Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adoptive Parents in the West have Moral Obligations, too

When I indulge myself with iPhone4 and iPad2, do I need to care how it was made? When I place my 2 years old plasma TV on the curb, am I bothered on thoughts where it goes? A little bit, in both cases, but not much. After all, they are consumer goods I buy and trash every day. There might be a feeling after attending a seminar with a tree-hugging speaker, but not much residue after 5 days or 5 tours to Wal-Mart. I am still feeling guilty from time to time, i.e. when taking a break from flipping burgers on my front lawn, by the way.

Adoption is a total different matter. The 'little angle' you received in the mail had been a member of another family before. There had been a caring Mom, a proud Dad and over-joyed grandparents, uncles and aunts. It was a sad story for any family to give up their child for whatever reason.

What if the child was stolen, or worse, taken away from his family by violent force?

In the recent exposed case of Chinese Family Planing Officials made profit by confiscating children from their families and then selling them to the West for adoption, many children were taken away from the arms of their parents by violent force.

It was long known the world that many babies were killed by Chinese Family Planning Officials, which had also been reported by the Seagull. Somehow, that had become acceptable. The killing usually happened in the delivery room where the mother had no chance to see the baby. It is never acceptable to me, and I doubt it legal in any court outside mainland China, but we all knew it was the practice of many Family Planning Officials in many places in China. We sorta taken it as granted. And when that happened, we tend to blame the parents for not being able to elude the officials. But now we are shocked. How heartbroken to see your baby and sometimes toddler taken away from you and know you will never see him again?

The scary part of the recently exposed Shaoyang case was that multiple levels of government, from the village, town to county and province and more than 10 different government agencies were involved. Some fish and hunt babies in remote rural areas and some fabricating papers to make these babies 'clean' for adoption. When 10 different government agencies told you the same story with back dated government records, can you tell?

It is a misquote in some news and blog stories that only 13 children were taken away. These 13 children was the scope of an investigative report published by "New Century". This number reflected a 'partial' list that the reporter could verify in one village (Gaoping Village of Longhui County of Hunan Province) between year 2002 and 2005.

Another misquote in some news and blog stories is that these babies are 'illegally born' per China's Family Planning Act. This is not true. Many of babies were 'lawfully' born only child of a family, with all proper documentation but still taken away nevertheless when their were discovered by the official baby hunting teams. In remote mountain areas such as the reported village, one family living away from the town could be easily overpowered by a team of 30-40 officials. Some were offered a time window to buy back their baby. In the case of the featured family, they were given one day to gather $1,700 to buy back their daughter. This equals 2 times their annual income. They was only able to borrow $1,000 from relatives and friends in one day, not enough to buy their daughter back from local officials. Then the baby was transferred to a higher level government agency where she was prepared to be sold to the West.

Adoptive Parents in the West have moral duties to respond - partially, because they have a unique role to stop this horror. Money talks. The only reason of this tragedy was because the government can make profit by selling the babies to the West at $3,000 per capital.

The always business-minded Chinese government will have to listen to their customers. If their customers stop buying, they will have to figure out how to improve or what needs to change. Chinese governmental never blink under military or political pressure, at least they always claim so. However, the Chinese government has always tried their best to appease to 'economic rules', as they are proud of doing. They will listen to the voice of their customer to keep the adoption business a lucrative income source. Only adoptive families can save more children from being taken away from their parents. Nobody else in the world has the mighty power you process to influence Chinese government's practice on this issue. If you don't want that happen to your children, you should at least 'voice' it for other's children.

There are many ways to help. For your convenience, here is a check list, from which you can pick up one or more entries to help. It wouldn't take you too much time:
  • Inquire this case to the Chinese officials in charge of overseas adoption business;
  • Contact the reporters and give them a pat on the back for their braveness and great sense of social responsibilities;
  • Demand more documents regarding your child's identity in China; not every Chinese government officials lie, some may refuse to participate;
  • Call your local Chinese embassy or consulate and inquire about the case. They will call home, trust the communist system;
  • Until you receive a satisfactory answer, do not adopt more children from China;

This is not the first time government run orphanages were caught selling children for profit. The Hengyang Welfare Center, another prefecture-level agency in Hunan Province, was found linked to children trafficking cases a couple of years ago. In the Hengyang case, the state orphanage hired gangs to obtain children, then prepared them for international adoption. The case went to trail in the court of Qidong County on February 22, 2005. Gang members were sentenced, but no government officials were punished. This is not the first time government were caught confiscating children for profit. Another state run orphanage in Zhenyuan County, Guizhou Province was found doing exactly the same as Shaoyang officials did in this case in 2009. The orphanage vowed not to do it again, but no government officials were punished. The above two cases all covered by Chinese news media, but few noticed and little was done. This is not the first time government promised to investigate. A government task force was formed on March 11, 2006 to address the parents' complaint, regarding the children taken away in Shaoyang. It took one day for the task force to produce a report, which found no wrong doing of any government officials.

The practice of state run orphanages must be stopped. This time it might be different, with the western media's involvement. But the most powerful and ultimate motivation is still the purchasing power of western adoptive families.

Adoptive families in the West have the right to remain silent, but you also have moral obligations to do something, say something, or not doing something. You will have to be either blind or pretending to be blind to say the case was an isolated incident in one remote village. Village officials would not be able to produce the entire identity papers to make a child's file look 'clean'.

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