BEIJING (Reuters) - China relaxed rules for the legal adoption of trafficked or abandoned Chinese children, state media reported on Friday, as the government works to combat the pervasive problem of child trafficking.
Trafficking of children is a serious problem in China, where the government said it rescued 13,000 abducted children last year. Many of those infants end up in state-run orphanages or other public welfare facilities.
Under the new rules, a child can be adopted if authorities do not find parents or guardians during a year-long search, the China Daily reported, citing officials and a statement from the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security.
The adoptive family must agree to return the child to the biological parents if they turn up, as long as authorities do not find that the birth parents abandoned or sold the child.
Previously, children in orphanages could not be adopted while authorities sought their parents, leaving them in limbo, a Civil Affairs ministry official told the newspaper.
State media also said authorities would use blood samples to try to link children's DNA to that of their biological parents. Authorities have struggled to locate parents of abducted children, and only a small percent of rescued children are ever returned to their families.
The U.S. Department of State has said that as many as 20,000 children are abducted a year in China. Many are sold to other families or forced into labor.
(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Stephen Coates)