Unwanted or too costly to support, disabled children are abandoned at China's orphanages

Unwanted or too costly to support, disabled children are abandoned at China's orphanages

Some 900,000 children with disabilities are born in China each year, but the country has little social security for the disabled. Get Real looks at the issue.

GR orphan 1
An orphan at Alenah's home in China.

CHINA: His mother left him outside an orphanage when he was just a few days old.

Another woman found him and raised him as a son. But he was returned to the orphanage when he was five.

Wu Keyuan, now seven, never understood why he was treated this way. The fact is that he was born with no ears - and children like him with disabilities are increasingly being abandoned at orphanages in China.

In an episode of the investigative programme Get Rea! (Tuesday, March 14, at 8pm in Singapore), Ms Zhang Jing, a staff member at Alenah’s Home, said Keyuan gets many stares from strangers because of his disability.

She said: “I know he’s really upset. He will say, 'Zhang Jing, they say I have no ears'. I will tell him, 'It’s okay. We are ill, that’s all. Once you get better, we’ll have ears again'.

“I don’t know how else to explain it to him.”

WATCH: Keyuan's story (2:56)

In China, orphanages were once filled with healthy baby girls but these days, it is unwanted disabled children.

In the last 20 years, the number of children with birth defects has jumped 70 per cent. These days some 900,000 children with disabilities are born in China each year.

Many are abandoned by their parents because they can’t afford the long-term medical cost and the country has little social security for the disabled.

A FATHER'S DILEMMA

In Bian Cun village, Hebei, one parent is in a dilemma about whether to put his adopted son in an orphanage.

Gao Feng Po and his wife had found Xiao Long, now four, outside a church and adopted him. They later discovered that Xiao Long could not speak.

They had a son of their own too, but then Mr Gao's wife died, and now the widower is struggling to bring up two boys on his own. He said he is unable to work as they need his constant attention.

“I can raise one kid if I have to, but not two. Besides the older one is disabled,” said Mr Gao.

Fortunately, Liming Orphanage, which has 30 orphans with disabilities in Bian Cun, has offered to raise money for the family’s expenses and for Xiao Long’s surgery to correct his speech defect.

Its director Lang Lixia said: “(The father) wants to leave his children at the orphanage to resolve his present difficulty. If we help him with his problem, then I think he’ll be willing to keep his children.”

Producer Hoe Yeen Nie thinks that parents in Singapore will be able to relate to this documentary, which also shows what it is like for a parent to raise a special needs child.

Ms Hoe said many of these birth defects could be easily dealt with through surgery, but due to ignorance or cost, they end up in orphanages. And once there, it is difficult for them to get adopted.

She said: “Adoptions are generally few and far in between, unless the orphans are lucky enough to end up in a big-city NGO that has links to international organisations.”

More on the episode of Get Rea! which airs on Tuesday, March 14, at 8pm in Singapore.

Source: CNA/yv

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