Abduction, Adoption, and Two Families’ Search for Answers

On ChinaFile, Charlie Custer of China Geeks tells the stories of two parents, one of a child abducted in China, the other of a child adopted from China, who may have been trafficked and sold to her orphanage. Through these two stories, Custer explores the larger implications of child trafficking in China for international adoptions:

Child trafficking and its relationship to adoption in China is a serious problem, but also a deeply opaque one. It is a taboo topic for the Chinese government, which acknowledges the problem exists but also does not make public statistics about the number of children kidnapped or the number of children sold into adoption. Because of the implications for the tens of thousands of families in the United States and elsewhere in the West who have adopted children from China—Americans alone adopted nearly 3000 Chinese children in 2012—the topic is often taboo outside of China’s borders, too.

Neither child trafficking nor baby buying in Chinese international adoptions are widely studied. No one can say for certain how many children are kidnapped in China each year, or what percentage of them end up being put up for adoption domestically or internationally. But the problem is a lot more serious than most people know, as I have come to learn over the last few years. In the process of making a documentary film on the subject, my wife and I have spoken to dozens of parents of kidnapped Chinese children and adoptive parents in the U.S. who have come to believe their children were sold into adoption.

[…] In part because it is such an unpopular and sensitive issue in both countries, and in part because there are very few people doing serious research, it is extremely difficult to say with certainty to what extent Liu Liqin’s story overlaps directly with Rose Candis’. The U.S. State Department estimates that every year, around 20 thousand children are kidnapped in China, and some independent estimates are much higher. Tens of thousands of resolved cases, and the fact that many of those kidnapped are boys but very few boys are adopted internationally, indicate that many of those children are sold into domestic adoption. But we know that at least a few of them do end up getting adopted internationally. We know that of the children adopted internationally, many of them (like Erica Candis) may arrive overseas with doctored paperwork or origins that are otherwise unclear. [Source]