Opinion / Editorials

Care for adopted children

(China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-08 07:56

Yuan Lihai was raising 17 abandoned children on her slender income as a market vendor and the subsistence allowance provided by the local authorities. But after seven of the children died in a fire at their home in Lankao county, Henan province, on the morning of Jan 4, she was questioned for illegally adopting the children. Since then many people have voiced their sympathy for her.

Yuan obviously does not meet the legal requirements to adopt so many children. Yet the authorities have been trying to legalize her adoptions and bring them up to standard. They have also sent some of the children to other facilities.

In fact, Yuan has adopted more than 100 abandoned children in total over the past 25 years, and, because of her fame as a loving foster mother, even the local police and clinics sent abandoned children to her.

She has become one of the county's main providers of care for abandoned children, as Lankao county, with a population of 760,000, doesn't have a single orphanage. This is because the local civil affairs bureau lacks the money to provide the facilities needed. Even in big cities, there is a scarcity of facilities and well-trained professionals to care for abandoned children. Those facilities that do exist tend to accept only the healthiest children, as it is more costly to care for the sick or disabled.

There is a lack of child welfare organs and the care capacity is much lower than the demand. Many children in the poor rural areas of the country have been abandoned because they have an illness or deformity, yet with the proper treatment and facilities many of these could be treated at a very early age.

In New York City, the Administration for Children's Services is an independent department of the municipal government, with an annual budget of more than $2 billion and 6,000 regular staff. In contrast, the child welfare institutions throughout the Chinese mainland lack proper staff.

The central government has made great efforts to improve the nutrition of children in poor rural areas; the fire in Lankao should awaken the whole nation to the urgent need to improve the lives of abandoned children.

They have already lost the love and care of their parents; we should not desert them again as a nation.

(China Daily 01/08/2013 page8)

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