Sunday, January 24, 2010

When the Family Business is Child Trafficking

The L.A. Times is still plugging away at the issue of corruption in Chinese adoption (see here and here and here for previous stories). This time, they talk to the traffickers at the heart of the Hunan scandal, who were convicted of selling babies to orphanages in 2006:
The telephones kept ringing with more orders and although Duan Yuelin kept raising his prices, the demand was inexhaustible. Customers were so eager to buy more that they would ply him with expensive gifts and dinners in fancy restaurants.

His family-run business was racking up sales of as much as $3,000 a month, unimaginable riches for uneducated Chinese rice farmers from southern Hunan province.

What merchandise was he selling? Babies. And the customers were government-run orphanages that paid up to $600 each for newborn girls for adoption in the United States and other Western countries.

"They couldn't get enough babies. The demand kept going up and up, and so did the prices," recalled Duan, who was released from prison last month after serving about four years of a six-year sentence for child trafficking.
The story recounts how his family got into the business, who his customers were, and includes information from Duan about other families who were also in the business of selling children to Chinese orphanages. The story also quotes an orphanage director who admits to paying "finder's fees" for babies:

The well-publicized court case involving the Duans prompted the China Center of Adoption Affairs to suspend adoptions from Hunan and warn orphanages against paying for babies. Insiders in the orphanage community here say the practice continues, but with more discretion.

Deng Yuping, director of an orphanage in Yichun in Jiangxi province, said he pays up to $75 to cover transportation costs for people who bring in babies, but that many walk away because they can get more from other orphanages.

"It's true, some orphanages are paying bigger 'finder's fees' than we are," Deng said.

Orphanage directors acknowledge that they don't have the resources to make sure that babies brought in had been abandoned.

"We can only take care of the child. It is up to the public security bureau [police] to investigate if that child was really abandoned," said Chen Ming, a former orphanage director who received a suspended sentence in the Duans' case.

The defense the Duan family offered was similar to that offered by the family planning officials who confiscated children and sold them to orphanages, that the kids were better off with their adoptive families (which I blogged about here): "The Duans insist that even if they broke the law, the babies have had a better life as a result."

An interesting quote about babies who are abandoned near an orphanage, for those of you who know this is where your child was found (as much as we can know anything, given that the story confirms that orphanage directors in Hunan fabricated finding locations): "If they [birth family] were leaving baby near an orphanage, they often would light a firecracker as a signal for the staff to find the child. " Seems like further confirmation that oftentimes birth family took special steps to ensure that their child was found quickly.

24 comments:

Wendy said...

Proof, yet again, that the NSN program should be shutdown. When will people finally take accountability for the continuation of these practices? When the demand ends so will the supply.

Justin Ward said...

This is repulsively disturbing. These people have no right to sell children to orphanages and for adoption. These are living breathing children not some plastic toy that was fabricated from a factory. I agree with Wendy they should be shut down

Anonymous said...

there was talk in my daughter's orphanage yahoo group about how the orphanage director put a supply of firecrackers and notepaper outside the gate because they had found babies out there covered with ants. How's that for too close for comfort in relation to this article? Yet I also know from Brian Stuy's research that babies were often brought directly to the orphanage to the hospital. Talk about a web of lies.

Anonymous said...

Removing the moral condesation, these folks thought that since people sell children to families that do not have children, it translates to an acceptable transaction for abandon babies to SWI's. Again, without moral judgement, I can understand their thought process. Of course, once supply and demand started occuring, corruption followed.

These days, with NSN IA composing so little of China's overall kidnapping/trafficking problems,(of course, the demand is still there, but China is not supplying it) I think they should focus a bit more on China's booming sex trade, future brides and informal selling to families that do not have children (intracountry trafficking). That is not as sensationalized reading, I suppose... and the Times is all about that on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify what I mean by sensationalized reading, the Times threw out a statistic that 30,000 to 60,000 children go missing a year in China. Last year, China sent 3001 children to the States (and a 1/3 were estimated SN, so approx. 2,000 were NSN). So, where are the 28,000-60,000 other children going? (See previous post). There is a much, much bigger problem in China.The Times would like you to believe it's the IA program by approximation. Sensationalized journalism, at best.

Wendy said...

I agree that there are other huge issues (as anon mentioned), but those 2000 nsn babies (plus those going to other countries--Canada, Europe, Austrailia) do account for a significant number. One child is too many and anything we can do to stop it, one child at a time, by our ethical actions represents something, it is better than doing nothing or continuing to wait in line as so many are still doing even with the information. They choose not to see it or give the same sorry arguments about why it should continue for them.

Anonymous said...

Interesting..

anyone notice the pictures of the passports of Americans she is holding.

I thought they said no children went to the US.

travelmom and more said...

Wendy I am one of those still waiting in line and I am a little offended by your suggestion that I choose not to see the problem. Child trafficking is much larger than a few orphanages paying a "finding" fee, and most child trafficking has nothing to do with international adoption. I realize that my daughter's adoption may not have been %100 ethical or honest, to my knowledge it was, but I am not naive enough to believe everything I was told either. There is no such thing as %100 ethical adoption even open adoption in this country has many many errors. The reason I still wait is that international adoption is more ethical than a child being sold as a bride, domestic servant or sex slave which is a much more prevalent problem than the few thousand children being adopted abroad. The province where my daughter is from has the largest sex imbalance in China the preference for boys and the intensity of enforcement of birth control policies leads to far more horrible consequences for children and girls than some money crossing hands, that I hope goes to my daughter's birthmother as some consolation for her pain she suffers from loosing a child. If my daughter’s birthmother were in the USA she would be getting money for housing, food and medical care and no one would be screaming from the sidelines "human trafficking." My daughter is loved, which is more than I can say for the care she received in her orphanage, which by the way is one of the "good" ones. I wait because I want my beautiful daughter to have a sibling. China still has one of the most ethical adoption programs in the world, is it perfect, no; does it have flaws, yes; is there room for much improvement, yes; but it is better than many programs and so I still wait.

Anonymous said...

Wendy's family is complete, so it seems that she can turn her nose up to all the children who are in China and legitimately need homes. You know, the "real" abandoned ones. Leaving children to starve and die is NOT the solution.

Wendy said...

"Wendy's family is complete, so it seems that she can turn her nose up to all the children who are in China and legitimately need homes. You know, the "real" abandoned ones. Leaving children to starve and die is NOT the solution."--anon

Sensationalism does nothing for your argument, a very OLD and self-serving one at that. Your statement has proved my point better than I could have. Thanks.

Travelmom--I will not accept that there is any justification for not closing the nsn program UNTIL there is accountablility and real desire by the CCAA to stop the trafficking that is currently underway and is quickly quieted in front of the media and ignored behind the scenes. There is still a need, and will be for some time, for sn adoptions in China. That program has issues as well, but not in the way that we see with nsn. Adoption is about parenting, those who truly want to parent still have the opportunity to do so through that program. Anyone who claims they cannot handle sn may, in fact, not be able to handle adoptive parenting. NSN does not equal no issues (severe ones at that or hidden illness) just as is true with biological children. Not all SN children equate to many surgeries, medications, diagnosis that are life-threatening or on-going. If parenting is the goal, there are children who wait.
There is no running from the facts, there are massive ethical issues in China's nsn program (comparing to other countries does not negate that). The only way they will end (as they have previously in Guatamala, Vietnam, Ukraine, etc) is to STOP the adoption program. China will not do it, we must.

malinda said...

Disagreement is always allowed here, and respectful disagreement is always appreciated. The best way to keep it calm is to attack the argument not the arguer.

Thanks!

Jet said...

This is real. Children are sold as goods. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about this. As a mom of two very healthy SN children I can totally agree with Wendy. If you want to parent; there are a lot of waiting SN children that are in need.... As a matter of fact, the biggest adoption agency in the Netherlands has stopped applications for NSN adoptions from China!

Wendy said...

Thank you Jet for letting us know about the Netherlands and how they are stepping up.
And yes, your two are healthy and beautiful!

Anonymous said...

"Travelmom and more" said the following:

"China still has one of the most ethical adoption programs in the world..."

What evidence do you have that the China program is ethical? Until we hear from the Chinese birth parents themselves, we will never truly know if the China program is ethical or not.

Anonymous said...

This sums it up well regarding the passports:

See, the perpetrator of this article (someone by the way working in the background to entice media in running stories designed to evoke drama and worry in the community) did not think the conspiracy through very well. They focused on the premise that the article would get people all worked up if they allegedly had a person with possession of passport copies of alleged parents who allegedly adopted one of the children in quesiton. Not very well thought out, but good enough to fool some people for sure.

The reality is that they could really have given this story legs if the woman had alleged copies of adoption documents with foreign parents on them. But you see, these are much much harder to come by, you would have to actually submit them to the court as part of the court case (or obtain them through illegal means). They did not. They blew it, once again. Just like they blew the Dutch tabloid attempt in the Netherlands. Amateur all the way.

Anonymous said...

If you want to parent; there are a lot of waiting SN children that are in need....

-->True, but people who are in the NSN line should not rush over to the SN line (which is happening) because they think it will be quicker. Some "minor" SN children do not turn out to be minor once the child is home. People really need to research and do their homework about the SN they are considering. More disruptions are starting to occur, so I worry when the SN cheerleaders come out without cautioning people to really do some SN research first.

Anonymous said...

China will not do it,

--> I believe China IS doing it, maybe not to your terms, but every year (for the past 4 years)they are reducing 1,000-1,500 children available (both NSN and SN)for adoption from their program.

Meanwhile, the sex trade in China continues to grow...

Wendy said...

I wouldn't call us SN cheerleaders, and I agree wholeheartedly that people MUST do their research regarding any SN they are considering; however, there are many that will not even consider that route--what are they looking for? Disruptions often occur because of a lack of research, but they also occur (of coure not always) because people are looking for "perfect" children and any sign of issues enables them to call foul. That has occurred many times within the NSN program. It is those with the mentality there should be no sn--attachment, RAD, bonding issues, grief, shutdown are all possible and some normal in all adoption situations from China. The lack of education and understanding is appalling (that is not only on the AP's, but the agencies as well).

China may or may not be intentionally slowing down some of the process, but the fact remains there are LESS abandonments, less children in the orphanages--a FACT. The only way they could meet the demand is with more supply--trafficking. It is occurring and will continue to occur with people standing in line.

Yes, the sex trade, future wife sales, etc. are a problem which we should all be working toward eliminating in any way that we can; however, the issue here is IA and any deversion with the other ills of society tries to cloud the issue of known trafficking into the IA program and the program continuing. I wish there was as much fervor for those children who are being sold to supply foreign parents.

Jet said...

--True, but people who are in the NSN line should not rush over to the SN line (which is happening) because they think it will be quicker.--

I totally agree with you; but not even considering it and looking at SN children like they are "damaged goods"?? (trust me, I've read things like this...)
There are SN's like a birthmark on the face, a missing ear, and even an older age is considered SN. Research is important; and if you do you will find out that most of these children are healthy (by wich I mean they are not sick in any way.) My son has microtia on his left side, and is deaf in that one ear. He's strong, smart, and almost never sick. My daughter was born with a heart problem and she is the one in our household that doesn't get the flu if everyone else in the family has it. I've found that the attachment issues our son had were much more invasive then his SN has ever been. And NSN children have those issues also.... As long as there are couples demanding children that are "healthy, girl, infant" there are people who are going to try to make money.

Anonymous said...

China may or may not be intentionally slowing down some of the process, but the fact remains there are LESS abandonments, less children in the orphanages--a FACT. The only way they could meet the demand is with more supply--trafficking. It is occurring and will continue to occur with people standing in line.

---> It is a FACT that there are well over 800 SWI/orphanges that do NOT participate in the IA program and trafficking might even continue for domestic adoptions. Many of these full of children, but do not participate in IA because of the required CCAA paperwork. It is a FACT, based on statistics that China IS slowing down the IA program, considerably. It is a FACT that people are waiting almost 4 years for NSN chilren. China is being proactive, perhaps not to the time table you would like, but those are simply the facts.

Anonymous said...

It's just that time and again, I see people promoting SN adoption--constantly-- especially those trying to get everyone to go over to that Christian website/blog. Although I realize it is heartfelt for them, they seem to lack the POV/understanding that SN adoption-- for many reasons-- is not right for every family.

Wendy said...

I can guarantee you that neither I or Jet represent the Christian crowd you are mentioning. Speaking for myself, adoption is not about rescue, nor should it be. I speak of contining SN because that is the only program in China currently where there is still a need.
As far as children available for domestic adoption in China, if there are available children that is EXACTLY where they should be adopted--IA is a last resort and there is no need to send any of the children that are "in demand"=NSN to any other country.

Wendy said...

Geez. I am having issues with spelling and cohesive ideas this evening, please excuse the errors in the last post.

t~ said...

I have thought about this issue more than I care to admit. I've wanted to do a post, but didn't want it to come from the position that I now have my daughter home and I can think differently & become a whistle blower for the IA program. The truth for us, is we would have returned to China for another daughter and would have waited in line for a NSN child. Not because I think that NSN children come without problems. My daughter was declared NSN, but as we know, there is no such thing as a NSN adoption. I struggled with 'picking' a child off the SN list because I was afraid I'd not 'pick' the one that was meant for our family. Had China handed me a baby with a facial birthmark, heart defect, deaf or any other SN, I would have accepted and loved that baby just the same.

However, with all the corruption that is coming to light. With Brian's research on the high probability of baby buying in certain orphanages and with all the baby trafficking going on for healthy baby girls, I could never wait in that line again. I would feel as though I would be part of the problem by keeping the demand going. I struggle with the day I have to share all this with my daughter. To not know 100% that she was not a stolen, sold baby is difficult to digest & I truly don't think anyone wants a baby that was not given up legitimately & since there is no way to tell, I vascilate between rather the NSN program should close or remain open. It needs to become more transparent for sure.