Chinese Babies Kidnapped and Sold for Adoption
From today’s New York Times:
The abduction of children is a continuing problem in China, where a lingering preference for boys coupled with strict controls on the number of births have helped create a lucrative black market in children. Just last week, the police announced that they had rescued 89 babies from child traffickers, and the deputy director of the Public Security Ministry assailed what he called the practice of “buying and selling children in this country.”
But parents in Longhui say that in their case, it was local government officials who treated babies as a source of revenue, routinely imposing fines of $1,000 or more — five times as much as an average local family’s yearly income. If parents could not pay the fines, the babies were illegally taken from their families and often put up for adoption by foreigners, another big source of revenue.
The powers handed to local officials under national family planning regulations remain excessive and ripe for exploitation.
“The larger issue is that the one-child policy is so extreme that it emboldened local officials to act so inhumanely,” said Wang Feng, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who directs the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in Beijing.
The scandal also has renewed questions about whether Americans and other foreigners have adopted Chinese children who were falsely depicted as abandoned or orphaned. At least one American adoption agency organized adoptions from the government-run Shaoyang orphanage.
Lillian Zhang, the director of China Adoption With Love, based in Boston, said by telephone last month that the agency had found adoptive parents in 2006 for six Shaoyang children — all girls, all renamed Shao, after the city. The Chinese authorities certified in each case that the child was eligible for adoption, she said, and her agency cannot now independently investigate their backgrounds without a specific request backed by evidence.
“I’m an adoption agency, not a policeman,” Ms. Zhang said.
The Shaoyang welfare agency’s orphanage is required to post a notice of each newly received child for 60 days in Hunan Daily, a newspaper delivered only to subscribers in Longhui County. Unclaimed children are renamed with the surname Shao and approved for adoption. Foreign parents who adopt must donate about $5,400 to the orphanage.
Reports that family planning officials stole children, beat parents, forcibly sterilized mothers and destroyed families’ homes sowed a quiet terror through parts of Longhui County in the first half of the past decade. The casualties of that terror remain suffused with heartbreak and rage years later.
Read the entire story here.