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Lankao fire provides food for debate on children’s welfare

Source:Agencies Published: 2013-1-7 23:23:03

Six children and one adult died in a fire Friday morning that swept through an unregistered orphanage in Lankao, Henan Province.

This tragedy came just two months after five street children were found dead in a large trash bin in Bijie, Guizhou Province.

Such horrors have repeatedly exposed the country's poor social welfare for children.

Without a systematic guarantee, the life and health of street children and abandoned babies are constantly endangered.

The fundamental reasons behind the tragedies must be rooted out, otherwise lessons cannot be drawn from these senseless deaths.

The Lankao orphanage fire provides food for thought. There are no accurate statistics showing how many abandoned babies are adopted each year. But we know the total must be large given that more than 80 percent of adopted children were once abandoned babies, and that children born with physical or mental disabilities are all too often given up by their parents.

According to media reports, there are a number of families in Lankao that have taken in or adopted abandoned babies.

These large numbers of kids deserve help from the government, private organizations and other social forces. Systematic regulation should be there to clarify responsibilities and standardize procedures.

Unfortunately, China severely lags behind in setting up systems regulating the adoption of abandoned babies and laws that guarantee and protect children's welfare.

The Adoption Law of the People's Republic of China stipulates that people who adopt orphans, disabled or abandoned children can adopt more than one.

However, further regulation measures are missing, and in reality, many problems exist such as unqualified adoptive parents, illegal adoption procedures and poor supervision. Without clear regulation, local governments turn a blind eye to the adoption of abandoned children.

In the Lankao case, the owner of the private orphanage, Yuan Lihai, once sent away 16 abandoned children she had adopted.

Local authorities now have no idea where these children are. No investigations have been launched, despite a huge controversy over whether Yuan may have been profiteering from trading babies.

Moreover, among the children that Yuan adopted, the mortality rate has been as high as 30 percent, mirroring a severe lack of support and social welfare.

Scientific systems that regulate the adoption of abandoned babies and legislations that guarantee children's welfare must be set up as soon as possible.

In such a way, private adopters will have clear obligations and rights stipulated by law, while strict regulation by the government is clearly required so as to guarantee that abandoned children won't be repeatedly exposed to horrible dangers.

Beijing Times

Posted in: Viewpoint