China’s central government announced on Tuesday that individuals and groups who find abandoned children cannot privately adopt them. From the Associated Press:
The new rules say people wanting to adopt must go through official channels and meet requirements, which under Chinese law include being healthy, over 30 and childless.
People who use abandoned children for illegal and profitable ends will be severely punished, the rules say, without specifying.
The document also sets out measures that should be taken when an abandoned baby is found, requiring that police try to track down the parents or guardians, and transfer children to a government-sanctioned nursing home for temporary care if they fail. These homes should only take the children under official care if no guardian is found within a certain period. [Source]
The new directive treads into the sensitive territory of child abandonment and trafficking in China – recent media claimed that nearly 200,000 children disappear in the country every year, according to the South China Morning Post. An Shanghai Daily investigative report sheds more light on China’s black market for adoption, as undercover reporters find that most would-be parents prefer to pursue illegal avenues:
Only orphans with physical or mental problems were sent to orphanages while healthy unwanted babies would go to families “via other ways,” staff told undercover reporters.
One of these other ways, a middle-aged woman who posted ads on hospital walls in the central Henan Province, told reporters by phone that she was selling babies who were only a month old.
“A boy costs 36,000 yuan and a girl 24,000 yuan,” the woman said. “You arrange a place so we can take the baby to see you. If you want to buy it, we can take it to the hospital to make sure it is healthy.”
She told the reporter that a favorite could be picked from many others. The woman said many of the babies were born to migrant workers. [Source]