China Ends One-Child Policy, Adoptees React

China shifts course, ending the one-child policy that has strangled the country for decades — prompting strong reactions from the population of Chinese adoptees.

Gates in Beijing, shown when China ends one-child policy

On October 29, 2015, China’s government announced that it would end its “one-child” policy and that all married couples would be allowed to have two children. The decision to abolish the policy, which had been relaxed just two years prior, in late 2013, was made as the country faces a rapidly aging population and diminishing work force. Although abandoning a child was officially illegal in China, thousands of babies entered social welfare institutions while the reproductive restrictions were in place, with more than 85,000 ultimately adopted by families in the U.S.

For these 85,000 adults and children, the news hit home in a very personal way. In “A Letter of Frustration and Gratitude on the End of China’s One-Child Policy,” Jenni Fang Lee writes, “I am angry that this policy change wasn’t in place when my birth mother was pregnant with me. I am angry that this makes me and the tens of thousands of other Chinese adoptees feel like a footnote to history.” In “China’s Two-Child Policy and My Two Lives,” Lily Rau concludes, “There’s no changing the fact that China had a one-child policy in place when I was born, but there IS changing how the adoption community is viewed by the rest of the world. We’re growing up — the Chinese adoptees who were adopted in the early nineties are adults now — we’re going out into the real world as productive members of society and we’re bringing our histories and stories with us. Watch out, world, because here comes a storm….”


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