October 31st, 2011

Up for Adoption – For a Price!

This article is not about genealogy records, though they will at some point in the future be affected by the event, it is about a terrible crime. I couldn’t help but be deeply moved by this story, and not in a pleasant way.

Yahoo posted an article this morning, the 14th of October, 2011, which suggested that orphanages in China might still be in the practice of buying babies and offering them for sale to adoption agencies in other countries. The situation was first reported by Sky News, mentioned that China’s foreign adoption program had been linked to the illegal confiscation and trafficking of children. Of course the story is upsetting, especially since over one hundred thousand children have been adopted by foreign nationals form China since the early 1990’s. The adoptive parents are told that the children they are adopting have been abandoned or orphaned. The situation was exposed when Sky News instigated an undercover investigation that revealed more than one government run orphanage eager to buy babies for cash.

I can’t help but be enraged at this, especially as we as genealogists spend so much time trying to find our family members. To think that there are people who have no appreciation of family, in fact scorn it by their actions, is immensely upsetting. Apparently Chinese officials are heavily involved, "confiscating" children from couples who "have too many". China still implements a one-child rule, apparently at its leisure, illustrated by the case of a woman named Yuan Zanhua. According to her, her 18 month old daughter was "confiscated" by government officials because her and her husband were in breach of said single child rule because they already had four children. Apparently the government receives a "voluntary donation" from each foreign couple that adopts a child from China which amounts to the equivalent of around US$3,000.

Several other families from Yuan Zanhua’s village have reported having their children confiscated. It is believed that all the confiscated children were taken directly to a local orphanage which specializes in international adoptions. Yuan Zanhua told Sky that she and her husband had seen what looks like a picture of their daughter on an American adoption agency’s website; however they were warned by local officials to remain silent on the subject. Chinese journalists did report on several cases of alleged abduction of children, and the government of China investigated, eventually punishing twelve officials for "negligence". No effort though was made to reunite the parents with their children. Attempts were made to obtain statements from the Chinese Ministry for Civil Affairs and the China Centre of Adoption Affairs, but both declined to comment or participate in an interview.

This is indeed a sad story, but I’m sure there are many stories out there about adoption that posses happy endings. Feel free to share your own experiences below, after all, we all need some cheering up now.