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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Americans, race and adoption


Give us back our baby

Stealing Babies for Adoption
With U.S. Couples Eager to Adopt, Some Infants Are Abducted and Sold in China

By Peter S. Goodman
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, March 12, 2006; A01


DONGGUAN, China On a muggy evening in July 2004, on a concrete lane reeking of raw sewage and chemicals from surrounding factories, a stranger leapt from a white van. He yanked 16-month-old Fei Mei from the arms of her 8-year-old cousin and sped away.

All night, her parents searched this industrial city in southern China for their round-faced baby girl.

"We looked everywhere, on every street corner," said her father, Xu Mohu. "We thought maybe the guy wouldn't like a girl and he would abandon her."

That was once a reasonable assumption. For generations, girls in rural China have been left to die in the cold or abandoned on doorsteps while families devote their scant resources to nourishing boys. But over the past decade, a wave of foreigners, mostly Americans, has poured into China with dollars in hand to adopt Chinese babies, 95 percent of them girls.

Last year, the United States issued nearly 8,000 visas to Chinese-born children adopted by American parents. More than 50,000 children have left China for the United States since 1992. And more than 10,000 children have landed in other countries, according to Chinese reports.

The foreign adoption program has matched Chinese babies with foreign families eager for them, while delivering crucial funding to orphanages in this country. But it has also spawned a tragic irony, transforming once-unwanted Chinese girls into valuable commodities worth stealing.

The morning after Fei Mei was taken, her parents made a report at the local police station, where they learned that on the same night, another baby girl had been taken in Dongguan.

The prevalence of the problem has become clearer in recent weeks with the prosecution of a child-trafficking ring in the neighboring province of Hunan. Last November, police arrested 27 members of a ring that since 2002 had abducted or purchased as many as 1,000 children here in Guangdong province and sold them to orphanages in Hunan for $400 to $538, according to reports in Chinese state media and interviews with sources familiar with the case, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because provincial officials have ordered a media blackout. The orphanages placed most of those children in homes with unwitting foreign families, many of them Americans, in exchange for mandatory contributions of $3,000 per baby -- a sum nearly twice the average annual Chinese income -- according to sources familiar with the prosecution.

Last month, a court in Hunan sentenced three of those baby traffickers to 15 years in prison and imposed terms of three to 13 years on six others, the official New China News Agency reported. Twenty-three local government officials in Hengyang, the city at the center of the case, have been fired. Attorneys for those sentenced said the babies involved were abandoned and then sold to orphanages, but not abducted. They plan appeals.

On the lane where Fei Mei vanished, her parents still wonder what happened to their daughter.

"We think of her all the time," Xu said. "But chances are, we'll never see her again."


This market exists for only ONE reason: American racial and class biases.

There are hundreds of thousands of black, latino, biracial and older white children waiting to be adopted.

Yet, it has become acceptable to adopt Chinese babies, especially among the upper middle class.

When there is a transracial adoption of a black or latino child, the family loses social status as the child grows older. The child, especially a boy, doesn't become less black over time. And many white parents have problems with the cultural issues. But then, anything beats a life in foster care.

However, many of these parents are unable to deal with the racial issues with an Asian child. This is America, there are no honorary white people. At some point in that child's life, she will run smack into racism.

My favorite is being asked where she learned to speak English so well. Despite the fact that her name is Sam Smith and she went to Barnard.

This same wave of adoption theft hit Latin America in the 1990's, especially when the babies had European features.

And this is the result of America's racial issues. They don't want black or Latino kids to adopt even when they desperately need adoption. They would rather travel to China to buy a child, and that is what it is, than to raise an American child who isn't the right color.

I know some black social workers dislike transracial adoption, but the reality is that in black families, there is usually enough dysfunction that people wind up raising their relatives kids without state intervention. So that will always be a smaller pool. Then of course, there is the habit of jerking prospective black adoptive parents around.

But didn't anyone realize that kidnapping would be the ultimate outcome of American money looking for Chinese babies? It was in Latin America.

posted by Steve @ 10:03:00 AM

10:03:00 AM

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