Lives Like Garbage: Children with Birth Defects Abandoned

A Chinese child with cerebral palsy licks milk powder off a bed to feed.

A Chinese child with cerebral palsy licks milk powder off a bed to feed.

From ifeng & NetEase:

Photo Story: Lives like garbage

Since 1986, Henan Lankao County’s Yuan Lihai has already adopted over 100 foundlings [abandoned babies]. Those who have grown up to marry and work have left, and there are still 39 with her today, some suffering from albinism, some with cleft palates. Yuan Lihai peddles goods on the street to make a living for herself and these abandoned babies, while her husband who opposed her taking in abandoned babies has separated from her. Photography: Lu Guang from the August issue of Lens magazine. [click to enlarge]

Five abandoned Chinese children adopted by a Yuan Lihai lie on a straw bed in Henan.

Five foundlings lie on a bed made of a straw mattress and dirty bedding, some playing, some dozing. The honeycomb briquettes at the head of the bed are stacked very high and could easily fall onto the bed if not careful. This is a residence of Henan Lankao County’s Yuan Lihai. Beginning in 1987, Yuan Lihai has taken in handicapped or diseased children, having adopted over 100 over the past 25 years, with some of the children having died due to severe illness and inadequate medical treatment. Yuan Lihai is rather well-known locally, with the ordinary common people, hospital, and even 110 [police, emergency services] all sending children they have found to her. At a certain level, the inadequacy of public welfare institutions [orphanages] has pushed these kinds of “private orphanages” towards complications between morality, law, and interest/profit.

Two foster children, one an albino, in dirty clothes donated by kind-hearted people.

Yuan Lihai does not have a permanent residence in Lankao County, normally living in a tent where she peddles goods on the street. She has a total of four places where the children live, with dozens of children living in two small homes. No far in the back are Lankao’s high-end villas. Compared to feeding, the problem of clothing the children is slightly easier to overcome. In the past, it was always the neighbors or the people’s government who would provide a little and scavenging some off the streets. Those that the larer children have outgrown, the smaller children can continue wearing. When the clothes have holes, Yuan Lihai would patch them up. After gradually becoming known, many kind-hearted people have donated their old clothes and shoes for the children to wear, resulting in a heap that has become a small mountain.

A Chinese foster child who is tied to a bed.

In certain places of Yuanping in Shanxin province, adoption/foster care has already become a business. However, foster families often cannot provide foundlings very good care. In order to lessen the hassles of watching [the child], this household has used a rope to tie this foster boy to the heatable brick bed, restricting his movement. (This photo’s photographer: Yang Meng)

Several foster children in China lying on a bed.

Shanxi Jiexiu County’s Mao Naifeng gave birth to a set of fraternal twins, the children’s arrival having brought great joy to the entire family. However, 14 months later they discovered that of the two children, one has encephalatrophy and the other has hydrocephalus, resulting in lower-body paralysis, unable to walk. However, Mao Naifeng and her husband did not give up, the wife persisting in massaging and moving the child’s four limbs in hopes of rehabilitation. At present, the incidence of birth defects in China is 13-15%, with the majority occurring in the rural countryside, not without relation to the lack of pregnancy exams, environmental pollution, and other reasons. However, in certain developed countries of Europe and America, the incidence of deformity is basically kept at 3-4%. Due to the amount and limits of public welfare coverage, many families are often pushed to poverty by handicap and disability, and often forced into the ethical dilemma of abandoning such babies.

Several children adopted by Yuan Lihai surround an abandoned baby who has just passed away from illness.

2010 September 23 night, this mentally handicapped child who had been fostered for six months died from illness. Because he had not reached one year, he doesn’t have a name. This was the 21st infant Yuan Lihai found last year, as well as the tenth baby to die from sickness. Children who spend every day with each other surround their just passed away little brother, reluctant to leave his side.

An old Chinese man burying a dead baby in a field.

2010 September 23 day, this foundling without a name has been taken to a distant place to be buried, the child’s eyes still slightly open, as if with a sliver of attachment to this world it never knew.

Comments from NetEase:

发盖煨 [网易广东省东莞市网友]:

Bastards! May all the people of the government, Red Cross, and charity organizations all die without none left!!!!

美文化 [网易河南省网友]:

A good person… A kind old grandpa… May you be healthy and live a long life… If interested, click my name…

月君怡然 [网易江苏省连云港市网友]:

2010 September 23 day, this foundling without a name has been taken to a distant place to be buried, the child’s eyes still slightly open, as if with a sliver of attachment to this world it never knew.

骑着牛去上网 [网易山东省青岛市网友]:

Even the ones 110 [police] find are sent here? There’s no orphanage?
No Red Cross Society? A bunch of people can’t even compare with one old person? I will never donate again, not even one cent.

正18 [网易浙江省绍兴市网友]:

The Black Cross Society [refers to a corrupt Red Cross Society] is very calm~~~~~~~ Charity organizations express no pressure~~~~~~

kaifengsyb [网易河南省三门峡市网友]:

Lives like garbage, isn’t it so for ourselves as well!


After reading this, I find myself unable to say anything. Hope these children can live healthily and happily.
Those human scum: CNM!!!!!

网易浙江省绍兴市网友 [shanbudeniu]:

Actually, donating money cannot completely solve the problem. Those people who abandon these babies should take responsibility. The government has responsibility for giving a normal life to these innocent abandoned children. Poverty really isn’t a very big problem, I was poor too when I was small. When I was 8-years-ol, my family often could not afford to eat. I trust that a lot of people were poor when they were small, but my parents were always with me, I always had a family’s warmth, never abandoned.

awewadw [网易广东省网友]:

Strongly request that Yuan Lihai’s bank account number be provided, I hope I can provide all that I can to help!!

hisin [网易浙江省宁波市网友]:

Brother [referring to self] is very moved. Though brother currently has no car nor house, and can’t afford to find a wife, brother is willing to make a one time donation of 1000!

命若垃圾 [网易浙江省网友]:

Really, even as a grown man, my face is covered in tears reading this. These poor lives. God, why have you so heartlessly abandoned these little lives? “They” may not care, but you don’t care either?

醉酒中 [网易江苏省无锡市网友]:

Beasts, irresponsible parents. If you give birth to them, then you should take responsibility, even if they suffer from congenital diseases.

無毛誤國 [网易山东省潍坊市网友]:

The responsibilities of the government are given to the ordinary common people to do, and the ordinary common people’s money is taken by the government.


WY (NetEase), if you’re going to report this, then you might as well go all the way.
Not much money, [but] bank account number, bank account number, bank account number…


I wonder just how many of these children’s lives could be saved with just one of Guo Meimei‘s bags…

Some additional pictures and captions on Sina:

A Chinese child with cerebral palsy licks milk powder off a bed to feed.

Amongst the children Chen Tianwen has adopted, many of them suffer from cleft palates, leg deformities, cerebral palsy, and polio. Dang Xiaohu, bent over the heatable brick bed, was born with cerebral palsy. With stiff/rigid limbs, he is unable to take care of himself. When eating, he can only lick with his mouth. Chen Tianwen husband and wife pour milk powder on the bed for the children with cerebral palsy to eat.

A Chinese boy with cerebral palsy needs his mother's help when urinating.

Shanxi Jiexiu County, Chang Haodong is 6-years-old this year, born with cerebral palsy, and walks around like a duck, and still needs his mother’s help to urinate. His daddy and mommy have persisted in getting him treatment, as well as sending him to a nearby kindergarten, having him learn with normal children.

A little girl with a tumor on her back sits on the edge of a bed unable to play with the other kids.

The children in Chen Tianwen’s home all must frolic/romp a bit before going to bed each night. On the edge of the heatable brick bed is Dang Ouou who can only meekly sit. On her back is a tumor that impacts her nerves, paralyzing her lower half. Since she has not yet undergone surgery, Ouou currently finds it uncomfortable when sleeping.


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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