Earlier this year I noticed something interesting on the social network site of one of my friends who works in the W orphanage. She had posted the link to a news article, and the thumbnail was a picture of me and vice director X. I clicked the link and it took me to a long article. I plugged the article into Google-translate and muddled through it enough to understand the gist. For a few months it’s been on my list of things “to-do” to translate this article and edit it. It deals with a deep and painful and confusing issue: baby safe houses in China. These are little rooms set up outside of the orphanage where parents can abandon their babies. Of course, this is a very controversial issue no matter who you talk to. I’ve read many articles in US and UK papers and sites, but this was the first time I had read a long Chinese opinion, written by Chinese reporters, with interviews from people I know and respect.
I have not added anything, these are their words.
Upon the establishment of a “baby safe house,” there was a lot of controversy in the community. Some people worry that the establishment of an “Abandoned Baby Safe Island,” will condone this behavior. However, as a supplement to the act of rescuing, we cannot ignore the positive significance that these baby safe islands have had. Currently this province has baby safe houses set up in two cities. So, how does this work and how do we manage a baby safe island? What are the difficulties? We will address the two major concerns in this article.
We do not support the abandonment of babies.
But we must protect abandoned babies
December 3, 2013. It was in Beijing’s Tongzhou District, Ge Village. In a dumpster an abandoned baby boy was found. He was naked. Emergency personnel arrived but it was too late, the baby had died. On that very same day, in the W city orphanage baby safe island a little baby was abandoned. He was suffering from spina bifida and the orphanage staff sent him to Beijing right away for surgery. He is currently recovering and is doing well. He should grow up without any further complications and be a normal child.
The same day. The same situation. But because of the baby safe house the result is completely different.
Before the baby safe island was established in W, the orphanage would often receive children who had been abandoned in crowds at the train station, at the entrance of the supermarket, picked up at garbage stations or other places. The police would bring the children in and there would often be secondary injuries, sometimes the babies died.
“When parents abandon babies they do them the greatest harm. What we can do is try to improve the ability to find these babies and protect their legitimate rights and interests. We can protect them from secondary damage.” W Children’s Welfare Dean ZZY said.
W Child Welfare built their baby safe house in April 2013 and it was put into use as the first baby safe house in the area. Billboards were set up in the more populated areas of the small town.
“Before the Baby Safe House, there have been instances of abandoned children, but we have no way to prevent the occurrence. There is nothing we can do about it. But, through the establishment of a baby safe house, we can greatly improve the survival rate of abandoned children, reflecting that life comes first. The priority is the interests of the child. ” ZZY said.
Although the Baby Safe House in Guangzhou shut down because it was too full, the public safety of abandoned babies is still an issue. An anonymous official said, “We do not support the behavior of abandoning babies, but we must protect the abandoned babies.”
Abandoned children need a warm safe “home”
The W orphanage baby room has 13 cots, clean and neat. There are colorful cartoon stickers on the wall, making the room warm and pleasant. The sun shines warmly into the room onto the children’s playing or sleeping faces.
This is the final home of the abandoned baby.
“Yangyang, don’t be naughty to your friend. Be nice!” “Guoguo, don’t cry, your mama will come and hold you.” The caregivers are busy feeding, caring, and trying to be the children’s mother.
Up to now, the Baby Safe House has received a total of nine children refugees, the oldest is a three-year-old, the youngest was newborn. When the children are brought into the orphanage they are given a new name. Each of the children have had special needs, some were suffering from cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, Down Syndrome, limb deformities, spina bifida and other severe disabilities. Currently, the children with spina bifida have been sent to Beijing for surgery, but after recovery will return. The children will hydrocephalus will also be sent to Beijing for surgery.
“As the children grow, the pressure of the water on the brain grows, so the longer we wait for surgery the greater the damage. Surgery for hydrocephalus cannot be delayed, the sooner it is done the better.” orphanage director of therapy, LQ said.
A child suffering from hydrocephalus is named SQ. He was found April 6th in the baby safe house without a note. According to the medical staff, they estimated that he was eight or nine months old.
Many of the children in the orphanage have cerebral palsy, and do therapy every day. “Most of the abandoned children have cerebral palsy. Some can have surgery, some cannot. We do our best to give the children a chance to do therapy intervention to correct their abnormal posture and give them the best chance to care for themselves in the future.” LQ said.
The baby safe house is located at the gate of the orphanage, and there is someone keeping an eye on it 24 hours a day. The sliding door has a touch sensing device that has a delay. Once someone enters the island, within 3-5 minutes an alarm will sound and the duty officer will go and inspect.
Once found abandoned, the duty officer will report the child immediately to the hospital and the police department in accordance with the rules. After initial examination by the police officer the child will be admitted into the orphanage. If there is no major disease, the babies will remain in observation for a time until being added into the baby room. If the child is in critical condition they will be immediately sent to the hospital, and if the hospital cannot handle the case the orphanage will arrange to transfer them to Beijing for treatment.
“To protect and care for abandoned babies, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has set up a Tommorow Plan, and there are a number of charitable foundations and non-governmental organizations to help raise the kids. If there is hope, we will not give up.” ZZY said.
Because of love, do not give up
At 4:30 on April 11, the orphanage W baby safe house ushered in their ninth child. When the duty officer arrived, the child was sound asleep. In addition to the clothes the baby was wearing and the blanket wrapping him, the parents had left nothing. Little did the child know, but his parents had abandoned him. From now on, his life has changed completely.
When he wakes up he will not hear the familiar voices of loved ones. No longer will he feel the warm embrace of his mother. The child will keep crying, his frightened eyes will look at everything as strange. Although there is nothing to indicate an accurate diagnosis, when the nurse on duty picks him up his waist and back arch behind stiffly. “According to our preliminary judgment, the child is suffering from cerebral palsy. He is probably five and a half or so.” Orphanage shift leader, BXM said.
All of the children who have arrived at the baby safe house have some sickness. Parents seem to choose the hours between 10pm and 5am to leave their children. Some parents will leave a small piece of paper, stating the child’s date of birth, illness and treatment… sometime the note says that they are no longer able to bear the medical expenses, but must abandon their child.
“Maybe orphanages are able to operate on children, so parents get relief. But what sick children need most is a parent’s love and companionship. Care workers must take care of a dozen children, there is a lack of parental love, and we see the effect of this in the child’s growth. ” BXM said.
W has placed billboards on the downtown plaza, “Because of love, do not give up,” “Giving up does not mean abandoning. Abandoning is giving up” and other eye-catching slogans. “Because of love, the baby safe house will not give up on an abandoned baby’s life. Because of love, should not parents not give up their own flesh and blood?” BXM wants for parents to assume their due responsibility.
In fact, there are a lot of special national and regional aid programs aimed at children. If your child is suffering from a serious illness, parents can apply for assistance to the authorities. Guaranteeing civil affairs departments and other living assistance, after healthcare reimbursement, as well as serious illness living in poverty relief. Also, you can apply to other temporary relief projects.
According to the person in charge of the AR of the RC, they have a 14 year history of caring for children with leukemia and congenital heart disease. A case of leukemia can apply for up to xxx yuan in relief funds, congenital heart disease can apply up to xxx yuan.
According to the person in charge of autonomous federations, for children under 7 years of age, there are many rescue rehabilitation projects, such as giving hearing-impaired children cochlear implants, or hearing aids. Children with physical disabilities can freely do corrective surgery, wear orthotics and get therapy. Cerebral palsy, autism and mentally handicapped children can receive some free therapy. There are also projects for children with congenital heart defects. You can contact many foundations and charitable organizations to help.
What is the solution for abandoned babies?
Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province Social Welfare opened the first baby refuge, 48 days after the pilot test run it was suspended because the number of abandoned children received was far more than the orphanage could afford.
Just at the beginning of the baby safe house’s opening, the public opinion was still discussing the scope of social ethics, and if it would encourage abandoned baby behavior. However, seeing a child with disability, or suffering from severe illness, and observing that this is the case for all of the infants arriving at the island, people have begun to appreciate the value of the existence of the infant island.
Last July, under the MCA, CCWAC issued a plan to help care for abandoned children around China and to deal with the situation. The pilot of the baby safe homes was put into place, however with the suspension of the GZ home, we cannot help but feel confused. To improve the staff at the welfare institutions, facilities and recourses in the short term is difficult. But children are being abandoned all the time. What do we do?
A child with a congenital defect or suffering from severe illness is born. This is the start of a family tragedy. They spend huge amounts of money to raise and treat the child. Therefore, even if the individual infant’s parents risked breaking the law to reluctantly abandon their baby at the safe island, they are escaping and abandoning their obligations to care and support the child. Abandoning a child after he is born has a number of reasons: ethical, moral, legal, security. It is a very complex social problem.
***names and locations and institutions are not named to protect the privacy of people and places