them, and not simply say "Don't rock the boat until I am done building my family." There will always be families hurt by change. The recent fiasco, in my opinion, in Guatemala illustrates the problem with trying to make changes in a corrupt system.

And yes, I believe ultrasounds are having an impact on abandonments, along with changing incomes and attitudes.


Amy said...


Is there a legal way to do a private adopting in China between Chinese families?


Research-China.Org said...

Well, I'm not sure "legal" is the term, but anyone can register a child (either biological or adopted) after birth by going to the Family Planning office and paying the registration fee. That makes any child legally registered.

So, an adoptive family can make the "adoption" arrangements with the birth family, and then take the child and register it as their child. The ID, etc. for the child will then show the adoptive parents as the legal parents of the child.


Anonymous said...

One great way to find out what patterns your childs orphanage is following and if any red flag issues are showing up is to offer personal info within the yahoo group.
Many may be amazed at how naive we all were thinking we were holding on to golden information about finders when really there may be 50 others within that orphanage who have the same finder listed.
I do feel our kids own the rights to their stories, but sharing them in a safe secure site with others who have the same motives may actually give more clues than one can imagine.
It can only act to empower our children.

Anonymous said...

My comment is in response to Dizlan's request that Brian "work very hard to not confuse your truth (your opinions) with fact." Doesn't this post make clear that this man holds himself to rigorous standards of truth that are based on research not on a personal need to cling to one story? His first opinion about why he wanted to adopt from China has changed as he has learned more and more facts about China. I am an academic and all of my work requires sources and requires that I back up my claims with evidence, and I am extremely impressed with Stuy's diligence and clarity of thinking. His only equal in the field is Kay Johnson, who has the funding of Cornell University behind her to do her research. My husband and I, by the way, adopted because we felt it was the morally right thing to do for abandoned children and the planet, and I am sickened to know about trafficking and about the economic incentive some rural women have for reproducing. But I am so grateful to learn this, because I want to have as informed an understanding of all the dynamics at work in China adoption as possible.


Anonymous said...

Hello Brian - I just wondered whether you wanted to share the circumstances of your adoption of your youngest daugther as you didn't mention them in your blog and I can't see them on your website.

I know you talk about parents not second guessing decisions but it is hard not to. I don't know whether your children are NSN or SN and I am interested in the timing/context of your third adoption as it may have been around the same time as we adopted our daughter (NSN, mid 2004). Since then we have become more informed about the situation in China and sponsor SN children as this seems some small thing we can do to help an overall complex situation. I would never change our daugther of course and I'm not sure we had the capacity to handle an SN child, but there is an element of guilt.



Research-China.Org said...

Our youngest daughter Meilan was a SN girl we adopted at 4 years old. We adopted her in February 2004. She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (apparently had seizures when an infant), but doctors here see no evidence of that.

Although we expected significant issues with attachment and institutionalization issues, so far we have been blessed.


Amy said...

If private adoption is legal in China, how much is it done? I guess I am thinking that if there are children being abandoned and ending up in orphanages, I would think maybe there is an informal system where a Chinese couple is able to find a baby like we do in the US through private adoption. Why do they need to go through an orphanage? If the babies are in the community I wonder if most Chinese couples who want to adopt bypass the formal system and do it privately.

Anonymous said...

Brian, thanks for your work, by the way. I have one of your finding ads, and I treasure it.
You and Dawn bring up some interesting issues in your discussion, but neither of you mention the elephant in the room, which is the One Child Policy. I don't know who dreamt that up, but coupled with the thousands-year old view of women as second class citizens, the result is tragic, not just for our poor abandoned girls, but also for their mothers and fathers.
Although I'm sure that for many, having a baby is easier than feeding a pig as a source of income, many of these mothers and fathers abandon newborn children not for economic reasons and for profit, but because the government MAKES THEM. The government creates the necessity for abortion and abandonment, and probably for infanticide. You may argue that population control makes it necessary, but you will never convince me that such human rights abuses are ever justifiable. Recently the government is even threatening to crack down on people who can afford to pay the fines for extra children. Of course its not equitable. Only the super rich can have the joys of a large family, of seeing your child surrounded by loving siblings, of maximizing your chances that you'll end up with at least one child that will care for you in your old age? The chinese are human too, and they deserve what all humans deserve: respect for their reproductive choices, and for their unborn children.

M said...


Thanks for this thoughtful post (and for my soon-to-be daughter's finding ad!). I just want to say that I am currently part of a pilot program called "XingFu" that is doing almost exactly what you describe as needing to be done to encourage SN adoptions. And I really think this might be the future of adoption from China.

From the moment I let my agency know that we were open to a SN adoption, it has been less than four months (we had finished assembling, but not yet submitted, our dossier to China at that point) and we will be traveling to pick up our beautiful two year old daughter on February 14th.

Our agency has contracted exclusively with two different orphanages (Changzhou and Wuxi) and has been given unprecedented access to the SN kids there (the directors of our agency have actually traveled to the orphanages and met these children in person, we were given a five minute video of our daughter, all of her medical records, and about half a dozen different photos of our child - plus lengthy written updates. Both of these orphanages are part of the Half The Sky program, so we will also receive a "lifebook" about our daughter once we adopt her with monthly updates and pictures that cover the time she has spent in the orphanage). We were told that the CCAA would be putting adoptive families in this program on a "Green Path" and we would be ushered through much faster than even the average SN's program. And this has been absolutely true. Our turn around from Letter of Intent to Letter Seeking Confirmation (basically our referral - for those who don't know how SN adoption works) was 70 days, (and I think this will get much faster as more families join this program) and we received our Travel Approval TEN DAYS after we sent back our Letter of Seeking Confirmation.

Our agency exclusively places children from Changzhou and Wuxi, thus enabling families to adopt "orphanage sisters" (or brothers! There are a lot of wonderful SN boys who are they are still looking to place!) and you are, of course, able to request the parameters of the special needs you feel your family is equipped to handle. There are children who have such "minor" issues as an extra finger or toe, large birth marks or scars, or simply being older, and there are children with "bigger" but still entirely manageable SN's like cleft issues, amniotic banding syndrome etc. Many of these children are under one year old, as well.

I realize that everyone needs to come to these decisions in their own way. And I would never presume to push someone towards a SN adoption if they hadn't done all the research they should and considered what it might mean to their family, but when I hear or read about potential A-parents bemoaning what now looks like a five year wait, I just want to point out that I saw my daughter's face ten minutes after I let my agency know that we were open to a child with SN's, and that I will hold her in my arms less than five months after I first saw her face.

My agency is still looking to place over fifty children, and has just been told that they will be allowed to contract with several other orphanages in the same way. I encourage people reading this who might be interested, to do a search for "XingFu" and take a look at this program. I can't tell you how happy we are that we are part of it.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Grazie, I can't speak for Brian’s views on this, however I do think that the only control we have over the big elephant in the room is to stop feeding it with our own self serving motives which enable this elephant to continue to grow!

The power we hold over how they now run their family planning laws is much larger than believed. If we chose to adopt SN children or refused to work with them until their policy became more ethical, we would be sending a strong message to the Chinese government that they no longer have the unlimited options once offered, financial support and “no questions asked” type of system.

What could happen is we could demand accountability, rights for parents who choose to allow their child to be placed for adoption and hopefully encourage ethical adoptions with parents who would feel more empowered.

There is no reason that our kids have no details about their roots and who they were born to, where they were born, why they could not be kept, if they have birth siblings etc.
These things could all be a reality if China would recognize what we want as an adoption community.
I am sure we all agree that we want what is best for our kids and what is best for the birth families. We want ethical and legal adoptions free from corruption that comes with the money and incentives involved.

So rather than focusing on their flaws and violations of human rights, lets look at where our role is in this. With a huge amount of potential adoptive parents willing to wait in line, with a community that asks very little questions and demands a small amount of information, agencies that tip toe in fear of a bad report card, all of these issues that we are guilty of, are feeding this elephant and over time he is growing bigger and uglier!

Change really can begin with us if we are willing to collectively demand it!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, maybe Brian can correct me if I am wrong on this but the idea that we have more than a minor part in the China's population control laws is naive or maybe even egotistical.

IA did not exist when the One-Child law was enacted and western's society view on it was of no concern to China. They wanted and needed to control their population. What they failed to take into consideration at the time was the impact their 3,000 year old cultural of boy domination would have on gender disparity and girl abandonment.

This left China with a huge problem - what to do with all the abadoned girls that they as a government - DON'T WANT. They don't want the hassle,the price tag or the increase population of this issue. Hence the IA program.

"What could happen is we could demand accountability, rights for parents who choose to allow their child to be placed for adoption and hopefully encourage ethical adoptions with parents who would feel more empowered."

China doesn't want children placed for adoption as a general idea. The whole point of the One-Child policy is that China can't afford the population growth.

China may make adustments over the years but unfortunately, the size of the country and the rate of growth makes it virtually impossible to not have some controls in place.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for what you are doing Brian!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the posts.

With 30,000 + people in line for 8,500 children a year and dropping. The system will "take care" of itself.

I agree that the time is near that the CCAA will stop accepting NSN adoption dossiers with some exceptions until the back log of waiting families is reduced.


Anonymous said...

We have a LID of 4/07, and would like switch from NSN to SN. We were told by our agency that CCCA has recently changed the way they did their SN process... all US agencies had to apply to become part of a program to receive information about SN kids (via e-mail only), and our agency wasn't one of them. Because our agency wasn't included, they will receive no SN children for the forseeable future.

So there you go: we're willing to switch from NSN to SN, but can't do it. Now, I may believe that healthy children are not in abundance waiting for adoption, but you can't tell me that there aren't large numbers of SN kids awaiting adoption. The Chinese people, to my knowledge, generally just doesn't value any SN humans... much less orphans, as Brian mentioned. So, what's up with the tightening of the SN guidelines?

We want to switch to SN. We cannot. We are stuck.

Marie said...

My most humble apologies to you, Brian. There was a time when I thought that your very public vocalizations about Hunan, etc. were detrimental to our tenuous relationship with the CCAA. I also had some serious doubts about the whole finding ad issue. But in reality, your continued quest for the truth, and your research, deserve nothing but respect and admiration.

Shari said...

As always, thank you! Your posts always give me plenty to think about...this one more than others.
As a young (32 when I brought my daughter home from Yangchun in 2005), single, mom it's hard for me to grasp that I may have taken her away from a potential 2 parent Chinese adoptive family...It doesn't make your posts easy for me to read.
I don't second guess my decision. I did what I thought what best at the time; I am a great Mom and my daughter has a HUGE loving family.
Being an adoptive mom puts me into the category of adoption expert though and I appreciate the information you share so that I can truly be an educated resource for potential adoptive parents who ask me about adoption options, domestic and international choices and what I would do if I did it again.
Thank you for your continued research, I appreciate it greatly!

Carrie said...

Thanks Brain for you blog-we are adopting a SN 6 year old and have gotten a newspaper from you. I think what you do to make a living is a good thing!I enjoy reading your blog! keeo up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Two unconnected thoughts: first, the publicity over the fact that many high powered, wealthy men have lovers on the side to provide them with many children shows that the Chinese still want many children and that there is much inequity in what is allowed the powerful vs. the poor.
Second, if the point of the one child policy is to cut down on the Chinese population, yet all abandoned children are kept in-country, doesn't this work against cutting back on the population? Yes, it's a good thing for the Chinese couples wanting to adopt and for the children being adopted, but it doesn't really help China overall except as it might balance out the gender gap. But then, encouraging women to have more children to fill the IA market doesn't help the world population problem, either.
Whenever I think I have a grasp on the situation, I always see more complexities. I have enjoyed reading all the posts. They are giving me much to mull over. I just know that there is not a clear-cut moral "right" answer.

Research-China.Org said...

Dear Carrie & Aaron:

Congratulations on your pending adoption. I am so happy that one of China's older children has found a home. Well done!!!


Kelly And Allison said...

I have heard your name from difference sources and have just read your blog. I think what you do is wonderful and it certainly give people a lot to think about.

I also decided to adopt girls from China after I heard about "The Dying Room" 10 years ago, and I just watched the movie last week. The reality of what life is like for those orphans in the land that I love and called home for 24 years, also the motherland of my two beautiful adopted girls, breaks my heart. I love China and always will, but I also realized my life was extremely privileged and shelted. There are part of life in China I never knew existed before.

I wish you continue your research and help educate adoptive family about Chinese culture.


Anonymous said...

We are in line for our second NSN adoption and would switch to SN in a heartbeat, but CCAA is making it impossible for us to do so! (Specifically, not allowing us to switch agencies.) Additionally, there are some new changes in the SN program which apparently reduces the amount of agencies participating in SN adoption. So, we wait.

So, yes, I agree, the 30% could be much, much higher should CCAA make some regulation changes that favor folks that want to switch from NSN to SN children.


Anonymous said...

Hi Brian,
My wife and I have been planning to sponsor a Chinese child in an orphanage or foster family. But since I read this blog about the financial obstacles that discourage people in China from adopting children within their own country, I started to wonder about contributing to a fund that would help would-be adoptive parents in China to adopt domestically. Perhaps, the international adoption orphanages would have less incentive to dissuade their fellow citizens from pursuing domestic adoptions. I'd love to get your thoughts about this.

Research-China.Org said...

I would be very cautious before contributing to a "fund" that assists those in China to adopt. My main question would be how the funds are administered, since there is no central agency responsible for domestic adoptions. Additionally, I question how receptive anyone would be to assist a financially disadvantaged family in adopting.

But your question is a good one: How can we insure that our funds are being properly used. The reality is that every NGO in China is beholden to the CCAA for approval and cooperation. Thus, questions about disbursements are extremely limited, and oversight is limited. For example, in one orphanage in Jiangxi, a well-known agency set up a foster family program, donating the funds directly to the orphanage. One twelve-year old girl who was in the program recounted to her adoptive family that every month a group of women would be paid to come to the orphanage to take photos with the children to "prove" they were in foster care, and in fact the orphanage was keeping the money and had no foster program.

But organizations are unable to ask hard questions out of fear that they will be thrown out of China. Thus, I would support organizations that by-pass the directors and work directly with the children. "Love Without Boundaries", for example, pays for the surgeries they sponsor directly, keeping monies from going to other "projects".


Unknown said...


Thank you for sharing your insite into the world of China adoptions. It certainly seems wrong to deny the people of China the children in need of families, but perhaps with the news of a possibility of the changing of the one child per family rule it will begin to move in that direction. We adopted a SN child who was two at the time, last March, and it was the most amazing thing I have even done and I have 5 bio children!!! She is such a joy to have and yet I do worry about her not knowing her true culture. I can only do so much and she will be an American thru and thru. So, we can all hope for changes, families can consider SN children, they too deserve families, Chinese and foreign, and we can speak up for them. Thanks for doing what you do and we also have a daughter from Qiangjing SWI and I see a few photos of her on your photo page so I will be ordering those from you soon!!!

EWB in Oh.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Brian for what you are doing to help expose the truth about Inter-Country Adoptions world wide! As an intercountry adoptee from Vietnam and founder of the Inter-Country Adoptee Support Network ( I wish there were more adoptive parents in the world like you who are prepared to find the truth and do something about it!


Anonymous said...

I am new to your site, and I just want to say how your "agenda" mirrored my current feelings without ever have been made aware of this side of the story. We began to build our family through adoption 17 months ago. We started out requesting a healthy infant, and through our paper chase found out the wait was increasing to possibly 4 years. I began to think, "wait! I thought there were so many baby girls in need?" With research I was saddened to see how many sn children were waiting. And stunned to see how many boys were waiting. We changed our plans, and although we didn't start out to save a child, rather add a child through adoption, we felt that our path was meant to lead us to a sn girl nearly three years old that may not be chosen because of her special need. I wonder if other adoptive families that are waiting were aware of this side, if maybe they would be find the path toward a sn child the right one for all concerned?

Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic resource for people looking to adopt from china.

Anonymous said...


Your earlier assessments seem to have foretold how the China AI program has evolved. Mid-way through 2009, I get the impression that the percentage of completed adoptions via the SN program is larger than the NSN program.

The US state department keeps track of the number of completed adoptions, but does not break that down between NSN and SN. Is there any way to quanitify the ratio of SN/total China adoptions and NSN/total China adoptions in 2008? 2009?

Also, a small correction from blog entry on 1/24/08. The SN program has 2 major avenues for matching children to families:
1. Agency designated list
2. Shared list.

Neither process is perfect, but the shared list enables more agencies to match the children on the shared list.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Brian, this is really important work you're doing. As an anthropologist working in southwest China, I'm glad you're shining the light on these situations.

After I read this 2008 explanations, I read your 2006 letter to the editor:

It seems to contradict your later stance. Would you still stand by the letter to the editor that you sent in 2006, or if not, how would you change your response?


Research-China.Org said...

As with all things, the one more learns and experiences, the more one's ideas should change. My belief in the integrity of China's adoption program has steadily declined since 2005.

Anonymous said...

Brian, I've never read this before and I'm not sure how I missed it! Just wanted to say this is very very good and you should continue to post this link from time to time as your "agenda" will without a doubt be thrown into question in the future!