About the Author: Becky Ketarkus is mom of 11, four of her children came to her family through international adoption from China. Two of her children spent time on China’s Shared List of waiting children. These children were then adopted through WACAP. Becky is now a proud volunteer for Red Thread Advocates, whose mission involves advocacy for children who are still waiting for their families to find them, until there are no more waiting.
If you’ve been reading our blog here at Red Thread Advocates for any significant amount of time, you’ll notice mention of the Shared List. We post the files of children on this list for advocacy quite often. We analyze the statistics of this list. We spend a lot of time making sure the thousands children who were once housed on this list weren’t forgotten.
The Shared List is China’s list of children who are available for adoption and aren’t currently assigned to an agency. This list is available only for viewing by adoption agencies, as it contains identifying and personal information of children. Up until about a month ago, quite a few children whose files had been available for adoption for a long time, on average greater than a year, were left just sitting on the list.
The children whose files had taken up long time residency on the Shared List were often older or had significant special needs. They were just waiting for a family to request the file from their agency or for the agency to search the list based on age and need and match the family to that child. The Shared List contained over two thousand files. Red Thread Advocates posted an analysis of the Shared List at the time that the number of files on it dropped from over two thousand to just a little over eight hundred files.
If you’re an adoptive parent from China, or hoping to become one, it is natural to wonder what happened to those files? After all, these are children. We can refer to them as files, but in reality, each and every file represents a child. Were the files lost? Were the children deemed unadoptable? Rumors began to fly amongst parents. The reality involved the launch of a new program by the department in charge of overseeing adoption for the Chinese government, the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA).
The files that left the Shared List were divided between four U.S. based adoption agencies. This was a surprise to not only these four agencies (sometimes called “gateway agencies”), but to the other agencies that facilitate hundreds of adoptions from China annually. According to the Chinese government, the transfer of these files to four agency lists is meant to help files that haven’t been updated in years gain advocacy. The children whose files were moved were all children who had waited on the Shared List for at least a year. These files, and the children they represent, will all now be featured on Rainbow Kids.
If you are unfamiliar with the American run website Rainbow Kids, it is easy to navigate. Red Thread Advocates is happy to help you with a tour of how to search for the files that have now become known as “Former Shared List” files. At the bottom of this post are graphics that will guide you through the process of searching for these files.
Some of the children you’ll be viewing are receiving their first updates in years, and their pictures are now available for viewing outside of the Shared List, which was formerly only viewable by adoption agency professionals. In this way, this change is very beneficial to the children we’re all hoping will find families. But, what if your adoption agency, or one you hoped to use isn’t one of the ones these children were assigned to?
All agencies still have access to the Shared List. They can see all new files that are added to this live list – and files do continue to be added frequently. They still have partnerships within orphanages in China and will continue to receive files through these partnerships. They all continue to receive files to their designated lists of waiting children. Should a family see a file of a child who once was on the Shared List who they would consider for adoption, the family can still contact an agency that they feel comfortable with, an agency of their choice, to help them adopt their child. Two of the four agencies involved in the Former Shared List program have also posted publicly on their agency blogs that they will happily transfer files of these Former Shared List children to another agency that has a family for the child. Although not one of the agencies participating in the new program, World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP) has also stated that they do not intend to discontinue their program offering $4000 grants to children who have waited currently or formerly on the Shared List for more than three months.
As a four-time adoptive parent from China, I know how important it is to choose an agency whose beliefs align with yours, one you trust, feel comfortable with helping you bring your child home. It is never okay to feel forced into using an agency that don’t meet all of those criteria for your family. While this process is all about finding families for children, it is always about doing so ethically, in a way that leaves every family feeling what all of us want to feel when we adopt…joyful.
Ultimately, this process is supposed to be one of joy. You are becoming a parent, whether it’s the first time, or the 11th. This is a moment to make memories as you add to your family.
How to find ‘Former Shared List’ files on Rainbow Kids:
Rainbow Kids will require you to obtain a password for the site if you don’t have one. Red Thread Advocates does this as well. It’s a requirement from the CCCWA that all advocacy occur behind password protection, for the privacy of the kids.
Once you are logged in, the bar along the top acts as a way to filter your search to find only the children who meet your specific criteria. You can search by country of residence, age, special need. Or, if you go all the way to the right hand side of the search bar, you will see a ‘more options’ button.
You can select for children ‘previously on China’s Shared List.’
Once that’s done, you can scroll down past the ‘featured results’ to see all the children who were formerly on the shared list.