Child Trafficking in China raises fears For Adoptive Parents

19/09/2011 - News reports out of China are leaving some families adopting children from that country worried they might be falling victim to orphanages who traffic children through their institutions and adopt them out for profit. 
Reports from government officials emerging from China are having some adoptive parents of children from that country fearing that their children may have been stolen from their birth parents and sold on the black market.

Child abduction and trafficking has been making headlines in China recently, and many parents of adopted Chinese babies are facing doubts about how much they knew about their children’s lives before they adopted them.

In many cases, couples who adopt from orphanages overseas will offer a donation to that orphanage, adding incentives for those engaged is illicit activities to move more children through orphanages and target more international couples for adoption. The children were usually kidnapped from their families when they are only several months old and taken to the orphanages.

More children are adopted in the United States from China in the past several years than from any other country. Child abduction and trafficking are not new in international adoptions, and have been reported widely in places like Vietnam and Romania.

China has become such a popular choice due to the one child policy, and how many international couples envision adoption from that country as relatively safe. As many families are limited to one child, couples in China were more likely to give up a female child in hopes of having a male one, leaving a supply of healthy children in need of parents and therefore open to adoption.

However, the idealism behind this narrative is beginning to come apart as the practices of some orphanages in China are becoming exposed.  However, tracing how a child comes to live in an orphanage and come up for adoption is hard and in many cases adoption agencies from the West do not have the power or incentives to ask and the Chinese government is not willing to investigate past cases.

A 2010 US State Department report said there were “no reliable estimates” of the number of children kidnapped for adoption in China, but cited that Chinese news media have reported that the figure might be as high as 20,000 children a year.

As well, reports of increased trafficking is coming on the heals of an increase in adoption within China and increased family planning controls such as sex-selective abortions. Trafficking is becoming tied to fewer healthy abandoned babies for adoption, and orphanages who used to have a steady flow of children for adoption are now having to compete with child traffickers.

The Chinese government is tightening adoption rules to combat child trafficking, and according to the China Daily only orphanages will be able to offer abandoned infants and children for adoption, and those wishing to adopt must be officially registered.

For some children who are trafficked into orphanages, international adoption into a loving family in America might seem like the best case scenario for them. Traffickers have also been known to force children into lives of pick pocketing or begging on the street, or working as migrant labourers.