New China Consulate Appointment Policy

As a result of changes under the Hague Adoption Convention, U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou will only schedule adoptions appointments for applicants who have both an approved I-600A or I-800A form and a current fingerprint clearance from the FBI. Until recently, they allowed agencies to make appointments for families even if the approval of an adoption petition, extension, or renewal of fingerprints is still pending. This will no longer be allowed.

Families will be required to send copies of their I-171H or I-797C form as well as proof of fingerprint clearance to America World when returning their Referral Acceptance. We will only be able to proceed with travel arrangements once these documents have been received.

We encourage families to make sure they are filing extensions and fingerprint updates well in advance of receiving the referral. Use the link below to read the Consulate’s full update.
New Appointment Policy

SOURCE: America World Adoption

Fewer kids available for adoption by foreigners

Fewer Chinese children are available for adoption by foreigners because more affluent families at home have started adopting them, the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) said yesterday.

"The number of Chinese couples applying to adopt children has risen substantially in recent years," said Wang Suying, a division chief of MCA’s social welfare and social affairs department, which oversees adoption.

About 52,500 children were registered for adoption in 2004, with foreigners adopting 12,500 of them, according to MCA figures. But last year, the numbers fell to about 46,000 and 10,000.

"Our policy is in line with the international practice of encouraging adoption by families within the country," Wang said, because that way the kids can grow up in their own culture, which is good for them.

"But that does not mean we have any prejudice against foreign adoptions."

More families in the country are adopting kids because Chinese people’s attitude toward adoption has changed, Wang said.

A lot of Chinese used to adopt kids to ensure someone was there to take care of them during their retired life, and hence they preferred boys to girls, she said.

"Now more and more Chinese people are adopting kids simply because they love children and are proud to become foster parents."

Ji Gang, director of domestic adoptions, China Center of Adoption Affairs, said Chinese families’ newly acquired affluence too was responsible for the change in attitude.

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences figures show China has 30 million middle-class people, or those who earn between $10,000 and $50,000 a year.

Wang, however, said foreign families are still more willing to adopt disabled children.

US families adopted the highest number of Chinese children, followed by the Spanish.

Since 1992, when China’s Adoption Law was implemented, US families have adopted more than 55,000 Chinese kids.

From May 2007, China tightened the rules for foreigners who wanted to adopt Chinese children.

To qualify as an eligible family, couples now need to have a stable marriage, comfortable income, and sound physical and mental health.

According to China’s Adoption Law, people who want to adopt children must be more than 30 years old, healthy, childless and with a good and steady income to raise and educate the children.

Source: China Daily and People’s Daily Online

Rush is on to adopt kids orphaned by disaster

MIANYANG, China — The children’s faces stare in somber black-and-white photos from newspapers and scribbled posters at relief camps, seeking their parents. Many will never find them.

As the first estimate of orphans — more than 4,000 — emerged Thursday from last week’s deadly earthquake, thousands of Chinese are rushing to offer their homes.

"My husband and I would really like to adopt an earthquake orphan (0-3 years old)," Wang Liqin wrote on popular website in a forum that was already three pages long.

The high interest is another sign of China’s tremendous post-quake outpouring of sympathy, buoyed by rising prosperity. And it’s a surprising turnabout in a country in which government red tape, poverty and traditional attitudes long combined to discourage adoption.

The new enthusiasm also means that Americans and other foreigners wanting to adopt may not have a chance. Officials estimate that the number of Chinese wanting to adopt the earthquake’s orphans may outnumber the orphans themselves.

"Every day, my ministry receives hundreds of calls," Jiang Li, China’s vice minister of civil affairs, said this week.

At the civil affairs department in Sichuan province, the heart of the disaster area, calls reached 2,000 a day, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

Some Chinese, reached this week by phone, said they want to adopt because they’re unable to have a child of their own. Some see a chance to have a rare second child despite China’s strict one-child policy. And some, like Wang, whose own baby didn’t survive childbirth this year, understand loss and want to help.

"We saw how fragile life can be and have been wanting to adopt a child," Wang, who works in a clothing export business in the southern city of Guangzhou, said by telephone.

Americans also want to adopt earthquake orphans, but "I think the Chinese government will start with domestic adoption first," said Joshua Zhong, co-founder and president of the U.S.-based Chinese Children Adoption International.

SOURCE: in an AP story

Waits Lengthen for Adoptions From China

China China remains the country of choice for thousands of Americans seeking to adopt a child, but the time frame for new applications is now often triple what it was a few years ago and many families are enduring uncertain, emotionally draining waits.

"I’ve gone up and down with it — like a roller coaster ride," said Barbara Duarte Esgalhado, a single mother in Manhattan. She has a 7-year-old daughter adopted from China and filed paperwork in January 2006 for a second adoption that has yet to materialize.

"You find yourself rethinking it a lot more — is this still a good idea?" said Duarte Esgalhado, a 50-year-old writer and psychologist.

Her daughter, Uma, was a big fan of getting a sister when the idea surfaced three years ago. Now, she’s ambivalent. "A 4-year-old thinks differently about a sibling than an 7-year-old," her mother said.

The longer waits — projected at three or four years for many new applicants — officially are attributed to the large number of foreigners trying to adopt from China coupled with a smaller pool of available children and a slower review process. The China Center of Adoption Affairs, long respected for its ethics and efficiency, avoids specific promises about how long applications might take.

Infant girls by the thousands are abandoned every year in China, and the nation has been America’s top source of foreign adopted children since 2000. But the annual total fell to 5,453 last year, down from a peak of 7,906 in 2005, and further declines are expected as part of an overall drop in foreign adoptions.

Texas-based Great Wall China Adoption, one of the largest agencies focusing on China, says its annual caseload is down by half.

"Unfortunately we’ve had families who have decided to withdraw from the process," said Great Wall spokesman Leigh Ann Graf. "We have some families who are very angry about the wait times — and others looking at the time as a way to get all those things in that they won’t be able to do after they become parents."

The uncertainty has fueled rumors and speculation within the tight-knit community of Americans who have adopted from China or hope to do so. Some believe the longer waits are part of a temporary Chinese effort to scale back international adoptions ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August. Others wonder if China may be phasing out foreign adoptions almost entirely.

"Our agency made clear our wait could be three years, four, five — they just don’t know," said Mike Suomi, a Manhattan architect. He and his wife, Jenn, have applied to adopt a second child to become a sister to 5-year-old Olivia, whom they adopted from China in November 2003.

"China is becoming an economic powerhouse," Suomi said. "As far as we know, there’s an embarrassment factor to having an inability to take care of your own children."

The Suomis are working with Spence-Chapin, a venerable New York-area adoption agency whose caseload for China has dropped sharply due to the delays. Ann Hassan, the agency’s China coordinator, said the wait can be much shorter if parents agree to adopt a child with a physical handicap such as a cleft palate or congenital heart disease.

The Suomis, both in their early 40s, are willing to consider such a child, depending on specifics of the impairment. They also considered adopting from elsewhere in the Far East but found South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan unworkable for varying reasons.

"China always was the top preference," said Jenn Suomi. "There’s no funny business, no corruption, no black market."

They’re intent on persisting with the China application, and they work hard to help Olivia handle the longer-than-expected wait for the sibling she wants to call Mei Mei — "little sister" in Mandarin.

"Let’s say we wait four years — Olivia will be 9," said her father. "We’ll be four years older. That’s very hard for us. … We’re ready now, and now we have to wait."

Steve and Katherine Curtis, who live in the Long Island town of Babylon, are trying to adopt a second daughter from China to be a sister to Amelia, who was adopted in September 2006 and turned 2 in December.

"We’re always thinking of her," said Steve Curtis, an auto company executive. "Absolutely we think it would be helpful for her to have someone to have a shared experience with."

Their new application was registered last October. They have no clear idea how long it will take.

"We’re braced for fact it could be three more years," Curtis said. "You do all you can. Then it’s up to the powers that be."

Some applicants feel they’re in a particularly precarious position. Theresa Fierro, a third-grade teacher from Clifton, N.J., is a single mother who — like Barbara Duarte Esgalhado — got her current application filed in 2006 shortly before China changed its rules to exclude most single parents.

"The wait is causing some fear," said Fierro, 50, who has a 5-year-old daughter adopted from China. "And it’s tough to plan. … Should I work summer school or not? Should I go on vacation or not?"

For Joann Nix, 48, of Mastic Beach, N.Y., the wait adds to frustrations that had been building up over years of futile fertility treatments.

She and her husband registered two years ago to adopt a Chinese child. They now fear the slowdown could hurt their chances of seeking a second adoption later on.

"It gets torturous some times," Nix said. "There are thousands of kids in this world who need good homes. We want just one."

In a similar predicament is Wendi Caplan-Carroll, 46, of Secaucus, N.J. She has no children of her own, though her husband has two from a prior marriage. She initially hoped an adoption from China could be completed in about 13 months. Now the process has been under way for two years, with no sure end in sight.

"I know some people who gave up, others who decided to adopt from Ethiopia," she said.

"We’re not shopping around — we have our heart set on China. It’s hard to give up when you want something so desperately."

SOURCE: The Associated Press in a story by David Crary

China says no immediate changes to one-child policy

BEIJING: China will not consider changing its one-child policy for at least a decade for fear that a population surge could spark social and economic instability, the nation’s top family planning official said in an interview published Monday.

Zhang Weiqing of the State Population and Family Planning Commission told the official China Daily newspaper that the one-child rule should be maintained for now.

"Given such a large population base, there would be major fluctuations in population growth if we abandoned the one-child rule now," he was quoted as saying. "It would cause serious problems and add extra pressure on social and economic development."

Any change in the policy would be considered only after the end of the country’s next birth peak in 10 years, Zhang said. Over the next decade, nearly 200 million people are expected to enter childbearing years.

"After the new birth peak ends, we may adjust the policy if there is need," he said in the front-page story.

The policy, launched during the late 1970s, has prevented an additional 400 million births. China’s population currently stands at 1.3 billion, growing 16 to 17 million annually.

The one-child limit actually applies to only a portion of the population. In general, urban couples are restricted to one while rural couples are allowed up to two if their first child is a girl. The country’s often disadvantaged ethnic minorities are also exempt from these rules.

Critics say the policy has led to forced abortions, sterilizations and an imbalanced gender ratio due to a traditional preference for male heirs.

Zhang’s remarks, made on the sidelines of the annual legislative session and published in several local newspapers, are clearly aimed at slapping down reports that the country was considering scrapping its one-child policy.

Officially, China’s stance on its family planning policy has not wavered. Last week Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated in his annual policy address to legislators that China will continue to "adhere to the current policy of family planning" in order to "keep the birthrate low."

However, Beijing’s leaders have allowed more open discussion of the issue, particularly as the country continues its path of rapid economic and social change.

In recent weeks, several officials have suggested that an overhaul of the policy may be forthcoming since China has succeeded in slowing down its population growth.

Debate about potential changes has been fueled by concern over the growing burden of China’s aging population. According to government figures, those aged 60 or older expected to top 200 million by 2015 and 280 million by 2025.

Zhang stressed that the emerging problems should not be blamed solely on the one-child policy and "it will be simplistic" to focus on a single approach.

Getting rid of the one-child policy now would create more problems than it would solve, he said.

Lower fertility rates have been credited with helping raise living standards and increase the country’s economic growth.

But demographics experts worry China’s intense preoccupation with controlling its population growth has created unintended consequences as birth rates drop below normal.

Gu Baochang, professor of demographics at Renmin University, said part of the issue is that the government as well as the public regard population as a negative factor in a country’s development.

"Of course, the population is still growing so they still regard population as a threat to country’s future. But in fact, the growth rate is already negative," he said.

China’s current average birth rate is at 1.8. children per couple, below the 2.1 rate needed for a population to replace itself.

Population officials have talked about the fear of triggering a population boom if the one-child policy were lifted, but government planners are failing to consider a low-fertility scenario, said Shanghai-based population economist Zuo Xuejin.

Zuo pointed to other Asian countries, including Japan, Korea and Singapore, where fertility rates have been steadily declining, and said he believes that China is heading in that direction as well.

"In addition to this general trend, we have a very restrictive fertility control policy," he said. "It will become a problem in the future."

SOURCE: International Herald Tribune

Vietnam ‘baby-smugglers’ arrested

Vietnamese authorities have arrested three women and a man for allegedly smuggling newborn babies to China.

The suspects were detained with two baby boys, aged one month and one week old, in Hanoi and Ha Tay provinces.

Hanoi police said they had also detained an eight-month pregnant woman who confessed to agreeing to sell her unborn baby to the gang.

The woman was being transferred to China, where she is expected to give birth to the child.

All the babies were sold for eight million dong ($500) each.

The police said they would be offered for adoption to couples in China for around $2,000 each, because they were boys.

Girls would be sold for half the amount, according to investigators.

This is the first time the Vietnamese police have uncovered the smuggling of unborn babies.

One of the boys has been returned to his birth mother, while the other is being looked after at a children’s hospital in Hanoi

SOURCE: BBC News in an article by Nga Pham