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Shelter sees number of abandoned infants rising

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-12-25 07:10

Shelter sees number of abandoned infants rising

A facility for abandoned babies in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, has taken in 25 children since it opened on Dec 10. Lang Congliu / for China Daily

Since the opening of a shelter for abandoned infants in Nanjing, the first of its kind in Jiangsu province, the number of babies received by the city's Children's Welfare Institution has more than doubled.

"We've received 25 abandoned babies, including nine in the shelter since it was established on Dec 10. The number of abandoned infants we received last December was 15," Zhu Hong, director of the institution, said on Tuesday.

The institution set up the 5-square-meter shelter next door to its main facility.

"We expected this and won't give up. We will continue to show respect to life and protect children," said Zhu, who declined to disclose the condition the babies.

The rising number shows a contrast to the decline of the number of abandoned infants received for three years in a row.

The number was 213 in 2011, which has dropped to 176 so far this year, according to statistics from the institution.

Most of the babies received in the past two weeks are from other cities and provinces after the parents saw media reports of the shelter, Zhu said.

Ji Gang, director of the domestic adoption department of the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption, the organization pushing the concept, said that when Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, set up the country's first shelter for abandoned babies in 2011, the number of children received also jumped at first.

"It shows that there's still a shortage of places where children can be abandoned safely," Ji said.

The shelter has an incubator, a crib, bedding and an air conditioner for a comfortable environment for the babies.

There is no surveillance camera. An alarm and infrared motion sensor informs staff when the shelter is used.

All of the babies they have received have birth defects, which are preventable in most cases, said Liu Ping, director of nursing at the institution.

"Some of the newborns we've received have been infected with congenital syphilis, which can be avoided totally," said Liu.

"We encourage newly weds to go for premarital checkups and stay away from alcohol, cigarettes and medicine before and during pregnancy," she said.

Social behavior professors dismissed concerns that the establishment of such shelters will encourage parents to give up their children.

"Most families have only one child, and parents won't give up their children easily. If they're determined to abandon a child, they must have insurmountable difficulties," said Xia Xueluan, a professor of sociology at Peking University.

"Abandoning children is illegal in China, so parents often leave babies secretly at places that are hard to find. Some infants die or their health conditions deteriorate before being found," he said.

Earlier this month, a newborn boy was abandoned at a dust heap in Beijing's Tongzhou district and died before paramedics arrived, media reports said.

On Dec 20, an abandoned newborn baby froze to death in the Yuquan district of Hohhot, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

"Shelters dedicated to abandoned infants can prevent such tragedies and provide another chance for the babies to survive," said Wang Wenlian, principal of the Beijing Angel Training School, which accommodates 60 orphans in Beijing's Fangshan district.

Nineteen provinces have built or plan to build such shelters by the end of next year, according to the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption.

He Dan in Beijing contributed to this story.




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