Frequently Asked Questions
Every year thousands of children are abandoned in China. Attention to the overflowing orphanages was brought to the world's attention in the 1990s when healthy baby girls were being abandoned in droves because the One Child Policy meant that many families preferred sons over daughters. As opposed to the last few decades, when many healthy children were abandoned and available for international adoption, today the situation is quite different.
The demographics have changed since when international adoption started and about 60% of all orphans are boys, 40% girls and more than 99% have some sort of disability.
More than 99% of abandoned children have a disability or special need and there are significantly more boys than girls . The family most likely to abandon is the family that has been working, maybe as migrants, factory workers, scrimping, saving and dreaming of a secure future. They have their child and the child’s illness is difficult to treat and threatens to wipe out what money they have worked so hard to accumulate. Often in poor rural communities the resources for medical treatment or education is non-existent, prohibitively expensive and substandard. Many families are uninsured and simply lack the resources to pursue the needed medical care or special needs education even if available. Increasingly, news reports of international adoption of Chinese children who have been adopted and have gone on the live happy lives, influences a families decision to abandon.
Children are usually abandoned in a place where they will quickly be discovered, train stations, well traveled roads, police stations, hospitals. Often a relative will be on watch until the child is discovered. Tragically, some children are not discovered in time and die of exposure. Once discovered, a few different possibilities exist for the child. In most cases, the child is brought to the police where the abandonment is registered and the child is admitted into a government run orphanage. For these children a lucky few are adopted internationally. If a child is brought into a private home or orphanage where they will live as an unregistered person, their fate may be less secure, depending on the circumstances.
Baby Hatches were created in 2014 to be a safe place where families could "legally" abandon their children; children are dropped off with no identifying information from the families. Quickly these hutches were overwhelmed with children. Families had traveled far to leave their child in a safe place. Often, older children with Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Autism and other illnesses were left in these hatches because the families could no longer medically or emotionally cope with the conditions of their children."
Ask yourself: How bad would it have to be for YOU to abandon your child? Of course all parents want healthy children but as humans we love our children as they are and are indifferent to any imperfections. The causes for abandonment are almost always related to not being able to provide the needed care.
Because child abandonment is illegal there are no official statistics however what research has been done reveals that the the typical family who abandons is a married couple in a stable relationship with close extended family. They have been working hard, saving for their future, often as migrant workers, and are the verge of getting out of poverty. When the child is born the medical condition threatens the financial hard earned stability. The long term effects of child abandonment on the birth families are great and believed to be a large factor in the countries growing divorce rate.
When the orphanages were overflowing many in the international community stepped forward and adopted baby girls who would have otherwise languished in orphanages and gave these children happy and secure surroundings and hopeful lives. However adoption was never meant as a permanent or the only solution. Today families are increasingly taking on children with severe special needs along with the more minor needs. Adoption of a healthy Chinese orphan today almost never happens. The cycle of abandonment, orphanage, adoption in the past served a necessary purpose but today other options are available to keep families together and remove the underlying reasons for abandonment. To end abandonment the families need support and resources. Slowly the support is coming. While families across the world are creating or expanding their families through adoption, each child adopted leaves behind a family that is irretrievably broken." Many birth mothers later grieve for their children, not knowing what might have been and how they are doing."
No! OLO is and will continue to be supporters of international adoption while there still are orphans needing a home. However, with more and better support and care for the families with special needs children, the number of orphans could be greatly decreased and nuclear families remain intact.
The Chinese government is doing quite a lot to help families, namely extending insurance benefit to families and creating community centers offering services. However but China is a very big country and social changes, especially in the countryside come slowly.
The primary focus of any good charitable organization is to put itself out of business. Meaning that any help an organization provides should have the goal of strengthening the community to render the organization obsolete. Many organizations help orphans because logistically it’s easier. However providing community centers, special needs education, medical assistance for any child in need helps strengthen families. In a country like China, where the family unit is so important, keeping families together in the first place is the priority government and NGO's need to focus attention and resources."