Why are there so many children in China’s orphanages?

That’s a good question. One that I asked to a Lifeline social worker we met with two weeks ago. Her response astounded me. She said, “the birth mother usually just places the child at the steps of the police station – somewhere she knows the child will be found.” My heart just sank as I sat there letting that sentence soak in. She went on to explain that it is illegal to abandon a child in China, and that there is a one-child per family policy in place.

My mind kept racing wondering how in the world a mother could leave her child at the steps of a police station. How could you leave the child there not knowing what would happen to it? I just couldn’t wrap my head around how that could even be possible. What would the mother be thinking as she left it there on those steps? I wondered if she cried as she turned to leave.

Then on Friday, Daniel brought home a copy of USA Today and set it on the counter. “You have to read this,” he said. I began reading carefully and quickly an article that graced the paper’s front cover. The article, “Forced abortions, broken hearts,” left me angry and in tears.

Putting a spotlight on China’s brutal enforcement of its one-child policy, the article takes an in-depth look at the ways the Chinese government enforces these policies. From kidnapping mothers and injecting them with drugs designed to kill their unborn babies to astronomically high fees associated with having more than one child, it is estimated in this article that the Chinese government has now prevented over 400 million births over the last 30 years. The article goes on to say that China receives about $300 billion a year in fees that are required for out-of-policy pregnancies.

After reading the article, I thought back to what the social worker had said. I thought about my initial reaction. I have a new found respect for a birth mother in China. She carries that child for 9 months – maybe even in hiding. Maybe secluded away from friends and family. Maybe she gives birth alone.

She goes in the dark of the night leaving the baby in a safe place, one where she knows it will be found quickly. She leaves knowing in her heart she did all she could. She didn’t have an abortion. She carried that baby until the very end, and then she gave the baby away knowing a family on the other side of the world could give it a home and medical care that she never could.

So maybe for a woman in China, leaving her precious baby at the steps of the police station is the most noble, beautiful decision she could make.

Read the USA Today article here.

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