After I wrote about child trafficking and international adoption from China, an adoptive mother contacted me with a story she said she had to share: how she went back to China to seek the truth about her daughter.
The original article asked, What if your adopted child had been forcibly taken from her parents and sold into adoption?
For this woman the question struck very close to home.
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The prospect of finding a birth mother in China is highly daunting. According to records provided by the orphanage, the girl’s parents had left her at 2 days old in a public place, where a man found her and took her to the orphanage. It is illegal in China to abandon a child, so couples do so in secret. But still, the girl cried at night. The woman contacted a service in Salt Lake City called Research-China.org, run by an adoptive couple, which for $40 offers an overview of an orphanage and assesses the likelihood of finding birth parents.
What they found was bad news: the orphanage’s outplacement patterns were similar to those of six orphanages in Hunan Province that had been discovered buying babies from other orphanages and placing them with foreign families, said Brian Stuy, a founder of China-Research.
The pattern — a rapid uptick in the number of children placed with foreign families, followed by an even more severe falloff after the Chinese government cracked down on traffickers — was “a very telling indicator that the orphanage was involved in trafficking,” Mr. Stuy said. The chances of finding a child’s birth family under such circumstances were slim.
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In April, with Longlan Stuy, Mr. Stuy’s wife, she traveled to Guangdong Province, knowing the name of the man who was registered as having found the abandoned baby. The man turned out to be a director of a local civil affairs department — another bad sign, Mr. Stuy said, because it was too convenient.
At a restaurant in Qujiang, the women asked the man about finding the baby. They showed him photographs. He said she was very pretty, the woman said. Finally, the man told them that he had not found the girl, that his name was listed on the official report because he was a friend of the orphanage director, Mr. Stuy and the woman said.
“He said, ‘They bought those babies, mostly from Hunan,’ ” the woman said. “I was speechless and nauseous.”
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