Birth Parents Search
In the last two decades, worldwide, well over 100,000 Chinese children have entered families in North America and Europe. While each adoption has a unique story to regale, families often face a set of similar challenges from a particular country. One challenge sets China apart: Due to the pressure from the Chinese cultural tradition and legal system, Chinese birth parents are often “invisible,” and as a result, almost without exception, adoptive children have no way of knowing and connecting with their birth parents. For these Chinese children, mostly girls, being adopted from China often means that the link to their birth parents and land will be lost forever. To date, only several dozen adoptees have been able to find and re-unite with their birth parents in China.
Chinese International Adoption Program
From a global perspective, Chinese international adoption program was off to a slow start. However, after its timid entry with only several dozen adoptions a year in the late 1980s, China surged to the top in the number of children that were adopted by overseas families, with over 5000 adoptions per year between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.
In comparison with similar programs elsewhere globally, for a long time, Chinese international adoption program was seen as fair, transparent, and less prone to corruption, thus making it a destination for many in the West to extend their families and fulfill their dreams. However, with the revelations of corruptions involving orphanage officials and scandals of baby kidnapping and trafficking connected to several orphanages, and in light of the harsh enforcement of the controversial one-child policy, China would slowly lose its image, forced to address an onslaught of criticism and outcry from the global community. As the “receiving end” of the Chinese program, the adoptive families—parents and adoptees alike—are brought to the forefront to address their own concerns.
As a cultural tradition, for thousands of years, Chinese society has valued boys more than girls. For a typical family, the boys are expected to carry the family name and to take care of their parents when they retire from the land without any source of income. Under the economic pressure, abandoning babies, particularly girls, and in extreme cases, infanticide, have been common throughout its recorded history.
China’s implementation of the controversial one-child policy has undoubtedly exacerbated this problem, a significant contributing factor in the rapid increase of children in the orphanage system. To curb its perceived unbridled population growth that allegedly put a strain on its resources, China put in effect in the early 1980s as a cardinal national policy the one-child law that allows only one child for urban families, and no more than two children for rural families if the first born is a girl. For those who violated the one-child policy, stiff penalties ranging from a huge fine, to forced sterilization, and even to the demolition of their houses, were assessed. For many rural families, they would relinquish their baby girls to save the quota for a boy. Still, for those who wanted to keep an over-the-quota child, birth control officials could forcefully remove the baby.