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Chinese orphanages buying babies for foreign adoption, investigation finds

Daily Telegraph (Australia) October 14, 2011

CHINESE orphanages may still be buying babies and offering them for foreign adoption, Sky News discovered in an investigation.

It follows a series of scandals linking China's foreign adoption program to baby trafficking and the illegal confiscation of children.

Since international adoptions began in China in the early 1990s, more than 100,000 children have been adopted by foreign nationals. Adoptive couples are told by the Chinese authorities that the babies they adopt are either orphaned or abandoned.

But an undercover investigation by Sky found more than one government orphanage that would happily buy a baby that could have been kidnapped.

Though some orphanages said they no longer paid money for children, one worker at an orphanage in Hunan Province said they would pay 300 ($472) for a baby. The child required no identification.

"We'll arrange to meet somewhere at 4:00am or 5:00am, you abandon the baby there, and then I'll pick her up. That's how it works," she told Sky, during a recorded telephone call. When asked where the child would end up, she said that most adoptive couples were foreign. Chinese families, she said, were "not rich enough."

The investigation follows claims by several Chinese families that their children were seized by government officials against their will and later adopted by foreigners.

Yuan Zanhua said her 18-month-old daughter Xiao Fang was taken by local officials because she and her husband already had four children and were in breach of the country's one-child rule.

Confiscating a child is illegal in China, where the law stipulates a fine for those who break the country's family planning regulations.

"I've been to the family planning office to ask for my daughter several times," she told Sky. "That's all I want."

Yuan and her husband believe that a photograph briefly posted on the website of an American adoption agency is Xiao Fang. But they have no way of contacting her, and local officials have told them to stay silent on the matter.

Several other families in the village also say they watched powerlessly as officials seized their children. It is thought they were all taken to the local orphanage, which has sent several hundred children for international adoption.

Following a report by Chinese journalists, the Chinese government finally investigated the case and punished 12 officials for "negligence." However, no effort has been made to assist the parents in tracing their lost children.

Foreign couples who adopt in China must pay a "voluntary donation" of around 2,000 to authorities. Most of the money goes directly to the state-run orphanage that has cared for the child.

Neither the China Centre of Adoption Affairs, nor the Chinese Ministry for Civil Affairs would respond to requests for an interview.


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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

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