Decline in intl adoptions due to growing domestic demand, less abandonment

By Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/21 17:48:39

Children adopted from China by American parents eat at a camp in Beijing to help them learn more about their origins. Photo: CFP
Children adopted from China by American parents eat at a camp in Beijing to help them learn more about their origins. Photo: CFP

The adoption of Chinese children by US families has dropped by more than 70 percent in the last decade as the government has worked to promote domestic adoption.

In 2015, about 2,354 children were adopted by US families from China, the world's largest origin of international adoptees in the last decade, read an Annual Report on International Adoptions released by the US State Council  in April, noting that the decline corresponds with a worldwide decrease in international adoptions from the country.

According to a Financial Times report on December 7, a total of 15,000 Chinese children - most of whom were little girls abandoned as a consequence of the family planning policy and a cultural preference for sons - were adopted by families from overseas in 2005 alone. The number, however, had dropped to 2,800 by 2014.

As the Chinese government has increased its efforts to promote domestic adoption in the last 10 years, 20,000 to 30,000 children are now placed domestically each year, said the US international adoption report.

The US report also noted a growing trend for the international adoption of children with special needs, referring to a clear change, with 95 percent of Chinese girls adopted by US couples in 2005 being healthy, to more than 90 percent having special needs in 2015.



Higher costs



The decline is due to the shrinking number of abandoned children and the growth in domestic adoptions, Peter Selman, a leading international adoption specialist, was quoted as saying by the Financial Times report.

The report pointed out that fewer children are being abandoned in many developing countries in recent years as poverty - one of the main causes of abandonment worldwide - has been eased, especially in China.

Chuck Johnson, president and chief executive of the US National Council for Adoption, also noted that China has invested a lot in the last five years to improve its welfare system for children.

"The Chinese government has carried out various measures to curtail illegal child abandonment in the country," Gan Weiwei, deputy director of China's Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption, told the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Weekly, pointing out that less and less children are being abandoned as the country has eased the family planning policy to allow couples to have two children.

Gan noted that domestic adoption demand is also increasing due to economic development. "Taking into account the issue of culture and getting used to a new living situation, Chinese law gives priority to domestic adoption, which is also the first principle for adoption of the Hague Adoption Convention."

The convention was signed in 1993 to regulate international adoption, protecting children and their families from illegal, irregular, premature or poorly-prepared adoption abroad. China was approved to join the convention in 2005.

Meanwhile, Gan noted that a major problem now is finding domestic homes for abandoned children with hereditary disabilities and diseases, which she believed will be gradually solved as the economy and people's values develop. 

Toddler trafficking



China published its Adoption Law in late 1991, opening the country's door to international adoptions for the first time.

China became a popular choice for international adoptions as the country established an efficient children adoption system with easy and manageable paper work, news portal caixin.com reported, citing the Chinese Children Adoption International (CCAI), a Colorado-based international adoption agency connecting US parents and Chinese children.

The CCAI website said that unlike in the US, certificates for abandoned Chinese children will be issued by local civil affair departments to the adopting families, legally preventing birth parents from regaining custody of the adopted children.

Despite this legal framework, the number of international adoptions from China declined by about 18 percent in 2006 after it was reported in late 2005 that welfare institutes in Hengyang, Central China's Hunan Province were engaging in child trafficking, caixin.com reported.

About 23 officials from six welfare departments under local civil affairs bureaus were charged with buying children from human traffickers, then faking abandonment certificates and selling them for adoptions. 

The Hunan provincial government immediately halted all international adoption applications in the province as some of the children were allegedly adopted by foreign families, said caixin.com.

Global Times


Newspaper headline: Baby don’t go


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