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China lifts one-child policy after 37 years

After 37 years, China is repealing its unpopular one-child law citing a need to “promote the long-term balanced development of population,” according to a statement released by the Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission.

The law was enacted officially in 1980 to combat extreme population increases in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The repeal, which will go into effect in March of 2016, will allow all Chinese families to have two children instead of the previous one per family, with exceptions. The one-child policy began gradually in 1978, and the Chinese Communist Party sent out a public letter in 1980 requiring the population to adhere. The policy caused a major imbalance in gender populations and a large gap between the young and elderly generations in China.

As of 2014, more than 20 percent of China’s population was older than 55. More than 47 percent was between the ages of 25-55. The law impacted population balance, ratios of males to females, forced abortions and drove China to be the number one country for international adoptions in the world. In 2005, a record breaking 7,906 babies were adopted from China.

Beverlee Einsig, previous head of the adoption agency Dillon International and advocate of child adoption, believes this policy will affect how many children are available for adoption rather than the makeup of the Chinese population.

“The majority of children being placed from China now are children with special needs, and I think now you’re going to see a reduction [in adoptions],” Einsig said. “But it may take a while for that to factor in because this is a new policy.”

Despite creating stricter adoption criteria in 2007, the country still remained number-one in adoptions. Since 1991, American families have adopted more than 60,000 Chinese babies, most of them girls, altering their lives forever.

“I think the bigger picture is how those people who were adopted from China primarily because of the one-child policy,” she said. “How are they going to feel? How is it going to impact them knowing that had this [new] policy been in place, they might be with a family in China.”


Check out the accompanying muse story here.

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