Families looking to adopt turn to website

Updated: 2013-07-30 01:18

By He Dan (China Daily)

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The founder of an online adoption website denied on Monday that he made a profit from the platform but admitted its services can be abused by human traffickers or illegal agencies.

The administrator of tz667.com, who goes by the screen name Lichou, said the website he created in 2007 has helped about 300,000 families with fertility issues adopt children.

The 26-year-old from Sichuan province said the website has more than 20,000 registered members and its forums attract around 3,000 visits on average every day.

Lichou said he launched the website to help families that couldn't have children, because his wife had fertility issues.

"Doctors said my wife was not able to conceive but when I tried to reach families who wanted to give up their children for adoption in 2007, all I met online were human traffickers, so I felt it's necessary to have a website dedicated to adoption," he said.

Some families looking to adopt children use similar online platforms to purchase fake birth certificates, and human traffickers use the forums to find clients, Beijing News reported on Monday.

Lichou told China Daily that he and around 10 volunteers run the website and delete information and posts about selling babies.

"Once we find human traffickers spreading information on our website, we delete those posts, ban their accounts, kick them out of our chat groups and alert our web users. We also report them to the government's Internet supervision department," he said.

Mao Lixin, a lawyer specializing in criminal procedural law at Shangquan Law Firm in Beijing, said the website is not liable for fraud or crime committed by its members if the administrator conducts basic identity verification of members and reports criminal suspects to the public security department.

"However, adoption via informal channels including the Internet without registering with civil affairs authorities is illegal," Mao said.

Lichou said less than 1 percent of his website's members who adopt children register.

"There are many reasons for them to not register. Some families can't meet the adoption law's rigid requirements, while others feel the procedure is too complicated," he said.

A 33-year-old woman surnamed Wu from Xiangyang, Hubei province, said she visited the website for adoption information after several miscarriages and registered as a member.

Wu said she owns a car, three houses and has a husband who loves her. All she wants is a baby. However, the path to adoption is full of uncertainties.

Wu went to Harbin earlier this year to meet a family that had agreed to give her their 18-month-old boy, but she came back empty-handed after the child's grandmother had second thoughts.

Wu said she will pay around 50,000 yuan ($8,150), "a normal market price", to a family that will give up their baby.

"One of my cousins works in a gynecology department at a hospital, so she can write a birth certificate for the child."

In China, a birth certificate is the only legal ID for a baby, and it can be used to apply for hukou, or household registration, that gives a person access to public services.

Another netizen, Fuqi, from Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, said tz667.com provides a platform for married women like her, who suffer from premature ovarian failure.

"I tried to have a test tube baby many times and even bought eggs from hospitals but failed," said Fuqi, who spends several hours online every day in hopes of finding a baby she can adopt.

"Without the website, how can we adopt babies, how can we continue our lives? Do you know how high the divorce rate is for women who aren't fertile?"

When asked why she hasn't tried to adopt a baby from a child welfare home, Fuqi said she wants a healthy baby. The majority of children in institutions are disabled or suffer from severe diseases, she said.

Li Hong (not her real name), a pregnant woman from Shenzhen, said she found a suitable family through QQ to give her baby to. "My baby is due on Sept 1, but I am not married and I don't have the ability or money to raise it," Li said.

Li said the family has agreed to pay her 10,000 yuan in compensation and handle all of her arrangements during the pregnancy and delivery process.

Lichou, the web administrator, said the demand for babies is much higher than the supply.

"We have members who have waited three years or longer but they still can't find a supplier."

Tong Xiaojun, an adviser for the Save the Children China Program, a non-governmental organization focusing on children's rights and welfare, urged the government to play a bigger role in facilitating adoptions.

"It's definitely inappropriate to let individuals run the websites for adoption services because there are many unexpected risks, but they exist because the government fails to do so," she said. "We can never guarantee children and families' rights on these websites run by unprofessional volunteers, so the government should take over the responsibility."

She also urged China to speed up legislation that would allow parents who do not want their children to give up custody, as the number of children born out of wedlock in China has increased rapidly.

Yan Ran, Zhang Yan and Huang Zhiling contributed to this story.