Thursday, September 07, 2006

What happens to the ones who aren't adopted?

Good question. I'm not sure you'll like the answer. We don't truly know. I saw this on another site. It is from Amy Eldrige who works with Love Without Boundaries, a charity that helps Chinese orphans. A question was posted on APC and this is what she wrote:

"I wrote this to APC in 2004. It still stands today:

What happens to the children in the orphanages in China is as varied as what
happens to the children in America. You will not find data on this
subject. So for those who are looking for reports, they are not there. It
is all anecdotal, and those who work with Chinese orphans are told story
after story from directors of what happens to these kids. I have been told
everything from "we promise we will care for them" to "you don't want to

Some children are raised with orphanage staff who truly care for them and
will try anything to help them find their place in society. There are some
orphanages who have successful vocational training programs, so that the
kids can learn a skill like woodworking or sewing. Some orphanages will
hire the older children on staff if possible, so that they will have a place
to work and stay.

And of course some will turn them out at 16 without a penny or a birth
certificate to their name.

Just as when I wrote about nutrition, it is impossible to make blanket
statements about what happens to children there. I can assure you that some
cities have forbidden orphans to marry or have children because they have no
family name to pass down (and everything in China is tied to family). But
there are also orphanages where the staff goes and argues with local schools
and companies to accept the children coming out of their care.

I have encountered both extremes. On the positive, I look at Hong, who is
the very first orphan college student in all of Guangdong. The news
recently did a 20 minute documentary on her. She has attained the highest
marks in accounting. The orphanage staff were adamant that this bright girl
be given the chance to sit for the college entrance exam. Her
accomplishment is no small feat. There are only a certain number of college
slots in China, and the competition is FIERCE. Some parents start preparing
their child for the exam at age six. And so for an orphaned child to sit
and pass this exam......oh it was a wonderful thing. The staff was so
worried about how the rest of the students would treat her since she was an
orphan. She was leaving with nothing but the clothes on her back because
the orphanage didn't have extras to give her. Thanks to some wonderful
parents, she started college with a new wardrobe and
dozens of "you can do it" letters. And she has. The most wonderful thing
to me is that she has been befriended by another student's family. So now,
during holidays, she has a place to go. That is one of the things that we
often overlook. In China, everyone goes home for national holiday and
spring festival. You go HOME. But if you don't have a
are so very alone. I am so thankful that Hong now has a family to visit.
She wrote me recently and said that it has been an uphill battle her whole
life, but she is determined to make it. I celebrate Hong, but I also think
about how large the Guangdong Province is and I think.....she is the only
one so far.

I was able to meet with orphaned adults in their 20s on my February trip.
There is no other word for their stories except anguish. They wept about
their lives. With so many orphans getting such limited education, many
cannot even read or write. To be turned out at 16 with no skills......that
is very, very tough indeed. Imagine living your whole life without a mother
or father, and then not being allowed to marry. What loneliness.

But we cannot say that working in the factories in China is a bad thing. If
we could get every orphan a factory job, I would be so very thrilled!! My
friend manages a factory in Shenzhen, and while the pay is just 26 cents an
hour, the employees show up in suitcoats and ties. They are so very proud
that they have a full time job. They get meals in the cafeteria and they
have a dorm room with indoor plumbing. For people in poverty afflicted
areas.....these jobs mean everything to them. We cannot compare our often
very comfortable lives with theirs.

It is far too complex to make blanket statements about what life would have
held for our children. Yes, you can know that the odds were definitely NOT
in their favor. Most are children "without a family name". Perhaps they
would have been blessed with an orphanage director who would move heaven and
earth for their well being. Or perhaps they would have ended up living on
the street. I am sure some of it has to do with sheer numbers, too. It is
easier for an orphanage director to take on each child as a special case
when there are only thirty kids in his care compared to 1200.

The one thing I know for certain is that these kids have the same hopes and
dreams that ours do. Yesterday I got the news that one of my favorite 15
year olds did not pass the exam to become a teacher. And my heart was heavy
over what will become of her now. She told me with such excitement in May
that she wanted to beat the odds and teach. We are all praying that the
school will reconsider. Then there is a young lady I also love who has sold
most of her clothes in order to buy paper and pens. She spends all her free
time drawing and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. I wish they could
all follow their dreams. They have asked for so very little in life."

Amy Eldridge



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