Adoption 'donations' encourage crime

By Wang Qingchu

June 10, 2011 /

OVERSEAS families wishing to adopt a Chinese child almost always make donations to the welfare home, leading homes to put up more children for adoption and resort to illegal practices to find more children, according to industry insiders.

An agreement prepared by the adoption center of Nanchang City, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, has a clause mentioning voluntary donations.

The amount suggested is 35,000 yuan (US$5,405), an unnamed insider told The Beijing News yesterday.

Fu Yuechan, director of the adoption center, admitted the mention of a donation but said the amount "could be negotiable."

The donation was part of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, an international agreement between participating countries on best procedures, Fu said.

Asked of the welfare home "sold" children for profit, Fu said the donation was used to cover the expense of raising them, the report said.

Under Hague Convention and China's Adoption Law, adoptive parents are not required to make donations and it is strictly prohibited for anyone to exploit the process for profit, the report said.

Tan Mingzhu, Party secretary of the Nanchang Welfare Home, told The Beijing News that it didn't profit from donations, which went to a special account managed by the Nanchang finance bureau.

But the newspaper found some welfare homes, eager to make money, resorted to criminality in their search for children to put up for adoption.

A welfare home in Hengyang City in the central Hunan Province once ordered every employee to find three children in a year who could be adopted. They only received their salary and bonus once the quota was filled, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported earlier.

In 1996, the Ministry of Public Security issued a notice imposing stringent measures to screen the identities of each child before issuing passports, the report said.

But some welfare homes had been forging certificates to make trafficked children appear legally available for adoption, the report said.

In 2005, six welfare homes in Hengyang falsified documents for trafficked children and claimed they had been abandoned, Hong Kong-based Phoenix Weekly reported.

The governments of some property-stricken areas see the donations as a major source of income and encourage welfare homes to send more children for international adoption, an unnamed insider told The Beijing News.

Officials with the family planning authority in Hunan were said to have taken away babies from families who fell foul of family planning rules and put them up for adoption, New Century Weekly reported in May.

By the end of 2005, at least 16 children had been taken from their families by officials in Gaoping Town in Hunan. The babies were sent to welfare homes which could earn a lot of money through adoption, the magazine said.

China is one of the biggest source countries for international adoption. The relatively easy procedure has attracted many foreign families.

Some 120,000 Chinese children have been adopted by families in the United States since 1992.


tit-for-tat system

Orphanage donations have been one of the major vulnerabilities in the inter-country adoption system, Hague or no Hague.

Not only can orphanage donations be literal bribe money, but in many cases it leads to the establishment of a tit-for-tat system. For every x-amount of dollars donated through an agency, an orphanage promises to deliver a child for inter-country adoption. The more money donated, the larger the pressure becomes on an orphanage to supply the children an agency is "entitled" to.

Orphanages usually don't have that many adoptable children in stock. After all, most orphans are older children, who belong to sibling groups or have medical conditions that make them less attractive to prospective adopters. The tit-for-tat system puts pressure on orphanages to procure children that are in demand for the international adoption market, leading to all sorts of illegal activities.

This situation is not unique to China; it happens virtually in every sending country reliant on orphanage donations.

As long as the tit-for-tat system remains in place, child trafficking will remain an unsolvable problem.

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