China Babies Adoption Research

China Babies Adoption Research
China Babies Adoption Research

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Emotional visit to her homeland — and Chinese orphanage


Grassy Plain Road resident Sara Emaus, left, talks with the children at the Yi Yang orphanage in China in June.

BARRINGTON — On a June afternoon in the small town of Yi Yang, Hunan Province, China, Sara Emaus stood in the old orphanage she had traveled thousands of miles to see. In the room with her were several children who were happily playing with the coloring books and crayons that Sara and her mother, Sue, had brought for them that day. They looked like her when she was that age: Black hair, tan skin and dark-brown, almond-shaped eyes.

To Sara, however, the orphanage may as well have been on another planet compared to the home she knows back on Grassy Plain Road in Barrington. The faces were different, the languages foreign. Growing up, Sara used to tell her mother that she was Chinese. But now that she was in China, the 12-year-old felt more American than ever.

The reality was that Sara herself was once a baby in that orphanage. She was adopted by Ms. Emaus before she could even begin to remember her brief life there, but Sara's curiosity about her heritage led her to this far-flung orphanage in the heart of the country, the culmination of the Emaus' three-week tour of China.

"I didn't know what I was going to find out [at first]," Sara said. Now, she wants to return again for her graduation present — "it was such a letdown coming home," she said.

"It was a really good experience, to see the culture and see where I was from."

Planning the trip

According to Ms. Emaus, she and Sara had been planning the trip for at least three or four years.

"I had always wanted to take her to China," she said. "As the years went on, it became more and more meaningful for her."

Ms. Emaus, a physician's assistant at Miriam Hospital in Providence, always had a fascination with Chinese culture. She admired not only the country's distinct art and fashion, but also its emphasis on the importance of family and respect for elders.

"I was very excited to go back with [Sara]," she said of her return trip to the country. "I had no nervousness, just pure excitement. I love everything about it."

Sara, too, was excited, though she was a little more nervous to be flying nearly 15 hours to another country for the first time. The trip to the orphanage was also on her mind.

"I was a little nervous to be going back," she said. "I wasn't sure of the people there, I wasn't sure what it was going to be like."

First, however, the Emauses were taken on a whirlwind tour of the country, with stops in several major Chinese cities. For most of the trip, Sue and Sara were with a guided tour operated by an agency that facilitates adoptive family trips. Like the Emauses, many of the other families were also bringing their sons or daughters to China for the first time.

Sara noted how different everyone looked from what she normally sees in America.

"They all looked the same — they looked like me," she said of the Chinese people. "It was actually kind of cool. I've never been in a place where the people looked like me."

She and Ms. Emaus also had to adjust to other Chinese customs while touring the cities. The food, for example, was a bit of an adventure.

"I wasn't sure what I was eating half the time," Ms. Emaus said. "But it was still good."

One of the most educational experiences for the Emauses was their visit to a classroom in the village of Hutong. Sara was actually able to help teach the fifth-graders during their English lesson that day.

When she walked in, Sara said the students "all started whispering to each other." The student she was working with seemed to relish the chance to practice her English, however — Sara said she kept saying "thank you" to her during the lesson.

"I got the feeling she thought it was really fun," Sara said. "She was smiling at me."

Sara also learned about some of the historical consequences of China's tumultuous past hundred years. While visiting a Hutong family's home, for example, the Emauses learned that the house's main courtyard was taken by the government during the rule of Mao Zedong because it was "too big."

Most of the time, however, Sara was exploring destinations such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, where she got to fly kites with the other girls on the trip.

"It was neat getting to see another culture," she said.

"She and I were on a high while we were there," Ms. Emaus added. "It was so educational, so emotional."


When the Emauses arrived in Hunan Province and departed on the two-hour drive to Yi Yang, however, both mother and daughter began to feel the weight of their trip.

"That was really the only point that I was nervous," Ms. Emaus said. "That was the slowest driver we had in all of China."

After their arrival in town, Sara and her mother met with the orphanage's director and several other staff members for lunch at a local restaurant. At first, the meal was relegated to mostly silent eating — "they were very quiet and reserved," Ms. Emaus said. After having a few traditional toasts, however, they "just opened up."

"It was a good thing," she said. "They started asking more questions about Sara."

Sara, meanwhile, was too struck by the experience to ask many questions of her own.

"I think she was too awed by the whole thing to even think," Ms. Emaus said.

After her visit to the orphanage, Sara became more aware of the reality of the situation.

"I wished I could bring [the kids] home with me," she said. "I kind of felt bad for them — they didn't have a family."

The Emauses were encouraged by the attention given to the children, though, and Ms. Emaus remarked that they "seemed really happy and well-taken care of."

"All the caretakers seemed really nice," Sara added.

On the return trip home, Sara reflected on her visit. Weeks later, she still wouldn't be able to put into words the feelings she felt in her three weeks there. But Ms. Emaus believes that her daughter sees her world in a different light now.

"I think she probably feels more American now than before she went," she said. Sara, of course, did return to her American life of ballet practices and violin lessons. But as she enters the seventh grade at Barrington Middle School next month, she'll take with her a new appreciation for where she really came from.

"In America, there's not many people that look the same," she said. Now she knows that behind her face is an entire country's history.

By Scott O'Connell

Friday, August 10, 2007

Get Your "Baby Pic Fix"

I am perfectly aware of the needs for the "Baby Pic Fix" for adoptive parents who are in the process of adopting and are waiting to go pick up their baby.

This entry is simply to provide an index of links to all the galleries we have posted. I will update this entry every time we upload new pics.


If you would like to have your baby pics hosted with us we do so free of charge and we will be happy to create galleries of your cutie for you!

Family Galleries
Alexander Family
Weiss Family
Heather and Jillian
Kai April 2007
Kai June 2007
Shelby and Family
Alex and Ella
Shelby Ann
Kai with Bootie Feet

Orphanage and Foster Family Galleries
Madelines Foster Mommy

Kai - On His Trike

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The Hague Agreement and China's International Adoption Program

This is a repost of Brian Stuy's "The Hague Agreement and China's International Adoption Program".

With Brians permission, I will be re-posting this article in two parts.

My comments:

There has been a great deal of discussion as to the merits of this research, the data sampling methods, and the conclusions.

Personally, I appreciate the work Brian has done, and I admire the manner in which he has weathered the feedback from critics (usually anonymously) who have not bothered to expend the time and energy to provide better data, only to criticize his. I will not comment on the conclusions, that is for each individual to come to their own, but I respect and admire Brian's time and energy in doing it and providing the information to the public.

Right or wrong, everyone who has an interest must read such information and come to their own conclusions. To personally attack the character or intentions of Brian who took the time and energy to compile such information, regardless of whether a person agrees with the methods or the conclusions, is nothing more than a waste of time and energy and does no credit to the critic.


I got the first inkling that things were changing in China’s orphanages when I adopted Meigon in March 2002. As we visited the Guangzhou orphanage and walked the grounds with an officer at the orphanage, I asked her how many domestic adoptions the Guangzhou orphanage does each year. Hedging on the exact number, she replied that there was a three- to four-year waiting list of domestic families seeking to adopt. When I asked her how there could be a waiting list inside China while girls continued to be adopted internationally, she explained that the children adopted internationally had been passed over by domestic families in favor of more “attractive” children.

Experience and research since that time convinces me that the story is a bit more complicated than that. In January 2006, I published the results of my survey of 36 orphanages involved in the international adoption program (See my blog essay, "Domestic Adoption in China"). The results of that survey revealed that most of the orphanages surveyed (85%) claimed to have no healthy baby infants available for domestic adoption, even though adoptions of healthy children were performed for international families.

My conclusions that most of the orphanages involved in the international adoption program had implemented barriers that impeded domestic families from adopting were not universally accepted. Some criticized my sampling methods, feeling that 36 orphanages of nearly 250 total orphanages were not a large enough sample.1 “Your research seems inconclusive,” wrote one anonymous responder. “It is dangerous to make conclusions with incomplete data. I use the word dangerous because you are potentially impacting many lives.”

In order to gain additional insight into this issue, I began in April 2006 to conduct a systematic survey of all the orphanages involved in the international adoption program in China. I employed the same method used for the smaller survey: I had a Chinese national call each orphanage and ask for the director or someone else of position. She represented herself as a married woman, 35 years old, with no children. When asked where she lived, she would indicate that she lived in Guangzhou, but that her husband was local to the city where the orphanage was located. She would ask if there were any babies available for adoption, what the process was, and the fee to adopt. Wherever possible, she engaged the person into a general conversation about infant abandonment, and tried to gain empirical data from each orphanage. I employed this method in order to insure as much as possible that the answers I received were truthful, and intended no disrespect to these directors.

The results solidified the conclusions drawn from my earlier study, that many orphanages have established barriers for domestic families seeking to adopt. However, this complete survey of all the orphanages sheds additional light on the causes of recent trends in the China adoption program.

The first question my prospective adopter asked the orphanage was: “Are there any healthy children under two years of age available for adoption?” Of the 259 orphanages that answered this question(2), 227 answered this question negatively (88%). Of those that replied affirmatively, a few orphanages indicated that a “special relationship” with the director or Civil Affairs Office was required in order to adopt (Chongqing; Gansu), while several others indicated that an adoption could be arranged for a large adoption fee (in excess of 20,000 yuan) (Anhui, Chongqing, Guangxi, Hunan).3 Only 19 (7%) orphanages stated that my friend could adopt a healthy child immediately, with an adoption fee less than 20,000 yuan, although four of those indicated they had only one child available (Guangdong).

When asked why there were no healthy children available for adoption, nearly 36% (86) of the 227 directors that had stated they had no healthy children replied that abandonment of healthy infants has declined over the past several years and that mostly special needs children are now being found. The balance of the directors gave no explanation.

The decline in abandonment rates can be seen graphically by looking at the numbers from the Guangzhou orphanage. Children relinquished to the orphanage can end up in one of four categories: 1) domestically adopted; 2) internationally adopted; 3) remain in the orphanage until they reach 18 years old; or 4) die from illness or neglect. We can determine the first two categories with a high degree of precision by examining the finding ad publications for both groups. “Finding Ads” are legal notices published in various newspapers notifying birth parents that a child will be placed for adoption if unclaimed within 60 days. For domestic adoptions, these legal notices are published upon finalization of the adoption in the Guangzhou Daily, a widely read newspaper.4 For international adoptions, the ads are placed prior to the submission of a child’s paperwork to the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA), the arm of the Chinese government responsible for state-sponsored adoptions.5

It can be clearly seen that the number of domestic adoptions has declined almost 75% over the last six years. The decline is also manifested in the number of international adoptions undertaken by the Guangzhou orphanage.

It seems likely that the declines in domestic and international adoptions are a result of fewer children being available for adoption. Many directors indicated that they felt that economic prosperity had reached their areas to the point that many more families were able to pay the fees assigned to second births,7 and thus no longer felt pressed by financial concerns to abandon their children. Several directors credited local Family Planning strictures with the decline (Hubei, Hunan, Zhejiang). Additionally, the Central Government’s announcement of the “Not One Less” program beginning in 2007 is stated to be having an impact on female abandonment by several directors in Jiangxi Province. This program, announced in March 2006, makes the nine years of compulsory education free for rural families. This saves the average farm-family more than 250 yuan per year (China Embassy, China Today).8 Other factors given by directors for the unavailability of healthy babies for domestic adoptions include fewer babies being found due to selective abortions occurring with the advent of ultrasound (Shaanxi). On the other side of the equation, several directors believed that attitudes in their areas had radically changed over the last few years, and that families were simply keeping their daughters (Jiangsu). Lastly, not a few directors simply replied that their orphanage only adopted children through the CCAA, and not to local families (Chongqing, Guangdong, Hubei, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Shaanxi).

Several orphanages indicated that once a child’s paperwork is forwarded to the CCAA for international adoption, it is almost impossible to retrieve the dossier in order to adopt that child domestically (Anhui; Guangdong). One director indicated that a child is ineligible for adoption until they are one month old, in order that the health and strength of that child can be determined (Guangdong). Many orphanages allow families to take possession of the child earlier, but push the finalization of the adoption (when it is registered) until much later, sometimes up to a year later. When a child reaches three or four months (Guangdong) her paperwork is forwarded to the CCAA for foreign adoption.

My own impressions from my travels and conversations in China is that most of China is seeing a decline in abandonment rates. The main reasons for this decline I believe are two-fold: the increased prosperity of families in China’s countryside, and the decline of “Chinese Traditionalism” which favors boys. Although I see little of China’s traditional bias to males among the young couples having the children in China, many confess to being pressured by grandparents, especially the paternal grandparents, to have boys. I believe that as the older generation dies off in China that abandonment rates will continue to fall (see my blog-essay “The Tale of Two Birthmothers” for more discussion on this point.

But the larger question still remains: Why do the orphanages continue to adopt internationally, while most have a long waiting list of domestic families ready and able to adopt those same children? I believe there are four components to this answer.

There is evidence to suggest that in a few cases children adopted internationally are those that were “passed over” by domestic families seeking to adopt, as the Guangzhou officer suggested. It is a common cultural tendency for Chinese couples to seek out children that will bring honor and respect to their family. Thus, children that display attractive physical features such as large round eyes, double eyelids, and round faces are considered desirable. One orphanage admitted that they had an “ugly” healthy baby girl available for adoption, having been passed over by many prospective families (Guangdong). Another director indicated that he prefers adopting to international families because domestic families pay too much attention to looks, and are thus too picky (Guangdong). Age of the child is also a consideration. Most domestic adoptions involve children less than six months of age. Children found when they are almost a year old or older face fewer prospects of being adopted domestically.

Another barrier to domestic adoption is the health of the child, and the perceived medical expenses that the adoptive family might incur to care for their child. Since most rural (and many urban) families lack health insurance, the potential for expensive medical treatments is a formidable concern for most adopting parents. When given the opportunity to adopt a child with a cleft pallet, for example, most Chinese families would be dissuaded by the expensive medical procedures needed to repair that deformity, and thus pass on adopting that child.

There can be little doubt that financial incentives motivate orphanages to place children for international adoption. I dealt with this particular issue at great length in my blog-article on the finances of baby trafficking. In summary, each internationally adopting family “donates” three thousand U.S. dollars to the orphanage at the time of adoption. In most cases this amount exceeds the donation made by domestic families. I am not asserting that an orphanage director benefits personally from increasing his orphanage’s cash flow by increasing international adoptions. Rather, given the realities of managing an orphanage, any conscientious director would likely do what he or she can to obtain as many financial resources as possible to improve the quality of care in his or her institution. This is especially true over the last few years, which have seen an increase in the percentage of special needs children being found. These children remain longer in the orphanages and require additional resources for medical expenses and care. The international adoption program is thus a price-floor mechanism for the orphanages: Given the demand for healthy infants by foreign families, and the large financial contributions they provide, any remaining children can be adopted to domestic families that also have good financial means. Thus, the revenue to the orphanage is maximized. One director, for example, confessed that although domestic adoption fees had been 6,000 to 8,000 yuan in the past, they had been raised to 15,000 yuan in order to provide additional funding to the special needs children flowing into the orphanage (Liaoning).

Another reason orphanage directors are biased to foreign adoption is the belief that children adopted internationally will have better futures and more opportunities than if they had been adopted domestically. Although it is difficult to say how much this plays into the decision of who is allowed to adopt, it certainly presents an obstacle to domestic adoption.

Lastly, many orphanages have restricted their domestic adoption program to families living in the orphanage’s area. When asked why families from other geographical areas of China are prohibited from adopting from their orphanage, most directors indicate that post-placement reporting is more difficult. Others indicate that given the disparity between supply and demand for healthy baby infants, it is felt that local families should be given first priority.

These factors, taken in aggregate, create significant barriers to families wishing to adopt children inside China. Some of these barriers, such as physical appearance and age of the child, are self-imposed obstacles, and could be overcome if the family would choose to do so. Others, such as the high financial requirements to adopt from most orphanages (ranging anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 yuan) and future medical expenses lie largely outside the prospective adoptive family’s control. Altogether they combine to make it difficult, if not impossible, for most domestic families to find adoptable children. As one director put it, “many families call, but give up when they are told there are no healthy babies” (Henan).

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Adopted People Can Succeed

This list of Well-Known Adopted Persons, & Adoptive Parents is posted not because I want to sensationalize adoption, but because it feels good, as an adopted person myself, to know we have just as much chance of succeeding as anyone else. Hopefully this may help some of our adopted kids as well as their parents have faith in the same, and to place no limitations because of being adopted.



For years, Roger Ridley Fenton has been compiling a list of individuals and groups of people who were formally and informally adopted, fostered, and otherwise raised apart from their biological parents.

Adopted Persons
Andy Berlin - entrepreneur: chairman of Berlin Cameron & Partners
Anthony Williams - politician
Aristotle - philosopher
Art Linkletter - comedian
Bo Diddley - musician, performer
Buffy Sainte-Marie - musician, actress
Carl-Theodor Dreyer - Danish film director
Charlotte Anne Lopez - Miss Teen USA
Christina Crawford - author
Clarissa Pinkola Estes - author
Crazy Horse - Lakota war chief
Dan O'Brien - decathlete
Daunte Culpepper - football player
Dave Thomas - entrepreneur: founder of Wendy's
Debbie Harry - singer
D.M.C. - hip hop artist
Edgar Allan Poe - poet, writer
Edward Albee - playwright
Eleanor Roosevelt - First Lady
Eric Dickerson - athlete
Faith Daniels - news anchor
Faith Hill - country singer
Freddie Bartholomew - actor
George Washington Carver - inventor
Greg Louganis - athlete
James MacArthur - actor
James Michener - author
Jean Jacques Rousseau - philosopher
Jesse Jackson - minister
Jesus - adopted by Joseph the carpenter (Bible)
Jett Williams - country singer and author
Jim Palmer - athlete
John J. Audubon - naturalist
John Hancock - politician
John Lennon - musician
Langston Hughes - poet and writer
Larry Ellison - entrepreneur: chief executive of Oracle
Lee Majors - actor
Leo Tolstoy - writer
Les Brown - motivational speaker
Lynnette Cole - Miss USA 2000
Malcolm X - civil rights leader
Mark Acre - athlete
Matthew Laborteaux - actor
Melissa Gilbert - actress
Michael Reagan - author, talk show host
Moses - Biblical leader
Nancy Reagan - First Lady
Nat King Cole - singer
Nelson Mandela - politician
Patrick Labyorteaux - actor
Peter and Kitty Carruthers - figure skaters
President Gerald Ford - politician
President William Clinton - politician
Priscilla Presley - actress
Ray Liotta - actor
Reno - performance artist, comedian
Sarah McLachlan - singer
Scott Hamilton - figure skater
Sen. Paull H. Shin - politician
Sen. Robert Byrd - politician
Steve Jobs - entrepreneur: co-founder of Apple computer
Surya Bonaly - figure skater
Tim Green - football player/commentator
Tim McGraw - country singer
Tom Monaghan - entrepreneur
Tommy Davidson - comedian
Victoria Rowell - actress
Wilson Riles - educator

Adoptive Parents
Al Roker - news anchor
Alfre Woodard - actress
Alexander the Great - King of Macedonia, 356-323 B.C.
Angelina Jolie - actress
Art Buchwald - comedian
Barbara Walters - journalist
Ben Stein - actor and game show host
Bette Davis - actress
Billy Bob Thornton - actor, writer, singer
Bob (and Delores) Hope - entertainer
Brooke Adams - actress
Burt Reynolds - actor
Calista Flockhart - actress
Cecil B. De Mille - film director
Charles Bronson - actor
Chelsea Noble - actress
Connie Chung - news anchor
Dale Evans - singer
Dan Marino - athlete
Dan Wilson - athlete
David E. Kelley - television producer
Diane Keaton - actress
Dianne Wiest - actress
Donna Mills - actress
Ed McMahon - entertainer
Edie Falco - actress
Erma Bombeck - author
Estelle Parsons - actress
Eve Arden - actress
Father George Clements - minister
Gail Sheehy - writer
Gary Merrill - actor
George Burns - comedian
George Lucas - film director
Gloria Swanson - actress
Gracie Allen - comedian
Harpo Marx - actor
Harry Belafonte - singer
Hedy Lamarr - actress
Helen Hayes - actress
Henry Fonda - actor
Hugh Jackman - actor
Isabella Rossellini - -actress
Jamie Lee Curtis - actress
Jane Fonda - actress
Jane Wyman - actress
Jann Wenner - publisher
Jill Ireland - actress
Jill Krementz - author
JoBeth Williams - actress
Joan Didion - author
Joan Fontaine - actress
John DeLorean - entrepreneur
John Denver - singer
John Gregory Dunne - author
Josephine Baker - singer and dancer
Judy Woodruff - news anchor
Julie Andrews - actress
Karen Grassle - actress
Karl Wallenda - acrobat
Kate Capshaw - actress
Kate Jackson - actress
Kirby Puckett - athlete
Kirk Cameron - actor
Kirstie Alley - actress
Kris Kristofferson - singer
Kurt Vonnegut - author
Linda Ronstadt - singer
Loni Anderson - actress
Louis Gossett, Jr - actor.
Magic Johnson - athlete
Marcia Wallace - actress
Marie Osmond - singer
Maury Povich - news anchor
Meg Ryan - actress
Mercedes Ruehl - actress
Mia Farrow - actress
Michelle Pfeiffer - actress
Natalie Williams - athlete
Nell Carter - entertainer
Nicole Kidman - actress
Oscar de la Renta - designer
Ozzy (and Sharon) Osbourne - musician
Parker Stevenson - actor
Patti LaBelle - singer
Paul Newman - actor
Paula Poundstone - comedian
Pearl Bailey - singer
Peter Falk - actor
President Ronald Reagan - politician
Regina Belle - singer
Richard King Mellon - financier
Robert Fulghum - writer
Rosie O'Donnell - actress
Roy Rogers - entertainer
Sally Jessy Raphaƫl - talk show host
Sammy Davis, Jr. - entertainer
Sen. Jesse Helms - politician
Sen. John McCain - politician
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen - politician
Sen. Paul Simon - politician
Sen. Paull H. Shin - politician
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson - Texas
Sharon Stone - actress
Sir Christopher Guest - actor
Stephen Spielberg - film director
Steven Curtis Chapman - Christian musician
Susan Ruttan - actress
Taurean Blacque - actor
Ted Danson - actor
Teri Garr - actress
Tom Cruise - actor
Valerie Harper - actress
Walt (and Lily) Disney - founder of Disneyland
William Delahunt - politician
Willie Mays - athlete

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Not Deter Foreign Adopters"

Director of CCAA comments on the new adoption rules.
From Peoples Daily Online

China's new adoption rules to protect children, not deter foreign adopters

China's new adoption rules are not meant to restrict the number of foreigners who can adopt Chinese children, but to ensure that kids receive the best possible family care, according to an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Lu Ying, director of the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) under the ministry, explained that China now has far fewer children available for adoption by foreign couples.

"More domestic families have adopted children from our center in recent years and economic and social development has meant that fewer children have been abandoned or orphaned," Lu said.

According to international conventions, preference is given to domestic families rather than foreign couples.

The number of foreigners applying to adopt a child in China has increased, and they usually have to wait 14 to 15 months, Lu said.

"The new rules will help shorten waiting time for qualified foreigners and speed up the process for children, especially the disabled, so that they can go to their new families, where they can get better education and medical treatment, more quickly," he said.

The rules have been made in the interests of the children, to guarantee them optimal family conditions, he said.

The new rules, to take effect on May 1, 2007, make it more difficult for overweight, single and economically precarious foreigners to adopt. They give priority to stable, well-off foreign couples aged between 30 and 50.

Reports by foreign media said the new rules were aimed at curbing the number of foreigners who can adopt Chinese children.

Xing Kaimin, a CCAA official, denied this, saying that the new criteria were meant to protect children's interests and not to show prejudice against less qualified applicants, who can still apply.

Obese people, for example, are more likely to suffer from disease and might have a shorter life expectancy, which is not without consequence for the life of the adopted child, China Daily quoted Xing as saying.

Other criteria state that the applicant couple must have been married for at least two years, and those who were divorced must have remarried at least five years previously.

The current law allows single foreigners to adopt Chinese children, but requires the father to be at least 40 years older than the adopted girl.

A new requirement states that adopters must have less than four children.

The new rules will provide a reference for foreign adoption agencies, which can offer preferential arrangements for qualified families and improve efficiency, Lu said.

More than 100 licensed adoption agencies in 16 countries have been informed of the revisions.

But Lu said the priority criteria might be modified over time.

More than 50,000 Chinese children are reported to have been adopted by foreigners in the past 10 years, with 80 percent of them going to U.S. families.

About 8,000 Chinese children were adopted by U.S. families last year. The figure was 5,000 in 2001.

Source: Xinhua

Unicef Places Numbers of Abandoned around 100,000 per year

Abandoned and Orphaned Children

An estimated 100,000 Chinese children are abandoned each year, most of them disabled or girls. Some studies show this figure increasing. New laws have eased restrictions on domestic adoption, so more Chinese parents are adopting these children, and this is encouraging.

Evidence of neglect several years ago resulted in a significant effort by the government to improve conditions at China's Child Welfare Institutes (CWIs), and progress has certainly been made. China has adopted new policies and guidelines that promote de-institutionalisation in providing protection and care for abandoned children through family- and community-based approaches to child care, such as foster families. Even so, most abandoned children are still placed in CWIs, which basically function as orphanages.

Great Domestic Adoption Story

A special congratulations to our friends Michael and Dawn Hooks, who have just adopted a beautful baby. Follows is a letter from them and some photos of this amazing story.

Dear Family & Friends & a bunch of others on my email list,

I hope you enjoy the pictures of our new baby girl. Yes, we have a newborn baby, Hannah May Hooks, born on Saturday evening, July 28th at 7:12 pm.

God has definitely shown His amazing blessing this last weekend. The story of this blessing still seems unbelievable to me…

On Friday, Antioch Adoptions called to say they are showing our profile to a birthmother. On Saturday at 6:00 pm, the agency called to tell us that this birthmother did not choose us to interview, but there was another birthmother in the hospital in labor and they wanted to show her our profile. Of course, we said sure. We waited to hear what would happen. I was very nervous/excited/hopeful and called at 9:00 am on Sunday to find out what I could. I was told that she gave birth at 7:30 pm the night before (Sat), went home from the hospital, and would meet with the birthparent counselor at 4:00 pm that day (Sun) to choose a family by looking at five profiles (including ours).

At 6:00 pm on Sunday, the agency called us…. The birthparents had chosen us to adopt their baby and we needed to leave early Monday morning to drive up to Monroe, WA to pick up the baby from the hospital!!! We scrambled to cancel appointments for the next day, rushed to the store to buy diapers and formula, and packed for the day. We left our house at 7 am in the morning, dropped Danica off at her Grandma Hooks house, and took off for the hospital. We arrived at the hospital at 11:00 am and were immediately taken to see our little baby girl. After a long and amazing day at the hospital, we arrived back home with our new baby around 11 pm or so.

We are so thankful for this precious amazing baby. She is healthy and so sweet. She is very calm and quiet and Danica is so excited to have her baby sister. There are so many little details (which I didn’t write about) that had to be in place for this to work – God definitely had His hand in every piece – from the birthparents, to the adoption agency, to the FBI who sent in our fingerprint result just on time, to the nurse at the hospital who called our adoption agency…. What a miracle! I hope you enjoy the pictures. Thanks to all of you who have prayed for us to have the baby we desired. God has answered our prayer in an amazing way.

It was quite a shock to us – things happened so quickly! We are sooo busy getting ready for our new baby (buying stuff, setting up her room, and helping Danica adjust) while at the same time taking care of her (bottles, diapers, cuddles, and a trip to the pediatrician) and making sure we do all the legal stuff for the adoption. Today, finally, the birthparents rights will be terminated and we will be her legal guardians. The lawyer goes to court at 2:00 pm. In a few months, the adoption will be “finalized.” I want you all to know about this amazing answer to our prayer – our beautiful healthy newborn baby girl!


Michael & Dawn Hooks

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Best Friends

While conducting research for one of our families, we were able to get some amazing precious photos. With the families permission, this picture is of Shelby and her best friend in China.

View Shelby's Gallery here.

You can read more about this beautiful child and her forever family on Donna's Blog.

USM L-A China Team Spends 18 Days Learning About China's Orphanages

Only two percent of the millions of children in Chinese orphanages will find an adoptive home. The deaf, the disabled, and the disfigured are by far the least likely. But people and organizations are making a difference. In June, a team of 23 Mainers from USM L-A College spent 18 days in China doing just that. This is their story.

By Rex Rhoades
Executive Editor
China's Orphans Sunjournal Website

She arrived in a cardboard box, as Chinese orphans often do. A one-week-old baby girl brought to this orphanage in central China by several blue-suited police officers.

The college students from Maine had spent weeks reading about the abandoned babies that result from China’s population-control policies. But nothing could prepare them for the moment they would peer into the eyes of an abandoned child.

‘I wanted the emotional pain to stop just long enough for me to catch my breath.’
— Deborah Marstaller

‘They are just so needy. Those are the kids that are like lost souls.’
— Deb Como-Kepler

‘It was hard to see suffering and not really know what to do.’
— Melissa Kopka

Deborah Marstaller of New Gloucester had a pained, faraway look in her eyes as she held the tiny bundle, the mid-morning sunlight pouring through a nearby window. She pressed a bottle of formula to the child’s lips.

Cribs lined the plain concrete walls of the infant room. Nearby, two babies with cerebral palsy shared a bamboo mat in one crib, their tiny, thin bodies rigid and contorted. One was thought to be near death.

“This work was like experiencing labor,” Marstaller would later write in her journal. “I wanted the emotional pain to stop just long enough for me to catch my breath.”

For many of the students, this was perhaps the lowest point of their 18-day service-learning project in China. The group included about a dozen University of Southern Maine students, three Lewiston-Auburn College faculty members, several local residents and one reporter.

Some of the students were studying occupational therapy, others early childhood development or psychology. For many, this would be a chance to see severe developmental problems that are rarely found in the U.S., and each hoped to make some difference — even a small one — in a child’s life.

But, emotionally, it was never easy: “The first orphanage we went to, walking in and seeing the disabilities was hard,” said Melissa Kopka, a 22-year-old communications major from USM. “It was hard to see suffering and not really know what to do.”

Travel along

Over the next nine days, the Sun Journal will share their journey, both in the newspaper and at
The students and faculty members will talk about their experiences in Web “podcasts” at, and you are invited to follow Marstaller, a mother and USM student from New Gloucester, in her daily Web Journal.

There also will be stories in the newspaper, plus a daily reporter’s notebook item about China.

The team traveled to three orphanages, each of which presented a different picture of the orphanage system in China. While staffing and training in all three orphanages seemed inadequate, all children were receiving the basics of food, clothing and shelter.

In two of the orphanages, impressive programs had been launched to improve the lives of the disabled and orphaned children. But in another, one faculty member said conditions there had actually worsened since she adopted a child several years before: “They are just so needy,” said Deb Como-Kepler. “Those are the kids that are like lost souls.”

The USM students met people trying heroically to change Chinese attitudes toward orphans and disabled students, they met dozens of loving but often overwhelmed Chinese child-care workers, and they saw how one U.S. charitable organization is making a difference in China.

They saw a system that by all accounts has steadily improved in recent decades, and the students tried to put what they saw in the context of a rapidly developing society where several hundred million people still live in poverty.
And, of course, they couldn’t help but fall in love with the children, some of them disabled, some of them hearing impaired, still others just ordinary children, but all without the support of a family or loving parents, so essential to healthy emotional and physical well-being.

Two Ph.D. L-A College faculty members, Como-Kepler and Rose Cleary, devised the class, titled China’s Orphans. Both have adopted children from China, and they fashioned the service-learning project to help the children who are not yet adopted or never will be.

They recruited a third faculty member, Roxie Black, Ph.D., director of the Masters in Occupational Therapy Program at Lewiston-Auburn College, to lend her expertise.

This is the second year the faculty members have taught this class and led students to China.

Over the past 15 years, the number of Chinese children adopted by U.S. parents has grown from a trickle of 206 children in 1992 to nearly 8,000 in 2005. But many of the children the USM students worked with in China are either too disabled or too old for adoption.

Experiencing China

But it wasn’t all work for the USM L-A College team. The students saw some of the wonders of China, from the Great Wall to Mount Huangshan, the magical mountains featured in Chinese art. They explored the Forbidden City in Beijing, as well as the streets of an ancient Chinese village.

Along the way, they met young people eager to speak English, and sampled a bit of the night life in towns large and small. Everywhere they went, they found Chinese people eager to express a few words of English or to shout “Hullo!” from a passing bus.

And the students experienced some of the contradictions of modern China: businessmen arriving at four-star hotels in $70,000 BMWs, cell phones to ear, while elderly rural residents planted rice by hand in flooded paddies or collected plastic bottles from tour buses.

The students saw a country under construction: New airports, highways, elevated rail lines, tunnels, bridges and apartment buildings were being built as China tries to accommodate the largest migration in human history, millions of Chinese moving from rural villages to ever-expanding cities.

And the students were impressed with the scale of everything, from Tian’anmen Square, the largest public square in the world, to the Great Wall, which runs more than 3,000 miles over some of the most rugged terrain imaginable, to the Yangtze River, the third-longest river in the world.

They tried exotic foods, they visited some horrific public restrooms and traveled some long miles in a bus labeled the “Golden Dragon.”

As they did, they learned not only about China and children, but they came away with new perspectives on their own culture and country.

We hope you will join us over the next nine days, in the newspaper and on the Web, as a group of students from Maine travels to China.

Monday, August 06, 2007

New Adoption Requirement Guidelines Article

Adoption rules well received
By Guan Xiaofeng (China Daily)

Updated: 2007-08-04 08:28

New guidelines on foreign adoption have won international support, a senior official with the China Centre of Adoption Affairs said on Friday.

The guidelines, which took effect on May 1, gives preference to more "suitable applicants", such as people with stable marriages, sound health and adequate finances.

Applicants should have a Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight, of less than 40.

Applicants must be married for at least two years, and those who have been previously divorced, should be currently married for at least five years.

Lu Ying, the center's director, said the guidelines ensure Chinese children are adopted by qualified foreign families.

It also shortens the waiting time of candidate families and relieves their anxiety.

Lu said the centre is still processing applications submitted in November 2005, because of the large number of respondents.

He stressed the new guidelines do not affect applications submitted before May 1.

China's laws, regulations and policies concerning foreign adoptions have not changed, Lu said, referring to the Law of Adoption and the Registration Regulation on Foreign Adoption.

"We continue to hold a positive view toward foreign adoptions," he said.

Lu said the new guidelines have won widespread praise from adoption authorities and agencies abroad.

In a letter to the center, the Adoption Board in Ireland said the new criteria reflect the spirit of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, which was signed in 1993.

The top legislature approved the convention in 2005.

The Danish National Board of Adoptions also said that it fully respects Chinese efforts to better the procedure for adoptions.

"The new guidelines are aimed at solving the contradiction between too many applicants and the inadequate number of available children," Lu said.

He said the centre, the only institution authorized to deal with foreign adoptions, has received a soaring number of applications to adopt Chinese children in recent years.

"We will make adjustments to the guidelines as the situation warrants," Lu said.

More than 50,000 Chinese children are believed to have been adopted by foreigners in the past 10 years. The United States tops the list.

Lu said the center will host a 10-day summer camp for Chinese children adopted by American families this month.