Academic journal article Child Welfare

Chinese Adoption: Practices and Challenges

Academic journal article Child Welfare

Chinese Adoption: Practices and Challenges

Article excerpt

The majority of children in China who are the subject of protective services are either abandoned or disabled. Recent reform efforts in China's child welfare practices have focused on the importance of providing safe, permanent families for children in lieu of longterm institutional care. Although challenges still exist, adoption and foster care are increasingly being seen as viable alternatives for these children.

Adoption of children in China is a new and important area of practice, research, and policymaking in child welfare. In the amended Adoption Law of the People's Republic of China (Operative Committee of the National People Representational Conference, 1998), adoption is defined as a method of child protection through the permanent relationship between a child under the age of 14 and a nonbirth family. County Civil Affairs Bureaus (CAB) are in charge of registering adoptive relationships. The adoption relationship must contribute to the child's bringing-up and development and assure the rights of the adopted child and the adoptive family or individual.

As a child protective system, current Chinese adoption services pay more attention to providing a permanent home to institutionalized children. They are orphans, abandoned infants, and children with disabilities whose birthparents were not able to take care of them due to special difficulties. The majority of protective children are abandoned and disabled. This means that the children's birthparents may play an active role when involved with the child protective services. Birthparents abandon their infants or send their disabled children to hospitals, CAB, or the local Child Welfare Institute (CWI). It is almost unimaginable that the child will be moved from the birthfamily due to child abuse and neglect by his or her birthparent(s). Of course, the concept of adoption includes safety. For example, a child would be placed outside of home if his or her birthparents involved in civil law might injure him or her. The main difference between China and the United States is that child abuse and neglect not only is not the emphasis in the current Chinese adoption system, but is also not the main reason of building a legal adoption relationship.

Recent child welfare reform is rooted in the essential cultural impetus of family-centered practice. The goal of adoption and foster care practices is to help institutionalized children unite or reunite with safe and warm families. Here family connotes a family system rather than birthfamily. There is a crisis involving institutionalized children who have not been socialized and need independent life skills because they lacked a family developmental environment.

The object of adoption is to provide children permanent placements, while the object of foster care services is to provide them temporary placements. The main requirements of foster care are that the foster family (with their birthchild) must provide a healthy, nourishing, and positive developmental environment for the foster child (see table 1). Applicants for foster parents must have a normal, stable, and functional family. This means that parents and birthchildren have a harmonious relationship. It is believed that the birthchild of foster parents will be useful in helping to socialize the foster child to the family. Meanwhile, adoptive parents must follow the One Child Policy while they provide a secure, loving, and permanent home to the adopted child. Not having a birthchild is the first necessary requirement for adoptive parents, except in the case of special needs adoption since April 1, 1999. A family with a birth or other child can only adopt a special needs child. For instance, foster parents of children with special needs have the right to adopt their foster children.

Because of the One Child Policy, the following question became a big challenge to policymakers, and adoption and foster care workers: how long is the temporary placement? …

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