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China: Office of Children’s Issues January 25 Delegation Meeting with CCCWA
On January 25, the Office of Children’s Issues (CI) met with a delegation from the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) in Washington, D.C. to discuss a range of topics related to intercountry adoption, including the January 2017 NGO law enacted in China and its impact on adoptions, changes to humanitarian donation collections, adoption waivers, and other issues. Below is a brief summary of information related to these topics.
NGO Law: On January 1, 2017, China’s Ministry of Public Security enacted the Law on Domestic Activities of Overseas NGOs. The primary goal of the new law is to regulate all foreign NGO activities, not intercountry adoption activities. Although the law was not targeted at intercountry adoption activities, it has directly impacted adoption processes. The new law resulted in the suspension of the One-to-One Partnership program, the hosting program, and the Journey of Hope program. During a CI visit to China in May 2017, CCCWA indicated they expected new regulations to be enacted about these issues in 2017. However, those regulations have still not been developed, and an estimated timeframe for them is currently unavailable.
ASP Activities Under the New Law: The Chinese government allowed a one year transition period after the law was passed, which concluded as of December 31, 2017. At that time, activities under the previous One-to-One Partnership program were required to conclude permanently. ASPs are now required to register with the Chinese government by submitting credentials for approval to the Ministry of Public Security. In addition, ASPs must register with the relevant Ministry that oversees the actions of the NGO. In the case of international adoptions, which is overseen by CCCWA and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, we understand that Civil Affairs is still in the process of creating registration regulations. No completion date has been provided. Therefore, according to CCCWA, currently, no U.S. ASPs are registered under the NGO law to conduct intercountry adoption work under a One-to-One partnership arrangement, although two ASPs are approved for other child welfare or charitable work not related to adoption.
CCCWA informed the Department that, because of the lack of NGO authorization specifically for intercountry adoption partnerships, at this time no U.S. ASP may have direct contact with orphanages. If an ASP needs information about a specific child, the ASP must contact CCCWA, which will make appropriate inquiries with the orphanage. CCCWA acknowledged ASP representatives may still be needed in the provinces to assist adoptive families to register cases or with travel, but those representatives should not have direct contact with the orphanage or its employees.
CI expressed concern that this process could result in significant delays in child-specific information being transferred from the orphanage to CCCWA, and subsequently to ASPs. CCCWA acknowledged that delays may occur and expressed their commitment to working with orphanages to continue to improve the system. We discussed a plan to keep each other informed about progress on this issue and that we would meet again in a few months to address issues that arise. To that end, CI would be interested in hearing from ASPs about their experiences with the transfer of child-specific information.
Foreign Supervised Provider Agreements: Based on the information above, under China’s new guidelines prohibiting contact between ASPs, their representatives and orphanages, supervised provider agreements should not be necessary between U.S. ASPs and orphanages. In the event an orphanage is working directly with ASPs (or their representatives) despite this guidance, a foreign supervised provider agreement is required and CCCWA has asked to be informed of the activities and the agreement. In accordance with U.S. intercountry adoption accreditation regulations, ASPs must obtain agreements with other local representatives that perform adoption services.
Note: This information is meant as general guidance that does not preclude an accrediting entity making a finding that an ASP should supervise an orphanage if the ASP’s (or its representatives’) activities fall outside of the normal process in that country.
Please also note that countries may change rules and lift some restrictions that would affect the role of U.S. adoption service providers with respect to the orphanages. In determining whether an orphanage should be treated as a foreign supervised provider, the Department recommends that the accrediting entity consider this general information and also refer to the Department’s guidance for evaluators on foreign supervised providers and other guidance the Department has previously provided regarding foreign supervised providers.
Orphanage Donations: On December 7, 2017, at the request of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, CCCWA issued a public notice on orphanage donations by adoptive parents. The notice explained that adoptive parents may offer a voluntary donation to the child welfare institution after the adoption registration is finalized. It has been clarified that the amount and method of submitting a voluntary donation should be left to the adoptive parents, and donations should not be made until after the adoption is registered in the province. Per the notice, CCCWA may take action against any ASP in which it believes the agency, or its representatives, have pressured families to make donations. In response to inquiries about what to do if an orphanage pressures a family to make a donation, adoptive parents and/or the ASP should report this to the local Department of Civil Affairs in the province.
CI has received requests for clarification and inquiries made of adoptive parents at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou in relation to orphanage donations. Since 2016, families have expressed concerns about being asked to carry large sums of cash to China for donations, instead of being able to transfer funds electronically. In light of this, CI, Mission China staff and CCCWA discussed had a conversation about wire transfer capabilities in May 2017. It was unclear at that time which provinces were requiring cash transfers vs. electronic transfer, and thus consular officers began asking parents about their experience in order to gather information for further conversations with CCCWA about wire transfer capabilities. In our recent meeting, we shared with CCCWA our continued concern about safety risks for adoptive parents carrying large amounts of cash to be donated. CCCWA is exploring how donations can be made via electronic wire transfer to avoid PAPs having to carry large amounts of cash.
CCCWA waiver process: CI inquired about reported changes in the waiver process. In the past, CCCWA has considered waiving some of CCCWA’s requirements to allow certain PAPs adopting children who were about to age out to be considered eligible to adopt if they met all other legal requirements. However, CCCWA confirmed that effective January 2018, CCCWA has determined that it will no longer approve any waivers for prospective adoptive parents who do not meet China’s eligibility criteria for adopting.
Post-placement reporting: CCCWA requested continued compliance with China’s post-adoption reporting requirements in a timely manner. This will continue to contribute to China’s history of positive experiences with U.S. adoptive parents.
China’s requirements are as follows:
Families who adopted through an ASP that can no longer assist with post-adoption reporting need to submit reports through a new ASP. If you would like to choose a different agency, you may wish to review the information published by the Council on Accreditation (COA) at http://coanet.org/accreditation/hague-accreditation-and-approval/guide-to-finding-an-adoption-service-provider/ for information about case transfers or accreditation/approval requirements. Families may also communicate directly to CCCWA, their contact information is:
China’s Adoption Authority
The China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption
16 Wang Jia Yuan Lane
Beijing, China 100027
ASPs who cease to provide adoption services or who are no longer working in China need to execute a case transfer plan for the families who still have outstanding post-adoption responsibilities.
CI greatly appreciates its close relationship with CCCWA and looks forward to continuing collaboration during this time of change in China’s adoption program. We remain committed to working with China to minimize the collateral impacts the legal changes in China are having on the intercountry adoption process.