CCCWA has always shown a willingness to try new programs and methods in order to give more children a chance to be adopted. Through the years, many different aspects of the program have changed – sometimes quite suddenly – which initially can cause confusion and anxiety. But with time, agencies and families have adapted to the new rules and placements have continued, helping to make China one of the most stable and long-standing international adoption programs available in the world.
With the news that the bulk of files on the shared list were being divided among four US agencies, the adoption community was left wondering. In an effort to shed some light on these changes, we interviewed Martha Osborne, founder of RainbowKids, where all of the former shared list files will soon be posted. Next week, we hope to have feedback from the agencies involved in this new program. And this week, we’ve interviewed Erin Martin, an adoptive parent and child advocate. We know there are still many unknowns, but we are grateful the CCCWA is at work, trying to place more children into families, and we hope this series of posts builds understanding and provides clarity.
Q: Hi! Can you please introduce yourself and your connection to Chinese adoption for anyone who might not know you already?
My name is Erin Martin. My husband and I have five children, the youngest of which is adopted from China. After we adopted Eliana in 2012 I started advocating for children for our adoption agency, Gladney, on my blog. One thing led to another and in June of 2013 I traveled to China with Superkids, a non-profit organization associated with Gladney, for the first time. I’ve gone on five trips to China with Superkids since then and my sixth trip is coming up in October.
We visit Gladney’s partnership orphanages and meet children there. I am the team photographer and social media manager. We also have doctors and therapists on the team, so we come home with a lot of good information on the children we meet that we can share with families!
Q: In as simple of terms as possible, can you explain what the CCCWA did recently with the shared list?
The CCCWA has made a lot of changes over the years with the way files are handled. I see this as another effort on their part to highlight children who might be overlooked. My understanding is that the CCCWA took the 2,000+ files that were on the shared list and divided them between four agencies: Gladney, Holt, CCAI, and Lifeline. I’m pretty closely tied to Gladney, so anything I say will probably reflect that.
The files are being assigned to each agency by province. So each agency is assigned the shared list files from 6-9 provinces. The CCCWA is still working at getting all of the children moved to agency lists, so the shared list numbers will probably keep falling for a little while longer.
The agencies are responsible to list the children on RainbowKids and get updates on them. I don’t know what the other agencies are doing for updates, but Gladney will be sending teams of volunteers throughout October, November, and maybe December to meet children on their list. So they are looking for medical professionals, photographers, and advocates who want to go to China!
(Editor’s note: Currently files come from China to agencies through two avenues – 1) from Agency Partnerships, where agencies work with individual orphanages and get all the files from that orphanage and have the first opportunity to place those children, and 2) from the Shared List. As far as we understand right now, these program changes only affect the way the shared list is distributed. The agency partnerships will continue, even for agencies not among the four selected for this program.)
Q: Why do you think CCCWA did this?
I believe they are looking at it as a way to make the children who were formerly on the shared list more visible. The shared list was only open to agencies. Once all the children are listed on RainbowKids, prospective adoptive parents and advocates will be able to see the entire list for themselves.
(Editor’s note: Many of the children on the shared list have been on it for many years, possibly never having their file seriously considered by a family or an agency. For example, earlier today I was looking at the list and saw a 10-year-old boy with microtia whose medical and referral information looked to be from when he was 4 or 5 years old — so it would appear that it has been years since anyone looked at his file or requested an update.)
Q: What do you think the biggest positive of this decision will be?
The children who desperately need updates in their files will not only get those updates, but will also be seen by many, many more people.
Q: The biggest negative?
There are some questions about what will happen to agencies and other countries who only placed children off of the shared list. I think all of the questions will be worked out, but it is never easy when huge questions go unanswered for a while.
Q: Why only these four agencies, in your opinion?
I don’t know.
Q: What does this mean for international families who want to adopt a waiting child? What about families who want to adopt more than one child? Or those who cannot sign a statement of faith?
I can only speak to what I have heard, but I believe the agencies will be happy to transfer these files to other agencies, unlike the partnership files from the same agencies which are not easily transferred. I think that will be a distinct difference in how these shared list files are handled.
International families can also go to RainbowKids and see the children listed there. Frankly, this opens up the shared list children for international families as well as American families. If their agency contacts the agency who has the file they are interested in, they should be able to transfer the file with no problems.
I do want to also recognize how concerning this must be for people who are in process to adopt in countries other than the US. As I said earlier I do think these questions will be answered and worked out eventually. In the meantime I would just encourage families to be aggressive about getting their agencies to request files.
Do you have more questions? We realize this is a developing story within the Chinese adoption community, and there may be some questions we haven’t yet thought to ask. Please comment on this post with any questions you’d like to see addressed.