China Sees Decreased International Adoptions

October 28, 2013 /

Since China opened its doors to international adoption in the early 1990's, many thousands of children have left its shores to join families abroad.

UNICEF reports at it's height in 2004, 13.5 thousand children were adopted by parents overseas, but that number has plummeted to around a third as many today.

This has nothing to do with a lack of prospective parents or the number of orphans, both have increased, but it is down to stricter rules by governments.

CRI's Alexander Aucott has more.

In the mid-1990's, Henri and his wife, who live in Lyon, France, decided they would like to adopt a child.

After careful consideration they decided to look in China.

"Well I chose China because I was attracted by that country at the time, and I still am by the way, but it's a little irrational because I suddenly saw a picture of a little China girl who had been adopted and I said, 'that's what I want to do."

Over the next few weeks, the couple investigated the procedure, firstly with the French social services, which took around nine months to give them the paperwork they needed, and then they approached Medecins du Monde.

"As my wife and I were rather old already at the time, more than 40-years-old, Medecins du Monde didn't want to deal with us saying we were too old. And then we argued, argued, argued and then they accepted only if we adopted a child who was more than three years old, and then as we were the only ones in this case it was quite short actually.After two months we received a file from the Chinese social services and it was Clara's, my elder daughter's file."

For Henri and his wife the proceedure was relatively straight-forward. He now has two daughters from China, aged 18 and 11, who are growing up in their adoptive country no different than a child who was born there.

According to UNICEF estimates, there are almost 18 million children worldwide who are living in orphanages or on the streets, so international adoptions are often seen as a useful way of dealing with the problem.

But China has now put the brakes on the number of infants going abroad by imposing more stringent rules.

New regulations brought in since 2007 restrict potential parents based on: their relationship status, age, sexuality, state of mental and physical health as well as their annual earnings and assets, which must be at 10,000 dollars and 80,000 dollars respectively.

Tighter restrictions have hugely contributed in far fewer children being adopted, but it is not without reason.

There have been cases in the past, where widespread international adoptions have led to some children being abducted to fuel the need for children abroad.

Also as recently as September, a Reuters investigation discovered that some children adopted from overseas to the USA were abandoned over the internet.

This case led to China's adoption agency making an official statement that it was "shocked and furious" that this was taking place.

Sarah Lee from the USA, who has also adopted two children from China says it's entirely necessary to have very strict regulations.

"You know you're dealing with a child so you know, it needs to be as stringent as it was.And so we really embraced that. Every once in a while you will hear of a foreign adoption, a country which doesn't do that and it's usually pretty corrupt and you really just want to protect the child at all costs."

For CRI, I'm Alexander Aucott.


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