Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Irregular Adoption/Gray Identity in China

From China Daily, a story of an "irregular" adoption:
Wu Tiansheng rushed to pick up an empty soft-drink bottle a passer-by dropped at a busy city square in Qinzhou, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and handed it to his 75-year-old "mother".

Wu, 7, spends his days helping Huang Jinlian, his "mother", search through trash to collect recyclables. Huang, a widow, said one summer day in 2005, she and her husband found Wu, an infant with a cleft lip, abandoned in a cardboard box near an alley.

"No one on the street knew the baby or was willing to help, so my husband and I decided to take him home," said Huang, whose claim cannot be independently verified.

Since her husband, her second, passed away last year, Huang has struggled to raise the boy on a monthly income of about 600 yuan ($95) - half of it from a government subsidy, 200 yuan from scrap collecting and 100 yuan from leasing a 20-square-meter apartment her husband left.

Huang and Tiansheng live in a not-so-clean house filled with scraps and furniture recovered from the trash. A rice cooker and a radio are their only electric appliances.

Huang told China Daily she tried to send Wu to a kindergarten, but the boy soon dropped out because his classmates bullied and ridiculed him as the "son" of a scrap collector.

Being the object of mockery, however, is not the boy's only problem.

Worse, yet, is his "gray" identity status.

Because Huang did not report to the police when she adopted the boy and there are no witnesses to prove that the child was abandoned, the local bureau of civil affairs does not recognize the adoption as legal.

Without a formal registration with the civil affairs department, the public security authorities will not issue the child a hukou, a permanent resident's permit.

In consequence, the boy has not been able to attend primary school, and even registering to marry will be a problem for him.

* * *

The local civil affairs bureau has suggested Huang send Tiansheng to an orphanage so that he can get a hukou, but Huang won't hear of it.

"I'll raise him until my dying breath," Huang said.

* * *

There may be a solution on the horizon for Tiansheng's identity status: Zhang Daxiao, Huang's oldest son and a 37-year-old bachelor, plans to adopt the boy.

Zhang, a construction worker who earns about 1,000 yuan a month, said he plans to finish the paperwork for adoption and send the child to a primary school next year.

But the boy will continue living with Huang, Zhang said.
The article reports that 90% of adoptions in the city are, like Tiansheng's, irregular.  Huang is not eligible to adopt him because she had 4 children by her prior marriages and does not have the required above-average income.  Further, the article says, China is revising its laws to require a social worker to prepare a home study for domestic adoptions there. "'The revised rules will help orphaned children find a adoptive family rather than simply satisfying a family's wish to adopt a child,' Ji [head of domestic adoption department at CCCW (formerly CCAA) said."

So, reactions?  If he'd been taken to the orphanage when originally found, he might have been legally adopted domestically in China or placed for international adoption.  Or he might not have. Can we say "at least this way he has a mother?" Or should he be placed in an orphanage now, with the hope for adoption now, either domestically or internationally? But of course, it will be even harder for him to be adopted now than it would have been when he was an infant. Can we say, "at least that way, he'd have a legal identity?"


Anonymous said...

If the "mother's" bachelor son WILL carry through with legally adopting the boy so he can obtain a hukou, and the son does enroll him in school, that would seem to be a solution. If the woman dies while the boy is still a minor (certainly possible given her age), IF the bachelor son will take the boy in as part of his family, the boy will be cared for. That's a lot of IFs, though.

I am encouraged to read that China is allegedly moving toward a more systematic approach toward domestic adoption with the addition of home studies, etc. Whether that is actually happening, or will happen, is another story.

Anon. #1

Anonymous said...

Seems the son adopting his brother is a no brainer. I don't understand why he has not already done so.

Anonymous said...

The mother is 75 and the boy is 7. Many if's in this situation,IMO. What if the older son marries and decides not to take the boy in? The what? What if after the mother passes he decides he doesn't want to be a single parent? Then what? No home,no education, no medical, no identity and no chance for adoption.