The researcher believes these orphanages may be buying babies to be put up for adoption. And in the past, there have been cases of orphanages forging birth papers for children who were abducted.
A child protection expert notes another trend. "A few years ago we saw a phenomenon of an increasing number of baby girls being trafficked and we had not seen that before. In the past, 95 percent of children trafficked were boys. But in certain areas, the number of baby girls was going up dramatically. There is no evidence to prove a link between foreign adoptions and the rise, but people talk about foreign adoption being a factor."
Since China began its international adoption program in 1992, nearly 70,000 Chinese orphans have been adopted by foreign families, 80 percent by Americans, according to foreign adoption watchdogs.
China's International Adoption program has long been held in high esteem relative to many other countries that adopt children abroad. It is, for the most part, deemed corruption free and transparent, which has been a motivating factor for U.S. families looking to adopt here.
The number of foreign adoptions here peaked in 2005 and is going down slightly in recent years, but applications are still pouring in.
Pi Yijun, a scholar at the China University of Politics and Law, says that the numbers of international versus domestic adoptions are strictly confidential.
National figures are not even provided to Chinese researchers. He said foreign adoptions are an embarrassment to the government.
"It is considered a negative thing to discuss disabled or abandoned babies. It has to do with China's birth policy and the social insurance system. It's a very sensitive issue."
The influx of foreign applications to adopt Chinese kids is, in many cases, making it more difficult for Chinese couples who can't have children to adopt from orphanages here.
At the orphanage in Changde, the gatekeeper said that foreign families usually spend five to 10 times more on adoptions than Chinese families, which often makes foreign families more attractive. That leads to long wait times for Chinese couples, many of whom resort to the other option, an underground market for infants.
One post on a chat room for Chinese parents looking to adopt expresses the frustration in wait times. "It's very hard to adopt a healthy baby from orphanages in Shanghai. You have to wait probably for five years. … If you really want to adopt one, you will probably have to go to orphanages in other places."
The Chinese government has recently put into effect new restrictions, making it harder for foreigners to adopt Chinese children. There is a definite push by the central government to encourage domestic adoptions, but for some Chinese families, the process is not getting any easier.
The Yang family has been waiting three years to adopt a child. They are both in their late 20s and have been married for six years, but Mrs. Yang can't conceive. They want to adopt a healthy baby girl but have been unsuccessful.
"We visited orphanages, checked orphanages online and put up adoption ads online, but without success," Mr. Yang told ABC News.
Yang says, for some babies, the costs involved with legal adoption are too high. And they are fighting the urge to turn to the black market. "