Some things I’ve learned so far: the “China adoption facts” edition

When we first started this process, I felt like I knew quite a bit about international adoption in general, but very little about China specifically.  A lot of the reading I’d done on adoption centered around Haiti and Ethiopia, so I knew a lot about the underlying causes of the orphan situation there, but not as much about China.  Maybe you’re in the same boat, or just want to know more, so if so… read on!

  • The one that always surprises people the most is that there are more boys then girls in the Special Needs Program. If you are open to adopting a boy, you very frequently get matched before your even submit a dossier, and will get matched very quickly after. The ratio is about 60/40 boys to girls.
  • The reasons for abandonment in China are both simple and complicated. First, you have the cultural preference for boys over girls. Second, you have the one child policy, although it has been relaxed recently in most parts of China. Third, you have a cultural stigma regarding people with disabilities. And lastly, you have a health care system that requires all money up front.  So, let’s go through an example. A Chinese couple finds out they are expecting a wanted and loved baby. The baby is born with cleft lip and palate and is a girl. They don’t make enough money to pay for the surgery to fix her cleft lip and palate, and don’t have access to the kind of bottles you use to feed a baby with cleft, so their daughter quickly becomes malnourished. There are aid organizations that perform the initial surgeries to repairs the clefts, but any additional surgeries would be out of pocket. They don’t know how to access those organizations and their daughter is getting sicker.  Then throw in the cultural stigmas for both girls and special needs, and you can start to see the heart breaking challenges presented. If they abandon their daughter, she will get the care she needs and potentially be adopted. They can go on to have another child. It’s a devastating reality for many of these kids in the Special Needs program.
  • I keep using the word “abandon” and I’m not using it lightly, or as a synonym for “placing for adoption” which is the common terminology for most US adoptions. In China, it is illegal to place a child for adoption, so children are truly abandoned, usually in a public place where they will be found quickly and taken to an orphanage or in “baby hatches” where they are put into a small room and the parent rings a bell and hurries away, and the child is retrieved a few minutes later. The paperwork we get will likely include P4’s “finding spot”, whether it be a public place or a baby hatch. This also means that we’ll have no medical or family history for P4, something that breaks my heart any time I think about it.

So, that’s some pretty depressing news, huh?  Let’s see if I can offer a little bit of hope, here.

  • Our agency, CCAI, pioneered what they refer to as Lily Orphan Care Centers, which are designed to put children in the best possible environment even though they are in an orphanage. You can read more about it here: and
  • For non-Special Needs Adoption, adoption by Chinese families has significantly increased in recent years, which is amazing news. If possible, it would be best for a child to be raised in their birth culture, and we’re encouraged that that seems to be happening.
  • Many children are also starting to be part of foster programs, where they are raised by foster parents among a smaller group of children. This is also great news because foster care almost always is a much better option then orphanage care.

So, there are some China adoption (true as far as I know) facts.  I don’t claim to be an expert, by any means, but that’s at least a start to the new things we’ve learned since starting this adventure.

Have questions or want more information?  Leave a comment or shoot me an email and I’ll see what I can find out!