Monday, July 20, 2009

“Manufacturing” Abandoned Infants

Western readers unfortunately were only given abbreviated and redacted versions of the original news story, “Manufacturing” Abandoned Infants", that appeared July 1, 2009 in the Guangdong Newspaper "Southern Metropolis News". Research-China.Org has decided to present an English translation for interested readers. One will find the original story more detailed and compelling than later recountings.

What strikes the reader of this story is the general feeling of hopelessness on the part of the birth parents. Years of abuse by the local government have left them largely numb and unfeeling, displaying not "any sign of obvious gladness or grief, just a common sigh for their destiny." As the New York Times described it, villages and towns are often "private fiefdoms run by local party officials." These corrupt officials (and they are corrupt) "effectively choke off information to Beijing, blinding the central authorities as to exactly how their mandates are carried out."

Most families abused like those in Zhenyuan quietly go on with their lives, hating their local officials but feeling incapable of seeking redress from officials that largely protect each other and courts influenced and controlled by the same government. But yearly tens of thousands of "rebellions" occur in China's villages, many of them a result of vicious Family Planning actions. Other families seek peaceful resolutions, as the Gaoping families in Hunan did when they filed a civil lawsuit against local Family Planning officials after eleven children were confiscated and adopted internationally through the Shaoyang orphanage.

While the Chinese government seeks to pacify international governments that such stories are rare, in fact any Baidu search will discover hundreds of similar stories of Family Planning abuses. Sometimes one can correlate such "campaigns" with increases in abandonments, as was demonstrated in Zhenyuan. In Huazhou, Guangdong Province, for example, is found Wenlou Town. Prior to January 2004, only one child was found in this area since 2000. Beginning January 2004, thirty-six children were found in this town. Findings ended in November 2004, and no children has been found there since. Not coincidentally, in June 2005 Family Planning officials in Wenlou Town were given an accommodation for their "success" the previous year (“Maoming Daily” newspaper, June 25, 2005).

A similar pattern is seen in Yueyang County, Hunan, to take another example gleaned from our Birth Parent Search reports. Between April 2002 and April 2003, sixteen children were "found" in Chaoyang Village. With one exception, all of the children were over a half-month old, and almost all were one or two months old when found. This is extremely rare in random findings, but extremely common when Family Planning officials work in an area (most legitimate abandonments occur when the child is less than a week old). One can discover similar patterns in nearly every orphanage in China.

Zhenyuan offers us a glimpse behind the abandonment statements to the birth families sometimes impacted by the international adoption program. Qin Keqin, one of the father's who child was taken by Family Planning in Zhenyuan, lamented: “Previously it was very easy to apply for registered permanent residence for an abandoned infant, but now it’s not easy any more. All abandoned infants are sent to the orphanage by the Family Planning office." It seems pointless to point out that without the international adoption program, there would be little incentive to confiscate children.

One final point: I had nothing to do with the distribution of the photo of the Dutch child, and find the discussion of blame in that situation distracting from the real story -- that of the origin of Zhenyuan's adopted children. I also did not supply the finding ads used by the reporters. These were collected from families who had adopted from Zhenyuan. Given that orphanage's problems, it is ironic that they gave families the evidence necessary to find the story themselves.


“Manufacturing” Abandoned Infants

■ Zhenyuan county welfare house of Guizhou province took away the over-quota infants by force of parents couldn’t afford the fines→Refer to them as “abandoned infants” in announcements→Profited from sending them abroad for adoption→the welfare house was sponsored $3000 for each infant adopted

■ Investigation of the journalists proves that the impoverishment and numbness of the parents were also one of the reasons that caused this strange phenomenon.

Knife scars around his neck and chest show that Lu Xiande is a human tragedy. He once tried to commit suicide. These knife scars are his special commemoration for his fourth daughter.

As parents, neither Lu Xiande nor his wife remembers the birthday of this daughter, only knowing that she was born in December 2003 in the lunar calendar. In May 2004 in the lunar calendar, she was taken to the orphanage by force by local family planning personnel [the girl's finding ad gives the date as June 8, 2004 at “Jiaoxi Town, Tianxi Village, Lu Xian De Home”]. There has been no news about her since then; she was still not even named.

Jiang Wen (anonym) is a relative of Lu Xiande and he has been in Guangdong province for 10 years. When he went back to his hometown in 2008, he learned that among his relatives, besides the daughter of Lu Xiande, two other over-quota daughters separately by Li Zeji and Luo Xingbin were also taken to the orphanage by local family planning personnel. The family planning personnel claimed that the government would raise these children for them. Actually, these children’s whereabouts are unknown.

But for many years, these parents didn’t search for their children. Jiang Wen heaved a sigh at the numbness of these families, just as Lu Xun sighed on kind of Run Tu. Since January 2009, Jiang Wen posted many messages searching for these children. With the investigation of overseas web friends and journalists, a secret in Zhenyuan County, Guizhou Province that had been hidden for many years, has gradually emerged.

“You pay, or you let the government take care of the baby”
The family planning official said that she wouldn’t be fined any more after the baby was taken away. Taking away the baby would offset the fines:
“Why did you give birth to a baby again?”
“(My husband) just had an operation (vasectomy).What should I do?”
“Are you able to raise the baby after fines? Currently family planning policy is very strict and the fines are more than 10,000 Yuan ($1470).”
“Even if fines will be imposed, I have no other way. The baby was born already.”
“Then you should pay the fines. You must know that policy is very strict now.”
“I can’t afford the fines.”
“I will take away the baby In case you can’t afford the fines.”

This dialogue, existing in the memories of the two parties, happened on a sunny afternoon in June 2004. It was between Shi Guangying, a family planning official of Jiaoxi town in Zhenyuan county, and Yang Shuiying, the wife of Lu Xiande, who lives in Yangba group, Tianxi village, Jiaoxi town.

According to the policy, Lu Xiande can only have two children. He wanted a boy, who finally arrived after three daughters. When the boy was more than 1 years old, Lu Xiande had a vasectomy. But Yang Shuiying found she was two months pregnant.

“I had to give birth to her since I was pregnant already. Abortion needs money. Now that she was born, I can’t kill her.” Said Yang Shuiying. With this simple and inornate mind, she gave birth to the fourth daughter.

Lu Xiande’s home is located in a high mountain, with a group of hills extending around, where the traffic is quite inconvenient. And there are only about five families living in the village. Acquisition of outside information is as difficult as the spreading of inside information. Therefore, although birth control policy was enforced very strictly, this daughter still lived half year within her family. Yang Shuiying carried her on her back while laboring.

It’s quite common to abandon infants or send them to others in mountain areas where people are afraid of fines and treat woman as inferior to men. But Lu Xiande did neither of this though they had three over-quota children.

Jiang Wen hadn’t been back home for 10 years before July 2008, so he only remembered that Lu Xiande loved his eldest daughter very much.

“He was very nice to his eldest daughter. Children of other families ate breast milk only, but he fed her white sugar and egg mix. He often held her in his arms to kiss her,” said Jiang Wen.

Now the annual income of the whole family is less than 5000 Yuan ($735). But all four children, whether boy or girl, go to school. As to the two daughters who have registered permanent residence, Lu Xiande said he would support their studies as long as they were willing to study. This information is to show that Lu Xiande doesn’t treat woman as inferior to men.

If the fourth daughter hadn’t been taken away, she would now be almost at school age. But unfortunately, one day in June 2004, Yang Shuiying was approached by Shi Guangying when she was herding cattle on the hillside with this daughter on her back.

“The first time, I came from the side and she was herding cattle. I saw the baby on her back, and a towel on her head. The baby was very young, while her son was old enough. The second time I went to her home and she was taking meal.” said Shi Guangying.

Only Yang Shuiying herself was at home on that day.

Five years later, on June 19 2009, Yang Shuiying recalled that Shi Guangying said he would take away the child and that this would offset the fines.

Then Shi Guangying called the Jiaoxi Town Government to assign a car, and asked Yang Shuiying to go to the Jiaoxi Town Government with the infant, and then go to the Zhenyuan County orphanage. “I refused to go to the orphanage, but they took us away and said I needed to pay tens of thousands of Yuan (thousands of US dollars) which I couldn’t afford.”

Abandoning a Daughter to Have a Son
“If the parents can’t afford the fines, the over-quota child will be taken to the orphanage. That is the policy of the county.”

Shi Guangying, at age of 54, has a son and grandson already. His grandson goes to school in Dongguan city. He misses his grandson very much. He has normal humanity and sensibility.

While explaining the human tragedy of family separation caused by him, he said:
“If the parents can’t afford the fines, the over-quota child will be taken to the orphanage. This is the policy of the county.”

“In fact, if she begged the government not to take away her child, and said she would borrow money from relatives, then we wouldn’t have taken the child away. But she was too honest. Her family is the poorest in that group. It’s also very difficult for us to conduct our work,” said Shi Guangying.

On that day, Yang Shuiying, with the baby, was taken to Zhenyuan County by Shi Guangying and other officials of Jiaoxi town. That was her first visit to the county. At the Zhenyuan county orphanage, a nurse, while taking the daughter from her hand, asked her, “Sister, how can you be willing to part with her since she is so old?”

“I have no other way. I don’t have money to pay the fines. They promised not to ask for fines any more,” answered Yang Shuiying.

The baby was sleeping deeply and sweetly without seeing the tears in the eyes of her mother, who was besieged by a group of strange men. But her mother held her designedly and had a careful look at her. From then on, the girl left her mother’s arms forever, leaving her mother to only meet her again in her dreams.

The officials of Jiaoxi town arranged for her to have vasectomy operation after she was back to the town, although her husband Lu Xiande had already had the operation. Lu Xiande brought her home after the third day.

Upon knowing that his daughter was taken away, Lu Xiande said calmly “The policy has stipulations. We have no other way.” This was to comfort Yang Shuiying, but also himself.

Li Zeji Has Same Experience as Lu Xiande
On June 19, he said angrily: “I would have hacked them to death if they took away my son.” As his daughters play around him, he paused and continued: “I would also hack them to death if they took away my daughter. But I was not at home at that time.”

Actually, he responded similarly to Lu Xiande upon knowing that his daughter was taken away by family planning personnel.

Li Zeji lives in Lanqiao group, Tianxi village, Jiaoxi town. His wife gave birth to a female infant spontaneously on March 18, 2004 in the lunar calendar, when he had two daughters already. In order to have a son, they went to Zhejiang Province to work, taking the two daughters with them and leaving the one-month old daughter with his cousin.

On April 20, 2004 in the lunar calendar, a person from family planning office of Jiaoxi town took the infant, who was only one month and two days old, away from Li Zeji’s cousin’s home [the girl's finding ad states found on June 3, 2004, at “Jiaoxi Town, Shexi Village, Li Dai Wu Home”]. Before leaving he said, “Your family is too poor to raise the infant. I will take it to the government and the government will raise her for you.”

Two years later, Li Zeji and his wife finally got a son after giving birth to another daughter in Zhejiang, and then went back to their hometown. Only at that time did they know that the girl fostered by the cousin had been taken away by local government already.

“We didn’t dare to ask the government since the daughter was over-quota and we will be fined. We didn’t search for her either afterwards,” said Li Zeji on June 19.

His wife has no regrets about their decision to go to Zhejiang in 2004. She, pointing at the toddling son in front of her, said in smile, “How could we have this son if we didn’t leave?”

It seems that having a son is the greatest achievement of their lives. Abandoning a daughter seems to be the cost they should pay to get a son.

Yang Zaiqing’s wife, who lives in Xinzhai village, Duping town, Zhenyuan county, gave birth to their third daughter in 2003, when their eldest daughter had already died of cardiopathy and lymphoma. According to the policy the third daughter was not over-quota. But in order to have a son in the future, Yang Zaiqing asked the family planning personnel of Duping town to inform the Zhenyuan county orphanage to take away his third daughter.

He has never thought to call on this lost daughter for 6 years because there was “no time”.

Manufactured “Abandoned Infants” Sent Abroad for Adoption

Foreign adopters donate $3,000 to the orphanage for each infant adopted.

Jiang Wen was shocked at the cruel reality of what happened with his relatives in his hometown.

Jiang Wen started searching on web for the children in January 2009. An American researcher named Brian Stuy, who has adopted three children from China, and has a Chinese wife, soon saw his post.

Mr. Stuy forwarded the post to an American woman named Windy and a Chinese student studying in America named Hu Ying (pronunciation). Hu Ying and Windy are good friends and Windy has adopted a Chinese girl named “Gu Chenghui”.

Hu Ying, from Hangzhou, China, often helps American families with adopted children from China with translation. Hu Ying forwarded the investigation of Brian Stuy to Windy. The investigation showed: America and some European countries have adopted many female infants from the Zhenyuan County orphanage -- specifically, 24 infants in 2004, and 11 in 2005. There were no record in 2006, because in November 2005, the police of Qidong County Hunan province, while solving an infant gang case, found that the instigators behind the scene were several orphanages in Hengyang City. These human traffickers colluded with the orphanages and sent hundreds of infants to overseas adoption channels. The orphanages received $3,000 in donations for each infant. This case aroused great dispute during the trial in 2006.

In 2007, another 6 female infants from Zhenyuan County orphanage were adopted by foreigners.

Their adoption procedure is completely legal. The adoptive families submitted an adoption application through a foreign agency to the China Centre of Adoption Affairs (CCAA), while the Zhenyuan County orphanage provided the orphan information to the CCAA, who will audit and make matches. The CCAA, entrusted by the Chinese government, is mainly responsible for foreign adoption affairs.

Foreign adopters gave the Zhenyuan county orphanage $3,000 as a donation for each infant they adopted, while the China side provided all related materials of the infant to the adopters, including orphan certification materials.

According to the stipulations of the "Adoption Law of the People’s Republic of China", orphans under the age of 14 and bereaved of parents, abandoned infants or children whose parents cannot be ascertained or found, and children whose parents are unable to rear them due to unusual difficulties, may be adopted.

The law also stipulates that when an abandoned infant or child whose biological parents cannot be ascertained or found is adopted, the Civil Affairs department in charge of registration shall make an announcement prior to the registration.

Windy adopted Gu Chenghui, so she kept the announcement published in the Guizhou Metropolis News on March 6, 2004 by the Department of Civil Affairs of Guizhou Province. There are photos of 10 infants in the announcement, which reads that the finding place of these children are all at the gates of some town government or orphanage in Zhenyuan County. Gu Chenghui was picked up at the gate of the Yangping town government. The announcement states at the end: “The biological parents or family please come to the Zhenyuan county orphanage to claim the children within 60 days, or afterwards these children will be classified as abandoned infants.”

Lu Xiande, Li Zeji, and the others didn’t find any clue of this announcement.

On June 19, Hu Ying forwarded the announcement from the Department of Civil Affairs of Guizhou Province dated August 14, 2004, Saturday, which had been kept by an adopter from the Netherlands. The media was also the Guizhou Metropolis News. There are photos of 14 Chinese children. The announcement also stated at the end: “The biological parents of these children should please come to the Zhenyuan county orphanage to claim the children within 60 days and afterwards these children will be classified as abandoned infants.”

The girl adopted by this Dutch mother was named “Gu Chengjun”. She was picked up in the corridor of the Family Planning office of Yangchang town, Zhenyuan county. The announcement shows that five of the fourteen female infants were separately picked up in public places such as a Family Planning Office, a bus stop, along the roadside, a road intersection, etc, while the other children were all picked up at the gate of a villager’s house.

This announcement shows: Gu Chengqian, abandoned at the gate of Lu Xiande, Tianxi village, Jiaoxi town, Zhenyuan county; Gu Chengjuan, abandoned at the gate of Peng Hongde, villager of Putian Village, Qingxi town; Gu Chengyong, abandoned at the gate of Fu Kaijin (husband of Xu Linzhen), villager of Da Di Shi village, Da Di town; Gu Chengwen abandoned at the gate of Li Daiwu (cousin of Li Zeji), villager of Chexi village, Jiaoxi town, etc.

Actually, no infant was ever found at the gate of these families. Though many years passed, Peng Hongde and Xu Linzhen, etc., can still exactly confirm that the children in the photos are the children taken away from their home by force. Li Zeji and Lu Xiande can’t identify their children because the children were too young when taken away, and because so many years passed.

Hu Ying estimates that the abandoned infant announced as picked up at the gate of Lu Xiande’s house is possibly his own daughter

Evidence from many ways proves that these children, taken away from their own parents or foster parents by force, are “manufactured” as infants by the Zhenyuan county orphanage.

“According to our investigation, it is true that babies who have parents were forced into the orphanage and then abroad,” Tang Jian, leader of the Disciplinary Inspection Group of Zhenyuan Administration of Birth Control, was quoted by this newspaper.

Genuine and False Abandoned Infants
False abandoned infants are quite common in the Zhenyuan area. The families all claim that their children were picked up somewhere in order not to be fined.

Peng Hongde “picked up” a female infant in 2003. On August 16, 2003, more than ten people from the Jiaoxi Town Government took away the infant from Peng’s wife. Peng and his wife struggled to stop them, but they were taken to the police, locked up in the cell, and fined 50 Yuan ($7.30), accused of abusing the officials.

At that time the officials of the Town Government went to his home to tell him that the girl was very pretty and he could adopt her if he could pay 3000 yuan ($441). But at that time he couldn’t even afford 300 Yuan ($44). His family only has a little farmland, and his wife sells rice bean curd (a kind of local nosh) at the country market when it opens.

About 20 days later, Peng Hongde went to the Zhenyuan county orphanage to look for the infant. The welfare house refused to tell him the whereabouts of the infant, only telling him that the infant had been sent outside and was being fostered by an aunt.

On June 19, 2009, Peng Hongde confessed that the female infant was over-quota by his relative, who is afraid of fines. “If she couldn’t pay the fines, her house would be broken up or the infant would be taken away.” So the relative gave the infant to him. But from the beginning to the end Peng refused to disclose the name and address of the infant’s own parents.

Such phenomenon of falsely abandoned infants is quite common in Zhenyuan county. The cousin of Li Zeji and the elder sister of Luo Xingbin both claim that the children were not their own due to fear of fines when family planning personnel took away their two over-quota daughters.

In March 2004, Xu Linzhen, a villager of Ao Zi Shang group, Da Di Shi village of Dadi town, even “picked up” a male infant. The details described by Xu Linzhen were that the child found this abandoned infant in the shed inside her younger sister’s house while playing around and her sister gave the infant to her. She has two daughters, one of whom was nearly of marriageable age, and the other was twelve. She wished to have a son very much. So the male infant came into her home as if arranged by a god. She said “The infant is not my sister’s son.”

This is the only exception since all the other abandoned infants, or infants who were sent to others, were all female infants.

On the evening of June 19, 2009, while recalling the scene of the male infant being taken away by the family planning personnel five years ago, Xu Linzhen still bursts into tears [his finding ad gives June 3, 2004, “Dadishi Village, Fu Kai Jin Home”]. “More than ten persons (from the government and police) came to my home. I held the baby closely in my arms and said that I would apply for registered permanent residence when I got the money within a few days. They said they would fine me 10,000 yuan ($1470) and pulled me into a car. I held the baby until arriving at the Zhenyuan orphanage, when three aunts snatched the baby from my hands. I was reluctant, but there were three persons. I refused to leave after the baby was snatched, instead I stood at the gate of orphanage. Somebody from the second floor came downstairs to push me away and I went inside again.”

She ate nothing on that day. The personnel of the town government asked her to eat together with them in a restaurant, but she refused. “I had raised the baby for more than 10 days. I really hated to part with him.”

In the mountain area, the value of a boy is more than simply carrying on the family line.

Lu Xiande is the eldest son in his family and has two younger sisters and one younger brother. His father died on the lunar New Year evening in 1989, when he was in third grade in junior middle school. At that time he studied very well, especially good at calligraphy and painting, and he was responsible for the blackboard news in his class. But according to local custom the eldest son must undertake the family after the father’s death. So Lu Xiande stopped schooling and went back home .Although his teacher had tried to persuade his mother, still he became a farmer from that point on.

At that time his mother wanted to remarry but she finally stayed due to Lu Xiande’s decision to stop going to school and through the persuasion of the elders of the clan.

Now, though more than 20 years have passed, the meaning of a boy to a farmer’s family still hasn’t changed much.

There are a total of twelve towns in Zhenyuan county, and all are located in the mountain area. Terraces cut in order, reflecting the green mountains and the white clouds in a blue sky, can be seen everywhere. Those yellow dry land patches and green terraces cut in different shapes, when seen from the mountain top, are interlaced with each other just like colorful baldaquin.

However, the beautiful scene in the visitor’s eyes means heavy labor to the farmers living there. Chopping wood, ploughing land and applying fertilizer, etc, all need to be done by men. This is the main reason why each family is eager for a boy.

Therefore, large sum of fines are imposed for overbearing, which induces many genuine or false abandoned infants. If you inquire in the towns of Zhenyuan county randomly, you will hear the stories of finding abandoned infants almost everywhere.

A low-level official, who once worked in the Family Planning office of some town in Zhenyuan county in 2003, said that in certain years the birth control policy was enforced very strictly, so there were abandoned female infants often. He picked up about four female infants during his term. All these infants were given to local infertile villagers through the Civil Affairs authority.

16 years ago, Qin Keqin (anonym) in Jianggu town, picked up an abandoned female infant. At that time villagers often abandoned the female infants on the street, because residents near the street are richer than in mountain areas. Qin Keqin lives on a street near the town government.

At that time he had two sons already. When his wife took the female infant to apply for registered permanent residence, the family planning office refused. His wife then said she would give up the infant and leave her with the Family Planning office. Then they had to comprise. Now the infant has grown into a pretty girl, and has just attended entrance exams to senior high school.

“Previously it was very easy to apply for registered permanent residence for an abandoned infant, but now it’s not easy any more. All abandoned infants are sent to the orphanage by the Family Planning office,” said Qin Keqin.

The hard life leaves no time for the poor parents such as Li Zeji and Lu Xiande, etc. to miss their lost daughters.

The phenomenon of genuine or false abandoned infants taken by force to the orphanage is so common that local people have already gotten used to it. In addition, abandoning infants and sending children to others happens frequently. All this leads to a terribly contorted understanding by the farmers towards life and ethics. Therefore, there was no ardent conflict when the government took away the over-quota daughter by force from Yang Shuiying. Lu Xiande even considers this as a stipulation of the policy.

Jiang Wen went back to his hometown in April 2008. He saw the three daughters and one son of Lu Xiande at his home. Lu said he has another daughter, but “the Government raises her for me.”

At this time Jiang Wen felt that the current Lu Xiande was absolutely different from ten years ago. “Now his mind is very silly. He was very clever before. Many people asked him to help to write couplets during spring festival.”

Jiang Wen said regretfully, “He surrendered to destiny and turned out like this. If he had continued his studies, as long as he was admitted to a technical secondary school, he would be assigned a formal job. But I don’t surrender to destiny resolutely.”

Jiang Wen’s mother, who had been in charge of the family all along, died when Jiang Wen was in his second year at the university. According to local custom, he should also go back home to look after his younger brother and sister. But he didn’t. He didn’t ask for any money from his family since then, absolutely living on his endeavor and the support of his girlfriend to finish his studies. Now he and his wife own a training centre and a company that sells air cleaning equipment.

Jiang Wen, through phone calls with his family in recent years, learned that Lu Xiande had greatly changed. With little farmland and many children after marriage, they don’t have enough food to eat. The conflict between Lu Xiande and his mother gets deeper as time goes by. Lu Xiande went insane after 2005. He often shouts very loudly and chops at others with a knife.

Lu Xiande went out for a job for the first time in his life after his daughter was taken to the orphanage by force in 2004. However, in the “Gold is Everywhere” Guangdong province, he couldn’t even earn his traveling expenses and had to borrow money to go home.

He cut his own neck with a pig killing knife and cut out his heart at his aunt’s home one day in 2005. His aunt discovered this in time to save his life.

“I can’t think of anything else. My daughter is lost and my family is so poor. I feel myself a futile sort of person and dreg of society.” Lu Xiande said this on June 19, 2009, while a hen is foraging around his feet with several chickens. His family breeds about 30 chickens, 30 ducks and 5 pigs, besides around 5 mu (0.4 hectares) farmland. The total annual income is less than 5000 Yuan ($735). And the four children’s studies cost 2000 Yuan ($294) every year. They all have lunch at school.

In order to increase family income, Lu Xiande went to the blood plasma station of Zhenyuan county to sell blood all the year round from 2002 to 2005. Each month he sold seven or eight times and each time got paid 80 Yuan ($11.80). Afterwards the head of blood plasma station of Zhenyuan county was sentenced to life imprisonment because of the embezzlement of 9,600,000 yuan ($1,411,765) of state property and only then did Lu Xiande stop selling blood.

Now two of the four children still don’t have registered permanent residence because it involves 12,880 Yuan ($1894) in fines. Lu Xiande knows that the children can’t go to middle school without registered permanent residence. So he plans to let the two children quit school after graduation from primary school due to his inability to pay the fines.

“Did you get the son after so much hardship and pains just to make him a farmer?”

Lu Xiande answers: “I do have expectation on my son. But there is no income source in my family and we are unable to support his studies. In this society, even if he is admitted to a university, I’m unable to support him. It is a pity.”

Only one child of the four children of Li Zeji has registered permanent residence. The family planning personnel asked 40,000 Yuan ($5882) as fines, which decreased to 5,000 Yuan ($735) after bargaining. But Li Zeji still can’t afford it and only borrowed 1,000 Yuan ($147) to pay to the family planning personnel.

He could earn 1,000 Yuan ($147) per month when he was in Zhejiang province. His salary needs to support his wife, four children and himself. But he still considers that life there is better than in his hometown. But they had to go back as the children needed to go to school.

Now they only have 2 mu (0.1 hectares) farmland for 6 people. Li Zeji does some odd jobs near his home with a salary of 50 to 60 Yuan ($7 to 8) per day and his wife breeds several pigs at home.

Tiring labor, hard life and a heavy burden leave no time for Li Zeji and Lu Xiande, etc. to think about the whereabouts of their lost daughters.

How many “abandoned infants” named Gu Cheng? 78 of 80 abandoned infants, all named Gu Cheng (such as Gu Chenghui, Gu Chengqian, etc.), have been adopted by American or European families.

The registration material of the infants adopted by foreign countries show that there were a total of 80 abandoned infants in the orphanage since 2001. Excepting two handicapped girls, the other seventy-eight children were all adopted by families in America, Belgium, and Spain, etc.

80 abandoned infants are all given names with Gu Cheng -- for example “Gu Chenghui”, “Gu Chengqian”, etc. “Gu Cheng” in Chinese refers to the ancient city of Zhenyuan, because it has a 2,280 year history from its establishment in the thirtieth year of King Zhao of Qin dynasty, including 1,300 years as the prefecture and district seat. In 1986 it was approved by the Chinese State Council to be included in the “Famous Cities of Chinese History and Culture.”

It’s unknown how many children among the infants have the same destiny as the fourth daughter of Yang Shuiying. But the memory of Shi Guangying, who was once head of family planning office of Jiaoxi town, is of great value.

The fourth daughter of Yang Shuiying was the first infant he sent to the orphanage. He said, “There were other infants taken to the orphanage before that, but not by me.” After that, he sent about three or four over-quota children from Jiaoxi town to the welfare house. “And each town in Zhenyuan County sends around 3 or 4 infants every year. There were abandoned infants everywhere. Also there were some over-quota infants whose parents couldn’t afford fines. Then we reached an agreement with the parents to take away the children. But no agreement in written form was signed.”

“We informed their parents (while taking away the children) to tell them to pay the fines. But they couldn’t afford them, and then we had no other choice but to take away the children. This is a stipulation of the policy and it’s no use to cry about it. Pay the fines or to send the children to the orphanage,” said Shi Guangying. “Actually they only need to pay 5,000 to 6,000 Yuan ($735 to 882) in fines. 3,000 Yuan ($441) for one over-quota child and 7-8,000 Yuan ($1029 to 1176) for two over-quota children (5-6,000 if the parents have an acquaintance or relative in the government). But how can they afford the fines? They were too poor in those years. Each meal needs money.”

When her fourth daughter was taken away, Yang Shuiying asked Shi Guangying, “Why didn’t you come when I was pregnant?” Shi Guangying answered that they didn’t know when she was pregnant. If they had known, her other two over-quota children would also have been taken away, but at that time they were too old to be taken away.

Later because there were so many infants in the orphanage that they infected each other and caused disease, the Zhenyuan orphanage employed some aunts, whose salary was 300 to 400 Yuan per month ($44 to $58), to raise the infants at home until they were adopted by a foreign family.

Li Qianhua (anonym) did this special job from 2003, but now she is “out of this team”. She disclosed that at that time many aunts took infants from the orphanage to foster them at home. “We raised the infants at home and got paid by the orphanage regularly.”

An aunt surnamed Yang fostered infants from the welfare house in 2006 and 2007. She said that all the aunts live in the county. “The orphanage would call us when there was a new infant and then we took them home. If somebody came to adopt the child, I would hold the baby and go to Guiyang City (capital of Guizhou province) together with officials of the orphanage.”

“Sending them abroad is definitely better than staying at home, twice better. Even the home of the current "Secretary of County Party Committee" is not as good as a home abroad, not to mention their parent’s home. We raised the baby just for salary,” said Li Qianhua.

Windy has been worrying that the girl Gu Chenghui she adopted is not a genuine orphan, but an over-quota girl taken away by the government by force.

In 2007 Windy took her daughter to Li Qianhua, who once fostered her, to find her own parents, but failed.

“If my daughter is actually the outcome of a crime committed by some orphanage personnel, I will do my best to find her original family and share with them my daughter’s life, such as sending photos, contact by mail or arranging my daughter to visit them once a year. This is beneficial to her growth.” Windy wrote this in her email to a Chinese journalist.

Besides Windy, many other foreign foster parents of the Chinese children help them to find their “origin in China” through Hu Ying and Ye, etc., Chinese students who study in America. In May 2008 Hu Ying helped an American adoptive mother to post a message on the web to search for the birth parents of her adopted daughter, who was picked up in Yongxi town Zhenyuan county in September 2003.

However, when the birth parents or temporary foster parents in Zhenyuan learned of their possible whereabouts, few of them showed any sign of obvious gladness or grief, just a common sigh for their destiny. Xu Linzhen sighed deeply, beneath the halo of a lamp, thinking to herself, “What should I do when I’m old?”

“According to our investigation, it is true that babies who have parents were forced into the orphanage and then abroad,” Tang Jian, leader of Disciplinary Inspection Group of Zhenyuan Administration of Birth Control, was quoted by newspaper.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Beating of a Butterfly's Wings

Some common misunderstood facts about the Zhenyuan story:

1. It is amazing that the Chinese government allowed this story to be published. Does that not show that they want this kind of corruption revealed?
A: The Chinese government did not allow this story to be published. In mid-June the South City News was told by the government to not publish ANY articles dealing with orphanages, family planning offices, or baby-buying. After two weeks of internal discussion, the newspaper, against the prohibitions of the government, published the story anyway (their account of the decision to rebuke the government by publishing the story can be read here). There is in fact NO evidence that the government is allowing stories about orphanages to be published. In Hunan, the government stopped all reporting shortly after the story broke.

2. How is this story being treated inside China?
A: The original article has been redacted and republished broadly across China, both in print and on TV (as of this writing a Baidu search returns over 250 "hits" on the story). The focus is largely on the abuse by Family Planning officials, although some mention that the story resulted from inquiries by an American adoptive mother. Comments by Chinese residents to these articles range from anger that this story was published, making China lose face, to outrage at the government that allows these perverse policies to continue.

3. Weren't Family Planning officials just doing their jobs?
A: That is certainly how they look at it. The one-child policy is just that, a policy, a goal. There are no stated penalties given for having more than one's quota of children. Thus, Family Planning officials are free to do whatever they want to families -- a dinner at a fancy restaurant, a pig, a hefty fine, the destruction of one's home, the taking of one's child. If any good comes from this story, it will be the formalization of penalties for over-quota children.

4. Did the orphanage director know this was happening, or was he innocent in this story?
The China Daily account indicates that the orphanage "authorities forged documents stating the babies were orphans and adoption fees were split between the orphanage and officials."

5. How common are these stories?
A: In our research of different orphanages across China, we see many blogs of angry citizens like the one that wrote about Zhenyuan. They are found in every Province, in many, many orphanage cities.

UPDATE: The blame-game is starting in Guizhou. The China Daily reports that Provincial Civil Affairs official of Zhenyuan County Luo Qiong Zhen stated: "100% of the kids sent out for adoption are abandoned babies or orphans. If the kids' birth parents report that this is not true, they can complete the forms to retrieve their children."

This statement is contradicted by Tang Jian, officer in the Zhenyuan County Family Planning Control Bureau, who stated: "Were kids taken by force and sent to the orphanage to be adopted internationally? This is totally true."

One of the birth mothers (Yang Shui Ying) reported in the China Daily (that article contains additional information) recounted that as Shi Guang Ying, the Family Planning official, was leaving with her daughter, he turned to her and said, "Don't worry. When your girl is a little bit older the orphanage will send her outside China for adoption." This was meant to placate the birth mother. It didn't.

It appears that the method used by Family Planning was to target the most vulnerable in Zhenyuan -- families whose husbands were away from home working, or who had little money with which to pay the fines. Additionally, they seem to have targeted families with female children rather than male. One of the fathers, Li Ze Ji, whose child was taken by Family Planning while he was in working in Zhejiang Province, angrily responded, "If I had been home when they took my daughter away, I would have killed them!"

July 3, 2009 UPDATE: The South City News has published the story of the Chinese Government's attempted suppression of this story. On June 13, 2009 the paper was ready to run with the story and was told by the Government they were prohibited from publishing any story that deals with orphanages, family planning offices, or baby-buying. After two weeks of deliberation, they modified the story slightly and published it despite this prohibition.

July 4, 2009 UPDATE: Netwerk TV in the Netherlands last night broadcast a segment detailing China's reaction to the investigation last year of the Gaoping Family Planning confiscations. After the Dutch delegation returned from China (where they met with the CCAA) Dutch Justice Minister Levenkamp received a letter from CCAA Director Lu Ying telling them "it is best not to pursue, expand or elaborate on this issue further and to keep [this] secret for related families in order not to interrupt the bond established between the adoptive parents and the children and impose any unnecessary pressure on them." The actual letter will here available soon.


A corruption story is building in Guizhou Province, and it started with one adoptive mother asking all the right questions.

Wendy was one of the first adoptive parents to purchase our new birth family reports. Her daughter is from the Zhenyuan SWI in Guizhou Province, a small orphanage by IA standards. Wendy ordered one of our Birth Parent Analysis for her daughter. In this report we alerted Wendy to aggressive family planning tactics being used in Zhenyuan, and pointed her to a Chinese blog that recounted the confiscations of three children found to have been internationally adopted.

Wendy contacted this blogger and began to share information with this individual. This resulted in additional interest from Chinese media, and yesterday a long and in-depth account of the Family Planning abductions was published in Guangzhou. Abbreviated versions have since been picked up by other Chinese and English outlets, including the China.Org, Shanghai Daily, and the South China Morning Post. None of these secondary articles displays the anger and resentment manifested in the original article, and I am hopeful that an English version of the original piece will be published.

The Zhenyuan orphanage has adopted a little over 40 children since 2003, almost all of them apparently brought to the orphanage through Family Planning confiscations. What is peculiar about Zhenyuan is that the orphanage made no attempt to disguise the origin of these children -- the adoption paperwork lists the finding location as the birth parent's home. Thus many of Zhenyuan's adoptive parents have been given a direct line to their child's birth family.

This story is exploding inside China, for one simple reason -- these actions are viewed as a tremendous abuse of power. Families are of course aware that they must register their children, but the law says NOTHING about the government seizing the children of those who violate Family Planning policy. To then learn that their children were "sold" (the Chinese understanding) to foreigners for adoption, and that they would never see them again, has resulted in a fire-storm of controversy.

The circumstances in Zhenyuan are hardly unique. As we analyze the finding ads from all over China we see patterns that indicate this type of practice is taking place in many, many areas. Bloggers in small towns lament the brutal actions of their Family Planning officials. They beg for someone to listen, to do something to make a change. These local citizens have largely been ignored and unseen by anyone.

Until now.

Inside China:
Guangdong: (Original Article)



Hong Kong:

In English:

Outside China:


United States: