A joint work team including family planning, civil affairs, police and disciplinary officials are investigating a scandal in which babies were sent overseas from southwest China's Guizhou Province for adoption, an official told Xinhua Friday.
Yang Jiesheng, deputy secretary general of the Qiandongnan Prefecture government and deputy head of the work team, said that the public orphanage in Zhenyuan County was suspected of violating rules in accepting so-called abandoned babies.
Orphanages are supposed to take in abandoned babies after someone declares the finding of an abandoned baby and the declaration is confirmed by police. In the Zhenyuan case, at least three babies were taken away from the homes of their relatives or even their own parents.
The orphanage has taken in 81 abandoned babies since June 1995,of which 60 were adopted by foreign families, said Han Hui, deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) committee in Qiandongnan Prefecture.
The orphanage was awarded 3,000 U.S. dollars for each child placed with a foreign family.
Meanwhile, six local party and government officials have been punished this week for their roles in the scandal, Han said.
Wang Daohua, former assistant head of Jiaoxi Township, Zhenyuan County and now head of the work committee of departments under the CPC Zhenyuan county committee, was dismissed from post for "direct liability," Han said.
The township's deputy head Tian Rongbao, the head of the township's family planning office Tian Shiwu and family planning official Shi Guangying were demoted, she said.
The township's former party chief Pan Jianguo received a serious warning and the then government head Wu Changqing received a demerit for "leadership responsibility."
Han said the prefectural Party disciplinary commission received a report in February that three babies were missing in Jiaoxi Township.
Initial investigation showed that Jiaoxi family planning officials sent three baby girls from different families, whose parents violated the nation's family planning rules in the pursuit of a male heir, to the county's orphanage in 2004. Two girls were then sent overseas for adoption in 2006 and the other in 2007.
The families could have been fined thousands of U.S. dollars for having an extra child, which is an unbearable burden for many families in the impoverished Guizhou Province.
In rural China, families are allowed to have a second baby if the first is a girl. However, some families keep on having babies until the birth of a boy.
One of three baby girls was the third child in the family of Li Zeji. Li had two girls before her and one girl and one boy after her.
Li would not pay the fine of 40,000 yuan (5,865 U.S. dollars) brought forth by the birth of the girl, so he sent her to his cousin when the baby was 36 days old in March 2004, according to media reports.
Li's cousin told local family planning officials, who found the girl at his home, that the girl was abandoned. The girl was then sent by the officials to the orphanage on April 20, 2004 and adopted on Jan. 7, 2007.
The second baby girl went through a similar experience before she was adopted at the age of three on Dec. 10, 2006.
Family planning officials also persuaded a mother to give up a baby, who was then sent to the orphanage and adopted at the age of three in December 2006.
It was not known how much the family planning officials benefited from the adoptions.