Beijing to Shanghai Feature


Adopting in China

For some, the gardens, the architecture, the history, and the scenery are all secondary reasons to visit Yangzhou. Theirs is a more personal and momentous trip. On the outskirts of town there is a white-tiled compound called the Yangzhou Social Welfare Institute. This is where American parents and Chinese children come together to form families. Since Chinese law began promoting foreign adoption in 1991, there has been a huge surge in the number of families adopting from China. More than 60,000 children have been brought to the United States from China over the past 20 years, although numbers have declined in recent years due to a tightening of restrictions and an increase in domestic adoption.

Around 95% of children in orphanages are female. There persists a strong preference for boys, especially in rural areas. This is largely due to a combination of bias and traditional social structures whereby girls marry out and males help provide for the family. An unintended consequence of the One Child Policy exacerbates prejudices against women. Some Chinese parents, desperate to have a male child, take drastic measures like gender-selective abortion and even abandon their girls on the steps of orphanages.

The first wave of American-adopted Chinese girls are already teens. As they come of age, their transracial families face unique challenges as they grapple with questions of racial and cultural identity. Support groups, social organizations, and even specialized heritage tour groups address these questions and assist children in learning more about their places of birth.

Updated: 2014-01-17

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