China Babies Adoption Research

China Babies Adoption Research
China Babies Adoption Research

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Number of Foreign adoptions from China fall

More Chinese couples have started to adopt Chinese babies, which may eventually bring an end to Americans adopting children from the country.
By Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY

BEIJING — Chinese couples are adopting in growing numbers, a trend that could eventually sever the pipeline that has sent up to 75,000 Chinese orphans, mostly girls, to new homes in the USA since 1992.
Researchers in China say local data and anecdotal evidence show what sketchy national statistics don't: that record numbers of Chinese are adopting.

Foreign adoptions are an embarrassment to the government, says Pi Yijun, a scholar at the China University of Politics and Law. "Even researchers do not get the national figures, only local numbers. (The government) strictly controls data like this, and the total number of adoptions is very secret."

NEW TREND: China shedding adoption stigma, may tighten rules

China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, which oversees adoptions, confirms that foreign adoptions peaked in 2005 and are declining.

"It is partly because there are less children who (are abandoned and) can be adopted, and partly because the volume of domestic adoptions has risen," says Wang Suying, a ministry official.

The surge in domestic adoptions coincides with tighter rules for Americans and other foreigners looking to adopt Chinese children.

In May, China moved to disqualify foreign applicants who are single, overweight or older than 50. At the same time, the backlog of foreign applications in Beijing has grown to more than two years and prompted some to pull out.

Some Americans "are moving to other options or deciding that adoption wasn't in the cards for them," says Joni Garner, mother of two adopted Chinese girls and case manager for AAC Adoption and Family Network in Berthoud, Colo.

Why Chinese are adopting:

•Growing affluence: As many as 250 million of China's 1.3 billion people are part of a growing middle class. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says 40% of Chinese will be middle class by 2020.

"Better economic conditions mean more Chinese are able to bear the financial burden," says Ji Gang, director of domestic adoptions at the China Center of Adoption Affairs, a government agency.

•Changing attitudes: Deep-rooted prejudices against taking in children who aren't blood relatives have begun to fade, as have historic biases against girls.

"The importance of continuing the family line is eroding as China modernizes," says Hung Huang, a Beijing publisher who adopted a girl last year. "Traditionally, Chinese felt that orphans signaled shame."

•Empty nesters: Urban couples, restricted to a single child by a 3-decade-old law, are adopting after their natural children reach adulthood and leave home.

"People want to have more than one child but cannot under the family-planning policy," Ji says. "Adopting or fostering gives them a way."

Booming interest in domestic adoptions has given rise to a loosely regulated market for infants. Websites such as Orphan Net offer forums for prospective parents.

Wang Hongbin, a lighting salesman in eastern Anhui province, says he and his wife posted an ad for a daughter on Orphan Net after unsuccessful fertility treatments.

He says they are willing to pay up to $1,400 to adopt a healthy child — a huge sum in a country where the government puts the average annual wage at $2,296.

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China-Babies Research

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sandi and Hannah - Lansing Journal

Red tape cut, Lansing mom to return home with daughter
Adoption complicated by husband's death in China

Mike Hughes
Lansing State Journal

A Lansing woman's bureaucratic tangle has been resolved.

Sandi Sheldon is expected home from China today with her new daughter, Hannah, and the cremated remains of her husband, Dennis.

U.S. officials held up Hannah's visa for several days after Dennis Sheldon died while in China. But pressure from the public and congressional leaders forced the government to expedite the process.

"Everyone has been on the phone to make this happen," said Darlene Hill, Sandi Sheldon's mother.

That included the adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, and the offices of U.S. representatives Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, and Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids.

"We've dealt with a number of complicated issues involving immigration," said Sylvia Warner, Rogers' spokeswoman. "But never one this complicated - or this heart-rending."

Dennis Sheldon, 46, was head custodian at Pleasant View Elementary Magnet School in Lansing and was a natural for parenthood, said the school's principal, Madeline Shanahan.

"There were a number of children ... he went to extra trouble to bond with," she said. "He was absolutely thrilled when the adoption came through."

The school staff surprised him shortly before the couple left for China with a breakfast and an all-diapers baby shower. On Oct. 30, the Sheldons went to Guangzhou (formerly Canton), finalizing their adoption of Hannah, who is about 18 months old.

Dennis Sheldon died there. Hill said he died Nov. 12 apparently from heart failure, possibly aggravated by diabetes.

The complication that delayed Sandi Sheldon's return to the United States came from the U.S. Citizen Immigration Service, said John VanValkenburg of Bethany.

Hannah's papers were no longer accurate, he said, because they listed both Sandi and Dennis. "In a situation where circumstances change, that requires a change in everything else."

Friends and other adoptive parents flooded officials with phone calls. Rogers' office worked with the Immigration Service.

"We were able to persuade them to expedite the process," Warner said.

Late Thursday night, there was word that it soon would be worked out. Hill received news shortly after midnight that her daughter was coming home; Rogers received an official fax at about 4 a.m.

During that time, Hill said, false rumors developed. There were no complications from Chinese officials, and the cremation was not required.

"That was something that Dennis and Sandi always said they wanted," Hill said.

Dennis and Sandi Sheldon were married for 19 years, and Hannah is their first child, said Hill, who lives in Lansing with her husband, Herbert, and is now the grandmother of 13 children.

Sandi, 42, works part time at a Wal-Mart store, and Hill granted that money could be tight. Donations may be sent by check to Hope For Hannah, Fifth Third Bank, 6446 S. Cedar St., Lansing, MI 48911.

Contact Mike Hughes at 377-1156 or