A significant AP article describes well both the big picture and the personal reality of the dramatic changes seen in adoptions coming from China over recent years. Just a few years ago, most adoptions from China were of healthy, infant girls; and the wait time was often between 1-2 years or less. Today, wait times have skyrocketed to 3-4 years or more. Equally significant, an increasing percentage of adoptions from China are of children with special needs—from repairable heart defects and cleft palates to much more serious issues.
Some of the factors behind these changes are positive, including apparent increases in domestic adoption rates and a relaxing of China’s infamous “one child” policy, which prompted many boy-seeking parents to abandon newborn girls. Such developments can be celebrated. But it is also believed that the Chinese government may be intentionally increasing wait times and limited adoptions of non-special needs children, in part to diminish the impression that China has an “orphan crisis.” To the extent that such policies essentially relegate healthy children to life in an institution, they are tragic. Even so, there’s every reason to rejoice that many American families are rising to this new challenge. Adopting a child with special needs should never be done lightly or without serious deliberation. But for families prepared to do so, such adoptions mirror God’s love like almost nothing else in the world.