The BBC is reporting that dozens of Chinese babies have been forcefully taken from their parents by the government and sent into the international adoption system. The report–which I couldn’t find any trace of elsewhere–suggests that families breaking the family planning policy and unable or unwilling to pay the fine for doing so have had their children removed instead.
The babies are said by the report to have been “sold” to foreign adoptive parents. But there is a fine line, in the China system between “buying” and “adopting.” It is true that the adoption fees parents pay are between $3,000 and $5,000. But the money is supposed to go back to the orphanage to pay staff and maintain its programs and buildings.
In recent years, some doubt has been cast on how the money is really spent. A small ring of black marketeers was uncovered in which money from international adoption was being spent personally by orphanage directors and in some cases being paid to baby “finders” with some question as to whether the babies they found had been legitimately abandoned or in some cases, abducted.
Given the closed nature of the Chinese government, it is hard to really get to the bottom of these kinds of accusations. But there is certainly a financial incentive to orphanages and their administrators to place babies in foreign adoptions, the fees for which are much higher than those paid by Chinese adoptive parents. In this report, the BBC claims the penalty fine for having more children than allowed by China’s family planning policy (sometimes one child, sometimes one daughter and one more child, depending on the region) is approximately as high as the foreign adoption fee. That fine is out of reach for most families in China–certainly for those in the rural area where this particular report claims babies are being taken.
I hope this report is wrong. And I hope China’s attempts to eradicate actual baby brokering are meeting with great success. But as an adoptive parent, I also know just how fine the line can be between parental consent to adoption (which technically, isn’t even allowed in China) and coercion of same. I will be watching this story for any further unfolding of evidence.