Friday, April 06, 2007

Child Abandonment From the Inside V (Conclusion)

In researching the birth mothers of children adopted from China, we have seen that a significant portion are young, unmarried women. There are, of course, several factors that are at play. Some women, for example, will have a baby believing that giving birth to a male will increase their chances of getting married to their boy friends. When the baby is discovered to be a girl, the boy friend often disappears, leaving the girl to deal with the now unwanted child. Others are unable to pay the medical fees associated with abortions. Many do not even recognize that they are pregnant until it is too late to have an abortion.

In this, the final installment in our "Child Abandonment from the Inside" series, we meet a typical unmarried woman. Although the focus of this particular article is on the woman's migrant status, these stories are by no means limited to the migrant population. Single women across China -- from middle class urbanite to poor rural girls -- commonly experience unplanned pregnancies. China's modesty to sex prevents many from getting educated in "sex and sexual health".

Another common feature of this story is the abandment location -- a public bathroom. Many children are found in these locations, since bathrooms possess the perfect abandonment characteristics -- momentarily private, yet frequently visited. Whether it is a Gas Station or hospital bathroom, a woman is able to walk in, leave her child in complete privacy, and walk out knowing that within minutes a stranger will walk into the bathroom and discover the child.

This article is a transcript of a Guangzhou News broadcast from September 2003.


Ms. Long, an eighteen year old single woman, got pregnant while working in Guangzhou. During her entire nine month pregnancy her roommate didn’t realize anything. Later when Long went to the toilet, she gave birth to a baby girl unexpectedly. Shockingly indeed, Long didn’t go to the hospital; instead, she dropped her baby into the toilet and let her be washed down the drain. How is the baby now? Why did her mother want to abandon her? Next follows the story about the abandonment of a baby by a migrant lady worker.

At about 6:00 pm on September 4, [2003] there came a baby’s crying. Several cleaners working for a factory in the Guangzhou Baiyun district then searched for the baby and found that the crying may come from under the manhole covers. Ms. Liu was the first one that heard the crying of the baby. She thought the baby must be somewhere else for the factory is not supposed to have babies. She called for two cleaners others to come and help look for the origin of the crying.

Ms. Liu: I was cleaning the grounds when I heard the crying. I looked for it everywhere and finally came to this manhole cover.
Having not found anything after searching almost everywhere, they drew their attention to the several manhole covers. However, they were stunned by what they saw when they opened the third manhole cover.

Ms. Jiang: The baby was right here naked. I picked her up for cleaning and got her dressed.

Later, the man in charge of the factory came and after he learned what had happened, he made a prompt decision that the baby should be sent to the nearby hospital immediately.

Mr. Li (Factory Supervisor): My immediate reaction was to send the baby to the hospital, because saving her life was the most important thing.

As soon as the baby was sent to the Zuiliao People’s Hospital in Baiyun district, the doctors started the rescue work. According to Doctor Zhong who had participated in the rescue work, the baby was then wholly pale with her skin damaged and her heart had ceased to beat.

Reporter: How was the baby’s umbilical core cut off in that situation?

Doctor Zhong: It was done unprofessionally by some kind of tile. The cut was rough and with blood.

The baby was safe after the rescue. In the meantime, the factory started an investigation. They found the mother of the baby and sent her to the hospital.
The baby’s mother has the surname Long, and she came from Guizhou. She is only nineteen years old and unmarried. She found herself pregnant after breaking up with her boyfriend.

Reporter: Where was the baby born?

Long Yun: In the toilet.

Reporter: How was the umbilical core cut off?

Long Yun: I don’t know.

Reporter: Where did you go after you gave birth to your baby?

Long Yun: I just went away.

This unmarried mother was unwilling to answer our reporter’s questions and didn’t talk much, especially about the cause of her abandoning the baby. However, what made us wonder was that why the baby was found by the cleaners under the manhole cover if she was born in the toilet? How did this happen? “Was the baby put under the manhole cover?” asked our reporter.

Answered Ms. Jiang: No. It must have been washed there by water from somewhere else.

The distance between the toilet and the manhole cover is seven to eight meters long. There must be some connection between the two. In order to find out the truth, we came to the lady’s toilet under the guidance of the people in the factory.

Ms. Li (Another factory supervisor): This is the overflow channel for the toilet. The baby could be washed away through here.

Being such a long distance of seven to eight meters long, it’s hard to believe that the baby could still survive after what she had gone through. What a miracle it was that she exerted her final strength and called for help to save her little life. If it wasn’t for that hard crying and the persistent searching from those cleaners, the baby would be washed away farther and farther and for sure, would have been lost forever in that case.

Doctor Deng in the Zhuliao People Hospital in Baiyun district: There were sharp bruise on the baby’s body, including her hands and knees.

According to Long’s roommate, our reporter learned that Long was so introverted that she seldom communicated with others and talked little. Having little knowledge of physiology, sex and self-protection, Long went out shopping and had a cold bath after she gave birth to the baby.

Such cases was not unique. It happens quite often to these lady workers, which the doctors find very tricky to deal with. According to the president in the Zhuliao People Hospital in Baiyun district, such cases are often seen among the female migrant workers who are all unmarried. We are supposed to file a report first, but watching them about to give birth to babies, we have to give priority to the mother and the baby’s safety out of humanism. However, what we do is against the Family Planning requirements. That’s why we find it very tricky to deal with.

Lu Ying, director in the Women and Sex Study Center at Sun-Yet University told us that most unmarried mother have poor knowledge and no sense of responsibility to society or the child. According to some statistics, currently there are 26 million migrant workers in Guangdong. 70% of them are from other provinces, among which 70% are female. All of these females have reached the legal age of getting married; however, most of them get pregnant without a basic knowledge of sex and physiology and always end up either having an abortion or abandoning the baby.

Director Lu Ying said that these women are less competitive in getting married. Our society should care them more and have their legal consciousness improved.

Long went to see her baby at our reporter’s repeated request. We thought that she may show a little love for her baby when she saw her; however, we were wrong. Long just forced a smile while she glanced at her baby. The doctor told us afterwards that Long didn’t want the baby back even though they had rescued her. It’s so hard to believe that this is the mother who gave birth to the baby. We couldn’t help but worry how this abandoned baby is going to live in this world?

For now, the unmarried mother and the baby stay in the hospital for observation and treatment. We will follow the story and have immediate report. From the above mentioned abandoned baby story, it’s apparent that the female immigrant workers lack knowledge of sex and sexual health. Also their attitude towards love is distorted. All of this deserves our great attention. They not only deserve the basic rights for migrant workers, but also need the corrective guidance from society of the outlook on life, values and attitude towards love.

More photos can be found at the following link: