Adoption law needs reform

By Huang Xihua
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 25, 2017
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Kelly Grace enjoys playing with her American foster mother Annie Laurie Ritchie at the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption in Beijing in July, 2012.[China Daily]

Helping every child born in China survive and grow up healthily is a common wish of all Chinese people. However, the current adoption law which contains a number of problems has already become a stumbling block.

The existing law on adoption was aimed at preventing people from escaping punishment for their unplanned births through adoption, rather than protecting the interests of adopters and adoptees.

Some of its important clauses, accordingly, do not apply to the new situation and the requirements of the new childbearing policy. For example, according to Article 5, only three types of citizens or institutions are qualify for placing a child for adoption: orphan's guardian; social welfare institution; or biological parents unable to raise their child. Among them, the reviewing and valuation procedures for the third type are extremely complicated.

In addition, the requirements for an adopter are also rigorous. The law stipulates that an adopter must meet the following conditions simultaneously: 1. childless; 2. capable of raising and educating an adoptee; 3. suffering no such disease as is medically regarded as unfit for adopting a child; and 4. at least 30 years old.

Due to these harsh provisions, on the one hand, more and more children can't receive appropriate care, which can lead to vagabondage or even death. And on the other hand, many families who are willing to adopt children, can't.

In June 2013, two infant girls starved to death in Nanjing, raising wide attention. The 3-year-old girl and her 1-year-old sister died from starvation, as their father was in prison on drugs charges, while their mother also took drugs and disappeared. However, according to the existing law, the two girls could not be sent to welfare institutions or be adopted by others.

Data from 2013 shows that couples suffering infertility in China accounted for 12.5 percent of the population at child-bearing age. Orphans from the welfare institutions, therefore, can hardly meet the high demands, making illegal adoption increase rapidly. However, illegal adoption usually puts the adoptees at a disadvantage as they cannot receive legal identities.

Clearly, the current adoption law should be revised, and related procedures should be simplified. For example, the first requirement barring an adopter from having children should be removed. And the item stipulating that "one adopter can only adopt one child" should also be deleted from the law.

In addition, the Chinese government can learn from developed countries to set up a "baby hatch" or "baby box," where all abandoned infants can be taken care of and the mothers can return and claim her children within a time limit without any legal repercussions. Welfare institutions have the right to charge fees, but are not allowed to traffic any child.

The current Law of Adoption was published in 1991 and was amended in 1998. At present, many clauses are not relevant to today's society. Therefore, the law should be revised as soon as possible.

Huang Xihua is the deputy secretary-general of the Huizhou municipal government, Guangdong Province.

The article was translated by Lin Liyao and its original unabridged version was published in Chinese.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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