September 21, 2009

LA Times investigates Chinese babies stolen for foreign adoptions – good stuff

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The Los Angeles Times and reporter Barbara Demick came out yesterday with a gripping story on Chinese babies stolen from their loving parents, then adopted out, mostly to Americans. The motive – the $3,000 in cash adoptive parents pay in fees to the orphanages.

Demick notes that since the early 1990s, more than 80,000 Chinese children have been adopted abroad, the majority to the United States, and the story is told that the babies, mostly girls, are abandoned by parents because of the preference for boys and Chinese restrictions on family size. That is true in most cases, Dimick writes, but she documents harrowing stories told by parents of children taken by coercion, fraud and kidnapping by all-powerful and sometimes corrupt family planning officials. It’s a powerful read that reflects reporting that has started to emerge in the Chinese press,  including the Hong Kong-based South China Post, that concludes that doubts are  beginning to ripple through the international adoption community about the legitimacy of some Chinese adoptions.

“Our children were exported abroad like they were factory products,” said Yang Libing, a migrant worker from Hunan province whose daughter was seized in 2005. He has since learned that she is in the United States.

Demick describes children taken by force from parents who did not want to give them up, including when elderly parents were babysitting, when mothers were alone, and in one case, when young parents were told their child was being temporarily removed and would be returned when certain paperwork was completed. The parents never saw the child again.

“Everybody in the village adored her. She had big eyes like saucers and a smile for everybody she saw,” said Cao, the mother. “I think of her all the time. I wonder if she looks like an American now.”

From an American adoptive mother:

In Philadelphia, Wendy Mailman, who adopted in 2005 from the orphanage in Zhenyuan that took in confiscated babies, now questions everything she was told about the girl who orphanage officials said was born in September and abandoned in January. “Why would a mother who didn’t want a baby girl be so heartless as to wait until the dead of winter to abandon her?” she said.

Its an investigative story that’s worth your time this morning.  Check it out.

— Rita Hibbard

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