Monday, March 29, 2010

Re: Special Needs Adoption From China

From the Lawrence Journal-World, Most adoptions from China now special needs cases:
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.

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.”
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.


LisaLew said...

What evidence is there that China has eased up on the OCP? I hear that, but I don't know of any law passed?

Von said...

Wish I could believe it but would like to see the hard evidence, if it were ever possible to obtain it.

Amy Eldridge said...

Malinda, I love reading your blog each day. Our foundation now has a relationship with over 100 orphanages in China, and the reality is that the vast majority of children entering the orphanage system today have a medical special need. We use the statistic of 80%, as that is what we were told by officials (4 out of 5 children being abandoned have a medical need), but some groups put the number even higher at 90% or more. China's birth defect rate has increased 40% since 2001. They recently reported that every 30 seconds a baby is born with a special need. Sadly many of these babies are abandoned and end up in the state welfare system. It is presenting new challenges to the orphanage system, as ten years ago the orphanages were full, but with babies who were mainly non special needs. Now many are still full, but with children who require ongoing medical care, emergency surgeries, long term PT, etc.

When a baby is abandoned now who is completely non special needs, the orphanage staff frequently will tell us in surprise "this baby is perfectly healthy!" What a difference from a decade ago. When you then factor in the growing acceptance of domestic adoption in China, the number of NSN children available for international adoption had really dropped dramatically.

malinda said...


Thanks so much for the info -- it certainly makes clearer what should already be clear, that there will not be a speed-up in China adoptions of NSN children any time soon. Now maybe they can work on speeding up SN adoption!

malinda said...


You're right, there hasn't been any law that wholesale eases up on the OCP. The only new law I'm aware of is that an only child married to an only child can have more than one child.

But the change we're seeing on the ground hasn't been legally sanctioned == it has to do with looser enforcement in many (but not all) localities, greater economic wherewithal to pay fines, greater social acceptance of girls so that second daughters aren't abandoned.

Jill C. said...

Thanks for posting on this topic.

How difficult for the orphanages with children that have various special needs requiring different types of attention and medical care.

My international adoption clinic doctor (and who knows if he is correct or where he gets his information) stated that the SN kids on the waiting lists right now have more severe needs than have been in the past.

Anonymous said...

Acessibility to abortions are playing a factor as well.

Anonymous said...