Canada queries China on child abduction claims

By Richard Foot, Canwest News Service
October 18, 2009

The Canadian government has expressed formal concerns to China about claims that Chinese babies are being kidnapped and sold to orphanages for adoption in Canada and other western countries, Canwest News Service has learned.

Canadian Embassy staff in Beijing have asked the chief of the China Centre of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) — the state agency that oversees China's international adoption program — to investigate.

"Chinese authorities are looking into this question," says Janet Nearing, the director of adoption services for the government of Nova Scotia, who says federal officials in Ottawa informed her that embassy staff have held meetings on the subject with Chinese officials.

"(CCAA's) director general has assured the embassy staff that the agency is looking into this matter," says Nearing. "He added that no children adopted by Canadians were (illegally obtained). I don't know what his source of information would be, but that's the information we were given."

Newspapers in China reported in July that dozens of baby girls in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou had been abducted from their families and sold for $3,000 U.S. per child to local orphanages, which in turn adopted the babies out — for similar fees — to couples from North America and Europe.

Last month, the Los Angeles Times also published an investigative article quoting parents in the provinces of Guizhou and Hunan, who said their babies had been stolen, sold and adopted overseas.

"It raises serious concerns, no doubt about it," says Nearing.

Although China levies fines against citizens that have multiple children, it is illegal to seize a child without the parents' consent, or to buy and sell babies.

Reports of corruption in China's international adoption program first surfaced in 2005, but China said it was an isolated incident. New allegations this year prompted one Canadian parent — a mother in Nova Scotia who adopted a Chinese baby in 2006 — to go public this fall with fears that her daughter may not have been a legitimate orphan.

Although Cathy Wagner's child came from the province of Chongqing — where claims of abduction and baby-trafficking have not arisen — Wagner says she was required to pay a $3,000 adoption fee, supplied to her daughter's orphanage in crisp, new U.S. bills.

Nearing, who oversees all adoptions in Nova Scotia including those from overseas, calls this year's allegations "very troubling," and says they prompted her to ask Ottawa to look into the matter.

Although adoption is a provincial responsibility, Nearing says provinces have no means of investigating alleged corruption in other countries, or of dealing with foreign governments.

Those matters are handled by the Inter-Country Adoption Services, a branch of the federal Department of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Officials from the department did not respond to requests for details about what embassy staff asked of the Chinese, but Nearing says officials in Ottawa acted quickly this fall to seek information from China.

In the past, China has not responded kindly to questions about alleged corruption within its state-run adoption system.

When the Dutch government raised similar concerns in 2008, China warned the Dutch that ongoing questions would result in trade retaliation against Holland, according to government documents obtained by the Dutch adoption agency, World Children.

Canada's own queries of the Chinese government come at an awkward time for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is seeking an invitation from China for an official visit to Beijing, possibly during a scheduled trip to Asia next month.

Nearing says Ottawa and other governments are virtually powerless to verify what Chinese authorities might tell them, calling the foreign-adoption program a matter of "trust" between countries.

She also says she has no way of telling parents who have adopted from China whether their child was abducted, trafficked, or legally obtained.

Despite such problems, Nearing says Canada should wait for more information before imposing a possible moratorium on adoptions from China.

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Go Canada

Apparently the Canadian government has more guts than the Dutch government when it comes to addressing corruption in inter-country adoption. It was Canada too that, in 2001, was the first country to stop placing children from Guatemala, because of corrupt practices. In that case it took the Dutch government two years to follow suit and only because several other countries did the same thing.

Canada itself has of course the dubious honour of being the country where corrupt inter-country adoptions started,  way back in the 1920's with the Ideal Maternity Home, and again was the center of corrupt practices in the early 1950's as was presented in the Congressional Hearings lead by Sen. Estes Kefauver in 1955.

In recent times though, Canada has been on the forefront when it comes to blocking adoptions from corrupt countries, though they did play a dubious role in keeping Kids Link/Imagine Adoption in business, despite their role in corrupt placements from Ghana.

Let's hope Canada has a spine in all of this. China is known to retaliate criticism.

Corruption and illegal adoptions

Just this morning I was reading a blog-piece featuring the Dutch government and illegal adoptions from the Philippines.  [It's always easier for to me to read these sort of pieces in terms of "sending" and "receiving", because I believe more universal trends in international adoption can be seen much more clearly.]

The judge declared in court, that it was in the best interest of the child to be adopted. But the real issue is, that according international criminal law, (accomplishment) abduction and theft or child-trafficking in order to obtain a child for adoption as prospective adoption parent is still not punishable.

One of the reasons why prospective adoption parents still try several routes to adopt children and act as receiver fully innocent.

[From:  Illegal Adoption from Philippines raises questions in House of Representatives ]

As long as judges and PAP's proclaim adoption is in the best interest of a child, the risk of corrupt illegal adoptions will continue.  As long as workers for shady agencies escape real significant punishment, [See:  Judge has mercy on Samoan adoption scam defendants; no prison time ], those wishing to make an enormous amount of money through adoption will be free to do so.  As long as critics are not allowed a strong voice, (oppossing certain trends and actions), nothing will change, making all adoption practices "business, as usual".

best interest?

The rule that adoption is in the best interest of children no matter what, has been used by judges throughout the ages. Some time ago I read about the practice of placing children without performing a home study through private adoption. With the children already placed no judge would ever disapprove of the adoption, because it was deemed in the best interest of the child.

Don't be misled...

There is indeed a "best interest" taking place within the adoption-friendly community.  That best interest has to do with increasing placements AND increasing a certain flow of money.... that "best interest" rarely has anything to do with a child's sense of well-being.

A recently posted article, Barnado's calls for more gay couples to adopt children, helps illustrate where interests in adoption are going.  Hopefully, when more and more potential clients learn how children are being made available for adoption, many WILL SEE the rights of children are not taken all that seriously by those working for a charity for children.

Based on my own adoption experience, I am one who strongly believes international adoption serves the interests of adults far more than it serves the real needs of children.  Judges and governments around the world have made it that way... judges and governments have put children in severe danger in the guise of providing better.  Sadly, disturbingly, the History of Child Placement pages prove that fairy-tale story/message has a long list of problems and flaws.

For some, "best interest" means making money/keeping a profit.  For others "best interest" means ridding an unwanted group/creating an "ideal".  For children taken away and "put in-care", many of these hidden (kept secret) agendas have killed and severely damaged the lives of many.

How long can these types of "best-interests" continue?  I suppose that will be up to various judges and governments to decide.

Pound Pup Legacy