Just saw Dr. Chang Fu Chang this wekend and he strongly argues that this is not happening in China.As I've mentioned before, I attended a session with Dr. Changfu Chang, documentary filmmaker, earlier this month. He said something similar in his meeting with us. He didn't say adoption corruption didn't happen, but he did say it was extremely rare.
He told us that he was an expert on what was going on in China today. In fact, he said, he knows more about current events in China than anyone else outside of China. Furthermore, he said, he's been working on video stories about China adoption for decades, so he is also an expert on China adoption. He also told us he's a very modest person!
He said that some (unidentified) people were claiming that as many as 30% of the children in international adoption were trafficked. However, he could assure us that that was not true and that we simply should "stop worrying about it." Only a miniscule number have been trafficked, he claimed. He specifically mentioned the LA Times article about family planning authorities stealing children and the earlier Hunan scandal where a family was convicted on trafficking charges, but did not directly address whether those well-known episodes were part of that very small number he concedes or whether those stories are simply not true.
Dr. Chang did not define trafficking or adoption corruption. He did say that what we in the West might think of as corruption would not necessarily be thought of as corruption in China. He was very concerned that we in the West were making moral judgments about trafficking and corruption without considering the context of Chinese culture.
I did not find his denial of wide-spread trafficking credible because he offered no evidence. I also can't credit that 30% figure since he did not say who claimed 30% of children were trafficked, much less offer evidence in support of it. I felt I knew as much (and as little) about adoption corruption and trafficking in China after his talk as I knew before it. It was pretty much a wash.
I asked him whether, separate and apart from issues of corruption and trafficking, the records adoptive parents received about their children were accurate. He said they probably were not accurate. In China, he said, falsifying documents is not considered a big deal. He reminded us of the falsified birth certificates of all the under-age gymnasts competing for China in the Olympics. And he shared an anecdote from his own life; at one time, admission to college in China was based solely on your score on the national test. He was graduating high school the year the universities started to consider school grades as well as test results. He said the principal of the school came into his classroom and said that now that grades were also going to be considered, the school was going to change the students' transcripts to show they got all As. Ends justify the means.
He also said that orphanage directors wouldn't see it as important to record accurate information about where the child actually came from, what their actual birth date was. Identity, he said, is a Western concept, so Chinese people don't understand how Westerners feel about needing to know their history or background or genetic code. He discussed the whole Tiger mom thing, and said what was very Chinese about her is that she insisted her children could succeed in music through hard work; she wasn't looking for an inherent musical talent handed down from biological relatives that needed to be nurtured. Chinese people won't ask, "Where did my talent come from?" Since orphanage directors don't understand the important of identity, they wouldn't see it as important to record information accurately. They would falsify documents simply to make it easier for the child to be adopted. Ends justify the means.
I asked specifically about the red note the orphanage director gave me and claimed to have found with Zoe. He said these red notes are like fortune cookies, not really Chinese. There is no tradition in China of abandoning a baby with a red note. He said if you asked 100 people in China about abandoned babies and red notes, they'd think you were crazy. He's quite sure the orphanages are manufacturing the red notes because they know how much adoptive parents like to have them. There's nothing malicious in it, they simply want adoptive parents to be happy with their adoption experience. Ends justify means.
Not surprisingly, the audience at Dr. Chang's talk was pretty morose after all of this. He was quite anxious that we be happy (very Chinese of him!), and reiterated several times that we shouldn't worry about corruption in China adoption or about falsified records. Everything done in China was with the best of intentions. There was nothing "fishy" going on.
Can't say that made me feel any better. How 'bout you?