Starting in the early 1990s, and as recently as a few years ago, the large majority of Chinese children adopted by foreigners were healthy baby girls abandoned by their parents, often because of a preference for a son in a country rigidly enforcing a one-child policy.I think the quote from Amy Eldridge is the first I've seen that says that a majority of China's orphan population is now children with special needs. I've seen figures that say that a majority of the children adopted are now special needs, but that's not quite the same. I think some prospective adoptive parents are still under the impression that there are tons of healthy infant girls in China's orphanages, and that China is simply giving preference to special needs adoption. Thinking that way, they live in hope that non-special-needs adoption from China will magically speed up once China decides to make it so.
Between 1995 and 2005, Americans adopted more than 60,000 children from China. The peak was 7,903 in 2005.
Circumstances have changed dramatically since then. China has eased its one-child policy, fewer baby girls are abandoned, domestic adoptions of healthy orphans have increased, and the waiting time for foreigners to adopt a healthy infant has tripled to roughly four years.
As a result, U.S. adoptions from China have plummeted more than 60 percent, to 3,001 last year. And of the children now adopted, roughly three of every five have special medical needs.
One contributing factor is China’s rate of birth defects, which a government family planning commission said increased by nearly 50 percent between 2001-2006.
Amy Eldridge of the Oklahoma-based Love Without Boundaries Foundation, which oversees several programs to aid Chinese orphans, says many children with birth defects — boys as well as girls — are abandoned, and they now comprise a majority of the orphan population.
“Some parents feel the child will bring bad luck to their family,” said Eldridge, who has traveled often to China. “And we’re seeing many poor families abandon children
with medical needs in hopes they will get care.”
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