Friday, September 30, 2011

China Fires 12 Government Workers in Adoption Scandal

BEIJING — Twelve government employees have been fired and stripped of their Communist Party membership after an investigation into allegations that family planning officials kidnapped children in an impoverished rural area in the southern Chinese province of Hunan, People’s Daily, the party’s official newspaper, reported Thursday.

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While investigators concluded that the government workers did not engage in “baby trading,” they did find “severe violations” of regulations, according to the newspaper’s Web site, People’s Daily Online. A Hunan-based Web news portal said the officials were guilty of “negligence and handling work in a simplistic way.”

In a scandal that has drawn widespread coverage, parents and grandparents claim that officials from Longhui, a county that is administered by Shaoyang, illegally seized at least 16 children between 1999 and 2006 because of allegations that family planning rules were violated. Caixin Century Weekly, a Chinese magazine, reported in May that some were later adopted by foreigners.

Government investigators examined 14 cases. In one, parents voluntarily surrendered their child because they were unable to provide care. Five other children were deemed abandoned because the facts about their parentage were hidden by “involved persons,” People’s Daily reported. Eight more were taken because they had been illegally adopted by local families.

Investigators found no evidence that the city’s orphanage, the Shaoyang Social Welfare Institute, paid kickbacks to officials who delivered babies, according to the newspaper’s report.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Lifeline for Refugees

Although this article doesn't deal directly with human trafficking, for those who care about victims of various kinds of persecution, you'll want to know about this.

A Lifeline for Refugees

One year ago, Congress gave a temporary lifeline to thousands of older and disabled refugees. It extended for another 12 months their eligibility for cash assistance under the Supplemental Security Income program, which, for many, was their only source of income. That Congress had to do this was an unfortunate side effect of a 1996 law that placed strict time limits on benefits for refugees who did not become citizens within seven years.

Those limits were intended to persuade refugees to naturalize — well-meaning but mistaken. Thousands who had fled to the United States from places like Iran, Somalia, Cuba and Russia were simply unable to meet the deadline. Some of these men and women were very old and sick, blind or mentally disabled. Some were homebound and too poor to pay for English lessons or administrative fees, unable to understand or complete the paperwork or were caught in processing backlogs.

They were — and remain — an unusually vulnerable population. As refugees, they are all survivors of persecution, torture or warfare. Many have no relatives here. Too old or disabled to work, they rely on government aid for basic food and housing needs.

Since 2008, Congress has passed a series of stopgap bills to keep the aid flowing. The latest extension expires Friday when at least 2,195 refugees will immediately lose their benefits. Another 400 to 500 are expected to be cut off from aid each month as their eligibility runs out. The money is small — about $674 a month for an individual, $1,011 for a couple — and the total needed is a microscopic fraction of the federal budget. Supporters estimate it would cost $178 million for a two-year benefit extension and have identified offsetting spending cuts to pay for it. But generosity and bipartisanship are in eclipse on Capitol Hill, and passage is not certain.

Congress should quickly do what is right and pass the extension. Then, the link between naturalization and life-saving benefits for the old, sick and disabled should be severed. An offer of solace and shelter to victims of war and torture should be real and permanent, not subject to political whims and yearly rethinking.

Gang Chief Guilty Of People Smuggling in the UK

The tyrannical chief of an immigrant smuggling gang has been convicted of human trafficking and violence. Yong Zhang, a member of one of China's infamous Snakehead gangs, made thousands from the trade based on extortion. He was found guilty of conspiring to assist illegal entry, false imprisonment and grievous bodily harm and will be sentenced later. Zhang also faces deportation. Judge Alan Hitching said he came to Britain as an illegal immigrant and worked in the black economy and had not paid national insurance or tax. His role in the lucrative illegal immigrant trade came to light after he welcomed one young asylum seeker to Britain with a savage beating. Agricultural worker Li En Kai, 25, and his family had contacted a Snakehead gang in China who agreed to smuggle him to a new life in the "promised land" of the UK for an agreed price.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sorry, Dorothy. Kansas, too.

Wichita police are concerned about an increase in human trafficking. … Police say they are concerned about the growing trend of sex trafficking in the city and are looking for real answers. Over the past five years, police have documented numerous cases. In 2006, there were 11 cases, 10 in 2007 and nine in 2008. However, starting in 2009, the number grew to 17 cases, followed by 22 cases in 2010. So far this year, there have been 28 sex trafficking cases. Most of the documented cases are local and don't involve transporting the victims. Police say the cases are difficult to investigate because there is sometimes a lack of evidence. There's also a lack of data regarding the crime. What make them most difficult to investigate, though, are the uncooperative victims. … Police say they are doing a lot to slow down the problem. They point to the work the Exploited and Missing Child Unit has done. Several investigators have recently gone to conferences that deal with human sex trafficking.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Yorker Expunges Prostitution Record Under Trafficking Law

There's been some buzz among us about the use of expungement laws to remove arrests (and convictions) of victims arrested for prostitution. Here's an article (see first article) about the first beneficiary of a new law in NY.

[A] 22-year-old New Yorker wasallowed on Wednesday to erase her criminal prostitution record, the first U.S. citizen to do so under a new sex trafficking law. Identified by authorities only as Ms. Johnson, a pseudonym used out of concern for her safety, the woman was a 13-year-old runaway when she was pushed into prostitution by a 21-year-old man she thought was her boyfriend, according to documents filed in state Supreme Court in the Bronx. Over the next six years, the Bronx native was sold by pimps on the street and convicted three times for prostitution before a customer helped her to escape. On Wednesday, her criminal record for prostitution was expunged by a judge who agreed with both prosecutors and defense attorneys that she was protected under a recent New York State law that equates pimps with sex traffickers. Under the law, "pimp-controlled" prostitutes of any age are considered victims who should not bear the burden of convictions that can interfere with employment, housing, government benefits and other aspects of a law-abiding life. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 21 September 2011; Source:,0,2747851.story]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

China Detains Journalist for Article on Sex Slaves

BEIJING — For a nation not yet inured to lurid and senseless crime, a report that a former civil servant in central China kept six women enslaved in an underground bunker — and that he killed two of them — was shocking enough.


But perhaps almost as disturbing, at least to some readers, was that the journalist who exposed the crime more than two weeks after the suspect’s arrest was detained by security agents who accused him of revealing state secrets.

After his release from questioning on Thursday, the reporter, Ji Xuguang, wrote an articlethat accused the authorities of trying to keep the public in the dark about a heinous crime that unfolded less than two miles from the city’s public security bureau.

“I was only thinking about how to make my story as accurate as possible and to satisfy the public’s right to know, but I soon discovered that I failed to address the most important issue — face,” wrote Mr. Ji, a reporter for Southern Metropolis Daily, one of the country’s most aggressively independent publications. “Before the truth becomes a state secret, the public and myself need answers.”

Still, much of the national media on Friday were mesmerized by the horrifying details of the case, which took place in the city of Luoyang, in Henan Province.

According to Mr. Ji’s account, the suspect, Li Hao, 34, kidnapped the women, ages 16 to 24, from the karaoke parlors where they worked and imprisoned them in a 215-square-foot dungeon he dug beneath a rented basement space. Over the course of two years, Mr. Li repeatedly forced the women to have sex with him, Mr. Ji said.

According to a police official who provided details to Mr. Ji, the suspect kept his captives perpetually starved so they would have little energy for escape, but he also gave them two computers on which they could “kill time” by watching movies and playing games. Mr. Li, who is married with an infant son, lived elsewhere in the city.

Mr. Li’s arrest came on Sept. 6, when one of the women escaped and found her way to the police.

Mr. Ji said the rescued women were still in police custody on suspicion that they had a hand in the murders of the two women.

In his posting on Friday, Mr. Ji said he stumbled upon the story this week after spending a few days in Luoyang to investigate the murder of a local television reporter. In his follow-up article, he said his questioners deemed the case a state secret because, he later learned, they feared that its revelation might tarnish Luoyang’s quest to become a “Civilized City” as part of a national competition.

Mia Li contributed research.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Slavery, a Personal Question Online

Do you know how many slaves work on your behalf?

Michel Filho/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Textile workers in Brazil demonstrate against slavery.

While many people may assume the answer to that provocative and unsettling question is zero, the creators of a new Web site want to demonstrate how forced labor, especially overseas, is tantamount to slavery.

A nonprofit group, with funding from the State Department, will unveil the new site,, on Thursday in an effort to show that forced laborers are tied to all kinds of everyday products, from electronics and jewelry to the shirt on your back.

Ideally, they hope to get consumers engaged enough in the issue to do something about it, primarily hoping people demand that companies carefully audit supply chains to ensure, as best as they can determine, that no “slave labor” was used to manufacture its products.

“What we are trying to do is make it so it’s not just someone else’s business, it’s everyone’s business,” said Luis CdeBaca, ambassador at large for the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. “There’s a horror about it when they figure out what is going on.”

The slavery footprint is a twist on the more commonly known carbon footprint, and the new site tries to point out areas of a consumer’s life where the organization believes slavery is most likely used to manufacture products.

Slavery Footprint defines a slave as “anyone who is forced to work without pay, being economically exploited and is unable to walk away.” The State Department estimates that there are 27 million slaves globally. The Web site steers users through a set of prompts, where they can define where they live, the type of dwelling they live in, how many children they have, how many cars they use, what they eat and what types of things they have bought.

Sprinkled throughout are grim notations about slave labor and human trafficking, like this one: “In China, soccer ball manufacturers work up to 21 hours in a day, for a month straight. Even the toughest American coaches wouldn’t ask that from their squads.”

Or this claim: “Every day tens of thousands of American women buy makeup. Every day tens of thousands of Indian children mine mica, which is the little sparkles in the makeup.”

The site also asks users how many times they have paid for sex. While there is no way to answer, the site notes that people who pay for sex contribute to the demand for sexual trafficking.

The Web site offers a numerical score of how many slaves users have working on their behalf; the average is 55.

The site was created by the Fair Trade Fund, a California-based nonprofit group that uses media to promote advocacy on issues, particularly human slavery. Among its projects are “Call + Response,” a film on the slave trade, and, a Web site that encourages consumers to send electronic letters to companies challenging them to define their policies on human trafficking.

The companies’ responses, or lack thereof, are posted on the Web site.

Based on the movie and the Web site, the State Department sought out the Fair Trade Fund to create the Slavery Footprint site and provided it with a $200,000 grant.

Justin Dillon, 42, the organization’s chief executive, said the Slavery Footprint site did not make specific companies its targets. Instead, it shows consumers which products they use are most likely to involve forced labor.

He said a mobile application would allow consumers to find information on products at the point of purchase, and send companies electronic letters asking about their policies on slave labor. Those letters will also be sent to all of the consumers’ Facebook friends, in the hopes of applying consumer pressure for changes in practices. “Really the goal is to amplify the conversation between the consumer and the producer,” Mr. Dillon said. “Our torches and pitchforks are out for the slave traders, not the multinationals.”

Ideally, he said companies would hire third-party auditors to determine if their supply chains were employing slave labor.

The Slavery Footprint application is being started nearly a year after California passed a law that requires companies with global sales in excess of $100 million who do business in the state to disclose what efforts they have made to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains.

Some business groups opposed the measure, saying it unfairly tagged companies for “failing” on an issue they were powerless to change.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the United States Chamber of Commerce said he would not comment because officials at the organization had not yet seen the Slavery Footprint Web site. Mr. CdeBaca said the new grant recognized the need to encourage consumers to put pressure on the marketplace.

“Without some kind of demand, the traffickers wouldn’t be rushing to meet that through coercion and threats,” he said.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Feds grant $500K for human trafficking aid

Groups in Erie County, New York have received a $500,000 federal grant to combat human trafficking. Its purpose is to enable a more comprehensive approach to identifying and stopping instances of sex and labor trafficking. Much of the efforts will be victim-centered.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office and a collaborative of local groups received a $500,000 federal grant to better combat human trafficking.

The grant, from the Department of Justice, supports an initiative by the nonprofitInternational Institute of Buffalo , the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a regional task force to prevent human trafficking.

The competitive grant comes through the Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking, which works with law enforcement and social service organizations to address victims of human trafficking. The purpose of the award is to support a comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking in all forms, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking of both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens.

The task force will work collaboratively and with other stakeholders/partners to conduct proactive, victim-centered trafficking investigations; offer a comprehensive array of restorative services to meet victim’s needs; support the prosecution of trafficking crimes on state and federal levels; and enhance community capacity to identify and report trafficking crimes by conducting training, public awareness and outreach activities.

Amy Fleischauer, director of victim services at the International Institute said in a statement the agency is ecstatic. The award also enables the group to continue its work with Farmworker Legal Services of New York on cases of agricultural trafficking.

“Identifying and assisting victims of trafficking on farms — who are often hidden from sight — is a developing area of the field and is critical for informing national human trafficking policy,” she said.

Tim Howard, Erie County Sheriff, said the organization’s commitment to the safety of all human trafficking victims and his department’s pursuit against perpetrators of trafficking crimes is made easier thanks in large part to the grant.

“There is no place today where human trafficking will not be happening in either this county, this state, this country or even our world,” he said. “We must be ever vigilant in our efforts to wipe out this modern day slavery scourge and again, this grant will help us in our dogged pursuit of such.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pakistan, Australia resolve to end human trafficking

Pakistan and Australia have enacted joint measures to end human trafficking and other transnational crimes. These measures include sharing intelligence about traffickers, and Australia financially aiding Pakistan in building its police force.

ISLAMABAD, Sep 13 (APP)- Pakistan and Australia Tuesday resolved to further enhance joint measures to end human trafficking and transnational crimes.This was decided in a meeting held here between Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Chief Operating Officer Customs and Border Protection Service Australia Michael Pezzullo.Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media after the meeting that Australia is providing Pakistan with a forensic laboratory as well as imparting training to Pakistani officers of police and law enforcement agencies in Australia for their capacity building.

He termed the Pak-Australian relations as of great importance, and which would be further enhanced in times to come.
He said both countries have formed two joint working groups to end human trafficking, terrorism and transnational crimes.
Malik said the Government of Pakistan is committed to combat the threat of terrorism by taking all necessary and practical measures.
He said Pakistan is thankful to Australian government for extending help for the capacity building of law enforcement agencies’ officials of Pakistan.
The Minister said that Pakistan and Australia are sharing intelligence with regard to human traffickers, agents, illegal migrants and those involved in money laundering and other transnational crimes.
Earlier the Chief Operating Officer Customs and Border Protection Service Australia Michael Pezzullo said that Australia greatly valued its relationship with Pakistan, and lauded Pakistan’s endeavors in its war against terrorism.
He said the Australian government is committed to assist Pakistan in terms of capacity building of police and law enforcement agencies’ officials of Pakistan as well as financially.
He said the joint working groups of Pakistan and Australia are working on issues of human trafficking and transnational crimes.
Meanwhile, the Interior Minister requested the Australian government and world community to help the flood affected people of Pakistan.

Monday, September 19, 2011

For Adoptive Parents, Questions Without Answers

For Adoptive Parents, Questions Without Answers

Emily Berl for The New York Times

FAMILY Susan Merkel and her husband, Barry Leavitt, at home in Chesterfield, N.J., with their daughter, Maia, whom they adopted from China in 2007.

IN almost any adoption, the new parents accept that their good fortune arises out of the hardship of the child’s first parents. The equation is usually tempered by the thought that the birth parents either are no longer alive or chose to give the child a better life than they could provide.

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Emily Berl for The New York Times

DIFFERENT REACTIONS Scott Mayer with his wife, Annie, and their children, Keshi, from China, and Kai, from Ethiopia. Mr. Mayer said he was shaken by news of the scandal.

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On Aug. 5, this newspaper published afront-page article from China that contained chilling news for many adoptive parents: government officials in Hunan Province, in southern China, had seized babies from their parents and sold them into what the article called “a lucrative black market in children.”

The news, the latest in a slow trickle of reports describing child abduction and trafficking in China, swept through the tight communities of families — many of them in the New York area — who have adopted children from China. For some, it raised a nightmarish question: What if my child had been taken forcibly from her parents?

And from that question, inevitably, tumble others: What can or should adoptive parents do? Try to find the birth parents? And if they could, what then?

Scott Mayer, who with his wife adopted a girl from southern China in 2007, said the article’s implications hit him head on. “I couldn’t really think straight,” Mr. Mayer said. His daughter, Keshi, is 5 years old — “I have to tell you, she’s brilliant,” he said proudly — and is a mainstay of his life as a husband and a father.

“What I felt,” he said, “was a wave of heat rush over me.”

Like many adoptive parents, Mr. Mayer can recount the emotionally exhausting process he and his wife went through to get their daughter, and can describe the warm home they have strived to provide. They had been assured that she, like thousands of other Chinese girls, was abandoned in secret by her birth parents, left in a public place with a note stating her date of birth.

But as he started to read about the Hunan cases, he said, doubts flooded in. How much did he — or any adoptive parent — really know about what happened on the other side of the world? Could Keshi have been taken by force, or bought by the orphanage in order to reap the thousands of dollars that American parents like him donate when they get their children?

In his home in Montclair, N.J., Mr. Mayer rushed upstairs to re-examine the adoption documents.

According to the news reports, the children were removed from their families when they were several months old, then taken to the orphanages. “The first thing I did was look in my files,” he said, speaking in deliberative, unsparing sentences. According to his paperwork, his daughter had been found on a specific date, as a newborn.

He paused to weigh the next thought.

“Now, could that have been faked?” he said. “Perhaps. I don’t know. But at least it didn’t say she was 3 months old when she was left at the orphanage.”

According to the State Department, 64,043 Chinese children were adopted in the United States between 1999 and 2010, far more than from any other country. Child abduction and trafficking have plagued other international adoption programs, notably in Vietnam and Romania, and some have shut down to stop the black market trade.

But many parents saw China as the cleanest of international adoption choices. Its population-control policy, which limited many families to one child, drove couples to abandon subsequent children or to give up daughters in hopes of bearing sons to inherit their property and take care of them in old age. China had what adoptive parents in America wanted: a supply of healthy children in need of families.

As Mr. Mayer reasoned, “If anything, the number of children needing an adoptive home was so huge that it outstripped the number of people who could ever come.”

This narrative was first challenged in 2005, when Chinese and foreign news media reported that government officials and employees of an orphanage in Hunan had sold at least 100 children to other orphanages, which provided them to foreign adoptive parents.

Mr. Mayer was not aware of this report or the few others that followed. Though he knew many other adoptive families, and was active in a group called Families With Children From China — Greater New York, no one had ever talked about abduction or baby-selling.

“I didn’t even think that existed in China,” he said.

Again he paused.

“This comes up and you say, holy cow, it’s even more complicated than you thought.”

“ADOPTION is bittersweet,” said Susan Soon-Keum Cox, vice president for public policy and external affairs at Holt International, a Christian adoption agency based in Eugene, Ore., with an extensive program in China. The process connects birth parents, child and adoptive parents in an unequal relationship in which each party has different needs and different leverage. It begins in loss.

Michael Kamber for The New York Times

Judy Larch, with her daughters, Gabrielle, foreground, and Amanda, both from China, said she had faith in her adoption agency.

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The New York Times

An area in Hunan Province in China was said to be a source for stolen children.

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Adoptive parents and adoption agencies have powerful incentives not to talk about trafficking or to question whether a child was given up voluntarily, especially given how difficult it is to know for certain. Such talk can unsettle the children or anger the Chinese government, which might limit the families’ future access to the country or add restrictions to futureadoptions. And the possible answer is one that no parent wants to hear.

Most parents contacted for this article declined to comment or agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity. Several said they never discussed trafficking, even with other adoptive parents. To a query from The New York Times posted on a Web forum for adoptive parents, one parent urged silence, writing, “The more we put China child trafficking out there, the more chances your child has to encounter a schoolmate saying, ‘Oh, were you stolen from your bio family?’ ”

Such reticence infuriates people like Karen Moline, a New York writer and a board member of the nonprofit advocacy group Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, who adopted a boy from Vietnam 10 years ago. “If the government is utterly corrupt, and you have to take an orphanage a donation in hundred-dollar bills, why would you think the program was ethical?” she said. “Ask a typical Chinese adoptive parent that question, and they’ll say, my agency said so. My agency is ethical. People say, the paperwork says X; the paperwork is legitimate. But you have no idea where your money goes.

“Now you have to give $5,000 as an orphanage fee in China. Multiply that by how many thousand adoptions. Tens of millions of dollars have flowed out of this country to get kids, and you have no accounting for it.”

Agencies say that cases of child abduction are few compared with the number of abandoned Chinese babies who found good homes in America. The abductions reported in August were of 16 or more children taken from their parents between 1999 and 2006. According to the investigation, population-control officials threatened towering fines for couples who violated the one-child policy because they were too young to be married or already had a child, or because they had themselves adopted the child without proper paperwork. When the parents could not pay, the officials seized the children and sent them into the lucrative foreign adoption system.

“The incident when it happened was resolved quickly by the Chinese in a way that was drastic and made very clear that the Chinese would not tolerate trafficking,” said Ms. Cox, of Holt International. “I’m not saying there are not any other incidents, but people can be assured that the process in China is a good one.”

A 2010 State Department report said there were “no reliable estimates” of the number of children kidnapped for adoption in China, but cited Chinese news media reports that said the figure might be as high as 20,000 children a year, most of whom are adopted illegally within the country, especially boys.

But it is hard to know, said David Smolin, a professor at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., who has written extensively about international adoption and trafficking. Changes in China in the early 2000s — a rising standard of living, an easing of restrictions on adoption within the country, more sex-selective abortion — meant that fewer families abandoned healthy babies, Professor Smolin said.

“Orphanages had gotten used to getting money for international adoption,” he said, “and all of the sudden they didn’t have healthy baby girls unless they competed with traffickers for them.”

PROFESSOR SMOLIN has two daughters, whom he and his wife adopted from India as teenagers. Within six weeks the girls disclosed that they had been kidnapped from their birth parents. But when Professor Smolin and his wife tried to find the girls’ biological parents, he said, no one wanted to help.

When he started to speak publicly about his experience, he met other parents in the same situation — hundreds of them, he said. “They all said they felt abandoned by adoption agencies and by various governments,” he said. “There’s a sense that other people in the adoption community did not want to hear about these circumstances. People were told that it was not a good thing to talk about. So you’re left alone with these practical and moral dilemmas, and that is overwhelming.” In the end, it took more than six years for the couple to find their daughters’ birth parents, by which time the girls were young adults.

Susan Merkel, 48, who with her husband adopted their daughter, Maia, at 9 months old in August 2007, said that even within their own home, her husband did not like to talk about the possibility.

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“My husband really feels like it’s something that we don’t know whether that’s the case and would rather not think about it,” she said at her home in Chesterfield, N.J.

But for Ms. Merkel, who is studying social work at Rutgers University, the uncertainty is haunting. Her daughter’s orphanage, in Hubei Province, which is immediately north of Hunan, is near an area known for strict enforcement of the one-child policy, and Ms. Merkel said she could not shake the possibility that a population-control official had seized her and turned her over to the orphanage.

Ms. Merkel was adopted as a child, and said that meeting her birth mother had helped her understand her past and herself. What, then, was her responsibility as a parent — to find Maia’s birth parents, who might make a valid claim for her return? How could Ms. Merkel, who got so much out of meeting her own birth mother, not want that for her child? “What I do know is that she’s my daughter and I love her,” she said. “We’re giving her the best family and life that we can. And if she has questions someday, we’ll do all we can to help her find the answers.”

Ms. Merkel said that she would support Maia’s meeting her birth parents if it was possible, but that she would not willingly return her to them, even if there was evidence that she had been taken.

“I would feel great empathy for that person,” she said. “I would completely understand the anger and the pain. But I would fight to keep my daughter. Not because she’s mine, but because for all purposes we’re the only family she’s ever known. How terrifying that would be for a child to be taken away from the only family she knows and the life that she knows. That’s not about doing what’s right for the child. That’s doing what’s right for the birth mother.”

BRIAN STUY, an adoptive father of three in Salt Lake City, runs a service to help adoptive families learn about their children’s origins. When he has managed to contact birth parents, he said, most were content to learn that their children were alive, that they were healthy and in good homes. “Unfortunately, the reaction of most adoptive parents is to go into hiding,” Mr. Stuy said. “When they have suspicions, they don’t want to come forward.”

Many parents simply never have suspicions. Tony X. Tan, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of South Florida whose research specialty is adoption, surveyed 342 adoptive parents of Chinese children last month. Two-thirds said they “never” suspected that their children might have been abducted, and one in nine said they thought about it “sometimes.” Several said the paperwork from the orphanages was inconsistent or suspicious.

One mother, who adopted two girls from different provinces, wrote, “My Guangxi daughter was adopted with a group of 11 other infants, all roughly the same age, and came home with an extremely detailed description of her first 11 months of life in her orphanage. Yet ‘her’ information was word-for-word the same as the info given the families of the other 11 children adopted at the same time — making it all too specific to be believable.”

Judy Larch, a Macy’s executive who lives in Pelham, N.Y., said she adopted two girls from China, in 2001 and 2007, because she had heard good things about the program, and because she could adopt as a single woman. Though she has read about trafficking, she said, “I’ve never had any doubts or concerns about their adoptions.” She said she had faith in the adoption agency, Holt International.

Such faith is small comfort to a woman named Ms. Chen, who said population-control officials in her hometown, Changle, in Fujian Province, took her daughter in 1999. Ms. Chen, who is in the United States illegally, applied for asylum as a dissident this year, but was denied. She declined to speak to The Times, but gave permission for a reporter to watch a videotaped interview conducted by a Christian group in Flushing, Queens, calledAll Girls Allowed, which works with women’s rights groups in China and maintains a database of photographs of missing children. Her story could not be corroborated.

In the interview, Ms. Chen said that her first child, born in 1997, was a girl, and that she was under great pressure from her in-laws to produce a son. She became pregnant soon afterward, but this child, too, was a girl. Ms. Chen was in violation of the one-child law, which in her area allowed parents to have a second child after six years. Officials came to her with a choice: give up the second child — then 5 months old — or undergo tubal ligation.

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“I was holding my daughter and crying,” she said on the video. The official told her that if she gave up the child, in six years she could try again to have a son, she said. “I was afraid for my marriage,” she said. “Of course I didn’t want to give up the child. But I was afraid that without a boy my marriage wouldn’t last.”

She said, “I handed her over meekly.”

MR. MAYER, in Montclair, who also has an adopted son from Ethiopia, has accepted that he may never know the full truth about his daughter’s beginnings.

After absorbing the revelations about trafficking, he said, he took a step back. “O.K., what does this mean to my life today? And how does it change my life today?” he said he asked himself. “And today it changes absolutely nothing about my life with Keshi. If I want Keshi to be able to question and to come to terms with the issues of why she would have been put up for adoption in the way she was, she’s going to ask these questions. This is just another one of those questions to which I don’t have a concrete answer. That’s my role as a dad.”

In the future, families like his may have better answers. Parents or children may be able to search online databases of children whose birth parents say they were taken. For now, though, is it the parents’ duty to ask those questions? Or is it for children to decide, in time, how much they want to know?

“I can’t change the past or change whatever anybody has done in China,” Mr. Mayer said. “What’s most important to me is there are real significant issues for my daughter coming of age and understanding her birth story. And I’m committed to supporting her in that and making sure that it’s as honest and truthful and supportive as possible. And that’s a scary thing.”