In China’s underdeveloped rural villages, for parents who have more than one child, when faced with the overwhelming fine for violating the one-child policy, some accepted the alternative of their baby girls being taken away by the family planning workers in order not to pay the fine. The government’s family planning workers see nothing wrong with this arrangement of taking the children in exchange for not charging the parents a fine. The baby girls are sent to a government orphanage and their birth and background information are altered to become that of an abandoned baby, their surname is changed into “Gu cheng (meaning old city)” and then they wait for adoptive families in Western countries to pay 3000 U.S. dollars–“support fees”–to the adoption agency, family planning office and the orphanage to make a profit.
The mystery of two “abandoned infants”
In 2004 March 18, lunar calendar New Year, in Zhenyuan county, Jiaoxi town, Tianxi village, Lanqiao group, Li Zeji’s wife, Yuan Yinyan gave birth to a baby girl. In accordance with local customs, in order to name a child, one would usually need to wait until that child is in elementary school. “I regret not giving her a good name earlier and now I do not even know what to call her,” Li Zeji says about his third child, who came into this world as another girl. For Li Zeji, he will not rest until the birth of a son. But fearful of the local family planning department’s 40,000 yuan fine for anyone who violates the one child policy, Li Zeji and his wife had to send their infant daughter to his cousin Lee for foster care and then the couple fled their home to escape the terribly heavy fines. “I didn’t dare to come back because the family planning officers were very powerful, and they often smashed houses, looted cattle, TV’s.”
Originally, Li though this was a surefire plan, but the couple did not fathom that the family planning office staff would, in the same year on April 24th, take their baby girl from their cousin Lee’s home. Two years later, when Li Zeji returned home and found out that his daughter had been taken away, he said plainly: “They took the child away, so that means I do not have to pay the fine.”
In 2006, Li did not allow the loss of a daughter affect his joy because he finally had a baby son. Only with his wife, when you mention the “disappearance” of the daughter, does she burst into tears.
Similarly, also in Zhenyuan county, Jiaoxi town, another couple also gave up their daughter in exchange for not paying the fine. Taken from Lu Xiande’s home, a little girl was born on December 27, 2003. She was the fifth child in her family and the product of a medical sterilization failure. Lu and his wife had finally had their wish of having a son with their fourth child and their fifth child, this baby girl, was an unplanned birth.
When recalling the day of April 15, 2004, the day when “number five” was taken away, Lu’s wife Yang Shuiying is very remorseful: “I did not expect it at all.” About 12 noon that day, Jiaoxi town’s family planning unit leader, Shi Guang paid a visit to Yang Shuiying. “I could not pay the fine and he took the child away,” she said. Then the family planning unit leader said, “Who told you not to abort the child?” Shi Guang said that according to the policy, Yang Shuiying should pay a fine of at least 20,000 yuan.
Yang Shuiying had no choice but to wrap her youngest daughter, “number five”, in a small quilt. When he left, Shi Guang told Yang Shuiying, “Don’t worry, when the child has grown up, the orphanage will send her abroad.”
From 2003 to 2005, the Guizhou Zhenyuan county has had at least 100 births per year that violate the One-Child Policy, and these infants were all forcefully taken away to the government orphanage. After 2005, the infants that were forcefully taken away to the orphanage were not as many as in the previous years.
On April 20, 2009, a reporter for the Southern Weekend saw the registry of the infants that were adopted out from the orphanage by foreigners after 2001. The orphanage said that all these babies were abandoned. Of these, 80 abandoned babies have the “Gu cheng (old city)” series name such as, Gu Chenghui, Gu Chengxi, Gu Chengmei, Gu Chengwei – the registry used up almost all the combinations of women’s names that could be found in the dictionary. (Old city refers to Zhenyuan as an ancient city, it is hidden in the mountains of eastern Yunnan Guizhou Plateau, guarding the entry from Guizhou, Yunnan, Hubei, Hunan as well as through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, India in the ancient trade road.) The registry had six full pages recording 80 baby girls’ dates of birth, pick-up times, pick-up locations, times of entry, health statuses, and managers. 78 of the girls were sent to United States, Belgium, Spain and other countries.
With the exception of Gu Chengqing and Gu Chengxi (who has a congenital eye disorder), 78 of the 80 have all been adopted by foreign families, far from this old city. All that is left of the “disappeared” female infants who violated the One-Child Policy is a web of crime weaved by inhumane people who were blinded by greed, poverty, and adhered to the patriarchal agenda.