Thursday, June 2, 2011

Number of Orphans in China Increasing

So says this report from Global Times:
A report published on Tuesday shows that the number of orphans on the Chinese mainland has increased by 24 percent in the past five years, according to The Beijing News on June 1.

The China Children Welfare Policy Report 2011, jointly launched by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the One Foundation Philanthropy Research Institute of Beijing Normal University and UNICEF, revealed that in 2010 the number of orphans on the Chinese mainland had reached 712,000, about 24 percent higher than 2005's figure of 574,000.
Not much detail, I'm afraid.  I haven't been able to find the report itself, though this press release talks about the release of the report as part of National Child Welfare Week.  I don't think, though, that the number of orphans reported means that these are children in Social Welfare Institutes or orphanages who are waiting to be adopted.  At UNICEF China's website, for example, there's a report about National Child Welfare Week, and a visit by UNICEF's China ambassador to orphans, and it includes this blurb:
In May 2011, Maggie Cheung, UNICEF Ambassador in China, visited orphans who were taken cared by their elderly grandmother. In the past one year since the launch of the China Child Welfare Demonstration Project, the village Child Welfare Director has helped the children apply for and receive the living subsidies for orphans provided by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
And check out this article in China Daily that says the subsidies for orphans goes directly to the bank account of an orphan, to the orphan's guardian, or the orphanage's corporate account -- so it's clear that orphans not in institutions are eligible for the subsidies.

So, the report cited by the Global Times is likely focused on ALL orphans in China, regardless of whether they are available for adoption. In fact, from the Global Times report and from the press release about Child Welfare Week, it's clear that the report is about the welfare of children who are not orphaned, too -- children with disabilities, children left behind with relatives while their parents travel to work, children whose parents are in prison, children in poverty.

I expect, however, that people are going to see the figures -- a 24% increase in orphans in China! -- and start decrying the long wait times for China adoption -- why the "slowdown" when there are so many orphans?! [Read here to understand why there is such a long wait to adopt healthy infants from China.] 
Remember, "orphan" does not always mean "need to be adopted."  Many orphans, all over the world, are cared for by extended family members.  It's very sad that there is an increase of orphans in China -- no child should suffer the loss of parents -- but that doesn't mean that adoption is needed as a solution to their plight.

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