The rescue of a newborn baby from the sewer pipe below a squat toilet in Jinhua, China on Saturday is a tragedy. It is also a graphic example of the desperate measures some will go to in China not to have a child. Today media reports say the woman who alerted rescuers to the child was, in fact, the baby’s mother. She’d given birth in the toilet and couldn’t pull the newborn out when he fell headfirst into the hole. Prior she’d masked her pregnancy by wearing loose-fitting dresses and wrapping her abdomen. Residents in her building were not aware she was pregnant. (Police have not filed charges. Locals have offered to adopt the baby.)
Those with strong constitutions can watch the video of the baby’s rescue:
As of 2009 there were 712,000 orphans in China according to China Daily. As of July 2012 more than 100,000 children from China had been adopted overseas. Many are found abandoned in public housing projects, by the side of the road, at hospital doorsteps and even in fields. Gui Dongling was found abandoned in a box by the road on Jan 2, 2003. She was taken by a policeman to the local station. Finally, she was adopted by an American couple. Last July the girl visited China again:
“Langli police station is my home forever, and the police here are my dad and mom,” she said
Legally children cannot be put up for adoption in China. There is also little sex education material available. Abortion is widely practiced. The strict control on one child per family means many girl newborns are abandoned, as culturally a male child is preferred.
All these issues mean hundreds of thousands of unwanted children live in orphanages across China. The rate of international and domestic adoption takes a small number out of the system. But for many, many more it means a childhood of institutional care. When they turn 18 years old they’re set out of the only home they’ve known with minimal education and no family contacts.
For the unwanted children of China, life is hard. But few have suffered as much as the baby found in the sewer and lived to tell about it.