...and other misconceptions I made 08-11-23
2008 Nov 23
January 3rd 2007
The new CCAA “rules”

Posted by D under adoption-process

I am amazed just how much the mainstream media is reporting on this one. Normally their attention doesn’t seem to focus on difficult topics like adoption. Maybe Madonna changed that a little. And so we’ve seen reports from outlets as diverse as CNN to USA Today, the Wall Street Journal to talk radio. Sadly, it seems that all the reports that I have seen get some aspects of what has happened rather wrong. And that even includes NPR – maybe my most trusted source for information – in their little piece this week on All Things Considered.

First and foremost, the Ministry of Civil Affairs seems to have made it very clear that these new “rules” are actually not set in stone, but describe criteria under which they will give “preference to more suitable applicants” (their words, not mine). And therefore they are not hard rules; they are guidelines for preference.

And for all the politics and emotions wrapped up in this – if you step back for a moment, this seems to make some sense. Let’s go through the highlights real quick:

  • BMI under 40. An average height woman (5’5″ – 165cm) with a BMI of 40 weighs 240 pounds (109kg). The medical term for this is “morbidly obese”. I can understand having some concern about this, given my experience over the past 16 months. Caring for a toddler is very difficult, physically demanding work, and I believe that it would be even more difficult for people who have a BMI over 40.
  • Age between 30 and 50. I’m 39 and I often wish I were younger. Yes, many of us know parents who adopted when they were older than 50. But as a first guideline and a criterion for preference, this seems to make sense.
  • A minimum length of marriage of 2 year, 5 if this isn’t your first marriage. There’s lots to be said about this. It’s intended to measure the stability of the family situation into which the child is coming. And from the point of view of a socially conservative government with the welfare of the children in mind… I can understand this.
  • No single parents. Ouch. That’s a tough one to defend. If you try to put yourself into the mind of a ministry official, maybe you can see how you’d prefer a traditional family for the children. And maybe you can’t.
  • No recent issues with mental health and depression. Also tough for many adoptive parents who have battled infertility. The way the “rule” is written, it appears to have a reasonably short time window that it looks at.

And now comes the argument that somehow everyone misses – or at least doesn’t take seriously enough in my mind. Since China joined the Hague Convention a lot more parents from many other countries are eligible to adopt from China. Yet, the total number of children available for adoption appears to be fairly stable. That means, very simply, that there are more parents applying than children available. So what does a bureaucracy do? It tries to implement rules that ensure that the best suited parents get preference when matching children. And as much as we can argue about the set of criteria I outline above, and as much as they may have to be improved and modified – this does seem like a reasonable starting point. Especially if you try to see the world through the eyes of a Chinese ministry official.


3 Responses to “The new CCAA “rules””

  1. Jutta on 04 Jan 2007 at 12:09 pm #

    Great comments, D. You’ve made a lot of good points. One thing that comes to mind though – I was always under the impression that only approx. 15% of all Chinese orphanages participate in international adoptions. If more orphanages would participate, there would be more children available. There are domestic adoptions in China; however, I believe the number is not significant enough to have a huge impact. What are your thoughts?

  2. D on 04 Jan 2007 at 12:49 pm #

    I understand that China has no interest in increasing the number of children available for adoption. While I can speculate about the reasons behind that I have no inside knowledge as to why that is. So even if more orphanages were to participate, I don’t think this would change the total number of international adoptions.

  3. mama d on 04 Jan 2007 at 6:08 pm #

    Of the 150 SWIs currently participating in IA, only 101 will be in 2007. China recently held a re-education meeting for all of its SWI directors and assistants. All personnel were encouraged to participate as much as possible with domestic adoptions. Two directors were fired. The CCAA “Mother” estimated in mid 2006 that there were 500,000 children in orphanages throughout China, with only a portion of them in SWIs approved for IA.

    Germany, on the other hand, makes it difficult for even resident Germans to adopt.

    Essen for thought.

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