Friday, March 21, 2008

What the "Donation" Really Is

There is word from China that the fee required by some orphanages to process an international adoption is about to increase from $3,000 to $5,000. I say "some" because a survey of orphanages in Guangdong, Guangxi and Jiangsu shows that the increase is not unanimous, and it is not being dictated by the CCAA. It appears that it is being left up to the individual directors themselves to charge what they feel appropriate. In other words, it is an attempt to get more money from the adoption program.

Prospective families, by and large, have been understanding of this increase. "Things cost more nowadays," one adoptive parents wrote on a popular adoption newsgroup, "and more special needs children are being abandoned so they need the funds more than ever." Another parents wrote "To tell you the truth, the orphanage donation fee was probably one of the only fees I did feel was justified and the least associated with corruption."

It might help to put this increase (and it is being implimented on a "trial-balloon" basis by individual orphanages) into some perspective. The $3,000 "donation" has been part of the adoption program since its inception in 1992, and has not deviated in the following 16 years.

How much is $3,000 in China? With the average director's salary in the neighborhood of $160 per month, a single orphanage donation of $3,000 will pay the director's salary for a year and a half. With the average foster family expense being around $30 to care for a child for one month, one donation fee of $3,000 will care for eight children for a year.

And, lest we forget, the $3,000 orphanage donation was enough money to convince six Hunan directors to purchase trafficked children for $350, only to turn around and adopt them internationally.

Obviously, $3,000 is still a lot of money in China.

But what is wrong with orphanages increasing the fee paid by adopting families? After all, the dollar is way down, and expenses and overhead are increasing. Shouldn't we be a little understanding on this increase?

No. I wrote two years ago about the financial disparity between internationally adopting families and domestic families in China. Due to Western families' ability to pay what in China is a rich-man's fee to adopt, orphanages were actively discriminating against domestic families in order to maximize their cash-flow. As a result, unless a domestic family was able to approximate the contribution made by international families, orphanages were unwilling to adopt a child to them. In fact, 93% of the internationally adopting orphanages were uncooperative when a middle-income domestic family applied to adopt a child. It should be clear to everyone that increasing the adoption fee to $5,000 will do nothing to solve this discrepancy. In fact, one could argue that increasing the donation fee is in violation of the Hague Agreement, which requires a sending country make a priority of placing children domestically.

But the increased fee will have an even darker result. A significant reason for the decline in abandonments across China is the recognition by birth parents that healthy infants have significant worth, and therefore an increasing number of families are arranging their children to be sold to other families or traffickers rather than simply leaving them on the doorstep of the orphanage. Many orphanages, recognizing this supply-demand reality, are entering the marketplace alongside the traffickers, purchasing babies from birth parents or from the traffickers themselves. A fee increase of $2,000 will only add fuel to the baby-buying problem.

Adopting families should actively work against this tentative fee increase. Families should inform their agencies that they are unwilling to pay the increased fee. Only by "pushing back" will the orphanages attempting to increase their fee be forced to back down.


Dee said...

"But the increased fee will have an even darker result. A significant reason for the decline in abandonments across China is the recognition by birth parents that healthy infants have significant worth, and therefore an increasing number of families are arranging their children to be sold to other families or traffickers rather than simply leaving them on the doorstep of the orphanage."

This bit is something I've not heard before, and certainly not as a reason for the slow-down of referrals. How do you back this up?

Research-China.Org said...

The recent documentary "China's Stolen Children" goes into some detail as to the likely reasons abandonment is declining. One couple profiled (unmarried) determines they are not able to keep the child. An abortion is considered too risky. The mother than confesses: "I've been trying to think of alternatives, any other was round this. But we don't seem to have any choice. So, after the baby is born we will raise it for a while and then we will sell it."

The baby-trafficking problem is well-known in China. Given the economic realities of the rural poor in China, is it any wonder that families would try to make the best of an unfortunate situation?

We recently spoke with some foster families in a prominent adoption orphanage. They confirmed that one of their responsibilities is to watch the women in their village, and approach them to determine if they want to keep their child. If the family indicates an uncertainty in that regard, they inform them that the orphanage will "compensate" them for bringing the child to them. This compensation is usually 2,500 yuan, but in this particular area was described as 500 yuan for a girl, 2,000 yuan for a boy baby. The "finder" is given a reward, often around 400 yuan.

Thus, an entire network of people is growing throughout China -- in the villages, hospitals, etc. connecting birth parents with "finders" who will assist in finding homes for their unwanted child.


Sussloaf said...


Thanks for your blog, I've read every one. When I first heard of the increase on RQ it did sound a bit fishy since it wasn't coming from the CCAA. But I think it is very unlikely that agencies will be willing to "push back" as you say. I think the slowdown has made agencies worry (and rightfully so) about being able to keep their doors open. Especially China only agencies like the one we are using to bring our first child home (LID 3/ close yet...). So for them to start rocking the China boat is too risky, even if we do complain about it.

I think a lot of us just want to get at least one China adoption completed and have been walking on eggshells for over 2 years now waiting for the other shoe to drop. And we are starting to come to the sad conclusion that #2 adoption from China probably won't be likely given a probable 5 year wait. I hope I'm wrong but the #s don't lie.


Anonymous said...

Oh phaleeze! C'mon Brian, you've hit an all time low in your reasoning skills.
You're telling adoptive parents to "push back" and refuse to pay the higher fee? That's like going to a gas station and trying to negotiate the price with the attendant....and worse yet, to try to negotiate that price AFTER you put the nozzle into the gas tank, but before you start to pump. As if waving the nozzle in the face of the attendant is going to really make a difference in the price of gas.
Although I do not agree with the newly scheduled fees, and I truly think it's an indulgent fee hike, we knew it was coming a while back. This is not new news, it's only newly implemented.
Anyone that really attempts to negotiate the fees will simply have to choose between the child and declining their referral.

Anonymous said...

Comparatively speaking when considering other adoptive jurisdictions, China's fees have always been extremely low - even with this latest increase (having been unchanged for the past 15 or so years!), they remain one of the lowest. Further, when you consider the entire picture of costs for adoptive families, China's fees represent a much smaller percentage of total costs comparative to legal fees; agency fees; gvmnt. fees etc. I can't see the problem concerning this increase and it annoys me that people are balking. I think complaining about it is entirely unreasonable and also agree that to have families attempt to rebel against the fee increase is not only unrealistic, but futile.

Research-China.Org said...

Dear Karen and Anonymous:

It is this idea that parents shouldn't push back on anything because they "will simply have to choose between the child and declining their referral." Last year offers a good example. The Guangdong Civil Affairs officials thought it would be a good idea to require adopting families to stay in-country for three weeks instead of the traditional 10 days. Fortunately, many families and agencies "pushed back" and complained, resulting the program being terminated quickly.

Families are heard, and can make a difference. But they must speak up. To allow a change that will result in more trafficking of children simply because "China's fees represent a much smaller percentage of total costs comparative to legal fees" is short-sighted.


Amy said...

Baby selling is never alright but I am not totally opposed to having people in the community give money to birth parents when they are unable to care for their child. I think the long history of leaving girls to die or on the side of the road is worse. In some ways this protects the children and gives their parents a safe place to take the child when they are unable to care for it. We can speculate on if this causes more birth parents to place their children or not but it seems to me that if they where able to keep their children then the money would not be a huge motivation. In the US adoptive parents pay for living expenses, medical costs and travel for the birth parents. I see this in many ways as the same thing. It protects the children and allows the family to take care of their child the best they are able to by making an adoption plan for them. The only difference I see is that in the US it is legal to do this and in China it is all underground because it is not legal. I also would put out there that many Chinese that want to adopt never have to go to an orphanage and pay the fee because these networks of people get them a baby outside the orphanage system. For many Chinese it is much less expensive to adopt than it is for us. We have friends who are Chinese and live in China who were floored at what we were charged to adopt in China because in the informal system it is no where near the cost. I usually agree with you and enjoy you blog but this time I have to say the reasoning does not take into account the system outside the formal system.

Research-China.Org said...

Amy: What you neglect to point out is that purchasing children is illegal. Period. It is against Chinese law, and it is against the Hague Agreement.

Additionally, by purchasing children that would probably end up in the informal network, the orphanage is violating another requirement of Hague: Keeping children in their birth country.

So, I guess your argument boils down to "everyone is doing it, so it is OK." While I am somewhat sympathetic to that argument, it is not in accordance with either Chinese or international law.


Anonymous said...

Push back? I'm not seeing it. I agree there is a dark side to this increase but I doubt any adoptive family would be willing to sacrifice their 'child' to this cause. I suspect most agencies will be using their energy brainstorming with families on how to raise the additional funds rather than plotting a revolt.

What's your take on the Tibetan Protests, Beijing's crackdown and hints that Europe may boycott the olympics? Does any of this affect the IA program?

Research-China.Org said...

In my conversations with directors trying to put in the increase, it was almost a "We want to see if the families will pay the extra amount." I seriously doubt anyone "pushing back" will lose their child.

As far a Tibet is concerned, it has the potential (small as it is" to escalate into a much broader problem for China. The countryside in China is much like a pile of dry pine needles -- the smallest spark will set it off.

In the end, however, I'm confident the games will go on, even with the EU.


Anonymous said...

People continue to justify the baby buying. I am not sure why it was that Hunan was such a big deal then?
If this is a common and justifiable way of obtaining kids and people are morally O.K. with this, why were people jailed before because of this exact issue?

I wonder how the directors of the Hunan orphanages would feel if they knew they did nothing wrong and lost their jobs and did some jail time for something that is acceptable and has even been applauded by a few.
I am not sure which is harder to come to terms with, baby-buying or PAP’s who could justify just about anything that comes their way!

Anonymous said...

I watched the entire documentary titled "China's Stolen Children" and thought it horrific to witness children being bought and sold. But must say - they were NOT being bought by orphanages. They were being purchased by Chinese men and sold to Chinese couples. Neither of which were working in the international adoption program. I also got an understanding that some of these mothers had sold several of their children! It almost seemed like they were selling a goat or a car or something. To be so callous to sell multiple children - and for money - or because you don't have the money to pay the fine the government requires... seriously, is that any kind of country to bring up a child in? I understand that you have connections in China that few of us have, but I do question why you don't research more indepthly the number of babies that are killed each year by forced abortions. Even in this documentary - the women all had to hide from their own government in order to complete their pregnancies without the fear of being forced to have an abortion. One mother gave birth to her child in a pig sty just to avoid going to the hospital and creating a record of the birth because she didn't have the required birth permit. One mother spoke of how she was forced at 8 months pregnant to take poison to kill her baby -but delivered him instead so she was foced to pay the fine for having more than one child. This is not a loving country - this not a country who is yearning for its children. They are killing their children. I've seen a lot said about China law - and Chinese rights - these people are living in a Communist country with absolutely no rights. The government controls every moment of their lives from birth through death. Really - will a child be more blessed to be adopted by a Chinese family? or will a child be more blessed to be adopted by an international family? The one can offer a culture, a heritage that we can not - but, I can offer my child freedoms that they would never enjoy in China - including the right to be married to the one that they love, to become pregnant as they choose, to have children without the fear of a government forcing them to abort or worse - stealing their baby because they had one too many. We were told by our agency that China will make the rules - and we will follow them - or not be given a referral. There are far too many families behind us who will jump through the hoops should we decided not too and to try and "push back" and then be be asked to leave the waiting line after two years - that would be heartbreaking. You have yourself adopted children from China - I don't really think if you were in our position you would be pushing back at this point - especially having seen the end result - your beautiful girls! I think we can all see what happens when you "push back" in a Communist regime - hello! Tibet! Yes we are frustrated by the fee increasing - and yes, it is not right to sell children - EVER! - but Communism rules in China - and nothing will be right until life is valued above laws that force the abandonment, stealing, selling, and killing of babies. These people have no voice - no rights - and when we signed the contract to adopt from this country - that is exactly what we were signing up for... their rules, their ways...or go home.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had time to read all the other comments so I don't know if I'm repeating something or if someone else has posted something that might sway my opinion.

I'm one of the few people opposed to ANY "donation"/fee going to orphanages. It makes it into a buy/sell transaction. However, it is ubiquitous in the adoption world, even domestically there are similar fees although they are called something else.

If we (collectively) didn't adopt, the country and orphanage would bear the full cost of raising the child to adulthood, so by simply adopting we are financially helping them out, to the degree that money is the issue.

I've never agreed with the argument that it's just "the right thing to do", it has always seemed fishy to me, for money to change hands for a child. And, as you mention, it profides a huge disparity in this case between what Chinese can pay versus what foreigners can pay, due to different currency values.

The fact that there are so many middlemen in adoption each pulling their income/profits from the process is my least favourite aspect of adoption. I think adoption everywhere should be funded by governments, as it's governments that pick up the tab for unadopted kids. Fiscally speaking, adoption is cheaper to a government than maintaining the child in an institution, so that should be incentive enough. Anything else is just profitting from the sale of a child, and fleecing adoptive parents who just want to have a family.

Anonymous said...

But if these incidents are on the "rise" and orphanages are increasingly involved in them, if parents are noticing the "net worth" of their healthy babies and rushing to sell them to the orphanages, then why are the number of these healthy babies decreasing so drastically in orphanages, so much so that there are no babies available? Your logic seems to be flawed, and what you are saying seems to contradict itself. You're saying on the one hand that there is an increasing amount of Chinese parents giving up or "selling their babies", if this was true, then why the huge decline in babies in orphanages (like you insist, which I personally don't believe is the case). I respect much of your anecdotal journalism, but like many before me think that you have your own agenda and aren't necessarily concerned in revealing the whole story, only that which fits your own perceptions.
Is there corruption, absolutely, I would be floored if any country with over a billion people could be corruption free, is there baby-selling, sadly there probably is. However, because we are dealing with a country with over a billion people, a government who is overly controlling and people who live in a lot of fear, depression and poverty, I still believe that there are babies / toddlers/ children who need a family, and may not be offered one in China. As long as there is one child in need of a family, I think we should continue to have faith that the CCAA is trying to keep their program as corruption and baby trafficking free as they are able. As long as they believe these children are in need of a home, I will have to trust that they are.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:57 PM, you are so down on the parents who sell their children yet I wonder what is worse, the buyer or the seller?

If you willingly purchase a child that was trafficked, does this not make you equally as corrupt or possibly even more? Your money offers you power and control; their lack of money offers them little control or power.

If you look at the real picture, there would be no market if there were no buyers.

Justify it all you want. Child trafficking is corrupt despite what end you are on.

Research-China.Org said...

I am not really clear what you are trying to refute: The huge market for healthy children in China, or the fact that orphanages are buying the children.

Let's be clear: We have no evidence that the CCAA is on the side of the children, other than our hopes. Families that assume the CCAA is really involved in controlling this problem are putting their trust in something akin to Santa Claus.

The situation in China is best described by the trafficker profiled by "China's Stolen Children":

"I want to talk to you about the price. The price will be lower if the child is sold to a rich family, but the price will be higher if sold to a poor family. And the prices are different for boys and girls. A boy is 7,000 to 9,000, but a girl is 3,000 to 4,000. [T] prices vary a lot from place to place. People want their kids to go to rich homes, even at a lower price.

"Also the price depends on the age. A 4 or 5 month old is easier for the buyer to look after. It's hard to care for a newborn.

"There's plenty of demand out there, the problem is always with the supply.

"Parents have unauthorized births, and they're willing to sell. If I can find a buyer, I go and discuss the price, price is agreed. If she looks pretty but it's a little girl, then maybe I can get 7 or 8,000. But girls who are ugly, you can't even give them away. A boy, good looking, a few months old, 10 or 11,000.

"In the past it wasn't easy to sell little girls here. People used to abandon girls, or just give them away. But now there are not enough boys so some people will buy girls instead."

This is the reality in China: Everybody knows that a market is available for young kids. Some families, no doubt, still choose to abandon their children, but that number grows steadily smaller. An increasing number of birth parents are seeking profit for their child -- they approach traffickers, or they seek out those they know can help: The orphanage workers who encourage them to turn their children in for the "reward" of 2,500 to 3,000 yuan.

Orphanages, facing this real decline, feel -- out of financial necessity, job security, or greed -- are now increasingly becoming involved in this market. Using employees and foster families as agents, they actively look for women who might be willing to sell their children. Some orphanages are very successful, others not as much.


Anonymous said...

Brian! How often (percent quess?) do you think this "baby buying" is happening? I know it is happening in many places, just not sure to what extent.

Research-China.Org said...

I can't go into numbers and areas right now, but can tell you it is wide-spread. We can look at Hunan as a known example: The orphanages involved in that incident (Changning Changsha #1, Chenzhou, Hengdong, Hengnan, Hengyang, Qidong, Zhuzhou) and analyze their numbers, it would appear that as much as 50-70% of their children were purchased.

Some families foolishly think that the trafficking problem in China doesn't have anything to do with the adoption program, but the two are parts of the same problem. Stopping the international adoption program will not end trafficking, but is will no longer contribute to it either.


Anonymous said...

Brian - I haven't been able to see China's Stolen Children yet (we are in Australia - do you know if it can be ordered on DVD?) but it seems that the prices are being driven largely by domestic demand for boys. While I don't doubt the part the IA plays in the whole demand/supply equation it would seem the big challenge is meeting legitimate domestic demand from couples who can't afford orphanage fees and don't want to be part of the black market. To that end is there realistically anything the IA community can do to lobby for some of the increased fee to be used for subsidising legitimate domestic adoptions (ie through CCAA). On the face of it a fee increase after such a long period at the same 'price' seems fair enough. If some of it could be used to help legimate domestic adopters who are priced out of legitimate adoption it could have the effect of dampening the black market also.

Research-China.Org said...

Domestic families can't afford to adopt from orphanages for only one reason: Orphanages charge high fees because that is what they get from the IA program. Stop the IA program, and orphanages would lower their fees.

But your question addresses the larger picture. One act that would substantially improve the ethics of the program would be to centralize the adoption fees paid by adopting families with the CCAA. They would then distribute the fees to orphanages on some basis (population?) that the directors can't control. This would remove the incentive to bring children into the orphanages. It would also eliminate the financial incentive to deny domestic families in favor of international families.

I disagree that the demand for children is oriented to boys. Both are in strong demand, and while a bias exists for male children (as seen in the pricing structure), there is ample demand for girls also. Even orphanages recognize this, with one large Jiangxi orphanage offering more for male children than females.


Anonymous said...


If Chinese birth parents are selling their children to other Chinese families (with or without the assistance of paid "middle man"), then I'm okay with that. We do that here too (Domestic adoption) and it's certainly better for the child than abortion or abandonment.

If Chinese families are selling their children to orphanages who participate in IA (very few do participate in IA) then I'm okay with that too. The end result is that the child is safe and cared for and he/she ultimately gets a family. Since there aren't many babies available for IA, I'm going to assume this can't be happening very often.

I'm not happy about last minute fee hikes but I don't see this as a moral issue. The $3K or $5K donation can do a lot of good for the children who remain at the orphanage or it can go right into the Director's pocket. There's not really any way for us to know for sure where our money went so I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt and think the best of them.

Mom of three (two from China)

Anonymous said...

I'm utterly disgusted at the comments of some AP's on this list who think that buying/selling babies is ok.
I'd like to see how the children they're adopting handle it when mommy and daddy reason that they are nothing more than material posessions. Sick...

And, to the "anonymous" who thinks that China is such a bad country and that bc he/she lives in the west that they're doing their adoptive child such a wonderful charity service... this SMACKS of white privilege and colonialism. Might as well just have signed your post "KKK".

Anonymous said...

I wondered from your comments - you posted it twice now - is your intention/goal to stop the IA program altogether in China - is that where your energies are in documenting all of this? Do you see the IA program as a threat to Chinese families? Just curious at what lies beneath...

Each is entitled to his own opinion. Again - none of the babies sold in the film where sold to orphanages - the trafficker holds no credibility as he even sold HIS OWN CHILD! This man is a felon at best! If the child selling/buying practice is so rampant - then I guess the fact that domestic families are asked to pay such a high price in orphanages would lead them to a trafficker - so it is a cyclical argument to say that the IA adoptions are causing all of this controversy. I really believe it would continue despite the existence or non-existence of an IA program in China. It is not the way in which children are being adopted, or the way that money is exchanging hands, it is the fact that it is a Communist regime that is in charge - and life is not valued as a whole that is the reason for the buying and selling. It is wrong on every level! The IA community should not be blamed though for the actions of others - each chooses in his own heart what he will do or say. Free will exists for all even in lands where freedom does not.

I enjoy reading your perspective on many issues, but have to say this time I'm still waiting...because you haven't given any current sources that would substantiate your claims that foster families/orphanages are paying fees for the "finding" of babies and then bringing those babies into the orphanages for the IA program - or paying women who are expecting who would be willing to sell their babies. Which again I will say - selling and buying is totally WRONG! no matter to whom they are being sold. I find it suspcious when facts are stated and then not substantiated with at least two separate sources that are quotable and trackable. Old news stories are known as dogs that don't hunt! Hunan is over. I'm not saying there isn't another Hunan happening - I just want facts that uncover it - not reliving old news and using that as a current source. If this was true what you are saying - then where is the documentary on the IA program? where is the NEW uncovering of babies being sold into orphanages? if a camera can find child traffickers and follow them around - surely they can find and out others who are being paid to bring babies into the orphanages. I haven't seen footage like that - yet. That being said - I have no doubt you have some more knowledge on the topic, I just question now your motives since as I just said - twice you've stated in your post that you would like the IA program to cease. What a horrible reality that would be for the orphans who ARE abandoned - and need loving homes. It is not the IA community that is setting or fixing the price for the domestic adoptions - the Chinese are doing that. No matter what we pay... it will always be more than what the average Chinese family could pay. We are not the greedy ones with dirty hands. We are not the ones focing abortions so women can not conceive later in life - but must adopt to add a child into their home. The price we pay is set by them - the price they ask the Chinese to pay is set by them. If anyone is corrupt or causing unnecessary suffering it is the Chinese - they should be the ones to "push back" - it is their government - not ours. But, we all know what would happen if they even tried to have a voice! We are the loving parents who were told there were hundreds of abandoned babies lying in rows and rows of cribs in SWIs all over China. We are the ones who signed up to be parents. We are not the problem - The IA program is not the problem - the corruption in China is the problem as is the one-child policy born out of fear of famine - now the world makes more food to supply to developing nations than it ever has before. If the Communist would allow their people to freely develop ideas to save themselves - but they prefer polluted air, polluted water, and polluted thinking, poverty, and spying on their own people- the one-child policy is not progress - but control born out of lunancy that is steeped in the philosophies of a certain WW II dictator who sought as well to "design" peoples lives into national service, and frankly, sadly, we are not in a position to change that reality of Communism - just to change the life of a child. And hopefully, give a home to a child and love them as our own. That is the gift of adoption - love and a family whether in China or another country, everyone SHOULD have the right to adopt, but not everyone can. Some day we hope China will become free and able to participate fully in life like Hong Kong did before they were taken back over - and we will see how hard Taiwan will fight for their freedom. Such a beautiful country, such beautiful people, amazing culture, heritage, the potential for so much more. so much more.

Research-China.Org said...

Dear Anonymous:

In the final analysis, my goal is NOT to end the China program. I simply want it to be Hague compliant -- free from corruption, and giving equal access to Chinese families. That is all.

I wish I could reveal all of the evidence I have, but I will tell you this. I have written documentation from local Chinese revealing the buying program in their cities, as well as a videotaped evidence of orphanage personnel approaching strangers asking them if they have babies to sell. These individuals describe how and why it is done. I have submitted a letter to JCICS outlining the evidence and extent of the problem, and hope that it can be solved. If not, I will turn it over to a respectable news organization for investigation.

I am under no illusions that stopping IA will end the trafficking problem in China. The trafficking problem in China is huge, and IA is very small. But families must realize that every family in China that is told "No" by the orphanage is left with no other choice but to seek a child illegally. Thus, IA increases the demand inside China for trafficked children.

Whatever our opinion of the Chinese government or culture is, it is international law -- promoted by the U.S. and agreed to by China -- that children stay in their home country whenever possible.

But I really appreciate your writing. You state your side with emotion and clarity, and you illustrate the confusion that is embedded in this discussion.


Anonymous said...

I understand the thought that the best situation for all children would be to stay in their home country for domestic adoption. I think it is like Marxism and Socialism- sounds great on paper but a horrible reality for all people. Theory and practice are two different things altogether. I believe the Hague agreement will create more orphans, less cared for children, and the ability for each country to hide their insidious practices especially in a non free government controlling Communistic country. Although you call this international law- I seldom see the UN have any ability or want to do truly what is right morally-

Anonymous said...

In reality, are there 2401 local families in the province of Jiangxi capable of paying $ 5,000 of even $ 3,000.00 to adopt one of the 2401 children abandoned in 2006? Not very likely - poverty is the root of abandonment and it would be hard for anyone outside Nanchang to afford that kind of money.

Will a family in Yunan travel to Jiangxi where they have lots of abandoned children waiting to be to adopted – not likely, the cost ( Yunan as a province is poorer than Jiangxi) plus the travel and racism between provinces is very real.

Will a well to do family in Beijing want to adopt a farm girl from Jiangxi – not in my lifetime.

You have stated on previous posts that as many as 90% of all abandoned children are taken in / absorbed into the community long before they get to an orphanage. Isn’t this the trafficking you describe – yes there are examples of bad things but the entire system is way too complex to make sweeping generalizations like the Dutch program.

Marie said...

To me, the most horrifying thing about the whole issue of trafficking is that it presents yet another facet to the dilemma, "What should we tell our children about their abandonment?"

I have two children who were adopted through the "Waiting Child" program. I would venture to guess that they were not the victims of any type of baby-selling, since they had known medical needs.

I also have a child adopted as a healthy infant. I just found out recently that drug dealing and prostitution are rife in her native city, which is also the home of the first AIDS clinic in China. She was adopted in 1996, sometime before children were known to be such a profitable commodity in China.

I have already had to share with these incredible, wonderful, amazing daughters that one was abandoned on a street corner at age 18 months, one was left in the hospital, and one may very well have been the child of a prostitute. Do I also share with them the issue of trafficking? It is too painful to contemplate.

Anonymous said...

In reply to this post below - by another anonymous:


"And, to the "anonymous" who thinks that China is such a bad country and that bc he/she lives in the west that they're doing their adoptive child such a wonderful charity service... this SMACKS of white privilege and colonialism. Might as well just have signed your post "KKK"."


Your comments were so off – they don’t even deserve acknowledgment but for the sake of my child I will respond. Neither of these viewpoints were intrinsically stated as part of my argument why I hoped the IA program would be able to continue in China. The comparison of an orphan being adopted by a domestic family vs. an international family was just to show that different families can provide differently for the same child. No family is perfect – no human being either – I certainly do not claim perfection. We all make mistakes and with grace and forgiveness and lots of love hopefully our children will be outstanding citizens of whatever country they find themselves in. No situation is ideal when it comes to an orphan. Obviously, the child being adopted deserves the culture and heritage of her own country – that is what I was saying. That same child deserves freedoms in life as well – and right now, if you’ve studied China’s government/country AT ALL! You would know! That does not exist for my daughter’s birth mother and birth father. As a teacher of government and history – I would have to say from your comments at least – I know more about the two topics you so rashly proclaimed as my background – colonialism and the KKK. Might I add – you have no idea of my race or my country of birth. That said – I don’t think a reasonable person would have read my comments and not seen my heart for China – my love for her people – and my sadness for the Communist state that is controlling the lives of all those who call this wonderful country home. Just a quick glimpse at the news and you would have seen the Communist state with iron fists controlling the ins and outs of daily life in China – invading Tibet, attempting to control the Taiwan elections, blocking all free press from the Chinese people through all means – TV, radio, internet, you would have read about the number of athletes going to boycott the games, the many heads of state in various countries speaking out against the human rights violations there and threatening to boycott the games as well, you would have seen numerous articles on orphanages and the tragedy of the buying and selling of babies, and the Chinese acting like they would at some point end the one-child policy, but others seeing that as a ploy to make it look like they care about their people, etc…
Just as in my country – I love my people, my nation – but often am not in agreement with the government officials who make up the policies and laws. It doesn’t mean I am racist toward my own people! It means, I don’t agree with the men who currently reside in power or some of the rules they are creating and the way they are controlling my life. The only difference is – and it is a HUGE difference! – I get to vote! I get to have a voice and help decide who is in power over me. That is democracy. That is what I am saying about China – not that I don’t love China or my daughter’s people – but that the government there is Communism and that her people don’t have a voice – they don’t have a true vote – they are controlled and have no say in what they will pay for domestic adoption and the fact that the price is being raised for us and for them is wrong, yet, I believe both programs domestic and international should be able to exist without corruption. If anything, I was urging the Chinese to rule evenly and fairly with their own people and stop hiking up the adoption fees for their domestic program. If anything, I gave careful consideration for my daughter’s birth country and expressed a desire for her nation and her people to enjoy the same freedoms of a democracy and not that of a Communist state. Please do not put hateful words in my mouth or be so callous with your own remarks. It seems to me you are going to hurt yourself using words that you don’t fully understand. No one is playing the “race” card in this discussion but you. No one is using western – ethnocentric beliefs – but you. Colonialism is the “extension of a nation’s sovereignty over territory beyond its borders by the establishment of either settler colonies or administrative dependencies in which indigenous populations are directly ruled or displaced. Colonizing nations generally dominate the resources, labor, and markets of the colonial territory, and may also impose socio-cultural, religious and linguistic structures on the conquered population (see also cultural imperialism).” Can you say – China taking over Tibet? That is colonialism. That is not my view on why IA parents should be allowed to adopt internationally orphans that meet the Hague requirements for abandonment.
The KKK is an evil, racist group of people who “oppose the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s.” If anything, my words promoted the Chinese having the same rights as free men to make choices for their lives without the Communist government controlling every move – which currently in China the atmosphere of rule is similar to what was happening prior to the Civil Rights Movement in the USA – the Chinese government is not giving civil rights to its people – they have no rights – they do as they are ruled to do – including birth issues and adoption issues and religious issues. Can you say “the fleeing of the Dalai Lama to India because of religious persecution” or “Chinese Christians being arrested for being missionaries” or “the Chinese trying to rule that no Olympian can bring a Bible to the games” or “the Chinese persecuting some minority groups in China – in Tibet?” If anything, I was stating that I felt sadness that my daughter’s own birthmother was in all probability not given the choice to keep her. Nothing was said about racism or any of the other vile comments you are suggesting. Nothing was said about “whiteness” as you so venomously called it… might I remind you that racism isn’t just about whites vs. blacks – many countries in Africa have racism of their own – currently in Kenya tribes are killing other tribes because of the hate of racism. Racism is not a white issue – even in the country of the USA many blacks have hateful beliefs about whites – we call that reverse racism – Can you say, “Barack O’bama’s pastor?” So, don’t talk to me about what racism is – I know it too well: Racism is hate – and I don’t hate the people who so lovingly gave my daughter her life or sacrificed so lovingly to care for her until I could have her in my arms.. If anything, I was celebrating my daughter’s country and the vastness of its potential and dreaming of a life for them if the wonderful Chinese people were given freedoms most countries that are in the IA program enjoy.
Please don’t spout off words that “sound” intellectual but bear no weight on the topic at hand. I’m afraid you might hurt yourself using words that you don’t know the true meaning of – but more afraid you might hurt other adoptive parents and their children by your excessiveness in trying to “find” a race card to play and so rashly speaking on things you don’t understand simply because you have not studied anything about China as a nation. That is not my fault you don’t know the realities of the country you are or have adopted from – that is yours. I suggest you read up – and be informed rather than speaking unintelligibly about issues that you’ve yet to read up on.

Signed, A very loving adoptive parent who enjoys greatly the diversity of my own family and celebrates the uniqueness of every adopted child – including my own –and hopes one day others will embrace all races as one – the human race.

Anonymous said...

Brian - Thank you for clarifying your stance on the IA program. Your motivations are certainly worthy of pursuit - hopefully Hague will begin to uphold the laws they've enacted in every country and countries will move toward compliance. I will be patient to see the evidence you've submitted regarding the other matter of fees being paid by orphanages to secure babies for the IA program. This is truly heartbreaking news for all involved including those of us in the IA community. Thank you for sharing what you could - I realize the stakes during an investigation and that you are currently not able to reveal all your evidence - thank you for narrowing down though the content/background of your sources. Thank you most importantly for working on behalf of China's children!

Anonymous said...

About domestic adoptions from Jiangxi...sure, Jiangxi is poor, but "domestic" doesn't necessarily mean "local". I do know that at least one Jiangxi orphanage has, since 1999, placed lots of kids domestically, most to Shanghai, some, now, to Beijing. Residents of these cities must obtain local hukous for their kids. This is is possibly more difficult for Beijing families than for Shanghai, but in any event it is easier if kids are legitimately acquired. And Shanghai doesn't have vast numbers of abandoned healthy babies available for domestic adoption, compared with the size of the city. I have been to this Jiangxi orphanage a number of times since 1994,and have heard and seen enough to think that the director's statistics (1100 kids adopted internationally since 1994,1000 domestically since 1999) are fairly accurate. I don't pretend to know where all those babies have come from, though. Also, for the last several years there have been few healthy babies even available for adoption here. Part of this drop is surely connected to the related increase in the number of small Jiangxi orphanages that now directly handle their own adoptions. I don't want to either generalize or speculate too much about these aspects. The point is to not underestimate the potential ability of legitimate domestic adoptions to absorb the pool of available healthy children.

Anonymous said...

Do you know what the boy girl ratio for domestic adoptions are verses the IA program. It would be interesting to see what the ratio of "1100 kids adopted internationally since 1994,1000 domestically since 1999" from an SWI Jiangxi - most likely Nachang or Linchuan/Fuzhou.

Research-China.Org said...

I don't have domestic adoption date for that period, unfortunately.


Anonymous said...

Hi Brian! Why do you think this form of trafficking has been going on for as long as it has without being stopped? Do you think the goverment knows about it and hoped the press from Hunan would be enough to distract focus? Isn't this kind of trafficking not unlike what has occurred in other countries that have closed their program as a result???

Research-China.Org said...

When you read the transcripts of the Hunan trials, it becomes clear that the government (prosecution) sought to keep the case focused on the six orphanages directly implicated, and on the kids still in process when the story broke. In other words, the government did not act in a way to truly make a case and clean it up.

Therefore, I can only assume that the CCAA was aware of this occurring, and did nothing to stop it.


Anonymous said...

If you go to the media, the whole program could close for good (INCLUDING Special Needs). Do you really think that in the end, going to the media will make a difference ??!! I don't think so ... Please reconsider ...

Dan and Liz said...

"Let's be clear: We have no evidence that the CCAA is on the side of the children, other than our hopes. Families that assume the CCAA is really involved in controlling this problem are putting their trust in something akin to Santa Claus."

I agree that the CCAA may not be on the side of the children as they are a government run organization. This is also why putting the orphanage donation centralized in their hands can only lead to heavily increased adoption fees (big government versus little government) A big central pot of Gold for the CCAA can only lead to even further corruption on more levels. The head of the CCAA would probably live in a mansion and drive a BMW. Money would not be distributed fairly and evenly.

Concerning your Santa Claus statement I can not think of one figure aside from Jesus that stirs individuals to give freely of their time and goods. He may not exist as a true physical being, but his spirit spreads joy, humor, love, and stirs even the Grinch to give. I have to wonder are you the Grinch? Will you go to the Media with your so called findings and seal the coffin on adoption from China - closing the doors to the International community that only want to make sure each child have a Forever Family - a place each child is safe, secure, fed, nurtured, loved and FREE to choose their own destiny. Again - I am sure your agenda and mine are very different- I'll stick with Santa- Operation Santa Claus has raised over 50 million dollars since 1987 to go to children in poverty all over the world. I will place my vote and belief with Santa to come through. I will actively pray for you and urge you to not push for the IA program in China to end.
I adopted through the China WC/SN program- but as a special needs teacher I can understand why so many parents would prefer to wait for a child in the infant program. WC program is not on everyone's heart and not all Special need issues are easily addressed. These children need homes- the things you write make many moms and dads feel guilt and shame for something they had no control over. The international community is not the big bad wolf - most of these parents struggle daily with what to say to their child and how to tell them their individual story. Losing a culture is nothing compared to not having a safe, happy, secure, loving home. Culture is not the base of the pyramid on Maslow's theory and I have never met an adopted Chinese child that did not feel that they belonged with their families. I do not agree that it is always in the best interest for a child to remain in their country of origin. There are times that it would be better for a child to be raised in another country- In the case of Communism and lack of freedom- In the case of Africa and the diseases and racial unrest. I think it is better for the child to be in a free and SAFE Country. Call me what you want- but I am clear on what is best for children- I have spent my life caring for them and loving them and sharing my knowledge with others. I have potty trained over 50 children with SN. I have taught children to read that have learning disabilities, I have helped families adjust to their newly adopted child some with special needs. I have helped train people to provide a great environment for children in several countries. I would say I am definitely an expert in child development. Until there is not one child left in an orphanage in China - I will urge and push the IA program - and I will support any family who wants to give a child a loving and safe home (Chinese or otherwise).
I am so glad my family participates in the wonder of Santa and the giving selflessly to others.

Anonymous said...

People really do have some warped perceptions on what China is about. Chinese children belong in China if the chance is there, if our money is taking their chance away (and so much more) than we are buying them NOT SAVING THEM!
If orphanages have to purchase kids now just to keep the funds flowing and the program open, then it is time that it closes and at least restructures!

I urge Brian to take this to the media and all others who have information about the corruption.
Anyone who keeps this information to themselves just to keep the flow going and the adoptive parents happy is acting in a criminal way!

Odds are the media are already on this issue anyway so we are all getting upset over the inevitable

Anonymous said...

Good defense, annonymous 3/24, 11:25am. I don't think it was at all in order to call you a cultural imperialist and racist. I think, however, you are butting your head against a problem that is rather deep.
Multiculturalists (of which I think your attacker was one) believe that Western and American civilization is not superior to other civilizations. They believe that western civilization became preeminent in the last few hundred years because it was oppressive and evil. So study of our civilization should focus on slavery and colonialism.
I have found that criticizing China's government and culture in any way brings a flurry of attacks from multiculturalists, who are especially sensitive as Chinese adoptive parents, eager to justify and excuse ANY abuse by the Chinese government or defect in its culture. In fact, they can't justify these abuses, so they say, "We can't judge them by our standards." and they equate our petty grievances with those crushing abuses the Chinese suffer.
I grew up in communism (Cuba), and I can tell you, not having the least control over one's life (and at least in Cuba you can keep your babies in the womb and out of the womb)is a tragedy that Americans can not truly comprehend.
I'm sorry you were called a racist. I understood the distinction, between hating a government's policies and hating its people. I hope no one thinks that Cubans or Chinese deserve to live like slaves, or are suited for this better than you or I, or that "respect" for their culture should blind us to their very human tragedy.
a mother of 5, one from China, who believes that all people deserve the liberty I enjoy (especially reproductive liberty) whatever country they live in, and whatever the color of their skin, and shape of their eyes.
And by the way, I am glad my child won't be growing up in China, where she was tossed on the side of the street, and not being a pretty girl, could not have fetched any money in the child market. She is certainly better off with me, than in her orphanage. And dare I say it (oh no, don't let the Hague police hear me) she's better off as an American. The region she's from, in China, has the highest suicide rate for women in the WORLD. I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

I do not agree that their is a warp in what people believe China to be. It is a communist country that does not believe in individual freedoms and rights. The ones we take for granted. Although the people of China are beautiful both culturally and socially they are in a situation that strongly supports underhanded and unethical treatment of women, children, the uneducated, and those in poverty. Although it is a system that reports low crime rates in actuality the reports are not reality and the government chooses to ignore their policy makings affect on their peoples individual rights. This disparity between individual rights and freedoms creates a sinister system of abuse in the area of family planning. I believe if you think that this is a warp- I dare you to live in China for one year and try to maintain a blog about your personal beliefs in religion and or politics and or policy making in China. You will be beaten and in jail if you are lucky enough to be alive still.
Long live the freedoms created to protect individual rights to choose for themselves- religion, politics, right to protect self, their voice, their culture. We are truly blessed by our constitution.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the blog. Always interesting. But please, if the following quote is true, and I am sure it is, then please get this statement to the US Department of State.

**"I wish I could reveal all of the evidence I have, but I will tell you this. I have written documentation from local Chinese revealing the buying program in their cities, as well as a videotaped evidence of orphanage personnel approaching strangers asking them if they have babies to sell. These individuals describe how and why it is done. I have submitted a letter to JCICS outlining the evidence and extent of the problem, and hope that it can be solved. If not, I will turn it over to a respectable news organization for investigation. "***

It is their job to investiage these matters. I am in line and have been for a long time. I desparately want my adoption to be a success.

However, if the program is now based on baby trafficking and illegal prevention of domestic adoptions, please do not wait to get a response from the JCICS. You are making very serious allegations that warrants an investigation by the US State Department.

We need to know if the program will continue. Please don't wait.

Thanks Hann

Research-China.Org said...

Dear Hann:

I totally understand what you are saying, and while I appreciate your desire to see this problem dealt with by our respective governments, Hunan has shown me that this is impossible. When confronted by teh knowledge that baby-buying was occurring in Hunan on a wide-spread basis, did the State Department send in investigators to interview people in the various cities? Did they go into the villages around various orphanages to see if the problem was wide-spread? No, they inquired of the CCAA what was going on, the CCAA did a great job minimizing the extent of the problem, issued a simple statement denying the problem was significant, and that was it.

Nothing done, nothing changed.

This time, we are laying teh groundwork for a much bigger story, and it takes time. I can promise you this: No report will be done, no accusations made until the evidence is so overwhelming that any denials will be pointless. If, upon further investigation by an independent reporter it is discovered that I have my facts wrong, I will be the first to admit it.


Anonymous said...


Even now, you are making very very very serious accusations. I say get your evidence together and go public. Your current blog is simply giving information without multiple citations to sources.

I understand laying the groundwork. And I can see your point that the US State Department may not have done their utmost to investigate Hunan. But perhaps, they will now. Hunan, was as far as I know, the first time any evidence of illegality occured. A second accusation may carry more weight. THe US State Department may have their own evidence and your information could help.


Anonymous said...

If it is true that children are being sold by Chinese families and bought by orphanages on a regular basis- the babies would in all likelihood be at a younger age when paper ready to adopt and they would not be in the orphanages for longer than needed to get them paper ready - this is simply not the case as many children are in the orphanages for much longer than 5 months- Do you have statistics on the average time each IA child NSN is in the orphanage and or foster care.

Research-China.Org said...

I am no longer going to get into the hows and wherefores of this subject. I encourage families to be aware of what they see happening, and we will address this issue again in the future.

All the best!


Anonymous said...

This is probably going to be the most unpopular comment you've ever received

In regards to people claiming how morally wrong it is to buy or sell a child

I question if legalizing the act wouldn't put an end to sex slavery, wouldn't give children a better chance at a better life.

global trafficking will always exist
it exists in the United States, pimped out kids.

Reality in this world...... we buy and sell life all the time, life which we have no right to
chicken in the grocery store, dogs, and behind the scenes
children. I understand that many people's religious beliefs cater to the value of people, diminish the value of other/animal life is life in my opinion. We do lots of stuff we have absolutely no right to.

Here's another thought:

We are doing a domestic adoption in the United States.

Miss birthmother has collected 9k from me so far
and realistically will walk with about 15.

all legal, all for "living expenses"
which she was perfectly capable of paying herself as she was unemployed prior to pregnancy.

In our affluent country.....we've just found a more socially palatable way to word this monetary exchange.
Handled through lawyers instead of behind the scenes......called "living expenses" instead.

S. who's waiting for the flames

Anonymous said...

What about this fact? They clearly did not have enough food in the orphanage-Dongguan-where our daughter spent her first second 8.5 months (she spent her first two weeks in a hospital). None of the kids coming out of the orphanage were getting enough food. Don't they need more money for more food?


Research-China.Org said...

Dongguan orphanage adopted 176 children in 2007, and another 163 in 2008. Total "donations" from families for these children amounts to over a million dollars.

You tell me why they don't have enough money to feed their kids?