Vigilance for China's Orphaned and Abandoned

Monday, March 27, 2006

Regarding the March 12 front-page story "Stealing Babies for Adoption":

The State Department is committed to ensuring, to the extent possible, that all children adopted abroad by U.S. citizens are legitimately eligible for adoption. U.S. consular officers, including in Guangzhou, are prohibited by law from issuing adoption visas to any child whose orphan status cannot be demonstrated.

We work with foreign officials, including the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA), to protect all parties to an adoption, especially the children. The United States signed the Hague Adoption Convention, which it will ratify and implement in 2007, to add further safeguards to the process. We look forward to having China as a convention partner.

The State Department has sought to determine whether any Chinese child adopted by U.S. parents had been bought or sold. We have not confirmed any such case to date. Meanwhile, the CCAA says it has concluded its investigation into the origins of children from Hengyang adopted by Americans and found that all were legitimately orphaned or abandoned and that no biological parents were searching for them.

The State Department will continue its dialogue with the CCAA regarding Chinese adoption procedures, and it will remain vigilant in adjudicating orphan visa cases in China and around the world.

MAURA HARTY

Assistant Secretary of State

for Consular Affairs

State Department

Washington

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Traffic in stolen children is shameful, but China has its good stories, too. SOS Children's Villages is one of them.

Nine SOS Children's Villages in China provide stable and loving homes to orphaned and abandoned children. Well-trained surrogate mothers raise the children in the villages until they are adults. The villages usually include day-care centers, schools or medical facilities, or vocational training programs that serve the surrounding communities, as well.

China is not alone in its challenge to address large numbers of children left without biological family members to provide for them. Extreme poverty, civil war and HIV-AIDS are creating epidemic numbers of orphaned and abandoned children worldwide.

Keeping children in their families is foremost, but when the kindness of strangers is needed, programs such as SOS Children's Villages, which operates in 132 countries, can be a litmus test for determining a society's fundamental regard for its most innocent and vulnerable citizens.

HEATHER PAUL

Chief Executive

SOS Children's Villages-USA

Washington


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