Sunday, July 30, 2006

Domestic Adoption in China


BEIJING -- When he saw the poignant photos of orphans on an adoption agency website this year, Sun Xiaoping yearned to adopt one of them.
to adopt Chinese babies, including a voluminous list of answers to frequently asked questions. But under "domestic adoption," the FAQ file is completely blank, and other information is scanty.

But even as China experiences a dramatic rise in foreign adoption of its children, many Chinese couples are left out in the cold. In 2005, only about 38,000 children were adopted by Chinese families --a relatively small number for a country of 1.3 billion people.

Chinese policies are supposed to favour domestic adoptions. Yet there is strong evidence that foreigners get preferential treatment -- largely because their payments are more lucrative. Despite the
national policy, many Chinese orphanages have set up unofficial barriers to discourage Chinese families from adopting their orphans.

"Chinese orphanages give priority to foreign families, rather than to Chinese families," said Wu Jianying, director of the Beijing office of Children's Hope International, a U.S.-based adoption agency. "Orphanages can get more money from foreigners than from Chinese. Each foreign family usually donates around $3,000 (U.S.) to the orphanage. The amount donated by Chinese families is usually
much lower."

Foreigners who want to adopt Chinese babies have myriad agencies available to them, all providing a host of services: booking their hotels; providing their transportation; helping with paperwork and
translations; and even taking them on sightseeing tours as they wait for the paperwork to be finished.

Chinese parents find it much tougher. There is no network to support them. Ms. Wu's office, for example, is providing some volunteer help to Chinese parents, but it primarily works for Americans.

"There really isn't any organization or agency providing
consultations and other services for domestic adoptions," she said. "Orphanages usually don't publicize information about their children, because the law doesn't require it. As a result, many Chinese families can't find a child to adopt."

Qiao Cuiping, a 31-year-old engineer in Fujian province, met only frustration when she and her husband contacted Chinese orphanages to
try to adopt. "The orphanages in Fujian all answered that they didn't have healthy children available," she said. "The orphanages outside Fujian asked for large sums of money, around 20,000 yuan [about $2,500 U.S.], which was too expensive for us. The orphanages
are unwilling to help us because they can earn much more in international adoptions."

Ms. Qiao and her husband eventually succeeded in adopting a Chinese baby -- but only because of a newspaper report about an orphaned
girl who was handicapped. By contacting the newspaper, they were able to find the child.

Another woman, a 36-year-old legal-affairs agent in Beijing, says
that she and her husband have spent six months trying to adopt a
baby from a Chinese orphanage, but have been allowed to see only one
child so far. "I know many Chinese people who have turned to private
contacts to find a child," she said. "I haven't heard of anyone who was successful in adopting a child from an orphanage. So I'm considering a private contact as well. I will ask for help from relatives and friends."

Partly because of the barriers to domestic adoptions, China has a thriving system of private and unofficial adoptions, including an underground system of kidnapping and baby-trafficking. Earlier this
year, China admitted that six orphanages in southern China had been purchasing babies since 2002, including the purchase of 78 abducted children last year alone. At least 33 people were punished for their
involvement in the schemes. Foreigners and Chinese families were adopting children from the six orphanages, often for hefty fees.

Ms. Wu, of the Children's Hope agency, said the Chinese government needs to take stronger action to encourage domestic adoptions.

"The government could require that each orphanage must provide as many children to Chinese families as to foreigners," she said. "It could require the orphanages to publicize information about their children on the Internet. It could eliminate the adoption fees for
Chinese families, and it could use its financial subsidies to encourage orphanages to send their children to Chinese families."



Post a Comment

<< Home