The thought that an adopted child could have been taken from his or her biological parents is unbearable, but that’s exactly what many families are struggling with in the wake of a New York Times report on stolen children. The news brings up a host of other uncomfortable questions: What should adoptive parents do? Should they try to find the birth parents? And if they do, what then?
The newspaper’s front-page story on Aug. 5 highlighted a shocking practice in Hunan province: the abduction of Chinese infants for sale to orphanages. Family planning officials routinely persecuted couples who violated the one-child policy or were too young to get married; those who couldn’t pay the exorbitant fines saw their children snatched away and “disappeared” into the orphanage system.
Now, adoptive parents are fearing the worst. On Sept. 16, the Times published a follow-up featuring interviews with several families from the New York area.
As news of the scandal broke, one parent said that he felt “a wave of heat” rush over him. When Scott Mayer scrambled to re-examine his daughter’s adoption papers, the documents claimed she had been found as a newborn on a specific date.
But in reality, how can he, or any other adoptive parents, be sure of the truth when papers can be faked and adoptive agencies have strong incentive not to talk?
Too much discussion can provoke the Chinese government, which can limit future adoptions or prevent adoptive parents from entering the country. As a result, many parents asked for anonymity from the New York Times or refused to speak to them outright.
On the paper’s Internet forum, one parent urged others to be quiet: “The more we put China child trafficking out there, the more chances your child has to encounter a schoolmate saying, ‘Oh, were you stolen from your bio family?’ ”
One mother, who was adopted herself, said that she would not return her daughter to the birth parents even if there was evidence that she’d been stolen.
“I would feel great empathy for that person,” said Susan Merkel. “I would completely understand the anger and the pain. But I would fight to keep my daughter. Not because she’s mine, but because for all purposes we’re the only family she’s ever known. How terrifying that would be for a child to be taken away from the only family she knows and the life that she knows. That’s not about doing what’s right for the child. That’s doing what’s right for the birth mother.”
Via The New York Times