Chen Kefu, deputy director of the Department of Civil Affairs of Sichuan Province, introduced a series of policies on June 9 to people planning to adopt earthquake orphans from Sichuan Province.
A total of 1,019 children became orphans after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan Province on May 12. According to Chen, local welfare institutions, adolescent protection centers and hospitals have been taking charge of these children.
In line with China's Adoption Law, the orphans are defined as the children of deceased parents although their grandparents may be still living. There are three kinds of children under 14 years of age eligible for adoption: orphans, abandoned infants and children whose parents are either missing or indigent and unable to rear them properly.
People with the ability to bring up adopted children and educate them; those without any illness that hinders them from adopting children and up 30 years old, qualify as foster parents. In addition, a single foster father who wishes to adopt a girl must be 40 years older than the child in question. Only national orphanages in addition to qualified families have the right to take in children.
People who want to adopt children should hand in their application letters to the civil affairs departments where the children's permanent residences (Hukou) have been registered. Also, applicants should file materials at the civil affairs departments to ascertain that they qualify. The civil affairs department will issue certificates to qualified adopters after reviewing their information. Legally, the adopters should treat the adopted children as their own.
People all round the world can adopt children in accordance with China's Adoption Law. Foreigners, overseas Chinese and people from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan may apply for adoption at the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) before registering at the Civil Affairs Department in Sichuan Province.
According to Chen, an orphan's relatives have adoption priority. Subsidies are offered to relatives willing to adopt orphans but financially unable to bring them up because the Chinese authorities try to ensure that all orphans to grow up in a familiar environment. Families that have lost their children in the earthquake also have adoption priority for any orphans.
In addition to legal requirements, foster parents should be able to communicate with the orphans in a way that promotes positive psychological health. People wishing to adopt orphans over ten years of age should get the child's consent.
National orphanages will take in any children unable to be adopted by families. Orphanages have a foster program with agreed upon families in line with the Interim Measures for the Management of Family Fosterage.
Apart from permanent adoption and temporary foster homes people may also subsidize and/or provide volunteer service for the orphans. Sichuan's Civil Affairs Department is now investigating the identities of the orphans under their care.
(China.org.cn by Wu Jin, June 11, 2008)