Abducted children rescued by police can now be legally adopted, instead of being left stranded at welfare institutions waiting for their parents to find them.
According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security, children can be adopted after a 12-month search fails to locate their parents or other guardians. The ministries announced the decision in a jointly released notice.
An adopting family must sign an agreement stating that the child it adopts will be returned to the birth parents if they are located.
But the adoption will remain valid if the birth parents are found to have deliberately abandoned or sold the child, the notice said.
The Ministry of Public Security said 13,000 abducted children were rescued last year. Between 2009 and early 2013, about 54,000 abducted children were rescued.
However, only 3,800 of these children have been returned to their families, after being matched on a database with their biological parents through DNA testing.
Wang Jinhua, a senior official at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said, "Children whose birth parents cannot be found have to stay in welfare institutions, and are not allowed to be adopted.
"Welfare institutions cannot replace families, so these children cannot enjoy a normal life even after they are rescued."
Before 2011, when police found abducted children they allowed the buyers to keep them until the birth parents were found, on condition that buyers' families could care adequately for the children as they grew up. But this practice was abandoned in 2011 to prevent more children being trafficked.
The two ministries said they would make more efforts to help children find their birth parents. A new online platform will be launched on Saturday, carrying information about rescued children.
Zhang Baoyan, founder of a child-finding platform called Baby Comes Home, said, "Only 3 percent of these lost children can be found.
"So many factors prevent parents from finding their children. Many cases cannot be filed if parents do not provide specific evidence to show their children were abducted. Besides, many children don't know if they were abducted."
But Zhang said that in recent years the situation had improved a lot with the aid of advanced technology.