Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why Americans Are Adopting Fewer Kids from China

From TIME Magazine this week:

[T]he new laws [tightening requirements for adopting] are only part of the reason that fewer Chinese children are being adopted by American families. While the Chinese government does not release domestic adoption figures, U.S.-based adoption agencies say more Chinese children are also being adopted in China. "You have this cultural shift along with the economic shift, where more and more people can not only afford to adopt a child, but culturally it's more accepted," said Cory Barron, foundation director at Children's Hope International. Historically, adoption was not socially acceptable or a viable economic option for many families in China. But orphanages were getting more crowded, prompting the government to open up to international adoptions in 1992.

Josh Zhong, founder and director of Chinese Children Adoption International in Colorado, remembers what it was like in China just 10 years ago. "You would see hundreds of thousands of children," he said. "Orphanages begging you to come in, saying, 'Please help us, these children need to go home.'"

A slow shift in gender perception may also be playing a role. While girls still make up 95% of children at orphanages, Zhong says that, too, has shifted. "People's attitude toward having girls is changing dramatically," Zhong said. "I have friends [in China]who have girls, and they are just so excited."

With fewer children being put up for adoption but the foreign demand going strong, China can afford to be more selective. "I think they are saying, you know what, we have fewer children now and so we are looking for better parents," Zhong says. His
organization has experienced a drop from 1,152 China adoptions in 2005 to 422 in 2008. And while Beijing's new standards may sound harsh to Americans with their hearts set on a baby, they have little influence in the matter. "These are China's children and they can set the requirement to what they deem is best," says Barron.

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