Posted: June 5, 2008 07:56 AM
By Ariana Duarte & Laura Fabian
Three weeks after China's devastating quake, adoption agencies in the United States are seeing a surge in the number of Americans looking to adopt babies orphaned by the tragedy.
"People have been inquiring, you know, about Chinese adoptions, in response to the earthquake in China," said Lanny Knight, Executive Director of Chrysalis House, an adoption agency, with offices in Fresno.
In fact, according to some agencies, those inquiries have tripled since the May 12th quake. The tremblor left more than 68,000 dead and an estimated 4,000 children without parents.
Now that increased interest to adopt has prompted a scam targeting American families, who are hoping to help a Chinese orphan find a home.
"They've been contacted from China, and being offered an opportunity to adopt a child from the earthquake region that's an orphan for an adoption fee of fifteen thousand dollars," said Knight.
Knight says a legitimate agency would never simply call or send an e-mail offering a child, in exchange for cash.
"That just doesn't happen. All of China adoptions goes through a central agency, the China Center for Adoption Affairs, and it's a very regimented structured process," said Knight.
Knight says that process now takes between three to four years to complete.
Last may, China tightened up its eligibility rules. It barred foreign applicants who are single, gay, obese, or over fifty-years-old from adopting.
Furthermore, the Chinese government is beginning to give priority to domestic adoptions, making easy offers to adopt, all the more likely to be a scam.
"Unfortunately, people prey on people's wants and desires to have a family," said Knight.
If you are looking to adopt, experts say make sure to always go through a licensed adoption agency to avoid adoption fraud.