LWB Community Blog

Domestic Adoption on the Rise

Lilly, who lived in our Healing Homes program, and her adoptive parents.

A second main reason for the shift in orphanage populations is that domestic adoption has increased substantially in China. Many people point to the Sichuan earthquake as one of the major turning points, as the topic of adoption was discussed extensively due to the number of children orphaned in the quake. Thousands of people posted online that they were open to adopting a child. The CCCWA in Beijing (the national agency responsible for international adoptions) now has a separate department specifically for domestic adoption, although most are still handled at the local level.

Toby and his new parents. Toby had cleft lip surgery and then lived in our Healing Homes program for recovery. He was adopted by his foster family.

For many Western families, this news is often surprising as we had been told over the years that adoption wasn’t readily accepted in China. So why the change? Well, many people are not aware that infertility in China has increased rapidly in the last decade. One recent study from China estimates that 40 million Chinese couples in child bearing age are infertile. 40 million. (See source 1). There’s several suggested reasons for this. Premarital sex is on the increase in China, which exposes people to venereal diseases that could lead to difficulty conceiving. Abortions are also still common in China, with a risk of post-operative infection. More and more women are choosing to have a child later in life due to wanting a career. In addition, there has been a marked decrease in the sperm count of Chinese men, from 100 million per ML to just 40 million, possibly due to environmental factors. (See source 2). In 2001, there were only five infertility clinics in all of China. Now there are hundreds, with more opening every month.

Advertisement for a Chinese infertility clinic.

So for many families who are unable to conceive a child, domestic adoption has become a realistic alternative. Whereas even seven or eight years ago hardly any children in our programs were adopted domestically, now there are just as many who find permanent homes in China as those who go abroad.

Uxio,  a student from our Shanxi Believe in Me school,who was adopted domestically.

BUT – with domestic adoption, it is important to note that most Chinese families are looking for what the majority of adoptive families in America are as well:  they want children who are healthy, with few or no medical needs. We have Chinese families who visit our programs frequently looking for a possible baby to adopt. Some will tell us they have been to orphanages all over Eastern China looking for a healthy child. In fact, many domestic adoptions in major cities actually cost more than the fees for international adoptions. In Guangzhou, for example, some local couples have paid adoption fees of up to 50,000 rmb or more for a healthy child, while the international orphanage donation has remained at 35,000 rmb.

Valentina lived in one of our Healing Homes until she was adopted domestically.

Now when I visit orphanages, if there is a baby who has been admitted with no medical needs, I am always told immediately as if it was a rarity. The nannies will say, “Can you believe it? A healthy baby!”

Lilah,  who was adopted domestically from Anhui foster care.

The reality is that the vast majority of healthy infants abandoned in China today can find permanent homes through domestic adoption.  This is one of the biggest reasons why the wait to adopt internationally through the non-special needs path has stretched to six years.

Callista was adopted domestically after having heart surgery with LWB.

~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer

Tomorrow:  The rising rate of birth defects.


1) http://www.womenofchina.cn/html/womenofchina/report/147302-1.htm

2) http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200704/10/text20070410_364978.html

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  • Brenda Poor says:

    Amy, thank you for the informative posts! i received an email an email yesterday from my adoption agency letting us know that as of June 1st, 2013, the CCCWA gave notice that the number of healthy referrals will continue to slow down. I’ve already been waiting for 6 years! I am already on the Waiting Child list as well, but with no match yet.
    your blogs have certainly given me much more information as to the changing situation in China that i have ever gotten from my agency!

    Within the past few years, we have seen China shift their focus towards developing their Waiting Child Program. After much soul searching, many parents have chosen this path as they desire to complete their family. Although it may not be the best option for every family, we at Great Wall want to be sure to provide your family with available resources to explore this option.

  • Leslie says:

    This is great to read! I am so glad to hear of so many children staying in China, however I don’t think it is fair they are required to pay more. 🙁 That is not right, but obviously, it is not my decision to make. Doesn’t the Hague though state that when possible children should stay in birth country? Of course, this always makes me wonder how ANY NSN children are being referred out–when there are Chinese couples waiting for those children. That doesn’t seem right either, but again, I’m not making the decisions and I didn’t go that route.

  • Deborah Xu says:

    Hi ,We are training Chinese adoptive parents on parenting and the related knowledge. We have a web in which there is one part on adoptive children’s need –www.newbreakthroughcn.org . Maybe you are interested in.

  • Mary Hoyt says:

    fascinating post. thank you. what types of special needs are you finding difficult to place?

  • Brittany says:

    Amy, Thank you so much for these articles. We just saw Somewhere Between, and I think it’s so important for adoptive parents to be aware of all the changes that are occurring in China so we can help our kids understand the “why” of things as much as we can. Things are SO different in China since my girls were born in the late 1990’s. I think it’s crucial to look at all of the factors at different points in time. Take care!