By Neha Sahay

May 26, 2011 /

Imagine your only child being forcibly taken away by officials and adopted by foreigners who believe it’s an orphan. This is the terrible tragedy that has been taking place in some remote mountainous villages of Hunan, Mao’s birthplace. The irony is that this is being done ostensibly to implement the one-child policy. The victims form the most vulnerable section of Chinese society — migrant labourers who leave their children behind in villages in the care of grandparents or other elderly relatives. The children targeted need not be illegal second children. Even the first born can be taken away. In such cases, documents are forged: the father ‘confesses’ that he’d taken in an abandoned child without following due procedure. The documents show him voluntarily giving the child up to the government officials. These documents are prepared with the help of the village committee and the police. The child is then given to an orphanage, which puts in a notice for 60 days in the local papers giving details of the child. But the orphanage is in the city, and the grandparents living in mountainous villages may never get to see the newspaper in time. So, more often than not, no one claims the child.

Some families, tipped off in time, have traced their children to the orphanage. But the fines slapped on them by special family planning courts for having violated the one-child norm, or broken adoption laws, have been so prohibitive — 6,000 to 10,000 yuan — that they’ve watched helplessly as their own flesh and blood has been given away. Or, they’ve come to know too late, much after the child has been adopted. Parents have tried to petition Beijing, but party officials have quickly conducted “inquiries’’ which conclude that the parents were in the wrong, and the family planning departments acted correctly. 

Horror stories

For everyone but the parents, this is a perfect situation. Successful implementation of the one-child policy is a factor in deciding promotions of party officials. The penalties imposed on parents who violate this policy are a source of government income. Then, there’s the money gained from foreign adoptions. The adoption fee for foreigners is US $ 3,000. This amount is shared by local party officials, adoption agencies and the orphanage.

This terrible tragedy was brought to light through an in-depth investigative report in New Century, a new Beijing-based weekly, considered a trailblazer in Chinese journalism. Between 2001 and 2005, says the report, which names the officials involved, 16 children were taken away from just one county. On the eve of its publication, the author of the report wrote a letter to his colleagues, expressing the fear that his story may be “harmonised’’ — removed from circulation from the internet. He requested it to be shared widely.

This isn’t the first such investigation by this reporter. Last year, a story he co-authored for another outspoken publication, Southern Metropolis Daily, featured in a list of 10 best investigative stories of the year. The seven-part story documented the case of an author detained for writing a book on the mass migration of villagers forcibly relocated in the 1950s due to the building of a dam on the Yellow river.

Expectedly, his latest story has created a sensation. But the authorities’ assurance of an investigation may not be enough. Editorials have demanded that the government must help the victims file suits against concerned officials, and reunite them with their children wherever possible. There have even been calls for a review of the one-child policy. The photographs accompanying the story — gaunt faces of grandparents staring out of dark and grimy homes — haunt you. Will they haunt the family planning officials?


In other parts of Adoptionand

The documents show him voluntarily giving the child up to the government officials. These documents are prepared with the help of the village committee and the police. The child is then given to an orphanage, which puts in a notice for 60 days in the local papers giving details of the child. But the orphanage is in the city, and the grandparents living in mountainous villages may never get to see the newspaper in time. So, more often than not, no one claims the child.

I recall watching a documentary about Romanian "orphans", and a similar technique was used:  the child would be placed in an orphanage so far away, it would be virtually impossible for the parent to claim rights to that child before any foreign adoption-plan was made.

How common IS this practice in Adoptionland? 

Officials do not respond to kidnapped children

Kerry, you asked... " the child would be placed in an orphanage so far away, it would be virtually impossible for the parent to claim rights to that child before any foreign adoption-plan was made. How common IS this practice in Adoptionland?"

The reality is it IS a very common practice in adoptionland, especially if that adoptionland was Guatemala.

Taking children from villages that were plundered and the military killed the parents, during the Civil War (1960-1996) was common. The children were offered for ICA even though the biological family were looking for the children. This practice is true. Many adult adoptees who remembered what had happpened have recently been reunited with their families in Guatemala, who have never stopped searching for their illegally taken children.

To date, over 500 adult adoptees have been reunited with their families in Guatemala. For ANY adult adoptee adopted during these years the contact organization in Guatemala for reunification is:

there are two organizations assisting adult adoptees seeking their biofamilies and/or the truths surrounding their adoption:

This is the organization in Guatemala reuniting families separated by the Civil War.

They are called, "Todos por el Reencuentro", they are part of the League of Mental Hygiene in Guatemala (Liga Guatemalteca de Higiene Mental). Here is the contact link:

Also the Red Cross/Red Crescent has a branch serving reunification of families separated by war:

Here is a story about reunification in Guatemala:

Niñez desaparecida en Guatemala: una tarea inconclusa - swissinfo - [ Translate this page ]
6 Jul 2010 ... En casa quedan las organizaciones empeñadas en seguir buscando. ... Con el paso de los años unas 500 familias comprometidas en la búsqueda se han ... La guerra civilde 36 años comenzó en 1960 con movimientos de insurgencia ... Los cuatro gruposguerrilleros de izquierda formaron en 1982 la Unidad ... inconclusa.html?... -Cached

For those adoptees adopted after the civil war, it was common practice to take children from villages and submit the child for an abandonement certificate or issue the child a new identity. Stories of DNA fraud, stored batches and irregularities in paperwork are rampant. Though most APs of younger Guatemala adoptees chose to deny this reality, the reality is that police officials would turn away families trying to file a missing child report. The reality also is that attorneys would post the picture of the "abandoned child" in newspapers in the papers in Guatemala City, totally impossible for a family living in the mountains to see or read.

Currently three families in Guatemala (among others) have made formal requests to the USA for the return of their kidnapped children, for DNA tests to be issued to prove that they are the mothers. Sadly, requests have been ignored by the Department of State, ignored by the families raising the kidnapped children and ignored by most APs.

Recently Senator Landrieu made insensitive comments regarding the irregularities in Guatemalan adoptions, due to the uproar over them, she has recanted them. Do see the Finding Fernanda Facebook page for an update on her Open Letter.


I cannot answer the question on how common these practices are.

From what I read here, and in the following article on Guatemala, there seems to be a striking similarity in that cases of coercion and the attempts of families to reclaim their children took a very long time to become known to a broader public.
And acknowledged, at least by some of the adoption community (Some of course will always chose denial).

I was just wondering whether similar cases will be discussed in the context of Ethiopian adoptions in the future.


Future discussions

I was just wondering whether similar cases will be discussed in the context of Ethiopian adoptions in the future.

Recently I was discussing ICA with a couple of journalists, and it was really good to see media interest in some of the more complex (hidden) issues plaguing adoption.  The problem is, once someone opens the Pandora's Box that belongs to Adoptionland, the amount of information that gets exposed can be very overwhelming.

In this particular conversation with journalists who did a LOT of uncovering, we found ourselves discussing a specific case, (involving two Ethiopian orphans, and a white family in America), and at one point I had to remind the journalists, "You have to understand, it's not just children from Ethiopia forced to live with these problems.  Let's face the fact that it's not as if only one sending country is 'bad' "

What, exactly, does that mean?

They're all bad, (negligent), to a degree.  And indeed, some countries are FAR WORSE (corrupt/greedy) than others.  This gets more complex when one openly discuses the type of people adopting children.  [Here I have to insert just as not every adopter is good, not every AP is bad, either.  I think people tend to assume I don't know there are all different types of people adopting children.  Silly really, since by no means am I stupid.   There are some really fantastic APs... the kind I wish were chosen for me!  Then, there are the sadists who really suck.  Between those two extremes are the ill-prepared parents who remain clueless, the arrogant parents who aren't sadists, but they aren't saints, either... they're just lazy in ways that can be harmful to a child.  And then there are the mentally ill who, for some reason, are allowed to adopt because a killer recommendation was sent, and all the fees could be paid.  Yay for the adopted child.]

So here we face our first issue:  All sending and receiving countries have serious problems and issues, and these problems are not being discussed openly because... why?  I believe in many cases, sentimentalists do not want their belief-system to be shaken a bit.  Adoption, by implied definition, is supposed to be positive and good.....never bad.

How can a pro-adoption advocate say, "Far too many adoptions are not that good for the child"?  I don't think many can... but that's not to say such an opinion should not be said at all.

Personally, I believe many pussy-foot around key adoption issues for a very simple reason:  to be a child advocating adoption critic, one must support fewer adoptions, one must call for a much slower, deliberate, adoption process.... and this same person must also insist ALL care-systems need to improve (tremendously) for the sake of the child put in-care, whether that child ever gets adopted, or not.  In other worse "best interest" and "adoption" should not always be seen as the one, the only, and the best solution for faulty care-systems created for the sake of vulnerable children. 

Unfortunately, this opinion and attitude does not win great praise and favor... making open friendly discussion in groups and on most adoption forums much more difficult.

The irony to me is... some of these "loving caring" APs can quickly turn ugly and downright mean and cruel (vicious, even) any time serious ethical questions behind an adoption-story arise for the sake of a good, honest discussion.  More disturbing to see is the way in which many of these "wonderful loving, caring" AP's will turn on their "own kind" if the enlightened AP dares to even attempt to bring a dose of reality into a fantastic adoption fantasy that could very well be rooted in lies and half-truths.

<shaking head> 

It's funny for a person like me to witness this type of behavior.  It says to me, "Damn, some of these AP's REALLY love their mythical thinking.... don't they?"

Give me an AP with a sense of reality... I will discuss adoption-issues until the cows come home.  (In a neat crazy way, it always turns out to be good discussion stuff!)

Déjà vu

Jared you asked, "I was just wondering whether similar cases will be discussed in the context of Ethiopian adoptions in the future."

Déjà vu Jared, Déjà vu. History has a tendency to repeat itself, it is even as we speak. Search the PPL archives for articles on Ethiopian adoptees who HAVE families. I think the APs were Canadians who searched out the truth about the adoption, there are other families that their children were not really the age that was on their paperwork as well. Same story, mothers thinking that the children were going to another country for an education but had no idea they were relinquishing their parental rights. Keep in mind, in certain cultures, there is no word that translates for adoption and what that means.

The Times,They Are A-Changing

Just came across an article dating 2005, called: An Adoption Advocate Answers Your Questions.

(Question of A-Parent):

I am the parent of an 11-year-old Chinese girl whom I adopted in 1995 from the Hunan Province, when she was 13 months old. I have never had any reason to think that there is anything amiss with adoptions from China. Do you know any differently? Thank you very much.


No, to our knowledge, allegations of solicitation and trafficking have not arisen in connection with Chinese adoptions. China's adoption system is different from Cambodia's in many ways. Perhaps the greatest difference is that China has an adoption system that is centrally run through the Chinese government, under strict regulation. The Chinese have developed a system which removes the financial incentives for solicitation and trafficking in children. This centrally operated adoption system is, in many ways, a model system for other countries. [...]

So a few years ago, nobody was able to tell what was happening. Such a bitter scenery for this Adoptive Mother who was concerned, then relieved. And now has to realize her question (suspicion) was not unfounded at all.


AP view?

Interesting link Jared. Thanks. I wonder what APs who have adopted children from China, have to say NOW? If I do recall, they all about burned, tarred and feathered the few APs that spoke up about suspicions a few years ago. Seems that too many APs were getting the same "baby found under the same bridge" story line on their documents for starters.

tarred and feathered?

This same thing was happening to APs who spoke up about suspicions regarding Ethiopian children, preferably those found next to hospital doors/church doors, or relinquished by maternal uncles.

Maladaptive behavior: the adoptive parents

 If I do recall, they all about burned, tarred and feathered the few APs that spoke up about suspicions a few years ago

Try discussing abuse in the adoptive home on an adoption forum.

It's a good thing unwanted messengers develop thick skin.

Unfortunately, this reaction from angry offended adoptive parents is just too typical.  And isn't it ironic?  ...the people who try to act as child advocates, for the sake of children put in-care, are the very people who get attacked and ridiculed by members who claim all they do is for the poor children abandoned by their own community.  It's so High School, without the musical --  if you're NOT pro AP, you must be a village idiot, or monster... one who needs to be beat-up and thrown in a locker, or at the very least, banned from speaking-out in-public.

Here's the kicker:  when an angry triggered adoptee reacts badly to upsetting news or circumstances, that adoptee is labeled as a person with at least one maladaptive disorder or syndrome, and that person is literally told by complete strangers, "You need medication and treatment". 


I know many an AP who could use some pretty colored pills and a few days of highly specialized treatment "therapy" for bad behavior and irrational thought.

The double-standard seen in adoption communities is astounding.  When an offended AP reacts like a triggered overly-defensive person, all too often the offended AP is treated as if he/she is some sort of over-glorified Moses-like entity... and the posse of over-protective parents (and required back-up from brainwashed adopted kids) will soon come-out in numbers and with force, all to help defend the poor upset AP and help regain control over the delusional world they want to keep for themselves.  These defenders of adoption show their support by throwing outrageous offensive insults to the people who are trying to enlightened a crowd living in the dark.  Even worse, some over-the-top "defenders" will even go so far as make threatening "promises" if the trouble-making story-teller doesn't stop and go away... and in such cases, you can bet any and all questionable material/accusations that have been brought to the table will have been removed, so no more can see what was disclosed.

This is insanity, in-case no one picked-up on that.  [And we I have the copies of threatening letters to prove it.]

I liken this insanity to the irrational actions taken by bomb-happy anti-abortionists.  These delusional emotional arm-chair warriors will get up, bomb an abortion clinic and kill all who are in it, just to prove abortion is bad and evil.

Uh.... guns, bombs, and clinics don't kill; people behaving like rabid animals do... and I truly believe such people need to be removed from good decent society so others can be free to function like normal decent human beings. 

In the tar and feathering the outspoken AP example, the overly defensive members of the adoption community would rather kill the opportunity to have reasonable conversation and they would rather maim, even destroy, another person's reputation so open discussion about the many ills that plague adoptees and their families will be thwarted and prevented.  What kind of psycho war-fare is this?

When is denying the truth and open communication GOOD for the adopted child?  (When it serves the best-interest of the adopter living in the dark, DUH!)

It's sad and funny to see the most interesting of all social dynamics in Adoptionland is the one between child advocating AP and it's natural nemesis, the pro-adopter AP.  They are certainly on two very different sides when it comes to offering discussion points and constructive criticism.

That name-bashing stuff sure gets ugly and counter-productive, fast... which is good, because that level of mud-slinging immaturity helps unify those of us who have grown very tired and bored with ignorant AP's who insist living in a state of denial is good and healthy for the parent-and-child team stuck in a very dark and dysfunctional Adoptionland in need of radical reform. 

Pound Pup Legacy