Thursday, February 10, 2011

Current Trends and Status in Chinese Adoption

I wrote this for a class in college called "Writing for the Workplace", and it got an A, so I thought I would share it. It has some interesting information in it, if nothing else, and I thought maybe someone else would appreciate it. Please forgive the formatting issues for the bibliography, it didn't copy properly, and it didn't want to repair easily. But I assure you, it was done properly originally.

Current Trends and Status in Chinese Adoption

Annotated Bibliography
Monica D.

Askeland, Lori, and Elizabeth Bartholet. "International Adoption." Children and Youth in Adoption,   Orphanages, and Foster Care: A Historical Handbook and Guide. Westport,     CT: Greenwood, 2006. Print.

This chapter details some of the reasons why international adoption came to be prevalent in many countries, as well as reasons for the closure and decrease of adoptions from some other countries. It also addresses the recent legal developments in the area of adoption, such as encouraging domestic adoption and providing more protections against the “selling” of children. These changes are addressed in the Hague Convention. Some of these factors may be affecting the formerly high number of children being adopted from China. The point of view from both the side of advocates for and against international adoption is mentioned.

"Country Specific Information for China." Department of State: Intercountry Adoption. Mar.     2010. Web. 01 Feb. 2011. .

The United States Department of State releases information on international adoption. This website displays the most recent information on procedures for adoption from China from a legal standpoint, as well as statistics for the amount of adoptions from China to the USA from 1999-2009. It includes information on the requirements to adopt from China, legal fees, how to obtain a visa to travel to China, finalizing the adoption process and obtaining the adopted child’s citizenship, and more.

Crary, David. "Adopting China's Special-needs Kids." 28 Mar. 2010. Web. 01 Feb.     2011. .

In the wake of an increasingly long wait for a young, non-special needs child, many couples seeking to adopt from China are turning to the special needs program and adopting children with special needs, ranging from minor to severe. This article tells of a family who adopted two girls, one with an underused right arm, and one with a now-repaired cleft palate; it also addresses other perspectives of people in the adoption community. Reputable sources in the article say that as many three out of every five adoptions from China today are special needs adoptions, with adoptions from China having plummeted 60% since its height in 2005. In some adoption agencies, perhaps even most, special needs adoptions comprise 50% of their caseloads.

Davidson, Cheryl. Personal Interview. 02 February 2011.

We discussed recent changes in the flow of adoptions from China, as well as the increase in acceptance towards deciding to adopt special needs kids. We spoke of personal adoption experiences, both of experiencing her own adoption and that of friends, and the way things have changed since she first became involved in the Chinese adoption community in Arkansas. Adoptions have slowed drastically, and families coming home with their children are few and far between. The lack of adoptions was a contributing factor to the end of the group, Families with Children from China-Central Arkansas, of which she was a member from 2004 until its end in early 2011. 

Dowling, Monica, and Gill Brown. "Globalization and International Adoption from China."     Child & Family Social Work 14.3 (2009): 352-61. Print.

Globalization has made the adoption world much more acceptable and commonplace. This globalization has made there be closer links and understanding between various cultures, including that of America and China. Pursuing an adoption, and having to travel to China to receive one’s child, allows one to experience another culture on a level that books and movies cannot provide, allowing for more understanding and comprehension of the culture. This article also discusses the reasons behind infant abandonment in China, including the One-Child Policy and poverty, and how it is contributing to a wide gender gap in China, with as many as 145 boys being born in some areas to every 100 girls. Increasing domestic adoption within China is also addressed, as that is a key component to the lack of healthy babies available for adoption internationally. All of these components are crucial factors in the major slow down of Chinese adoptions from only a few years ago.

"Foreign Adoptions by Americans Hit 15-year Low -" 31 Jan.     2011. Web. 01 Feb. 2011.

Foreign adoptions by Americans are at a 15-year low, with many countries having either closed their programs down or severely cutback the amount of children being adopted internationally. Chinese adoption has been steadily declining since 2005, Russian adoption was slowed down significantly by the highly-publicized story of the 7 year old boy shipped back to Russia alone for being “difficult”, and Guatemala all but halted adoptions due to alleged “baby selling”.

"Special Focus Child Adoption Program." Great Wall China Adoption. 22 Oct. 2010. Web. 01     Feb. 2011. .

In 2010, China initiated a new program to further encourage the adoptions of children deemed “special needs”. It is called the Special Focus Program, and it allows children who have been on the shared special needs list, a list of children available for adoption released to all licensed adoption agencies, for more than two months or who had attended a China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) “Hope Camp,” to be adopted by families who have their dossier in China already, or who can have a dossier completed in six months. A dossier is a collection of paperwork detailing information about the prospective parents’ health, monetary value, and their reasons for desiring to adopt a child. This project also allows families to adopt two unrelated children, at least one being a Special Focus child, to be adopted in one trip to China, though it does extend the length of the trip to China, as paperwork must be done in each child’s province; for a family to adopt a Special Focus child while remaining in line to wait for a non-special needs referral; and to allow a family who has returned home with a child to begin a second adoption of a Special Focus child within one year of returning home using their original dossier. This increases the desirability of adopting a special needs child, and also lessens the overall cost in some cases of adopting two children separately.

Summary and Conclusion

    Based on the referenced information, international adoption from China, as well as other countries, has dropped to a 15-year low. Adoptions from China to the United States of America reached an all-time high in 2005, topping out at over 7,900 children being brought home to the USA in that year. In 2009, the last year for which data is accessible, adoption dropped down some 60% to a mere 3,001 adoptions. Adoptions from China are processing through the China Center for Adoption Affairs, or CCAA, at a trickle, it seems, and adoptions are progressing slower and slower for families choosing to take on the non-special needs track, asking for a healthy baby, usually female and as young as possible, averaging between 6-12 months old at referral. Families with a Log-In Date, or LID, of their paperwork to China in 2006 are facing a minimum of a 4 year wait to referral, and the time frame for families logged in after 2006 is even longer. As a result of this massive slow down, many families are looking to the special needs track to adopt. Once a family switches to the special needs track, they can usually have a referral within 12-18 months. It is becoming a problem, however, that families are switching to special needs to shorten their wait without thinking of the possible consequences adopting a child with special needs can have. While many children have limited, minor special needs, such as cleft lip or cleft palate, or missing limbs, or birthmarks, some special needs can be much more severe, such as heart defects, blindness, deafness, and many other things. It is up to the family to decide what they are capable of handling, and some families do this more reasonably than others.
    With the increased wait for a non-special needs adoption, special needs adoptions have become the emphasis for adoption from China. Some agencies are no longer accepting applications for families wanting to adopt a non-special needs child, and some are reporting up to half of their caseload is involving special needs adoptions. More families are thinking about it and deciding that they could handle some special needs and switching to the special needs program. In contrast to 5 years ago, special needs adoptions outnumber non-special needs, though to what extent no one is sure, as the CCAA does not release this information. The CCAA has recently implemented new rules making it easier for the child who have special needs to be adopted, including allowing children who have been on the shared list, a list of special needs children available to be adopted made accessible to agencies, for more than two months, called Special Focus children, to be adopted by families as long as the family has a dossier in China, or can get one together in six months (former rules required families to have a dossier in China before submitting paperwork on a child, or only gave a very short three months to collect a large amount of paperwork). Families can also adopt two unrelated special needs children at one time, as long as one is a Special Focus child, and they can also return to China to adopt a Special Focus child within one year of having adopted another child using their old dossier. Formerly, families had to wait a year from returning home from China to start the process again, with new paperwork. Families are also now being allowed to adopt a Special Focus child, while keeping their dossier in line to adopt from the non-special needs track. All of these new rules have increased special needs adoptions further, even though these rules are still relatively new. Some professionals are theorizing that perhaps China is looking to phase out the non-special needs program and go to exclusively special needs, but nothing official has been said about such a thing.
    Anyone involved in the Chinese adoption world can speak to the fact that adoptions have slowed down drastically. “Why?” is a question difficultly answered. The CCAA holds to the fact that there are fewer girls being abandoned, leading to a lack of healthy baby girls to refer to a growing list of prospective parents. Some parents who have asked for a girl are even being referred boys, as the amount of healthy boys abandoned has seemed to have increased for a reasons no one can seem to pinpoint. Domestic adoption is also being encouraged in China, in keeping with the Hague Convention, which further decreases the amount of healthy babies available for international adoption. While the Chinese people are more and more willing to adopt healthy babies, most are not willing to take on the responsibility and cost of a special needs child. Therefore, the special needs children deemed eligible for international adoption are made available to adoption agencies worldwide to match with families.
    Current trends in Chinese adoption are a vast slow down of non-special needs adoptions, a vast increase in special needs adoptions, and overall lower number of children coming home to waiting families in the United States and other countries who participate in adoption from China, such as Norway, Sweden, England, Ireland, Spain, Canada, and more. China is pushing for more special needs adoptions, making them easier to do, and seemingly hoping for more people to choose to adopt special needs from the beginning or for families on the non-special needs track to switch to the special needs track. There is currently no sign of the non-special needs track speeding up, with only a few days worth of Log-In Dates being referred each month, and families are simply having to wait patiently until their day comes. Agencies, and the CCAA, are definitely encouraging the special needs track, as there are so many children with special needs, some of whom their special need is just the fact they are older and were not adopted as babies, that need homes.

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