April 25th, the one year anniversary of our LID. This time last year we thought we would be seeing a referral, or at least be close to one, by this time. Another big assumption bites the dust.
As I mentioned before, I no longer believe that the wait time for China will speed up, or even stabilize, any time soon. “Any time soon” being measured in years not months. In retrospect I feel a bit naïve that I ever believed that this wait would stop plummeting and begin to stabilize or speed up. But it took me quite some time to get to any real information and also to stop the denial train that went with it.
In summary, the reason I believed in the speed up is a lot of people who had been China watchers (or CCAA watchers actually) had a lot of good reason why it should speed up. They explained the slow down in terms of mostly transient factors, a big move, the new responsibilities of the CCAA, the Hague-inspired push for domestic adoption and the Hunan scandal. These folks were very much convinced that once those transitions shook out a bit, things would get back on track. Unlikely, they said, that it was going back to a 6 month wait, but maintaining at the current wait was at least possible.
And I think they sincerely believed this to be true. But I think they were also missing a few factors. The biggest one being the explosive increase in would-be-parents applying to adopt from China. For all the reasons I mentioned in my Why China entry, China is a popular program and has become even more so in the last couple of years. In Oct 2005 alone more than 2000 parent-dossiers were submitted to China. That is nearly twice the number they had gotten in the same month the previous year. It is being said by some sources that even more dossiers were submitted in 2006 than in 2005.
In contrast, the CCAA has had fewer non-special needs children eligible for international adoption. Notice I don’t say they have fewer babies, just fewer that are “paper ready” as they say. There’s a lot of debate about this but I really do believe there are still thousands of children in the SWIs around China, but for one reason or another they are not in the IA program. Participation in the IA program is money and paper-work intensive and some SWI directors choose not to put in the effort. I think it’s unconscionable but it’s not my call. Also, while we tend to think of the Chinese Government as if it was one big monolithic thing, the various branches are rather more autonomous than one might guess. Kinda like our own Government, really. There is a great deal of political in-fighting and even though the CCAA has nominal control over the SWIs, in practice they really cannot force the directors to do anything. There also is some evidence of an increase in domestic adoption. In addition, we know that the provinces that have historically sent the most children for IA have seen large drop-offs in abandonment rates. This is a Good Thing in the larger picture, of course. It means that China’s “pro-girl” campaigns plus economic growth are combining to reduce this terrible practice. But the upshot is: there are fewer paper-ready babies than potential parents.
As if that weren’t enough, there is also speculation about CCAA motives and un-spoken policies, which may also be affecting the wait. Most of these are impossible to prove, but we are pretty sure that the CCAA is also deliberately limiting the number of babies they refer in each batch to a specific range. (Roughly 800-1000 babies per batch is the number I have seen quoted most often.) We are not sure about the reason since the CCAA doesn’t even acknowledge this limit directly. But most people agree there is some attempt to “save face” as China becomes more of major player on the international stage.
So, it’s simple math. Major increase in PAPs + drop in paper-ready babies + maybe CCAA keeping a lid on numbers to “save face” in the international community = major increase in wait times.
I think a lot of folks will drop out. But I think even more folks will go with an concurrent (something called interim) adoption – i.e. go to another country or go back to domestic while waiting for their China referral – rather than step out of line. So all the factors really point to an ever-increasing wait. Hence the title (shamelessly stolen from one of my fellow Rumor Queen bloggers) of this entry.
We’re being assured that the China IA program will remain open. Even the CCAA states they are committed to this. But then again, our agencies and CCAA all assured us the wait wouldn’t continue to increase so… Well, I am trying to be realistic not bitter here so no more on that.
I am no longer willing to estimate when our daughter will come home. But we have to face the fact that it probably won’t be this year either.
It’s really depressing. We started this process in 2005! We’ve been working at this for over two years now and we may still have a year or more to wait?! Ridiculous! Unthinkable!
Someone get me a stiff drink, huh?
PS: I would be happy to be wrong about this in case anyone is wondering!