China swamped with adoption offers
From correspondents in Beijing | May 16, 2008
CHINESE internet users have swamped online forums with offers to take in orphans of this week's devastating earthquake as the government drafts plans for adoptions.
The government said it was bracing for a growing number of orphans as the death toll mounts from Monday's 7.9-magnitude earthquake, China's deadliest natural disaster in a generation.
Online forums, an increasingly popular means of communication in China, were filled with entries by people hoping to care for children left without parents by the earthquake.
Many listed their mobile telephone numbers and gave details about their personal finances and careers in hopes of showing that they were worthy adoptive parents.
One 33-year-old from the central city of Wuhan had a six-year-old boy but was ready to adopt "an orphan girl between age one and three."
"Our family members are very close and are well off economically," the person said, leaving a mobile phone number.
"We would offer her a warm household where she can grow up healthily and happily."
A 24-year-old from central Hubei province who was married but without children said the family was ready to take in either a boy or a girl.
"My family is heartbroken over this earthquake and we would like to adopt a healthy orphan from the area," the person said.
Numerous overseas organisations have also been inquiring about children orphaned by the earthquake, which left an estimated 50,000 people dead, according to state media.
The government is working out the practicalities and will allow adoptions by "qualified people," the official Xinhua news agency said.
It said orphans will in the meantime be cared for by local bureaus of the ministry of civil affairs.
China, long a popular destination for foreign parents wishing to adopt, in late 2006 tightened its rules.
Under the tougher regulations, China says that foreigners who wish to adopt Chinese babies must have stable marriages, sound finances and not be overweight.
More than 50,000 Chinese children are estimated to have been adopted by foreigners in the 10 years leading up to the change in rules. Some 80 per cent of the adoptive parents are Americans.
Babies also take on special value in China because of the government's controversial policy of allowing most families to have only one child.
The three-decade-old policy was meant to rein in population growth in China, which remains the world's most populous with 1.3 billion people.
But the restrictions make the loss of a child especially heartbreaking for Chinese parents. The earthquake destroyed close to 7000 schools in southwestern Sichuan province, burying children under the rubble and prompting the government to launch an investigation.
One couple from the booming southern industrial city of Guangzhou noted in their web posting that they had not had their own child.
"We will treat him or her as our own. We are not going to have a kid on our own, so we can give him or her all our love," they said.