On my first trip to adopt in China, I happened to sit at a table
next to another adopting couple from the United States. They were
older, with no prior children, and had been assigned a three- or
four-year-old girl. If memory serves me correctly, the father was a CEO
of a large firm in New Jersey. They seemed like very nice people. The
child that was assigned to them was very headstrong. She did not want
to go with her adoptive parents and proceeded to throw tantrums,
screaming, throwing things and spitting on and punching them for
several days. They decided they couldn’t go through with it, and the
girl was returned to the orphanage. My understanding is that she would
not be eligible for adoption (at least, not internationally) in the

The next day, the couple told me, another three-year-old was brought
over from an orphanage. The first thing she did when she met them was
say, in English, “I love you, Mommy. I love you, Daddy.” The person
who had transported the child from the orphanage had taught her the
words. She had no idea what she was saying, but it didn’t
matter. Needless to say, this little girl went home with them to New

That is from Steve Levitt, in one of his best posts.


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