Friday, February 01, 2008

2007 Orphanage Submissions

With families anxiously wondering if wait times will be falling anytime soon, it might do well to look at the orphanage submissions for 2007. Although one can only estimate the demand side of the equation (DTC group memberships, agency surveys, etc.), the supply side -- the number of children submitted to the CCAA for adoption -- can be determined with certainty. The first step in the paperwork for submission is the publication of a newspaper "finding ad", and analyzing these ads gives a clear picture of trends for the next six to eight months. While some may hold the view that the orphanages are not submitting the files for all of their children, there is no evidence that this is the case. In fact, in all my interactions with the orphanages I visit and the directors I interview, I have never seen a single adoptable child that had not had her paperwork submitted.

As I have posted elsewhere, 2006 saw more than 10,000 files submitted to the CCAA from the nineteen main Provinces involved in international adoption. Individually, these Provinces submitted the following number of files in 2006:

Anhui -- 468
Chongqing -- 838
Fujian -- 161
Gansu -- 177
Guangdong -- 1935
Guangxi -- 901
Guizhou -- 184
Henan -- 196
Hubei -- 665
Hunan -- 955
Jiangsu -- 337
Jiangxi -- 2401
Liaoning -- 293
Inner Mongolia -- 95
Shaanxi -- 193
Shanxi -- 249
Sichuan -- 114
Yunnan -- 346
Zhejiang -- 113

The top four Provinces, Guangdong, Hunan Jiangxi and Guangxi, accounted for 6,192 submissions in 2006, or nearly 60% of the total.

Fifteen of these Provinces saw declines in submissions in 2007, including all of the top four. Individually, the Provinces submitted the following number of files to the CCAA in 2007, and the percentage in parenthesis indicates the increase or decrease from 2006:

Anhui -- 303 (-35%)
Chongqing -- 587 (-30%)
Fujian -- 166 (3%)
Gansu -- 152 (-14%)
Guangdong -- 1387 (-28%)
Guangxi -- 592 (-34%)
Guizhou -- 180 (-2%)
Henan -- 207 (6%)
Hubei -- 501 (-25%)
Hunan -- 600 (-37%)
Jiangsu -- 577 (71%)
Jiangxi -- 1970 (-18%)
Liaoning -- 352 (20%)
Inner Mongolia -- 69 (-27%)
Shaanxi -- 112 (-42%)
Shanxi -- 146 (-42%)
Sichuan -- 97 (-15%)
Yunnan -- 290 (-16%)
Zhejiang -- 149 (32%)

Five Provinces saw increases: Fujian, Henan, Jiangsu, Liaoning and Zhejiang. Collectively, these five Provinces increased their submissions by an additional 351 files from 2006 to 2007. These increases, however, had little impact on the massive decline from the remaining Provinces, which saw submissions fall 1,969 from 2006 to 2007. Taken together, submissions fell 22% across China last year.

Thus, the number of adoptable children continues to fall, a trend that began in earnest in 2003.

The immediate future of the wait time is determined by the number of files being received at the CCAA each month. So far in 2008, referals have been received by families who submitted their dossiers in December 2005, and they were matched with children whose paperwork was started in May and June 2007. Thus, the near-term outlook is for smaller referral batches, since July submissions are the second-lowest of the year, and the next five months' average is below the average of the entire year. Referrals will be extremely slow in the next few months as we approach the referral of children whose paperwork was submitted in October 2007. These children should be referred around May or June 2008.

The supply-side of the equation is bleak, but what about the "demand" side, the number of families waiting to be referred a child? How does that look over the next few months? Anecdotal evidence from agencies suggests demand through 2008 will remain strong, with no appreciative reduction in demand occurring until the May 2007 referrals are made (dossiers submitted in April 2007, the last batch before the new adoptions regulations took affect). One non-scientific demand indicator is the number of families in the DTC groups for each month. As one can see from the graph, demand in these groups makes a dramatic decline following April 2007 as the new regulations were implimented.

The recent staff reductions at the CCAA is another indicator of the future. Last week it was announced that most of the CCAA's "contract" employees were let go, including those involved in dossier review and the Waiting Child program. While some see this as strictly a cost reduction action, against the backdrop of decreasing supply it is almost certainly a rational business decision -- fewer people are needed to process the incoming number of files from the orphanages. This is clear evidence that things will not be improving in the foreseeable future.