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Print Edition> Nation
UPDATED: January 15, 2007 No.3 JAN. 18, 2007
An American Perspective

Adam Pertman, Executive Director of Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

China has every right to do it. Every country has its rights and standards. Every country has to make its own decision on its laws for its children. I think the new regulations reveal the different cultures between China and the U.S. About one third of all children born in the U.S. today are raised by a single parent. Single parenting is well accepted. The difference is in cultural norms, as China is clearly sending the signal that it is not accepted. I'm not trying to make a judgment. If there are more potential parents now than there are children, that would explain the new regulation and it's understandable from China's prospective. If, however, there are more children waiting adoption than parents, then the restrictions are a problem for the adoption. Children grow up better in a home than in institutions. I think it's wonderful if China is embarking on extending domestic adoption. It is a good thing, because if you can raise children within their countries, within their cultures, and give them a home-that's the best scenario. I hope these restrictions do not prevent children who need homes from getting homes.

I understand it's only a matter of preventing some adults from becoming parents, it's one thing. We may like it or dislike it, it certainly reflects differences between the two cultures. If the restrictions are preventing children from getting home, I think it's problematic.

China is clearly sending a signal with these new regulations that it cares about its children. It wants them to have the best prospect in life, that's why they say they don't want parents who are obese and unmarried for example. But if the children are left in orphanages because of these restrictions, they are not better off in orphanages than with a single parent. I think it depends on what the reality is on the ground.

David Youtz, President of Families with Children from China (FCC) of Greater New York

FCC is a not-for-profit group that supports over 2,000 families in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut area with adopted children who were born in China. Our mission is to celebrate the Chinese culture and ethnicity of our children by raising them with involvement in Chinese language and culture, and to support the families with education about adoption and race issues. Nationwide, there are now more than 55,000 children adopted from China living in American families, and this has been a wonderful benefit for both the parents and the children.

Regarding the new regulations, there are mixed responses from our community. Most important, we care about what is best for the children and we wish that all of the children who need homes may be placed in homes. We hope that the number of children who can be placed for domestic adoption in Chinese families will increase as a part of the new changes. FCC also believes that China has had perhaps the best international adoption processes in the world over the last dozen years: very predictable, consistent, and fair and well-designed to benefit the children, adoptive parents, and the orphanage care system.

We recognize that the new restrictions are formulated with the goal to place children in the most stable, healthy, and long-lasting homes possible, which is a good motivation. At the same time, we are sorry to see some parents denied the opportunity to be parents. In the United States, for example, it is no longer unusual to encounter single parents raising children. In our China adoption community there are hundreds of healthy and happy families that have been formed with a single mom or single dad, and these have been wonderful and successful for both parent and child. We are disappointed that these kinds of families may not be able to form in the future. We recognize that the authorities in China have every right to set the regulations as they see fit, and that there is a reasonable basis for restricting parents who they believe will be unhealthy or may not survive until the child is grown (this accounts for the limits on morbidly obese persons, for example). However, some of the changes may strike Americans as discriminatory in our own context and have made some families feel disappointed and excluded.

It is not easier for Americans to adopt from China than from other countries. It is not easy to do any adoption. To adopt from China, Russia, Guatemala or within the U.S, parents endure a tremendous amount of labor, anxiety, frustrating paperwork, multiple interviews and social worker interviews, long periods of waiting, and make a significant financial commitment for the privilege of adopting a child. This is no less true for China adoption than elsewhere. What is better about the Chinese process is that, as adoptive parents, you know how long it will take and what is necessary from the start. This is far more reassuring than many other ways to adopt-but not easy.

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