There were a couple of adoption stories out of China in the past few weeks that caught my eye. The first was an article in Christianity Today about the drop in global adoptions, as reported by the US State Department in their Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions. Of particular note, is what the report says about the drop in adoptions from China:
In the past 10 years, “the Chinese government increased its efforts to promote the domestic adoption of children in need of a permanent home,” the State Department reported. “As a result, some 20,000 to 30,000 children are now placed domestically in China each year.”
Perhaps aided by the relaxation of China’s controversial one-child policy, Chinese children waiting for adoption are no longer primarily healthy baby girls (95% of adoptable children in 2005), but are now children that are traditionally harder to place: those who are older, part of sibling groups, or who have special needs. More than 90 percent of Chinese children waiting to be adopted today have special needs, according to the State Department.
A week earlier Foreign Policy published a gripping first person account of an American woman, herself adopted from China as an infant, who returned to Hubei province in search of her birth mother. The piece, titled “A Lost Daughter Speaks, and All of China Listens,” chronicles not only her journey but the reactions of people in China. Local newspapers picked up her story, and she soon became an Internet sensation:
The first article appeared on May 25, 2012, on Page 5. The headline: “Dad, Mom: I really hope that I can give you a hug. Thank you for bringing me into this world.” Within weeks, the story of my search had gone viral. There were print articles in major Chinese outlets like Southern Weekly, Southern Metropolis Daily, and Beijing Youth Daily. State broadcaster CCTV made short documentary films for its programs, including Nightline, Insight, and Waiting for Me. Regional television programs from Hubei, Hunan, and Chongqing covered it, as did video sites like Tudou and Internet portals like Tencent QQ. My following on the microblog platform Weibo quickly reached hundreds of thousands. Telephones at the Chutian Metropolis Daily rang nonstop.
She then goes on to explore why her story resonated so deeply with the people of China:
I believe my story resonated with the Chinese public because so many have relinquished children. During my search, I met with over 50 birth families – each of which had left a baby on one single street in Wuhan in March 1992. The implications of this are quite vast. What about other streets in the same month? What about other months? What about other years? What about the families who chose not to come forward?
And she discovered how deep the pain extends into Chinese society:
Even if most Chinese hadn’t lost children themselves, many had at least heard the stories. I discovered that almost everyone — from waiters to taxi drivers — seemed to have a personal connection to someone who had lost a child to abandonment or adoption, or had adopted a child, or had been adopted themselves. But many were unaware that those children could end up abroad. As one man who had mistakenly assumed he was my birth father told me in 2012: “We came to the city from the countryside because we hoped a wealthy, urban family would adopt you. We never thought you would end up overseas.”
Please take time to read the entire piece. And be sure to keep a box of Kleenex on hand!
Image credit: Blue Diamond Gallery
Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio
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