The Canadian government has expressed formal concerns to China about claims that Chinese babies are being kidnapped and sold to orphanages for adoption in Canada and other western countries [as reported by Chinese newspapers and the L.A. Times], Canwest News Service has learned.
Canadian Embassy staff in Beijing have asked the chief of the China Centre of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) — the state agency that oversees China's international adoption program — to investigate.
"Chinese authorities are looking into this question," says Janet Nearing, the director of adoption services for the government of Nova Scotia, who says federal officials in Ottawa informed her that embassy staff have held meetings on the subject with Chinese officials.
"(CCAA's) director general has assured the embassy staff that the agency is looking into this matter," says Nearing. "He added that no children adopted by Canadians were (illegally obtained). I don't know what his source of information would be, but
that's the information we were given."
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Reports of corruption in China's international adoption program first surfaced in 2005, but China said it was an isolated incident. New allegations this year prompted one Canadian parent — a mother in Nova Scotia who adopted a Chinese baby in 2006 — to go public this fall with fears that her daughter may not have been a legitimate orphan.
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Nearing, who oversees all adoptions in Nova Scotia including those from overseas, calls this year's allegations "very troubling," and says they prompted her to ask Ottawa to look into the matter.
* * *
In the past, China has not responded kindly to questions about alleged corruption within its state-run adoption system.
When the Dutch government raised similar concerns in 2008, China warned the Dutch that ongoing questions would result in trade retaliation against Holland, according to government documents obtained by the Dutch adoption agency, World Children.
* * *
Nearing says Ottawa and other governments are virtually powerless to verify what Chinese authorities might tell them, calling the foreign-adoption program a matter of "trust" between countries.
She also says she has no way of telling parents who have adopted from China whether their child was abducted, trafficked, or legally obtained.
Despite such problems, Nearing says Canada should wait for more information before imposing a possible moratorium on adoptions from China.
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