The year 2008 has been a very difficult year for China adoptions. Actually, I can honestly say it is the hardest and most challenging year since China began its international adoption programs in the early 1990’s. After sustaining record number of adoptions by American families from 2004 to 2007, Chinese adoptions start to slow down as the waiting time to be referred a child grew longer. Due to the long wait to receive a referral, the number of interested adoptive families has declined sharply as well.
What attributes to this increasingly long wait for a referral? There are a couple of factors. China’s international program is designed to place mostly female children who are abandoned and have been living in the state run children’s welfare homes. When the Chinese economy grows at double digit annually, abandonment drops because some Chinese families will be able to pay for the penalty and decide to keep their daughters. The well-funded children’s welfare homes may decide to raise the children themselves instead of sending the children to families overseas. Shifting away from traditional ideology in China that we cannot adopt children who are not blood relatives also plays an important role. There is a growing number of Chinese families turning to adoption to start a family. Such Chinese families are typically successful business people who are reaching their late 30s or 40s. As China has joined the Hague Conventions on Protection of Children, all adoptions, be it domestic or international have to meet Hague Standards, which state that priority shall be given to a domestic adoption.
What does all this mean for the future of China adoptions? Chinese adoptions shall remain open because the government believes that adopted children are very well treated by their adoptive families and have a happy life here in the United States. Unless the government changes its one child policy, there will be children waiting for loving homes. In the future, China adoptions will remain steady with 3,000 to 4,000 U.S. placements each year instead of 8,000 in the previous two years. Another new wave of China adoption is the growing interest among adoptive families to adopt a waiting child with minor to severe special needs. This year alone, a few thousand Chinese waiting children have been adopted by families from 16 countries. I am extremely inspired and excited by this new wave. Great Wall China Adoption has been a big part of this new wave. We are very proud to assist the Chinese government to find homes for 60,000 waiting children.
I hope, in the spirit of the holidays, more families will consider adopting a waiting child and join us to bring them home.
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